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Examples of Irony in live-action TV:


  • Tracy from 30 Rock once invented a household device that makes sandwiches using meat as "bread". He promotes this device using the Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket method and showing a commercial where normal bread apparently burns the actress. However, Tracy's device has a serious flaw that makes it genuinely dangerous.
  • American Gods (2017): Just after we see undocumented Mexican immigrants piously praying to God, many are gunned down by right-wing American fanatics who have crosses dangling from their weapons. Mexican Jesus sacrifices himself then to protect those he can.
  • Angel:
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    • Gunn calls out Angel in the season 3 episode "The Price" for using dark magic to try and find Connor, which resulted in Fred getting infested by a water-draining slug and nearly dying. The irony is that it's almost word for word what Gunn himself did two seasons later, minus the stuff about Angel's son, that resulted in Fred's death. He let the doctors at Wolfram and Hart alter his mind and when it started to fail, he let it be made permenant in exchange for his signing a document to let an 'antiquity' into the country. He may not have remembered the previous incident due to the mind wipe, but he still should have known better.
      Gunn: This is you, what you did. Messing with scary ass mojo no sane person should be messing with.
      Angel: I did what I had to do.
      Gunn: You did what you want to get what you want, to hell with the consequences!
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    • In a flashback to Angelus' first years as a vampire, it's revealed that he rejected the Master and the Order of Aurelius because he would rather enjoy the pleasures of the surface world with his lover/sire than hasten the apocalypse, the exact same reason that Spike betrayed him and helped Buffy foil his plan to destroy the world in Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • During one of the Celebrity seasons of The Apprentice, the IMDb ran a poll asking site visitors who they thought would win that season. That night, the "winner" of that poll was the next to be fired. (The poll didn't influence Trump's decision as the episode was taped months in advance.)
  • Arrested Development:
    • The series was highly praised by critics. Among their likes was the show's obsessive commitment to continuity. However, that same commitment to continuity made it harder for new viewers to tune in and understand what was going on.
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    • The first episode has Tobias misunderstand a comment from Michael and take special measures to prepare for George Sr's retirement party. As a result, he ends up joining a protest against the party he's supposed to be attending. What makes it ironic is that it happens completely by accident.
    • In "Top Banana", George Michael tries to distance himself from Maeby by requesting more hours at the banana stand. Michael mistakes this request as an example of ambition and promotes him to manager. Soon after, Michael discovers his relatives lapsing into laziness and has one of them work with George Michael: Maeby.
    • "In God We Trust" has George Michael take Buster's place in the Living Classics pageant playing Adam in "The Creation of Adam". When he discovers he has to be naked in the reenactment, he goes in wearing Tobias' cutoff jeans instead. The audience's reaction to his not being naked is very much like moral guardians reacting to actual nudity.
    • In "Pier Pressure", Michael discovers his son George Michael may be getting into drugs. He confesses to his father that he plans to teach him not to by scaring him like his father used to. His father tells him that he's come to realize that method was wrong and tries to get Michael not to do it. He fails to convince Michael and has to get him to reconsider by scaring him.
    • "Altar Egos" introduces Maggie Lizer, a blind prosecutor in charge of the case of George Bluth. The following episode reveals that Maggie is only faking blindness, but her "seeing-eye" dog Justice actually is blind.
    • A minor example from "Staff Infection": A person riding on top of the stair car hits his head on a sign reading "Drive safely".
    • In "The One Where They Build A House", it's mentioned that Bluth Company constructions always featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony with George Sr. This includes the prison he would later occupy. The Narrator even points out the irony.
    • In "Motherboy XXX", Gob can't bring himself to admit he never consummated his marriage at his divorce hearing and is unsure if he can "lie" about it. He later is able to set his mind at ease and say he never consummated his marriage...by having sex with his soon-to-be ex-wife and consummating their marriage.
    • "Spring Break-Out" shows a flashback to an intervention the Bluth family was to give for Lucille's drinking problem. Knowing how vicious Lucille can be, the family starts taking a few drinks to take the edge off. By the time Lucille shows up for the intervention for her drinking, everyone else is really drunk.
    • In season two, it's revealed that Oscar is Buster's real father. All throughout the season, he drops subtle hints that Buster repeatedly misses. At one point, Buster finds out through other means, but then forgets due to the trauma of losing his hand to a loose seal and Oscar goes back to subtle hints. In the season finale, Oscar makes a completely unrelated comment which triggers Buster's memory.
    • In "Prison Break-In", the Bluths hold a fundraiser for Tobias' hair transplant rejection in the prison for plot related reasons. However, the inmates behave themselves and prove they can throw a benefit dinner and when it's revealed Tobias' condition already has a cure, the well-to-do attendees prove they can throw a prison riot.
    • In "Making A Stand", George gets Buster a job at an Iraqi-owned toy store where he just has to stand around with his missing hand and wear a sign reading "I Stole". Eventually, he becomes offended at the job he's been given and runs out, stealing the "I Stole" sign in the process. Thus, he goes from a pretend thief to a real one.
  • Arrow: In the episode "Dead to Rights", Oliver has to protect his best friend Tommy's father, Malcolm Merlyn, from an assassination attempt. Unbeknownst to Oliver, however, is that Malcolm is the Big Bad who was responsible for the events of the plot, including stranding Oliver on the island Lian Yu for five years. Not only that, Malcolm was probably the only person in the city at the time that was more dangerous than Oliver, seeing as he was the Dark Archer that kicked Ollie's ass seven or so episodes prior.
