Alice thinks she's found the house where Bob is. She walks up and rings the doorbell.
Bob looks up as the doorbell rings.
Alice waits for a moment, then rings again.
Bob gets up and goes to the door. He opens it.
Alice looks up as the door opens... and is face to face with some old lady. She's at the wrong place.
Bob finds Chris on the porch waiting for him as a dramatic sting hits.
The Cut Apart is a subversion of the Continuity Editing that the audience is used to seeing. We're led to believe we're seeing the same event from two perspectives, then the Reveal Shot shows that it's two separate events that may be miles apart. In most cases, this is used to get our hopes up (Alice finding Bob would be great) only to destroy them (Chris finding Bob is horrible), but occasionally it's the reverse, and Chris being there is a moment of triumph.
A variation is that the difference is not in space but in time: Alice is actually arriving hours after Chris did and finds only the aftermath.
- In an ad for Metro PCS Communications, the action cuts between a young man and woman who are apparently having an acrimonious break-up over the phone. Then, they reveal that they're on the phone with their wireless provider, canceling their current contracts in order to switch to Metro PCS.
- In Prison School, Kiyoshi accidentally urinates on Hana; the next scene cuts to Meiko drinking water from a tap.
- Eden of the East has a very drawn out one: Osugi is drunk and wandering around the street just as Kuroha is walking down the same street and the episode ends. Next episode we see Osugi with a bondage mask on his face tied to a chair and being threatened by Kuroha, and his friends are unable to contact him but eventually judge an online poster to be him by the pictures of his stuff lying around the room. A couple episodes later it turns out the two never met on the street: the man in the mask was actually a serial rapist that stole Osugi's stuff before getting kidnapped and Osugi had his phone taken away while his new co-workers were making him drink a lot as a sort of initiation.
- Used in Naruto: Sasuke learns that Itachi and Kisame are searching for Naruto in a nearby town, so he dashes off to warn him. He knows that he is traveling with Jiraiya, so he asks every hotel owner he comes across whether they have seen a blonde kid with a tall white-haired man until he finally gets a positive response. He goes up to the room and knocks on the door. The scene cuts to Naruto inside his room hearing the knock while meditating. The scene switches back and forth a couple more times, with Sasuke knocking with increasing urgency until Naruto gets fed up and stands to answer the door. Finally, the door opens for Sasuke revealing... a completely unrelated blonde child and white-haired old man. Immediately after, Naruto opens the door to reveal Itachi.
- Attack on Titan: Mikasa and her parents are expecting a visit from Dr. Jaeger and Eren, and they hear a knock on the door. Cut to Dr. Jaeger knocking on the door. We're led to believe that these scenes occur at the same time...until Dr. Jaeger opens the door to find Mikasa's parents dead and Mikasa herself missing; the people knocking the first time were sex slavers.
- At the end of John Byrne's brief run of the Incredible Hulk Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are getting married in a small ceremony in a small church. At the same time Doctor Samson and Hulk are beating the crap out of each other in the desert (Hulk and Banner were physically separated at this point). It so just happens that there is a small church near them... Eventually a hit from Hulk sends Samson flying right towards the church, and he crashes through it - revealing it's been abandoned for years. Meanwhile, the wedding continues somewhere else completely unaffected by the battle.
- The scene mentioned above in the Naruto example was directly homaged in the fanfic RED when you're led to believe Naruto is bringing Sasuke to shelter at Kakashi's house only for it to reveal that Naruto has brought him to Shikamaru's house and the Red at Kakashi's door begging for help is Itachi coming to ask Kakashi to look out for Sasuke.
- Doug's First Movie uses this when government agents are sent to capture Herman, the Lucky Duck Lake Monster, who is hiding out at Doug's house as Doug and his friend Skeeter are returning to said house. Adding to this, Porkchop and Herman hear someone at the door. However, it turns out that it was Doug and Skeeter at the door; the agents are actually at the wrong house and come across the nerd group Roger had hired to build a robot. Part of the humor of this bit is that one shot features the agents leaping out of a black truck, then cuts to Skeeter commenting on an unusual truck parked in front of Doug's home that has no other importance to the plot for a perfect effect.
