Vegeta's whole complex in Dragon Ball Z is how he views himself as the Hero or even the Chosen One, and so constantly gets mad when Goku and Gohan continue to take center stage. It takes him until the fight with Kid Buu to accept his destiny as Goku's lancer.
Mr.Satan has basically everyone on Earth convinced that he is The Hero. In the end, he becomes a sort of lancer
Mazinger Z: Baron Ashura and Count Brocken hated each other. Big Bad Dr. Hell thought it would be a good thing, since they would surely try to destroy Mazinger-Z harder to upstage each other. Or course, what happened was many operations and schemes went by the wayside because they constantly fought and got in the each other's way, and they were unable to work together, ruining many joined missions, too. Hell's mistake was born of him believing he and his troops were a Five-Man Band instead of a Five-Bad Band.
In another episode, Count Brocken has one in which he took hostages, and used cheap tricks to defeat Koji, expecting Koji to be a straight, heroic and honorable hero like pretty much most tv show protagonists at the time. This could have (and at times actually did) work well if not for the fact that this is Koji we're talking about. In fact, Brocken does mention it by complaining about how Koji's fans will cry because of that. Koji's reaction? Take it like a man.
Sanji from One Piece seems to think he's in a Shojo anime (such as in the Enies Lobby arc and filler) and completely fails to get the girl at all times.
Luffy seems to be Genre Savvy to know he's in a Shonen manga, but not what type of Shonen, assuming that Chopper's scope attack will in fact be a beam, a la Dragon Ball. ("BEAM, BEAM! IT'S GONNA BE A BEAM!")
Donquixote Doflamingo, whose steadfast belief in a world without dreams runs contrary to... basically everything about One Piece.
Blackbeard seems to be under the impression that he's the main character. Either that, or he thinks he's the Big Bad (which he's got a good chance of being right about) in a story where The Bad Guy Wins (which he has absolutely no chance of being right about).
Konata from Lucky Star plays so much eroge, she thinks that she's living in one— despite this being a Slice of LifeSchoolgirl Series. She sometimes changes the game genre she believes she is in depending of the situation, but still doesn't get it right.
Most of the characters in Genshiken are major otaku and therefore genre savvy, but share Konata's affliction of being unable to tell exactly what kind of anime they're in. Madarame seems to visualize life as a Dating Sim, and beats himself up about it when he realizes it.
Example: She expects a student president who runs the school and all the clubs like a dictator. There isn't one, so Itsuki hires some guy to play the part of a jerkass president. He's a jerkass in a different way entirely, though. Of course, since this is Haruhi he starts having trouble differentiating himself from the role he is playing, and will possibly end up exactly as Haruhi thinks he is. Wrong Genre Savvy -> Genre Savvy!
In the Super Robot Wars games, he sometimes gets to actually be genre savvy — for example, in the Super Robot Wars W stage where Golion is introduced, the cast is shocked when the lions combine... except for Gai, whose reaction is something along the lines of "Yeah, OF course they were gonna do that."
Amusingly enough, this is probably why he survives in Super Robot Wars despite being swiftly killed off in his own series.
Edo Phoenix of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX thinks he's The Hero. In fact, he practically thinks he's Batman... in a shonen anime. He initially sets out to defeat Judai, thinking he's the enemy. Then when Judai is getting ready to defeat the Big Bad, Edo rushes off to fight him, believing he will win because of a promise he made, not realizing he is notThe Only One Allowed to Defeat You.
The three judges of Hell, Radamanthys, Aiacos and Minos, are under the impression that they are considerably stronger than the Gold Saints due to the restrictions imposed by Pandora at the entrance to Hell. Not much later, Aiacos gets his ass handed to him by Phoenix Ikki, a Bronze Saint and Radamanthys gets destroyed by Kanon (a part-time Gold Saint). The only one that can hold off on his own is Minos... for a while.
Berserk is a Seinen fantasy manga that contains orgies of violence and sex, of both the consensual and non-consensual types. Despite this, Isidro seems to have convinced himself that he's not only in a Shōnen manga (which are generally idealistic and where good always triumphs over evil), but thinks he's the main character. Suffice to say, if it weren't for the fact he's the Plucky Comic Relief, he probably would've died a long time ago.
