Dazzle camouflage can be considered a literal form of this. During World Wars I and II, ships were painted in a confusing pattern of high contrast colors that, instead of hiding ships from the enemy as regular camouflage would, attempted to actively confuse the enemy's targeting systems, primarily enemy submarines that relied largely on visual measures like identifying the type of ship and the direction it was pointed relative to them, to work out their complicated firing solutions. And even more importantly given the relatively slow speed of the era's submarines, making it harder to figure out what course to take in order to get into firing range in the first place.
Jack Churchill, in World War II, once took a German bunker by rushing it with a Claymore sword, with bagpipes on his hips, and screaming "COMMANDOOOO!!!!"
Jack Churchill was this incarnate. He was captured (while playing said bagpipes) and sent to a prison. He just walked out. He was captured again. Once again, he walked out and made it back to England.
And upon his arrival, he demanded to be put back on the front lines. Unfortunately for him, the war was over by that point... which also explains how he was able to walk out of the prisons. He was in Yugoslavia fighting as a British liaison among partisans, and formed a thousand-man strong partisan army to raid an island in the Adriatic. He was the only man in his unit not to ultimately be killed, and the Germans found him playing a mournful tune on his bagpipes. Existing in the company of Partisans was a kill-on-sight offense for the Germans, but they thought he was of more use alive, and so interrogated him in Berlin before consigning him to Sachsenhausen. Sachsenhausen theconcentration camp.Sachesenhausen, theinfamousconcentration camp. Sachsenhausen, the infamous concentration camp designed to be able to be effectively and securely guarded byone machine gun if necessary due to the camp's panopticon design. He escaped. He was recaptured, and was transferred by the SS to the Tirol with 139 other high-value prisoners. There, a regular army unit, concerned that the SS would execute the prisoners out of hand, intervened to save their lives, and after the SS decided not to contest the issue, set the prisoners free. Churchill and a companion walked down German-occupied Northern Italy, finally being rescued by an American armored unit in the last days of the war. After recuperation, he was to be sent to Burma, but Hiroshima and Nagasaki intervened. His reaction? "If it wasn't for those damned Yanks, we could have kept the war going for another ten years." This man was certainly a walking, talking breathing example of Refuge in Audacity.
If that wasn't enough, he was the only one to have a confirmed kill with a bow and arrows. In World War II.
Bill Millin was another famous WWII bagpiper. He was the only bagpiper that took part in the Normandy invasion. With friends being shot constantly around him all day, he continued to play the bagpipes throughout D-Day. It was eventually revealed that German snipers had him in their sights several times, but, didn't fire because he "seemed to be on a suicide mission and was clearly mad."
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg rescued as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from being deported to the concentration camps using nothing more than a printing press, his expense account, and sheer audacity. He rented 32 buildings in Budapest, declared them to be auxiliary embassy facilities — technically Swedish territory, and therefore off limits to the Hungarians and their German allies — and used them as safe houses. He also printed up thousands of "protective passports" identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens, and handed them out to every Hungarian Jew he met — even, on one occasion, those locked in the boxcars on a train departing for Auschwitz! At one point, he ran on top of a train carrying Jews to be killed and stuffing papers into the cars that the Jews could use to semi-legally escape. While Nazis shot at him.
While not as outrageous as Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler's similar work on behalf of the Jews deserves recognition here. Schindler's Crowning Moment of Awesome was successfully ordering Nazi soldiers to return a trainload of Jewish children en route to the death camps, through sheer force of personality, by declaring the children to be "essential workers" (a protected class of Jews with skills vital to Germany's war effort) in his munitions factory. A munitions factory that he operated for several years using (and protecting) many Jewish workers, while deliberately never producing a single working artillery shell. Yes, this is the same Schindler that Steven Spielbergwrote a film about. As depicted in the film, Schindler's argument for the essential nature of his child workers was that nobody else had small enough hands to polish the inside of 8.8cm shell casings. Fortunately for all involved, none of the SS guards he argued with had any background in munitions, and thus were unaware that artillery shells are not polished on the inside.
Far less well-remembered than either Wallenberg or Schindler was John Rabe, a German diplomat in Nanjing who created a safe zone to keep Chinese civilians out of the way of the Nanjing Massacre. He's credited with saving between 200,000 and 250,000 civilians by basically standing up and telling the Japanese not to come into his zone, with no backup, military force, or way of enforcing it. It worked.
Albert Göring, the younger brother of Hermann Göring, who actively helped Jews to escape the Third Reich — and is today remembered as one of the Righteous among Nations in Israel. This was a man who brazenly forged his brother's — Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering — signature on release forms for dissidents, actively sabotaged his own munitions factory in Czechoslovakia, and dealt with the Czech Resistance, and who at least once, was able to get a group of Jewish women released from being forced to scrub a street by joining with them... and then telling the Nazi thugs who were about to arrest him that he was Goering's brother. His better known notorious brother was well aware of his actions, and turned his eye. Hermann Göring once said "I decide here who is a Jew", and allowed Air Marshal Erhard Milch (whose mother was Jewish) and Rear Admiral Bernhard Rogge (whose grandfather was a Jew) to rise in high positions, as he couldn't have cared less about Nazi ideology and simply used it as a pathway to power.
Giorgio Perlasca is the incarnation of this trope: he was an Italian businessman who posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary when the Spanish embassy was moved to Switzerland. Apparently him and Wallenberg were the ones going and constantly saving people (Perlasca was in Budapest too). He saved thousands of people without any authority at all and managed to fool the Nazis, the Hungarian government, and everyone else. For three months. His best Crowning Moment of Awesome was naming himself Spanish consul, but another memorable one was saving two children from Adolf Eichmann, throwing them in his car, and saying the car was Spanish jurisdiction and taking them would have caused a diplomatic incident between Spain and Germany. Even Wallenberg was without words, and that means a lot.
Ángel Sanz Briz, the man that Perlasca "replaced". With the full knowledge of the Spanish government, he managed to convince the Hungarian government to protect 200 Sephardic (with Spanish ancestors) Jews, and, through some creativity, he transformed those 200 'units' into 200 families, and then issued the same 200 passports and letters of safe-passage again and again, saving 5200 Jews from the Nazi depredations.
The Danish resistance as well: How do they save the country's thousands of Jews from deportation? What would be the most obvious plan? How about rowing them across to Sweden, through the Baltic Sea, effectively a German lake at this point? Sure, why the hell not, break out the kayaks lads. It worked.
More war stories; Juan Pujol managed to convince the Germans that he was a highly placed British spy with inside information on shipping movements and an extensive network of agents. In actual fact, he had never been in Britain in his life and all the information he gave the Germans was based on film footage and library research. He created a fictitious network, just so the Germans would believe him and he'd be able to work for the British cause as a double agent.
For his efforts, Pujol was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire ... and received the Iron Cross, becoming one of the very few people decorated by both sides in WWII.
The best example of how impressive this was: the Germans were sending money to Pujol to pay all of his "contacts"... but all that money was sent straight to the British Treasury.
On a much darker note: the Nazis used this trope to conceal the Holocaust. They deliberately made the concentration camps sufficiently horrific that anyone who told another country about them would be assumed to be exaggerating irresponsibly...
In a newspaper article dated 5 years before WWII started, in which Hitler announced to the world that if they didn't accept the Jews deported from Germany, every one of them would be killed.
Hitler was probably also counting on the "once bitten, twice shy" reaction that the world had had to the mostly false reports of German atrocities on the Western Front during World War I (stories such as Belgian nuns having their breasts cut off by the Hun, for instance) and probably assumed that they would not so easily believe another series of reports, even if these turned out to be all too true.
