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Dramatic Irony

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Dr. Chilton: [A patient] tells everyone that you are a monster.
Dr. Lecter: [smiles] Well, in that case, you're dining with a psychopathic murderer, Frederick.

Some tropes, such as the Unreliable Narrator, ensure that the audience is never quite as well informed of the truth as the characters are (or, at least, one particular character). Dramatic Irony, or Suspense as it is also known, turns that on its head, letting the audience see the whole picture when The Protagonist, or even the entire cast, is kept largely in the dark. You, the viewer, are actually ahead of the characters.

Fat lot of good it does us though. When dramatic irony crops up, it's usually not to let us feel smugly superior; instead it's to toy with our fragile little emotions. If we're lucky, the emotion being manipulated will be amusement. In serious situations, dramatic irony will be present to make us squirm and bite our fingernails in anxiety, since we can see the danger coming but cannot communicate this knowledge to the characters in order to save them.

To really fit the definition though, one of the characters must make a statement, or perform an action, to fully illustrate that they are unaware of the situation. To the character, what they're saying or doing is perfectly sensible based on the knowledge they have. To the audience though, the statement or action is ludicrous or dangerously uninformed.

There are three main uses of Dramatic Irony (quite apart from the unintentional result of making things more Spoilerproof):

  • To create tension: Hank has left a Time Bomb under a restaurant table that will go off late that evening. The audience saw him leave it there, but none of the characters have noticed. Bob and Joe are dining at that table that very evening. If they finish early they will live, but if they take a dessert it could be their last one ever. This ramps up the suspense because the audience must wait to find out if Bob and Joe will die in the explosion or not.
  • To make the audience cringe on the character's behalf: Alice did really well in the audition for the school play, clearly outclassing her Alpha Bitch rival Tiffany. But unknown to Alice, Tiffany's mother is in charge of casting. Alice runs up to her nemesis to gloat. Meanwhile, the viewers are cringing uncomfortably, because they know that Tiffany is about to laugh in Alice's face, since Tiffany got the part through her connections and is just waiting for the chance to knock Alice down a peg.
  • For comedy: Popular in farces, especially those involving twins where no-one can remember who's who or in comedies where someone's cross-dressing. For example, Bob's girlfriend has just dumped him. He complains about the fickleness of women to his new best friend Adrian, remarking that they, as men, are much more sensible, and that he can rely more on Adrian than he can any woman. Bob is unaware that Adrian is really Alice in disguise. The audience, on the other hand, know Adrian's real identity, and so Bob's comment seems ironic.

This trope is a staple of theatre, thanks largely in part to the mechanics of that particular medium. Characters move on and off stage, but the audience stays in place. They're the only ones who stick around long enough to hear the "whole story". In the theatre, however, there's usually one other party who knows what's going on, especially if it's a Tragedy — and that is the villain.

Classic theatre usually favours tense or comedic use of dramatic irony. Modern media is more likely to employ the "cringe factor" variation, which walks the line between tragedy and comedy.

A character's Hidden Depths are often a source of Dramatic Irony. Gave Up Too Soon can also often overlap, in cases where the audience knows how close the character is to success before they give up. A favorite trick of time-travel or historical works; see It Will Never Catch On. Foregone Conclusion or Doomed by Canon often result in this. May end with an Internal Reveal. The opposite is Tomato Surprise, when the characters know something that the audience doesn't know. Innocent Inaccurate is a sub-trope.

A type of Irony.

Compare Dramatically Missing the Point. Contrast "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot, where the drama come from them catching on to the Dramatic Irony too late. This trope is not "general irony, Played for Drama".


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    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 5 episode 37, Sweet S. wants to see Doctor H. again and sees who she thinks might be him, but loses where he is. She eventually comes across him during a monster battle, and he ends up being hit by one of the monster's attacks that was meant to hit Sweet S.; she completely does not recognize him due to him being infected by the Planet Gray virus, though, and later mistakes Big M. dressed as Doctor H. for the real thing.
  • Lamput: In Season 3's "Wig", the audience is shown that Fat Doc's "crush" is just Slim Doc with Lamput for hair, while Fat Doc himself doesn't know and is legitimately frustrated when his love is seemingly nowhere to be seen.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders, the goats get a new dog as a Team Pet. The viewers are aware that the dog is actually the villain Wolffy in disguise, but the goats are not aware of the dog's identity.

