Distantly related to the Description Cut, the Anticlimax Cut is a scene change where the resolution to a setup is much less exciting, sexy, dangerous, or supernatural than what the audience was led to expect. The resulting Anticlimax is Played for Laughs, making this a Comedy Trope.
For example, Bob's in a tricky situation and at the end of his rope. He announces with much drama to his friends that he's about to head into the lion's den to do battle. Cut to: Bob in Alice's apartment, begging her for a loan.
This may also play on a specific audience expectation: For example, if Bob is the holder of a Dangerous Forbidden Technique and declares that he must now "do something he'd promised never to do again", you can expect some befuddlement when the scene cuts to Bob at his old part-time job as a Burger Fool.
Works very effectively in hybrid genres such as action/comedy or dramedy, as the audience might have a reasonable expectation of something sexy/dangerous/supernatural/etc. happening. In pure comedy, almost any dire pronouncement is liable to end in an Anti-Climax Cut, making them easier to spot coming.
Compare Charge-into-Combat Cut, Description Cut, and Not So Dire. See also Anticlimax. If only the audience perceives any Anticlimax while the characters take it seriously, may overlap with Mundane Made Awesome or Faux Horrific. If the lead in to the cut is about how the Big Bad must be planning something terrible, the cut will be to the Villains Out Shopping.
- The final episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu features the entire class (and, after much Hilarity Ensues, the entire school) being accidentally infected by a biological weapon Sousuke brought to the school. At the episode's climax, Sousuke brings his Love Interest Kaname to the sick room, puts her on a bed, and tells her to strip. Kaname obviously expects a specific trope — until a cut reveals that the 'biological weapon' was an experimental nylon-dissolving bacteria. It only causes light flu-like symptoms in humans, but dissolves practically all clothing on the school grounds. Sousuke brought her to the sick bed because it was the closest source of cotton curtains Kaname could use to stay modest.
- In the 4Kids dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! the scenes in which Yugi, Tristan and Tea are searching for Joey cuts straight to Tristan announcing he's found him while riding away on his motorcycle. (The Japanese version has a scene where Tristan confronts Joey about running away from his sister and punches him to snap him out of his depression, likely edited out due to the "violence")
- In the 2000 remake of Bedazzled (2000), Brendan Frasier's character wants supernatural proof that the Devil is who she claims to be. He wishes for a Big Mac and a large Coke. Cut to...them riding on a bus, then standing in front of a counter at McDonalds, where the Devil orders a Big Mac and large coke, and stiffs Brendan Frasier for the bill. There's a similar scene in the original, except that Stanley wishes for an ice cream, and ends up having to pay for it.
- The Man Who Knew Too Little: In one scene, Wallace tells Lori that he's not completely a good guy, and that if she wants his help, she'll have to do something for him. The dialogue is set up to make the viewer think Wallace is talking about sex...then the scene cuts to Wallace driving Lori's Cooper Mini.
- In Orgazmo, Chode-boy thinks back to the time he vowed never to use his hamster style again. Cut to a little kid telling his father, "I'm not going to do hamster style anymore." "Okay."
- Kung Pow! Enter the Fist uses this in a series of flashbacks, when Master Tang reveals his knowledge of the Chosen One.
Master Tang: He told me there would be a Chosen One
Ling's Father (in flashback): There will be... a Chosen One!
Master Tang: And then he told me of the significance.
Ling's Father (in flashback): It will be...significant!
- In The Muppets Rowlf complains that he wasn't shown in a montage of Muppets being recruited for a revival show. Cut to his scene:
Kermit: "Hey Rowlf, you wanna get back together?"
- In Go, the Victors head to L.A. after their run-in with Simon to take revenge on him. They track down Todd (whose credit card Simon was using) instead. A brutal beat down follows? Nope. Instead, we see Todd and the Victors sitting a table together while Todd draws a map to Simon's place.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World features this as Scott is about to face Nega Scott (a Shout-Out to Dark Link). Scott warms up to take him on: and then it cuts to Scott and Nega Scott talking about having pancakes as they exit the Chaos Theater.
- In 21 Jump Street, Schmidt and Jenko get excited over all the "badass" things they'll be doing after graduating police academy. This is followed by an immediate cut to them patrolling a park on a quiet, peaceful afternoon.