- At the beginning of Regular Show: The Movie, Mordecai and Rigby are racing to the park for work while it cuts to Benson rounding up the other employees for the morning meeting. Mordecai and Rigby then arrive and see everyone at the porch, believing they made it on time, but then Benson reveals that the meeting was already over and the scenes with him and the others had occurred ten minutes ago.
- In the Shaun the Sheep movie, when Shaun and Bitzer get caught by Animal Control and end up in the pound, the other sheep work to break them out. A montage shows them wrapping a chain around the bars of a window which they then use to pull the wall down as Shaun and Bitzer hear them working. When the wall comes down, the sheep see...an empty room. They had pulled down the wall of the building next to the pound. Cue Shaun doing a Face Palm.
- Storks: It initially looks like Junior got the baby safely to her new family despite sabotage from Hunter, but the home he's visiting turns out to be a trap set by Hunter, and the family is actually getting a visit from a very stiff-capped inspector about their recent "home renovations" needing to be taken down.
- Famously used to set up the Alone with the Psycho climax in The Silence of the Lambs. The FBI has tracked down Buffalo Bill's residence, and is about the storm the house after drawing him out with a Delivery Guy Infiltration. Bill hears the doorbell ring, walks up to the entrance, and finds only Clarice Starling in front of him, with her colleagues stuck at the wrong address.
- The first The Lord of the Rings film has the positive version, with closeups of sleeping hobbits mixed with Ringwraiths surrounding the beds. When the stabbing begins, we discover the beds were empty and the hobbits were in another room.
- The scene was lifted from the Ralph Bakshi animated film of LOTR made in 1978. Not quite shot for shot but kind of close.
- Collateral uses this, where an assassin is looking for a lawyer, while she gets a phone call warning her. We see him bursting into her office, only to cut and see that she's several floors above.
- Saw II plays this with three separate groups (a police squadron, a private detective, and a pair of escaped victims) who look like they're about to meet. It's soon revealed that none of them are in position to meet each other.
- Saw IV uses the same thing and brings Strahm together with the Jeff from part 3, and Rig with Hoffmann instead.
- Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle has this. There are scenes of some mafia groups making their way to the rooftop of a certain hotel. Then there's a scene of former Angel Madison Lee getting ready to meet them. As the groups gathered at the rooftop, faces to the door, Madison makes her way to a door, ready to meet them. Then the door the groups were waiting at opens to reveal a police inspector who puts them under arrest, then snipers from the surrounding buildings show up and the groups are taken in. Madison meanwhile, opens the door and sees nobody. The gangs had met at the rooftop of the wrong hotel, set up by the Angels.
- Friends with Benefits uses this in the intro. We are lead to believe that Dylan and Jamie are late to a date with each other. However, it is soon revealed that they are late to dates with different people, and that these characters haven't even met yet. In fact, they're on different coasts.
- Depending on how you interpret it, the scene in which Ed Tom returns to the site of Llewelyn's death in No Country for Old Men qualifies. The film cuts between Ed Tom standing outside the motel room's door and Chigurh crouched behind it with a gun, but when Ed Tom opens the door, there's no one inside. The shots of Chigurh could've been in the past, or a figment of Ed Tom's imagination, or other interpretations.
- This trope was Played for Laughs in Kung Fu Hustle. The Big Bad and his gang of mooks go the apartment complex where they expect the hero to be hiding and crowd around a single apartment, slowly opening the door. This is intercut with the hero rising in his own apartment and going towards the door, allowing the viewer to believe that the villains are waiting for him. Instead, the bad guys open the door to an empty apartment and the hero steps out of his apartment on the other side of the complex. Everyone gives each other an awkward blank stare before the final battle commences.
- Played for Laughs in Wayne's World 2. Wayne is told that love interest Cassandra is set to be wed at the First Presbyterian Church. In a scene straight out of The Graduate, Wayne speeds to the church where he bangs on the glass, interrupting the wrong wedding. He goes outside to find that he is actually at the Second Presbyterian Church, directly across the street from the First Presbyterian Church.
- The Fugitive. After Kimball goes home with the waitress, there's a scene of SWAT team storming the house. Well, a house at any rate. It turns out they're raiding the hiding place of the other prisoner who escaped at the same time as Kimball.
- Man of Tai Chi opens with Inspector Sun closing in on Donaka's location with a SWAT team, busting his illegal fighting ring after a great deal of work. However, as she enters the room, turns out Donaka wasn't there (and he leaves her a flower pot).