One of the real tragedies of that approach is that reports of the atrocities early in the war were accused by prominent Jewish figures of being nothing more than anti-German propaganda. Individuals reporting the atrocities were often denounced for creating such unbelievable exaggerations, and accused of harming their own cause, because no sane person could possibly commit such monstrous acts.
There were also Jewish and anti-Nazi groups who refused to believe actual survivors of the camps telling them about their experiences — again, monstrosity on such a scale simply couldn't be anything but fantasy.
Hitler described the tactic of the "Big Lie" in Mein Kampf — claiming something enormously, outrageously false as true, because people are used to lying about minor things, but they find it hard to believe that anyone would lie about something major. Basically the idea is to get people to think "there's no way he's making this up"... even if you are, in fact, making it up. Being Hitler, he insisted that it was a tactic of the "international Jewish-Communist conspiracy," you know, the one that not even the Soviet Union's archives document. What makes this Refuge in Audacity is that, having described the tactic in so much detail, he used it himself — and got away with it until the Allies started physically overrunning concentration camps.
When using a Big Lie, it helps immensely to talk oneself into believing it. Hitler apparently managed to do that with his "international Jewish-Communist conspiracy" — although some of his lieutenants had rather more sense.
Some of the escape attempts from various POW camps in World War II were utterly ludicrous yet (on occasion) successful. At Colditz alone, one man almost escaped by crossdressing (being foiled alas by a fellow-POW's politeness), others nearly made it out via a tunnel exiting in a high-ranking German's office, and one man simply vaulted the wire acrobatically and legged it. And the glider built by a group on inmates including Douglas Bader (a man worthy of many a trope himself) near the end of the war.
In fact, just go read The Colditz Story and The Wooden Horse (another escape book that really happened). The sheer audacity and cunning of the prisoners is worthy of any fictional character.
The TV show Hogan's Heroes (and the play and film that inspired it, Stalag 17) was, in part, inspired by real-life POW exploits. The authors of the original play had, themselves, been captives of the Nazis.
Operation Chariot where in WWII, a group of British Commandos and sailors had to destroy the gate of a German-controlled dry dock in France by ramming it with a disguised, obsolete destroyer filled with explosives. The estuary they had to pass through to reach the dry dock was so heavily defended that the army, Royal Navy, and RAF command believed it to be impossible, and it would be a waste of resources. The commandos, the naval personnel, and Lord Mountbatten (Head of the Combined Operations Headquarters) believed that it was the impossibility of the operation that made it possible, as the German soldiers defending the dock wouldn't believe anyone would have the audacity to try it. Indeed, the destroyer sailed down the estuary virtually unchallenged until just a few hundred yards from its target, rammed it successfully, and later exploded a few hours behind schedule. Despite a catalogue of errors, leaving most of the commandos and sailors dead or captured, the mission was considered by all to be a success, as it rendered the dry dock useless to Germany's larger and more fearsome ships.
So daring was the raid, along with countless incidents of Crowning Moment of Awesome, five Victoria Crosses were awarded to the raiders, more than in any other operation.
Operation Chariot, aka The Saint Nazaire Raid, is taught today at military academies (but otherwise virtually unknown) and is called The Greatest Raid of All Time.
When a large group of commandos were ready to leave, they saw that almost all of the small escape boats had been destroyed and decided on the spot to fight their way through the town, through several thousand heavily armed German troops, and make their way to Spain. It was in the process of this that their dwindling group decided to charge across a well-defended bridge, while the majority were low on ammo and seriously wounded. The Germans, awestruck by such audacity, couldn't keep them back. When the fighting was over, the Germans congratulated the plucky Brits for their guts.
The hits just keep on coming with this: Lieutenant-Commander Beattie, who had gallantly guided the HMS Campbeltown into its target while under heavy fire, was being interrogated by an English-speaking German officer. Just as the German officer was telling him how futile it was to use such a flimsy ship to ram such a great and strong dock, the several tons of explosives hidden in the ship's bow, which the Germans still didn't know about, exploded and blew the office windows in.
This is a man who, when successive people were being shot at the helm and replaced five or six times, continued to stand at the conning position and calmly give helm orders with a complete lack of excitement. Total sangfroid and utterly nails.
When the Nazis gained power and began cracking down on the German film industry, Jewish actor Peter Lorre and one of his friends drove out to an isolated area to destroy various documents that "incriminated" their friends as prime blacklist material (or worse). When a policeman caught them burning the documents, Lorre successfully convinced the cop that they were filming a scene for his next movie and asked for his help. The policeman happily helped them destroy all the documents and left with an autograph. The best part? The pair had no film equipment with them whatsoever.
One group of German prisoners in an internment camp during WW2. They weren't allowed to have radios, but wanting to know how the war was going, they built a radio into the seat of a chair. The camp commander suspected they had a radio and had their rooms searched repeatedly. Each time, the commander came along to see that the search was done properly. Each time, the prisoners offered him a chair — the one with the radio in it. Each time, the chair wasn't searched, because the commander was sitting on it. After the war, one of the ex-prisoners told the commander how it was done; the commander apparently thought it was pretty funny.
During the Ardennes Offensive, when the Germans asked for the surrender of the encircled 101st Airborne Division, their famous reply was only the word "Nuts!", which might count as Refuge in Audacity.note Incidentally, "Nuts" was General Mc Auliffe's reaction being informed that the Germans wanted him to surrender, as he initially thought they were offering to surrender. He and his staff then agreed that this was the most appropriate reply to give to Germans. But the real example is the German demand for surrender. Bastogne was surrounded by a single infantry division, the 26th Volksgrenadiers, made up of poorly trained recruits and exhausted from over a week of hard fighting in winter snow. They only had a few units of support troops and were very likely outnumbered by the Americans in Bastogne. Their corps commander Von Lüttwitz realized he had no reinforcements to spare for an assault on the town. He realized American reinforcements in massive numbers were on their way. So what did he do? He demanded the American surrender.
Adrian Carton de Wiart, a British officer whose biography reads like a very unlikely movie plot, escaped from an Italian POW camp at Vincigliata. While on the run, he pretended to be an simple 'Italian farmer' - despite having an eyepatch, missing an arm, being riddled with scars and old bulletholes, and not being able to speak a word of Italian. He kept up the charade for eight days.
Also, Admiral Cunningham's reaction: he had the battleships raised (this being the downside to sinking a ship in a shallow harbor instead of out at sea) and told his men to act like the ships had not been disabled. Due to the capture of the frogmen, the Italians didn't learn the action had been successful until 1943, when Italy switched sides and the frogmen were released. Two years later, when all the warships had already been repaired and used in battle.
Operation Mincemeat, which may well have allowed the Invasion of Sicily to happen. The British intelligence service at the time took the body of a dead Welsh tramp, dressed him up like an army officer, and attached a briefcase containing false details of an invasion of Sardinia and Greece to him. They then dumped the body off the Spanish coast, making it appear that he'd died in a plane crash at sea. German spies got their hands on the briefcase and sent it to Berlin. It got to Hitler himself with no one suspecting a thing. The Nazis only figured out they'd been duped when the Allies landed in Sicily.
Amusingly, this operation had a slight unintended side effect. When real Allied plans were captured later, they were never believed as quickly. This notably happened on D-Day in which Allied plans were captured early on, but due to the even larger deception campaign, it wasn't believed. Full German reinforcements didn't show up until the Allied forces already landed were too numerous.
