Vegeta's whole complex in Dragon Ball Z is how he views himself as the Hero or even the Chosen One, and so constantly gets mad when Goku and Gohan continue to take center stage. It takes him until the fight with Kid Buu to accept his destiny as Goku's lancer.
Mazinger Z: Baron Ashura and Count Brocken hated each other. Big Bad Dr. Hell thought it would be a good thing, since they would surely try to destroy Mazinger-Z harder to upstage each other. Or course, what happened was many operations and schemes went by the wayside because they constantly fought and got in the each other's way, and they were unable to work together, ruining many joined missions, too. Hell's mistake was born of him believing he and his troops were a Five-Man Band instead of a Five-Bad Band.
In another episode, Count Brocken has one in which he took hostages, and used cheap tricks to defeat Koji, expecting Koji to be a straight, heroic and honorable hero like pretty much most tv shows protagonists at the time. This could have (and at times actually) work well if not for the fact that this is Koji we're talking about. In fact, Brocken does mention it by complaining about how Koji's fans will cry because of that. Koji's reaction? Take it like a man.
Sanji from One Piece seems to think he's in a Shojo anime (such as in the Enies Lobby arc and filler) and completely fails to get the girl at all times.
Very, very ironic when you consider that early on, he actually was popular with (non plot-relevant) women. This trait seems to have been eased out of his characterization, probably when the artist realized Sanji was a little too perfect and needed to be funnier and more over the top.
Luffy seems to be Genre Savvy to know he's in a Shonen manga, but not what type of Shonen, assuming that Chopper's scope attack will in fact be a beam, a la Dragon Ball. ("BEAM, BEAM! IT'S GONNA BE A BEAM!")
Donquixote Doflamingo, whose steadfast belief in a world without dreams runs contrary to... basically everything about One Piece.
Perhaps, the most terrifying thing is that so far he's been very successful following his particular dream.
Blackbeard seems to be under the impression that he's the main character. Either that, or he thinks he's the Big Bad (which he's got a good chance of being right about) in a story where The Bad Guy Wins (which he has absolutely no chance of being right about).
Most of the characters in Genshiken are major, major otaku and therefore genre savvy, but share Konata's affliction of being unable to tell exactly what kind of anime they're in. Madarame seems to visualize life as a Dating Sim, and beats himself up about it when he realizes it.
That was a one chapter/episode gag. Though, the sequel, Genshiken Nidaime, seems to actually be moving in that direction.
Example: She expects a student president who runs the school and all the clubs like a dictator. There isn't one, so Itsuki hires some guy to play the part of a jerkass president. He's a jerkass in a different way entirely, though. Of course, since this is Haruhi he starts having trouble differentiating himself from the role he is playing, and will possibly end up exactly as Haruhi thinks he is.Wrong Genre Savvy -> Genre Savvy!
In the Super Robot Wars games, he sometimes gets to actually be genre savvy — for example, in the Super Robot Wars W stage where Golion is introduced, the cast is shocked when the lions combine... except for Gai, whose reaction is something along the lines of "Yeah, OF course they were gonna do that."
Amusingly enough, this is probably why he survives in Super Robot Wars despite being swiftly killed off in his own series.
Edo Phoenix of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX thinks he's The Hero. In fact, he practically thinks he's Batman... in a shonen anime. He initially sets out to defeat Judai, thinking he's the enemy. Then when Judai is getting ready to defeat the Big Bad, Edo rushes off to fight him, believing he will win because of a promise he made, not realizing he is notThe Only One Allowed to Defeat You.
Berserk is a Seinen fantasy manga that contains orgies of violence and sex, of both the consensual and non-consensual types. Despite this, Isidro seems to have convinced himself that he's not only in a Shōnen manga (which are generally idealistic and where good always triumphs over evil), but thinks he's the main character. Suffice to say, if it weren't for the fact he's the Plucky Comic Relief, he probably would've died a long time ago.
Naga in Slayers believes that she is The Rival when she's actually more of a sidekick. Lina often corrects her when presenting themselves to a new character. In the TV series, Amelia tries desperately to uphold Justice in a slapstick fantasy world.
In Puni Puni Poemi the eponymous character is convinced (apparently correctly) that she is the main character — and her voice actress. In the final scene the show's director (who is also a character) reveals that the main character is apparently her love interest.
She also seems very convinced that she is the main character and that Shinji is The Rival and is crushed when she is confronted with the fact that she isn't.
Yuka Sugimoto from The Twelve Kingdoms anime even manages to get her genre right. Unfortunately, she leaps to the immediate assumption that being transported into a fantasy realm means she is The Chosen One, even though all signs point to her classmate Youko Nakajima. In the original novels, Yuka never even reached the Twelve Kingdoms in the first place, which should put things in perspective.
In G Gundam, young Maria Louise from Neo France is a Rebellious Princess with a crush on the local Knight in Shining Armor, George de Sand. She's depressed because he doesn't fight for her, but for her country. So, if she stages her own kidnapping and recruits Domon Kasshu, a rival that George spurned, he'll fight for her honor, right? WRONG! The far more Genre Savvy George does come for her, but delivers a What the Hell, Hero? speech on how he's much more likely to be absorbed into fighting Domon than on Maria's honor. Domon's partner Rain has to bail Maria out, and she's Put on a Bus until the second part of the series.
Haruka Akashi of Kamen Tantei is a huge mystery buff and aspiring mystery author who keeps running into mysteries. So far, so good. Unfortunately, she's a "fair play" mystery fan trying to apply "the rules" of such to a world where psychic powers, ghosts, All Just a Dream endings and fictional characters come to life are regular occurrences.
Pretty much everyone in Hayate the Combat Butler. Nagi thinks she's in a shounen manga in a case of First Girl Wins. Most of the rest of the cast thinks they're in a genuine action series instead of a parody. Sakuya comes the closest by realizing she's in a comedy series, but even she has the style of humor wrong.
Would-be hard-boiled private eye Guy Kurosawa in Darker Than Black either doesn't know or refuses to admit that he's in a Speculative Fiction series. When a cat yells at him from two feet away, he looks in the opposite direction and says, "Who's there?" He happens to stumble on the real plot a couple of times through sheer dumb luck, and only makes it out alive because he's too dense to figure out that he's in a story where an elaborate revenge plot is much less likely than industrial espionage.
His Genki Girl secretary Kiko appears to be completely convinced that she lives in a shojo comedy. She doesn't. It also gets sort of turned around in the OVA, since it parodies the main series; Mayu has exactly the same ideas as Kiko about what genre she's living in, and starts stalking Hei because she thinks of him as a romantic hero. Hei and company spend so much time dealing with crazy Spy Versus Spy plots and counterplots that it never occurs to them that Mayu might be following him due to nothing more than a huge crush and start speculating that another, previously unknown organization is after them, briefly making themWrong Genre Savvy.
In the third episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki identifies the show as a high-school romance anime, calling himself and Haruhi the main pair destined to be together - not too far off the mark so far, but then he identifies the rest of the club as "the homosexual supporting cast". This last remark inspires Kyouya to show him up by coming up with a better plan to save Haruhi from being exposed by the physical exam and saying "I just don't think I'm supporting cast, homosexual or not."
" Don't be ridiculous. I don't think I'm in a dating sim. In a dating sim I get all the girls! Have you ever seen me with a girl?" Yep, that'll show her. Still spends too much time looking for flag events though.
Code Geass: Poor, poor Shirley Fennette. She seems to think she's in a shoujo series, when it's anything but, and things just keep getting worse until the bottom falls out for the poor girl. Just two episodes after her proclamation of The Power of Love, and right after she seemingly consummates her one true love or it looks like she has a better chance than the other girls in the story... she gets mercilessly killed off for trusting the wrong person. A boy who also has interest in the guy she loves. Sorta.. All the more tragically ironic in that said power also had just earlier inspired Lelouch as Zero to make his inspiring speech about the Power of Passion after he and the Black Knights liberated China, and may have also saved Lelouch from falling into madness, and his eventual self-induceddemise via Zero Requiem, if not for Shirley's murder.
Minor example from the second episode of the 2005 Gaiking series. The main character fires off his Rocket Punch, expecting it to fly back to him afterwards. It doesn't, and he even screams out "But don't these things usually come back?!"
Notably played with when the protagonist /starts off/ a fight after freshly receiving an upgrade by using his rocket punch...and missing terribly. The villain laughs at him for his stupidity, leaving them wide open for the fist to fly back towards him and drill a hole straight through, coming back to rest on Gaiking's arm once again.
Haruka and Michiru of Sailor Moon, otherwise known as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, seem to think they are in a much more cynical series than they are. Therefore, though they are both very competent fighters who can certainly get the job done, they don't seem to understand that Sailor Moon could have the problem solved in half the time with twice the number of happy endings and tend to do things that make the ultimate situation worse. See the series' Grand Finale for more details.
From Super Robot Wars Original Generation Divine Wars: During a live-fire training, Ryusei Date believes it's impossible for tanks to outmaneuver and down a mecha. His mech's disabled and shot down in a matter of minutes. He's actually got the genre right, except this show is a hybrid and the "Super" part doesn't kick in until much later.
Rotton in Black Lagoon seems to believe he lives in a much more idealistic series. One that allows In the Name of the Moon speeches. He actually does have genuine genre savviness to go with it, though, but even this is only about 50% effective. Wearing a bullet proof vest: Good idea. Basing all your fighting on trying to be cool: Bad idea. You're not supposed to try.
Winner in Karin thinks he's the star of a Shounen vampire hunter series. Unfortunately for him, he's a side character in a Rom Com.
Matt: You got me, I'm part of this whole kidnapping incident. That means you'll have a lot of questions to ask. You won't shoot—
(The bodyguards of the kidnapped start firing)
Ranma ˝: Tatewaki Kuno sees himself as an almighty samurai, loved by all and God's gift to women. In reality, he's nothing but a major pain in the ass.
Kumojacky of Heartcatch Pretty Cure is an outrageously hammy and Hot Blooded character who believes in the power of his own inner strength and loudly declares that any problem can be solved through the sheer grit and determination of your own burning spirit. He also thinks that the only kind of friendship worth having is the kind forged through mutual respect of the other person's strength. In short, he's the kind of guy who would fit in perfectly with any group of Shonen action heroes (or anime bookshop owners)... But he's stuck in a Magical Girl show that more or less runs on the Power of Friendship / Power of Love, and thus his clashing ideals default him directly to a villain role.
There's also a hero version in form of Yuri Tsukikage/Cure Moonlight. She took on the mindset "I'll take the responsibility alone so no one has to suffer" before the series started. Noble, yes. But, in Pretty Cure series, you're not going anywhere far if you go solo and not trusting The Power of Friendship. Thus, during the early scene where she took on Dark Precure and Prof. Sabaaku, she saw her Fairy killed protecting her and completely lost the fight, her Transformation Trinket broken, disabling her transformation, and she was heavily traumatized from the events, becoming a very distant and cold girl. Don't worry, she eventually gets better and adapts the right genre savviness in the end.
Makoto/Cure Sword of Doki Doki Pre Cure suffers from the same thing Yuri does, proclaiming she doesn't need friends and she can take care of the bad guys herself, due to her similar mindset after Her Greatest Failure in protecting a magical kingdom. Unlike Yuri, Mana and her friends get through to Makoto MUCH quicker note especially since she was set to show up in Pretty Cure All Stars since she showed up in the beginning.
In Naruto, the title character is told multiple times by several different people that he is the kind of person who could never be the main character in a story.
Danzo is a Byronic Hero from a generation that ran off of Black and Gray Morality in a show focusing on a younger generation that runs off of White and Gray Morality. He believes that he is the one destined to bring peace to the world so strongly that he takes measures to sabotage Naruto and his allies under the idea that they'll just make things worse. He's unable to accept that the world around him has taken a major shift on the Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism or that the story is named Naruto.
In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the character Mayo Mitama is an "evil looking girl" who likes to commit acts of ultra-violence. However, even when she does these things in front of/to people, they refuse to suspect her due to Wrong Genre Savvy. Going by the logic of detective stories and most anime using Face of a Thug, she can't be evil because "no one who looks so obviously evil could actually be evil" (because it wouldn't make for an interesting story). The problem is, Mayo's name means "exactly as she looks", and she's really is an example of Obviously Evil.
In Nana To Kaoru, the student council president complains that the main character's "got a secondary character's face!" The poor guy doesn't realize he's in an Ecchi, Ugly Guy, Hot Wife comedy. He's also absolutely dumbfounded at Kaoru's sad, depressed resignation about Nana being way outside of his league, expecting some form of argument or fight.
Shinzen from Speed Grapher is a very Genre Savvy villainess who is perfectly aware that her handsome and ruthless Dragon, Suitengu, views her as a Meal Ticket. So she tries to use her knowledge to try keeping him under control and outgambit him. Where does she go WGS? In that she accepted to marry him... not seeing that he'd try to kill her as soon as he could. Which he did.
There is also the possibility though that they actually ARE genre savvy and Tylor is just a much better tactician than everybody else.
Peorth in Ah! My Goddess manages to pick up that she's in a Magical Girlfriend series, but initially fails to realize that she's not the main love interest, and at one point seemed under the impression she was in a Hentai manga.