- Never Say Never Again. Fatima Blush watches as James Bond takes a Girl of the Week up to his hotel room. There's a shot of a remote-controlled bomb under the bed, Bond and the girl smooching on the bed, Fatima pressing the button... and the lovers looking up in shock as a room on the other side of the hotel courtyard explodes.
Bond: Well, it proves we made the right decision.
Girl: About what, darling?
Bond: Your place or mine.
- Johnson Family Vacation starts with a montage of the family getting ready for the trip. We then see that the parents are living in different houses.
- In Species II, infected astronaut Patrick Ross is about to have sex with his girlfriend as the government officers are heading to his house. However, it turns out that Patrick's house is empty and he and his girlfriend were in a cabin in the woods.
- Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation: Ethan Hunt is in hiding from the CIA. Shots of CIA agents sneaking into position around an apartment building are intercut with shots of Ethan obliviously moving around inside his apartment. Then the CIA agents break into the apartment they're targeting, and it's revealed that Ethan has outsmarted them — he's in a completely different apartment, in a different building, in a different city, on another continent entirely.
- In "The Horizon" on Alias, when a pregnant Sydney is kidnapped, her father tracks her down while she's simultaneously making an escape attempt. It seems like he found the right place, but he hasn't, of course; instead he finds something incredibly creepy.
- Used to great effect in the HBO adaptation of Angels in America, as Joe and Harper arguing is intercut with Luis leaving Prior.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- In "Hush", we see Tara knocking on one of the dorm room's doors, and Willow waking up from the noise. The door is opened by one of The Gentlemen holding a bloody heart. This was actually hinted, since Tara had previously found Willow's room number (which isn't the number on the door).
- In "Teacher's Pet" a demon posing as a Hot Teacher has lured Xander to her house. Buffy tracks down her address...only to find the woman whose identity the demon has stolen in order to pose as a teacher.
- Angel. Vampire Hunter Holtz and his men surround a house. They appear to be Just in Time to stop Angelus and Darla killing the women and children within. It turns out the house is empty and Holtz realises after reading a note that the two vampires are at his own house.
- The fifth season finale to CSI uses this trope to deal a Your Princess Is in Another Castle! moment to a rescue operation.
- In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Three Days of Snow," Marshall debates whether or not to pick up Lily at the airport. The end shows Marshall and Lily searching for each other in the airport, only The series' trademark Anachronic Order made it look like their storylines were occurring concurrently but they weren't there the same day: Lily's flight was delayed by two days. They even have a scene of them sitting next to each other, which turned out to be a split-screen.
- Jonathan Creek has a clever variant, where it looks like two people are on opposite sides of a locked door and one even rattles the handle as the other watches, but it later turns out that this was an extremely elaborate trick and they were in two separate locations.
- In season 4, Lost spent a whole episode's flashforward with Sun preparing to have a baby, and Jin buying a stuffed panda for a new baby. It isn't revealed until the final flashforward that the scenes with Jin were flashbacks, with the panda being for the newborn child of the Chinese ambassador and Sun is left to have the baby alone in the future (though it's possible to determine from context that the segments with Jin take place in the past).
- Primeval uses this once.
- The second season premier of Prison Break has Michael saying he has things in "storage." The police chase down a storage unit Michael had rented, while Michael and his crew lift up the rolling door of a unit. The police find an empty unit, while Michael and the crew dig up a coffin Michael had planted with clothing, money, and ID prior to his arrest.
- This is done in Scrubs, when Turk makes it to his wedding just in time...only to find the "priest who looks like Sulu" from the church they agreed against.
- The first scene in Spaced appears to be Tim and Daisy splitting up, with Tim shouting up to Daisy's window. We see at the end of the scene that the two characters are talking to different characters, as Tim leaves.
- Supernatural, "Folsom Prison Blues": Sam and Dean pull a jailbreak and go to the cemetery to destroy the remains of a nurse who is haunting the prison. The FBI is headed to the cemetery to recapture them. The camera cuts back and forth until it's revealed that the FBI was directed to the wrong cemetery.
- Top Gear uses this quite a lot in their "epic race" challenges. In order to ramp up the suspense as to the identity of the victor - despite Jeremy having won all but one of them - the end of the race is often shown in this fashion, showing all three of the presenters converging on the finish line only to reveal that the victor had in fact made their journey a short time - usually a matter of minutes - earlier.