Naga in Slayers believes that she is The Rival when she's actually more of a sidekick. Lina often corrects her when presenting themselves to a new character. In the TV series, Amelia tries desperately to uphold Justice in a slapstick fantasy world.
In Puni Puni Poemi the eponymous character is convinced (apparently correctly) that she is the main character — and her voice actress. In the final scene the show's director (who is also a character) reveals that the main character is apparently her love interest.
She also seems very convinced that she is the main character and that Shinji is The Rival and is crushed when she is confronted with the fact that she isn't.
Yuka Sugimoto from The Twelve Kingdoms anime even manages to get her genre right. Unfortunately, she leaps to the immediate assumption that being transported into a fantasy realm means she is The Chosen One, even though all signs point to her classmate Youko Nakajima. In the original novels, Yuka never even reached the Twelve Kingdoms in the first place, which should put things in perspective.
In G Gundam, young Maria Louise from Neo France is a Rebellious Princess with a crush on the local Knight in Shining Armor, George de Sand. She's depressed because he doesn't fight for her, but for her country. So, if she stages her own kidnapping and recruits Domon Kasshu, a rival that George spurned, he'll fight for her honor, right? WRONG! The far more Genre Savvy George does come for her, fully aware of her trick, and delivers a What the Hell, Hero? speech on how he's much more likely to be absorbed into fighting Domon than on Maria's honor as well as chewing her out for her recklessness. Domon's partner Rain has to bail Maria out, and she's Put on a Bus until the second part of the series.
Haruka Akashi of Kamen Tantei is a huge mystery buff and aspiring mystery author who keeps running into mysteries. So far, so good. Unfortunately, she's a "fair play" mystery fan trying to apply "the rules" of such to a world where psychic powers, ghosts, All Just a Dream endings and fictional characters come to life are regular occurrences.
Pretty much everyone in Hayate the Combat Butler. Nagi thinks she's in a shounen manga in a case of First Girl Wins. Most of the rest of the cast thinks they're in a genuine action series instead of a parody. Sakuya comes the closest by realizing she's in a comedy series, but even she has the style of humor wrong.
Would-be hard-boiled private eye Guy Kurosawa in Darker Than Black either doesn't know or refuses to admit that he's in a Speculative Fiction series. When a cat yells at him from two feet away, he looks in the opposite direction and says, "Who's there?" He happens to stumble on the real plot a couple of times through sheer dumb luck, and only makes it out alive because he's too dense to figure out that he's in a story where an elaborate revenge plot is much less likely than industrial espionage.
His Genki Girl secretary Kiko appears to be completely convinced that she lives in a shojo comedy. She doesn't. It also gets sort of turned around in the OVA, since it parodies the main series; Mayu has exactly the same ideas as Kiko about what genre she's living in, and starts stalking Hei because she thinks of him as a romantic hero. Hei and company spend so much time dealing with crazy Spy Versus Spy plots and counterplots that it never occurs to them that Mayu might be following him due to nothing more than a huge crush and start speculating that another, previously unknown organization is after them, briefly making them Wrong Genre Savvy.
In the third episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki identifies the show as a high-school romance anime, calling himself and Haruhi the main pair destined to be together - not too far off the mark so far, but then he identifies the rest of the club as "the homosexual supporting cast". This last remark inspires Kyouya to show him up by coming up with a better plan to save Haruhi from being exposed by the physical exam and saying "I just don't think I'm supporting cast, homosexual or not."
"Don't be ridiculous. I don't think I'm in a dating sim. In a dating sim I get all the girls! Have you ever seen me with a girl?" Yep, that'll show her. Still spends too much time looking for flag events though.