Drosselmeyer in Princess Tutu manages to guess his genre wrong despite being the "author" character, since he has no understanding of Post Modernism. He writes the story as a conventional tragedy, viewing himself as the guiding hand rather than a character in his own right, not realizing until the very end just how thin the fourth wall really is.
Sogiita Gunha from A Certain Magical Index thinks he's the hero of a Sentai anime. Not only is this series much more mature and complicated than that, he's not even a main character.
Combined with Aliens Steal Cable in Rinne No Lagrange - one of Human Aliens in one episode watches a samurai movie and mistakes it's events for some Earth tradition he then tries to repeat to challenge Madoka for a duel. Surprisingly things work exactly like he is expecting them to, but for different reasons and he accidentally convinces girls at Madoka's school that he is her boyfriend.
One of Hibiki's friends from Senki Zesshou Symphogear likes to point out when people act like anime characters, which she treats as unusual, because she doesn't realize she actually is in an anime.
Keima in The World God Only Knows gets all his Genre Savvy from Dating Sims, so he falls into this when he gets into situations outside his experience. For example, Haqua is a tsundere who is obviously in love with him. But in Dating Sims, the girl pursuing the boy is a trap for a Bad End, and must be avoided at all costs, so he barely even notices.
His misplaced savviness also kicked off the entire plot. He unquestioningly accepted a Deal with the Devil to "capture girls" because he didn't even know demons existed and didn't think anyone would ask him to go after real girls, so he assumed that someone was challenging him to beat a Dating Sim.
In the Area 88 manga and OVA, Ryoko seems to think she is in a romance story instead of a war story. She places great faith in the power of love and is determined to reunite with Shin, oblivious to why he would be ar Area 88 in the first place and how war might have affected him. She gets heartache in spades for having this attitude.
Sousuke Sagara from Full Metal Panic approaches every situation as a military operation. Since he is a Private Military Contractor, he's right about half the time. The other half he's at a normal high school playing bodyguard for his love interest, and he proves completely incapable of adjusting his behavior or his situation analyses to fit the undercover assignment. Someone has put something (a love letter) in your shoe locker? Blow it up. The gym teacher screams at you and treats you like scum? Clearly he is the local Drill Sergeant Nasty; salute and thank him honestly.
Yamada, the protagonist of B Gata H Kei, keeps failing hilariously because she honestly seems to believe that she lives in a hentai manga, when in fact she lives in a romantic comedy.
Hashiba from Shooting Star Gakusaver is a weird example, that can be explained as being only 50% Wrong Genre Savvy and the other 50% actually being Genre Savvy - he actually gets the genre right, but he doesn't realize it's a parody. He can predict and understand ways of the plot and come up with appriorate ideas and sometimes things work in his favor purerly because of Rule of Funny, but he completely cannot grasp that people around him aren't typical archetypes seen in Super Robot Genre, but their parodies and is also unable to comprehend he isn't The Mentor in command of Mission Control, but a Comic Relief.
In the second volume of The Invisibles, a redneck in a diner is giving Lord Fanny, the Brazilian transvestite shaman, a hard time. In response, King Mob grabs the man's groin (and not in a good way) and gives us the speech shown above. At first the redneck apologizes, but then he decides to attack King Mob anyway, and thus we get to witness the other trope invoked by King Mob in his little speech.
Most or even all of the Watchmen heroes might be said to be this, except perhaps Dr. Manhattan: The Comedian acted like the hard-bitten, jaded "hero" (or protagonist, at least) of a cynical, realpolitik cold war spy story, but comes undone by the horror he discovers and grimly awaits his own murder; Rorschach thinks the heroes are being picked off by an old villain turned far more deadly, back after years for revenge, and if he was in one of the Dark Age of Comics imitations spawned thanks to this series he might be right; Nite-Owl wants to act as if he and Rorschach can be Silver Age heroes again and save the day, their past failures and brutality redeemed by noble victory-but he's in a deconstruction; Silk Spectre's entire worldview is upended by the story's conclusion; and Ozymandias is perhaps the most deluded of all, insisting he's not a comic-book villain—he's right, but he's also not a Antivillain doing a terrible thing for the Greater Good—Adrian Veidt is a sociopath whose plans will (heavily implied) all come undone and be for naught in the end. Dr. Manhattan, though not completely in the right, is the most aware of the futile story they're actually in.
Manhattan: We're all puppets, Laurie. I'm just a puppet who can see the strings.
In a Judge Dredd comic, a perp tries to escape from Dredd by jumping into what he assumes to be a laundry chute, but ends up being a waste disposal unit.
In the Donald Duck comic book "Sheriff of Bullet Valley", Donald keeps comparing the present situation to various Western movies he's seen, resulting in his getting everything backward and inadvertently helping the villains.
In one European comic Pete and Commissioner O'Hara are forced to join forces to make it clear to the former's wife and the latter's superior that they don't live in the world of Cowboy Cop action movies.
Garth Ennis: Crossed features many characters thinking like a "normal" zombie or invasion movie, not realizing it's a Garth Ennis comic and the butt rape zombies will get you no matter how clever you try to be.
In Ennis' earlier Hitman story, "Zombie Night at Gotham Aquarium," Hacken also thinks he's in a "normal" zombie movie, and thus takes swift, decisive action after a bite from a zombified animal, hackin' off his arm to avoid infection. Unfortunately for Hacken, this particular branch of DC UniverseWeird Science does not work that way, so it turns out that Hacken cut off his own arm for no good reason.
There were two Batman villains who went by the name "Film Freak", and both were defeated (and in the case of the first one, killed) because they thought life would play out like a movie. Of course, it was a comic book.
In Fun Home, Alison considered herself the heroine of a Coming Out Story, until she finds out about her father and realizes she's only the comic relief to his tragedy.
When he is guest starring in more optimistic comics like Spider-Man, The Punisher clearly thinks he is still in his own series, which is far more on the cynical side of Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Which is why he usually ends up as a villain. On the other hand many super heroes appearing in his comics also seem to think that they are still in their own series and often end up humiliated in various ways.
In one Dilbert strip, Dogbert finds a magic lamp and summons the Genie in a Bottle. He expects it to grant him three wishes but the Genie says they don't have a contract and turns him into a wiener.
Early in Fables there was a journalist who discovered that certain New York residents seemed to have been living for centuries without aging. He believed them to be vampires. The residents of Fabletown decided to play along and convinced him he was mind-controlled by them and forced to have sex with a little boy (in reality they knocked him out and took some suggestive photos with him and Pinocchio) and if he told anybody their secret, they's send the evidence to the police.
Max Damage, from sister title Incorruptible, has a similar problem - he is Genre Savvy enough to realize that the best thing to keep a reformed supervillain like himself from sliding back to his old ways is to get a Morality Pet, so he gathers several people who serve him as those. However, he doesn't realize that he is in a deconstruction either, so most of his new friends get broken in one way or another.
Gilgamos had become this, when he killed Survivor. He presented a perfectly reasonable explanation why he did it that proved he knows the tropes of the world he lives in very well, but was not savvy enough to consider that Cary and his siblings may not share the same power, but his power - by killing him, he just depowered his brother, instead of empowering him.
In the DC Comics event Trinity, Primat of the Dreambound seems firmly convinced she's a romance heroine, rather than a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. This doesn't limit her effectiveness, but does mean she tries to chat up opposing heroes even as she fights them, which would be disconcerting even if she wasn't from Gorilla City.
In Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, Lex Luthor is convinced that he's in a Deconstruction of the superhero genre where the superhero who is loved and admired by all turns out to be an uncaring and aloof Smug Super who doesn't care about the little people underneath him, or even a villain hiding in plain sight. Thing is, while Lex is correct that he's in a deconstruction, it's not a deconstruction of Superman — it's actually a deconstruction of supervillains like him.
Skeleton: WHAT IS THE WIND SPEED OF A SWELLOW? Phanphy: Wait! I saw this on TV once! I know the answer! Is it a Hoennese Swellow or an Orrean Swellow? Skeleton: HOENNESE. Phanphy: No, you were supposed to say you didn't know, then fall off a cliff. Skeleton: YOU WATCH TOO MUCH TV.
In the Naruto fic "A Few Angry Words" Pain seems to think he's Julius Caesar marching into Rome. He's more like the Antichrist marching into the Jezreel Valley.
It's still not entirely certain who's rightGenre Savvy in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but we know Draco isn't the Chessmaster he thinks he is, and Hermione does not in fact seem to be in a romantic comedy. Smart money's on Dumbledore's being wrong that it's a fantasy, and Harry may not actually be right that it's sci-fi (at least not the sort of sci-fi he thinks it is.)
We Just Want to Help You by Jeanne Hedge is a fic where a random fan of Bubblegum Crisis finds herself in the Tokyo of 2035, hurries over to offer to help Ms. Stingray... and gets tranqed and sent to the loony bin when it turns out she's not actually inBubblegum Crisis, but a relatively close (but significantly divergent) Alternate Dimension.
Later on, the crew goes to help a village that is being attacked by amoral mercenaries. The entire scenario seems like a classic Western tale where the heroes protect the helpless against an enemy with overwhelming firepower. In reality, they're in a psychic horror story involving a Town with a Dark Secret where everyone is being mind-controlled by an unstable telepath.
In With Strings Attached, in the second part of the Vasyn quest, the four find themselves in what they think is a hollow world/spaceship a la “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.” Given what they've already been through, this doesn't scare them, and they figure they know how to proceed. And then they find out they've actually been shrunk and put into a science experiment in someone's basement. That scares them.
Team 9 is full of idiots, though, and they are also misinformed about what is actually going on. Yukari, though, has no excuse, as she seems convinced, against all evidence, that she actually can take on Rin Satsuki, who already defeated her, Reimu, Eirin and some of Gensokyo's other powerhouses and possesses the power of a freakin' ARCHANGEL OF DEATH. Oh, and she apparently doesn't have any problems in trying to screw things over while she already has to deal with Yuuka, who placed a bounty on Rin Satsuki's head. If she had actually spent TWO SECONDS listening to what Eirin said, or, failing even that, had tried to find a peaceful solution, she wouldn't have ended playing Yuuka's game. If Rin actually WAS the Omnicidal Maniac she believes her to be, Gensokyo would have been ANNHILATED by now.
In Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams, the Ax CrazyPsycho for Hire Bullseye revels in his supposed A-list status and looks down on C-List Fodder like the billiards-based 8-Ball. When they're hired by rival crime bosses who are fighting a Mob War, Bullseye and 8-Ball end up fighting. The cocky Bullseye thinks that, as the A-lister, he'll have an easy time against the C-list 8-Ball. However, Bullseye ends up impaled by a huge piece of metal and gets his head severed and knocked into a garbage can by 8-Ball, just to add insult to injury.
In Game Theory, Nanoha seems to think that she's in a standard magical girl show, that she can win fights by implementing crazy plans and improvising new spells without understanding how the magic works, and that it's okay to risk putting a lot of people in danger for the sake of one person.. Thisisnotthecase.
In the Ben 10Fan FicHero High series, Ben seems to think of himself as a comic book hero who will defeat the bad guy and save the world. Instead he helps the bad guy to save the world and said guy gets off Scott free from his crimes. Also many of the Original Characters seemed to be driven to show Ben that he has a case of Wrong Genre Savvy.
In the A Certain Magical Index fic Wintertime, when Kagun Kihara accidentally walks in on Marian Slingeneyer bathing in a lake, he steals her clothes, thinking this will give him power over her. She coldly informs him that she is a Dvergr, not a swan maiden or selkie. He was lucky she decided not to kill him.
Lady In The Water has a scene where the hero, Cleveland Heep, consults the movie critic in order to identify the tenants who fill in the roles of Story's helpers. However, when their plan goes awry and Story is attacked and injured, Cleveland realizes that he incorrectly identified himself. Note that the movie critic was more or less right in his ideas of who the tenants would be, but Cleveland merely interpreted the clues incorrectly.
Not to mention the scene where the same movie critic is confronted by the monster, and instead of running away he goes on spiel about how the movie has had no violence, deaths, lewd acts, or nudity and deduces that he is going to live with just a wound because of these factors. He must've forgotten about the female lead being naked for all her screentime.
In the Star Wars prequels, Obi-Wan is extremely Genre Savvy when he tells Anakin that Aristocrats Are Evil if they are politicians. Too bad he's applying this trope — and that of God Save Us from the Queen — to Padme as well as Palpatine, because they aren't anything alike. Padme is in fact an example of The High Queen and debatably the most moral character in the whole Star Wars universe. Obi Wan specifically warns Anakin to be cautious of Padme because she is a politician, and although he specifically includes Palpatine in that general categorization, against Anakin's more naive trust, the point still stands. Her being an aristocrat technically doesn't come into it but it is a variant in a way since aristocrats often are politicians in the Star Wars universe.
Anakin Skywalker;: ... and besides, you're generalizing. The Chancellor doesn't appear to be corrupt.
Obi-Wan Kenobi:: Palpatine is a politician. I've observed that he is very clever at following the passions and prejudices of the Senators.