  • On Benson, the Governor's mansion hosts a conference of leaders of Pacific island nations. The conference hits a snag when two of the leaders, formerly engaged, start quarreling. The fight turns out to be over the fact that both claim to have shown up for their wedding but the other did not. Then Benson remembers that the two nations are on opposite sides of the International Date Line and the two weren't at the church on the same day. When the error is noticed, Benson comments that although one was there a day early and the other was there a day late, they both got to the church on time.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Howard's mother never appears onscreen while Raj's parents do. The irony is that Howard's mother is only heard yelling from the next room while Raj's parents appear on his computer screen when he video conferences with them in India.
    • In the fourth season Penny realizes that her love life has tanked (due to both lingering feelings for Leonard and the fact her standards of intelligent conversation jumped significantly) while Leonard, Howard and even Sheldon are doing better than her.
    • One episode has Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard realize that people who play Rock–Paper–Scissors will routinely put up the same gesture, making their actions predictable. So, they add two more gestures: "lizard" and "Spock". What happens? They repeatedly tie because they routinely put up "Spock".
  • The Black & White Minstrel Show was the first BBC 1 programme to be screened in colour.
  • A textbook case of verbal irony, from an episode of Blackadder the Third where Prince George is insisting he doesn't need a woman in his life.
    Prince George: What can I possibly do with a woman that I can't do with you?
    Edmund Blackadder: I cannot conceive, sir.
    • The prince's reaction shows he takes it to mean that Blackadder can't think of anything. Blackadder's smug smile shows the joke was deliberate.
  • BrainDead (2016): When Red and Ella are racing to stop the vote which would suspend the government shutdown, they come to get on the Capitol Hill subway... only to find it's closed due to said government shutdown.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Season 6 Buffy learns the value of life at a cemetery.
    • In Season 9, Drusilia shows up alive, sane, and using a demon that feeds on trauma to help those who ask for it. Angel thinks this is wrong so he kills the demon, thereby no longer giving those who would have wanted and needed Drusilla a choice, thinking what she was doing was Mind Rape.
    • The First Evil is the last Big Bad of the (television) series.
    • The General ruined his career by going after and destroying the Slayer Organization, believing them to be a threat to world peace, but was killed by Simone Doffler, a rogue Slayer that he didn't go after who really is a threat to the world.
    • In response to Buffy's insistence that she do things her own way rather than follow orders, Kendra cynically retorted, "No wonder you died." In the season 2 finale, her own complete adherence to protocol and inability to not follow orders makes it all the easier for Drusilla to hypnotize and kill her.
    • The actress originally cast as Anya pulled out of the role when she discovered it would only be for two guest appearances. Emma Caulfield was cast as a replacement and ended up becoming a series regular.
  • The sitcom Built To Last was cancelled after eight episodes aired.
  • Aaron from Canada's Worst Driver went on the show to regain his confidence in driving after a terrible accident. Said accident happened when a distracted driver ran a stop sign and hit his car. He decided to stay on the show to the end to fully regain his confidence and even did the final road test with the other finalists. He did an almost perfect road test...except for when he rolled through a stop sign.
  • Castle:
    • In one episode, Captain Gates goes to a conference on terrorism, but returns early when the conference is cancelled due to a bomb scare. Castle even notes the irony.
    • There is an entire episode dedicated to Castle ranting about the proper use of irony, and even ends with Beckett remarking that the case in itself was ironic due to what kickstarted it.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • "All Halliwell's Eve" opens with Phoebe talking about how much she hates the stereotype of witches as wearing pointy hats and cackling while riding broomsticks. Later on in the episode when the sisters are in the 17th century Virginia colony, they need to ward off a group of men with muskets and Phoebe declares "I'm embracing the cliche" and puts on the hat and flies on a broomstick, cackling for good measure to scare the men away. Yep, she may well have reinforced the very stereotype she was complaining about.
    • Prue Halliwell, the God-Mode Sue of the first three seasons, ends up killed off offscreen, never to return again.
  • Cheers:
    • Sam and Diane get engaged and Sam tries to save some money by buying an imitation diamond engagement ring that's a copy of the one Diane wants. But to keep her from finding out, he ends up spending much, much more buying various other items including the ring he didn't want to buy in the first place.
    • When Carla tells her she's pregnant with her sixth child, Diane asks her if she skipped sex education class. Carla tells her she had to because she was pregnant then too.
  • CHiPs:
    • One episode has Ponch getting accepted for a game show similar to The Price Is Right. He ends up spending much of his free time visiting stores and learning the prices of items. Then he goes on the game show and fails the "Showcase Showdown" copy. The featured item is a motorcycle, implied to be the same model he rides as a highway patrolman.
    • Another episode titled "Vintage '54" involves a rash of classic car thefts. The irony is that none of the stolen classic cars are from the '54 model year.
    • While the show makes extensive use of the Every Car Is a Pinto trope, it's never been applied to actual Pintos. (One gets driven into a swimming pool, but that's it.)
  • Community:
    • "Social Psychology" sees Professor Duncan run a psychological experiment to prove that a loss of control over a situation will weaken emotional control. (In reality, he's using the experiment as an excuse to torture the test subjects.) However, Duncan and his researchers end up losing emotional control themselves after test subject Abed manages to remain calm throughout the experiment.
