Kermit the Frog:
Bear left. Fozzie Bear:
Bear left! Fozzie:
If ever in a comedy somebody tells a character or a group of characters to move/turn left, you can bet the character/one or more of the group will go right instead, prompting the phrase, "Your other
left!". (Or they correctly turn left, at which point the first character realizes they actually meant right and tries to cover with the same phrase.)
If this doesn't happen, it's usually replaced with a confused exchange about "My left or your left?", even if the characters are facing the same way.
A slightly more credible version may involve some version of the following exchange:
A similar gag: everyone on TV gets confused between port and starboard. (Incidentally, port is ship's "left", easily remembered as they both have four letters. If you still find yourself confused, remember that both right and starboard are the longer words, and it's always the same side of the ship
, so no confusion can happen on a ship.)
Sometimes appears as confusion between left and "stage left."
To be entirely fair, though, it's not like this doesn't actually happen with an alarming regularity in real life
. We're just talking about its predictable appearances on TV. For some reason, it's always "your other left," never "your other right", even though you'd think both occur equally often in Real Life
(especially in languages in which the Who's on First?
joke mentioned above doesn't work).
Compare The Exit Is That Way
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Anime & Manga
- In Soul Eater, Black☆Star has difficulty discerning left from right when trying to navigate a series of corridors. It turns out that he doesn't even know which is his left hand. He subsequently forgoes navigation in favor of going through the walls.
- Azumanga Daioh had poor Osaka have some difficulty with the concept of moving to her right. 'It's the hand you hold your chopsticks in!' helped, although this meant she had to mime eating. Instead of doing her actual job of holding Tomo up off the ground...
- A similar joke pops up in both the anime and Visual Novel versions of Kanon: In an effort to avoid his regular collisions with Ayu and this trope, Yuuichi tells her to dodge toward the hand she holds her chopsticks in. Turns out Yuuichi is right-handed, while Ayu is left-handed...
- Also in Dragon Ball; Kuririn and Chaozu are fighting, and Kuririn uses Super Speed to zip out of sight, leaving Chaozu shocked. Tenshinhan helpfully yells, "Your left!" from the sidelines, and Chaozu uses the hand you hold chopsticks in for reference and looks...just in time to get hit in the face.
- In Eureka Seven, Dominic Sorel asks the protagonist if South is in the direction of the hand you hold the fork in. This is a guy who's supposed to be a high-ranking military officer.
- In a Darkwing Duck comic featured in Disney Adventures, a lightning strike makes Megavolt perceive everything backwards and even talk backwards (young readers might need a mirror). Anyone he touched would gain the same affliction, as Darkwing discovered after he said, "To the left, Launchpad!" and crashed into Launchpad moving to the right. Ironically, they got it backwards.
- In one strip of Calvin and Hobbes, the two eponyms stalk into the house, drenched and glaring at one another. They proceed in angry silence to the bookshelf and furiously look up an entry in the dictionary, whereupon Hobbes shouts, "See?! Starboard is right! Port is left!"
- Dilbert: During a team-building exercise, Dogbert tells everyone to turn to the left and name one thing they admire about that person. The Pointy-Haired Boss turns to the right:
PHB: I admire your leathery skin, Alice.
Alice: I admire your ability to figure out which side is your right in only two tries.
- Used straight in Start of Darkness, a prequel book to The Order of the Stick, unsurprisingly by the Monster in the Darkness.
Redcloak: Hey! You in the box! Lean all your weight to the left!
MitD: You got it! ... OK, when you say, "left", you mean—
Redcloak: I mean not this side, you idiot!
MitD: You got it!
- One FoxTrot strip has Roger and Peter golfing.
Roger: Think I should bear left?
Roger (glaring): Next time, say "correct".
Peter: I'll go get your sand wedge.
Films — Animation
Films — Live Action
- The Matrix: When Neo is fleeing the Agents and taking directions from Tank over the phone.
- Although there's a hidden joke in this: Tank has just told Neo to turn left, to which Neo turns right. However, in that shot, Neo is facing the audience, so he's turning to the audience's left. When Tank yells "No, your other left!" the camera crosses the 180 line, and shows Neo from behind, where he changes direction and turns to both his and the audience's left. The camera then switches back to the original shot where Neo is facing the camera. He continues to go to his left, but because he is facing the camera, he appears to us to be moving to the right, thus the line is actually directed at least partially at the audience and was included in the film as a quick joke of that variety too.
- Spoofed in Cleolinda Jones' Movies in 15 Minutes version: "Go forward! No, your other forward!!"
