Follow TV Tropes



Go To
"...Find a woman named Elizabeth Lemon. Get her advice, and then do the opposite."
Jack Donaghy's video instructions for his expected child, 30 Rock

Advice from certain classes of teammates—like The Ditz, or the Token Evil Teammate afflicted with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder—can usually be safely ignored. But, if a person (let's call him Bob) is wrong consistently enough, then Bob's teammates will eventually find his advice useful—by reversing it first. If Bob says to turn left at the fork, Alice will turn right. If Bob praises a given work, Alice knows that the work is terrible and should be avoided at all costs; conversely, if Bob pans a work, Alice knows that the work is a must-see masterpiece. If Bob says, "C’mon, Dick seems trustworthy to me!", Alice takes this as a sign that Dick is not to be trusted. And if Bob says, "Don't Touch It, You Idiot!", Alice knows that it's critically important that they touch the object in question as soon as possible.

In Real Life, this logic is fallacious; in fiction, Alice opens herself up to getting burned if Reverse Psychology or Dumbass Has a Point is in effect, or fall victim to a False Dichotomy. Of course, the Rule of Funny governs all, so it's just as likely that this logic works out perfectly for Alice.

For the subtrope of doing exactly the opposite of Bob because Bob is eeeeeeeeevil, see Hitler Ate Sugar. For praise producing a similarly negative reaction, see Your Approval Fills Me with Shame or Damned By a Fool's Praise. For characters rejecting information that turns out to be correct, see Cassandra Truth and Ignored Expert.


    open/close all folders 

  • Washington Mutual Banking ran a series of ads featuring "The Bankers' Pen," a group of old-fashioned bankers who support policies like charging fees for ATM use. Since WaMu is such a modern, innovative company, they knew that a round of boos and jeers from the pen meant that free ATMs were the way to go.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Soul Eater anime's Gecko Ending, while Marie and Crona search for Medusa, there's a montage of them searching a swamp. After a while Crona decides to simply go in the opposite direction to the one Marie picked (both of them having No Sense of Direction was a Running Gag).
  • This was done in One Piece once near the end of the Fishman Island arc. After recovering the stolen treasure, the monster trio is about to head back to the palace. Zoro, who notoriously has No Sense of Direction, says that it's "This way," to which Sanji replies "Okay, let's go in the opposite direction!"
  • At the start of the third episode of Pokémon the Series: XY, Serena is picking out an outfit for her journey but doesn't know what hat she wants to wear. She asks her mother if a red hat or a beret would look better, but when her mother prefers the beret, she throws it aside and settles for the red hat, because she feels that whatever her mother picks is the unfashionable choice.
  • Played for Laughs in Hayate the Combat Butler. Hayate is notoriously unlucky, and everyone not only knows it but discusses it regularly. At one point, Saki is gambling with Wataru's living arrangements on the line, and puts everything on a single spin of the roulette wheel. Wataru has the idea of calling up Hayate, asking him what color he would pick if he had to bet everything on a single spin of a roulette wheel, and placing the bet on the other color. It works perfectly - good thing 0 or 00 didn't come up.
  • In an early duel on Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Yuma decides to treat Astral's advice as anti-advice and does the opposite of what Astral says. Unfortunately, Yuma is an idiot and gets himself into trouble this way. This gives Astral the idea to use Reverse Psychology and trick Yuma into making the right moves by telling him not to make them. Yuma doesn't twig on until near the end of the duel.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Gargoyles spin-off comic Gargoyles: Bad Guys, the Redemption Squad meets Thailog, who says "Fang can vouch for me." Fang says "Yeah, Thailog's my kinda gargoyle." They immediately know that Thailog can't be trusted. (It's hinted that Fang knew they'd go contrary to his advice.)
  • In a Donald Duck story, "The Ducks Who Went Out In The Cold", Donald tried it on himself – he figured that since every single one of his plans ends with disaster, he should do the exact opposite of whatever seems most reasonable at the moment. For starters, in hopes of getting himself and his nephew to a tropical vacation, he went to Siberia.
  • The comic A. Bizarro had "Al Bizarro" develop a personal version of the Bizarro Code when Al Beezer advised him to do the opposite of everything he'd done with his life.
  • The Far Side author Gary Larson mentioned in the comic's 10th anniversary anthology that he had a friend with a very weird sense of humor. Should said friend ever call him and say he really liked that day's cartoon, Larson knew he'd better start preparing for a storm of Strongly Worded Letters from Moral Guardians.
  • In one Batman story, in which Bruce takes down several criminals at a party while never breaking his dumb Idle Rich persona, he foils a con artist simply by saying this sounds like a great investment opportunity and he's interested. All the other potential investors immediately disperse. (And Bruce then avoids investing himself by explaining he just has to run it past Lucius Fox.)
  • In one strip of Dilbert, Dilbert comes to his boss to ask how he would tackle a specific problem, with the boss actually surprised that he cares about his opinion. In the last panel he says to a coworker that now he can discard any choice an idiot would make.
  • Monty has a single-appearance friend who seemingly greatly values his opinion on movies, and calls him up regularly for advice and suggestions. He then goes with whatever Monty doesn't like, while avoiding the top recommendations like a plague.