    Comic Books 
  • All-New Wolverine: Henry is unaware that Martin Sutter is not his biological father, and that his biological father Zander Rice sent X-23 to kill his parents to gain total control of the project for himself, and cover up the affair with his mother Rachel.
  • Animosity: The last Jesse ever sees of Kyle, he was gunned down by the Headmistress in front of her. The last we ever see of him, we learn he survived a while longer, only to eventually be killed by Sandor instead for threatening to expose his secrets. When Sandor and Jesse reunite, Jesse tells him how she saw Kyle killed by the Headmistress, and confides how much she cared about him while Sandor stands silently at her side.
  • Asterix: As the Big Bad is Julius Caesar, this is indulged in frequently with the comic's portrayal of Brutus. Since the comedy in Asterix is mostly very light-hearted and stabbing your best friend to death doesn't fit that, it's played for Refuge in Audacity, with Brutus being never shown without a dagger, which he constantly fiddles with and occasionally injures himself with. Caesar will frequently go on to explain just how much he values Brutus as his most trusted friend and confidante (although he's shown with significantly higher intelligence and judgement other than with Brutus). Brutus is so much all about this that he's almost a Living Prop for much of the comics, before suddenly and gloriously emerging in Asterix and Son to succeed in destroying the Undefeatable Little Village.
  • Astro City:
    • Cammie in "Pastoral", bitter about being shipped off from Astro City to spend the summer in the countryside with relatives, resentfully thinks that they would not think so highly of their local superhero Roustabout if they could compare him to a real Astro City superhero — like Crackerjack, who not only (unlike Roustabout) has no superpowers but also is an arrogant Glory Hound (also unlike Roustabout).
    • Similarly, when Brian longs to be a hero for the respect, he sees Crackerjack in action and thinks he gets respect in spades — unaware that his Jerkass ways mean he gets less than even his exploits would ordinarily merit in the superhero community.
    • In "Shining Armor", Irene Merriweather recalls how her dogged determination to learn Atomicus' secret identity ended up driving him away forever. Yet, despite her investigative skills, she fails to notice that her daughter is now the Badass Normal superhero called the Flying Fox.
  • Aquaman story The Atlantis Chronicles get a lots of mileage out of the fact that the text-boxes are directly from the Atlantis Chronicles, but the events on-panel are what actually happened. This is generally played for laughs, but it turns horrific at the end of one volume, where the chronicler notes that the princess was reportedly frigid on her wedding night, and chalks it up to nerves (it being her first time and all). The reader, however, knows that she had been raped the previous night.
  • The Avengers: In The Avengers (Kurt Busiek), Carol Danvers refuses to tell the team about her recent depowering because she believes this will scupper her chances of staying on during a reshuffling. As she does, we see Cap suggesting Carol for the team precisely because he can tell she wants on so badly. For added irony, Carol's reaction to her depowering eventually leads to her being booted off the team for real.
  • In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, the Joker could not help but note the irony that his children were born in the crypt where Laffy was buried, the place where his persona (and by extension, the legendary history between him and Batman) was born.
  • Concrete: The Human Dilemma: Concrete is hired to be a spokesperson for a radical and controversial population control program on the basis that he is "sterile, race-neutral, and childless." It was established back in An Armchair Stuffed With Dynamite that people can tell that Concrete wasn't formerly of their race, and he somehow becomes pregnant literally the night before accepting the job, thus negating the other two reasons he was hired as well. Maureen suggests drilling into the swelling on his back. Only the audience know it's his offspring, and for a few tense panels are left to worry about its fate.
  • Dark Web opens with Ben Reilly and Madelyn Pryor- corrupted clones of Peter Parker and Jean Grey- seeking to claim the memories of their templates. Madelyn is ultimately given the memories she wants by Jean, but Ben has resorted to so many amoral actions to steal Peter's memories (Ben having been corrupted by the Beyond Corporation and his memories erased to deprive him of the moral compass they provided) that even if he succeeded he probably wouldn't be any happier with himself.
  • The Dresden Files: In Down Town, Harry thinks about how glad he is that Molly can't read his mind. Yeah, about that...
  • The Magnificent Ms. Marvel: In the prologue, the storyteller's descriptions of the Destined One and her deeds are juxtaposed by the opposite of each description happening — he describes her boldness as she panics while a villain shoots at her, her noble and solemn bearing as she gags over the smell of a spilled dumpster, and the respect she commanded among her people as a store owner chews her out for thrashing his shop.
  • Basically any time a superhero keeps a secret identity, it will lead to this trope. Think of all the instances where someone judged Peter Parker for not being around when a supervillain attacked, not knowing he was present as the Amazing Spider-Man, the times people misconstrued Superman or Batman's true identities, or the many times where someone badmouthed Iron Man and said he was just a hired bodyguard, not realizing they were talking to the CEO of Stark Enterprises under the mask.
  • Superior Spider-Man: During this run, very few people realize the truth behind who is currently under the mask, despite Octavius barely even trying to hide it. Even when Spidey takes people badmouthing the (believed to be deceased) Doctor Octopus very personally, most of his allies think it's a result of Due to the Dead, or seeing Octavius as a Worthy Opponent. The readers alone realize that it's because he is Octavius.
  • Green Lantern book Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps has the next example: In the "Prism of Time" arc Kyle suggests he and Soranik watch Terminator because the of the time travel in the arc. The Big Bad of the arc, Sarko, is the child of Kyle and Soranik from the future, not unlike the time tangled Conner family of the Terminator franchise.
  • Judge Dredd: In the "Origins" prequel special, we're shown young clone brothers Joseph and Rico Dredd as trainee Judges. During one of their assignments they hang back for a brief moment, promising each other that they'll always stay together no matter what. It's already established in the comic's chronology that Rico will eventually turn evil and die by Joe's hands.
  • Triumph of Justice League of America Task Force was involved in a positively brutal incident of dramatic irony. After his life falls apart, Triumph considers consummating a Deal with the Devil to get the years of his life he lost back. Instead of signing a contract or anything like that, all Triumph has to do is light a specific candle the devil had given him. Despite the fact that Triumph had been kind of a dick lately (or, you know, always), Ray and Gypsy show up in the nick of time to tell him how important he is to them, not knowing about the candle. Triumph, touched, decides not to sell his soul and flies off, leaving Ray and Gypsy to admire the statue of fallen teammate Mystek Triumph had made during his deliberation. Then Ray finds the candle, and they notice that it fits perfectly into Mystek's arms. Of course, Ray decides to light it as a tribute to Mystek.
  • Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four: The Thing laments at how none of the mole men of subterranea listened to his advice about independence and not blindly listening to just one leader, and comments on how if only just one of them had listened, it would have all been worth it. While he's saying this, the reader (but not Ben) gets to see a single young mole man burrowing out of the ground and into the world of man.
  • The Mighty Thor: After Loki's original treacherous self spent decades trying (and failing) to kill Thor, his younger innocent self is the one who succeeds. While trying to help Thor.
  • My Friend Dahmer is full of this, being a documentary on the high school years of the notorious killer. In particular, the author lampshades this after the community discovers a dissected dog carcass by having his own Author Avatar (who knew Dahmer closely at this time) suggest it was cult activity, because 'who else could it be?'
  • In Red Hulk, the titular character is hounded by General Fortean, who believes Red Hulk killed Fortean's mentor, namely General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross. The irony of this situation is not lost on Red Hulk, who is Ross. He's all too aware of how Fortean follows in his footsteps.
  • Rivers of London: In Night Witch, only the readers know the full extent of Lesley May and the Faceless Man's involvement in the plot. The Yakunins go to them for help after Varvara Tamonina turns down their offer, but after Lesley's advice that they should pressure the Folly by trying to take Beverley Brook — Peter Grant's girlfriend and, more importantly, a river goddess with mind control powers — hostage goes predictably awry, the Yakunins and company stop working with them. However, the readers are informed that Lesley's purpose in doing so was to, on her boss' advice, manipulate the Yakunins into acting in ways that would benefit her, which is realized when she steals the ransom money. The police, including Peter and Nightingale, never find out, and at the end, the two even wonder who stole the ransom… followed by a panel of Lesley looking over the city.
  • Runaways (Rainbow Rowell) has pulled this a few times:
    • When the team tries to "rescue" Klara and she refuses to come back, Gert insists that being with the Runaways is much safer than staying in foster care, unaware that Victor is slowly turning into Victorious, Nico is gradually being possessed by the malevolent spirit in her staff, and the team is being hunted by the Seed, children of their old enemies the Gibborim.
    • Gert and Victor's whole relationship is based on Gert's assumption that Victor is the only boy on the team that Nico never got her hooks into. She is completely unaware that Nico and Victor hooked up after Gert's death.
    • The entire "Canon Fodder" arc is this: Gert, smelling a rat, discovers that the J-Team the other Runaways have joined is actually just a massive publicity stunt for their leader, Doc Justice; he gathers kids and teens, suit them up as heroes and, when he feels that the populace has ignored them, has them killed for sympathy points by using them as C-List Fodder. Seeing as this is the same exact thing that has gone on with the Runaways since Gert was killed, it's fitting that she's the one who discovers this.
  • Sin City: In "That Yellow Bastard", Hartigan goes looking for Nancy Callahan, and is shocked to learn that the girl he once saved is now a drop-dead gorgeous stripper, clearly expecting a homely bookworm instead. The thing is, this is a surprise only to Hartigan, as Nancy had been a supporting character in previous volumes, so readers were already aware of her future.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: It's never outright stated, but there would be few in the audience who don't know that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are different identities of the one and same person, which adds copious amounts of this to the romantic entanglements Mary Jane Watson gets into regarding them.
    • Spider-Man: Life Story: Par for the course with Flash Thompson; he proclaims that the reason he's signing up for Vietnam is because it's what Spider-Man would do. Right to Peter's face, who is contemplating the decision.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In "Immortal Wounds", Spock is highly doubtful that the katra can be transferred to another person through a mind meld. More than 30 years later, as was established in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Spock transferred his katra to Dr. McCoy before he made his Heroic Sacrifice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Star Wars: Kanan: Depa Billaba gives Caleb a lecture on how important it is to rule one’s emotions and not let one's emotions rule them. It’s at the most hours before Anakin Skywalker lets his emotions get the better of him and chooses to pledge himself to the dark side, in a desperate attempt to save his wife.
    • Star Wars (Marvel 2015) shows the canonical first duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Luke tells Vader that the Sith Lord murdered his father (without giving any more details), while Vader demands that Luke lead him to the pilot that destroyed the Death Star or he would join his father in death. Naturally, Vader is unaware that Luke is the pilot he's looking for, while both of them are utterly clueless that in this particular case it would be impossible for Vader to have killed Luke's father, since he is Luke's father.
  • Superman:
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Lex Luthor sees himself as the man who talked Batgirl into opening Gotham after keeping her city closed off during one decade. However it is Supergirl who manages to do this when she befriends Batgirl. Even in universes where Luthor gets rid of Superman, the Man of Steel and his family always manage to wreck his plans.
    • In Many Happy Returns, Superman meets Pre-Crisis Supergirl, but he thinks she is an obsessed fan, so he tells her to go home because it's too dangerous for her. He doesn't know it but she is way more powerful than him. Likewise, he tells her that she will get herself killed if she keeps it up. In this instance, he is tragically right. Being a hero got her killed.
    • In Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus accurately diagnoses that Lex Luthor is insane... without realizing he himself is definitely not a paragon of sanity.
    • In All-Star Superman, Lex Luthor admits to have always liked Clark Kent, precisely because how flawed and human he is, unlike Superman.
      Luthor: I've always liked you Kent. You're humble, modest, uncoordinated: Human. You're everything he's not.
    • At the start of Who is Superwoman?, the titular villain insists that she's conspiring against Kryptonians only because she wants to help her family. As readers are aware, though, her sister Lois Lane married Superman; hence, Superwoman doesn't know she's trying to murder her brother-in-law and his cousin.
    • In Last Daughter of Krypton, Kara, who used to complain about her father and her uncle's unwillingness to sort their differences out, spends months dodging and avoiding talking to her cousin.
    • Superman vs. Shazam!: It never occurrs to Karmang that if he had explained to the Superman and Marvel Families why he needed the energy of two exploding Earths -instead of tricking them into fighting each other while attempting to destroy their home worlds-, it is certain that they would have helped him find a solution which did not entail the obliteration of inhabited planets.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, the protagonist Usagi knows that Jotaro is really his son. Jotaro learns from his mother that Usagi is really his father. Neither thinks the other knows (though the audience knows that both know), and both struggle with whether to tell the other the truth, as they both believe that doing so will destroy the other's happiness (Usagi doesn't want to destroy Jotaro's relationship with his step-father Kenichi, who his mother Mariko married. Jotaro doesn't want to make Usagi feel like he needs to settle down to raise Jotaro, as he knows Usagi feels that his place in life is on the road.)
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Diana and Steve don't realize the Amazons they're dealing with in issue 11 aren't real until they don't recall someone Steve met the first time, but readers might have noticed a bigger clue: Hippolyta's entire appearance is dramatically different (flashback!Hippolyta has black hair and a more Greek appearance, while the Hippolyta of Azzarello's run has blonde hair and looks more Caucasian).
  • X-Men Forever reveals that Homo superior — mutants — aren't the Superior Successor to humanity, but a flawed creation whose powers end up burning out their lives.