Code Geass: Poor, poor Shirley Fennette. She seems to think she's in a shoujo series, when it's anything but, and things just keep getting worse until the bottom falls out for the poor girl. Just two episodes after her proclamation of The Power of Love, and right after she seemingly consummates her one true love or it looks like she has a better chance than the other girls in the story... she gets mercilessly killed off for trusting the wrong person. A boy who also has interest in the guy she loves. Sorta.. All the more tragically ironic in that said power also had just earlier inspired Lelouch as Zero to make his inspiring speech about the Power of Passion after he and the Black Knights liberated China, and may have also saved Lelouch from falling into madness, and his eventual self-induceddemise via Zero Requiem, if not for Shirley's murder.
Minor example from the second episode of the 2005 Gaiking series. The main character fires off his Rocket Punch, expecting it to fly back to him afterwards. It doesn't, and he even screams out "But don't these things usually come back?!"
Notably played with when the protagonist /starts off/ a fight after freshly receiving an upgrade by using his rocket punch...and missing terribly. The villain laughs at him for his stupidity, leaving them wide open for the fist to fly back towards him and drill a hole straight through, coming back to rest on Gaiking's arm once again.
Early into the plot, Nouza, and late into the plot, Proist, don't really seem to 'get' the story's main themes (In particular, that unfaltering determination is more potent than raw power). The former changes sides, whereas the latter... well...
Haruka and Michiru of Sailor Moon, otherwise known as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, seem to think they are in a much more cynical series than they are. Therefore, though they are both very competent fighters who can certainly get the job done, they don't seem to understand that Sailor Moon could have the problem solved in half the time with twice the number of happy endings and tend to do things that make the ultimate situation worse. See the series' Grand Finale for more details.
From Super Robot Wars Original Generation Divine Wars: During a live-fire training, Ryusei Date believes it's impossible for tanks to outmaneuver and down a mecha. His mech's disabled and shot down in a matter of minutes. He's actually got the genre right, except this show is a hybrid and the "Super" part doesn't kick in until much later.
Rotton in Black Lagoon seems to believe he lives in a much more idealistic series. One that allows In the Name of the Moon speeches. He actually does have genuine genre savviness to go with it, though, but even this is only about 50% effective. Wearing a bullet proof vest: Good idea. Basing all your fighting on trying to be cool: Bad idea. You're not supposed to try.
Winner in Karin thinks he's the star of a Shounen vampire hunter series. Unfortunately for him, he's a side character in a Rom Com.
Ranma ˝: Tatewaki Kuno sees himself as an almighty samurai, loved by all and God's gift to women. In reality, he's nothing but a major pain in the ass.
Kumojacky of HeartCatch Pretty Cure! is an outrageously hammy and Hot-Blooded character who believes in the power of his own inner strength and loudly declares that any problem can be solved through the sheer grit and determination of your own burning spirit. He also thinks that the only kind of friendship worth having is the kind forged through mutual respect of the other person's strength. In short, he's the kind of guy who would fit in perfectly with any group of Shonen action heroes (or anime bookshop owners)... But he's stuck in a Magical Girl show that more or less runs on the Power of Friendship / Power of Love, and thus his clashing ideals default him directly to a villain role.
There's also a hero version in the form of Yuri Tsukikage/Cure Moonlight. She took on the mindset "I'll take the responsibility alone so no one has to suffer" before the series started. Noble, yes, and to her credit, the stint does work to her favor in the beginning. But ultimately, in the Pretty Cure series, you're not going anywhere far if you go solo and not trusting The Power of Friendship. Thus, during the early scene where she took on Dark Precure and Prof. Sabaaku (which would be either mid-season or late-season for her first run), she saw her Fairy killed protecting her and completely lost the fight, her Transformation Trinket broken, disabling her transformation, and she was heavily traumatized from the events, becoming a very distant and cold girl. Don't worry, she eventually gets better and adapts the right genre savviness in the end.
Makoto/Cure Sword of Doki Doki Pre Cure suffers from the same thing Yuri does, proclaiming she doesn't need friends and she can take care of the bad guys herself, due to her similar mindset after Her Greatest Failure in protecting a magical kingdom. Unlike Yuri, Mana and her friends get through to Makoto MUCH quicker note especially since she was set to show up in Pretty Cure All Stars since she showed up in the beginning.
