Fictional print shops are the most unreliable businesses ever. Any poster, sign, flyer, T-shirt, or other item which contains text they produce for their clients is going to have a mistake on it of some sort. Usually the mistake is extremely minor, like adding or omitting a single letter or punctuation mark, but completely changes the message to be awkward, embarrassing, or even offensive.
Before the advent of desktop publishing, traditional printing techniques required text to be laid out by hand on a metal plate. Documents, such as books, can contain thousands of characters, so one can understand how mistakes can slip through unnoticed. There's less excuse for these mistakes in signs, posters, or the like, as these contain significantly less text which makes it much more clear when a mistake is made.
In newer works, the mistake is usually blamed on the person who typed or created the document. Typically a Discredited Trope, which is usually parodied or played for laughs.
Can result in a Tyop on the Cover. Sister Trope of Auto-Incorrect (where the error is introduced by a spellchecker or autocorrect software) and Virtual Assistant Blunder (where a voice-control device misinterprets a command).
- Coast Capital Savings, a Canadian credit union which offers free chequing accounts, has print ads which read "Free chequing. The 'R' is not a typo."note
- A Snickers candy bar commercial had a football field worker putting the finishing touches on the end zone graphic for the Kansas City Chiefs. He leaves out the "I".
"That looks great! But who are the Chefs?" "Great googly-moogly..."
- A commercial for the restaurant "Yummy Buffet" features the word "WELGOME" written on one of the walls of the eponymous restaurant.
- A common gag in Achille Talon is the general ineptitude of the printer, Omar van Catastrofendonk.
- Fictional newspapers are inept too — when Donald Duck got his fifteen minutes of fame by (unwittingly) polesitting the smallest pole in the world, they misprinted his name as "Roland Dunk".
- In the early 1980s, Marvel submitted a comicbook that guest-starred Daredevil wearing red, which somebody at the printing company helpfully "corrected" to blue.
- The Simpsons: One collected edition has everyone in Springfield (except Ned Flanders) damned to Hell. Krusty finds a sign welcoming him. Only it reads "Welcome Krusto.
Krusty: Oy. Now that's an eternity...
- When Opus in Bloom County is working for the personal ads, an older male customer comes in to complain that instead of "banking", his ad says he is into "spanking".
- In Doonesbury, when Joan and Rick were about to be married, they had their wedding invitations printed by a professional invitation printer. Unfortunately, the printer committed two errors: a) Rick's name was printed as "Bick". b) The date of the wedding was printed wrong! Since the invitations were already sent, they had to send to everybody a correction note. And then the printer committed a third error: On the correction note the word "bridegroom" was printed as "bridegoon".
- One FoxTrot strip had Peter and Jason find their father Roger's college diploma in the attic and wonder why he didn't hang it on the wall like usual. The fact that his name is printed as "Orger" presumably has something to do with it.
- In Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Kelly Cooper is launching a kids book called Jump on the Potty. A printing error changes every instance of the word 'jump' to 'dump'. This leads to Dick Van Dyke doing a celebrity reading at the launch where he tells the children to "dump like a dog".
- This trope sets off the whole sequence of events in Brazil, in which a dead bug falling into a daisywheel printer causes a warrant to be put out for a Buttle instead of a Tuttle, and the poor fellow ends up getting arrested and dying under interrogation.
- The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy runs for class president and a radio station called BIG JOKE sponsors the printing of T-shirts reading KRISTY IS A WINNER, with the station's name printed on the back of each shirt to acknowledge them as a sponsor. The T-shirt company leaves out the word WINNER and prints T-shirts with KAREN IS A... on the front and ...BIG JOKE on the back.
- In Good Omens, there is the "Buggre Alle This" Bible of 1651, where the typesetter replaced Ezekiel 48:5 with a rant complaining about his job. It also has three extra verses at the end of Genesis 3 about the loss of the flaming sword by the angel Aziraphale, which it's strongly implied were added by Aziraphale himself.