    Eastern European Animation 
  • Gypsy Tales: "The Gypsy Woman and the Devil" ends with Vunida's children searching for their mother, not knowing as the audience and the wise old man do that the devil has turned her into a cherry tree near their house.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Franchise: The story ends with Muller believing his answers are an expression of a public, political vote. Readers, on the other hand, are expected to notice that Muller is never asked a question about political platforms or political candidates. The story is a Satire on the idea of computer programs being used to model elections.
    • It's Such a Beautiful Day: The story emphasizes the irony inherent in Mrs Henshaw forcing Richard to leave the house through the normal door because after that day she tries forcing him to use the Portal Door instead.
    • "Lenny": After Lanning declares that no harm can come of letting Dr Calvin work with the LNE prototype, the narration specifically takes time to point out how he was wrong, explaining that the 'Robot out of control' alarm has been activated for the first time in the history of U. S. Robots.
      In that, if in nothing else, he was wrong.
    • "Not Final!": After Prosser has reassured Nicholas Orloff that the Jovians cannot escape Jupiter because making force fields strong enough to hold an atmosphere against the vacuum of space is impossible, two other characters are talking about how happy Orloff will be to be the first passenger in a spaceship with a force field instead of a steel hull.
    • "Robbie": The audience is shown the Westons deciding to move to New York City without Gloria's input. Mrs Weston notices Gloria is back to her cheerful self, and is very proud of her idea until Gloria reveals that she knows her parents are moving to the city to use detectives in finding Robbie.
    • "Spell My Name with an S": When Dr Zebatinsky changed his name to Dr Sebatinsky, government officials started checking into his background and ancestry to see why he had changed his name in that way. They were suspicious that he might be a "subversive", someone who is willing to work for enemy countries. After moving him to a college job, he tells his wife that his concern about being investigated as a subversive was obviously wrong, and it must have been the college using subtle methods to interview him.
    • "The Fun They Had": The Title Drop is a child in a future of remote learning and homeschooling reflecting on how much fun it must have been to go to a big building filled with other kids. Asimov was surprised to discover that some of his readers believed that school was the Best Years of Your Life and missed the irony.
  • Sue Townsend uses this a lot in her Adrian Mole books, to great (mostly) comedic effect. Particularly remarkable in that the books are diaries, but she is able to convey information Adrian is unaware of through his own clueless descriptions of what (to him) are baffling events. For instance, finding something called "Predictor" in the bathroom ("I hope my mother is not dabbling in the occult"), hearing her tell his father "it's positive", receiving mysterious phone calls from "the Clinic", her being sick in the mornings ("It serves her right for drinking") and being directly asked if he'd like a brother or sister ("Why do they keep drivelling on about kids? I hope they aren't thinking about adopting one.") and still being utterly astonished when he finally learns his mother is pregnant.
  • Harry Turtledove's "Trantor Falls": The end of the story have the Second Foundation characters remarking how unlikely it would be for someone else to discover the mind-touch, which is exactly what happens in "The Mule".

By Work:

