Wrong Genre Savvy / Western Animation

  • The titular character of Bojack Horseman got his big break as the star of a 1990s sitcom (an Expy of Full House), and seems to be convinced that things will all work out in the end after some solemn speeches. The universe is all too happy to prove him wrong about this, time and time again. In the first season's finale, Bojack apologizes to his old friend Herb for choosing the spot in the sitcom over his friendship with Herb years ago. Not only does Herb not forgive Bojack, he rips into Bojack with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • My Little Pony: Paradise is well-versed in the tropes of fairy tales and legends, and yet she, a winged pony living in a Magical Land with unicorns and dragons, wonders why her life can't be more like a storybook. Uh...
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The mane cast got a bit of Wrong Genre Savvy in "The Best Night Ever", in which all of them thought they were in fairy tales or various other stories. In reality, they were in a moral-driven Slice of Life comedy, and this week's lessons turned out to be "Don't get your hopes up too high" and "good friends can help you make the most of a bad night".
    • Rainbow Dash forgot this again in "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" after her Acquired Situational Narcissism arrived, thinking she was the protagonist of a superhero story.
    • Inverted in "Power Ponies," where the Mane Six end up with the roles and powers of the heroes of Spike's favorite comic book and (initially) aren't Functional Genre Savvy enough to work effectively in a superhero tale.
  • South Park
    • In "Stanley's Cup" the characters correctly realize that they are in a typical sports movie and thus deduce that are bound to win against all odds. They also understand that to achieve that, they need to invite a really good player to their team for the final match, which they also do. In the end they turn out to be Wrong Genre Savvy and are beaten brutally. The opposing team was a professional hockey team and Stanley's team were pee-wee players about five years old. There was no other protagonist, just a parody of the clichéd sports movie ending with what threatened to be a Shocking Swerve if it didn't cross the line twice. The pee-wee players are crushed brutally, deconstructing Underdogs Never Lose by showing pro players simply mauling tykes. After the underdogs do lose, the Littlest Cancer Patient dies from losing hope. It's Played for Laughs.
    • A three-parter has the gang playing as super heroes; however, when Cartman starts acting very villainous and the others try to call him out on it, he mistakenly believes he's still a superhero and it's the other boys who are the bad guys.
    • In the Towelie episode, all government agents and Corrupt Corporate Executives act like they're in an adventure movie with unlikely child protagonists trying to protect and help Towelie and continually defer to them...despite the boys having zero interest in playing along, merely wanting to play their new video game system. They are eventually dragged into the plot regardless.
    • Another episode has all the adults in town convinced they're in the middle of a disaster movie like The Day After Tomorrow, when in fact absolutely nothing is happening. Their belief is so strong they manage to act out the plot of a disaster movie anyway.
    • Yet another episode has a bunch of stereotypical ski movie types acting similar, despite Kyle and Stan's refusal to go along with the standard plot. The South Park creators LOVE this trope.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer Goes to College", Homer is convinced that college is nonstop Wacky Fratboy Hijinx a la Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds, which includes believing Dean Peterson of Springfield University is a Dean Bitterman type (the same episode doubling as the introduction of the original Dean Bitterman) and spends most of the episode pulling ill-conceived pranks on him, even going as far as to try to run him over with a car at one point. The irony is that Peterson is actually a good-natured younger guy who gets on well with the other students. And when he tries to pull a prank, his nerd classmates get expelled when they're caught.
    • Bart has a similar experience in "The Town". When the family decides to move to Boston, Bart is ecstatic, convinced he'll soon be working up the ranks of the Irish Mob. Unfortunately, he soon finds out the city is actually a gentrified, intellectual paradise rather than the working class gangsterland it's depicted as in The Departed and The Town.
    • In "Brother From Another Series", Bart suspects that his archnemesis Sideshow Bob is up to no good when he's released from prison to work for his brother. While scouting around for clues, the following dialogue ensues:
      Bart: He's more the same than ever. And I know where the evidence is. There's only one place where it could possibly be.