    Fan Works 
  • Used and lampshaded to hilarious effect in Mind of Aluminum (a Fate/stay night fanfic), in which Rin allies with Shinji and does the opposite of whatever he suggests. Then subverted when Rin finds out that Shinji has been sexually abusing Sakura, and he attempts Reverse Psychology when she asks him if it was a good idea to "shatter every bone in his body and leave him with the rough physical capacity of a turnip."
    Rin: "And you know? He thought it was! So I helped him out. He looked surprised, I admit. Like he expected me to… I dunno, do the opposite of what he suggested. But luckily, I respected him far too much for that."
  • In Danganronpa Parody, unlike in the original where everyone knew he didn't do it, Makoto has to use this logic to prove his innocence after being wrongfully convicted in the fifth trial.
    Byakuya: So you're saying that because Hiro thinks you're the murderer, then that makes you innocent? OK. You've convinced me.
  • In Harry Potter Becomes a Communist, this was Harry's original inspiration for making the titular change: "Uncle Vernon was complaining about communists one day and I decided that anyone hated by Uncle Vernon couldn't be that bad. So I read The Communist Manifesto and discovered how the world really worked."
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Once the Wolf becomes the Token Evil Teammate to Daenerys and the war is won, just about every piece of advice he gives her would be perfectly suitable only for the leader of a Chaos warband or other murderous lunatic. Daenerys ends up sparing several people she would otherwise have had executed solely because the Wolf suggested they be tortured to death in public to ensure her subjects would be appropriately terrified of her.
  • In The Awakening of a Magus, when discussing what law firm Draco should use instead of the The Law Firm of Pun, Pun, and Wordplay his late father did, Ron recommends Clearwater, Clearwater & Boggs, to which Draco says they must be the right people because Lucius used to curse them to hell and back.
  • A Man of Iron: There's a few examples across the series used indirectly through Anti-Role Model:
    • If there's one thing Ned learned from Robert is what not to do as a King.
    • Whenever Tywin can't think how to solve a situation, he wonders what his father would have done... in order to do the complete opposite.