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: A short story that was collected in the first short story collection explains that Philine's family is so poor that she wears commoner clothes on days on which she doesn't expect to leave her home. The most obvious difference beteween the higher end of commoner clothing and the lower end of noble clothing is that noble clothing always has its buttons in the back rather than the front, thus requiring the help of another person to close. The story involves Philine coming face to face with Damuel while wearing her "at home" clothes and trying to hide the front buttons out of embrrassment. Damuel is a "knows she's a commoner" level Secret-Keeper for Rozemyne, whom Philine only knows under her noble identity, and is used to quite a few commoner-typical things by that point.
  • Happens quite a lot in Buddenbrooks. For example, if Sesemi wishes people good luck or happiness, they always tend to become unlucky and unhappy in their lives.
  • Captive Prince: Very appropriately, considering Akielon culture is based on Ancient Greece, the reader figures out long before Damen that Laurent was raped by his uncle, a fact that the perpetrator reveals at the most devastating time possible.
  • Chapters presented from the killer's point of view are presented throughout the novel Career of Evil. Towards the end of the novel, after Robin is confronted by the killer when trying to investigate him, another of these point of view chapters confirms that yeah, it was him, in case the reader hadn't figured it out already.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • On several occasions, a science-side character encounters magic and either doesn't believe it exists, or tries to explain it in scientific terms (e.g. as the result of esper abilities). As the name of the series would suggest, the reader knows that magic exists from the very first book.
    • Touma saved Fiamma of the Right's life at the end of World War III. Almost everyone else is unaware of this, to the point that someone refers to Fiamma of the Right in past tense in front of Touma.
    • When Touma fights Rensa, she's never heard of him and assumes he's an ordinary guy. She dismisses him as a spoiled punk who is trying to play at being a hero. She angrily says he knows nothing of suffering and loss, unlike her, a woman who lost everything and was turned into a cyborg, and that he has no idea about Academy City's dark side. Little does she know that at this point in time, Touma has saved the world several times, experienced the hidden dark sides of Academy City and the magic side, and lost his right arm four times. Although the arm regenerates when it's cut off, so that last part wasn't an unreasonable conclusion to make.
  • Iain M. Banks' The Culture: Double-layered in Look to Windward: Masaq' Orbital and its inhabitants welcome the Chelgrin Major Quilan as a guest, even though his story in flashbacks unfolds his mission to destroy the Orbital. Meanwhile, any familiarity with the Culture and its sharper ends means the reader thinks that they must have seen the Chelgrin plot coming miles away, and he surely doesn't stand a chance.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: When Greg looks at the cover of Charlotte's Web, he predicts neither the girl nor the pig will make it to the end of the book. They both do. It is the spider that dies.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Subverted in Blood Rites. Harry constructs a counterspell spanning the whole building he's in, and when one of the villains confronts him, he and the reader are feeling pretty smug, because the other villains are about to launch the spell, and get it sent back in their faces. Then he's told the counterspell has already been dismantled.
    • Played straight in the short story Bombshells. Molly, who is the POV character, laments carrying The Chains of Commanding, and wistfully thinks that Harry always knew what to do, and all she can do is make wild-ass guesses and play it by ear. Since most of the rest of the series is told from Harry's perspective, we know "Indy Ploy and wild-ass guessing" are pretty much Harry's standard MO, but of course his hero-worshipping apprentice doesn't see it that way.
  • In the Emberverse novel Prince of Outcasts, protagonist Orlaith is very much attracted to Alan Thurston, nephew of Boise ruler Fred and son of Fred's late, treacherous brother. She attaches no significance to the name of his home or to the yellow-and-black symbol on his gear, but as the novel goes on the audience realizes that both the name and the symbol are associated with the power behind the evil forces her brother John is facing in the Ceram Sea. (Informed readers will link both to the Cthulhu Mythos.)
  • Empire from the Ashes: In the third book, after the destruction of Imperial Terra, the reader is well aware that the Crown Prince, his twin sister, and their three best friends are alive, although out of contact with the Fifth Imperium, due to some commands Dahak decided to put in Terra's computer. It isn't until the very last scene of the book that the aforementioned AI and the kids' parents actually learn this, however. And the Big Bad who was responsible for the assassination attempt ultimately never finds out.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Furyborn makes it clear from the get go that Rielle will become the Blood Queen. This makes her struggles during the Sun Queen trials all the more tragic: she's desperate to believe that she's a savoir but the audience knows that she will wind up believing the worst of herself.
  • A Fly Went By: While we find out about a character's innocence at the same time the boy does, the character who runs in fear of them never finds out until the end.
  • Friends Snake And Lizard: The animals frequently talk about "monsters" and how humans climb out of them as though they'd been eaten by them, and how the "dead" ones get "taken away" by larger monsters. We the readers know that the "monsters" are just cars and trucks.
  • A Frozen Heart, a tie-in novel to Disney's Frozen (2013), ends with Anna deciding that, since she and Elsa want Hans out of sight and out of mind as soon as possible, the best possible punishment for him is to send him back to his family. Though Hans said three of his brothers were bullies who pretended he was invisible for two years, after all his lies and manipulation, she doubts they are as bad he claims. However, not only was this something he didn't lie about, it turns out his family is actually more monstrous and violent.
  • Fox Demon Cultivation Manual: Played for laughs every time Song Ci says something positive about Rong Bai or something negative about the Demon King, unaware they're the same person. Especially when he thinks Rong Bai — the freaking Demon King, who's feared even by other demons — is good-tempered and gentle.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fall of Gondolin: While Morgoth's forces are razing Gondolin to the ground, Tuor leads a host of survivors towards the hills. Suddenly, Tuor's young son Ëarendil notices Salgant -the Lord of the House of the Harp, who used to tell him tales and play with him- is missing. Everybody assumes Salgant is dead, and they greatly mourn his loss. And they will never know he was one of the traitors who betrayed his city to Morgoth and was probably killed by his own cowardice (since he rushed to his house and crawled into his bed when the battle began).
  • Halo: Hunters in the Dark: Olympia Vale asks Forerunner AI 000 Tragic Solitude to try and see her point of view when it announces that it plans to cleanse and strip-mine the entire Solar System, asking it to hypothetically suppose that some all-powerful race had arbitrarily decided that the Forerunners simply weren't good enough. Funnily enough, this was the very reason why the Forerunners ended up being all but wiped out by their own creators.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Every scene where the characters talk about Bertha Jorkins' disappearance throughout the book is this, since several characters (like Percy Weasley and Lugo Bagman) often dismiss it as her probably getting lost, while the reader is aware from the very first chapter that Voldemort murdered her.
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: A reverse example when Petunia mentions "That horrible boy" telling Lily Evans (her younger sister / Harry's mother) about Dementors, he thinks she means James ... as we find out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she actually means Severus Snape.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: At the very end, Harry explains that he is the true owner of the Elder Wand. Voldemort doesn't believe him, which creates a brief moment of Dramatic Irony between the revelation and Voldemort's death.
    • Earlier on, when Moody explains the escape plan to Harry. The reader has already been made aware of the fact that Voldemort knows when they're going to escape.
  • In Heart In Hand, Alex declares to Darryl that he'll find the perfect girl for him. Darryl — who has fallen in love with Alex by this point — thinks to himself that the irony of this is sharp enough to cut him to ribbons.
  • The plot of Holes has several Flashbacks that reveal information that the protagonist, Stanley, does not know:
    • Everybody in Stanley's family is Born Unlucky, supposedly as a result of their ancestor stealing a pig from a Gypsy woman. The flashback chapter reveals, among other things, that her name was Madame Zeroni, which is significant because Stanley finds out that his friend Zero is named Hector Zeroni. He apparently never figures out the significance of this (potentially because the version of the story he got didn't use the name).
    • Though Stanley knows that his great-grandfather was robbed by Kissin' Kate Barlow, we get her backstory (which provides a Chekhov's Gun for later) and also learn that her fortune is buried somewhere on Camp Green Lake.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • On Basilisk Station: At the climax, Honor takes her ship in hot pursuit of a Havenite Q-ship she believes is trying to summon an invasion force. They're actually trying to call off the invasion. Unfortunately, she doesn't know this, and given that she didn't, letting the ship get away would have been gross dereliction of duty. The dramatic irony is noted in-story as the enemy captain himself states that he can't tell her he's trying to stop the attack and prevent a war because it would be admitting that there was a planned attack, which would be evidence Haven was behind everything that was going on and therefore would likely lead to a war. He also admits that even were he to tell her, she wouldn't have any reason to believe him and let him go.
    • Combined with The Cavalry in the second book. Honor is on course for another all-or-nothing Last Stand against a superior enemy ship, except it's unnecessary: Manticoran reinforcements have just arrived and are already firing long-range shots at her target. The problem is, her communications and long-range sensors have been knocked out by prior battle damage, so she has no idea the reinforcements are there.
      "Dear God. She doesn't know we're here."
    • In Shadow of Saganami, Dame Estelle Matsuko wraps up a discussion by saying, "Either way, I'm glad there's not going to be any more spectacular bloodshed and explosions coming out of the Cluster." Whereupon the text immediately cuts to Captain Terekhov leading a cobbled-together fleet in a covert attack on a neighboring star system that was preparing to invade.
  • Humanx Commonwealth: In The End of the Matter, there's a scene on Alaspin when treasure hunters decide there's nothing of interest in this part of jungle-overrun ruins and leave. The following paragraph describes the treasure chamber mere meters away from where they stood.
  • In the climactic battle at the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there are two main forces: the gypsies, and Frollo's men. They're both after Esmeralda: Frollo's men want to take her and kill her; the gypsies want to free her. Quasimodo, unfortunately, has their roles exactly backwards in his head, so he's busy "protecting" his beloved Esmeralda by helping the bad guys and hindering the good guys. And, of course, we all know this isn't the Disney version, so...
    • After a Time Travel incident, Koutarou becomes the legendary figure known as the Blue Knight. Very few people know about this, but they frequently refer to the Blue Knight in front of or otherwise in connection to Koutarou. In a somewhat unusual example, Koutarou himself is unaware of being the Blue Knight, thinking that the Blue Knight is some other person and that he (Koutarou) merely did everything that should have been done by the Blue Knight. His secret is revealed at the end of Volume 13.
    • Similarly, many characters invoke the Goddess of Dawn, an important religious figure. Said Goddess has a very deep connection to the main cast: among other things, she was partly responsible for the above time travel incident and if any two or more of the girls perform a Fusion Dance, the result is the Goddess of Dawn.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School:
    • Mikihiko anxiously warns his friend Tatsuya that the students who were talking to him minutes ago are rumored to be members of the shadowy Yotsuba clan. The rumor is correct, but what Mikihiko doesn't know is that Tatsuya is also a Yotsuba, and that the only reason anyone suspects anything is that the clan let them see deliberately leaked information about what Fumiya and Ayako are capable of. That is how good the Yotsuba are at infiltration.
    • Miyuki, one of the few people genetically engineered from scratch, knows almost nothing about technology.
  • Little Princess: In "I Want My Light On", a ghost says to her son that little girls don't exist. The readers, some of whom might be girls or women themselves, know better.
  • In Midnight’s Children, when Saleem formally introduces himself to Shiva, Shiva rhetorically asks why he was born poor and Saleem was born rich. He is trying to make a nihilistic philosophical point, but the readers know there is actually a specific reason for this: Mary switched the two at birth.
  • Miskatonic University Elder Gods 101: Much of the book is spent focused on making contact with Keziah Mason in order to be able to control the magic needed to save the world. Not only do readers of The Dreams in the Witch House know that she's a Wicked Witch but she's also not dead. This is something that they could have learned just by talking to the faculty too.
  • Sometimes happens for comedy in Mog because the main character is a cat:
    • In "Mog's Christmas Calamity", Mog thinks that a snake is spitting on the fire, while we know that it's only a firehose.
    • In "Mog's Christmas", Mog thinks the tree is moving around, but we know that it's only Mr. Thomas moving it.
    • In "Mog the Forgetful Cat", the "dark thoughts" Mog is thinking involve "nobody will let me in or give me my supper". Unbeknown to Mog, she's already eaten supper and has a cat door.
  • In Oscar Got The Blame, Oscar has a Not-So-Imaginary Friend named Billy, who keeps misbehaving, leading to Oscar getting the blame.
  • Not Now, Bernard runs on this trope: a boy named Bernard is Eaten Alive by a monster after trying and failing to tell his parents about it. When the monster tries to then menace the boy's parents, they think he's Bernard and tell him, "Not now, Bernard, I'm busy."
  • Renegades uses this both for building tension and making the reader cringe, as Nova - a Double Agent who's really the villain Nightmare - is often told that her actions as a hero make her a role model for the younger Renegades. Worse, near the end of the book Adrian asks her to help him track down Nightmare and make her pay for hurting Max - something the reader knows Nova didn't actually do.
  • A major plot device throughout William Golding's novel, Rites of Passage. Said novel features passages from Reverend Colley's diary, who believes that he has made a great friend out of Talbot and the crewmen. In reality, we are made aware from the beginning that Talbot can't stand him.
  • Lemony Snicket explicitly mentions this trope in A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Second: "The Reptile Room" before Uncle Monty's death when he tells us Uncle Monty's going to die and then goes on to tell us about dramatic irony and how terrible it feels.
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin uses this often. Early in the first act, the protagonist visits an address in search of a killer. The killer, revealed to the audience in a previous scene, answers the door, and impersonates the owner of the home while the real owner is tied up in the basement.
  • George R. R. Martin uses dramatic irony a fair amount in A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • One notable example occurs in book two, A Clash of Kings, when Arya Stark, in the guise of Nan, Roose Bolton's cupbearer, tells Elmar Frey that she hopes that the princess to whom he is betrothed will die. Of course, she herself is the princess in question.
    • In A Storm of Swords, after intervening at the Wall, King Stannis offers to legitimize Jon Snow, allowing him to inherit Winterfell, since Stannis needs a Stark in Winterfell in order to win the loyalty of the North. Jon refuses, not knowing that his half-brother Robb, the lord of Winterfell, named Jon as his heir shortly before his death, since all his full siblings were either presumed dead, or in Lannister custody.
      • A Storm of Swords has a more lighthearted example with the woman who tries to seduce Gendry claiming to be a bastard of Robert Baratheon. Arya notes that her hair is the same color as the late king's, but that lots of people, including Gendry, have black hair, so it means nothing. It's ironic on several levels, because Gendry himself is unknowingly a bastard of Robert's.
    • In the first chapters of both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, several characters make decisions and assumptions based on the belief Tywin Lannister is alive and in charge. Readers already know from the end of A Storm of Swords that that is not the case. Justified, in that news of Tywin's death would realistically take time to reach the parts of Westeros further from King's Landing.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • A New Dawn has two notable cases of this. First off, the novel's Big Bad, Count Vidian, is stated early on in the book to have never believed in the Force. Vidian is constantly attempting to gain the favour of the Emperor, who, lest we forget, is a Sith Lord and powerful Force-user. There are also two occasions where one of the protagonists, Jedi fugitive Kanan, nearly uses the Force on Vidian. Second, the main plot of the novel concerns the threat of the blowing up of a moon. Kanan and Hera find it incredibly difficult to believe that it's possible to blow up a moon at all, as is Imperial officer Captain Sloane. Fans of the Star Wars universe, however, know that blowing up moons, or even planets, is all too possible.
    • Master and Apprentice: Qui-Gon notes that Rael Averross was, at the age of 5, the oldest child admitted into the Jedi Order that he knows of, and he thinks to himself that there is no way the Order will ever take in anyone that old again, let alone older. Really...
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Shatterpoint: In the first chapter, Mace Windu favorably regards Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine's spartanly furnished office and simple, humble lifestyle, and remarks to Yoda, "A shame he can't touch the Force. He might have made a fine Jedi." The reader, of course, should know full well that Palpatine is anything but what Windu believes him to be: he is in fact Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, the Big Bad of the entire Star Wars film series, meaning that this is quite possibly the biggest moment of intentional irony that any Star Wars EU author ever put to paper before or since.
    • Luke asserts in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor that Fiery Redhead women aren’t his type. His eventual wife is Mara Jade, a definite example of the type, and their son Ben inherited a lot of his mom’s tendencies.
    • Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost: Kitser steals the painting from the auction to return it to Leia, his best friend's daughter, not realizing that Leia was also at the auction and he inadvertently kept her from getting the painting sooner.
  • In the book series The Sword, the Ring and the Chalice, when Noble Fugitive Alexeika first meets Prince Dain, she initially presumes he's a spoiled, pampered brat as he was living in the prosperous country of Mandria while she and the rest of the people suffered under the cruel rule of Dain's uncle. What she doesn't know is that Dain's sister and adoptive family were killed and he suffered through starvation, beatings and discrimination and only very recently learned of his heritage. If not for certain circumstances, he would have remained a beggar. His friend Thrum coolly points this out to her when she makes such accusations towards Dain.
  • Temeraire:
    • The fifth book, Victory of Eagles, begins with Temeraire banished to a breeding ground in Wales and Lawrence imprisoned in the brig of a warship in the English Channel off Dover. Temeraire bribes a Winchester to check the gossip chain among couriers and confirm Lawrence's survival, is informed that the ship he was on sank when France launched a successful cross-channel invasion, has a near breakdown, resolves to take the battle to the invaders, organizes the inmates of the breeding ground into a militia, drafts the human herders/minders there for a logistics train, and heads for the fighting. Meanwhile Lawrence makes it to the lifeboats (his cell having been opened by a stray cannonball), is briefly jailed in Dover before Admiral Roland has him brought to the main forces south of London and convinces the high command that Temeraire is needed on the front lines badly enough to send Lawrence to get him, and is shuttled to the breeding ground... to find it abandoned by human and dragon alike mere hours before.
    • This trope comes heavily into play in the eighth book, Blood of Tyrants. For the entire first part and almost until the end of the second, Captain Will Laurence has forgotten the past 8 years of his life after getting swept off the dragon transport en route to China. This means he doesn't remember his time as an aviator in the British Aerial Corps, nor that he has a powerful bond with his dragon, Temeraire, or that even Temeraire exists. He still thinks he's the captain of the Reliant (and by extension not knowing that his best friend and former first lieutenant, Tom Riley, is dead). As Japan has closed its borders off to any foreigners, save for the trading port of Nagasaki, Laurence's presence in Japan is suspect, and the fact that he speaks perfect Chinese makes the authorities think he is a spy for China. Laurence denies this, of course lacking the memory that Britain essentially does have an alliance with China, just in a sort of unofficial way: in book 2, Laurence was adopted by the Emperor and became a prince of China. Definitely done for the tension, but in the second part when Laurence is back with his fellow aviators and Temeraire it crosses into cringe territory: he doesn't realize that he has only been just recently reinstated after having been discharged and transported to Australia following his treason that directly led to the (unsuccessful) invasion of Britain by France. The extent of his memory loss also means Laurence has lost all of the Character Development that resulted from the experience, including his acceptance of his actions. Readers are armed with this knowledge, plus the fact that Temeraire's naivety causes him to think nothing of Laurence's condition. So when the topic is brought to light once again, the result isn't pretty.
    • Played for Laughs with Laurence's parents and his midwingman Emily Roland. His parents don't know that the Aerial Corps accepts female members, only that he's got a teenage girl with his crew, and assume that she's his illegitimate daughter and start sending her presents. Laurence is terribly embarrassed, but it would be horribly rude for his parents or him to discuss the subject directly, even to clear the misunderstanding. Escalated in Blood of Tyrants when a temporarily amnesiac Laurence also wonders if she's his daughter.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful: The reader knows from the get-go when Ernie starts to cheat on Sam with Danny. However, Ernie and Sam go about their usual routine because Ernie pretends, and Sam believes, that nothing is happening. Sam finds out when he overhears people in a nearby booth in a diner gossiping about Ernie.
  • Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe:
    • Protector of the Small: The heroine, Keladry, develops a crush on her best friend Neal, that he remains totally oblivious to her. He develops a crush on a noble lady... and anxiously asks Kel if she approves of the lady in question, since he values her opinion as a friend.note 
    • The Numair Chronicles: In Tempests and Slaughter, Master Ramasu and Arram talk about the In-Universe Chickification of the Great Mother Goddess. Ramasu says that Time Dissonance is the likely reason why she hasn't done anything about it yet, but that perhaps she will take action soon. Clearly, due to news travelling slower in the medievalesque setting, neither of them have heard of Alanna the Lioness yet.
  • Much of Michael's actions and beliefs in The Traitor Game.
    • Readers may realize that Francis is gay before Michael finally learns the truth. Those who realise it before the scene where Michael "lies" to Shipley about Francis being gay would cringe while reading it.
    • From the start, it is quite obvious that Francis didn't really betray their secret. Michael's actions through the novel, however, are based on his belief that he did.
  • At the start of the tenth volume of Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle, it's revealed (somewhat indirectly) that Rosa is being Forced into Evil and her aide Calensia is the true villain. For the majority of the rest of the volume, the main characters don't have any idea about this, trusting Calensia to a cringe-inducing extent.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign: Throughout the series, Kyousuke repeatedly emphasizes that the White Queen isn't really in love with him, but with an idealised image of him. He claims that if they did get together, she'd be disappointed by the truth and kill him. The ending of the fifth volume confirms that she actually does love him for who he is.
  • The Vipers Scheme practically runs on dramatic irony. The antagonist has a handful of POV chapters wherein we learn exactly what he plans to do. There's quite a bit of suspense to watching him manipulate the protagonist up until The Reveal.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Those who have read Shards of Honor (and Barrayar, but that one's optional), before starting in on The Warrior's Apprentice know full well that unless Miles Vorkosigan's quixotic quest to help his childhood friend/crush Elena Bothari locate her Missing Mom meets with complete failure the best that can be hoped for is disillusionment, recrimination, and tears. Things go poorly.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Expanded Universe:
    • In Dan Abnett's Ravenor novel Ravenor Returns, Belknap takes Inquisitor Ravenor and his retinue for criminals and desperately tries to free Zael from their clutches and a life of crime. On a more serious note, Frauka and Ravenor come to believe that Zael is the prophesied host of the daemon Slyte, and they continue to think so long after the reader learns that Slyte has possessed Carl Thonius instead.
    • In Mike Lee's Horus Heresy novel Fallen Angels, Lion and his Dark Angels fight and take substantial casualties to keep siege engines from traitor forces. At the very end, he is talking with Perturabo and handing over the engines. As this is the Back Story to the Warhammer 40,000 universe, we know that Perturabo will take them directly to Horus.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Jayfeather is unable to understand why Leafpool and Crowfeather act so weird around each other, but any reader who has read the second series would know that what he is detecting is pure Unresolved Sexual Tension.
    • Scourge is introduced as Firestar's evil foil. Scourge takes one of Firestar's lives, tries to kill Firestar's nephew Cloudtail, and is killed by Firestar. What neither cat knows is that they're actually half-brothers through their father Jake.
  • This pops up frequently in The Wheel of Time series. Played for laughs in early books, such as how at various times, each of the three male main protagonists would each find themselves in a socially awkward situation and wish one of the other two were there, because they know how to talk to women better. Later, different protagonists each captured one of the Forsaken so they could learn long-lost methods of using the One Power. They both tried to keep it a secret, and both worried about someone finding out long after the respective Forsaken were out of the picture — even though by now, no one would care.
  • The Winds of War is steeped in this for obvious reasons. However there is one particularly jarring example when Natalie is trying to remember the old name of the Polish town they're in, the name it had when it was ruled by the Austrians. Her uncle tells here: Auschwitz.
  • The Witchlands: Two major examples in book two, Windwitch.
    • Shortly after we see Safi and Vaness survive an attack on their ship, we cut to Merik being informed that it was destroyed along with everyone aboard, and he grieves for Safi for most of the second novel.
    • Similarily, while Book Two opens with Merik engaging in some Assassin Outclassin', Safi is later told that he's been assassinated.
  • Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought: At the end of A Deepness in the Sky, Pham Nuwen decides to head for the center of the galaxy, to discover the origin of the alien technology found on Arachna. If you've read A Fire Upon the Deep, to which this is a prequel, you know what the problem is — he's going the wrong way and ends up in the Unthinking Depths. The unawareness of the Zones of Thought on the part of all the characters leads to multiple examples of this. Indeed, it can be thought of as one extended episode of dramatic irony; while no hint of this appears in the book itself, the whole story revolves around ways to sidestep the limitations of the Slow Zone (Focus is an attempt to get around the lack of AI; the Qeng Ho are an attempt to circumvent the inevitable rise and fall of isolated, planetbound cultures), and everyone just assumes that those limits are universal. John Clute wrote a good essay on this.
  • In The Fey and the Fallen, the reader knows from the 2nd chapter on that the protagonist, Liam, is a Half-Human Hybrid son of a faerie lord, and that he's inherited his dad's magic. Liam doesn't find that out until the end of the novel, and in the meantime thinks he goes back and forth between being in denial, believing he's insane, or thinking he's some kind of demon.
  • Les Misérables: Early on in the novel, Inspector Javert goes to Monsieur Madeleine, the local mayor, to confess a grave mistake and demand to be punished. Javert has submitted a report to his superiors that Madeleine is the fugitive Jean Valjean, but his subordinates have since then caught the real fugitive. The irony is that the reader will know that Madeleine is the real Valjean, and the "real" Valjean rotting in Javert's cells is just a local man with a mental disability who happens to look more like Javert's vision of the tattered convict Valjean than the prosperous and respected Madeleine.