Obi-Wan's problem is that he believes he's living in a naturalistic universe rather than a fantastical one. He's a cynic who believes that all politicians are corrupt and self-serving. He doesn't believe that any of them could be effective, let alone really dangerous: the worst they can do is take advantage of a crisis to serve their own ends. It never occurs to him to think that one of these politicians is actually a devious puppet master who is engineering a crisis in a bid to bring the entire political system down. Ironically, his status as the Only Sane Man works against him: if he'd realized he was in a universe where there actually is an Ancient Conspiracy working behind the scenes, he might have spotted Palpatine sooner.
The entire Jedi Order during the last days of the Old Republic have this problem too: they see themselves as the stalwart protectors of a noble old order (and perhaps they really were at one point). In reality they're the arrogant and hidebound old masters whose inflexibility and strict adherence to tradition almost directly leads to the fall of their most powerful member and their complete destruction at his hands.
In Matt Stover's novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda realizes this the moment he and Palpatine's lightsabers clash. Skill and power were irrelevant — the Sith had already won because they had become something new while the Jedi had remained the same. The Jedi had been preparing for the wrong kind of war.
The unease audiences feel toward Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is heightened by his seemingly unsavvy placement in the structure of the story. Genre conventions would make him the villain. But the story's villain is Buffalo Bill. "Hannibal the Cannibal" is actually the Trickster Mentor. He is Yoda to Clarice's Luke, the shadow counterpart of her FBI academy instructor. Other characters call him a monster, but Clarice addresses him as she would a teacher and he is among those who congratulate her when she graduates. His function in the story places him much closer to the main character than we would expect him to be, and far too close for comfort. With his breakout at the end of the film, this genre-savvy character sheds the mentor role and assumes a more conventional role as villain. In a sense, his act signals a return to "order".
Last Action Hero: Child hero Danny rides his bicycle head-on to play chicken with the main villain's car, reasoning that it has to work because he's the hero in a non-R rated movie where the kid would never die. Then it dawns on him that he's the Plucky Comic Relief instead, and is vulnerable. Cue ET visual gag.
The second half of the movie deals heavily with how badly Jack Slater's Genre Savvy as an Action Hero fails him in the gritty, real world until he learns the new rules whereas Benedict becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy right out of the gate instead.
Pixar's Toy Story 2: Through much of the film Pete the Prospector plays the role of Sage, dispensing advice to other characters. But a glimpse of "Woody's Roundup", the TV show that represents his origin, shows Pete playing a self-sabotaging buffoon. The glimpse hints that his sagely nuggets of wisdom may actually be fool's gold. By the end of the film his true role is revealed.
Buzz Lightyear (or one of his duplicates) goes through this in varying degrees in all three movies.
A positive example: Guy from Galaxy Quest, though for the most part Genre Savvy, goes through the events of the film in a depressed and terrified state, because he is convinced that he is nothing more than a designated Red Shirt among the Show Within a Show's stars (even his name suggests this). In the end, he is told that he has a promising future as the Plucky Comic Relief.
In fact, everyone in that movie who acts like it's a movie is proven wrong, and everyone who acts like it's real is proven just as wrong.
For an even bigger payoff, pay attention during the shootout on the bridge. Everybody except Guy gets shot.
Jack Burton of Big Trouble in Little China thinks he's a sort of western-style hero who takes charge and beats the bad guys with guts and bravado. However, he doesn't know anything about all the eastern mysticism going on. His best friend Wang has to explain everything to him. It's Wang who is actually the hero, out to rescue his girlfriend. Jack is actually the sidekick, just tagging along and trying to recover his lost truck.
Wang may be the hero, but Jack is the one who kills the Big Bad.
Near the end of The Madness Of King George, Lord Chancellor Thurlow wastes time announcing the king's return to health by bemoaning the messenger in King Lear who arrives too late to save Cordelia. The whole film is an averted Lear — something the king seems to recognize, even if Thurlow doesn't.
Chad and Lynda from Burn After Reading both start acting like they're in a Spy Drama after they find a disc with the financial records of a former CIA analyst, acting all mysterious around the analyst and refusing to give their real names. However, they're in a Black Comedy, so Hilarity Ensues.
In Megamind, Megamind thinks that Hal will be the perfect person to train as a hero once he's seen him: he thinks he's a complete nobody who can realize his true heroic potential with his help. Unfortunately, Hal fits a differentset oftropes...
The Pirates of the Caribbean movie series has a faint undercurrent of this throughout: nearly every character thinks they're in a different story than they actually are. There's a subtle Deconstructionist aspect as well, as established pirate Tropes are played with and/or dismantled.
In The Curse Of The Black Pearl, Elizabeth thinks Barbossa's crew are standard pilfer-and-loot pirates who would hold her for ransom if they found out she's the Governor's daughter. Unfortunately, they're not after something so mundane as money, and the name she chooses to give them - Turner - is actually the very name they're looking for. She also expects pirates to honor the Code of the Brethren as if it were a binding rule of law, not realizing that Barbossa is a Genre SavvyRules Lawyer who sees the Code more as "guidelines."
All pirates see the Code this way... unless Captain Teague is in he vicinity.
In Dead Man's Chest, when the Kraken is taking down a ship full of Red Shirts, one of the merchants runs forward, bravely offering what they had previously thought was the dress of a ghost who was haunting their ship. That would have worked out a lot better for him if he had been in a ghost story, and if that ghost story was actually about him.
An exchange from Detroit Rock City, about whether or not some road-tripping stoners should pick up a hitchhiker:
Jam: It's a teenage girl walking along the side of the highway. They make scary movies that start out like that!
Trip: But they make porno movies that start out like that too, man!
Park Chang-yi in The Good, the Bad and the Weird is basically a melodramatic and serious Shōnen anime villain stuck in a goofy Korean parody of Spaghetti westerns.
Stranger Than Fiction is a unique case, where the main character realizes he's in a story after he starts hearing his own narration. He seeks out help to try to become Genre Savvy, and correctly deduces that in the context of his narrator's story, he's in a tragedy, which is ironically Wrong Genre Savvy as the meta-story (the movie about the story about a man who hears his own narrator, i.e., the movie you're watching) is actually a comedy.
Return of the Living Dead: When confronted with a reanimated cadaver, a group of characters put a pick axe through its brain based on what they know about zombies from seeing Night of the Living Dead.It has no effect.
Burt: I thought you said if we destroyed the brain, it'd die!
Frank: It worked in the movie!
Burt: Well, it ain't workin' now, Frank!
Fred: You mean the movie lied?
Ironically, the idea of zombies who are smart enough to repeatedly moan "Brains" and/or who explicitly feel overpowering hunger instead of mindlessly eating, comes from this trilogy, not the original series.
Or even care about brains; the originals seemed to show a distinct preference for liver.
The college kids from Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil believe they are in a typical Hillbilly Horrors-style horror film after two rednecks announce that they "have" one of their friends and they start dying one by one. In actuality, they're in a comedy and the two hillbillies saved the girl from drowning. All the deaths are a result of the "victims" being Too Dumb to Live. On the flip side, Chad believes he is The Hero who is going to defeat the evil hillbillies and get the girl. He's actually the villain.
In the little-known AlienripoffCreature, someone says they remember seeing an old movie (specifically, The Thing from Another World) where they tried to stop the monster from killing everyone with an electrified forcefield. Not too effective against this monster.
The camp Disney flick Condorman features a comic book artist as its protagonist, who dreams of being a comic book action hero. He gets his chance when he persuades his CIA buddy to let him take a courier mission, but then proceeds to ham it up as the most ludicrously obvious Cloak and Dagger spy ever — which causes the Soviet agent he's meeting with to fall in love with him and defect. In a weird way, his Wrong Genre Savviness actually twists the story until he is a superhero in a spy movie.
The knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail tend to act like they are in a standard Arthurian romance, without realising they are in anything from 1) A very low budget Arthurian Romance, 2) A realistic depiction of the dark ages, 3) A musical, or 4) A modern day Police Procedural.
Lancelot's Tale has a very obvious example of this. He keeps talking about how he's going to fulfill this quest of saving a Damselin Distress in his own "idiom" only for everything to go wrong for him since the movie's a parody. The script actually uses the word "genre" outright, but John Cleese forgot the correct word while filming resulting in a much funnier scene.
My Name Is Bruce has this from two angles: Jeff kidnaps Bruce Campbell, expecting him to be a real-life Bad Ass like Ash, and hoping that he can cure Gold Lick's monster problem. Bruce, on the other hand, is oblivious to the horror because he thinks that the whole thing's a prank.
Tom in (500) Days of Summer thinks that he's in a romantic comedy where everyone gets their happy endings, you can stand up to people hitting on your girlfriend and knock them out with one punch (when he tries this, the guy gets up right away and kicks his ass), etc. Justified because he's grown up on romantic comedies and confused them with reality (and missed the point of The Graduate). He's in a Deconstruction of a love story.
Queen Narissa, the antagonist of Enchanted, singlehandedly puts the "decon" in the film's Decon-Recon Switch of fairy-tale movies, but fails to recognize the "recon". The one character she can easily handle is Edward, who besides Pip is the only one who lacks Hidden Depths beyond what would be expected of the genre.
The priest from Outlander mistakes the moorwen for a demon and tries to exorcise it. The moorwren mauls him in the middle of his chant.
The Stranger from The Big Lebowski is convinced that he is in a western, and narrates the film as if it were one. Another example is that the titular character and company talk and act like they're in a melodrama, while the Dude and his friends are not resulting in constant confusion.
The Fugitive: When Kimble escapes through the storm drains and comes to a point where they bisect, he tosses his jacket down one tunnel and goes down the other one. The pursuing US Marshals aren't fooled for a second, they simply split up in order to check both passages. Later, when calling his lawyer, Kimble lies and says he's in St. Louis, correctly suspecting that the cops might be eavesdropping—but not that their equipment would determine that Kimble's in Chicago.
In The Princess and the Frog, Naveen mistakenly thinks that being kissed by Tiana will turn him back. Later, he accuses of her of falsely wearing the tiara, deceiving him into thinking she was a princess — and it turns out that he does just need a princess to do it.
Wayne seems to think the problems in the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movies are because the kids keep coming into contact with his machine. As a result, when he needs to use it in the final film he makes sure the kids are out of the house, so nothing can possibly go wrong and shrink them. While they do manage to stay out of trouble (or at least shrunken trouble, as the get in over their heads since they are "Alone" for the weekend) because of this the problem is actually the machine itself as Wayne and his brother rather stupidly stand in range of the machine while checking something and figure its fine because "nobody is in the house to hit the button". Sure enough a random object hits the button, and they get shrunk.
QuentynMartell similarly believes that he's in a straight Heroic Fantasy story, with the added bonus that he thinks he's The Protagonist as well. Viserion and Rhaegal disabuse him of the notion when he tries to heroically tame them and gets burned to death for his trouble.
Robert Baratheon started his uprising on the belief he was The Hero of a chivalric romance, nobly rescuing his lady love Lyanna Stark from the vile kidnapper Rhaegar Targayen. Not only did he fail, as Lyanna died under mysterious circumstances, but he ended up stuck with a kingdom he didn't want and politically married to a woman he hated. To top it off, comments made by Eddard Stark and others imply Lyanna never loved him back in the first place and that she (possibly) was in love with Rhaegar instead.
Petyr Baelish in his youth was another example. After drunkenly sleeping with foster-sister Catelyn Tully after a feast, he learns that she is betrothed to Brandon Stark and challenges him to a duel for Cat's hand. After all, in ballads the little hero always defeats the big villain and Cat loves him, right? Except he's a short scrawny 15-year-old boy and Brandon is a 20-year-old expert swordsman. Reality Ensues and he nearly dies. Also, Cat did genuinely love Brandon and the girl in Petyr's bed that night was actually Cat's younger sister Lysa.
Eddard "Ned" Stark, having subscribed to Honor Before Reason and fought straight-forward battles his whole life, was completely unprepared to deal with the back-stabbing politics of King's Landing.
Catherine Morland from Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey. She admires a sinister-looking old mansion and, inspired by her Gothic novels, gets the idea that her host has killed his wife. Actually she's in a Regency romance and her love interest, the son of the man she suspects, isn't pleased about her thoughts.
In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, the hero's father is surprised by him and attributes to reading novels. Since they are in fact in a parody of novels, the father's right.
Where, Edward in the name of wonder (said he) did you pick up this unmeaning gibberish? You have been studying Novels, I suspect.
The title character of Emma sees herself as the wise match-maker with a keen insight into people and all their thoughts and feelings — a Fixer Sue of sorts — who can make the narrative play out exactly as she wishes and end in happy weddings for everyone. Every single one of her brilliant ideas fails horribly, many grave misunderstandings are created and exacerbated, her perception of situations is often completely wrong, and at times she can be outright insensitive. It's only once she stops meddling that everyone is able to resolve their romances, including Emma herself, entirely on their own.
Illuminatus!! has 00005, a Captain Ersatz for James Bond who's highly genre-savvy for a spy novel, except that he's not in a spy novel but a Cosmic Horror Story instead. And yet somehow manages to be one of the few (only?) characters to have things mostly figured out by the end.
Abby Normal in Christopher Moore's You Suck appears to be thoroughly aware that she's in a vampire novel. The problem is that she appears to believe that the aforementioned vampire novel is Twilight.