  • A story from Analog magazine in the 1970s. An Obstructive Bureaucrat type has been asked to consult on a project. He's pretty clearly suffering from cranial-recto inversion, but the project personnel seem to be taking him dead seriously. It turns out that the bureaucrat has been scientifically identified as someone who is always, always wrongheaded and therefore the project personnel know to do the exact opposite of his suggestions. Now that he and the other "canaries" have been identified and isolated in similar jobs, human progress is taking off like a rocket.
  • Edgar & Ellen: The inside cover of each book has a rhyme advising the reader to do the opposite of whatever the twins would.
    If ever in your life you are faced with a choice,
    A difficult decision, a quandary,
    Ask yourself, "What would Edgar and Ellen do?"
    And do exactly the contrary.
  • In His Dark Materials, at the end of Northern Lights, Lyra and her daemon Patalaimon reason that if villains like Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel want to suppress or destroy the Dust, it must actually be good. (Since the Dust "boosts" sapience/intelligence, and is attracted to same, it then depends on your opinion about that.)
  • The short story "The Coming of the Goonga": an alien civilization figures that intelligent, well-informed rulers are not the way to go, because the more you know, the more options you see, and eventually you get bogged down with indecision. Their solution was the zeromaster, a "ruler" kept in a state of perfect, crystal-clear ignorance. The result: decisive orders and even future predictions guaranteed to be utterly and precisely wrong, thus guaranteeing excellent results if you do the opposite of what they say.
  • At the end of Harry Harrison's Deathworld 2, Jason tells former barbarian Ijale that her life in civilization will go reasonably well as long as she sticks with Mikah note , listens carefully to what he tells her, and then does the exact opposite.
  • The Screwtape Letters is this on a meta level. The reader is supposed to recognize that Hell's goals are completely at odds with humanity's well-being, therefore anything Screwtape praises is actually something that could damn the reader, and anything he criticizes is something that could save the reader.
  • Mostly Harmless: Arthur Dent finds a soothsayer to ask about how he should continue his life. The Soothsayer hands Dent a large stack of photocopied pages, and explains that it's her autobiography, then adds (paraphrased) "If you follow this and do the opposite of what I did, you'll be fine." (And at least she recognizes what happened, compared to most of the other examples on this page.)
  • Robert A. Heinlein (probably via the notebooks of Lazarus Long) suggested that, when not certain who to vote for, one should find a well-meaning fool (of which there are many), and vote against whatever he advises.
    • This is expanded upon in the nonfiction Take Back Your Government: by taking anti-advice from a person (or newspaper) you disagree with, most of your mistakes will be voting for candidates and ballot measures with a 0% Approval Rating or against things Loved by All, which, while it will make you feel silly, will not actually cause the right candidate to lose—just get less of a landslide than they would if you were more careful.
  • In M*A*S*H Goes To Maine a particularly nasty medical problem forces the main characters to resort to the GM Test...a consultation with fellow doctor Goofus MacDuff, renowned for masterfully summarizing every single aspect of a case and then drawing a completely wrong conclusion from it. MacDuff ends up recommending that they wait, so they operate immediately... and save their patient's life.
  • Agaton Sax has a dog called Tikkie, who can be relied upon to like all evildoers and hate all policemen. So much so that in cases of doppelgangers, Sax asks his dog whom to trust and chooses the opposite.
  • Russian humour writer Grigory Oster compiled several Harmful Advice books (written in verse) with the premise that children tend to do the opposite of what they're told, so if they do the same with his book, they should be just fine.
  • In the Hercule Poirot novel Peril at End House, Captain Hastings is absolutely certain that one possible suspect is a solidly decent chap. Poirot had thought that he wasn't a very likely suspect, but decides that Hastings has "so strongly the flair in the wrong direction", that the man may worth investigating after all. He turns out to be a drug dealer.