  • Eminem's "Stan" is made of this.
    • Throughout the song, Stan grows increasingly unstable and angry with Eminem for not responding to his letters, and becomes more and more convinced Eminem is intentionally ignoring him. The listener probably figures that a musician as popular and well known as Eminem likely receives far too much fan mail to be able to respond to any of it quickly, Stan was probably just unlucky enough to get lost in the shuffle, and is too unstable to realize it. The music video takes this a step further by showing that Stan's suggestion in the first verse that "there probably was a problem at the post office or somethin'" is actually true.
    • The last verse completes it. Unlike the first three verses, which were addressed from Stan to Eminem, the last verse is Eminem's response to the letter in the second verse. He sees how unstable Stan is and says that he hopes the letter gets to him before it's too late and Stan ends up like the guy he saw on the news that killed himself and his pregnant girlfriend by driving them off a bridge. It's only at the very end of the verse that Eminem pieces together that it is too late and the guy on the news was Stan.
    • On top of all that, the third verse is a drunken, angry audio recording of Stan's Motive Rant while he's on his way to commit the murder-suicide about how Eminem supposedly ignored his letters, which even he seems to realize were cries for help at that point, and left Stan to get worse, even though, again, Eminem likely just hadn't read the letters yet. Stan realizes just seconds too late that if he kills himself this way, the tape he's recording his last desperate and angry thoughts on will probably be destroyed in the water and Eminem will never hear it anyway.
  • The Looking Glass' song "Brandy" has dramatic irony in the first chorus, where the title character of the song, a young waitress working at a port-side bar, is told by the sailors she's taking drink orders from that "your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea". The rest of the song is all about a sailor she fell in love with, and her failure to get him to stay with her over returning to sea.
  • Songdrops:
    • In "Striper the Kitty", the singer thinks he has a pet cat, when we know that Striper is really a skunk.
    • In "Little Joe", the singer thinks someone stole Joe, his pet caterpillar, and then later replaced him with a butterfly.