In order to preserve the credibility of some of the double-agents involved in the D-Day deception campaign, British intelligence had them report to the Nazis that they had uncovered the ruse and that the real attack was to be at Normandy...before the landings began, but too late for German reinforcements to get there in time to matter.
The Doolittle Raids in 1942 were a suicidal mission waiting to happen, especially with the carriers forced to deploy their bombers hundreds of miles away from the intended launch position off the coast of Japan; a number of bombers ended up either landing in the sea or in Japanese-occupied China. In fact, it had no significant purpose other than to provide a sorely-needed morale boost to the Allies in the Pacific War. And it succeeded. It was also considered important to conceal the nature of the attack, so that Japan would be unaware that aircraft carriers had penetrated so deeply behind their lines. Instead, President Roosevelt claimed that the bombers had been launched from the fictional land of Shangri-La.
While the notorious exploits of both Reinhard Gehlen and Otto Skorzeny during the war could certain qualify, perhaps their most audacious act was after the war ended: they each escaped from prison and together formed a new intelligence agency for the Americans.
The reason for the name of concentration camp "Buchenwald" is this trope. Normally the camps would be named after the closest major city, but Buchenwald wasn't. The reason here is that the city's population complained about any associations with the inmates. You read that right, not the horrific camp but the inmates.
Taffy 3 at the Battle Off Samar. Everything about this battle screams this from the Johnston sailing onto weapons splashes to the Samuel B Roberts engaging a Japanese heavy cruiser at such close range that the enemy ship couldn't lower its guns low enough to effectively fire back. It takes a lot of guts to lead a force of tin cans against a massive squadron of battleships. Just one of those battleships on the Japanese side was larger than all of the ships in Taffy 3 combined.
Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair, and his outrageous list of suggestions for cutting costs on his airline. One of the best was the idea of increasing the number of passengers by replacing some of the seats with standing room. When this was mocked in the press as being utterly ridiculous, a spokesman responded by saying it was just a joke, but one gets the impression that if it had been better received, there would be people standing for their plane journeys right now.
Probably not, actually - neither FAA nor EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency, the EU's equivalent of the FAA) allow for standing room in an aircraft and neither show any interest in amending their regulations to do so.
Also an ad campaign suggesting having only one pilot flying the plane.
All of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's characters — Ali G (a white guy pretending to be black who does interviews in character with very important political figures), Borat (a clueless and, let's face it, tactless most-of-the-time news reporter from a fictional version of Kazakhstan), and Brüno (a Flamboyant Gay fashion reporter for Austrian Gay TV); most of the sketches focus on real people not in on the joke taking their outrageous statements at face value. Since no one living above ground is taken in anymore, Cohen no longer uses them in public.
This and Bavarian Fire Drill were Frank Abagnale's bread and butter. While his film exploits were impressive, there were some that didn't make the cut that were apparently more so. When he was held in federal prison, he escaped by impersonating an undercover FBI agent that was supposedly investigating the prison conditions.
Vassilis Paleokostas. Greek bank robber and kidnapper for ransom. Escaped from prison with a helicopter. TWICE. FROM THE SAME PRISON.
Many of the attempts to cross the Berlin Wall would fall under this category. Such attempts included leaping over low parts of the Wall in broad daylight, stealing an APC and driving it through the Wall, using a sports car modified to pass under the checkpoint barricades at full speed, and building ultralight planes and hot air balloons to fly over the Wall.
And the two guys who escaped over a different wall out of Communist Eastern Europe, using home-made chairs that ran along high-voltage power lines (the kind you find up the tall steel towers). (They just had to climb up the last tower before the border, hook on the chairs, cross to the next tower, and climb down in a different country. The first half of the trip across was easy. Getting up the slope to the other tower, not so much.)
Also, one East German journalist managed to flee East Germany by organizing a photo shoot at one of the Inner Berlin checkpoints with a famed athlete. He asked the guards to pose for a picture with the athlete - then darted over the turnpike and ran across the death strip into the American sector.
When Henri IV of France and Navarre was excommunicated by the pope, he retaliated by excommunicating the pope. Which is completely impossible. Possibly the most epic use of, "No, you are!" in the history of the world.
That one is easily topped by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicating each other after a spat, resulting in a rift between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that has continued to the present day. While the current Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch are on friendly terms, there is no consideration whatsoever to reunifying the churches.
After the family of Eluana Englaro (who had been comatose for 17 years) succeeded in having her right to die recognised by the judges and getting doctors to start the process of allowing her to die in the way established by the court, Berlusconi issued a decree to stop the doctor from letting her die. Stating that, "This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate", Berlusconi went on to defend his decision by claiming that she was "in the condition to have babies", arguing that comatose women were still subject to menstruation.
At the opening of the European Food Authority in Parma, June 21, 2005, asked to explain how Italy managed to get the support of its biggest competitor (Finland) over the EU Food Authority dispute, he claimed: "I used all my playboy skills and courted the Finnish President". The Finnish parliament took the claim rather seriously and questioned the President about it. Berlusconi then attempted a saving throw by using this very trope... only to make it worse. He said something in the line of: "Of course I was joking, I mean look at her: do you seriously think I could...?"note The President of Finland from 2000 to 2012, Mrs. Tarja Halonen, was famously ugly.
This was the essence of Attorney General Philander C. Knox's advice to Theodore Roosevelt when TR asked him to come up with a legal justification for America's having assisted Panama in gaining her independence:
"Mister President, do not let so great an achievement suffer from any taint of legality."
Apparently, Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) a US soldier of second-to-lowest rank) could successfully access and smuggle out hundreds of thousands of classified intelligence documents of devastating international importance, just using her workstation and a Lady Gaga CD and acting normal, for Wikileaks to publish online.
A fan dressed in a rooster costume interrupted an interview during the 2012 US Open. He didn't have any media credentials, even fake ones, to be where he was, apparently this trope was just responsible for nobody stopping him.
You'd be surprised what parents will swallow, if you pass it off as a joke. "Whatcha doin', kiddo?"
"Oh, I was just gonna get stoned and party naked until I pass out from sexual exhaustion" *Laugh*
Eric Raymond advises in hacker culture, particularly in open source mailing lists, that because subtle emotions don't carry well in text, it's better to flame so openly and over the top ridiculously, if you're going to flame at all, so that everyone knows you're just being silly. Haha, only serious.
Many of these test answers qualify as well, with varying degrees of success.
The Three Toed Sloth, one of nature's better animals. Mr. Sloth harbors no less than four separate kinds of algae in his fur, causing him to mold green during the wet seasons, allowing plenty of delicious ecosystem for bugs, moths, and worms that decide to infest his fur. Even better, the sloth's digestive system is so slow that he's just a mobile compost heap wrapped in a moldy sweater... how does this crazy critter survive living in the Amazon, where there are more predators than leaves? Simple: No predator would ever want to eat Mr. Sloth, due to his extremely revolting niche lifestyle.
Unfortunately, sloths have evolved against every conceivable predator except cars. They are being roadkilled out of existence. To be fair, there are anecdotes of people trying to move the sloths out of the road that didn't end well. Nobody expects to hear "sloth" and "disemboweled the guy" in the same sentence.
Then again, the algae in its fur probably will wind up making the perfect biofuel for future cars — but only if it's grown in the sloth's fur, meaning that they'll have to be farmed carefully.
There are some people who block off roads so the sloth can cross peacefully. No matter how long it takes...