- The opening scene of Coupling, where Steve and Susan walk to the bar whilst chatting with their best friends, makes it seem like they're on their way to meet one another for a date: Steve is planning to break up (again) with his delusional-but-attractive girlfriend, while Susan thinks her boyfriend is going to take their relationship to the next level. Turns out Steve's girlfriend is Jane, and Susan's boyfriend is Patrick.
- Prior to the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, no human had ever seen a Romulan. Yet on Star Trek: Enterprise, Trip and Malcolm somehow find themselves wandering around a Romulan ship, while its commander and his staff monitor them from the control room. When the two get to the bridge, it's deserted, because the control room — the remote control room — is on Romulus.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Waltz," Sisko and Dukat are stranded on an alien planet while the Defiant is on a search-and-rescue mission for survivors from the destroyed ship they were on. Sisko transmits a distress call, and the Defiant is then shown to receive a distress call. They locate two life signs, energize the transporter...and beam aboard two female officers.
- On the first episode of Committed, we see Tess setting up Marni on a blind date with someone she knows. Simultaneously, we see Bowie doing the same with Nathan. Both of them agree to meet their dates in the lobby of Nathan's apartment building. They meet and go to dinner where they discus how they were set up and it's revealed they don't know the people who set the other one up on the date. Cut to the lobby and their actual dates pacing around.
- In episode "Skin" of Almost Human, Dorian, Kennex and team begin searching Yuri's nightclub which is where they believe the "skin lab" is located. Simultaneously we see Yuri, his henchman and the doctors in the "skin lab" packing up their gear in a panic. After kicking in the last door, the police realize they are in the wrong place.
- 12 Monkeys has the time travel variant in "Yesterday" Cassie approaches the blast site as Cole is pulled from the ground, but it turns out Cole has been shifted two years into the future.
- Occurs in The 100 where we're led to believe that Clarke (having just escaped the Grounders) is about to run into the search party that's out looking for her. However, she ends up getting caught in a snare, and the moving bush that the search party has spotted contains someone else entirely.
- Used in "Assignment Three" of Sapphire and Steel when Sapphire and Steel finally enter the top floor flat, revealing that the time travellers are not actually in that flat but in an invisible capsule on the roof of the building.
- Used in the third season of Bron|Broen, when the SWAT team raid Aleks's house looking for Petersson, the senior cop that he's kidnapped, but Aleks and Petersson are in a different building, and simultaneously the Big Bad forces his way into it, shoots Aleks and kidnaps Petersson a second time.
- Helix: Played with in "San Jose". Julia and a CDC expedition consisting of Sarah, Peter and Kyle arrive on the island separately. After Julia has been captured by a mask-wearing native and is about to be tortured, her former friends are just about to burst into the building where she's apparently been kept, only to find an empty room. The thing is, it is the exact same building: the actual reveal is that these events are set 30 years apart, as demonstrated by a transition shot of the sped-up decomposition of an animal corpse over that period (Julia, being immortal, would have shown no signs of aging during that time period).
- In the Supergirl episode "Rather the Fallen Angel", Manchester Black being taken to the leader of the Sons of Liberty is interspersed with Ben Lockwood in an office writing his latest hate speech. As Manchester and the Sons arrive at a door, we cut to Lockwood hearing a knock ... and it's a production assistant for the TV studio he's at. We then cut back to Manchester meeting a fake Agent Liberty.
- At the beginning of an episode of the 2000 reboot of The Fugitive, Kimble is seen breaking into a boat and ransacking it for food before taking a nap. At the same time, we see Gerard and his wife and daughter walking down a dock, preparing for a day out. The door to the boat's cabin flies open, startling Kimble. . . and it turns out Gerard and his family are hundreds of miles away, while Kimble has just been discovered by two completely different cops. He pretends to be a random drifter, but has to flee when they realize who he really is.
- While it is not a camera trick, this is the entire story told by the song "Silhouettes", where the guy is complaining how he can see his girlfriend in silhouette through the shade in her living room, dancing with another man, until he gets so disgusted he bangs on the door, only to discover two different people open the door, and he's on the wrong block! This is an aversion of an idea previously (and later) used by other songs called "Two Silhouettes" in which the other silhouette is another man.