    Religion and Mythology 

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • After the main characters are imbued with their superpowers, Rose wishes that she could have a voice in her head telling her what to do next. She's unaware that the person she's telling this to, Sebastian, actually did receive a voice in his head as part of his superpower.
    • When the school nurse is grievously injured in an explosion, Ivy worries that the culprit might be someone she knows. The reader already knows at that point that the perpetrator is Simon, Ivy's crush.
    • Played for Laughs when Amy alerts Finn to a bomb threat coming from Rogers High school. Just beforehand, Finn had been trying to find a way to evacuate the school without drawing attention to himself, as he'd had a vision telling him that something terrible would happen at the school that day. So the reader knows why Finn laughs to himself and yells that the bomb threat is 'perfect', but Amy is left confused and disturbed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The very design of games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder have this as a core element, where the DM (usually) knows all the intricacies of the plot and the environment that the players don't. Naturally, this can lead to some fairly amusing situations when players make assumptions on limited or outright incorrect information while the person who knows the actual situation is sitting just a few feet away and waiting for them to screw themselves over.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Tau are a race of very Warp-resistant aliens with a species-wide willing indoctrination where each individual must sacrifice all for the Greater Good (the name of their philosophy). Naturally, this puts them at odds with the psychically-vulnerable humans, and especially those corrupted by Chaos (they believe human tales of Chaos to be the babble of lunatics and daemons to be some undocumented species of alien). Their ignorance of just how screwed the galaxy is leads to more than a few eye-rolling moments, like when a Tau army once defeated a Chaos army led by a Keeper of Secrets (the Greater Daemon of Slaanesh) and believed they had defeated Slaanesh itself, or welcoming a Necron army that had vaporized a Tyranid swarm by sending a diplomatic delegation (the Necrons are essentially zombie robots working to cleanse the galaxy of all life).
    • in the main setting, the age before the Horus Heresy is generally considered a golden age of peace, liberty and prosperity. The Horus Heresy-novels show unambiguously that the age in question was just as totalitarian, warmongering, oppressive and crapsack as the setting's present, with the only differences being the lack of theocratic overtones to the fascist rule, the presence of actual science and the absence of the Inquisition.
    • Alpharius, the traitor Primarch of the Alpha Legion who specialize in deceit and subterfuge, was also the Emperor's most trusted son and he still is.