In Naruto, the title character is told multiple times by several different people that he is the kind of person who could never be the main character in a story.
Danzo is a Byronic Hero from a generation that ran off of Black and Gray Morality in a show focusing on a younger generation that runs off of White and Gray Morality. He believes that he is the one destined to bring peace to the world so strongly that he takes measures to sabotage Naruto and his allies under the idea that they'll just make things worse. He's unable to accept that the world around him has taken a major shift on the Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism or that the story is named Naruto.
Maybe someone mixed up his and Asuka's tickets. Asuka would be a PERFECT fit in Gurren Lagann.
In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the character Mayo Mitama is an "evil looking girl" who likes to commit acts of ultra-violence. However, even when she does these things in front of/to people, they refuse to suspect her due to Wrong Genre Savvy. Going by the logic of detective stories and most anime using Face of a Thug, she can't be evil because "no one who looks so obviously evil could actually be evil" (because it wouldn't make for an interesting story). The problem is, Mayo's name means "exactly as she looks", and she's really is an example of Obviously Evil.
In Nana to Kaoru, the student council president complains that the main character's "got a secondary character's face!" The poor guy doesn't realize he's in an Ecchi, Ugly Guy, Hot Wife comedy. He's also absolutely dumbfounded at Kaoru's sad, depressed resignation about Nana being way outside of his league, expecting some form of argument or fight.
Shinzen from Speed Grapher is a very Genre Savvy villainess who is perfectly aware that her handsome and ruthless Dragon, Suitengu, views her as a Meal Ticket. So she tries to use her knowledge to try keeping him under control and outgambit him. Where does she go WGS? In that she accepted to marry him... not seeing that he'd try to kill her as soon as he could. Which he did.
There is also the possibility though that they actually ARE genre savvy and Tylor is just a much better tactician than everybody else.
Peorth in Ah! My Goddess manages to pick up that she's in a Magical Girlfriend series, but initially fails to realize that she's not the main love interest, and at one point seemed under the impression she was in a Hentai manga.
Drosselmeyer in Princess Tutu manages to guess his genre wrong despite being the "author" character, since he has no understanding of Post Modernism. He writes the story as a conventional tragedy, viewing himself as the guiding hand rather than a character in his own right, not realizing until the very end just how thin the fourth wall really is.
From the same series, Rue, who knows of Drosselmeyer's role, and knows he intends for a tragedy ending, but assumes that he intended for a tragedy in the sense of The Bad Guy Wins as a result of heroes failing to overcome their flaws, meaning she'd get to keep Mytho to herself. In fact, Drosselmeyer's vision of a tragedy involves screwing over both the heroes AND the villains, something she learns the hard way.
Sogiita Gunha from A Certain Magical Index thinks he's the hero of a Sentai anime. Not only is this series much more mature and complicated than that, he's not even a main character.
Combined with Aliens Steal Cable in Rinne no Lagrange - one of the Human Aliens in one episode watches a samurai movie and mistakes its events for some Earth tradition he then tries to repeat to challenge Madoka for a duel. Surprisingly things work exactly like he is expecting them to, but for different reasons and he accidentally convinces girls at Madoka's school that he is her boyfriend.
One of Hibiki's friends from Senki Zesshou Symphogear likes to point out when people act like anime characters, which she treats as unusual, because she doesn't realize she actually is in an anime.
Keima in The World God Only Knows gets all his Genre Savvy from Dating Sims, so he falls into this when he gets into situations outside his experience. For example, Haqua is a tsundere who is obviously in love with him. But in Dating Sims, the girl pursuing the boy is a trap for a Bad End, and must be avoided at all costs, so he barely even notices.
His misplaced savviness also kicked off the entire plot. He unquestioningly accepted a Deal with the Devil to "capture girls" because he didn't even know demons existed and didn't think anyone would ask him to go after real girls, so he assumed that someone was challenging him to beat a Dating Sim.