- Garfield: The Movie has Garfield figuring out where to save Odie. Cut to outside, and he's already outside, totally out of breath...and he's barely reached the end of the driveway! So he goes back inside, fuels up on snacks and TV, and then continues his quest.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Harry delivers a Badass Boast to a scumbag at a party and promises him some karmic justice. Instead of an epic fight or beatdown, we cut to the scumbag simply sitting on Harry's chest and slapping him around like a big brother while Harry lies helpless, having apparently put up no fight at all.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tonight, you go into battle! (Cut to Buffy and Giles in the graveyard, bored out of their minds)
- "Witch" (episode 3):
Giles: I make allowances for your youth, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility, and instead of which you enslave yourself to this, this…cult?
(Reveal: Buffy in cheerleader uniform)
Buffy: You don't like the colors?
- "Lessons" (premiere of season 7):
Buffy: Vampires, demons… they're nothing compared to what's coming.
Dawn: I know. I just can't believe it's back.
Buffy: Believe me, I thought I was long past it. I guess you never are. Just a few more days til it starts, and then we'll never know what's coming next.
(Cut to the opening ceremony at the new Sunnydale High School.)
- Giles refuses to let Buffy go on a date because the Anointed One is supposed to rise.
- Dreams are becoming reality, and Giles says they've got to stop it quickly "or else everyone in Sunnydale is going to be facing their own worst nightmares." Cut to Cordelia shrieking over an inexplicable onset of Messy Hair.
- Buffy is talking to her mother on the phone when she hears vampire Spike speaking on the other end. Buffy rushes out without replacing the phone; cut to Buffy's mother pouring hot cocoa for Spike and providing a sympathetic ear while he moans on about being ditched by his girlfriend.
- "Witch" (episode 3):
- Angel ("Underneath"). Eve is saying that Lindsay is trapped in some terrible hell dimension. Cut to Lindsey snuggling in bed with a beautiful blonde. Eve isn't entirely wrong however, as it's revealed to be a Stepford Suburbia with a nasty twist.
- In the troperiffic episode "200" of Stargate SG-1, this is used as a device for explaining how SG-1 is able to get to the Stargate through an army of Goa'uld, in under 30 seconds, before the bomb goes off to destroy the Replicators chasing them. When the SG-1 (who are reading the script) complain, Martin explains the use of "hanging a lantern" to avoid explaining things like that.
- Several of these are used in Scrubs, frequently involving one of the doctors starting a furor or tearing frantically through the hallways as though racing to the side of a coding patient or preparing to receive emergency arrivals from the ER, only for the reason they're running to be revealed as something utterly mundane. For example, the Cold Open of one episode shows JD and Turk dramatically running in semi-slow-mo to dramatic music — they're practicing their slow-motion running. Another involves JD's voiceover proclaiming an incident to be one of the biggest emergencies of his life as he plows through a crowd in a panic to get to a patient's room — where Dr. Cox's young son is getting two stitches in his forehead after falling off the jungle gym.
- A Dilbert strip had this exchange:
Dilbert: We've been dating for a year now, Liz. There's something I'd like to do tonight... there are some needs that I can't fulfill at work.
Liz: I understand.
Cut to: Dilbert and Liz working on his computer.
Dilbert: Yes! Yes!
Liz: How long has your internet connection at work been broken?
- The Order of the Stick
"Pray to what gods you serve that you will be deemed worthy of this rare honor! Find your reserves of courage, warriors, for the Test of the Heart begins—NOW!!"
- #328: After having passed the Tests of the Body and Mind, one guarded by a hydra and the other a riddle, the Order finds themselves face-to-face with the guardian of the final Test of the Heart.
Cut to: Roy in a chair at a doctor's clinic, a stethoscope over his heart.
"Pulse rate is 60... blood pressure is 85 over 60... You pass. Next!"
- Happens again here, when Nale has disguised himself as Elan and wants to find information about the Gates:
Nale: "I need to devise some scheme, some elaborate machination, by which I could unearth more information concerning this gate..."