"Buggre Alle this for a Larke. I amme sick to mye Hart of typesettinge. Master Biltonn is no Gentlemann, and Master Scagges noe more than a tighte fisted Southwarke Knobbesticke. I telle you, onne a daye laike this Ennyone with half an oz. of Sense shoulde bee oute in the Sunneshain, ane nott Stucke here alle the livelong daie inn this mowldey olde By-Our-Lady Workeshoppe. @*Ãâ¡ÃÂ¢@;!*" - (Ezekiel 48:5)
- While it is a somewhat unusual hobby for an angel, Aziraphale specifically seeks out these kinds of Bibles to add to his collection of rare books. One of the other examples mentioned is a Bible that accidentally omitted the "not" in the commandment regarding adultery, which actually exists in real life.
- In Mr. Hook's Big Black Box, the name of the university the main characters used to attend (and are returning to for the reunion) has its name misspelled as "Lanchester Universitay" on the pamphlets for the reunion, in reference to the same misspelling being present on the welcome packs when they first joined.
- The Truth:
- The dwarf printer makes a mistake when printing the first edition of the Ankh-Morpork Items and it comes out as Ankh-Morpork tImes. However, deWorde thinks that "times" sounds better and orders the printer to use the new name.
- There's also "56 People Hurt In Brawl." It was meant to be "5-6" since he wasn't sure how many, but the dash was omitted.
- And the variations on "The Truth Shall Make Ye Free" such as "shall make ye fret" and "shall make ye fere." The second one is completely plot-relevant, as it's seen by Mr. Pin during a Villainous Breakdown.
- In The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, a half-ton of deluxe Bibles are dropped off at a recycling center. One of the workers compares a copy verse-by-verse to another Bible. He has to read all the way to the end, as an extra verse has been appended to the last chapter of Revelations ("And they lived happily ever after.").
- In Barefoot Boy with Cheek by Max Shulman, the articles from the Minnesota Daily are filled with references to "Etaoin Shrdlu." One article includes an apology that Petey Loadsafun was "erroneously called Etaoin Shrdlu in yesterday's shrdlu."
- "Improbable Bestiary: The Gremlin and the Glitch" by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre:
So when that pair of holy terrors
Who delight in causing errors
And who make machines malfunction
Try to come and bother you,
Then the only thing to do
Is to QWERTYUIOP ETAOIN SHRDLU SHRDLU SHRDLU
(Note: due to a sudden unaccountable malfunction of all twenty-seven of our Linotype terminals, we regret that PYRZQXGL EFSITZ IRTNOG.)
- In Lost In A Good Book, Thursday is stalked by an assassin known as The Windowmaker. When confronted about it, she explains that the printers got it wrong on her calling cards, and it cost too much to redo.
- Back in the Game: The T-shirt shop messed up the would-be Angels Little League team's order so that they're the Angles.
- Corner Gas:
- The Dog River Howler is often lampshaded as being completely unreliable, printing anything from small spelling errors (spelling 'barley' as 'barely') to out-and-out lies (announcing the town of Moosejaw getting an NBA franchise).
- When Brent and Lacey order travel mugs with the names of their businesses on them, the text gets cut off, making the mugs say "Corner G and The Rub", which Brent decides is A Good Name For A Hip Hop Band.
- In an episode of Dad's Army, a printer mixes up photos of Corporal Jones (intended for a recruiting poster) and an enemy agent (intended for a "Wanted!" Poster).
- Death in Paradise: In "Written in Murder", D.I. Jack Mooney receives a batch of business cards identifying him as 'D.I. Jack Money'.
- On Frasier, Niles in Season 4 runs into this when he tries to take an ad out in the newspaper as a "Jung specialist, specializing in individuals, couples, and groups, tell me where it hurts." One mistype changing the 'j' to an 'h' in Jung, and the change in meaning causes Niles to Need A Freaking Drink. Funnily enough, the phones still ring off the hook.
Frasier: Any calls?
Niles: It's a telethon.
- Golden Palace: Blanche orders pens for the hotel that read, "This pen is compliments from us to you." The printers leave out the space between "pen" and "is".