  • It should go without saying that William Shakespeare was rather fond of dramatic irony:
    • In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo kills himself on the assumption that Juliet's already dead. Wrong. Thanks to a series of unlikely disasters, Romeo has been left uninformed of Juliet's plan to escape marriage to Paris. Just to be really cruel to the audience, he makes a long speech before drinking the poison, long enough for the audience of the day to frantically (but silently) urge Juliet to wake up from her drug-induced sleep and prevent the tragedy. To modern audiences, Romeo and Juliet is a serious case of It Was His Sled — and to be fair, Shakespeare makes it pretty clear from the beginning that this story isn't going to end well — but this scene is probably the biggest punch in the gut in a story rife with dramatic irony.
    • Duncan's praise of Macbeth when he comes to stay at his castle seems just a little bit misplaced to the audience, who have recently heard Macbeth and his lady scheming to murder him. And for those who are aware of how the show will turn out, Duncan's words on the prior Thane of Cawdor, "He was a man in which I had built an infinite trust" makes one all the more aware that Duncan has really poor judgment of character.
    • Othello's statements of trust and belief in "honest Iago" couldn't be more incorrect.
    • On a lighter note, Twelfth Night is perfect for the comedic use of dramatic irony, featuring both twins and cross-dressing. And As You Like It is particularly noteworthy for its Recursive Crossdressing, which is dramatically ironic on multiple levels.
    • There's the scene in Hamlet where the prince considers killing the King while he's kneeling in prayer, only to decide not to, on the theory that killing him after he'd just prayed would send him to heaven rather than hell. Claudius however had just given a soliloquy about not being able to pray, so the audience knows Hamlet missed his best chance for revenge.
  • Older Than Feudalism examples can be found in Greek plays, since most of these plays were based on stories that were already common knowledge to the audience. For example, in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus vows to track down Laius' killer... but the audience knows perfectly well that he is the killer, even though Oedipus himself does not. In fact, he also says at one point that he was going to "avenge Laius as if he was his son", not realizing that he was indeed Laius' son as well.
  • In Madame Butterfly Butterfly spends almost the whole of the opera pouring out her love and devotion for Pinkerton. However, the audience (unlike Butterfly) heard the conversation Pinkerton had with Sharpless at the beginning of the opera: That this Japanese marriage was all nonsense, and that not very long from then, he'd leave Butterfly and have a perfectly proper American lifestyle with an American wife. This is somewhat less the case in the Belasco play, which has nothing corresponding to the opera's first act, but Butterfly still is unable to read between the lines of Pinkerton's letter, which implies that he no longer loves her.
  • Anna Bolena spends the first half of her opera praising the faithfulness of her friend, Giovanna Seymour. Meanwhile, she curses the woman who has stolen Enrico's love from her. But the audience knows from the very first scene that Giovanna is the other woman.
  • La Cenerentola, Rossini's operatic take on Cinderella, features the comic version of this. The Prince, Ramiro, disguises himself as his valet in order to gauge the true personalities of potential future queens. Cenerentola (Cinderella) is kind and respectful to everyone, of course, and falls in love with the disguised Ramiro. She even refuses an offer of marriage from who she thinks is the real prince (the actual valet) in favor of him. The stepsisters of Cenerentola, however, treat the supposed valet with disgust and rudeness meanwhile treating the fake Prince like some sort of god. This makes for some truly hilarious comebacks when the stepsisters find out who the valet really is.
  • In The Girl of the Golden West, when the Girl is alone with Johnson for the first time and he voices concern for her security, she repeats to him what she told Ashby earlier, "I bet if a road-agent come in here, I could offer him a drink an' he'd treat me like a perfect lady," unaware that Johnson is none other than the road-agent Ramerrez whom Ashby and the other boys are out searching for.
  • Arcadia is a heart-wrenching example of this, even though the play is pretty comedic. Due to it's narrative structure, the audience sees the events that happen in the 1800s that the modern-day researchers get wrong, and are also told by the modern-day characters what will ultimately happen to the characters in the 1800s. In the last scene of the play, the audience is already aware that Thomasina will burn to death the night before her seventeenth birthday and that her tutor Septimus will go insane and die a hermit, writing "reams of cabbalistic proofs that the world is coming to an end." Thomasina invites Septimus, who is in love with her, to come upstairs with her, but he declines, not wanting to ruin her reputation (he has just spent the play ruining lots of reputations and getting out of trouble on charm alone). Then, just to twist the knife a little bit deeper, Stoppard has Septimus hand Thomasina her essay on thermodynamics, light Thomasina's candle and tell her to be careful with the flame. Not a dry eye in the house.
  • Rather tragically used in the musical version of Sunset Boulevard's I Want Songs and the characters' uplifting wishes, since we already know that Norma will fail to get back her career, and Joe will die.
  • In the musical Jekyll & Hyde, the powerful and uplifting number "This is the Moment" is made very ironic because we know that Dr. Jekyll is preparing to test out the serum that will transform him into the murderous Edward Hyde.
    • Hyde singles out upper-class hypocrites as his targets at first, ignoring that Jekyll himself is a hypocrite for creating Hyde and indulging in his vices.
    • The Bishop of Basingstoke asks Jekyll a question after he finishes pitching his proposition to test his formula on human subjects, a question that only the audience can truly appreciate the importance of: "And what if you're right, Jekyll? And you do manage to separate good from evil? WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EVIL!?"
  • Wicked is just full of dramatic irony, since, even if the audience didn't already know the story of The Wizard of Oz and what happens to the green witch, the very first number of the musical fills us in. In particular, One Short Day is so full of hope and happiness in sharp contrast to everything after it.
    • Also, both Elphaba and the Wizard mention a "celebration throughout Oz that's all to do with" her. We, as the audience, have already seen this celebration: Munchkinland is celebrating her death.
    • Fiyero's incredulous, "Did you hear that? Water will melt her? People are so emptyheaded they'll believe anything." Subverted however, as it turns out water doesn't kill her, because it is in fact nonsense. She just faked her death.
    Elphaba: I'd be so happy I could melt!
  • The musical version of Reefer Madness has a hilariously dark foreshadowing version of this in the song "Romeo and Juliet" with the two main characters singing: "We are just like Romeo and Juliet/We're happy, young and bubbling with love!/I can't wait to read the ending!/I can't either! But I'm sure it turns out real swell!"
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: The play is full of this:
    • Act I and II: the Burgher praises the play La Clorise, by Balthazar Baro, and mentions various names of members of the French Academy, saying: all names that will live! Given the knowledge he has (those guys were big in their time), this belief is perfectly sensible, but to the modern audience, these names were long forgotten and mean nothing.
    • At Act II Scene IV, the poets comment about how the last night, only one men singlehandedly put a whole band of one hundred men to the rout, leaving his swords and hats by all Paris, and make assumptions about his character. Only the Audience knows that the hero was Cyrano, who is busy writing a love letter to Roxane, absentmindedly murmuring of his feelings.
    First Poet Twas one man, say they all, ay, swear to it, one man who, single-handed,
    put the whole band to the rout!
    Second Poet Twas a strange sight!—pikes and cudgels strewed thick upon the ground.
    Cyrano (writing): ... Thine eyes ...
    Third Poet: And they were picking up hats all the way to the Quai d'Orfevres!
    First Poet Sapristi! but he must have been a ferocious. . .
    Cyrano (same play): ... Thy lips ...
    First Poet 'Twas a parlous fearsome giant that was the author of such exploits!
    Cyrano (same play): And when I see thee come, I faint for fear.
  • In Damn Yankees, when Meg and her friends succeed in clearing Joe's name, Welch gloats that he knew Joe was a loyal player all along: "Why, I says, 'That boy would go to hell for his team.'" Just then the clock starts chiming twelve, and Joe realizes he's lost his last chance to escape his Deal with the Devil (who, by the way, is right next to him, looking triumphant).
  • In Cactus Flower, Toni repeatedly commends Julian for his honesty because he told her that he was married before their affair started. It comes as a shock when she finds out that he was lying about that all along.
  • The operetta The Firefly (1912) has a comic quintet in the middle of the second act titled "We're Going to Make a Man of You," whose title is sung to the Sweet Polly Oliver protagonist who is not outed until the finale of the same act.
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Agnes says that she wants her and Jasper to be one of the great couples of all time, like Orpheus and Eurydice, the day before she drowns and Jasper has to try and make an Orphean Rescue to get her back.
  • The Mario Opera uses this as the basis for much of the story. Everyone except Mario knows the truth of his situation, that he's a video game character, creating much angst for him and general doubt and confusion.
  • Shucked: The audience knows that Gordy both can and should leave the rocks alone and head back to Tampa, because the crime boss he owed money to is dead and the rocks are worthless. Gordy, however, doesn't know due to bad cell phone reception.