    Live Action TV 
  • Hogan's Heroes. A bomb lands in Stalag 13. Hogan ends up having to disarm it, but is uncertain what wire to cut. He asks Col. Klink for what wire he would cut, then cuts the other one. This case is special in that it's not about intelligence; Hogan just knows that Klink was Born Unlucky.
  • In 30 Rock, Jack prepares some videotapes for his expected child, in case of his demise. One piece of advice: "In the unlikely event that you encounter something that isn't covered here, find a woman named Elizabeth Lemon. Get her advice, and then do the opposite."
  • In Seinfeld, George laments that every instinct he has ever had in his entire life has been completely wrong, and has resulted in him becoming the pathetic loser that he is today. Jerry then suggests he do the opposite of whatever his instincts tell him to do, since if following them has led to failure, then doing the opposite must therefore lead to success. It works... at least for one episode.
  • Xavier does this on Home and Away at one point, after Ruby kisses him and he debates with himself over whether to mention it to April. After John advises him to say nothing, Xavier rejects the advice specifically because it came from him. He tells April and the outcome is fine.
  • Alfie does this to Jerome on House of Anubis when he asked Jerome for advice about girls. He claimed that the best part of being Jerome's best friend was knowing that the opposite of what Jerome said to do was the right thing to do.
  • In Red Dwarf, the crew meet Professor Irene Edgington, of the Erroneous Reasoning Research Academy (ERRA)note . She is wrong about everything, except for the last digit in a code to disarm explosive pants Lister is wearing. They figure out when to take her answer as truth when realizing the significance of her name, Irene E - Irony. Wouldn't it be ironic if she was right this time?
  • Happens by accident in Parks and Recreation: when asked for romantic advice, Tom gives deliberately terrible advice so he has less competition. But Tom is awful with the ladies, so what he thinks is bad advice (like taking the high ground when dealing with your girlfriend's immature ex) is usually worth trying.
  • In one episode of The King of Queens, a barista at Arthur's favorite coffee shop starts taking his advice and experiences tremendous success as a result because, unknown to Arthur, she's really doing the opposite of whatever he says. When Arthur finally catches on, he spitefully sabotages her the next time she asks him for career advice by suggesting the opposite of what he would have normally said, resulting in the barista doing "the opposite of the opposite" and getting fired from the coffee shop.
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon asks Leonard for advice on what his next field of research should be:
    Leonard: Huh, well, I think there's some really innovative stuff going on in dark matter.
    Sheldon: That's helpful. [erases "dark matter" from the list]
    • In another episode, Sheldon considers moving and makes a list of various cities across the U.S to choose from. Upon confirming that Penny is from Nebraska ("Born and raised!"), he promptly erases that entire state from the list.
  • One episode of Tokumei Sentai Go Busters has the heroes trapped in a maze. Hiromu's plan to escape is to ask Nick, who has No Sense of Direction, which way to go, and he goes the opposite way. He discovers a fake wall when Nick tells him to go right, and he can't go left.

  • Analog: One story from the 1970s featured an Obstructive Bureaucrat type who has been asked to consult on a project. He's pretty clearly suffering from cranial-recto inversion, but the project personnel seem to be taking him dead seriously. It turns out that the bureaucrat has been scientifically identified as someone who is always, always wrongheaded and therefore the project personnel know to do the exact opposite of his suggestions. Now that he and the other "canaries" have been identified and isolated in similar jobs, human progress is taking off like a rocket.
  • A letter to the Radio Times in the late eighties was filled with "advice" about the direction to take Doctor Who in, all of which were things The BBC had already done, such as rescheduling it directly opposite Coronation Street. It was signed "The Master".


  • In the Charles Dickens spoof Bleak Expectations the protagonist Pip Bin builds a successful business empire by listening to the advice of his well meaning but wrong-headed friend Mr Skinflint Parsimonious (who is ironically the most generous of men), and then doing the opposite. He learns this the hard way, by taking all of Parismonious's advice the first time, and instantly becoming completely broke, after which Parsimonious says he could make money by giving people business advice then running after them telling them to do the opposite.
    Pip: What do you think of the new name Mr Parsimonious?
    Parsimonious: I love it, it'll be a great success!
    Pip: Then we had better change it.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Rodney Carrington is a stand up comic who dabbles in singing humorous country songs. He says that his wife is usually a pretty good judge of his songs, saying "Oh, that's funny" or "Oh, that's not funny" or "Oh goddamn, you're not gonna sing that, are you?" Guess which songs he chooses to sing?

    Video Games 
  • There's a sequence in the first chapter of Deltarune where the party finds their way through a forest by actively not following the bumbling wannabe villain Lancer. However, this solution also leads to being chewed out by a third party (who's between allegiances) over letting Lancer, who obviously doesn't know what he's doing, get lost in the woods.
  • Paper Mario 64: In Flower Fields, Mario will run into a character called Tolielip, a flower who gives you advice, but always lies, so doing the opposite of what he tells you will help you progress.
  • Invoked by the trailer for the Collector's Edition of Shadow Warrior 2 where gameplay footage is intercut with blurbs and scores from positive reviews like IGN's 8.6/10 and US Gamer's 4.5/5, but halfway through it proudly includes Polygon's 5/10.
  • Yomawari: Midnight Shadows includes this as a boss fight gimmick: The evil spirit Malice will command the player to follow its instructions. To survive its attacks, you need to do the opposite of what it instructs.
  • In Suikoden V, Faylon asks Maroon and Muroon how to be a good brother, because he's not a very good one and the two of them have two sisters that love them. Maroon comments that he doesn't know since beavers age swiftly. He advises to act like the Prince of Falena, but Faylon doesn't think he can do that good. Muroon then tells him to recognize Euram Barows and do the opposite of what he does.

