Wrong Genre Savvy

"...you mean ah'm Muggin' a Monster? Why'nt'cha jest say so?"

Kids, sometimes you think you're living out one story, but the truth turns out to be something else entirely. At the time, I thought the story was about whether Robin should be at the wedding. If only I'd understood what the real story was.
Ted narrating in hindsight, How I Met Your Mother, "Shelter Island"

Sometimes, you can take being Genre Savvy too far, and wind up having as much Genre Blindness as the poor idiots who split up in a haunted house where one of you is a murderer.

If a character in a series that has a Fourth Wall thinks mainly in terms of tropes, you've probably got a character who's Wrong Genre Savvy. Even if you're correct about being in a story, it's possible for you to guess wrong about your role in the story, the genre of the story, or where on the various sliding scales your story is. Any way you spin it, it's still a common way of subverting Genre Savviness.

This can be a minefield. Say a stranger turns up on your doorstep; if he's a vampire, he can't hurt you unless you invite him in, but if he's an Angel Unaware or King Incognito, you might damn yourself by turning him away. And look at it from the visitor's point of view; if you're an honourable fairytale knight, you won't lay a finger on anyone who's eaten your food, but if you're one of The Fair Folk, eating your food will trap him there forever. What's a Genre Savvy guy to do?

This can also be used for deconstructing character types, by placing a generic character in a realistic setting and exploring what happens when they act as if they are in a work of a particular genre.

Of course, a potential reconstruction can occur as well. While the character is Wrong Genre Savvy about the premise or a particular aspect, they can be right Genre Savvy about complementary aspects of that premise; this means that, while the character is hopeless in the aspect to which they're Wrong Genre Savvy, in their functional aspect their support is invaluable, which may lead to the resolution of the plot and an increase in the character's chance of survival.

See Heroic Wannabe, Wide-Eyed Idealist, Grumpy Bear, Black and White Insanity, Prince Charming Wannabe, and Lord Error-Prone for characters with this trait and Genre Savvy and its downplayed cousin Functional Genre Savvy for when characters get it right. Death by Genre Savviness is a related trope. See also This Is Reality, Hero of Another Story, Entertainingly Wrong, Thinks Like a Romance Novel. May be confused with Too Dumb to Live.

Warning: It is very easy (and tempting) to list a character just because they are wrong about something, but that doesn't mean they are Wrong Genre Savvy. Even if they are wrong about their role in a story, that doesn't necessarily make them wrong about the type of story they are in. Before adding an example ask yourself "If this character was correct, would it change the genre?" if the answer is "no" then it doesn't belong here.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • When Ray González departed from WWC, he popped up in IWA Puerto Rico under a mask calling himself El Condor and using a Phoenix Splash he called the "Fénix Landing". Later González would return for another WWC run but be forced into retirement by Carlito Caribbean Cool. Then a masked wrestler calling himself Rey Fénix showed up and helped a debuting Sting beat Carlito, who immediately identified him as a Charlie Brown from Outta Town. Since you're reading this page you already know it wasn't but can see why he thought so. It was actually WWC booker Ricky Santana, avenging his former tag team partner.
  • Místico was probably one of the greatest luchadors of all time and one of the biggest draws in post territorial Lucha Libre. So it's only natural that he'd come to WWE, under the guise of Sin Cara, and rock the place, right? Nope. He was a pure luchador by style, and there were reports of him refusing to learn English or learn USA Wrestling Psychology to fit in, thinking he didn't need to. Needless to say, he failed to make an impact. He could only have good matches with those already versed in lucha, which meant he wrestled Primo and Alberto Del Rio a lot. He also ended up rubbing many of his coworkers the wrong way, including making a very powerful enemy in Alberto. Needless to say, nobody was sad to see him go and he went to AAA to rebuild his legacy.

Alternative Title(s): Medium Confusion, Real Life