- In Short Circuit, when Number Five drives Stephanie's truck he drives it on the wrong side of the road. Stephanie shouts at him to drive on the right side of the road, but he keeps misinterpreting the meaning of right to mean "right, correct, functional".
- Used in The Little Rascals movie: "All raise your right hand... your other right hand." Justified by how these are young children, some of which are still unable to read and likely new to the concept of directions.
- Another example of this would be in the beginning of Pearl Harbor where Danny and Rafe decide to play chicken with their planes and say the following:
Danny: Which way ya goin?
Rafe: Uh, right, no left. Left. I'll go left.
Danny: Okay, we,re goin left right?
Rafe: Right, right?
Danny: Right, like we're goin left, or right like we're goin right?
Rafe: Well, now you got me all mixed up, I dunno make up your mind!
Danny: God, Rafe, we're goin right. Righty-Tighty!
- Used by Mel Brooks in History of the World Part I:
Marcus Vindictus: You take the left flank, I'll take the right flank.
(Mucus promptly runs into Vindictus)
Marcus Vindictus: Don't you know your right flank from your left flank?
Captain Mucus: I'm sorry sir, I flunked flank.
Marcus Vindictus: You flunked flank? Get the flunk out of here!
- Glory has a classic example of the Drill instructor version. Including the Sergent asking "How many of you don't know your right from your left?" at which about half the hands go up. Not an unusual thing for country-boy soldiers in general, the term "hayfoot" comes from one noted memory aid, and many of the soldiers there were in fact former slaves with little to no formal education, adding to this.
- Happens countless times in Clockwise, and is one of the reasons Cleese's character gets lost all the time. ("So I take the train on the left?" "Right!") The other reason is sheer pigheadedness.
- Shows up in a few The Three Stooges shorts, with interesting misconceptions. One features Moe trying to tell Curly that "the door goes on the right" wall. While facing him. They both point to their own right. This continues AFTER they trade places. And when Larry comes in, facing the two, and points to HIS right.
- Then there's when Curly prepares to pound a nail pointed the wrong way on a wall. Moe calls him an imbecile for what he's about to do since the nail's pointing the wrong way..because the nail goes on THAT wall!
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Willie Scott has to save Indy and Short Round from a room with spikes by pulling a lever inside one of two small holes. Indy tells her, "Go to the right hole!", and she puts her hand in the hole to Indy's right, but to her left. Indy's hand comes out and grabs hers while he says, "The other one, the other right. YOUR OTHER RIGHT!"
- Though it was actually just because the hole on the right was full of bugs, and she was hoping either would do.
- A variation takes place in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy and his dad are in a plane being attacked by Nazi fighters:
Indy: Eleven o'clock, Dad!
Professor Jones Sr.(glancing at his watch): What happens at eleven o'clock?
- In Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Midshipman Blakeney, who lost an arm in the opening battle sequence, is preparing the men for battle by having them attach neckcloths to their arms to distinguish friend from foe.
Blakeney: On your right upper arm, to tell friend from foe. Davies, this arm. Starboard arm.
Davies: Is that the arm you got, or the arm you don't got?
- In The Long Long Trailer (a non-Lucy related movie from Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) one of the newly wed couple's first fights comes from this.
Tacy: You didn't let me finish. I was going to say "turn right here left".
Nicky: Turn right here left? Have you any conception how much room it takes to turn this thing around? We may have to go on for miles.
- In Once upon a Time in Mexico, there's a badass moment when the blinded Agent Sands shoots a mook on verbal directions from a local child... which is then derailed when he pauses and asks the immortal question:
Sands: Wait... my left or your left?
Chicleta: Mi derecha.note
- In The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Buckaroo and John Parker are chasing the Red Lectroid battleship in a stolen Thermopod. Banzai is sitting in a rear-facing seat, resulting in some confusion when he tries to give Parker directions.
- Phileas Fogg attempts to aid Passpertout during a fight scene in the 2004 remake of Around the World in 80 Days. "No, your other left!"
- A variation in the Abbott and Costello film Pardon My Sarong: A cop boards the bus that Bud and Lou have stolen, and tells them to back up, to which Bud tells Lou that he should go ahead and do it. Lou replies, "How can I back up and go ahead?"
- In Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the boys are trying to escape a dungeon. Lou begins to head into a tunnel, and Bud tells him, "Not that way, to the left!" Still in the tunnel Lou looks down at his hands, picks the left one, and runs to his immediate left...smack into a brick wall.