  • Spacetrawler: Dustin is a colossal dumbass who has also deliberately tried to undermine the other protagonists' mission several times. So when Dustin tries to warn Pierrot that Curn, King of the Mirrhgoots, can't be trusted, that's what convinces a wavering Pierrot to trust Curn.
    Dustin: Don't do it! They'll suck your brains out and-
    Pierrot: Dusty thinks it's a bad idea, it must be sensible.
  • A Basic Instructions strip has Rick try to fix his life by ignoring logic in favor of trusting his instincts, Unfortunately, all this causes him to do is cringe in panic in response to everything. After four hours of cringing, he decides it isn't working, and he should instead do the opposite of trust his instincts and rely solely on logic. Unfortunately, the logical response to learning how useless his instincts are is to cringe.
  • In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Wonderella has some advice for the graduating class of 2010. After apologizing for her generation completely screwing everything up...
    Wonderella: But that still leaves one crucial life lesson you can learn from us: failure. The secret to your success is, apparently, doing the opposite of whatever we do.
  • In a short storyline from pictures for sad children, a homeless man asks for Orbit brand chewing gum by name. The woman he's talking to (an advertising writer herself) asks how much Orbit is paying him to shill their gum. He admits that he's actually being paid by the competition, trying to make Orbit look worse by association.note 
  • In one Nodwick, the heroes deliberately invoke this trope. A Henchman is deliberately leading the evil adventurers to the Henchman's Graveyard. As part of the plan to stop him, Artax casts an illusion of the ghost of the First Henchman that proclaims that the traitor's ability to find the Henchman's Graveyard has failed because of his betrayal, causing the villains to stop listening to his directions even though they were still accurate.
  • Exploited in this xkcd strip, in which a guy who consistently picks bad stocks gets a job doing so, thereby helping the investors avoid those companies.

    Web Original 
  • This is one use of Pat's Stand, Crazy Talk. It activates at random to make Pat's statements and predictions untrue, and it's possible for other people to exploit this to their advantage (though Pat cannot activate Crazy Talk deliberately, so he just gets the worst of both worlds).
  • Near the end of To Boldly Flee, a character who has temporarily become a mad engineering genius reverts to her normal mechanically untalented personality just before she can build the weapon which will save their lives. In desperation, the other engineers resort to asking her questions about how to build it and doing the opposite of whatever she says.
  • Merged with What Would X Do? for one of Slacktivist's Left Behind takedowns, namely, What Would Rayford Do? (Do the opposite).
  • In the Super Bowl XLVIII episode of NFL Quarterbacks On Facebook, Peyton Manning claims that his father Archie told him to do this. Apparently, Archie had asked Peyton to ask his brother Eli for tips on how to beat the Seahawks in New York, and do the exact opposite (Eli lost 28-0 to the Seahawks in New York earlier that season). It clearly didn't work, as Peyton was also blown out.
  • The Onion: Just about every situation represented in Kelly's editorial cartoons can safely be considered to be entirely the opposite of what's actually happening, and his opinion to be unerringly wrong. Even if you agree with his overall opinion, you'll probably think his reasoning is bunk.