- The video for Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" uses this to good effect. Male singer sits outside hotel room door, female singer inside hotel room. He reluctantly leaves, and is sitting in a coffee shop, she's in a cab going by a coffee shop. Cab pulls away, he leaves shop and is running down the sidewalk in the same apparent direction. He runs through a door and bursts into a party, scans the crowd looking for someone, then she runs through the same door and bursts into the same party, scans the same crowd. He spot his goal, his eyes light up, and we see...a completely different girl. Female singer similarly spots the completely different guy she was searching for.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Not exactly "far apart", but the strip "Speaking from the Heart" plays with people's expectations.
- In "Saved By The Belt", Blackwing is flying high into the air with Roy's Belt of Giant Strength while he is in a life or death struggle with Thog. Blackwing then drops the belt, which lands on...Mr. Scruffy, who is cornered by a huge dog, the belt giving him the strength to send it flying through a wall. Ironically, this ends up making things worse for Roy as he was started to get the upper hand against Thog, only for the sight of the injured dog to make Thog angrier and overpower Roy again.
- This is a frequent source of comedy in Dork Tower.
- One story begins with Gilly and Matt each preparing for a blind date. We then see them at a table talking, and seeing how they share lots of common interests and hobbies. The final panel shows that they are actually sitting at two different tables, each talking to someone else who think their hobbies are weird.
- Inverted in another story, where Matt starts off talking to Ken about how Gilly is his ideal girl, while Gilly's brother Walden is talking to a stranger about finding a Nice Guy for her. After a page and a half, it's revealed that Matt and Walden ended up talking to each other, not realizing that they're both referring to the same girl... or how Matt would be perfect for her.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- "Imprisoned": The Gaang are in a Fire Nation-controlled village, worried about getting caught. Fire Nation troops walk around menacingly as they sleep, the troops then knock on a door... which is opened by Haru, a friendly kid they met earlier in the episode.
- "Lake Laogai": Team Avatar opens the door to where they think Appa is, Appa looks up at the opening door to see... Zuko. Team Avatar meanwhile encounters Long Feng and the Dai Li agents. A mild lampshading follows as Zuko snarks, "Expecting someone else?"
- The second Futurama movie, "Beast With A Billion Backs" shows Brannigan's ship, the Nimbus, fighting fruitlessly against the tentacled creature while Brannigan narrates. We then find out he's piloting the ship by remote in an Applebees on earth.
- Done in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, during the episode "Secret Snake Club". A group of nerds are performing a ritual to summon a giant snake, using the power of Grim's scythe. They then hear the door open. Billy (who, being trained by the CIA for the entire episode, is now an agent) comes in to arrest... a macrame club headed by Irwin. The snake nerds are interrupted by one of their brothers.
- On The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Drama Queen", Lisa and her new friend Juliet are hiding out in an abandoned castle-shaped restaurant. Marge realizes where they are and the family goes to get her. As the Simpsons arrive to the restaurant, Lisa and Juliet see their silhouettes through the stain glass window. The door opens and... it turns out Marge had gone to the wrong castle-shaped abandoned restaurant; what Lisa saw was Dolph, Kearney and Jimbo wearing hats that made them look like Homer, Marge and Bart.
- In one episode of Camp Lazlo, Lumpus, trying to get proof that Lazlo, Raj and Clam were behind pranks pulled on him, convinced Lazlo to prank 'the big moose' while he was asleep. A sequence then showed Lumpus sleeping while the Jelly Scouts were sneaking into a room, ending with Lazlo spraying shaving cream on an obscured figure with antlers. It then Smash Cuts to a scene where Lumpus's face is obscured and all the campers are freaking over how disgusting it looks. Then in a hilarious Reveal Shot, it's shown that his face is still the same (meaning that all the campers find him naturally hideous). Turns out that Lazlo thought Lumpus meant the big moose head in the cafeteria, and he and the others 'pranked' it by giving it a shave and haircut.
- In Phineas and Ferb episode "Mom's In The House", Candace tries to get Linda to look out the window to see the giant robot platypus that the boys built, only for her to somehow go from one room to another without Candace seeing her. It's eventually revealed that the two were in different buildings. One of Doofenshmirtz's inators accidentally duplicated their house.