- A serious example occurs in Full Metal Jacket, when Pyle mistakenly moves his rifle to his right shoulder, prompting a violent outburst from Hartmann:
Hartmann: (smacks Pyle, hard) What side is that, Private Pyle?
Pyle: (obviously in pain) Sir, left, sir!
Hartmann: Are you sure, Private Pyle?
- Played with in Spaceballs during Princess Vespa's first wedding attempt.
King Roland: Okay everybody. Starting on the left foot.
Vespa: Daddy that's your right foot.
Roland: It's too late! Keep going!
- Get Over It:
Dr. Desmond Forest Oates: What direction do you think "left" is? See, because if you go with your instinct and reverse it, I think we have something happening. How difficult is this? I'm so alone, I think.
- The Long Kiss Goodnight:
Charly: Thirty degrees left, Mitch. Left.
Charly: Your other left!
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the conch-headed fish/man gets his head knocked off by a thrown coconut, and the instructions it shouts as his body fumbles around blindly for it include this trope.
- During Dorothy's screen test in the film Tootsie, Michael keeps interpreting the director's instructions to his crew as being directed at him, so he continually asks for clarification of this nature before basically being told to shut up.
- In Jacob's Ladder, Jacob lies on a chiropractic bed. Every time the chiropractor, Louis, tells Jacob to lie on his side, he gets it wrong every time.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: When Sam is talking to Sitwell on the phone, he tells him that he is at "his ten o'clock". As Sitwell looks around, he adds "Your other ten o'clock".
- In Dodie Smith's The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Missis, who is not nearly as bright a dog as her mate Pongo, just can't seem to grasp the concept of right & left. This means some considerable anxiety for her, when she's on unfamiliar territory and trying to follow directions she's been given. Having been urged to associate "right" with the spot on her right front paw, she is only able to remember that her "right" paw is... er... one of her front paws.
- "Do I turn left?"/"Right" happens in Beverly Cleary's book Ramona and Her Mother, when Beezus is giving her mother directions to get to the hairstylist's.
- "Do I turn left?"/"Right" also occurs in Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia. Mr. Rogers ends up talking himself into circles explaining that "left is right" and "right is wrong". Eventually, he says "bear left" and Amelia turns right to avoid the bear. He tries to explain her mistake, but she doesn't quite get it: "Oh, if I'd known the bear left, I wouldn't have turned right."
- There's a hilarious example in the New Jedi Order books, where Han and Chewie take part in a asteroid run race. The race ship has two sets of controls and they struggle to cooperate, leaving them screaming and bellowing - including the trope - at each other as they narrowly dodge asteroid after asteroid. To everyone watching however, they look like they're using the force because they're flying so well.
Live Action TV
- One of the guys on Back To Life tries to disassemble a NASA helmet to restore it, which involves loosening screws. The guy working the screw driver turns the screws the wrong way.
- Three's Company: Jack and Janet go on a date and try to kiss. They try to decide which way to tilt their heads to avoid hitting each other's face with their nose, but must first figure out whether it's Jack's left of Janet's left.
- The pilot episode of Third Watch: Kim and Bobby, in their ambulance, are stuck behind a motorist. Kim speaks over the tannoy to the motorist, asking him to move to the right — then the other right.
- In the CSI episode "Alter Boys", Catherine tells a suspect to "Raise your right foot... No, your other right." Although, given the circumstances, he was probably in shock at the time.
- In one of those rare cases of being Truth in Television and simultaneously a trope being used, every season Survivor has at least one challenge that requires the bulk of those competing to be blindfolded and verbally directed by one person. Just as regularly, one tribe always gets screwed by this trope.
- A variation in the Doctor Who episode "Remembrance of the Daleks": The Doctor and his sidekick, Ace, are in a van. Ace, who is driving, asks about the Daleks.
The Doctor: From Skaro. At least originally. They're the mutated remains of a species called the Kaleds. Left here.
Ace: When were they left here?
The Doctor: No! Turn left here.
Ace: Oh, right.
The Doctor: No, left!
- In an episode of Friends from Season 7, Rachel is trying to teach Joey how to sail his boat. She tells him to go to port, which he doesn't understand. She then says, left, very calmly, but he doesn't know right from left anyways, and so he remains on the right side of the boat. She screams "The left!" which he still doesn't respond to, then she just simply yells, "Just sit over there!"
- Knightmare had this in so many interesting ways.
- Simon, sidestep to your left.
- Some fans have noted that many teams screwed themselves by unconsciously using the British habit of preceding or following a statement with the word "right."
- Burn Notice: Of all people, Michael and Sam, two highly professional ex-spies, get tripped up by this when Sam's giving instructions to Michael over a radio while monitoring the room through its surveillance cameras.