      Lisa: Bob's trailer at the construction site?
      Bart: (beat) That's even better! Let's go there.
      Lisa: What were you thinking?
      Bart: The haunted mine.
    • "Das Bus", when the entire class gets stranded on an island, Bart is convinced that this is a castaway story like The Swiss Family Robinson. Sadly for him, they're actually in Lord of the Flies which isn't like that.note 
    • In "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", Springfield starts a prohibition of alcohol, to which Homer becomes a bootlegger called "The Beer Baron". To stop him, Springfields calls on FBI agent Rex Banner, a parody of Eliot Ness from The Untouchables. However, Banner spends the episode thinking he's in 1920s Chicago, rather than Springfield, and is thus unable to see the obvious clues that Homer is the Beer Baron.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy's wish to never have been born was (admittedly) a desperate attempt to salvage his bruised ego (having obviously seen the Trope Namer movie). Unfortunately, Von Strangle uses the opportunity to test him in a particularly cruel way.
  • On Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Judy Ken Sebben a.k.a. Birdgirl seems to think she's in a typical superhero cartoon, much to Harvey's chagrin.
  • On an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes, as Beezy is being dragged to the altar for his Shotgun Wedding, he remains confident that Big Damn Heroes will save him. Of course, being on a Sadist Show, the trope gets subverted, and the wedding goes through though it still gets annulled.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • In "Krab-Borg", SpongeBob becomes convinced that Mr. Krabs is a robot thanks to having seen a movie where robots take over the Earth (and some coincidentally odd behavior on Mr. Krabs' part). After he and Squidward have ruthlessly interrogated the "robot", Squidward thinks to ask SpongeBob how the movie ended, to which he replies that it turned out there weren't any robots after all; it was a misunderstanding. Oops.
  • When Finn gets "cursed" with the grass sword in Adventure Time, in the end he refuses to play along with hating the curse, and embraces it as a "pretty sweet" weapon. This actually negates the worst parts of the curse, and the mysterious old man who gave it to him ends the episode yelling admonishments at Finn for not playing along as he's supposed to.
  • In the Animated Music Video for DyE's "Fantasy", the Final Girl does absolutely everything right to survive if she were in a Slasher Movie. Unfortunately for her, she's actually in a Cosmic Horror Story, and makes the mistake of looking directly at the Big Bad.
  • In the first season of Martin Mystery, Diana would always think that the monsters were Scooby-Doo Hoax, when in fact they really were paranormal monsters/aliens.
  • In a few episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Michelangelo loves monster movies and panics when he meets creatures from beneath the earth, body-snatching aliens, or eldritch horrors. Someone always dies horribly. Lucky for him, he's not in a monster movie — he's in a Saturday Morning Cartoon.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Vincent Van Ghoul, having been in numerous horror movies and monster films, is aware of all the tropes and clichés associated with them, and panics when he's trapped in a house with a monster. So what's the problem with his understandable turmoil? He's in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
    • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Freddy, after years of solving mysteries, has become Genre Savvy enough to understand the inner workings of your standard Scooby-Doo Hoax. Unfortunately for Freddy, this time, the monsters are real.
    • The cast appeared in a few episodes of Dynomutt Dog Wonder, where they would assume they were dealing with a Scooby-Doo Hoax. Dynomutt and Blue Falcon's enemies are actual supervillains who want to hurt people.
  • Wunschpunsch: In an attempt to prevent Bubonic and Tyrannia from casting the spell of the week in "Plant Panic", Maurizio places some banana peels to make them trip and believes the plan would work because he's seen it happening in cartoons. They simply walk normally and are oblivious to the banana peels despite having stepped on some. Maurizio later falls for his own trap. Just like it happens in some cartoons (and other media sometimes).