Sir Apropos Of Nothing (from the book of the same name by Peter David) is convinced that he is in a heroic tale, and works to seize the protagonistship by sheer force of will. The very idea of an Anti-Hero, and that he's been the protagonist all along, would come as a shock to him. However, the instant he realizes it's his place in life to be the useless sidekick to the local hero-to-be who is fated to receive all good things, he proceeds to heft a rock at the proto-hero's head and take his place.
Christopher in Everworld initially seems to believe that not just the fantasy world the heroes have landed in but the real world as well works according to the rules of action movies, and spends a lot of time calculating whether a given person will survive the current crisis. The others all consider him a bit nuts, and he learns better pretty soon. Although, weirdly, he's a mix of Wrong Genre Savvy and Dangerously Genre Savvy. It's a nonsensical oxymoron, but it works.
Overlapping with Death By Genre Savviness, the Villain Protagonist of Malice Aforethought is knowledgeable of mystery stories and real-life spousal murderers, and aims to commit the perfect murder. What he overlooks, is that everyone else who tried to do this has failed. He also buys into the stereotype of the police as morons, which while often true in Genteel Interbellum Setting fiction, isn't true of the police inspector he encounters.
The villain of the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Whose Body? has a similar goal of perfect murder and gets the benefit of dumb police. However, as is lampshaded by the incompetent Inspector Lestrade at the end, brilliant murderers still invariably end up getting caught in mystery novels.
A. N. Wilson's A Jealous Ghost features an American Ph.D. candidate who decides to pick up some extra cash by working as a wealthy lawyer's nanny. She convinces herself that she's in Henry James' The Turn Of The Screw,, which leads to unfortunate results.
The Hoard of the Gibbelins by Lord Dunsany, is noteworthy for being a partial case — for instance, the main character manages to convince a dragon to surrender by asking it if it's ever heard of a dragon that won a battle against a hero. When he errs is when, realizing that everyone who's tried a logical plan for robbing the Gibbelins has been defeated, he tries to make a plan that's Crazy Enough to Work, instead getting one that's simply crazy. Final line: "This is one of those stories that do not have a happy ending."
Some modern stories, like Dealing With Dragons, Lampshade this by introducing dragons who also only remember their own heroic victories over knights, losses conveniently forgotten.
Princess Vivenna of Warbreaker thinks she's The Hero who has to rescue her younger sister Siri from an arranged marriage to an Evil Overlord in a world with Black and White Morality. In fact, she's one major character in what is largely a political intrigue story where Rousseau Is Right, bu almost everyone has a hidden agenda of some sort. She winds up getting manipulated into starting a war for her trouble.
Featured a number of times in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. The Disc literally runs on stories (and an element called "Narrativium"), and a few characters are at least dimly aware of this, but it's also shown that some types of stories can be hard to tell apart, and even the most deeply-entrenched stories can be warped, twisted, and changed.
Twoflower, as first seen in The Colour of Magic, thinks he is in a conventional heroic fantasy setting, which Discworld, um... is not. Luckily for him, everyone around him is more Genre Savvy.
The Palace Guards in Guards! Guards!! also believe they're in a conventional heroic fantasy — two of them refuse to attack Captain Vimes on the grounds that they outnumber him and he's unarmed, both indications that he's likely to do something heroic.
Malicia:So, let's go over it again. You don't have a knife of any kind?
Malicia:Or some handy matches that could burn through the rope?
Malicia:And no sharp edge near you that you could rub the rope on?
Malicia:And you can't sort of pull your legs through your arms so that you can get your arms behind you?
Malicia:And you don't have any secret powers?
Malicia:You know, in many ways I don't think this adventure has been properly organised.
In Unseen Academicals, Glenda objects to her friend Juliet going out with Trev Likely because he's not Prince Charming. When she gets involved in a romance of her own, she wises up; while she thinks that these events don't happen in romances, she doesn't act as if it ought to be one.
Miles Vorkosigan falls into this in the novel A Civil Campaign. Throughout the series, he's a masterful Guile Hero who always succeeds through is cleverness, but then he attempts to apply his military strategy to wooing his love interest, despite all of his family and friends trying to warn him that this is a terrible idea. Sure enough, when he proposes, she feels emotionally manipulated and walks out on him.
The entire cast of The Westing Game seems to think they're in a murder mystery story with a fabulous inheritance as the prize to the winner. Only Turtle ever realizes they're not. What they are in is somewhat unclear, although a con is close.
This is actually the basis of the plot in Charles Stross's The Jennifer Morgue, where the Dangerously Genre Savvy villain actually has a magical device that forces the events of his plot to conform to the literary conventions of an Ian Fleming novel. The heroes use this against him; both the villain and the main character assume that the main character is the Bond Expy, when in fact he's been set up as the Bond girl that gets caught in the Bond villain's Evil Lair and must be rescued by the second Agent, the (female) Bond, blindsiding the villain.
Furthermore, the villain comes down with a severe case of Genre Blind by the end. The main reason he set up the Bond geas was so that he could smash it at the point where no other outside intelligence could interfere, thus leaving him in full control of his faculties and the elite superspy just another outnumbered foreign agent. But by the end, when he's got his captives held hostage and is monologuing at them rather than just shooting them, he still thinks he's in control.
In the Wild Cards novel Card Sharks, Harvey Melmouth, an Ace known as The Librarian, viewed his participation in the Iranian hostage crisis rescue mission as bad adventure fiction, and was thus certain that he wouldn't die. Unfortunately, he turned out to be part of a gritty spy thriller. On the positive side, his failure to take things seriously lead him to cross a street standing straight rather than hunched over like his fellow team member, Jay Ackroyd. As a result, he was the taller target and was thus the guy who got shot in an ambush, ensuring that the mission critical teleporter wasn't taken out and thereby saving most of the remaining team when things went completely FUBAR.
Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey includes a story about a mysterious old man who has spent twenty years alone in the mountains inventing a humane musical mousetrap. The Centerburg residents are impressed with his similarity to a storybook character and, once the librarians determine the most fitting one, refer to him patronizingly as Rip Van Winkle. It isn't until all the children in Centerburg are following his musical mousetrap out of town that they realize he's a lot more like The Pied Piper Of Hamelin.
In Dorothy L. Sayers's Have His Carcase, Harriet notes that in all the detective novels, the villain tells the victim to bring the letter with him, to ensure (from the villain's POV) that it's destroyed, and (from the author's POV) that it's not completely destroyed and right there for the hero to find. They conclude that the murderers must have said that because the books do — and it serves the same purpose, because they didn't realize why the authors did it.
The root of Sophie's major problems in Howl's Moving Castle is that she thinks she is genre savvy enough to know that being the eldest of three children she will be doomed to a boring life without glamour or success. As such she completely fails to see that she is an extremely potent witch with the ability to ensure a happy ending for herself as well as everyone around her.
The Dragaera novel Athyra is told from the perspective of Savn, a Teckla peasant training to be a "physicker". Savn is definitely aware of narrative conventions, as part of a physicker's job is knowing stories to tell patients to distract them from the pain of medical treatment. From Savn's perspective, Vlad is the stock fantasy mentor character, a mysterious and kind of strange character who shows up in the hero's backwater town and introduces them to adventure. Unfortunately for Savn, he's not a character in a straight Heroic Fantasy: he's in a Black and Gray MoralityDungeon Punk series, and Vlad's the protagonist, not him. Needless to say, Savn doesn't get a happy ending.
Done hilariously in a short story from The Dresden Files. Harry is trying to deal with a great deal of hilarity which is in the process of ensuing when a group of teenagers show up at his house in goth clothes and Slytherin scarves. Their leader informs Harry that he, Harry Dresden, has earned their wrath for removing a curse they put on some old lady and to prepare himself to suffer the consequences. Harry informs them he didn't even notice the curse and just did the exorcism to make her feel better, then pulls a gun on them.
Arguably, in a story in Side Jobs, Billy the Werewolf thought he was the protagonist in a 'werewolf action story' in dealing with John Marcone, only to discover he was in fact a Worf. Marcone was unimpressed by his werewolf powers and made it clear that he would either sit down and shut up, or die. He wasn't bluffing.
Arguably, in the early The Dresden Files stories, Karrin Murphy thought she was the star of a police procedural that happened to include magical phenomena, when she was in fact the Friend on the Force in a noir-style urban fantasy. She catches on as the series progresses.
Harry's eventual apprentice Molly Carpenter seems to think she's the plucky young heroine who can get away with anything on her wit and natural talents. Harry has to forcibly remind her on several occasions that she's in an Anyone Can Die horror series, and he is not the kindly, easily-forgiving mentor she thinks he is before she gets the picture. She also thinks that she's in a Rescue Romance. Harry pours some cold water on that idea. Literally.
In Proven Guilty, Harry meets a vampire, and they immediately start trading veiled threats. At one point, Harry threatens to expose the vampire, who laughs in his face. He assumes that he's in a typical Urban Fantasy where The Masquerade must be upheld at all costs, and Harry wouldn't dare telling "vanilla" mortals about vampires. He is rather deflated when Harry points out that he's listed in the Yellow Pages under "Wizards."
Even Harry himself is guilty of it from time to time. In his first meeting with Nicodemus, he tries to goad Nick into revealing a bit of the plan, maybe even take some time to gloat, etc. Nicodemus gives Harry a deadpan look, and flatly tells Harry that his is wounded by the complete lack of professional respect that this implies. This is the point where Harry realizes that, no, the villains in this series are not graduates from the Bond Villain School of Stupidity.
Harry understands the importance of identifying his genre. From Dead Beat:
The trick was to figure out which movie I was in. If this was a variant on High Noon, then walking outside was probably a fairly dangerous idea. On the other hand, there was always the chance that I was still in the opening scenes of The Maltese Falcon and everyone trying to chase down the bird still wanted to talk to me. In which case, this was probably a good chance to dig for vital information about what might well be a growing storm around the search for The Word of Kemmler.
In the Agatha Christie novel Easy to Kill, one of the female characters, Brigit, wanders off on her own. When Luke, the main character, finds her, he warns her to be more careful because he doesn't want her to get killed. Brigit says that it's okay, because the heroine is never killed in these types of stories. Luke objects, not because This Is Reality, but because he doesn't believe that Brigit is the heroine. She is. Luke is the one who was Wrong Genre Savvy.. A similar example occurs in another Christie mystery, Crooked House, where a young girl tries to fake a near death experience by setting up a statue to fall on her head when she walked through a certain door. When one of the other characters says that she could have easily been killed for real, the detective points out that it probably didn't occur to her because she thought she was the heroine, and the heroine never dies.
Another Agatha Christie novel 'The ABC Murders' features characters who fail to solve the mystery because they believe they're in a serial killer novel. They're not. The killer is a regular killer who killed his brother for the inheritance..and killed a few more people to make it look like a serial killer
A Ruth Rendell short story featured an old woman who thought she was in a Little Old Lady Investigates story. She was right in that she was in a crime story, wrong in that Ruth Rendell does not write that sort of crime story.
In Three Bags Full, a detective story which features a flock of anthropomorphic Irish sheep out to solve the murder of their shepherd, Heidi and other sheep are convicted that they are in a romance novel. Of course, the only thing they know about humans is the novels that their shepherd used to read them, so it's not quite surprising from them.
The Witcher Saga is full of people who think the world works like in more conventional fantasy or fairy tale — and they are proven to be very wrong. Some of the early stories for example featured a party gathered to hunt a dragon, which included a Knight in Shining Armor acting pretty much as though he were in classic fairy tales where pure heart and honor always prevail and the world is defined by Black & White morality but people like wizards and witches can always abandon their vile ways, a wizard who wanted to protect monsters because they are rare, dying species and a shoemaker who thought this is classic Polish fairy tale of shoemaker killing a dragon with poisoned stuffed lamb, and he is the main character. The story ended badly or at least humiliating for all of them. One of later novels has a young, idealistic boy who enlists because he believed in propaganda proclaiming upcoming war to be "Great War to End All Wars" (compare with Real Life example about World War One below). Before he even started to learn that War Is Hell, he got mocked pretty hard by everybody. Someone even showed him a fat prostitute and said that yes, this is a whore, and yes, she is big, maybe even great, but she certainly is not Great Whore to End All Whores.
Dandelion. In one story he summoned a Genie in a Bottle and immediately started saying his wishes, only to find out that he does not meet the requirements necessary to have a genie grant you a wish, and that genies hate to be bossed around and try to kill anybody who tries to make a wish, even if he cannot force them to grant it. In another he heard about a prince and mermaid who had fallen in love and expected things to turn out like in a poem he wanted to write, that was exactly like Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. When the mermaid in question objected upon being turned into a human because if prince really loved her then why he won't change into a triton, Dandelion decided to ignore this and write that his version happened and when she changed her mind and turned into human a her first words were to call Dandelion an idiot for thinking she lost her voice.
Geralt himself has his moments. In the first novel he is advocating keeping True Neutral stance in a conflict between humans and elves only to get shown how wrong he is and admitting it himself. In fact, this is how he bonded his destiny with Ciri's - he helped a cursed knight to undo his curse and marry the princess he was promised to on the basis of fairy tale-like deal with her father. Geralt joked that in return he demands from knight something he already has but didn't know about it. Then they both found out that the princess was carrying knight's child, which is now promised to Geralt. When he decided to break the deal and not take the kid, things went down pretty badly.