    • "Advanced Criminal Law" sees Britta admit to an infraction she committed because she has issues with dishonesty. The infraction: cheating on a test. Jeff even calls her out on it.
    • In the closing credit tag of "Interpretive Dance", Abed helps Troy with a crossword puzzle where all of the correct answers seem to be the names of the study group members. The last one ("Four letters, one of acting brothers Bridges") stumps them both, but Jeff suggests it's "Beau". Jeff himself doesn't realize the correct answer might be "Jeff".
    • Straight-laced Annie moves in with man-children Troy and Abed in season three. She starts a subplot in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" by accidentally breaking Abed's rare DVD. Instead of admitting it and apologizing, she pretends a burglar stole it, inspiring Abed to dress up as Batman and seek out the culprit. Troy says it best: "You moving in here was supposed to tone us down!"
    • In "Digital Exploration of Interior Design", Troy and Abed get into a fight over whether or not to go for a world record for world's biggest pillow fort. The fight (fueled by Vice Dean Laybourne) escalates into a massive pillow fight that takes up the entirety of the following episode, "Pillows And Blankets". Due to their fighting, they fail to set a record for the world's biggest pillow fort, but as pointed out on the show's Fridge page, they could have set a record for the world's biggest pillow fight.
    • It's frequently established that Troy has a thing for "butt stuff" (that is things being inserted into his butt). In "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics", he's one of the victims of the "Ass Crack Bandit" (whose "crime" is sticking quarters into the butts of Greendale students) and the one most traumatized by the attack.
  • On Cougar Town, Bobby has a houseboat that he apparently bought while married to Jules. The boat's name, written on the stern, is "Jealous Much?" After the divorce, Bobby falls on hard times and ends up living on the boat (on sawhorses), so his life has little to be jealous of.
  • The first advertising client seen on The Crazy Ones was McDonald's. Series star Sarah Michelle Gellar's first acting role was a commercial for Burger King which directly mentioned its competitor (the aforementioned McDonald's).
  • Daredevil (2015): In the season 1 finale, Wilson Fisk finds out that his own accountant Leland Owlsley was responsible for poisoning Fisk's girlfriend Vanessa Marianna. Leland's reasoning is that Vanessa was making Fisk too emotional and erratic to run his criminal empire, and that losing a loved one might just bring him back in shape. He also offers Wilson a deal and says that he's got Carl Hoffman, a corrupt cop that Fisk had earlier forced to kill his own partner Christian Blake, who will go to the police and implicate Fisk in Blake's murder if Fisk kills Leland. Wilson rejects the deal (that would actually allow him to stay in power) and, enraged that Leland tried to kill Vanessa, kills him on the spot. He does send corrupt cops to track down and kill Hoffman, and they almost succeed in finishing him off only for Matt Murdock to arrive and overpower them. Hoffman subsequently rats on Fisk, and Fisk is arrested. Being in love did result in Fisk being too emotional to run an empire indeed.
  • A deeply tragic case in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Deet is a Friend to All Living Things, and the sweetest and gentlest of the main characters. By absorbing the Darkening to save her friends, she becomes a Walking Wasteland that will rot any living thing she comes in contact with.
  • Brom Garret in Deadwood tells the people plotting to murder him "I'm not leaving camp without my money." He never leaves camp; he is murdered and buried there. A succinct example of dramatic irony since the audience knows he's going to die, and Brom doesn't realize what he says is exactly true though not in the way he means it.
  • Dear White People: Tessa Thompson, who played Sam in the film, here plays Rikki Carter, a black conservative commentator with basically the opposite politics (quite likely unintentional).
  • Nearly every episode of Dexter has multiple cases of verbal and dramatic irony. Dexter's secret life as a serial killer requires him to deceive everyone he knows about who he really is and what he does, so the comments he makes while acting with the "pretense of normalcy" are often heavily laced with lies about his attitudes and intended actions. The audience knows better and understands the irony.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The ending of "Earthshock" is irony writ large. The space freighter which the Cybermen have turned into a flying bomb, intending to use it to wipe out the human race, instead becomes the "meteorite" which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, paving the way for the evolution of the Doctor's favourite species. In addition, Adric is killed in a misguided attempt to divert the freighter away from Earth. Not to mention that the Doctor had earlier commented that he'd always meant to pop back and find out why the dinosaurs died out as suddenly as they did.
    • In-universe example: the Fifth Doctor's attempts to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport landed them on various alien planets or, in one case, in the right location but three hundred years early. He only succeeded in getting her to Heathrow after she had stopped nagging him about it.
    • "Doomsday" has millions of Daleks who survived the Time War thanks to Time Lord technology.
    • In "The Lazarus Experiment", the Doctor condemns Professor Lazarus for going to such extreme measures in order to try and avoid dying. The Doctor will later go on to do much the same, admittedly without becoming a hideous monster and feeding on people.
    • Meta: John Simm, the man who took the role as the Master in order to impress his fanboy of a son, ended up forbidding him from watching the episodes in question due to their fearsomeness.
    • "The Waters of Mars": The Tenth Doctor, who had previously complained about being saluted, salutes Captain Adelaide.
    • For River Song, if she had not sacrificed her life to save the Doctor, she never would have met him and she would have never existed in the first place.
  • Barry Allen of The Flash (2014) has Super Speed, yet somehow, he is always showing up late to things.