A corollary to this trope is something too crazy not to be true. This was used to advantage in Ancient Athens, when the tyrant Peisistratos managed a comeback by dressing a tall woman up as Athena and then riding into the city in a golden chariot with her, fooling the masses into thinking he had the goddess' favor. (Peisistratos then failed in that particular coup. He was forced to retreat, invest in gold mines, and use the money to hire a private army to take back his tyranny.)
The book Cops: Their Lives In Their Own Words has one interviewee mentioning that middle-class juries would acquit people simply because they couldn't believe human beings were capable of the things they did ... like a mother sewing her baby's rectum up because she got tired of him defecating all the time.
During the Uruguayan Civil War, the Uruguayan army was crushed at the battle of Arroyo Grande, in December 1842. Garibaldi, living in Uruguay at the time, led the defense of the Uruguayan capital Montevideo with a few thousand newly-freed slaves and a few hundred immigrants, against the victorious troops of Argentina's caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas and former Uruguay's Manuel Oribe. Garibaldi led the city's defense for 6 years remaining undefeated, and his side eventually won the war, causing, among other things, the fall and exile of Rosas.
The Spedizione dei Mille: Garibaldi attacked the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, with 999 underarmed men and one underarmed woman, against an army of over 100,000 soldiers. He won the war in the space of five months. He conquered the whole kingdom because the king of Two Sicilies and his generals thought it was just another group of pro-Italian unification patriots they could dispatch by simply telling the locals they were bandits (it had already worked once), but the Sicilians knew Garibaldi's face and didn't lynch him long enough for him to declare he was there to conquer the place and cut the taxes. By the time the king and his retinue started taking him seriously, he had already conquered the Sicily proper (half of the kingdom) and increased the force of his army to fifteen thousands, and most of the Sicilian army had either deserted or switched sides. The last battle of the war was between Garibaldi's army, now increased to thirty thousands (about thirty times than the one he started the war with) between volunteers from Sicily proper, the continental part of the kingdom and former military, and a very demoralized Sicilian army of twenty thousands...
In this one, Garibaldi was helping someone even more audacious than himself: the Count of Cavour, prime minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The plan to create the Kingdom of Italy was as following: send in Garibaldi to conquer the Two Sicilies; when Garibaldi is almost finished, send in the King of Sardinia Vittorio Emanuele II with the Sardinian Army, taking over the minor duchies and most of the Papal States through which they would march, ostensibly to stop Garibaldi; have the King tell Garibaldi to stop and disband his army, upon which he would do just that; organize a referendum through all the conquered territories to have the people legitimate it; organize another referendum to change the name of the country to Kingdom of Italy; when the great powers finally realize what has just happened, point at Garibaldi and tell them it's the only way to prevent the mad general from starting another war, and that now they would guarantee the independence of what remained of the Papal States. It worked (especially after they saw Italy was serious about guaranteeing the Pope's independence as long as France was willing and capable to defend it, what with stopping Garibaldi and locking him into jail every time he tried but one, with the exception justified by him breaking out and still having the volunteers from the latest attempt and outrunning the Royal Italian Army. They still locked him in when he realized it wouldn't work and gave up).
Also, the typical reaction of the Sicilian governments to patriots coming from other Italian states to start a revolution: call them bandits, warn the local population they were coming, and then send in the army to arrest the patriots and save them from the local population. It had worked three years earlier, when a group of patriots first overran the prison of Ponza to increase their numbers with the inmates (they had aimed at the political prisoners, but Ponza's inmates were mostly common criminals) and get some weapons and then landed on the mainland near the capital (in spite of the name, the capital of Naples was not in Sicily proper but on the mainland), only for more than half of the group to be lynched and the survivors given to the soldiers that were coming. Then they tried it again with Garibaldi, only to fail due his expedition landing in Sicily, where pro-government sentiment had always been much lower than on most of the mainland, and Garibaldi's own fame allowing him to tell the locals why he was there.
The Franco-Prussian War: In this war, tactfully summarized as "The German states play the role of drunken fratboy to France's ugly girl home on a Saturday night", Garibaldi raised a volunteer legion to fight for the new French republic. The reason there was a new republic was that the Emperor had already been captured by the Germans, along with most of his army, and they were setting off to besiege Paris and proclaim their own empire. In Versailles palace, too, just to rub it in. Sounds like a less-than-ideal time to pitch in with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits? Well, he didn't quite save France, but Victor Hugo called him "The only undefeated "French" general of the war".
Although he was turned down, the fact that when, offered a position as a Major-General for the Union in 1861, he demanded total command of the US Army serves as a good example of his Modus Operandi.
Ralph Fiennes having unprotected sex with an air hostess in the bathroom of the plane on his way to an AIDS awareness convention as their spokesperson. And he was allowed to continue being their spokesperson.
Many scams — an example is Bernie Madoff. As one commenter said: "The SEC is very good at rooting out sophisticated fraud, especially in accounting gimicks [sic]. But they, like most human beings, are simply not that good at identifying accounting statements that are simply made up out of whole cloth."
In 168 BC, the Egyptians petitioned the Romans to aid them in fighting off the Syrian Empire. The Romans sent a small delegation headed by Gaius Popilius Laenas, who travelled to the Syrian camp and demanded an audience with Antiochus IV, the king of Syria. There, he wordlessly handed him the Roman Senate's ultimatum: Withdraw, or face war with Rome. To make sure that Antiochus understood the stakes, he then took a branch, and drew a circle around Antiochus, telling him that he could have all the time he needed to think, but that he had to reach a decision before he left the circle. The Syrians decided to heed the warning of the Senate and withdrew from Egypt.
He probably would have left anyway, though; Rome was the most powerful state in the Mediterannean at that point and had proven it during the Punic Wars.
That same kid, 14 years old at the time, was later arrested for driving off with a Lexus from a Lexus dealership. He was caught three hours later after a car chase ending in a crash against a telephone pole. He tried to get away by grabbing a stroller and casually walking away.
Autistic ace Darius McCollum, who was obsessed with the New York transit system. At 5, he had memorized all of the routes. At 15, he hijacked a train and drove it along its ordinary route. Passengers did not notice. To this day, he is still being arrested for impersonating transit workers. He has spent several years in Sing Sing. MTA could solve all this by hiring him. Impossible, not just because of his criminal record but because hiring someone with a "mental disability" might leave them open to lawsuits.
The creator of Scie- Happyology revels in this trope, and has cited it as a defense against its critics.
Happyology's Sea Org contract goes for a billion years, including future reincarnations. An NCAA (all sports, not just football) contract for the use of a player's image lasts "forever and throughout the universe". At least the college won't sue the player if they decide to leave...
Josef Fritzl successfully imprisoned his daughter and their eventual seven children in the basement of his house for 24 years without his wife or their other children or neighbors noticing anything. Really, the idea is so outlandish and monstrous that no rational person would ever entertain the idea of someone doing it. To be fair, apparently his wife is 95% deaf and has cerebral atherosclerosis, so not all there either.
A German Prisoner had escaped from prison via... hiding in a cardboard box.
The Yiddish word seykhl has been defined as "clever audacity; for example, a child killing both parents and then asking the courts for mercy because they're an orphan."
In the late 1950s, the Navy was determined to launch the first US satellite with their Vanguard rocket. Which meant that even though Wernher von Braun had built better rockets for the Army, he couldn't launch anything into space, only launch tests. So, without getting permission from his supervising officer, von Braun moved one of his rockets out to the pad and decided he'd launch it into space and then go "Woops, it was an ACCIDENT!" The supervisor found out before he could actually do the launch, but man, that took GUTS!
In an example from the animal kingdom, this. A mouse, caught on camera, stealing meat from a leopard. Right in front of the leopard.