In Avalon High, Ellie thinks she's the Lady of Shalott (since the kid's names seemed to mirror their Arthurian counterparts), and so does everyone else clued in. This ends badly for Marco/Mordred, who thinks that she's basically useless and can't help anyone, but Ellie's actually the Lady of the Lake, and ends up saving the day appropriately.
Live Action TV
Alex Drake from Ashes to Ashes is an especially interesting case: having been aware of Sam Tyler's experience, she thinks she's starring in Life On Mars. Of course since Ashes To Ashes is the sequel to Life on Mars some of what she thinks is right, and some isn't.
Quite a few instances on Teen Wolf, several of them very different. Stiles seems to think he's in a buddy superhero show, Scott thinks the universe is simplistic with a clear villain to defeat that being Derek. We quickly learn that it's a lot more complicated. Lydia seems to think she's the main character of a chick-flick - and doesn't realize she'd be the bad guy in that situation.
Stiles does, however, show shades of being Genre Savvy in regards to werewolves, recognizing wolfsbane and signs of lycanthropy.
In the American version of The Office, Michael Scott often attempts to be Genre Savvy about real life, much to the confusion of the rational people around him. He usually goes with comedy or romantic wrong-genre tropes, such as muttering something under his breath so that the microphone picks it up while the other characters don't hear it. They always hear it and call him out on whatever he just muttered. When he has to do anything resembling spy or infiltration movies (such as spying on a competing paper company), he assumes a thinly-veiled variation on his own name such as "Michael Scotch" or his recurring "Agent Michael Scarn" character.
Also, he calls upon vampire tropes when he thinks Jim was bitten by a bat (sharpened stake, etc). In fact, Jim's pranks use this to their advantage quite often, such as when he recruited Dwight to the CIA.
Jim: I discovered that Dwight placed a listening bug in the wooden duck he gave me. I think that if I play my cards right, I can have him replay the plot of National Treasure.
In the Torchwood episode "Countrycide," the team investigates a series of killings by predatory aliens. They don't know that aliens had nothing to do it. A clan of cannibalistic Serial Killers committed the murders.
The passengers in the Doctor Who episode "Midnight" realize that there's a hostile alien on the bus on them, only they think the Doctor is the hostile alien and attempt to murder him.
Arthur in Merlin believes that he is the main character, any Monster of the Week can be defeated with his sword, Merlin is just his dumb sidekick, and his Knight Templar father has the right idea overall in trying to eliminate all wizards and witches.
He actually gets called out for this in With All My Heart. Merlin disguises himself as an old woman (long story there) and saves Guinevere from a spell. Merlin also takes the opportunity to chide Arthur on this.
Merlin: Aren't you forgetting the boy?
Arthur: Oh yeah, thought it went too smoothly back there.
Merlin: If it weren't for him, your queen would still be enchanted.
Arthur: No, don't think so.
*Merlin rolls his eyes*
Monty Python's Flying Circus occasionally features an army colonel who comes so very close to being genuinely Genre Savvy. He knows he's in a comedy sketch show all right. Unfortunately he doesn't realise which one, and so he thinks that sketches should have clearly-defined jokes in them, with vaguely plausible premises, and punchlines. As a result he calls an end to many a sketch which he considers to be far too silly, generally to provide at least some kind of closure to a sketch that is, frankly, totally off the rails by the time he appears with no stopping place in sight.
In the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis," the characters try to figure out a Five-Man Band configuration which, if they stick to it, will lead to their inevitable success. This being Sunny, it obviously fails miserably.
Maxwell Smart once did this in an episode of Get Smart. He was kidnapped by KAOS and hypnotised to kill the Chief, put in a cell, and left to escape. Every time the KAOS agents tried to help him, he misinterpreted it as an attempt to kill him.
In an episode of Friends, Joey receives a visit from an unhinged, obsessed fan. Anticipating violence, he grabs a frying pan. Chandler suggests that he comes up with a backup plan in case she isn't a cartoon character.
Flight of the Conchords had a weird example when Bret tried to woo a woman with techniques he'd seen in a sitcom. Now, Bret is in a sitcom, but he did stuff that never works even in sitcoms. At one point, Jemaine asks whether what Bret is planning on doing worked in the sitcom he saw it in. Bret says that it didn't, but as this is real life, his chances are better.
In the last episode of Firefly, Wash gives us this exchange:
Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction. Zoe: You live in a spaceship, dear. Wash:So?
Crow was convinced that he was the recurring Dragon to Niska, who would face the heroes as a recurring enemy. Mal will have none of that and kicks him into Serenity'sengine turbine.
LOST: Although Hurley usually fills the role of the Genre Savvy, he sometimes ends up wrong as well. Early on, he feared a body he was burying would rise as a zombie, killing him first because he weighed too much to run quickly. He was wrong. Years later, one of his friends did rise from the dead, and many others visited him as ghosts, but by that time, the show itself has shifted genres.
In the short-lived NBC series Something Is Out There, the female alien Ta'Ra is constantly puzzled by her human partner saying things like "Where's the Self-Destruct Mechanism on this spaceship?" and "Can't you set that raygun on stun?"
Contestants on Hell's Kitchen will use the usual Reality Show tropes such as alliances, sabotage, and backstabbing... while apparently forgetting that the man they're trying to please is Gordon Ramsay, who has repeatedly ignored the "standard" rules and eliminated whoever he felt like despite all the Survivor-style plotting, usually while reprimanding the perpetrators for thinking they're clever.
Likewise, in The Apprentice contestants will often try to rig the boardroom in their favor by bringing back the person that they intend to get fired, along with whoever was the strongest person on their team — or even someone who has immunity from being fired — in an attempt to manipulate the boss into firing the other person. This strategy almost never works.
In The Celebrity Apprentice 2, Scott Hamilton actually told Donald Trump that he had brought back Tom Green, who he wanted to be fired, and Herschel Walker because he thought that Walker probably wouldn't be fired and would support him in getting rid of Green. Honesty was most definitely not the best policy here though, as this revelation led pretty much directly to Hamilton's firing.
This strategy actually did work for Ivana in the second regular season of The Apprentice, albeit in a completely different manner to what she intended. She brought back Stacie, who was her intended victim, along with Bradford and Jennifer, who had been the best two salespeople in the task, thinking that this would result in Stacie's firing. Her original strategy failed, because Trump didn't think Stacie had caused the team to lose, but Ivana was saved by the fact that Bradford had stupidly decided to surrender his immunity (which he claimed he didn't need) earlier in the boardroom, resulting in Trump firing him instead.
Speaking of Gordon Ramsay, a lot of the failing restaurants featured in Kitchen Nightmares are failing usually due to bad locations and serving the wrong food to the wrong customers, like the Piccolo Teatro, a vegetarian restaurant in Paris, France, where only 2% of the population are vegetarian. That's just soft stuff, though. You got the people who think that they're better than him and try to upstage him and prove that they're better than him, as if this was some sort of reality show and not something to save their livelihood. Those who don't get it through their head end up shuttered.
Castle gets this often, especially when seemingly-supernatural events occur (he invokes horror tropes and fantasy tropes about evenly). Another great example, after tracking down a serial killer who supposedly rose from his grave:
Castle: We're going to a cabin in the woods, in the middle of nowhere?
Beckett: Yeah, so?
Castle: So... it's like the coed, checking out the strange noise in a basement in a slasher fic. It's a recipe for disaster.
Beckett: It's not a slasher fic, it's a murder investigation.
When Sisko was trying to catch the rogue officer Eddington in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he realised that Eddington saw himself as a heroic figure for the Maquis, which Eddington pretty much confirmed by likening himself to Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Sisko ended up having to become genre savvy himself and forced Eddington to become a martyr for his beliefs.
The in-universe explanation is that she had the right idea with her utopian, anti-war ideals... but in the wrong time, leading to it all going horribly wrong.
DS 9 also gave us a Holodeck Malfunction that caused Garak and Dr. Bashir trapped in Bashir's spy world. Garak, having been a spy in the past, attempts to use his knowledge to handle the situation, yet Bashir is able to outperform him at every turn. Garak was thinking of how to be a real spy, not a romantic spy.
Ant, a moderately good singer, brought his brother, Seb, an utterly hopeless singer, to the pre-auditions of The X Factor, with Seb's terrible performance ensuring they'd get to the actual judges. The duo hoped that the judges would just put through Ant, as they had often done with groups with only one good singer; unfortunately that year the show started only putting through groups as a whole and not individual members, stopping the plan dead in its tracks.
On an episode of The Avengers, a famous bullfighter sees a cart rolling toward him and, assuming that his skills are being tested, whips out his cape. It turns out he's right that the cart was sent against him by the villain but wrong about how it's going to kill him.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Musical Episode "Once More With Feeling". The person who tries to change the town's genre to a happy musical. Turns out people are dancing themselves to death. Oops.
Relatedly, when Jonathan turns himself into the main character, actually forcing the show itself to shift from a horror-spoof to an over the top action-spoof at the same time. This means that he actively chose to be Wrong Genre Savvy, then forced the genre to change to suit him. Surprisingly, it works out for most of the episode, before he has to give it up to stop the monster of the week.
Anya says to Xander (paraphrased) "If you're ever thinking of leaving me, I want it to be like one of those movies where the bomb is counting down, and at one second to go I cut the wire and you don't leave." Wrong genre savvy since this is a Joss Whedon production, so the 'bomb' goes off at the most tragic possible time.
In a season 4 episode, Willow falls out with Buffy when Buffy attempts to instruct her on the course of action, claiming "I'm not your Sidekick!" despite her clearly being so.
The Trio are an example of this trope; they attempt to be stereotypical comic book supervillains inside a story that's more nuanced and mature than that. The season 7 episode "Storyteller" is about confronting Andrew with this fact.
In a conversation with Angel, Spike once mentions "the old Anne Rice routine" — telling a woman you're a vampire, convincing her you're a tortured soul who only wants to overcome your curse and be good, then eating her when she lets her guard down.
Dawn had moments in season 7 when she seemed to think she was in CSI.
Dawn: I'm sure there's tons of stuff like this. You know, procedures we can use that don't involve magic spells. Just good solid detective work. And we can develop a database of tooth impressions and demon skin samples and I could wear high heels more often. Buffy: Wow, that was so close to being empowered. Dawn: Everybody loves a slender ankle.
In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Bad Guys", SG-1 accidentally take a bunch of hostages in an alien museum, and find themselves having to continue playing the role of terrorists until they can get the Stargate open again. Unfortunately, they also end up convincing the incompetent night watchman that he's just become the hero of a Die Hard on an X movie...
Faced with a dragon in "The Quest, Part 2", Cam Mitchell decides to throw a large chunk of C-4 under it since "that's where dragons are weakest". It's not that kind of dragon.
On the reality show Chef Academy, the chefs can be "eliminated" if they fail three tests over the course of the academy. It's made clear that it's perfectly possible that the entire class could graduate. Unfortunately, some of the chefs have seen too much reality TV, leading them to inexplicably act like they're on a competitive elimination show (a la Hell's Kitchen). At one point, one of the chefs actually says, "It's like I'm the only one who understands that this is a competition!" It's really not.
In "Regional Holiday Music", Abed thinks he's in a Very Special Christmas Episode where, with help from a life-affirming musical mentor, he has to stop his killjoy friends from forgetting The True Meaning Of Christmas through the Power of Song. He's actually in a Black Comedy parody of Glee where trying to force his friends to be cheerful is played out like an alien mind control Assimilation Plot where they become soulless Stepford Smilers, and the life-affirming musical mentor is a complete maniac.
Magnum, P.I.: An old enemy of Higgins has a habit of setting up complicated schemes based on classic movies, so Magnum spends most of the episode trying to figure out what movie he's supposed to be in, eventually settling on the 40s serial Perils Of Nyoka. The viewers knew it was Raiders of the Lost Ark from the very first scene. This whole episode was an Actor Allusion to Tom Selleck being Spielberg and Lucas's first choice for playing Indiana Jones, but he had to turn it down because the studio wouldn't let him out of his contract.
A clip from Tom Selleck's audition is included in the special features of the Raiders of the Lost Ark boxset, proving that Selleck would have made a damn fine Indiana Jones.
In Primeval a zoo keeper who has secretly raised a Smilodon, thought that the crew from Home Office cloned it and are trying kill it. But they are there to capture the beast, and try to put it back from where it came. She ends getting killed by it when she thought it wouldn't attack her, as it would view her as its mother.
In one episode of Supernatural the Winchesters are protecting a family in a house from a lady called the "Girl in the Wall". At first they assume she's a ghost, but she is in fact an Ax Crazy deranged human who has spent her entire life living under the house.
In the Law & Order episode "The Serpent's Tooth," the detectives notice the similarity between the murders they're investigating and the case from which it was Ripped from the Headlines, and focus their investigation on the No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of the real-life killers, only to find out (at the 45-minute mark) that it was actually somebody else who did it.
In the fourth season opener to Star Trek: Enterprise, an SS officer tries to strike up a conversation with his American prisoner (who is Captain Archer). He mentions how "in Hollywood movies, Americans always win. Too bad for you; you're not in a movie." However, it's still a Hollywood TV show....
In Lost Girl, Bo at one point encounters a Lich. After being told that he stores his soul in something, she suspects that he did so in a picture of himself ala Dorain Gray. When she destroys the picture, he just laughs at her. Fortunately, she figures out where it actually is later.