  • Frasier:
    • The core of Frasier Crane's character is that he's a brilliant psychiatrist who can always be counted on to help his friends, family, and patients with their problems, but has no idea how to deal with his own ample neuroses. Lampshaded by the title song: "And maybe I seem a bit confused / Well maybe — but I got you pegged!" It crops up explicitly many, many times, from one-off throwaway jokes to major plot points (like Frasier and Lilith successfully counseling a married couple, while tempestuously divorced themselves) to serious running themes, like the fact that Frasier's deliberate machinations managed to get Niles and Daphne to confess their love for each other after years of UST, but he himself cannot keep a girlfriend for more than a few episodes.
    • Martin's cheap, tatty lounger is the source of some friction throughout the series between him and Frasier, because it clashes with Frasier's expensive, classy furniture. In one episode, it gets accidentally destroyed, leading to a fight between the two men. Frasier resolves it by having a perfect replica of Martin's old chair built for him. He then notes that ironically, given the lengths he had to go, it's now the most expensive piece of furniture in the entire apartment.
    • The chair is subjected to a series-spanning example in the final episode; Martin has remarried and moved out of the apartment, taking his chair with him. Frasier replaces it with the chair he originally had located there in the first episode. Later in the episode, Martin visits Frasier's apartment, takes a seat in the original, classy chair... and happily declares that, as it turns out, he finds it incredibly comfortable and would have perfectly content to sit in that one instead. After all the stress, tension and fuss over his dad's chair throughout the series, the murderous look on Frasier's face at this announcement speaks volumes.
  • Fresh Off the Boat had an Election Day episode where Louis set up Cattleman's Ranch as a polling place. At the end of the episode, Louis realized he was so busy running the polling place that he forgot to vote himself.
  • Friends:
    • Early on Chandler is described as terrible with women and voted the last Friend to get married. He's actually the first of the guys to make a relationship work and he and Monica get married long, long, long before the rest of the gang.
    • In the Season 4 opener Monica's says she can't date him because he'll always be the guy who peed on her. Exactly one season later they sleep together and start a relationship.
    • In a flashback Monica is horrified at the thought of giving up her virginity to Chandler. And she doesn't. She marries him instead.
  • One episode of Full House has Stephanie preparing for a spelling bee. At one point, she becomes panicked because she forgot how to spell a particular word. So, her father teaches her a way to remember how to spell it, even using the term "mnemonic device". She then takes part in the spelling bee and loses on the first word: mnemonic.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Davos accepted knighthood to give his son Matthos a better life, but serving Stannis eventually led to Matthos being killed in action.
    • Even though she is Queen in the North, Talisa admits she doesn't even know where Winterfell is.
    • In Season 1 Sansa is enamored with Prince Joffrey and believes he's her Knight In Shining Armour, while Arya is disgusted by the whole set up. In Season 2 and 3, Sansa is kept prisoner and relentlessly abused by Joffrey who isn't Robert's son after all, while Arya's closest friend is Robert's actual son who mutually protects her and has more knightly qualities in his little finger than Joffrey does in his whole body.
    • The cowardly Bookworm Samwell Tarly becomes the first man in thousands of years to kill a White Walker.
    • The irony of Melisandre speaking out in favour of sparing Davos makes Stannis laugh.
    • After Drogon roasts a little girl, Daenerys decides to chain up her other two dragons in the dark. Whatever happened to "A dragon is not a slave," and being the "Breaker of Chains"?
    • Cersei notes smugly that Qyburn, the Mad Scientist working on undead abominations in the Red Keep's cellars, smells better than the respectable Grand Maester Pycelle.
    • Joffrey cruelly mocked the Starks at his wedding in a gross play about the War of the Five Kings. A few years later, his own death at said wedding gets ridiculed in a play.
    • Ned absolutely wouldn't let a child being killed and that's the reason he tells Cersei of his plan to expose Joffrey's parentage, so she would leave with her children before he does. He ends up with his head chopped off by the very child he was trying to save.
    • Ned fought a war with Robert to get his sister back, avenge his father and brother, and help overturn the Targaryen reign. However, by the time Ned found his sister Lyanna, she was dying after recently giving birth, but before her death, Lyanna begs Ned to save her child - Ned’s nephew - who also happens to be the last son of the crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen, making Ned’s own nephew the heir (since the Kingsguard itself was guarding the tower with Lyanna and her child inside) to the dynasty Ned helped abolish. Ned honors his sister’s Dying Wish and protects his nephew, who he raises and loves as his own, guarding one of the greatest kept secrets in Westeros by presenting him as his own illegitimate son to protect him from Robert’s wrath, the man he originally fought alongside.
    • Ghost was the runt of the litter and expected to live the shortest. As of the Season 6 finale, Ghost is the only one still around, as his only other living litter mate (Nymeria) vanished way back in Season 1 and all their other siblings have been killed.
    • Most bastard-born children are denied property and inheritance rights in Westeros and face Westerosi prejudice claiming they are disloyal, untrustworthy and are a threat to the inheritance claims of trueborn children because they were conceived out-of-wedlock but these prejudices aren't true of many bastard children. Yet — Ramsay — the bastard we see who is disloyal, untrustworthy and even kills his half-brother so he can be the only heir is the one bastard son we see legitimized.
    • On account of You Are What You Hate and a great deal of self-aggrandizement, Tywin's end goal of the Lannisters becoming the new Targaryens falls flat since he's only obsessed with the idea of his family line dominating Westeros but all his actions to make it work fail. He has no stable and fixed heir, partially because he refuses to accept Tyrion. His bad parenting, willful blindness, and outright abuse and neglect means that his children and his brother Kevan are left in almost the same precarious situation Lord Tytos left it.
    • Tywin's insistence on being The Man Behind the Man has led to him never actually teaching his family on how to effectively rule. This has left his heirs woefully unprepared with the reality of trying to run King's Landing. Jaime is completely disinterested, Cersei prides herself on being smarter than she actually is, Tyrion is constantly undermined by a family that hates him, Joffrey is sociopathic and incompetent, and Tommen is completely ineffective.
    • Tywin hates Tyrion for being a dwarf whose complicated pregnancy killed his mother/Tywin's wife Joanna, who was his first love. This was ironic on two counts:
      • Tywin and Joanna were first cousins. Children born of people that closely related have an ever-so-slightly increased risk of birth defects. For what it's worth, Tywin's decision to take up with a first cousin (which was for love and not the purely politically advantageous marriage he desires for his children) may have contributed to Tyrion's condition.
      • Tywin doesn't seem to understand, even on his deathbed (death toilet?), why Tyrion's so pissed off at him for taking away Tyrion's first love - despite Tywin hating Tyrion his whole life for that exact thing.
    • Tywin continually emphasizes the importance of putting family first and claims that's what will keep the Lannisters in power. However, his treatment of his children and fixation on using them to further the Lannister name, turns the them into the most divided noble house and ultimately leads to their downfall. His relentless abuse of Tyrion leads to Tyrion killing him and fleeing to join Daenerys, his encouragement of Cersei's cruelty leads her to raising Joffrey in a similar manner and is murdered because he gets so out of hand. Even the marriages Twyin forces upon them don't help much, as Cersei's hatred of Robert leads to her killing him and ensuring she doesn't have any of his children. In contrast, families who he writes off as weak but genuinely care about each other manage to stay strong because of it. The Tyrells are a threat because they have good interpersonal relationships as well as cunning and the Starks — against all odds and expectations — are hanging in there and on the rise, thanks to their close ties and love for each other. And in fact the Starks take out the two dysfunctional families Tywin favoured — the Boltons and Freys — because they were such a mess.
    • Jaime killed one insane, inbred king rather than let him burn the capital of Westeros to the ground with Wildfire. He and his twin sister produced the insane idiot whose earliest acts upon taking the Iron Throne started the War of Five Kings. And now said sister has become just as insane and murderous as the king Jaime killed twenty years ago.
    • Ser Gregor Clegane was knighted by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen on Tywin's recommendation. One year later, after Rhaegar's defeat at the Trident, Lord Tywin ordered him to kill the Prince's children and Gregor took the extra step of raping and murdering Rhaegar's wife too.
    • Sandor, a man with an intense fear of fire after his brother burnt his face many years ago, ends up joining up with the Brotherhood Without Banners, who worship the Lord of Light whose will they believe can be seen within fire. He's well aware of the irony in this one.
    • You probably figured it out by now, but Tyrion, the child Tywin hates the most, is out of his siblings the most similar to daddy.
    • Daario spends a lot of time mocking Jorah for being the extra leg in their love triangle with Daenerys. Ultimately, though, when Jorah leaves Daenerys to go find a cure for his disease, she tearfully insists that he return to her once he does, as she needs him by her side; on the other hand, she later breaks up with Daario and leaves him behind to govern Meereen in her absence, and doesn't really even feel bad about it. And in the end, Daenerys doesn't end up either one. Instead, she falls for the honorable King of the North Jon Snow.
    • Robert's entire life seems a huge prank by the gods.
      • He leads a war to rescue his kidnapped fiancee. She dies during the war and he ends up stuck with a kingship and a wife he didn't want. Later on, it's revealed that his fiancee wasn't even kidnapped and had actually fallen in love with his archenemy who loved her in return.
      • Despite his achievements and being a good warrior and war leader, he is poor king material in peacetime.
      • He fathered plenty of bastard children, but his only trueborn offspring are actually his wife's bastard children.
    • Gendry bonds with Jon Snow pretty quickly over their own fathers being best friends and fighting side by side, except Ned Stark was Jon's adoptive father, and Rhaegar Targaryen (Robert's Arch-Enemy) the real progenitor, making an awkward situation where Gendry's father killed Jon's father.
    • Balon disdains Theon for being weak and unmanly. Theon, who has been a senior commander in an Army which has regularly defeated regime forces, something he singularly failed to do himself. Moreover, Theon fought against and helped capture Jaime Lannister, widely regarded as the single most dangerous swordsman in the world, while Balon bent the knee to Robert. His accusations strike the audience as rather hollow. Unfortunately, Theon takes them to heart.
  • Gilligan's Island once had an episode where the castaways started to disappear one by one. Eventually, Gilligan is the only one left and comes to the conclusion that he has a split personality and his other one killed the others. In reality, the others fell into a long forgotten pit trap from World War II and are unable to escape because they can't get the hatch open. Later, Gilligan hears their voices and thinks their ghosts are haunting him. He's so panicked that he gets tangled up in a vine and falls into the pit himself. Because of the vine, he's holding the hatch open. Skipper says it best: "Gilligan, little buddy! You thought you killed us and you just saved us all!"