In the Area 88 manga and OVA, Ryoko seems to think she is in a romance story instead of a war story. She places great faith in the power of love and is determined to reunite with Shin, oblivious to why he would be at Area 88 in the first place and how war might have affected him. She gets heartache in spades for having this attitude.
Sousuke Sagara from Full Metal Panic! approaches every situation as a military operation. Since he is a Private Military Contractor, he's right about half the time. The other half he's at a normal high school playing bodyguard for his love interest, and he proves completely incapable of adjusting his behavior or his situation analyses to fit the undercover assignment. Someone has put something (a love letter) in your shoe locker? Follow standard procedure for dealing with suspected IEDs and blow it up. The gym teacher screams at you and treats you like scum? Clearly he is the local Drill Sergeant Nasty; salute and thank him honestly.
Being an action movie buff, Kaname Chidori generally knows what sort of war antics she's going to fall into as part of her friendship with Sousuke. However, she doesn't quite appear to realize she's in an action anime, so she still gets blindsided by the more anime-esque aspects of her new life. For example, upon first meeting the captain of Tuatha De Danaan, a painfully cuteteenage girl, she has this to say:
Hashiba from Shooting Star Gakusaver is a weird example, that can be explained as being only 50% Wrong Genre Savvy and the other 50% actually being Genre Savvy - he actually gets the genre right, but he doesn't realize it's a parody. He can predict and understand ways of the plot and come up with appriorate ideas and sometimes things work in his favor purerly because of Rule of Funny, but he completely cannot grasp that people around him aren't typical archetypes seen in Super Robot Genre, but their parodies and is also unable to comprehend he isn't The Mentor in command of Mission Control, but Plucky Comic Relief.
Most of the main cast in Kitabuku Katsudou Kiroku. Despite being aware enough of the fourth wall to communicate to each other via overhearing each other's internal monologues as a makeshift telepathy, everybody except the Straight Man character is clueless. They know they're in a gag anime, but none of them think it'll last, so they're preparing themselves to be in a fighting anime, or an anime about social and political games, or an anime with lots of fanservice in it.
Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan finds out the hard way (very, very hard) that he doesn't live in a shonen series where guts and determination are all you need to take out giant Lightning Bruiser man-eating titans. AOT is a shonen series, yeah, but it's FAR more Bloodier and Gorier than you'd expect.
In Date A Live, when Shido walks in on Tohka bathing, she freaks out. He's surprised and comments that given that she isn't human and was so ignorant of human society, he expected her to be an Innocent Fanservice Girl. He must have missed the part in the previous episode where she blushed and hid behind him after her clothes were erased.
In Captain Tsubasa, Genki Girl Kumi Sugimoto has a crush on popular Lovable Jockand her junior high's School Idol, Tsubasa Ohzora. So she applies to become the Cute Sports Club Manager of the soccer team he's already in, with direct intentions of getting close to him and then winning his affections. Well, such romantic deals often happens in sports stories... but why is she here? Kumi didn't count on how the main CSCM, Sanae, is Tsubasa's Patient Childhood Love Interest with already two years ahead of her. Against a girl like her, Kumi simply could NOT compete.
In Bleach, Mask De Masculine thinks that he's the hero and the Soul Reapers are the villains. Renji, most likely realizing he can't be reasoned with, plays along by acting like a villain before brutally killing him.
Mikoshiba thinks more along the lines of a main character in a visual novel rather than a supporting character in a shoujo parody, not to mention that he is the inspiration for a traditional shoujo heroine.
Wakamatsu often uses tactics only seen in old-school shoujo genre manga in order to solve his problems with Seo. Of course, they tend to backfire.
Wakamatsu: Senpai...where did I go wrong...?
Nozaki: ...Probably from the moment you started using shoujo manga.
Even Nozaki himself was guilty of this in Chapter 8, when he plays a Dating Sim with his usual Shoujo Genre mangaka mindset. Mikoshiba called him on "using a girl's viewpoint to play a galge." Of course, Mikoshiba is also guilty of this in the same chapter—from when does a Shoujo Genre mangaka suddenly become an expert on male-oriented Dating Sim?