(cut to Shojo telling the heroes, and Nale, everything about the Gates)
- Irregular Webcomic! lampshades it here, with a link to this page. Despite the link, the actual trope the comic seems to be referring to is Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
- At the end of Book 12 of Schlock Mercenary, Tailor and Ennesby discuss what will happen in Haven Hive after they removed the prior power structure, leaving Shep with a squad of milspec robots to control things. Right after Ennesby predicts some unscrupulous outsider will take charge, it cuts to Shep's mom, in charge, with one of the 'bots holding a tray of lemon bars as she orders the drains vacuumed.
- Episode 36 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged shows us how Vegeta finally managed to become a Super Saiyan.
- In 'Bring on The Thundah!', Jerma985 played up the epicness of his personal favourite map pl_Thundermountain, complete with lightning appearing on the screen for more badass effect, even STAR__ has his steam name changed to THUNDER for this video, only for the server to change the map to cp_Egypt, to Jerma's dismay.
- From Danny Phantom:
Tucker: Looks like we're gonna miss the movie.
Sam: Unless we find some way to ignore all speed limits, red lights, and certain laws of physics.
Closeup on Danny looking sly. Cut to: ...the kids in an RV going about 120 miles an hour, driven by Danny's dad.
Tucker: Couldn't you've just flown us?
Danny: The way my dad drives, this is faster.
- One episode of Family Guy has an obvious Cutaway Gag setup where Stewie complains about missing an awesome F-16 airshow featuring nude cheerleaders performing acrobatics all choreographed to the music of Queen. "I remember that day!" ...cut to Stewie sitting on his couch, bored. "Shoulda gone to that thing."
- A different gag shows "The worst day in that man's life": a man is in Hiroshima late in World War II. He gets splattered with mud by a passing car, finds a parking ticket on his own, and complains that his day can't possibly get any worse. Then he hears a falling noise, sees a shadow form directly underneath him, looks up, and has enough time to yell "Oh... my... GOD!" right before... an ape falls on his face and starts attacking him.
- An older one involves Lois quickly changing the subject at hand to her aunt coming to stay with the Griffin household for exactly one week. One flip cut later, they're standing at the door waving goodbye to Lois' aunt and then returning to the previous plot.
- From Futurama:
Bender: You mean people will pay good money for romance? I think I have a scheme so deviously clever that I— *Smash Cut*
Judge: $500 and time served.
Bender: Stupid anti-pimping laws.
- On The Simpsons, the title family will inherit their Great Aunt Hortense's estate, with the provision that they must first spend the night in her creepy haunted house. "Remember, kids," says Homer as they enter the dilapidated building on a stormy night, "there's no such thing as ghosts." And on that note, we cut to a pleasant sunshiney morning as the happy and well-rested family depart.
Homer: Best night's sleep I ever had!
Lisa: Their tap water tasted better than ours!
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: while working with the Marvel family, Batman is deaging, and Mr Mind has managed to get the Marvels to stop working with each other. Batman, by now a toddler, muses on how he can bring them back together with cunning psychological manipulation...which, since The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, takes the form of using bat-gadgets to send each one a crayon sketch of them fighting while Baby Bats cries in the background. It works.
- The follow-up comic "The Promise" makes this out of Zuko's last scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Zuko confronts his father in prison and demands to know where his mother is. Ozai's response? "Bring me some tea."
- The Fairly OddParents!: When Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda entered a scavenger hunt, one of the items was a Pot of Gold from the 15th century. Timmy commented on how leprechauns are usually protective of their gold. Cut to a leprechaun willingly giving them his pot.
- In the Kung Fu Panda special Secrets of the Furious Five, Po is telling Viper's story to a group of rabbit children:
Po: Now I bet you're wondering... where's the kicking butt?
Po: Patience, o small ones. It begins... NOW!
(scene cuts to a night sky)
Po: Okay, well not right now...
- In Chowder episode "The Flibber Flabber Diet", after Chowder puts on a bigger shirt to feel less fat from all the flibber flabber he's eaten, Mung says that gives him an idea. It then cuts to him being spit in the face by with flibber flabber by Truffles for the umpteenth time, before cutting back and saying he has another idea.
- Rango has an idea where the water source could be and forms a posse. They ride off into the desert, where one of the townsfolk asks where they're going. Rango turns to answer...and because he doesn't know where he's going, they sheepishly head back to town.