    Western Animation 
  • In Amphibia "Cracking mrs. Croaker", Anne gives Sprig some uncharacteristically good advice based on past experience that he should just accept that some people won't like him and there's nothing he can do about it. Sprig takes the advice as the exact opposite of what she actually said, much to her frustration.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, "Pizza Delivery", SpongeBob and Squidward are lost. SpongeBob predicts which way to go using his pioneering skills, so Squidward goes the opposite way. The camera then pans over to show that their hometown was just over a ridge in the direction SpongeBob wanted to go.
  • The same gag shows up in an episode of the Hub's Pound Puppies, with streetwise chihuahua Squirt ignoring the advice of dimwitted sheepdog Niblet and going the wrong way when lost in the Canadian wilderness.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson has a card in his wallet that tells him "Always do the opposite of what Bart says."
    Bart: Blast that infernal card! ... Don't give that card to me.
    Homer: (goes to give him the card) Here ya go - No!
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield is wondering how to attract a girl cat. He decides to watch Jon in action. "Then I'll know what not to do."
  • On Rocky and Bullwinkle there was a tribe of island natives who got their weather predictions from the egg of the Oogle bird. When the bird was no longer available, they substitute it with Captain Wrongway Peachfuzz and simply expect the opposite from his predictions.
  • "Dime Enough For Luck" from DuckTales (1987) had Scrooge team up with Gladstone Gander, whose trademark luck had been supernaturally cursed. Scrooge exploits this fact at one point, by asking Gladstone to pick the direction and then going the opposite way.
  • One episode of Histeria! had a military commander ask the resident ditz to choose between two different strategies, intending to do the opposite of whatever he picks.
  • Invoked by Jimbo and Ned in South Park. When they discover that the Ku Klux Klan intends to support their status quo vote on the issue of the South Park flag, they worry that this will sway people into voting the other way, so they go to a Klan meeting in disguise and persuade the group to change their position on the issue.
  • In one episode of Bonkers Lucky attempts this once he reaches a frustration point with his goofball partner, while behind the wheel of his squad car. It immediately backfires, as he crashes into a dead-end alley and gets ticketed by another police officer.
  • In the Legend Quest: Masters of Myth episode "Gargouille", the team find their way out of the catacombs of Paris by asking Don Andrés for directions. And then, since he has No Sense of Direction, going the other way.
  • Inside Job (2021): Brett does this to himself, oddly enough, when Reagan comes up with a plan to release a clone of President Kennedy so an elderly sniper can kill him and keep his job.
    Brett: Are you sure this is a good idea? It's just, I had this idea, but I decided not to tell you because I was sure you'd think it was dumb.

    Real Life 
  • Allegedly the Monty Python crew, when writing sketches for Monty Python's Flying Circus, would present them to a certain secretary working at the BBC. If she laughed loud and long at one and just kind of shrugged at the other, they went with the one she shrugged at.
  • Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones claims that this was the inspiration for the short Bully for Bugs. Supervisor Eddie Selzer, the studio-appointed successor to Leon Schlesinger, was well-known among the Termite Terrace animators for being wrong about everything.note  So when Selzer walked into Jones's office one day and declared, out of the blue, "Bullfights aren't funny!" (some have speculated that Selzer had seen a particularly brutal one on a recent European trip), Jones knew they needed to make a cartoon about a bullfight.
  • Getting an endorsement from an unpopular person or group falls under both this and Unwanted Assistance (or Damned By a Fool's Praise). According to this Washington Post article, the Romney campaign downplayed George W. Bush's endorsement in order to avoid its use as Anti-Advice.
  • This trope may have played a role in the U.S. 2016 presidential election. According to commentators with views as disparate as Russell Reno and Michael Moore, many Americans have so little confidence in political and media elites that, when these same elites came out so vehemently against Donald Trump, many Americans were thereby convinced that he was an excellent candidate, leading to his electoral success.
  • The Apple Pro Mouse inspired jokes along these lines, due to its design of a single mouse button, long after two- and three-button mice had become the standard on other computers, that was actuated by pressing down on the pressure-sensitive top cover over the entire mouse rather than having a distinct button - people joked that Apple responded to requests to ship iMacs with a two-button mouse by making a zero-button one instead.
  • The "Inverse Jim Cramer" investment strategy applies this concept to comedian and television personality Jim Cramer, doing the opposite of whatever investment advice he doles out.
    • Among conservative viewers, commentator Dick Morris is considered to be wrong every time he makes a prediction, making him a reliable "reverse barometer" similar to Jim Cramer.


Video Example(s):


Pizza Delivery

SpongeBob claims "moss always points to civilization", but Squidward doesn't listen and goes the other way. Then the camera pans to reveal SpongeBob was right -- there was civilization in the direction of the moss.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / AntiAdvice

Media sources: