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Bait-and-Switch Sentiment

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Mike: We have everything we need to win right here. (Mike puts his hand on his chest.)
Squibbles: (Smiles) Heart.
Mike: No, me! I'm going to win this for us.

Bait And Switch Sentiment describes an instance in which one character assumes that the actions or words of another are done, said for or even refer to a sentimental reason when the opposite is true. For example:

Alice and Bob have had it. No matter how many times Alice tells Bob that his socks don't belong on the floor he just doesn't get the message. No matter how many times Bob tells Alice that there's no point in trying to vacuum the driveway, she insists that it has to be done. Naturally, the two get in a massive argument that culminates with Bob storming out of the house only to reenter seconds later. Alice smiles softly and says "I understand. You came back because you realized that we both have flaws and that it's best to work through them together instead of just running away from them. " Bob responds "No. I forgot my car keys."

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It is important to note that the execution of this trope doesn't require an argument (though it can certainly happen as a result of one especially if the Jerk with a Heart of Jerk or Deadpan Snarker is involved). Gestures that get mistaken for sentimental ones can include anything from a pat on the back to single handedly taking on an army of Mooks. If Alice assumes that Bob is finally confessing his love for her, that's Mistaken Declaration of Love. If Alice assumes that Bob's words demonstrate the depths of humanity's knowledge and wisdom on an often universal level, that's Mistaken for Profound. May often overlap with Poor Communication Kills or even Can't Kill You, Still Need You if the Hero mistakenly believes that the villain has spared him because he might be having a change of heart (or vice-versa). Dialogue based examples often take the form of a Bait-and-Switch Comment. Compare Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?.

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Examples:

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     Advertising 
  • A Jack-In-The-Box commercial features Jack walking up to the concession stand of a movie theater. The vendor informs him that popcorn is seven dollars. Jack protests the price and adds that it isn't even a meal before telling the viewer about a deal at the restaurant. The ad pans back to the movie theater and Jack's wife consoling him, though she admits that she's surprised that a movie would cause him to cry. He responds, "No. I'm still sad about the popcorn."

    Anime & Manga 
  • Yo-Kai Watch features this heavily in "Kyubi: Operation Heartbreak" The titular Yokai is capable of making people fall in love with him at a single glance. He has collected ninety-nine hearts and is endeavoring to collect one more to gain a promotion. He decides that Katie will be the one to give her heart to him before taking the form of a boy her age and attempting to woo her. However, every time Katie gives the signature lovestruck look that indicates Kyubi's powers are working, she turns out to be referring to something else i.e.: the beauty of a rose, remembering that she can just walk around the puddle that Kyubi placed his sweater over and that it was a shorter route home in addition or even remembering that she brought her own umbrella and doesn't need his to shield her from the rain.
  • A very serious example in Fullmetal Alchemist: During Hughes' funeral, Fuhrer Bradley appears to tremble when the deceased's child is crying. When Roy points this out later, Bradley explains he was actually shaking with rage, because he thought her crying was annoying.
  • In Boarding School Juliet, when Inuzuka revealed his taboo relationship with Percia, an enemy soldier, Hazuki pulled him into a hug. Inuzuka thinks she's accepting him for who he is, but actually the 'hug' was Hazuki placing a ceremonial robe on him so he could commit seppuku honourably.

    Comic Books 
  • In an Archie comic, Archie and Betty watch a sad movie. Archie says that he wishes Betty wouldn't cry, but not for the reasons she imagines:
Archie: I wish you wouldn't cry at the movies.
Betty: Because my crying makes you sad?
Archie: No, because it makes the popcorn soggy.
  • Robin Series: At one point Robin and his girlfriend Spoiler were chatting on a rooftop and she missed the point at which he switched from reciprocating in her flirting to worrying about their quarry. When she leaned in for a kiss she nearly landed on her face when he abruptly turned away to swing off the rooftop instead. Luckily Steph finds Tim's dedication to crimefighting endearing rather than annoying and found it hilarious that he completely failed to realize what she was about to do.
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    Film—Animated 
  • Big Hero 6 features an example. Right after Hiro gets into college, Tadashi pulls him aside. Hiro says that he knows what Tadashi is going to say: That he should be proud of himself because he's finally using his gift for something important. Tadashi responds that he was just going to tell Hiro that his fly was down during the entire presentation.
  • Monsters University provides the page quote. The exchange stemmed from Scott's worry concerning how their team would win the scare games. The team was comprised of monsters that were generally considered not to be scary. During the scene, Mike places his hand on his chest, leading Scott to believe he meant "Heart."
  • The Spongebob Squarepants Movie ends this way too. After his adventures, Spongebob gets promoted to manager and this exchange occurs:
    SpongeBob: Wait a second, everybody. There's something I need to say first. I just don't know how to put it.
    Squidward: I think I know what it is. After going on your life-changing journey, you now realize you don't want what you thought you wanted. What you really wanted was inside you all along.
    SpongeBob: Are you crazy? [Grabs manager pin] I was just gonna say that your fly is down! [Squidward's eyes widen] Manager! This is the greatest day of my life!

    Live Action TV 
  • How I Met Your Mother: Ted awakens from a nightmare to find Barney kneeling at his bedside, only to find that rather than being there out of concern, Barney was looking for condoms.
  • In the I Love Lucy episode "Ricky's Old Girlfriend", Lucy dreams that Ricky leaves her for another woman. After walking out of their apartment, Ricky returns, to which Lucy is overjoyed. However, he just came to grab a sock that she had been sewing and walks out again.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • The episode entitled "The Brain Center at Whipple's." The eponymous Mr. Whipple is in the process of overzealously industrializing his company without any regard for how many men he puts out of work in the process. Soon he fires an employee of his named Mr Hanely prompting this dialogue:
      Whipple: Now in spite of the fact that you think I'm some kind of an ogre— some sort of a heartless Scrooge—I'm not going to forget the many years of hard work you put in here for me and my father. I'm going to see that you get an extremely liberal severance pay and what I'm sure you'll agree is a far better than average pension.
      Hanely: That's very generous of you, Mr. Whipple. Now there's something I'd like to give you if you don't mind.
      Whipple: [smiles] No. What is that?
    • "The Chaser" brings us Roger Shackleforth. He is madly in love with a woman named Leila. He calls her constantly and asks to see her. She declines each time prompting this conversation:
      Roger:Well then talk to me! Say something! Say anything.
      Leila: [warmly] Alright Roger...I'll say something Beat Why don't you take a flying jump at the moon?

    Video Games 
  • In the backstory of Thems Fighting Herds, Tianhuo interrupts a gang of bullies so she can hurt their victim more.

     Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Having killed Princess Bubblegum's plant in "Death In Bloom", Finn and Jake venture to the land of the dead to reclaim the plant's soul. While there, they meet a skeleton named Lester who is fascinated by their flesh and calls some others to come look. Finn is wary, but Jake assures him that the skeletons are only gathering around them because they think they're cool. Finn asks if this is true and is told "No! We're gonna rip that flesh off you and eat it!"
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • At the climax of "The Hero", Richard saves Gumball and Darwin and they all cry together. Gumball consoles his father and assures him that he'll always be his hero. Richard remarks that he's only crying because Gumball's claws are digging into his nipples.
    • In an effort to get candy from the store in "The Limit", Gumball announces that there's a free box of Huggy Bites for the first person to hug the blue lady in aisle three. Cue everyone dogpiling on top of Nicole. Astonished, Richard pulls everyone off of her declaring that she is his wife. Nicole smiles, pleased by this gesture but Richard jumps on top of her instead.
      Richard: If anyone's going to win those Huggy Bites, it's me!
    • "The Roots" kicks off with Darwin staring longingly at a big fish tank each time the family enters the pet store. When his family asks why, Darwin makes a remark about how the tank reminds of him of all the fish in the ocean. He declines to speak further and adds that he already said too much. Concluding that Darwin wants to return to the ocean because he misses other fish, the Watterson Family reluctantly complies. Hilarity Ensues until Darwin is forced to reveal that he wasn't staring at the tank longingly because he wanted to go back to the ocean. He was staring at the tank because he was trying to guilt his family into buying it for him.
    • "The Parents" has the titular character sing an entire song about forgiveness and letting go. Nicole and her parents get the alleged message and reconcile. Anais and Darwin congratulate Gumball for this, only for him to say that the song was about how his grandparents owed them a lot of Christmas presents.
  • In the Back to the Future Yet Another Christmas Carol episode, Marty, claiming to be the Ghost of Christmas, takes the local Tannen on a midnight flight to show him the miserable sights of the city so maybe he'll change for the better. After one incident, said Tannen starts crying, but when Marty comments on it, he reveals that it's because what he saw reminded him of a child who still owes him a small amount of money.
  • In an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Warp Darkmatter, Buzz's former teammate until he was revealed to be The Mole, nearly strands Buzz on another planet but changes his mind and comes back saying that he can't leave without Buzz— which touches Buzz at first until Warp clarifies that he literally can't leave without Buzz because Warp doesn't know how to pilot the ship he was going to escape on.
  • Hey Arnold! has an example in the episode "Stinky's Pumpkin.'' Seized by the belief that he's no good at anything, Stinky decides to grow the titular gourd at the behest of a disembodied voice. His efforts culminate into him having the following conversation with his father:
    Pop: Stinky?
    Stinky:Yeah, Pa?
    Pop: I've been watching you out here all day son, and I just wanna say—
    Stinky: That you're proud of me, Pa?
    Pop: No. That I think you're a dang fool for trying to grow something in this forsaken old patch of dirt.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has an episode called "K'nuckles Is A Filthy Rat." In it, Flapjack finds a rat with fleas and decides to keep it as a pet. He names it after Captain K'nucles. Soon, everyone in Stormalong contracts the Bubonic Plague. By then, Flapjack had already decided that it wasn't safe to have a rat for a pet and ventured to Plague Island. He's overjoyed when he spots Captain K'nuckles and all of Stormalong's denizens aboard the ship. His joy increases when K'nuckles tells him "Not one of us can live without you." Flapjack decides to head for home only to learn that K'nuckles meant that statement literally because the doctor requires Flapjack's blood to make an antidote.
    K'nuckles: Didn't mean to get all sentimental there, Flap but I meant we literally can't live without you. Doc needs your blood to make a cure.
  • Phineas and Ferb
    • The following conversation occurs in the episode "Minor Monogram":
      Major Monogram: Carl...Did I ever tell you you're like the son I never had?
      Carl: [Smiles] Really, sir?!
      Major Monogram: Yes, it's because you're so unlike the son that I did have and here he is, come on over here, Monty.
    • In "The Inator Method," the boys decide to race planets on a giant orrery. Isabella is thrilled at the fact Phineas saved Venus for her, but it doesn't last:
      Phineas: I saved Venus for you, Isabella.
      Isabella: Aww, because Venus is the goddess of love?
      Phineas: Actually, I hadn't thought of that, but sure.
    • In "Bee Story" Isabella falls victim once again. This time, Phineas and friends are being served iced tea by Linda:
      Phineas:Isabella, we're having iced tea. You want some, Honey?
      Isabella: What did you say?
      Phineas:I said, We're having iced tea! You want some honey?
    • And Doctor Doofenshmirtz gives one of the patriotic variety as he recounts his immigration story:
      Doofenshmirtz: I was heading to a golden land of opportunity, a land with a pioneering spirit which welcomed misfits like me! But I ended up in America instead.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants:
    • Episode "Dumped." Gary shows a sudden and inexplicable urge to be around Patrick. He keeps covering Patrick with slime and Spongebob tells Patrick that it's Gary's way of showing that he likes someone. After a few moments, Spongebob expects Gary to return but he goes as far as deciding to stay with Patrick from then on. When the episode ends it's revealed that Gary wasn't showing Patrick affection; he just wanted the cookie in Patrick's back pocket.
    • In "Fear of a Krabby Patty", SpongeBob dreams about a talking Krabby Patty.
      Krabby Patty:Remember, SpongeBob, I'll always be with you, [points at his chest] right here.
      SpongeBob: My heart?
      Krabby Patty: Actually, your arteries.
    • In "Neptune's Spatula", after SpongeBob wins a cookoff with King Neptune and now has to live in his castle, Mr. Krabs is crying. SpongeBob thinks it's because Krabs is going to miss him, but it turns out that Krabs bet all his money on Neptune.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • "Lava Lake Beach." Kelly speaks with Marco about how she and her boyfriend Tad have broken up and remarks that he's "still here" before placing her hand on her chest. Assuming that she means her heart, Marco starts into a speech about how Tad will always be there but that it gets easier. Kelly stops him and says that she meant Tad was still on top of her head and hadn't moved out yet.
    • The episode "Starfari", towards the end. Buffrog is made Mewni's new Monster Expert after Star discovers that Jelly Goodwell's sanity was tenuous at best. Star places the "Monster Expert" pin on Buffrog's chest and notices his tears. She remarks "Aww you're crying." He responds "No. The badge. I think you broke the skin a little." Star apologizes and readjusts the badge.
  • Ultimate Spiderman features this trope. In the episode entitled "The Avenging Spiderman," Loki tricks the titular character into switching bodies with him. By the time they switch back, Spiderman's friends are aware of what has happened but still believe that Loki is inhabiting Spiderman's Body. As a result, he avoids their attacks and tells them that Loki would fight back but that he won't. Nova throws a punch that stops only inches from Spiderman's nose, at which point this conversation occurs:
    Iron Fist: The purity of his actions convinced you!
    Nova:[Wafts at air in front of his face] Purity nothing! The real Loki would never travel by sewer!
  • Wander over Yonder features this trope heavily in "The Axe." It is seen most notably when Hater tells Commander Peepers that they've been through a lot together. Peepers agrees and just a moment passes before Lord Hater asks him to keep the pictures but crop himself out of them. The ending subverts the trope. Having realized how much he needs Commander Peepers and given him the best apology he could muster, Lord Hater commissions a statue of Commander Peepers and places it right next to his own on their latest conquered planet.

Alternative Title(s): Mawkish Mistake

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