The Wankers on Countdown was recorded but not broadcast, and The News Quiz is a radio show (the watershed only covers television).
Radio broadcasts in the UK supposedly don't allow any swearing at all, but this varies: Radio 4 (home of the aforementioned News Quiz, among others) has more leeway as a non-commercial adult-oriented station, but you still can't drop a Cluster F-Bomb before 9 pm.
Every scheme listed here is flat-out insane. This did not stop people from trying them. See if you can spot which ones are simply stupid and which are stupid yet take cojones.
The IRS website lists here more arguments whose use make the user liable to a $5,000 fine at least.
Zhuge Liang was a general in China's Three Kingdoms period with an unparalleled knack for audacious feats of strategy that always caught the other army off-guard and always worked. Then he gets caught off-guard: Sima Yi, an opposing general, managed to annihilate the forces tasked with protecting Zhuge Liang's flank and marched an overwhelming force to the gates of the city Zhuge Liang was in. There was no way to win the battle. Zhuge Liang walked out of the city, unarmed, and sat down in front of the walls in full view of the army and started playing his lyre without an apparent care in the world. Convinced that Zhuge Liang had some nasty trick up his sleeve and he was facing annihilation, Sima Yi turned his army right around and went home without even attempting battle. Which he would have easily won.
There's an old story of two strangers sitting at a table and eating their lunches. Alice looks up and notices Bob is eating a cookie from her bag. So Alice reaches out and takes another cookie, with a meaningful stare. Bob helps himself to another cookie. Alice takes another. They go all the way to the bottom of the bag, and there's one last cookie. Bob breaks it in half, gives Alice half, and leaves. That's when Alice looks again in her lunchbox and sees her own, untouched, package of cookies. She was eating Bob's cookies all along.
Our very own Ad Of Lose page is typically displaying at least one, and frequently two, ads for marketing services. What else could this be?
T. E. Lawrence based his entire military career upon this principle. As a young man, he had been profoundly influenced by the heroes of classical mythology, so he acted like he was the protagonist of a heroic epic. The act was so convincing that everyone around him sort of just rolled with it.
Napoleon Bonaparte, when he returned from his exile to Elba island. He essentially decided one day that he'd had enough of this 'exile' silliness and caught a boat back to France, where he gathered an army of volunteers while heading for Paris. When Louis XVIII sent his army to kill the renowned general, Napoleon left his own forces behind, walked up to the attacking army, and asked if they were really thinking of trying to kill him. He captured Paris two weeks later.
On an earlier occasion, Napoleon's army needed to seize a vital bridge that the Austrian army was preparing to blow up. Two of Napoleon's marshals, Murat and Lannes, ride up and demand to know what the Austrians think they're doing. Didn't they know that this bridge had been ceded to the French under the terms of the armistice? One Austrian sergeant on the scene did realize that they were bluffing, but Murat then demanded of the Austrian officer if he took orders from sergeants. Suffice it to say that the French were able to seize the bridge.
This was the only reason why Skippy, from Skippys List, wasn't beaten up, court martialed, or drummed out of the army, according to him.
When it was first proposed, Quantum Physics was this. Or, as Niels Bohr put it:
In 2007, Timothy Rouse escaped from jail in Kentucky on some very serious charges by having a friend send a fax from the corner grocery store claiming that a court order demanded his release. The 'order' was incorrectly formatted, on plain paper, with no identifying marks or seals. He was promptly released from jail.
In social-engineering attacks, the easiest way to break into a secure facility is to act like you belong there. If there's a "code of the day" system, strike preemptively by asking the other person for the password. Someone broke into an army base by dressing as an officer and ordering his way in.
Phillipe Petit, when arriving in America with his equipment to walk between the Twin Towers, was asked by a customs official what it was for. He responded that he was going to use it to put a wire illegally between the Twin Towers and walk across. The custom official laughed at him, wished him luck, and called for the next person.
A more disturbing rather than awesome example: As documented by United 93, one of the chief reasons the FAA and the military were slow to react to the September 11th hijackings was that a hijacking was simply absurd. It had been decades since the last one, and no one anticipated a hijack on that day, much less four.
John Giles, the Alcatraz escapee who veritably made it to dry land before being intercepted. While washing military clothing in the prison laundry, he managed to purloin a complete Army uniform one piece at a time; thus disguised, he simply stepped onto a military launch as if he belonged on board. Had his absence from the prison not been noticed immediately, or had the launch not been bound for Angel Island rather than the mainland, Giles would've been the guy Escape from Alcatraz was written about.
In the case "R. v. Sharpe", Canadian Chief Justice openly admitted that "person" has a clear definition given in the Canadian criminal code, but that she will impose a separate definition for this one law (mostly to put a ban on drawn Lolicon and Shotacon that would otherwise not be considered as depicting an underage "person").
Ignoring the plain text of the law is surprisingly common for courts to do in order to prevent Loophole Abuse and blatant miscarriages of justice.
Averted with a Qatari diplomat traveling into the United States sneaking cigarettes aboard his plane and smoking in the restroom. Eventually, one of the air marshals noticed smoke drifting out through the door and asked what he was doing. The diplomat's response? "I'm trying to light my shoes on fire."
Yeah, while we're at it — do not attempt Refuge in Audacity with airport security. Ever. Seanbaby put it best when he wrote: "Federal regulations require them to have no idea you were only joking as they riddle your body with bullets."
Also, do not attempt to use Refuge in Audacity by claiming to do something that was done in an actual terrorist attack or attempt thereof. A terrorist once tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with a bomb in his shoes, but was stopped when a flight attendant noticed him trying to light his shoes on fire.
Sad but true with atrocity-committing dictators and terrorists-turned-public-figures being given little more than a judiciary "slap on the wrist" (if that) because slaughtering people by the village-load and establishing a military junta apparently makes you untouchable. As the saying goes, "You kill 1 person, you go to prison. You kill 20 people, you get institutionalized. You kill 100,000 and you're granted political asylum."
Not if Mossad has anything to say about it, though.
Many [alleged] Mossad operations qualify for this trope.
Gordon Thomas' "Gideon's Spies" details an interesting mix of fact and speculation about the Mossad.
The state of Georgia finally caved into the pressure to change its state flag in the early 2000s because of its depiction of the Confederate battle flag. The new flag is simply a recreation of the less-famous Confederate national flag with the state seal within the blue field of stars.
In an interview, Johnny Depp recounts a story in which he buys some paint with the intent of defacing a billboard with his face on it because he doesn't like the picture. He is caught by a security guard, who, upon realizing who he is, tells him to get on with it.
"That's ... you!"
"Yeah, I know!"
From that same interview:
"On rollerskates... It's such an absurd thing to do, you have to try and top yourself."
Halloween (and in some places, Mardi Gras) relies on this. It is the only time of year you can dress in sexually charged and/or bloody costumes without the police trying to arrest you. Hence committing a crime should be easier. Right?
An Arizona restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill has food items like the Quadruple Bypass Burger or Flatliner Fries, dresses their servers as sexy nurses, and bears the slogan "A taste worth dying for." Its Youtube commercial offers the warning that side effects "may include sudden weight gain, repeated increase of wardrobe size, back pain, male breast growth, loss of sexual partners, lung cancer, tooth decay, liver sclerosis, stroke, and an inability to see your penis. In some cases, mild death may occur."
The Quadruple Bypass Burger — fried in lard! — is too big to be eaten as is, because the human mouth doesn't open that wide, yet it is still actually ordered. You just take it apart.
eBay sellers that charge something like $100 for an item or more when there are others selling for way less. Possibly justifiable if you're the only one who ships internationally or something, but otherwise, who do they think they're trying to kid?