  • The Goldbergs:
    • A new member of the JTP threatened Barry's leadership of the group. He tries to get the new member to quit by embarrassing him at a concert for his favorite band, The Grateful Dead. He does this by trying to get caught recording their next concert, inspired by a similar plot on What's Happening!!. The only problem is that The Dead are one of the few bands that encourage this and the move ends up strengthening his bond with the new guy. The end reveals the new member of the JTP later became Barry's best friend.
    • Barry once started a fire at a talent show...while performing "We Didn't Start The Fire".
  • The Golden Girls had many a late night conversation over cheesecake. The irony is that Bea Arthur hated cheesecake.
  • The Good Place:
    • After the mix-up that got Eleanor sent to the Good Place is discovered, Michael successfully has the other Eleanor (the one who was supposed to go there) transferred to The Good Place while still holding onto the one who wasn't. To differentiate between them, the other denizens refer to the other Eleanor as "real" Eleanor and the one who was sent there by mistake as "fake" Eleanor. But in the season finale, it's revealed the "Good Place" is actually the Bad Place, there was no mix-up, and the Eleanor who was "supposed" to go there is actually a demon named Vicky. Thus, "fake" Eleanor is the real one and "real" Eleanor is the fake.
    • At one point, Eleanor is convinced she has to kill Janet by pushing her reset button. Chidi tries to stop her while Jason wants to push the button himself. During the ensuing fight, Chidi accidentally pushes the button. The act is carried out by the one who was trying to prevent it.
  • On Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot (who will one day be "The Penguin") is played by Robin Lord Taylor. To reiterate, one of Batman's biggest enemies is played by an actor who shares his name with Batman's sidekick (Robin).
  • On Grimm, a Wesen suspect is brought into the police station for questioning. During the interrogation, he turns to Nick and shifts into his Wesen form to scare him. When he does so, he discovers Nick is a Grimm and he ends up the one who gets scared.
  • H2O: Just Add Water: Becoming a mermaid destroyed Emma's career as champion of her school swim team.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: In the past, June was the 'other woman' in Luke's marriage with his wife. Now, she's the official concubine/sex slave in Fred and Serena's marriage.
  • Hand of God: Pernell, a born again Christian, tells a Jewish man he'll go to hell if he doesn't accept Jesus as his savior. Ron Perlman, playing Pernell, is Jewish himself.
  • One of the villains in Heroes has the power to heal other living things.
  • A lot of the German Nazi characters on Hogan's Heroes (including Sgt. Schulz and Col. Klink) were played by Jewish actors. They asked to play the Nazis as as bumbling as possible.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Out of the gang, Ted is the one who really wants to get married. However, all of the other four get married before him. Including two with huge aversions to getting married. Also, after spending the entire series rushing towards marriage, he marries The Mother after a seven year engagement and their kids are already born.
    • On a smaller scale, Robin's relationship with Don was full of irony. She only meets him after committing fully to her career over her personal life. However when given the choice, she chose him over furthering her career. He chose his career when given the exact same opportunity.
    • Ted stated in "The Platinum Rule" that if he broke up with Stella it wouldn't be because of some stupid rule. At their wedding she left him at the altar to run off with her ex-husband and the father of her daughter, causing him to have the rule "never invite an ex to a wedding". Gets an extra level of irony, given that he meets his wife because Robin (his ex) invites him to her wedding.
    • In the first episode of season 7, Lily is pregnant, and she and her husband want to hide it. Because she's pregnant when she attends a wedding she secretly hands her alcoholic drinks to her husband Marshall, causing him to get drunk and eventually reveal that his wife is pregnant.
  • From Keeping Up Appearances... Hyacinth goes out of her way to appear as a posh, upper-class woman and is always trying to hide her poorer relatives from society's judging eyes, yet all of Hyacinth's upper-class "friends" much prefer her poorer relatives to her.
  • In an episode of The King of Queens, Arthur gets in an argument with Doug about whether a situation was ironic. The story was that Doug had to scan a box, but the scanner was broken. When he opened it, it turned out that the box was full of new scanners. The kicker came in the end sequence where Arthur wakes Doug up in the middle of the night to say: 'I was checking the dictionary and it turns out you were right. That situation was ironic. I thought "ironic" meant "Made up entirely of iron."' Doug merely replies "Good night, Arthur." See the definition of "irony" on the main page-he was barking up the right tree.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • One suspect was a doctor who tried to cheat a DNA test by inserting a tube of his patient's blood into his own arm. He succeeds in cheating the test, but the patient he got the blood from turns out to be a serial rapist of children. So he's off the hook for the murders, but now he's on the hook for the rapes, and he can't clear himself without admitting the deception, which would be as good as confessing to the murders.
    • One episode started at a video game convention with Tutuola playing a first-person shooter. He gets taken out by someone "camping" (staying in one spot and waiting for your target to show up) and complains about the tactic. At episode's end, he takes down the Villain of the Week using this very method.
  • This is a collective extensive list of all the irony one can milk out of Lost right down to the lost drop.
  • Lost In Transmission's Opening Narration starts with "Nothing is more American than the car." However, approximately half the cars featured on the show are imports.
  • Luck didn't seem to have much. The show about horse racing debuted to decent ratings and received an early renewal for a second season. Then some of the horses on the show started showing injuries or dying. During the investigation into the injuries and deaths, HBO rescinded the second season renewal and cancelled the show.
  • Lucky 7 was the first show of the 2013-2014 season to be cancelled.