The basis of The Phil Hendrie Show, which appears on the surface to be a rather standard AM radio call-in talk show, albeit with some notably off-the-wall guests. It's customary for such shows to allow listeners to call in to give the host and guest a piece of their mind; and given the extremecraziness of the guests, the callers get pretty vociferous. However, despite the hourly disclaimers that the whole thing is a put-on, the callers fail to realize that the "guests" are actually fictional creations of voice actor Hendrie, and that they are the butts of what is essentially a prank phone call in reverse. If they even manage to notice that the host and guest sound rather alike, they are too deep in their Debate and Switch, Insane Troll Logic argument to get out.
There is this story of a long-time Call Of Cthulhu playernote in CoC the police is your friend, most of the time who was invited to a Cyberpunk 2020 gamenote where the attitudes are a lot more... cyberpunkish, if you know what we mean:
GM: You wake up in your apartment. You hear heavy steps on the stairs.
Player: I put my clothes on.
GM: They must be some sort of police assault squad, coming for you.
Player: I wash and shave.
GM: They're pounding on the door!
Player: I open.
GM: [ends the game]
Also worth noting is the uh oh moment when you design your character under the assumption that the game is going to be a certain genre and then find that you have made a character completely unequipped to get by in the gamemaster's world. This is especially a risk in universal systems such as GURPS, where literally any character conceivable can be made, requiring the GM to be very clear about the ground rules of his/her universe, or else tragic mismatches can ensue.
In Traveller, during the Interstellar Wars the Vilani Imperium had been deliberately clogged with Obstructive Bureaucrats to prevent change even if the change meant technical advance. This is a seemingly stupid idea but It Makes Sense in Context. You see, long ago the Vilani had conquered every single power around and rearranged the universe exactly the way they wanted. With no outside threat the only danger was civil war. If they could make their imperium run on autopilot the danger of that could be minimized. The problem was that this only made sense when there was no outside threat. Unfortunately the Vilani discovered a Barbarian Tribe from a certain Insignificant Little Blue Planet, which had different ideas about such matters...
In Unknown Armies, some characters (specifically television-obsessed Videomancers) can actually use Wrong Genre Savvy to their own advantage: a Significant formula spell from that school, called 'Laff Riot', literally replaces reality's normal rules with the conventions of a situation comedy ... "reality", here, being defined as the brutal and unforgiving harshness of a self-identified postmodern horror role-playing game of power and consequences wherein foolish characters often have the life expectancy of goldfish. The spell lasts only seconds in a fight or a few minutes outside of combat, but while in effect, all gunshots miss (including critical successes) and no physical damage from any source can exceed 5 points (approximately 1/10th of the average human's hit points). Targets of any attacks are, however, often subject to hilarious and humiliating pratfalls, like the suggested result of winding up hanging by the seat of your pants from a fire escape, flailing helplessly. Wrong Genre Savvy applies again when the spell wears off, of course, and people are once again free to plummet to their death.
Fair Folk in Exalted derive a lot of their horror from the fact that they're incapable of understanding that reality is more than just a melodrama of roles to be enjoyed and passions to be savored, and that all the human 'actors' in their stories are mortal and sentient.
Too much Talecrafting in Changeling The Lost can cause a changeling to fall prey to this, his or her perceptions becoming warped to perceive everything as part of a fairy tale.
In Hunter The Vigil, a cell of hunters doesn't get to make more than one chance at being wrong genre savvy before the vampire the hunters thought was dead in sunlight comes up behind them for the killing blow.
Near everyone in Warhammer 40000 is delusional about their situation, with tragic consequences for themselves and everyone else. The Imperium think that they're the defenders of peace and order in an inherently hostile universe. Nuhuhnote They are correct about the universe being inately hostile though. The Eldar (and the Necrons, after the 5th Edition Retcon) think they're nobly trying to preserve their dwindling culture from the barbarians constantly knocking down their doors. Notevenclose. The Tau think they're the sole beacon of hope and kindness in the face of overwhelming brutality and GRIMDARK. You wish. Even Chaos think they're the only source of true freedom and individuality in a galaxy of control and totalitarianism, when they're just as enslaved to their gods and daemons as other humans are to the Imperium. Only the Orks realise they're little more than machines bred to do nothing but fight; not-so-coincidentally, they're the only ones having a good time.
One Eldar philosopher called Uthan the Perverse actually argued that the Orks were the only race in the galaxy who knew their place in the galaxy, and thus were collectively the Only Sane Man.
Uthan: The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn't even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude.
The Cyberpunk 2020 adventure module "Carlsbad Caverns'' features a vampire as the primary villain. Not a normal person who's been cybered with the appropriate implants to pretend to be a vampire, but an honest-to-God supernatural blood-sucking creature of the night. GM notes for this adventure module suggest that the referee allow the players to keep thinking they're in a gritty cyberpunk science fiction story, while they're actually being thrust into a gritty survival horror story.
In Counter Monkey Spoony gives the same advice about playing Cthulhupunk - the GM should convince players they're playing gritty cyberpunk story and then hit them with revelation it's really a Cosmic Horror Story, most conveniently by not telling the players what game they're actually playing.
In Cromwell by Victor Hugo, Rochester, one of the men who conspires against Cromwell, thinks he's in a romance, and that his forbidden love with Cromwell's daughter will prevail. Unfortunately for him, he's in a political drama and she never noticed that he existed.
In the 18th century play Nathan the Wise, Nathan's servant Daya is reasonably savvy of the "Columbine" role in commedia del'arte and thus sees it as her duty to find a mate for Nathan's daughter. However, the young crusader that Daya tries to fix up with the daughter turns out to be the daughter's long-lost brother. In commedia del'arte, this kind of Contrived Coincidence is fairly common, so you could say that the guy would either be the love interest or the long-lost brother, and Daya made the wrong conclusion. There's also an aspect that although Daya knows that Nathan is a nice guy, she has antisemitic prejudices, and thus tends to act like the play she is in is The Merchant of Venice.
Rodrigo of Othello fits this on two levels. He thinks he's the rake protagonist who seduces the pretty young wife of an old man, but he's actually more like a Casanova Wannabe-type who gets conned by the conniving servant. Making things worse is that he's in a tragedy, not a comedy, and the conniving servant is Iago.
Polonius in Hamlet thinks he's in a Star-Crossed Lovers comedy, where every problem is caused by unrequited love and can be solved with eavesdropping. Unfortunately for him, he's in a revenge tragedy. As with Roderigo, he fits a Commedia dell'Arte stock character who happens to be in a tragedy (Rodgrigo is a Captain / Miles Gloriosus type, and Polonius is the Pantalone/Dottore character).
Deconstructed with Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, who doesn't realise he's in a romantic comedy, and winds up derailing the plot into a tragedy with his killing of Mercutio.
Sain from Fire Emblem Elibe acts as though he's the knight in shining armor in a fantasy story, forgetting that he's trapped in an RPG, leading to getting hit with an ax a few times in order to explain how Sain wasn't following the game mechanics. More specifically he was using a lance (weak against axes) since "Lances are more heroic. Don't you think that a knight should always appear heroic?" before being told that his attitude is going to get him killed.
Balthier of Final Fantasy XII constantly refers to himself as "the leading man." Though he never admits it, he's "actually more of a supporting role" which is similarly mentioned in his appearance in the Final Fantasy Tacticsremake.
Despite that, his Genre Savviness does not fail him when he needs it most when doing stupidly dangerous and heroic at the game's climax, having previously predicted that, as the leading man, he might have to do just that. "You know what they say about the leading man? He never dies." When confronted with the fact that he's actually a supporting character, Balthier rejects such pessimism out of hand. He doesn't die.
Seifer of Final Fantasy VIII at one point declares his and Squall's roles to be, respectively, the heroic Knight and the evil mercenary. Later, having finally realized that the Big Bad has been using his aspirations toward knighthood to manipulate him, he declares himself a "young revolutionary" instead, although by that point he's less Wrong Genre Savvy and more just plain in denial.
It's ultimately subverted by Snow in Final Fantasy XIII: his conviction that he is The Hero in an idealistic setting where determination and a just cause will see him through any setbacks seems woefully out of place throughout the first two thirds of the game, and causes more cynical characters like Lightning and Hope no end of frustration. By the final battle, however, he proves to have been entirely right about everything except his own role in the party (he's The Big Guy).
Zack at the start of Crisis Core displays this with a mix of Genre Blindness. He initially seems to think he's just a straight up hero and doesn't get how cynical the world he's in is. The Genre Blindness comes from not getting that Shinra is evil, or Professor Hojo is heartless sociopath despite him constantly locking you in a room with monsters For Science!.
Disgaea: Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth! who appears to be entirely unaware that he's not the main character until Laharl teaches him otherwise. Hard.
Despite how it may seem to some, Mao is right on the money. In the good ending he does win, it's just that he fails to realize that he's at the beginning of his story, and needs to go through The Hero's Journey before he can beat the Big Bad.
Flonne makes the same mistake about once a chapter in the first game. Apparently magical girl and tokusatsu shows are the only thing on in Celestia...
Flonne is however right when assuming that demons aren't evil, and that her being around Laharl will cause him to turn good.
Aurum actually invokes the trope upon realizing that he's become the Big Bad.
Adell in Disgaea 2 assumes that he's a hero saving the world from the Evil Overlord Zenon, since he's wasn't affected by Zenon's curse that turns everyone in his world into monsters. He's mostly right, but the real reason Zenon's curse didn't affect him is because he was born a demon.
Fuka in Disgaea 4 believes her being the underworld is All Just a Dream, and refuses to acknowledge that she is in fact dead. This does unlock her full potential though.
Asagi does this throughout the franchise, as an ever escalating in-joke. She started as test character for a canceled game, and developed into an unlockable character whose shtick is to believe she's the main character and try to take over. Though at this point she appears to just be insane.
Ryotaro Dojima of Persona 4 is remarkably intelligent and perceptive regarding a number of plot points in the game, such as figuring out that Mitsuo is a copycat killer, how the victims are selected, and even the player's involvement, but his skills leave him equipped much better for a standard Police Procedural or whodunnit than the Urban Fantasy he's in, leaving him with some very large and unfortunate blind spots.
The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion does this to the player. One of the early contracts for the Fighter's Guild has you going to a batty old woman's house to take care of a "rat problem" in her basement. However, unlike beginner rat-based missions from other RPGs, your job is to save the rats from mountain lions that have gotten into the old woman's basement. It makes sense in context, trust me.
This is actually an in-joke — the first FG mission in Morrowinddoes involve slaying rats for an identical-looking woman in Balmora, who shares her surname.
Which is dating back as far as Daggerfall, where the first FG mission is also a rat-killing one. (Which also has Fighter's Guild missions that involve killing beasts such as lions in the client's house.)
Midori of Devil Survivor convinces herself that she's some sort of hero of justice once she gets her hands on a COMP that lets her summon demons, and that the power of love always prevails over evil. How wrong is she? So wrong that she will get herself killed by an angry mob looking for a scapegoat if you don't make the right decisions.
What's really funny is that she gets a monster convinced it's a Magical Girl Warrior show too! And play your cards right, the same monster reappears as the Badass Black Frost — doing the hero of justice shtick for the other demons
BlazBlue: Bang Shishigami, HAMMER OF JUSTICE, thinks he's in a shonen anime. Itshows. Seriously, one of his win quotes is "Tune in next week!"
Eversion manages to pull this off on the player. The game goes from a Sugar Bowl to horror surprisingly quickly. And then manages to end cute (if in a way a Nightmare Fetishist would enjoy) in the secret ending anyway.
In the Professor Layton games, Inspector Chelmey acts like he's the main character and that Layton is the arrogant rival that tries to stop him from solving the crime by looking after an answer is found. In reality, Layton is the main character and Chelmey is the arrogant rival who instantly follows the first instinct he has.
The Universe CompendiumSymposium of Post-Mysticism reveals that all three of the new powers in Gensoukyou (Kanako, Byakuren and Miko) have no idea of how the region works, nor of how everyone likes the current situation of restrained belligerence and that the changes they want to implement would only create confusion and unrest. Indeed, the very fact of them meeting to calmly discuss their goals was Wrong Genre Savvy, as it ends with Reimu arriving and threatening to beat them up if they don't leave, which is exactly what happens in the games.
In Dragon Age: Origins, King Cailan establishes himself as a great admirer of the Grey Wardens, and expresses his eagerness to fight alongside them to defeat the darkspawn like in all the stories he has read. Unfortunately for Cailan, Dragon Age is not that kind of fantasy.
Anybody who has read A Song of Ice and Fire and is aware that it was a great influence in this game will dub King Cailan "King Redshirt III" after hearing him speak for about 10 seconds.
Loghain initially seems to be under the impression that he's in a Political Thriller. He believes that Cailan was part of a conspiracy along with the Grey Wardens, to return Ferelden under Orlesian rule and was using the false rumours of a Blight to gather his forces. The Return to Ostagar DLC reveals Loghain was partially right. Cailan did intend to forge an alliance with Orlais, but the Grey Wardens were not involved. They were there to deal with the Blight, which is very much real. This comes back at him, too; several characters, Anders and Wynn especially, think that events in Redcliff and The Circle are plots by him to weaken his enemies that the Warden barely foils when they had in fact gone completely and catastrophically wrong before the party even gets there, and even his betrayal of Cailan was a snap decision when the signal was delayed and the battle already doomed. He isn't a mustache-twirling villain, he's a tragic hero that went too far. If recruited he will actually argue with Wynn about it.