By the same token, people that use eBay to literally sell nothing at all. Things like an "air guitar" (an empty box) have sold for more than $100, despite the picture and description specifically saying that the item does not exist.
Same thing happens with mobile apps that only pretend to do something. While the app's creator explicitly states (sometimes in all caps) that the app is not the real deal, there will still be a dozen bad reviews from people who don't bother to read descriptions, buy apps, and then complain about them.
A group of 5 people steal a GAS STATION from a Kansas small town.
John Wilkes Booth managed to escape capture at the Ford Theater due to the simple fact that what he did was so outrageous nobody realized what he'd done. He had time to jump onto the stage, breaking a leg, deliver a Bond One-Liner, and then limp to his horse on the aforementioned broken leg before riding off into the night... while the majority of the theater was still trying to figure out what he'd done. (That is, shooting Abraham Lincoln.) He even did this while there were military personnel at the theater!
It seems the Pakistani government may be attempting one of these. Bin Laden was found a couple hundred yards from their largest military academy, in a massive house on an even more massive lot, surrounded by 10 to 18 foot high barbed wire topped walls with no phone lines, in a city full of retired military officers 30 miles from their capital city, and they had no idea.
Or, to look at it from another angle, the most wanted terrorist in the world escaped detection by hiding in plain sight, living alongside the same military that was hunting down allied militants in Balochistan and the NWFP. It's like Benedict Arnold buying a summer cottage just down the road from West Point.
For that matter, the bin Laden raid was one of these as well. Worth noting is the Pakistani government wasn't informed of the operation. The famous photo of the White House staff watching a live feed in shock was because everyone feared a Battle of Mogadishu-type situation (as seen in Black Hawk Down) in a politically allied country. Part of the reason for this was the (not unfounded) assumption that bin Laden living within sight of the Pakistani military academy was more due to social, political, or financial influence rather than just sheer daring.
Hizzoner Da Mare Richard J. Daley of Chicago could have listed an example every day. His son, Richard M. Daley, as mayor, wanted to get rid of Meigs Field Airport on the lakefront, so he could reclaim it as parkland. The rich folks who enjoyed their airport pulled every loophole in the book to prevent this. As a result, Daley sent bulldozers to the runway in the middle of the night to carve huge X's into the runway, rendering it unusable. This circumvented a restraining order that prevented him from closing the active airport, and allowed him to condemn the now-unusable site.
He was fined by the FAA for failing to give appropriate notice (a slap-on-the-wrist $33,000, the largest amount possible at the time); his actions endangered lives (an aircraft on short final had to be diverted as his equipment began work), and he stranded sixteen airplanes at the field through his antics.
One anecdote tells of a white undercover FBI agent who successfully infiltrated a black gang in South Central Los Angeles and got them all busted for drug trafficking. Later interviews established that the gang members trusted the agent because they didn't think the police would be stupid enough to send a white guy to infiltrate a black gang.
The same agent was also famed for keeping a country music tape in his car that contained a song with the lyrics "He's an undercover agent for the FBI" in it and ensuring that as many people as possible got into the car and heard that song.
This song in question is "Uneasy Rider" by Charlie Daniels and itself is a musical example of this trope
There's a list of such improbable moles here, including a black man infiltrating the KKKand chatting with their Great Wizard David Duke and a Jew infiltrating a Neo-Nazi group.
Quite a lot of internet phishing (not to be confused with hacking) relies on Refuge in Audacity. Not as common now that the average joe knows about scam letters and phishing methods, but in days when the average AOL'er and secretary was less savvy, it was quite common for accounts or entire systems (occasionally very big systems) to be compromised simply by someone calling/emailing pretending to be a serviceman asking for their information. They did it by burying their intentions under technical jargon and functioning on the premise that it was assumed that no one with bad intentions would simply call and ask for your password or to be keyed into your system.
This is still done in retail circles, especially at stores that sell giftcards. Scammers who have knowledge of how the gift-card system works on the back-end will call a retail outlet, claiming they are either from the company that issues the cards, or from the retail company itself, and simply ask the clerk on the phone to enter some numbers into their computer to "test" the system. Clerks used to such random shenanigans from corporate will not really pay attention to the fact that they're transferring thousands of dollars.
Copyright-lawsuit outfit Righthaven, after losing a case because the 'right to sue' that they had obtained from their parent company cannot exist under law, as you need to hold the copyrights before you can sue over them (a thing called 'standing'), then argued that, as they lacked standing, the court lacked standing to order them to pay defendants costs. The judge didn't find their arguments persuasive, surprisingly.
Steven Jay Russell, the con man who inspired the movie I Love You Phillip Morris, certainly counts. It takes some balls to fake your own death from AIDS in order to escape from prison.
Ricky Gervais' hosting duties during the 2010 Golden Globe Awards would have been enough to get anyone, regardless of their star power, blacklisted in Hollywood for eternity. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, desperate to get its ratings back up, hired Gervais to host the ceremony. Gervais then proceeded to mock every Hollywood institution in the room — he made jokes about The Tourist (right in front of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp), heavily indicated that awards could be bought from the HFPA, mocked Mel Gibson (who was facing charges of abusing his then-wife and child under the influence of alcohol) right in front of him, pimped his own film The Invention of Lying, drank several glasses of beer during the telecast, told everyone that he would never host again, and generally mocked the entire concept of the award ceremony. To the HFPA's surprise, ratings went through the roof, and Gervais was asked to come back and host the 2011 awards (where he did more of the same).
This attack by Anonymous, known as "Military Meltdown Monday." Not only did Anon break into the US military's database and make away with some 90,000 military email usernames and passwords, they also left an invoice for their "audit" of the security company's encryption, totaling to $310.
In January 2011, a man in Russia managed to get off of being charged with armed robbery for stealing a truck containing a shipment of vodka by arguing that he was stealing the Vodka and that the truck just happened to be how he was transporting the Vodka.
The (fake) sale of the Eiffel Tower. Victor Lustig managed to convince six moguls that the (then) pre TV/Radio landmark was a costly waste of money, space, and metal. And the government JUST realized this. So the government was quietly looking for buyers to get rid of it. Bonus for making it a believable con because he asked for bribes, which was taken as proof that he was genuine because everyone knows the government is corrupt.
Even better: when the victim (he scammed just one of the moguls for realism) didn't press charges out of shame, he chose six other moguls and did it again. This time, the chosen victim had the sense to check, and the conman had to run...
Lustig's other masterpiece: conning Al Capone in spite of him knowing who he was. How? He asked him to give him 50,000 dollars for a con with the promise to give him back twice the sum in a month and the understanding that Capone would have him killed if he tried any funny business, and then, after a month, told him he had failed, gave him back the money, and begged for forgiveness, resulting in Capone rewarding his "honesty" with five grands.
[HitmanForHire.net]. If it hadn't been for a terrified woman going to the FBI after the "hitman" tried to blackmail her, they might have never realized the man behind it was soliciting actual offers.
In his Dress to Kill show, Eddie Izzard points out that "[Hitler] was a mass murdering fuckhead, as many important historians have said. But there are other mass murderers who got away with it. Stalin killed many millions, died in his bed. Well done there. Pol Pot killed 1.7 million Cambodians, died under house arrest, age 72. Well done, indeed. And the reason we let them get away with it is because they killed their own people. And we're sort of fine with that. Oh, help yourself, you know we've been trying to kill you for ages, so you kill your own people... Seems to me Hitler killed people next door. Oh, stupid man. After a couple of years: well we won't stand for that, will we? Pol Pot killed 1.7 million people. We can't even deal with that. I think we think that if someone kills someone, that's murder, you go to prison. You kill ten people, you go to Texas they hit you with a brick, that's what they do. Twenty people, you go to a hospital and they look through a small window at you forever. And over that we can't deal with it. Y'know? Somebody's killed 100,000 people, we're almost going 'well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning.'"