- The Goodies: The tie-in book The Goodies File contains a shoddy brochure that The Goodies use to advertise themselves, full of spelling and lay-out errors. It is credited to
Author: Bill OddiePrinted by: Tatty & Cheap (Prunter)
- The Grand Tour's opening uses this as a Couch Gag; a sign welcoming the presenters will always have the last one's name misspelled. For example, "Richard Hammond, James May, and Germy Clarkson" or "Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and Jams Made."
- How to Be Indie: The Thanksgiving Episode had the printers leave a decimal point out of the price on a poster, advertising a lunch that costs hundreds of dollars.
- Showed up at least 2 times in M*A*S*H
- In one episode Father Mulcahy receives a shipment of new bibles full of typos. This was a direct reference to the "Sinner's Bible" listed in the Real Life section below.
- Another episode featured a Jeweler's variation of the trope. When Klinger accidentally throws Margaret's engagement ring in the trash, Hawkeye and BJ help him replace it when they find it was a dime-a-dozen cheap ring sold by local merchants to begin with. The ruse is up when the custom inscription on the ring comes back reading "Over Hill. Over Dale. Our love will evernote fail."
- On Modern Family, Cam asked for a sign that read "What Next?", but it came out "Whanex?" As he asks himself how it happened, a flashback reveals that he had a candy bar in his mouth when he made the order.
- Mr. D: When Mr. D coaches the school's basketball team, their team name is spelled wrong on the jerseys. Mr. D tells the team that the printer made a mistake and will provide a refund, but the assistant coach points out that the invoice states they have already accepted the jerseys and that no refunds will be given.
- In an episode of The Nanny, Maxwell and C.C.'s company Sheffield-Babcock Productions is putting on a musical. They put an ad in the newspaper, which announces it was produced "by Maxwell Sheffield and C.C. Boobcock". However, it ended up being subverted when C.C. remembers she gave the ad copy to Niles to give to the messenger.
- On Parks and Recreation, Leslie's campaign team give the printer the URL of the graphic to print on her campaign signs, but they print the address itself instead.
- In Red Dwarf, Rimmer's parents were "Seventh Day Advent Hoppists", who hop every Sunday, due to a misprinted Bible wherein 1 Corinthians 13:13 reads "Faith, hop, and charity, and the greatest of these is hop."
- In the Scottish soap River City a character standing for the local council found that her claim on her election posters to represent "THE WHOLE COMMUNITY" had been misprinted with an R in place of the L...
- Seems to happen to Kermit the Frog in a Sesame Street skit. He goes in to pick up a Kermit the Frog t-shirt ... and finds it reading 'Kermit the Gorf'. The printer insists that everything is fine ... especially when Kermit the Gorf shows up. The gag repeats twice as Kermit the Forg and Kermit the Grof both show up to collect their custom T-shirts.
- School of Rock: After Summer and Tomika have a falling out in "Don't Know What You Got ('Til It's Gone)", Tomika attempts to patch things up with a grand gesture, including a banner reading 'Tomika and Summer'. Unfortunately, when she unfurls it, it actually reads 'Tomika and Bummer'.
- Seinfeld: In "The Bubble Boy", George plays a game of Trivial Pursuit with a young man named Donald. During the game, Donald correctly answers a question note , but George, irritated by Donald's taunting and condescension, refuses to give him credit for the answer, justifying it by saying the card says "the Moops" instead of "the Moors". Donald points out that this is a misprint, but George refuses to budge, and the confrontation soon turns physical.
- On Will & Grace, Jack lands a role on a gritty new cop show, The Badge, but the cast party features posters reading The Vadge — probably, as Jack admits, because he ordered them over the phone and said "B as in 'bagina'."
- Subverted in WKRP in Cincinnati. Herb has set up an ad campaign for Soul Suds Shampoo using Venus for a Celebrity Endorsement. To save on the photographer fees Herb took the pictures himself. Then the stand up display comes in and it's not Venus—it's Herb in a "Kiss the Cook" apron. It's Herb's fault, but he blames the printer.
Herb: (into the phone) You call yourselves printers? There were 50 photos of a black guy in a tuxedo holding a bottle of shampoo, and one photo of a white guy barbecuing, and you used the white guy! ... I don't care which photo I marked. I made the mistake and you people were supposed to catch it, that's what I pay you for. Don't you remember? I screw up everything! You should know that if it comes from me, it's wrong!