In Dragon Age II, Cassandra Pentaghast adamantly tries between narrations to pin the blame of all the events of the game on a Big Bad. There is none. Varric even says that Meredith, corrupted by the Artifact of Doom, was irrelevant.
Knight-Commander Meredith seems to be fully convinced that she's The Hero and that Hawke is nothing more than a foreign upstart, spreading anarchy and dissent through Kirkwall and attempting to undermine her authority by openly consorting with Mages. During her Villainous Breakdown at the end, she only accuses Hawke of masterminding everything that has gone wrong in Kirkwall over the past several years, intending to use the chaos to seize power for themselves. If Hawke is a Mage, she goes on to accuse them of using Blood Magic to enthrall her Templars, when in truth, they're actually rebelling because they realise that Meredith has finally gone off the deep end.
Eddie Riggs of Brütal Legend approaches the game from the perspective of a Heavy Metal roadie. This sometimes works — as he ends up in a place and time that runs on The Power of Rock — but other times, it falls squarely into this trope; for instance, he's the lead character and The Chosen One, but his immediate inclination is to assume he's supposed to play Hyper Competent Sidekick. Which is understandable, because even in a world like that, Eddie believes that he's the best roadie, and nothing more. In the end, he makes that work, because "I'm a roadie! I keep the trash off the stage!" Cue DECAPITATIOOOOOOOOOONN!
Zoey from Left 4 Dead, she's becomes a bit frustrated that the "zombies" aren't shamblers, but are instead violently insane people who can run, climb ladders, scale fences, etc.
"I can't get over how fast they all are, it's not even fair. I'm calling zombie bull—— on that, you know? [Giggles nervously] They're not...allowed to be so fast."
Worse than that, the The Sacrifice comic reveals that her wrong-genre-savvy-ness led her to mistakenly Mercy Kill her father after he was bitten. She has something of a Heroic BSOD when she finds out he was actually immune to infection like her.
Most of the Survivors believe themselves to be people who are immune to the "outbreak", which they are. Unfortunately whatever agent that causes the outbreak is still within them, making them "carriers" who would unintentionally spread the disease to everyone they came in contact with.
Most of the cast of Tales Of Symphonia initially believe themselves to be escorting Collete on her journey to revive their dying world and seal off an evil army called the Desians. Fairly soon they find a girl from a parallel world Sheena, and that both worlds are vying for each others mana and they most likely can't save both of them, but they keep their hopes up and try anyways. Then comes the Wham Episode moment that is tradition for the series, they find the angels that were setting up the whole thing are evil and are in league with the Desians, and they actually can save both worlds.
In Tomb Raider Anniversary, Pierre runs off with a piece of the Scion with Lara in hot pursuit. The statues outside of the tomb come to life and focus their attention on Pierre. Pierre then throws the Scion to Lara, thinking the monsters will go after her instead of him since she has the Scion. He gets attacked and killed by the monsters anyway.
Unlike most examples, Groose figures this out (after a short Heroic BSOD) and redefines himself as the Side Kick, becoming useful and likeable by the end of the game.
In Pokemon Black And White, N believes that he is destined to recreate the story of the hero who founded Unova by befriending the legendary dragon. This was deliberate by his father Ghetsis to mask N's true nature as a Tyke Bomb, to take control of Unova and ban Pokemon husbandry so Ghetsis could rule the region unopposed. When N picks the player character to play the role of the hero's rival twin in his story, giving them the resources and motivation to summon the other legendary dragon and oppose him, he unwittingly enables them to befriend him, disprove his cause, and thwart Ghetsis's plans. Is it possible to be dangerouslyWrong Genre Savvy?
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has a few cases where characters new to the supernatural side of things think the world they are in works by common horror tropes. Most notable would be one of the thin-bloods, who thinks a full blood transfusion or killing the head vampire can cure him from vampirism. The player can milk his gullibility for all it is worth. Another example would be when you get a mission to keep the zombie population at a local graveyard under control for a bit.
Romero: Whatever you do, don't let them bite you.
Player: Why? Will I turn into a zombie then?
Romero: Nope. It just hurts like a bitch.
Spec Ops The Line is a very interesting game because it serves as a deconstruction of typical shooter games like Call of Duty. The story revolves around Walker, a Delta Force operator who seems like your typical action hero, who thinks that he is an American war hero will sweep in and save the day. However things get progressively worse despite — and even because of — his actions. The game goes to great lengths to show that simply being well intentioned and fighting as hard as you can to save everyone doesn't always make everything alright in the end, the action hero doesn't always succeed. Walker realizes that he is in a deconstruction far too late to correct his mistakes.
After being locked in a room with the former Godof War Kratos, Greek hero Perseus has a minor breakdown when its clear that Kratos will not help him escape. Perseus reasons that the Sisters of Fate have sent Kratos (who is vilified throughout Greece) to him as a test of strength. Donning his Cap of Invisibility, he resolves to kill the Ghost of Sparta to get in favor with the Sisters. Kratos impales Perseus on a huge hook, letting him know that it's not that kind of video game.
The Matter of the Monster, a fairy-tale-inspired game by Andrew Plotkin, has a scene in which the current player character has to decide whether to help a mysterious old man in a forest; if the player chooses not to help, the character turns out to be just the wrong amount of Genre Savvy:
"Don't be ridiculous," she said. "Everyone knows that it's helpless old women in the forest that turn out to be disguised fairies. Not madmen with ice cream on their hats."
Taiga Fujimura from Fate/stay night seems to think she is the protective mother/older sister of a romantic comedy for Shirou, (as evidence by her objections to Saber and Rin staying at the Emiya home in Fate Route) but she is, in fact, dead wrong, especially when she gets shown the exit door to allow more serious discussions.
Umineko No Naku Koro Ni - Good news: Rudolf is enough of an old Western buff to have gotten to know how to use a lever-action shotgun to massacre the rival siblings on the island. Bad news: he's in a mystery novel and forgets to make sure everyone's dead, or take all the extra guns.
Sluggy Freelance has exaggerated this, with characters thinking and arguing as if highly unrealistic conventions of various genres should apply to their situation:
In "The Sci-Fi Adventure", the otherwise-nameless Captain of a starship believes he'll be the sole survivor of an alien rampage because he's the "handsome masculine lead", but Torg questions the logic he used to reach that conclusion, calling him a "shallow, one-dimensional stereotype" and suggesting that Riff and Torg will be the sole survivors instead because they have the more interesting backstory. The captain shouts "What is this? A sci-fi thriller or a goofy buddy movie?" The alien promptly answers his question.
Zoe: I can't believe you hired scientists to raise the dead to be soldiers! I thought the military was made up of brave people. Where is your honor?
General Mayhem: Sorry, miss. You have to understand, there are basically two divisions in the collective we call "the military." There is the heroic military, as represented in most of your early war movies, and the conspiratorial military (filled with subterfuge and deception) as represented in bad sci-fi films and The X-Files.
Poor Piro from MegaTokyo thinks romance works like either a Japanese Dating Sim or a shoujo manga, and constantly beats himself up for not being able to live up to the kind of situations he figures romance should entail. It's hard not to laugh when he whines about how he should be an "expert" at the subject considering all the games and mangas he's played and read, totally without irony.
Largo on the other hand defines himself by Action Adventure Tropes, playing the hotblooded action hero in totally inappropriate situations. Ironically, his girlfriend actually finds herself oddly attracted to this, despite or possibly due to her own deep-seated cynicism.
When Yuki is awakened as a Magical Girl, she instinctively reacts by seeking out cute, impractical uniforms and acting as if she were the main character in a series of that genre. She gets this drummed out of her when the "impractical" part makes itself apparent.
The setting in MegaTokyo runs in multiple, overlapping genres at a time, and most characters have a Weirdness Censor for genres that don't overlap with their own. (Piro/Largo is only the most flagrant divide.) Most moments of Wrong Genre Savvy happen when a character wanders into an element of someone else's story or when the fantastic fails and Reality Ensues.
Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! from Girl Genius. He's convinced that he's the leading man, Baron Wulfenbach and Gil Wulfenbach are the diabolical mastermind and the mastermind's fiendish right hand man respectively, and Agatha Clay is the leading man's beautiful young sidekick (even if she's not the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter like he originally thought). Unfortunately he's completely insane and doesn't realise that he's wrong on all counts, so his genre-savvy plans are almost always inappropriate.
Once he realizes that Agatha is a Heterodyne, he changes on the last part and treats her as the Hero of Another Story (possibly with himself as some manner of Mentor Archetype) — which doesn't solve his problem, since he's still completely insane, and Agatha knows it and wants nothing to do with him. Word Of God is that he's re-cast his delusion slightly, Agatha is now the tragic love interest (he's going to kill her last, in some sort of love-suicide pact).
One of the radio plays questioned whether Othar really is delusional — after all, having Sparks in charge has been almost always catastrophic for common Europeans, and it's not at all clear that the heroes will be able to break that cycle.
An odd example that may be both a subversion and a straight example occurs here. Lucy believes that she and the rest of the group are in a horror movie plot, which the current arc certainly resembles. This worries her because, due to the tropes associated with horror movies, none of them will survive. However, she isn't in a horror movie; she's in a webcomic. Given that the webcomic is Something Positive, her chances of survival might be even worse.
Shortly afterward Wil Wheaton gets his arm cut off because one of the survivors is acting like it's a zombie movie, and thinks a bite means infection... the catgirls don't work like that.
In Chainmail Bikini, a D&D webcomic, the players see the new players' character fighting undead. They stand around and watch, thinking it's the scene where she impresses them with her power and they ask her to join their team. When she turns out to be losing the fight, they figure out that they've "picked the wrong cliched introduction" and that this is actually the one where they save her life and ask her to join their team.
Ramgar: Hold up. I think this is the cliche introduction where we see the new character kick so much butt we ask them to come with us. It's a classic of the medium. Let her have her moment of glory.
Lucretia: Will you imbeciles get over here and help? I'm inundated with undead!
Sapphire: Looks like this is the classic "we rescue someone and THEY ask to join US" intro.
Ramgar: Sorry, I wasn't sure which cliche we are supposed to be doing!
Tarquin appears to have cast himself as the Big Bad and Elan as The Hero, unaware that it's Xykon and Roy respectively. What consequences this will have for him are undetermined.
Maybe, for him, it is. Just because the order is fighting to save the world doesn't mean he can't be the villain of his own subplot.
Tsukiko seems to think that she is a protagonist of Girl Meets Lich story and Xykon is her Love Interest, undeads are really Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, while the living are really evil and Redcloak is just an obstacle she has to eliminate to be with her beloved; this proves her undoing
The rather odd Heroic Fantasy-High School RPG Class Of Heroes has as part of its official website a brief webcomic about a rather unobservant teenaged boy who plays the game thinking it's a Dating Sim.
In Platinum Grit, Jack Leaderboard was a private eye who thought and acted like the protagonist in a hardboiled detective story, going undercover as a removalist to crack a case. He thought he was uncovering a sordid tale of black magic and human sacrifice featuring Nils as seductive Femme Fatale and Jeremy as a cold-blooded murder with a perfect poker face. Nobody else even noticed his existence.
In this Dinosaur Comicsstrip, T-Rex attempted to re-create a scenario that always happened in cartoons, too bad he is actually in a webcomic that likes to play with tropes. It was even lampshaded in the end.
The unfortunate torturee in thisExterminatus Now strip gets it half right. He's spot-on regarding the comic's goofy sense of humor, but makes the mistake of assuming that that implies an aversion to violence.
In the fourth arc of Darths & Droids, a new player named Corey was introduced in the role of Luke. He keeps treating the game as if it was a video game rather than a tabletop game. For example, when treated with exposition about the plotline thus far, he responds, "Can I replay this cutscene later?" He soon grew out of this.
Tucker of Girls With Slingshots learned from romance comedies that stalking and persistence were the best ways to get girls. Clarice tried to set him straight by assigning him stories with more stable romances, but couldn't think of any.
The Dove, a Serial Killer Killer from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, incorrectly believed he was the hero in a revenge-driven crime thriller. It honestly never occurred to him that he was the villain of a superheroic version of the standard Police Procedural. The revelation of his actual status in the story caused him to commit suicide.
In "We Are Our Avatars", Asagi Asagiri views the world as a massive video game...when it’s really a massive forum game, which upgrades into Genre Savvy whenever any mechanics from video games worm their way into the situation.
Spoony: "Suddenly I've decided that I'm terribly afraid of you."
Don Sebastiano, from the Whateley Universe, thinks that he's in a standard Sky High-esque superhero story, he's the Big Bad and that he and Hekate can do anything they want. Problem is, they're actually in an X-Men-esque superhero story. He's more the Disc One Final Boss, Hekate is his dragon, and he's underestimated the value of politics- without them, he'd be dead or maimed, because he's playing in the same league as a bunch of people who could kill him without any effort and have already gone up against bigger enemies. (Seriously, the Don or Hekate- or both of them- versus Tennyo? No contest.)