  • Meta example in Modern Family. Luke is the stupidest character on the show by a wide margin, and even his rare flashes of brilliance usually revolve more on people underestimating and ignoring him than genuine intelligence. His actor, however, is a bona fide Child Prodigy who graduated high school at age fourteen and is a card-carrying member of MENSA.
  • Monk:
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk's 100TH case", Monk ended up arresting a TV magazine news anchor for murdering his extramarital lover. Ironically, it was right after he aired a segment relating to Monk solving his 100th case relating to a serial killer photographer.
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk Can't See A Thing", the cleanliness obsessed Monk is temporarily blinded when he's hit in the eyes with cleaning acid.
    • The Villain of the Week from "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect" hatches a plan where he glues mail bombs to the insides of mailboxes so they'll be mailed when the glue gives out and tries to establish an alibi by goading Stottlemeyer and Disher into chasing him and arresting him so he'll be in jail when his plan goes into action. Just after the chase starts, he gets hit by a truck and ends up in a coma. While the coma doesn't do his living situation any favors, it does provide him with a better alibi.
  • On an episode of Name That Tune a contestant names a tune, then loses her balance and falls down. The tune: "Please Help Me I'm Falling."
  • In Once Upon a Time, Victor Frankenstein of all people is leading a mob in the season 2 premiere against Regina.
  • Only Fools and Horses follows two brother traders in London trying to get rich through a litany of zany schemes, with the running Catchphrase "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!" They eventually do when a long lost John Harrison maritime watch is found in their shed, an item erroneously dismissed by the elder brother as a Victorian egg timer. They had that priceless watch all along, they were just too incompetent to realise it.
  • Political Animals: Elaine's mother is a cranky old Lady Drunk who lives by the Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! trope, but she's arguably the most well-adjusted character on the show, consistently warning the others about the potential consequences of their actions (which they promptly ignore and get themselves into trouble), and she knows everyone's secrets and try to push them towards the right direction. She's pretty much the only character on the show who gives consistently sensible advice to the others.
  • Power Rangers Turbo is considered one of the worst Power Rangers series ever made, and is oft considered to have almost gotten the series cancelled. Ironically, the Super Sentai series Turbo was based on, Gekisou Sentai Carranger, is considered to be the series that saved Super Sentai from cancellation after the unfavorably received Chouriki Sentai Ohranger (which, also ironically, was well-received overseas when adapted into Power Rangers Zeo).
  • Pierce Brosnan was set to take over the role of James Bond from Roger Moore. The only obstacle was his commitment to Remington Steele which was suffering from low ratings and likely to be cancelled. So what happened? Word got out about Brosnan being in line for the role of Bond and viewers started tuning in to Remington Steele to check him out. This resulted in higher ratings for Steele and an unexpected renewal. The renewal ended up costing Brosnan the role of Bond due to his now busy schedule, and he only took it after Timothy Dalton's run.
  • Scorpion's 2017 Halloween Episode ends with the team going to a costume party wearing costumes based around visual puns. Happy goes as a sad sack (a paper bag with a sad face drawn on it).
  • Scrubs has J.D. go off prematurely when about to have sex with Kim, and then the pair decided not to have sex because they didn't have protection and neither wanted to have her pregnant. One season later, it turns out that she got pregnant from the encounter.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Recurring characters J. Peterman and Tim Whatley never appeared together in an episode (or the same episode for that matter). This is ironic because their actors (John O'Hurley and Bryan Cranston respectively) are best friends in real life.
    • George once got passed over for a promotion due to his efforts to get it. He left his car at work overnight. When his supervisor saw it, he thought that George had stayed late the previous night and gotten there early that morning. This assumption earns George some respect and gets him on track for the promotion. To cinch the deal, George leaves his car at work while he goes on a romantic getaway with his girlfriend. While there, he realizes that a local restaurant leaves take-out menus on parked cars and calls Jerry and Kramer to remove them. Jerry and Kramer find George's car has not only been given a take-out menu, but is also covered in pigeon droppings. They take it to get it washed and get into an accident on the way back. When George's supervisors see his smashed up car, they quickly search for him and assume he's dead after they can't find him. When George finally returns to work, he finds out they gave the promotion to someone else because they thought he was dead.
    • J. Peterman has fired Elaine for numerous petty reasons (however, she's always rehired by the next episode). But the one time she does something that could and should have gotten her fired (eating a $29,000 piece of cake from King Edward's wedding), he enacts no discipline at all. His reasoning: she admits to him that she hasn't yet passed the cake with butter-based frosting which had been sitting in a poorly ventilated English basement for sixty years and he believed what she was about to go through to be "punishment enough".
  • One episode of Silver Spoons has Ricky, Eddie, and Dexter staying at a hotel when a fire breaks out. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the fire started due to a short circuit in the fire alarm.
  • Star Trek:
    • During the otherwise comedic episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", it turned out the Klingons poisoned the grain meant for a disputed planet, so that it destroyed the digestive system. When the tribbles got into it, and died from it, Kirk described the situational irony thus, "In a room full of grain, they starved to death."
    • Kirk/Spock Slash is mentioned under Fanfiction, but it also works without the Slash. Out of all of Kirk's relationships, his longest lasting one has been his friendship with Spock, not any of his romantic ones.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game" has the crew of the Enterprise being taken over by a highly addictive game. At the end, Wesley Crusher saves the day. The irony is that Wesley's actor (Wil Wheaton) is an avid gamer in real life.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: in the series premiere, Sisko encounters the Bajoran Prophets in the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant. The Prophets, being Starfish Aliens lacking any physical form and completely divorced from, and thus ignorant of, the concept of time, find Sisko perplexing. This leads Sisko to describe the concept of linear time, and how corporeal species such as humans are bound by it. At the same time, however, the Prophets notice that Sisko himself is not linear, for his mind and his heart were still trapped in the past, at the Battle of Wolf 359, when he lost his wife to the Borg.