- In The Wonder Years episode "It's a Mad, Mad, Madeline World", Winnie gives Kevin a bracelet with his name, "KEVIN ARNOLD", engraved on it, which he accidentally leaves at his classmate Madeline's house while working on a French project. Rather than retrieving it before a date with Winnie, Kevin goes to the jeweller to have a new bracelet engraved - and doesn't discover until he brings it home that, thanks to his sloppy handwriting, the bracelet reads "KEVIN AMOLD" (which his older brother Wayne finds hysterical).
- In the April Fools Day episode of The Worst Year of My Life, Again, Simon has a badge made reading 'KING OF PRANKS'. However, due to several letters being squashed together, everyone keeps reading it as 'KING OF PRAWNS'.
- Taylor Swift had a typo occur on official t-shirts: Part of the text was meant to read "you're the only one of you, baby that's the fun of you", but some of the shirts had a misplaced apostrophe ("your'e"). This was a lyric from her single "ME!", which ironically also included the lyric "spelling is fun".
- Swedes like to attribute these mistakes to the fictional "Tryckfelsnisse" (printing error elf) entity.
- Similarly, in Finland, there is "Painovirhepaholainen" (printing error devil).
- Same in Germany, with the "Druckfehlerteufel".
- A Talmud sort of urban legend says that a Bible copier accidentally replaced an aleph with an ayin, turning "Fear thy Lord" into "Frag thy Lord" (or even worse), resulting in a nonplussed God ripped him an eye (ayin) out, in good ole "An eye for an eye" tradition.
- English cricketer Ashley Giles (spin bowler and useful late-order bat) obtained an unlikely nickname in this manner when he ordered a batch of souvenir mugs for his benefit year that were meant to proclaim "Ashley Giles, the King of Spin". When the mugs arrived from the manufacturer they instead proclaimed him "The King of Spain". His fans embraced this, singing Viva España and waving the Spanish flag for him.
- Two English football teams have fallen foul of this:
- One of the teams that were promoted to the Premier League, according to their new shirts, were "Chrystal Palace".
- The tickets for the Championship Play-off Final in 2015 referred to one of the teams as "Middlesborough", accidentally adding a letter.
- In April 2009, Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman of baseball's Washington Nationals spent the first three innings of a loss to the Florida Marlins wearing jerseys that read "NATINALS" thanks to a goof at Majestic Athletic, the company that made their uniforms.
- In the third act of Neil Simon's play Plaza Suite, Roy Hubley is annoyed to find that the napkins for which he has paid handsomely for his daughter Mimsey's marriage to Borden Eisler identify the event as the "Eisler-Hubly" wedding.
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: The O2 Kits got their nickname "Oz Kits" because they showed up with a different font than what was ordered, where the 2 looked more like a Z. The Dahl employee who ordered them thought this was a grave enough error to throw the whole lot out and order new ones, but since the kits were still perfectly functional, his superiors disagreed and hung up on him. Eventually the name stuck.
- In the first episode of Helluva Boss, a billboard down the street from Immediate Murder Professionals' HQ advertises their business, but Blitzo either didn't have enough money to hire a competent billboard service to make the ad or did it himself and screwed it up. It reads like this (and, for bonus points, there's an arrow pointing in the opposite direction of the place it's advertising):
"Goat an asshole in the Living worlds!? Come to I am Pee!!!!??! Make sure you put this sign on the rite side. Dont fuck this up. Also payment may take a couple of weeks because it cums in the Mail."
-SPEECH TO TEXT-
- Ennui GO!: Renee's roller derby team is called the Screamin' Demons; when she orders team jerseys for them, they're mislabeled "Semen Demons".
- The Batman: One episode has Alfred inform Bruce that according to the invitations that were sent out, he's hosting "A Farty."
- Bojack Horseman makes this into a Running Gag with Mr. Peanutbutter. Once per season, he'll use a print shop for signs and t-shirts, but the printer manages to print both the desired text and the instructions he gave, i.e. " Happy Birthday Diane and use a pretty font."