While ultimately unsuccessful, the arguments put forth by Charles Guiteau during his trial for the murder of President James Garfield, ranging from accusing the latter's doctors of the actual killingnote which was, strictly speaking, true to seeking the intervention of President Chester A. Arthur on his behalf in return for the raise he got due to Garfield's death, essentially defines this trope.
Any person who calmly walks into a public restroom, straight past the queue, and into the cubicle that just opened up. They get away with it because by the time people's brains catch up to the idea that someone would so blithely ignore the queue, they're already in the cubicle and safe.
There are several well-known stories (possibly urban legends) involving celebrities who do insane feats in front of random people, then dare them to tell someone about what just happened. One such story involves Bill Murray, who supposedly walked up to a random customer at a fast-food restaurant, took one of his fries and ate it in front of him, then said, "No one will ever believe you" before walking away. For his part, Murray has heard the stories before, and said in a GQ article in 2010 that he himself thinks it's "crazy and unlikely and unusual". The myth may have stemmed from a biography of James M. Cain in the mid-80's, which featured a passage where the actor and a group of friends (including a famous actress) were driving on the Pacific coast and stopped at a roadside diner — as they were getting up to leave, the actress walked up to a customer, exposed her breasts, and walked off, saying to her friends afterwards, "C'mon! No one will ever believe him."
After one too many "OJ is guilty" weekend update jokes, Norm MacDonald got fired from SNL, only to be inexplicably brought back as a guest host 18 months later. To say Norm revelled in the irony would be an understatement, as he used his opening monologue to point out he hadn't become any funnier in the interim and had no intention of curbing down the Black Comedy that got him fired to begin with. He then hilariously proved his point, using guest host immunity to prevent the NBC execs from pulling the plug.
Peter Wessel Tordenskjold, a Norwegian naval officer in the Danish-Norwegian navy, fought a Swedish frigate 'De Olbing Galley' twice the size of his own ship in July 1714. After a having fought a whole day and night, he was running out of ammunition. He then sent out an envoy to the Swedish ship asking to borrow some more gunpowder, so they could continue fighting. The request was refused, but the captains drank to each other's health and promised to meet another day.
A story taken from Tumblr: "When I was in preschool, there was this really weird system of time-out where they'd put you in this giant plastic bucket [..] And the rule was you couldn't leave the bucket for ten minutes. In case you didn't know, I was what the teachers referred to as a "difficult child" which is code for "walking entity of sass", so I was in the time-out bucket quite a bit. Once they put me in the bucket for thirty minutes, and I thought that was incredibly unfair, so I grabbed the handles and shifted my body repeatedly until the bucket and I were out of the classroom, in the hallway, and through the front door. They found me in the parking lot scooting to freedom in the time-out bucket. The teachers were furious and I said, "Hey, I never left the bucket". So they called my mum and told her what I did and she just said, "Well, he never left the bucket.""
Another one from Tumblr: "One time, these two kids were arguing in the middle of class and the teacher goes, 'Can't you be a little more mature?' so one kid just screamed 'TAXES!' and punched the other kid in the face."
Then there's the story about a kid who got out of a detention by giving the teacher a Monopoly "get out of jail free" card.
How did he get detention? He kicked the ceiling. On accident.
During World War I, the German light cruiser Emden needed the keel cleaned and the machinery overhauled. Seeing he was near the British base of Diego Garcia — an atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean — and that the locals didn't know about the war yet, captain Karl von Müller claimed there was a war game and had the British personnel clean Emden's keel, overhaul the machinery, supply him with coal and food, and touch up the paintjob. He paid in cash before leaving.
The Brazilian Constitutionalist Revolution. The Paulistans, who were opposing the government at the time, had very low resources and couldn't afford weapons, so instead, they've gone to war equipped only with instruments known as "matracas" (wooden rattles that made a noise similar to that of a machinegun) to scare their enemies.
And of course, people who edit Wikis with ridiculous claims, knowing full well that said ridiculous claims will be assumed as true. This is especially common with "list of notable residents" sections.
It's not uncommon for businesses to hire shills to represent them. However, some will hire reverse shills that will go to forums and sites that are aligned against said business and derail threads by acting like either a very VERY angry customer that needs to be cooled down or a sympathizer who just "wants to play devils advocate". This involves a large dosage of ham and balls. It works too.
Italian Warrior Poet (in the sense he was a poet that had joined the army) Gabriele D'Annunzio pulled a few of these in World War I, including: charging at an Austrian trenchline with a gun in each hand, a knife in his mouth, and a Badass Cape; entering an enemy harbor with three torpedo boats, firing torpedoes, and leaving messages in which he dared the enemy fleet to come out and fight (he didn't hit any ship due the Austro-Hungarian having extensive torpedo nets to counter this exact kind of raid, but him entering the harbour and getting away with it was still a morale blow); flying over Vienna and dropping leaflets in which he praised the Italians for not bombing the city into rubble when they could and suggested the citizenship to overthrow the government and sue for peace.
The Italian navy loved this. There was a shortage of patrol ships? They strapped torpedoes on small motorboats and used those to patrol and torpedo anything they encountered. The reason the Austro-Hungarians had extensive torpedo nets when D'Annunzio attacked? The Italians had already used their torpedo boats to sink a pre-dreadnought battleship in harbour. Two of those torpedo boats encounter an enemy fleet of two battleships, one destroyer and six normal-sized torpedo boats? They fired torpedoes and sunk the Austro-Hungarian flagship (after this, the Austro-Hungarian fleet didn't dare to leave the harbours anymore). The Austrian harbours are too well guarded for the torpedo boats? They sent in men in diving suits and no breathers and using a device the Royal Navy had refused to implement because it was hopelessly insane (the human torpedo) and sunk a battleship and a freighter with mines (made even worse by the fact harbour and ships had been given by Austria-Hungary to one of the states born by the collapse just a few hours earlier, right after the attackers left their base). In World War II, the Royal Navy is superior to the Italians and can easily counter the torpedo boats? They sent men with human torpedoes (an improved model. Also, this time they had breathers) into Alexandria's harbour to sink two battleships (including the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet!!) and damage a tanker (they had three mines, but there were just two battleships and no carrier) and a destroyer (by accident). Needless to say, both the Austro-Hungarian Navy and the Royal Navy started expecting anything...
The British admiral's counter to that raid was just as outrageous: he had the battleships immediately raised (that's the trouble with sinking ships in a shallow harbour: they're easily raised) and their crews act like nothing had happened. Between the Italian recon airplanes reporting that the ships had no apparent damage and the attackers being all captured before they could return, the Italians only learned that the attack had been successful in September 1943, over a year and half after it, over a year after the ships had been replaced and repaired, and after Italy switched sides (and the switching sides was the only reason they found out: when it happened the Brits freed the incursors, who made their report), and utterly failed to take advantage of the Mediterranean Fleet being two battleships down (and given they played merry hell in the Mediterranean for six months after this, we can't even imagine what they would have done had they know) or try other raids.
This account of a wargame run by the Canadian army, in which the Not!Iraqi forces, after holding a victory parade to celebrate their invasion of Not!Kuwait, get on the highway and keep driving at the Not!Saudis and the Not!Americans, and nearly decimate them.