  • The second season of The Strain has the Master reveal that his host body is dying. A few episodes later, the Master is ready to change host bodies and Eichorst invites Bolivar to the ritual. Believing himself to be the Master's choice of a new host, Eichorst tells Bolivar he's about to witness a "grand metamorphosis". Instead, the Master chooses Bolivar to be his new host body and Eichorst is the one to witness the "grand metamorphosis".
  • In the first episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Wes Mendell stops the show to rant about a sketch called "Crazy Christians" being cut due to censorship. He gets fired as a result and replaced by Matt and Danny. Matt wrote "Crazy Christians".
  • Jackie from That '70s Show frequently makes cracks about Fez being from another country. The irony is that Fez's actor (Wilmer Valderrama) was born in the United States while Jackie's actress (Mila Kunis) was born in Ukraine.
  • The Twilight Zone (2002): Alois Hitler had displayed racism toward Romani in "Cradle of Darkness". When his real son has been replaced with a Romani woman's, the chief inspector pronounces him a "pure Aryan". Possibly a dig at not only the racist pseudoscience of the "Aryan" theory, but also the fact that Alois Hitler's true paternity is uncertain.
  • Top Gear:
    • Land Rover and Lotus are occasionally mocked for being unreliable. Then Jeremy bought a Range Rover for the South American adventure. Of the three off-roaders, it was the one that had the fewest problems. Later, James bought a Lotus for the Patagonia Challenge. Again, it had fewer problems than the other two cars.
    • The first presenter to take the Bugatti Veyron (the fastest car in the world at the time) to its top speed was James May. Yes, James "Captain Slow" May.
    • When Nigel Mansell was the "Star In a Reasonably Priced Car", Jeremy introduced him as a man born with a moustache. Mansell then walks up onstage clean shaven.
  • April Bowlby appeared on Two and a Half Men as a guest star in ten episodes from season three. In season four, she was promoted to the opening credits and only appeared in five episodes.
  • Veronica Mars:
    • The second season opens with Felix, a member of Weevil's biker gang, getting murdered and Logan being framed for the murder. The actual killer turns out to be Thumper, another member of the gang. In retaliation, Weevil frames him for an infraction against a local crime family who chain him to a urinal in a stadium about to be demolished. The demolition (via explosives) is carried out by the winner of an essay contest (via pushing the "plunger"). The winner of that contest is Logan.
    • The second season also features a bus crash that kills several people and an election for sheriff between Keith Mars and Don Lamb (incumbent). During a debate, Lamb accuses Keith of being indirectly responsible for the bus crash because he once pulled over the bus driver for DUI and let him go. As it turns out, Lamb himself is indirectly responsible for the bus crash because if he had actually looked into Veronica's rape, he could have arrested Cassidy Casablancas before he could trigger the bus crash.
    • Just before Cassidy rapes Veronica, his brother tells him "Suit up. You don't know where she's been." implying he'd get an STD from her. He doesn't take his advice and ends up infecting Veronica with chlamydia.
  • The Vision On gallery theme tune ? The intended audience was deaf children (although it does have a very clear beat to it, which a deaf person might discern if they set their fingers on top of the television and turned up the volume.)
  • On an episode of Wheel of Fortune in 1985, a contestant racked up $62,400 in one round, then lost her turn when she called a wrong letter with only 3 letters missing. The next contestant then solved for a paltry $1,100. The puzzle? THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT (only the L's, V and C were missing, and she called S). Since she didn't solve, she ended up missing out on a one-round record that still would've stood more than 25 years later.
  • Wings:
    • Antonio puts a fountain pen in his pocket and it leaks, staining his shirt. Then he reads the ad on the pen.
      Antonio: Jiffy Cleaners, we're on the spot.
    • One season finale has them flying Helen to a concert in New York when the plane suffers mechanical trouble. Helen insists on continuing to New York so she can make the concert, but Joe says they have to return to Nantucket because they haven't passed the point of no return. Helen doesn't know the term, so Joe explains it to her. When he finishes, Brian tells him that they passed the point of no return while he was explaining it to Helen.
  • The Brit Com The Worst Week of My Life bases its plots on cosmic irony to the main character.
  • TLC once had a series called Wrecks To Riches in which a professional car modifier would buy a run down car, fix it up, and sell it at auction. In the second episode, he buys a '72 Plymouth Road Runner and discovers the seller also has a '72 Plymouth Satellite. (Both cars have the same body.) His intention is to fix up the Road Runner and use the Satellite for parts. When he finally gets to look over the Road Runner, he discovers it's in such bad shape he ends up fixing up the Satellite and using the Road Runner for parts.
  • The X-Files:
    • Scully, who initially disbelieved in paranormal phenomena, was abducted by aliens three times before Mulder, who steadfastly believed in aliens, was even abducted once.
    • While at the same time, it's ironic that Mulder and Scully would immediately switch positions of belief when it came to any religious paranormal phenomena, given their usual viewpoints.


Alternative Title(s): Live Action Television

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