- Season 5 has "MR. PEANUTBUTTER'S HOUSEWARMING BASH AND CAN YOU SEND ME A PICTURE OF THE BANNER BEFORE IT GOES OFF TO THE PRINTERS THIS TIME?"
- His brother, Captain Peanutbutter, apparently uses the same printer (or has the same communication issues as his brother), when he welcomes him home with a banner that says: "WELCOME HOME MR. PEANUTBUTTER OH AND I HAVE A GROUPON"
- The gag culminates in the series finale, where Mr. Peanutbutter restores the Hollywoo sign to its former glory. Unfortunately, due to yet another miscommunication, the movie district of Los Angeles will forever be known as "Hollywoob"! (He wanted it to be a "D" as in "Birthday Dad".) He angrily states to the printing company that he is going to seriously consider no longer working with them.
- DuckTales (2017): "The Missing Links of Moorshire" ends with them winning a trophy that's engraved "Scroge and Douise".
Briar: Sorry. It was a rush job.
- In Mission Hill, Posey starts up a massage therapy business but keeps getting creeps expecting a Happy Ending Massage, and even a pimp who accuses her of cutting in on his territory. She has no clue why it's happening until Andy looks at one of the flyers she had printed up and he points out that it says "soothing release" instead of "soothing relief".
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In episode "Swarm of the Century", the ponies tasked with creating a banner to welcome Princess Celestia "couldn't fit it all in."
Twilight Sparkle: You can't hang a banner that says "Welcome Princess Celest". Take it down and try again.
- In "Slice of Life", the bulk of the episode's tension (beyond the Bugbear's attack) is the result of a printing mistake on Cranky and Matilda's wedding invitations, setting the ceremony one day too early and forcing everypony to rush their preparations. The error was caused by Derpy subcontracting the printing of the invitations to the inexperienced Featherweight for a cheaper product.
- In episode "Swarm of the Century", the ponies tasked with creating a banner to welcome Princess Celestia "couldn't fit it all in."
- The Simpsons: When Homer decides to throw a bash at his house, he has invitations printed up.
- In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, invitations to the coronation of Queen Eclipsa came out with "coronation" spelt "cornonation". Tom points out that, considering Mewni's obsession with corn, it's probably more appropriate.
- The famous "Sinner's Bible" in which the "not" was left out of "Thou shalt not commit adultery." It got a Shout-Out in Good Omens.
- There have been several others, including "The Printer's Bible" of circa 1702, in which Psalm 119:161 reads "... printers have persecuted me without a cause..." (It should have said "princes" instead.)
- The first paperback edition of Good Omens (which ironically refers to Biblical misprints) describes Sable Black's real name (Famine) as "one word, seven letters. Sounds like examine." According to Terry Pratchett:
It's like this. In the original MS, it was six letters, because we can both count. And it was six letters in the Gollancz hardcover. And six letters in the Workman US hardcover. And became seven in the Corgi edition. No-one knows why.
- Happens extremely often at cake shops when they are asked to hand-pipe a message on a cake, as frequently documented by the Cake Wrecks blog. For example.
- At some point in its history, the Marlborough Arms pub in Chester, England◊ was having its sign re-painted, and the painter either had too much to drink or, according to local folklore, heard the ghost of a former landlord in the ale cellar and so rushed to finish the job. This caused the finished sign to read "MARLBOROROUGH ARMS", but the management decided to embrace the mistake, and officially changed the pub's name to match the sign.
- An Australian newspaper advertising the Whitsundays (a popular holiday destination) had to do a frantic recall when the "W" was replaced by an "S".
- Cathay Pacific had this happen to them when one their planes was repainted with a new livery. It is speculated that the airline invoked this trope for publicity.
- Two prospective MPs in the 2019 United Kingdom general election produced leaflets featuring these statements:
- Michael Gove: a stong voice for Surrey Heath. He won his seat.note
- A [Liberal Democrat] government will spend £100 billion boosting renewable energy and insultingnote every home. It is quite possible that that claim cost Michael Severn that seat.
- This sign, which was spotted before it was sent out to a church in the run-up to Easter 2016.