  • Transformers Prime episode "Thirst" has Starscream and Knockout confronted by a Terrorcon, and Knockout suggests shooting in the head based on seeing human horror films, citing tactics for killing zombies. Except this isn't a human horror film. And depiction wise, the Terrorcons in this episode are more like vampires. Both of these lead to his plan failing.
  • An In-Universe case happens in Drawn Together. Captain Hero spends much of the first episode thinking that the reality show he and the other housemates are on is one in which the contestants vote each other out and the last one standing receives a prize; as such, if Clara succeeds in ejecting Foxxy, he will be one step closer to victory. Foxxy tries, in vain, to convince him that it's not that kind of reality show.
  • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, an evil cult called the Magisters attempt to use Stonehenge as a magical weapon of mass destruction. After performing their rituals, they find the structure does absolutely nothing magical. They get carted off by the British Army too early to learn that Stonehenge is actually connected to aliens.
  • Detentionaire has Brad, whose dad is a famous blockbuster movie star, leading to him misinterpreting his life as an epic action movie (with him as the star, of course) and acting accordingly. He does have moments of correct Genre Savvy, but those are few and far between. He just really doesn't get that it's Lee who is the main character, not him, and that life (in this case, at least) is less gunfire and explosions, and more mysteries and conspiracies.
  • Wander over Yonder episode "The Hero" has Brad Starlight who claims to be the hero of a fairy tale and is out to save the princess from an evil dragon king and is destined to marry her. He's actually her Stalker with a Crush who can't accept no for an answer and is under the delusion that he's a hero. He thinks Wander, the real hero, is his goofy sidekick, Sylvia, Wander's partner, is a dumb beast he uses as his steed, and the competent princess who genuinely loves the dragon king is a Damsel in Distress being help captive. He tries to kidnap her, refusing to admit he was wrong, and she subsequently kicks his hide.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Sarah has a disturbing tendency to drag people into her delusions. First she gets Gumball and Darwin stuck in an eighties sports movie by bragging about how "hardcore" they are. Then she starts treating their life like a sitcom, and even brings her own laugh track. Gumball and Darwin are well aware of this, but pointing out her obsessive tendencies only prompts her to change her role in the script.
    • Clare Cooper from "The Others" treats her life as a teenage drama with pessimism and depression about her world, unable to realize, as Gumball and Darwin point out, she lives in a world where the students involve a T-rex, a ghost and a banana with a butt, and it has easy, fantastical solutions to literally any problem.
  • One Robot Chicken short follows the Mario Brothers stumbling into Vice City. They kill a pet turtle, leap into a balcony in search of coins, mistake a hooker for Princess Peach, take hallucinogenic mushrooms under the assumption they are 1 Ups and eventually get gunned down by police.
    • Another short has G.I. Joe sent to fight the Taliban and the Joes are easily killed when they try to pull their usual cartoon antics on actual terrorists. Meanwhile, Seal Team Six is sent to take out the Cobra high command, Cobra Commander in the middle of a "you've won this time but next..." when he gets a bullet to the head.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality is a major theme in Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, so the heroes are fairly Genre Savvy unless they misjudge what genre (if any) a dimension falls under.
    • In the noir-themed "Plantywood: City of Flora", Penn insists on following a chain of clues involving a mysterious female client despite Sashi pointing out that the more logical approach would be to investigate Redwood's (Rippen) last known whereabouts. Penn's plan does ultimately work, but everyone acknowledges that following Sashi's plan would've been much more efficient.
    • "Chuckle City" involves the heroes being cops in a Cloudcuckooland dimension. Throughout the episode Sashi continually tries to use Cop Show tropes like Hot Pursuit and Car Fu, despite Penn pointing out that they won't work because this particular world runs on Rule of Funny rather than Rule of Cool.
  • A later episode of Kim Possible has her cousin Larry pull a Fake Defector on Professor Dementor, believing he's in a LARP session for his birthday, instead of being alongside a genuine villain. Subverted in that while Larry was mistaken about the nature of the situation, his gambit still proved successful, and he handily defeated Dementor and saved Kim and Ron