At Comic-Con 2013, actor Bryan Cranston cosplayed as his own character Walter White from Breaking Bad, complete with a mask of his own face. He was aware that if he went to the con as himself, he would get mobbed by fans, so he managed to escape notice by literally wearing the clothes that made him famous!
The Krak des Chevaliers, a Crusader castle in Syria, was taken from The Knights Hospitallers by the Mamluk sultan Baibars with the help of a false order of surrender from their Grand Master.
One of the arguments Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are using to appeal his conviction essentially boils down to "the conviction should be overturned because there was too much evidence against him."
In a stand up special, Dave Chappelle mentions a friend who got out of trouble for trying to race another car, that didn't even know they were racing, by telling the cop that pulled them over "I didn't know I couldn't do that." He was also very drunk at the time.
As a way to boost ticket sales for Night of the Seagulls, part of the "Tombs of the Blind Dead" franchise, marketers linked the film to the popularity of Planet of the Apes. How? By claiming that the skeletal, rag-wearing ghosts were the ghosts of shaved and blinded ape-men. Even when Ed Glaserexplains it, it's hard to believe that such an idea could happen.
The BBC/Discovery documentary Human Planet featured a rather impressive example of this trope employed by Dorobo people in Kenya. An older man takes two younger men out to teach them an ancient method of getting meat. Said method turns out to be to find a pride of fifteen lions eating a wildebeest, walk up to them, cut off a leg, heft it over his shoulder and walk home. The lions apparently didn't believe it either and actually ran off when they saw a human walking towards them as if he owned the place.
"In High School, we all had a class called 'advisory'. In twelfth grade, we were asked to begin the year with introducing ourselves to each other... apparently the teacher forgot that a) we've been in the same class since we entered high school b) She had us last year, and c) she already knew us well. So we all introduced eachother with stuff like "Hi, I'm Norman and I got my drivers license.", "Hi, I'm Jacqui and I have a part time job". The Class clown named Jason walked up and, in a very glum voice, said "Hi, I'm Jason and I'm an alcoholic". The teacher started rolling in the floor laughing - and it's a good thing she knew he was joking."
Another story from Reddit where a student photoshopped a picture of the principal to look like Hitler — since he was very strict about his "No Hats" rule, then printed it out and distributed it amongst the student body. The teachers and principal eventually got ahold of the image, thought it was Actually Pretty Funny, and nobody got punished for it. In fact, he started off an assembly by goose-stepping up to the microphone and speaking in a fake German accent. The same redditor had another story where they screwed with the principal by having a cell phone ringtone set to a woman moaning "Ooooh! Oooh! Harder! Harder!" and had someone repeatedly call them during another school assembly. (This time he wasn't as amused.)
In World of Warcraft, there was a guild named "Razorfen Down Syndrome", a play off of one of the game's dungeons. Someone thought this was a little offensive, so it was forced to be renamed to "Razorfen Downsized". Around the same time, when Saddam Hussein was executed via hanging, someone on the exact same server named a guild "Hanging with Saddam", and the GM-character name was "Saddam". It actually slipped by the censors — and apparently someone at Blizzard said that was really amusing.
During the 2014 Crimea Crisis, Russia sent thousands of soldiers to occupy Crimean public institutions and ports without an official declaration of war or other official declarations on Ukraine, but was careful to strip them off all their insignia (and removed the license plates and markings of the vehicles they came in) first to hide the fact that they were, in fact, Russian military. Despite the fact that they had Russian weapons, Russian cars, jeeps and tanks, Russian uniforms, came from the direction of Russia with Russian ships, and identified themselves as Russian military upon inquiry. Subverted, in that it actually didn't fool anyone, but still managed to cause some confusion, especially when the soldiers mingled with pro-Russian militias and the Ukrainian police.
Israelis in general are famous for having no shame, trying to call up CEO's for jobs and walk into government building to give the prime minister advice. The government quite frequently has conversations with reporters at press conferences that basically go "if these aggressions go out of hand, we will not be afraid to use our nuclear arsenal," "are you finally officially confirming that you have nuclear weapons," "no."
The single, most audacious breach of intelligence in US history was perpetrated as follows: Edward Snowden, recently hired contractor for the NSA, gets an assignment to back up all the information going to the Hawaii databases, which, being in Hawaii, are the last to get backed up and the last to be updated. While doing so, Snowden makes two copies: one for the actual data back up, and one for himself. Because the Hawaii terminus was a little behind in their security updates, there was literally no system in place to detect this. Snowden then requests medical leave (despite only having been on the job for 3 months) and walks away, with millions upon millions of pages of classified documents. Snowden sought out the job as an NSA contractor specifically intending to do something like this the moment an opportunity presented itself.
When one of 17th century adventurer and swordswoman Jule d'Aubigny'sfemale lovers was sent to a convent by her family in order to bury the scandal, d'Aubigny didn't let that stop her from seeing her, and joined the convent as a novice to gain access to her lover again. And then they escaped by hiding the corpse of a recently deceased nun in her bed and lighting the convent on fire. Another time d'Aubigny got into a duel against three men at once and defeated them all while wounding one of them before they fled. After learning one of her adversaries had been wounded, she snuck into his room one night to pay him a visit, seduced him, and the pair spent a number of months afterwards as lovers.
It is hard to say for certain which escapades told by Hunter S. Thompson in his reports and novels actually happened, though the claim that he reported on the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Illegal Drugs while tripping on LSD is fairly well documented by other sources. The same goes for several stories about friends of his, most notably Oscar Zeta Acosta; the bathtub incident, for example, actually happened mostly as Thompson describes it, though it did not occur during either of the Las Vegas trips.
After the Battle of Cannae in the Second Punic War, Hannibal and the Roman Senate made an exchange of such actions. Hannibal knew his army was virtually invincible in any battle where they could manouver but also too small to be able to sustain a siege of Rome or even fight its way through the lands surrounding the city, so he sent the Senate an ultimatum threatening to come and storm Rome. The Senate sent back a demand for the rent of the public land occupied by his camp (they probably demanded it when Carthage sued for peace after Hannibal was finally defeated). That demand was what told Hannibal that the Romans knew exactly the situation of his army.
The Schutzetruppe of German East Africa in WWI were a Ragtag Band of Misfits that was utterly surrounded by enemies, had no supplies, and was outnumbered roughly thirty to one. The Allies expected them to make a stand somewhere where they could be easily wiped out — instead, they led the Allies a merry chase, invaded several other colonies and surrendered two weeks after the Armistice — in British Rhodesia.
Fringe Republican candidate Rex Rammell of Idaho replied to a question during a debate about wolf tags by saying that many Idahoans would gladly buy "Obama tags", referring to then-president Barack Obama. He later refused to apologize for the remarks on the grounds that everyone knows that Idaho has no authority to issue hunting tags in Washington, D.C.
A lecturer described an incident in which she was caught speeding. The excuse she made was that her husband overfed her, causing her to get fat. Because her weight was unevenly distributed in her body, it would put additional pressure on one of her legs, causing her to press the accelerator harder than usual. The policeman found this so funny that he let her off with a warning.
This is thought to be part of how Whitey Bulger managed to stay hidden for so many years after fleeing Boston in 1994 and only being caught in 2011. On at least one occasion he visited and spoke to several people at a Santa Monica bar frequented by Boston transplants. A few of those people noted a resemblance but did nothing because they couldn't believe a man who was #2 on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, just after Osama Bin Laden, would actually show himself in such a place. It was only after he was caught that they realized he was the genuine article.