- It Makes Sense in Context, since Sam is slightly inebriated (he
always usually is) and Michael calls him on the mistake before committing to it, but Sam just sounds so sure that he goes with it.
- On The Good Guys, this becomes a problem. Dan's old secret code (where the word "Reagan" means "Get the guy on the right" and "Carter" means "Get the guy on the left") causes problems because Dan and his partner are facing each other, which makes the meaning unclear.
- Said by Mac to Charlie in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas Special. A confused Charlie responds, "I don't have another left!"
- In Tremors: The Series, Burt uses a military-jargon variant ("Your other two-o'-clock") to tell Tyler from which angle Messerschmitt is flying towards them.
- Married... with Children offered an example of the "slightly more credible version" when Kelly was supposed to place her left hand in a container full of insects to test a repellant. She asked if it really was the left arm and somebody answered "Right".
- My Family has Ben and Susan arguing over the journey to somewhere, where apparently they got lost on the way. (The exchange below is paraphrased, not quoted exactly.)
Susan: You said to turn right!
Ben: When I said "right", I meant "right" as in "correct"!
- One of David Copperfield's rope tricks had him holding the rope in his left hand while instructing his volunteer, who was already holding her piece of rope in her right hand, to hold her piece of rope in her right hand. She switches hands to copy him and he reminds her: "Your other right."
- In an episode of Im Sorry I Havent A Clue, a game of Mornington Crescent played with a "Sat Nav" included, amongst various unhelpful instruction from the computer voice, "Turn left. Left. No, left. Other left."
- And more recently, the same computer said "Make a left turn. Left. Turn left. Left. Left. Left. I mean right."
- Guild Wars Nightfall:
Palawa Joko: No, no, no! Mummified flesh on the left! Dried bones on the right! No, your other right, you worthless bits of animated anatomy!
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, when the player has to shoot incoming cops during a car chase;
Ryder: CJ, to the left!
CJ: Your left, or my left?
Ryder: Hell, I don't know, just shoot everybody, motherfucker.
- Dean Domino might try to kill you by giving you bad directions (accidentally or otherwise) at the end of Dead Money. With a high enough intelligence stat, you can actually call him out on whose left he's talking about.
- Clarence from Penumbra Black Plague can say "No, other left ! Other left !" while arguably helping Philip sneak past the other Infected in the corridors near the Chemical Storage, if Philip doesn't listen to his advice.
- Left-right confusion ruins the prosecution's case in case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Two witnesses both claim to have seen the crime from a hotel room across the way, but one says the victim ran to the right, and the other to the left. Both are telling the truth, but they're lying in that one of them wasn't at the hotel. He's the murderer, so he was in the room with the victim, facing towards the window.
- Rocket Power, "Race Across New Zealand": Twister has confusion between the two sides because of the traffic going on the other side of the road.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender, when Sokka's and Katara's canoe runs into an ice field:
Katara: Watch out! Go left! Go left! (they crash) You call that left?
- Taken totally straight in Ben 10, when Gwen is trying to ride on Ben (as Wildmutt)'s back when he's been rendered "blind" by a cold.
- In Kim Possible, "Cap'n Drakken" (the episode where they live in "Ye olde times") there is a part where, in trying to direct a ship, Barkin says "Starboard!" followed shortly by "your other starboard!" (about 1/3 of the way down the page)
- Done on a sketch on Histeria about (Jerry) Lewis and Clark (Kent) canoeing down a river. Lewis' inability to understand Clark's directions leads to then going down a waterfall.
- Played with in Megas XLR when Jamie (in the back seat of the car/cockpit) tells Coop (in the driver's seat) to block an enemy to the left. Coop looks left, though the enemy is actually on his right, and he is attacked anyway. Jamie adds "My left!" to which Coop replies, "We have the same left!"
- Frequently used on The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Justified as they are animals of very little brain.
- An episode of Rugrats had Stu and his dad inside a mechanical dragon and Stu ordered Lou (his dad) to hit a button on his right — and the dragon flipped, causing the response, "Your other right"
- Used in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" by a construction worker Rainbow Dash was in the middle of saving.
- In an episode of Johnny Test when everyone is fleeing from aliens:
Susan: Go left!
Johnny: My left or your left?
Susan: It's the same left!
- In an episode of The Simpsons we get this exchange from the Rich Texan:
Rich Texan: *click*
I'll take the gold coins now. Marge:
But we don't know where they are. Rich Texan:
They're right there on your left. No your other
left. No, no Texas
left, which is your
- Wacky Races offered an example of the "slightly more credible version" when Sgt. Blast ordered Pvt. Meekly to turn left.
Pvt. Meekly: Did you say left, Sarge?
Sgt. Blast: Right.
- Generator Rex: In "Exposed", Holiday is watching an EVO on the monitors and guiding Rex and Bobo as to where it has gone. At one point, she tells them it went "Right" and they take off in the wrong direction. She immediately adds "Camera right!". With embarrassed looks, Rex and Bobo turn around.
- DuckTales once did a variation when Big Time tells the Beagle Boy driving their van to "make a left," so he instantly makes a left — right through 2 buildings before finally landing in a fountain.
Big Time: I meant at the corner!
- The Looney Tunes Show: When Daffy is training on a flight simulator in "Spread Those Wings and Fly", his instructor tells him to bear left by five degrees. When Daffy asks which way is west, the instructor says "your left", followed immediately by a panicked "Your other left!". Needless to say, Daffy crashes.
- In Real Life, every drill instructor ever has had to use the line, typically when trying to teach people how to march in formation, thus requiring them to start with the left foot. Same with marching bands. This sometimes sticks when service personnel return to civilian life.
- Deliberately avoided by Real Life driving instructors, who will often use the word "right" to indicate direction only, using "yes" or "correct" to indicate an affirmative, in order to avoid such confusion.
- When accuracy is critical, expect to hear compass points, headings, or clock numbers because of their unambiguous meanings or basis on absolute directions. The clock code in aviation was designed to correct for this, but hasn't entirely worked: in the heat of an engagement it can take too long to visualize the position. Thus, position is often described in apparently redundant left-right terms as well, as in "Tally 2, 7 o'clock left!"
- Not to mention there's an entire subtrope involving novice fighter pilots being told "Enemy fighter approaching you at six o'clock" and deciding they don't need to worry yet because it's only half past three.
- To try to avert this, anatomy always uses the subject's right or left, and also uses more specific terms like anterior, ventral, proximal, or superficial to avoid vagueness.
- And theatre attempts to fix the problem the same way, by having an arbitrary viewpoint. "Left" and "right" area always assumed to be from the perspective of the one being directed, and often directors will have to use "stage left" or "stage right" to clarify this.
- In Heraldry, the terms are Dexter (right) and Sinister (Left) They always apply to the shield as if it were being carried, making "Dexter" the viewer's left, and Sinister being the viewer's right.
- In many medieval recreation groups this is mostly averted by the use of "sword-side" and "shield-side" when giving instructions on the tourney or melee fields. It doesn't work so well for anyone left-handed.
- To avoid problems with realitive terms such as left and right, highways and railroads make a point of having cardinal directions which can be referenced in official communications. Unfortunately this can lead to the same left/right confusion when the listed direction doesn't match the geographic direction the route travels on the earth's surface.
- The Northeast Corridor rail line that runs diagonally between New York and Washington, DC is officially east-west between New York and Philadelphia, but north-south between Philadelphia and Washington. The popular conception is that the entire route is North-South and "Northbound/Southbound" is what appears in the public timetables, but the officially north-south part of the route actually travels 20 miles farther to the west than it does to the south!
- Similarly in the UK, a major stretch of the M42 motorway runs east-west, which leads to head-scratching when a hold-up is announced on the northbound side..
- On railways in the UK (and probably elsewhere), the main destination or terminus that the line serves is at the Top, thus the track that traffic goes along to get there on is the Up line, and the other one is the Down line. A London destination is always Up the line, even when you're heading down the map (southwards). It gets tricky close to stations that serve the local area as well as trunk routes, where the trunk Down is the local Up, etc.
- There are numerous examples of Wrong Way Concurrencies on numbered highways where a road with one listed direction runs concurrent with a highway of the opposite direction. In one case US 19 Truck runs wrong way concurrent with itself!
- Living with dyslexia, you hear this often. Many people with dyslexia try to tell others "Turn the way I point, not the way I say."
- Similarly, a common misunderstanding in English arises when a yes/no question is asked using the negative form (e.g. "Don't you want cake?"). Answering yes can either be taken to mean "I want cake" or "I agree with you, I don't want cake" (answering no produces the same problem except opposite). So people who end up in this linguistic trap would end up doing a lot "yes, um, no, um, yes?" fumbling until someone rephrases the question or provides a full sentence answer.
- Technically, in English, you always say "yes" if you want cake regardless of how the question was asked. This can cause serious grief for Chinese speakers learning English, as in Chinese, the answer depends on how the question is asked.