This Swedish ChefYouTube video has two Wrong Genre Savvy talking pumpkins. They try to use Briar Patching, advising the Chef to use increasingly bizarre/dangerous implements to smash them, on the assumption that he won't have them. However, this is the Swedish Chef we're talking about, who can always pull a sizable arsenal out of hammerspace.
My Little Pony: Paradise is well-versed in the tropes of fairy tales and legends, and yet she, a winged pony living in a Magical Land with unicorns and dragons, wonders why her life can't be more like a storybook. Uh...
One episode of Bonkers featured a Screwy Squirrel-type character who goes on a crime spree. At first Bonkers thinks he's unstoppable, because the character always wins in his cartoons. Then Bonkers comes to the realization that this is his cartoon, and so is able to defeat him.
In "Stanley's Cup" the characters correctly realize that they are in a typical sports movie and thus deduce that are bound to win against all odds. They also understand that to achieve that, they need to invite a really good player to their team for the final match, which they also do. In the end they turn out to be Wrong Genre Savvy and are beaten brutally: the opposing players were the real protagonists all along.
The opposing team was a professional hockey team and Stanley's team were pee-wee players about five years old. There was no other protagonist, just a parody of the cliched sports movie ending with what threatened to be a Shocking Swerve if it didn't cross the line twice. The pee-wee players are crushed brutally, deconstructing Underdogs Never Lose by showing pro players simply mauling tykes. After the underdogs do lose, the Littlest Cancer Patient dies from losing hope. It's Played for Laughs.
A three-parter has the gang playing as super heroes; however, when Cartman starts acting very villainous and the others try to call him out on it, he mistakenly believes he's still a superhero and it's the other boys who are the bad guys.
In the episode "Homer Goes to College", Homer is convinced that Dean Peterson of Springfield University is a Dean Bitterman type and spends most of the episode pulling ill-conceived pranks on him, even going as far as to try to run him over with a car at one point. The irony is that Peterson is actually a good-natured younger guy who gets on well with the other students. Homer also reacts to the rest of the college environment as though it were some kind of raunchy teen college movie when it quite patently isn't.
In "Brother From Another Series", Bart suspects that his archnemesis Sideshow Bob is up to no good when he's released from prison to work for his brother. While scouting around for clues, the following dialogue ensues:
Bart: He's more the same than ever. And I know where the evidence is. There's only one place where it could possibly be.
In "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" Bart becomes paranoid of bizarre conspiracies, believes the adults are spend most of their time indoors by day because of some hair brained conspiracy he cooks up. But the reason was they were into Grampa's special tonic which gets them really horny.
In an episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants, SpongeBob becomes convinced that Mr. Krabs is a robot thanks to having seen a movie where robots take over the Earth (and some coincidentally odd behavior on Mr. Krabs' part). After he and Squidward have ruthlessly interrogated the "robot", Squidward thinks to ask SpongeBob how the movie ended, to which he replies that it turned out there weren't any robots after all; it was a misunderstanding. Oops.
Mr. Krabs in the episode Born Again Krabs thought that the Flying Dutchman's visit is All Just a Dream, turns out it's actually real. It also turns out that by screwing around like everything is a dream Krabs has driven the Krusty Krab into bankruptcy.
The mane cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic got a bit of Wrong Genre Savvy in "The Best Night Ever", in which all of them thought they were in fairy tales or various other stories. In reality, they were in a moral-drivenSlice of Life comedy, and this week's lessons turned out to be "Don't get your hopes up too high" and "good friends can help you make the most of a bad night".
Rainbow Dash forgot this again in "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" after her Acquired Situational Narcissism arrived, thinking she was the protagonist of a superhero story.
In the first season of Martin Mystery Diana thinks that most of the paranormal monsters were Scooby-Doo Hoax, when in fact they really are paranormal monster/aliens.
In a few episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003, Michelangelo loves monster movies and panics when he meets creatures from beneath the earth, body-snatching aliens, or eldritch horrors. Someone always dies horribly. Lucky for him, he's not in a monster movie — he's in a Saturday Morning Cartoon.
Vincent Van Ghoul, having been in numerous horror movies and monster films, is aware of all the tropes and cliches associated with them, and panics when he's trapped in a house with a monster. So what's the problem with his understandable turmoil? He's in a Scooby Doo show.
Wunschpunsch: In an attempt to prevent Bubonic and Tyrannia from casting the spell of the week in "Plant Panic", Maurizio placed some banana peels to make them trip and believed the plan would work because he'd seen it happening in cartoons. They simply walked normally and were oblivious to the banana peels despite having stepped on some. Maurizio later fell for his own trap. Just like it happens in some cartoons (and other media sometimes).
Syndrome in The Incredibles taunts Mr. Incredible about how he's obviously an Arch-Nemesis with Joker Immunity who will continue to dog and torment the family throughout their lives. He realizes that this isn't thatkind of Superhero story about the time he notices the car hurtling towards his jet.
Survivalists, thus far. Or the ones in the developed world. In many parts of the world, the things they do and prepare for are known as life. If the concept of survivalism can be changed and the current survivalist concepts can be applied to developed nations en masse, the developed world wouldn't have to fear an electricity apocalypse.
The TV show Doomsday Preppers sets out a wild collapse theory, rates the preparations of the featured preppers for that scenario and then points out how very, very unlikely that scenario is.
On an episode of Penn And Teller Bullshit, they visit a real-world "survival training camp" which not only shows them as literally Too Dumb to Live (since they're woefully inadequate to the tasks but acting Genre Savvy), but they explicitly point out that the odds are you'd be in the large majority of the world that just outright died in whatever disaster strikes. Another point is that a lot of time is being spent on "trapped in the wilderness with no gear" style survivalism when there's no real reason things like guns and matches would stop working.
In The Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler mentions Swedish king Charles XII, who was a big fan of Alexander the Great, tried to follow his example, thus made war on the Russia of Peter the Great, only to have his army destroyed at the battle of Poltava, which effectively ended Sweden's time as a great power.
This is a recurrent theme in Spengler's theory of how history "works". Each Culture (meaning the largest sense of the word, cultures like Greco-Roman society, Western Christendom, old Egypt, China, etc.) all follow certain recurring patterns that can be compared and contrasted with each other, but it's like individual lives, each Culture only passes through each stage once, just as each individual only passes through each stage of life once. For a Culture in its late phase to try to operate like it did in earlier stages is like an old man trying to behave like a teenager, at best the result will be futile, and it may well be painful or fatal. As Spengler saw it, Napoleon is to Western Christendom as Alexander the Great was to Greco-Roman Culture. We've had our Alexander now, and the West can't do that again. On the other hand, our version of Julius/Augustus Caesar is still to come...
Unless Unless Lenin and Stalin were Julius and Augustus, which would then make China the new Byzantium.
Communism did this more consciously than the most, making it a part of the ideology known as the 'historical necessity.' Unfortunately for the Soviet Union, it found out too late it wasn't the predestined Messiah after all.
Nero's last words "What an artist, dies in me!" seems to indicate that he failed to realize he wasn't living in a play. At the very least he failed to realize he wasn't an actor but the emperor of Rome. (It is pretty much universally agreed that Nero was insane, if not possessed. The man did not distinguish between a Christian and a Tiki Torch.)
It's best to remember that nearly everything known about him comes from his enemies. Yes, he was a poor Emperor, most likely because he really wanted to be an actor and had no real interest in politics. So he focused on his aesthetic pursuits and neglected the matters of the state. The cruelties committed under his reign weren't really any worse than those under more competent rulers. Getting specified as the evil emperor came simply from the fact that he at one point used a small, unpopular religious sect as a scapegoat, and they ended up writing the history later on.
Some modern classical historians argue that Caligula wasn't the lunatic Roman historians presented him as, but a young Emperor who wanted to dispense with his imperial predecessors' act that the Emperor of Rome was just a senior statesman, not a monarch. He failed miserably, although if he had been Emperor about a couple of centuries later his approach wouldn't have gotten him stabbed.
An especially tragic instance of this trope would be the 9/11 terror attacks. Other than Flight 93's passengers, who were able to find out about the intent of the hijackers in advance, the passengers on the other flights were led to believe that this would be a hijacking akin to those of the 1980s, where individuals would fly the planes to Cuba. Instead, they had much worse in store.
Even some of the hijackers themselves had been fooled into believing this, if certain tapes by Osama bin Laden are to be taken at face value.
Many idealistic young men leapt at the chance to participate in World War One, seeing it as "The War to End All Wars." At its outset the War was romanticized as a sort of culmination of the revolutionary spirit of the 19th Century, a great cathartic conflict that would bring about an end to a stagnant old order and give birth to a new age for mankind. Unfortunately they got it backwards: the War turned out to be the death knell for 19th-Century idealism rather than its realization. Instead of a glorious revolution, it was a senseless bloodbath that defied any attempt to romanticize it. And while it did topple the old order in Europe, bringing about the collapse of many established empires, the new age it ushered in was one of the darkest times in human history.
Only on the Western front with static trench warfare. On the Eastern front, things were different and it was a much more conventional war.
Speaking of the American Civil War, Wrong Genre Savvy-ness was the main reason it wound up being the bloodiest war in American history. The Civil War was the first "industrialized" war, the first time reliable, accurate weapons and munitions were produced in mass quantity. Traditional battlefield strategies, still dating back to the times of mass firings of inaccurate smoothbore muskets, proved not only to be obsolete, but also deadly for the troops involved. Basically, technology outpaced strategy. Waging a 19th-Century war with 18th-Century tactics meant a lot of unnecessary casualties.
An old military maxim says "Generals are always prepared to fight the last war." There are many examples across human history of leaders or armies being Wrong Genre Savvy. The most frequently cited example is that of the western Allies at the start of World War II. They expected a conflict similar to the First World War, and prepared for a "ground war" of infantry, trench standoffs, and protracted sieges. They were completely unprepared for the blitzkrieg, which combined air power and "rapid dominance" ground tactics. The US averted this, however; they wrote up plans for World War II in the 1930s and executed them during the war, fighting on two fronts but concentrating on crushing Germany first, while beating back the Japanese via an island hopping campaign.
Actually, the rapid fall of France took the Germans completely by surprise too. Before the invasion they began desperately producing ammunition (instead of tanks, submarines, factories, or railway locomotives, all of which were critical to the long-term war effort) because they were expecting a protracted World War 1.5, with trenches and lots of ammunition fired. It was just convenient propaganda for both sides to pretend the defeat of France was due to some radical 'Blitzkrieg' strategy, rather than inept generalship on the Allied side and good luck and opportunism on the German side. See 'The Wages Of Destruction' by Adam Tooze.
Part of the reason America lost The Vietnam War was because they went in thinking that they were fighting World War II or The Korean War. They also misunderstood the reasons the war was being fought, but that's another story altogether.
A similar effect plays out as what Bruce Schneier has termed "move-plot threats": security measures are implemented to prevent specific attacks that have already been tried (successfully or not) - rather than on more general practices that don't rely on the attackers not trying anything new.
Saddam Hussein believed that he could win the Persian Gulf war by entrenching his forces and outlasting the US-led Coalition in another Vietnam War. But he did not expect that his forces would be easily outclassed by the Coalition forces and that the Coalition could overwhelm his armies with Blitz warfare. Plus he overlooked one other important (and missing) factor for a Vietnam-style war: the presence of a ubiquitous tropical jungle in which to hide his forces.
Also, he failed to recognize that sometimes a nation can learn from experience, Hussein himself failed to learn from experience, because he was still looking at the second round of the Gulf War through the Vietnam lens as well in the 2000s.
During the TroperrificGreat Siege of Gibraltar, the Spanish thought that they were in a kind of heroic fantasy setting, where the siege of The Rock marked the heroes' final assault on the Always Chaotic EvilBig Bad's stronghold. For instance, 80,000 people turned up on the surrounding hills to watch the "Grand Assault," "trail the British flag into the dust." Don Jose Barboza thought that he could inspire his flagging soldiers with a suicide attack on the British sortie. It didn't work.
Joseph Goebbels said this about the end of World War II to try to inspire the Nazis: "Gentlemen! In a hundred years time, there will be a glorious technocolour film about these days. Do your duty, so that when your actor comes onto the screen the audience will not jeer and holler." Unfortunately for him, he was in Real Life, not one of his costume dramas.
Medieval Europe long believed in the legend of "Prester John," a Christian warrior-king living somewhere in the unknown east beyond the Holy Land, who was lost among pagan savages but would one day come to Christendom's aid in its hour of need. During the Fifth Crusade, leaders of the Crusader States began to hear rumors of a Central Asian king, a great conqueror and a follower of a vaguely-monotheistic religion, who was steadily working his way west, steamrolling over lesser tribes and kingdoms, and soon to be knocking on Baghdad's door. At first they rejoiced. Why, surely, this is some descendant of Prester John, and he is fulfilling his ancestor's promise! Christendom will surely be saved once he gets here! Well, it turns out that this great warrior-king they were hearing about was named Genghis Khan. He wasn't some lost Christian king, nor was he interested in allying himself with either side in that particular conflict. The Khan wanted to conquer, period, and he didn't much care what religion the ones opposing him followed. Europe was expecting some Big Damn Heroes from afar to save Christendom at its darkest hour; what they got instead was an Outside Context Villain that suddenly made things a bit more complicated.