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft plays with this trope in the cinematic introduction to the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, which features a retrospective voiceover by Arthas Menethil's father encouraging his young son to use his powers for good. The irony is that the voiceover plays over Arthas as the Lich King, commanding the vast undead armies of Northrend after betraying his people and killing his father. This scene turns out to be doubly ironic when it's revealed that the soul of Terenas Menethil is trapped within Frostmourne along with every other soul consumed by the dread blade, and actually speaks to Arthas, chiding him for his poor decisions. To squeeze out the very final drop of irony, the concluding cinematic of the Icecrown Citadel dungeon features Terenas telling his dying son that it's now, finally, over, making this also an example of Book Ends.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot implies through the pause menus for President Haltmann 2.0 and Star Dream Soul OS that he created Star Dream to grant his wish to see his daughter again, unaware that Star Dream sent her off to another dimension. However, it's been confirmed that the Susie we see is the real deal, something that Haltmann isn't aware of due to his bond with Star Dream screwing up his mind. By the time Haltmann realizes that Star Dream wasn't going to bring Susie back, his soul gets purged by the mad computer.
    • Star Dream itself is a case of Dramatic Irony. It only gains sentience once it unwittingly absorbs Haltmann's soul into itself and decides to go and kill all life in the universe. It then starts deleting Haltmann's soul from its system and effectively loses its sentience, having regressed back into a mindless killing machine near the end of the battle.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Near the end of Terra's story, he makes Riku his successor, and promises to show the worlds outside Destiny Islands to him someday. Ten years later, he makes good on his promise in the worst, most tragic way possible. Long story short, his heart got hijacked by Master Xehanort and ended up becoming Riku's Evil Mentor from the first game; Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.
  • This is showcased heavily in the Metal Gear games. Two series-spanning ones that cover the origin of Solid Snake and Metal Gear respectively are seen in Metal Gear Solid 3:
    • The one about Solid Snake's origins have the young Big Boss talk to his medical support member, Para-Medic who happens to specialize in the field of genetics, about the nature of human cloning and genetic engineering. She tells Big Boss that when the science behind genetics advance enough they will be able to isolate what genes are desirable, take those genes and not only enhance already living people but be able to clone a human being with those particular traits, and his genes will be in high demand one day. Big Boss denounces human cloning as immoral, saying that, "You can't mass-produce human beings.", and that he is sure the government would never do something like that to him. Big Boss is proved wrong, very wrong, when the Patriots later not only clone him but genetically alter soldiers with his DNA.
    • The young Big Boss first learns of the origins of Metal Gear from a drunken Russian scientist who had lost out on funding dollars for his project in place of the Shagohad, a similar but not as advanced mobile nuclear platform since it relies on rocket boosters and not its own movement speed to achieve what it does. This man Granin explains to Big Boss that artillery is too heavy to be mobile and infantry is mobile but not as heavily armored as artillery, so you need to find a way to combine the two, Metal Gear is that missing link because its mobility comes from giving it legs. Metal Gear has the firepower of artillery and the mobility of infantry allowing it to traverse any terrain and destroy the enemy with devastating fire power, not to mention its nuclear payload that can be fired from anywhere in the world. So why was a nuclear platform like the Shagohad chosen over Metal Gear? Metal Gear was simply so far ahead of its time that Granin's employer Volgin didn't have the technology needed to build Metal Gear and so it had to be abandoned, but Granin predicts very accurately that one day Russia will come to fear Metal Gear despite denying its funding now. Sigint, Big Boss's technology expert, denounces Metal Gear viewing it as an absurd idea that only a crackpot scientist would think of, citing that legs would reduce a tank's traction and make it a walking bulls eye since it would move too slow to avoid enemy fire. Ironically Metal Gear's technology is advanced enough that its legs make it very fast, far faster than any tank, and along with its nuclear payload every country on Earth gets into an arms race over who can make the best Metal Gear. Granin's prediction of his machine becoming desired and feared comes true. The icing on top of the irony cake is that Sigint ends up making a Metal Gear regardless of his earlier dismissal of the machine.
  • In Catherine, the characters only remember the nightmares while in them, and only see the other participants as sheep with the odd identifier. Outside, they only remember they had a bad dream and finding other people strangely familiar.
  • The entirety of Driver: San Francisco after the opening is nothing more than a bizarre coma-induced dream. The game makes no attempt to keep that secret from the player, but the protagonist is none the wiser until the very end of the game.
  • It's established in the first few moments of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon that King Boo is the reason the Dark Moon shattered, but Luigi and E Gadd don't find out until much, much later.
  • In Soul Reaver: Defiance, the player knows all along that Raziel and Kain are being manipulated by Mobius while the playable characters themselves (especially Raziel) keep coming to completely wrong conclusions.
  • In Dissidia 012, Kain and the Warrior of Light learn some of the truth behind the cycles of war. Though at that point they still don't know Cosmos only summoned all of them to die fighting Chaos in order to make him stronger. When Cosmos tries to confess the truth. The Warrior interrupts her, telling her that her task of keeping the world safe with her power is more important than the safety of her warriors.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • There's a mission you accept from a boy who escaped from an orphanage. He hires you to kill the headmistress who is exceptionally cruel to the orphans. After you do so, the orphans cheer that the headmistress has been killed. After you visit the boy who escaped and collect your payment, a soldier might tell you about the murder (that you performed) and comment "The children must be devastated."
    • Jarl Laila Law-Giver assures you that her associate, Maven Black-Briar, is cracking down on the Thieves' Guild's presence in Riften. It doesn't take you three seconds of playing the Thieves' Guild questline for you to realize that Maven is the single biggest sponsor of the Thieves' Guild's activities.
  • Thanks to the occasional Call-Back or Continuity Nod in Jurassic Park: The Game, the player can know what's going on even before the characters do. This is most evident in Episode One, in which actual scenes from the film are included and Nima has to walk through Nedry's last few moments in order to find the can. Also, anyone who has read the original book could suspect the bombing run long before Yoder confirms it.
  • Presentable Liberty uses it to create tension. Salvadore, the player's best friend, goes on vacation some time before The Plague wipes out his hometown. He writes a series of letters to the player about his travels and how much he is looking forward to returning home. There is no way to tell him that's a bad idea.
  • In Batman: The Telltale Series:
    • Given the dual identity of Bruce Wayne and Batman, this occurs a lot. Harvey Dent is Bruce's best friend, but he despises Batman if Batman abandons him to save Catwoman in Episode 2. Renee Montoya shows support for Bruce but doesn't like Batman. Penguin hates Bruce for what Thomas Wayne did to his family but sees Batman as a kindred spirit.
    • In Episode 4 when Bruce Wayne is committed to Arkham, Bruce is protected by an inmate who happily shows him around and even helps him escape. Trouble is, the player is well aware that the inmate is the Joker.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Link awakens at the beginning of the game in the Shrine of Resurrection after a century-long slumber. But he still looks like a 17-year-old. This makes it funny when characters refer to him as a young man and assume he is way too young to know about the apocalyptic events he saw firsthand. Notable examples include when a Gerudo bartender assumes he is too young to have a drink at that bar (you can have Link say he's over 100, but she assumes he's joking), and when Prince Sidon first greets Link as "young one" (though it's later revealed that Zora such as Sidon are Long-Lived, so the age gap between Link and Sidon is much narrower than it first appears).
  • Expect to flinch a little during Fire Emblem Heroes if you summon or run across someone in Story Mode that dies in the plot of their home game(s). The World of Holy War Paralogue has possibly the biggest example, as after being freed from their contracts Sigurd promises Dierdre that he won't leave her side again.
  • League of Legends: Kassadin is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Void for consuming his home village and presumably killing his wife and daughter. Kai'Sa is a child from that same village and heavily implied to be Kassadin's daughter. While Kai'Sa has special lines for killing an enemy Kassadin, it is perfectly possible for Kassadin to kill Kai'Sa on the Rift, never realizing she is his long-lost daughter.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: In Alec Ryder's quarters, there's an old recording of Liara (they exchanged correspondence) explaining how the Protheans are extinct, but there could be one out there somewhere, even if the the chances of that happening are incredibly slim. Anyone who's played Mass Effect 3 with the "From Ashes" DLC knows how that turned out.
  • In Fredbear and Friends, the player gets to see a flashback showing a security guard being murdered over 26 years prior by the Purple Man and left in a sealed-off room. The player character, Thomas, doesn't know that, and when he comes across the corpse, assumes it to be the body of some recently-deceased policeman and decides to wait the night out rather than continue his attempts at escape, hoping that the other cops will come looking for their missing man. Subverted when the cops do actually show up at the end of the game, though it's unclear why.
  • Fire Emblem Fates gets a little mileage out of this, depending on which route you play first. For example, on the Birthright path, the first Nohrians to stumble across Xander, Elise, and the Avatar after Elise takes a death blow Xander intended for the Avatar are Peri and Laslow, Xander's retainers. Xander bluntly forbade them from joining this fight, but they did so anyway, expressing shock and dismay at Elise's death. They immediately promise Xander that they'll help make her killer pay, completely unaware of what actually happened to her. On the Conquest path, Peri and Laslow join the Avatar because Xander ordered them to, and they join on a map where Elise cannot be deployed because she's ill, and the objective must be completed within a time limit in order to save her life.
    Peri: (Conquest) Hee hee, then let's gut these fools quickly and save our princess!
    Peri: (Birthright) Which one of you did this to Lady Elise?! I'll gut you!
  • Fire Emblem Warriors features a conversation between Olivia and Xander. They end up talking about Xander's retainer Laslow and Olivia's potential child. Anyone who played Fates will know that Laslow is Olivia's Kid from the Future, Inigo, under a pseudonym.
  • Cyberpunk 2077:
    • V encounters an old fan of "Samurai", Johnny Silverhand's band, who runs a memorabilia shop. He rather scornfully gives V a Pretender Diss and claims that no-one who "wasn't there" could ever understand the greatness of "Samurai". Meanwhile, the copy of Johnny Silverhand's consciousness residing in V's brain is screaming at the old man for having become a part of the megacorporate status quo "Samurai" was founded to rebel against, and throws up his hands in despair at the one man still alive who knows all of "Samurai"'s lyrics not having managed to understand or internalize any of it.
    • Joshua Stephenson was a death row inmate who had a Heel–Faith Turn and wanted to become an Inspirational Martyr using a Passion Play Snuff Film. Since he's going to be put to death anyway he can't be talked out of it, but everyone in his life tells him he's going about it the wrong way; the woman who set him down this path in the first place tells him that he's hyperfocusing on Christ's death and not His message, V points out that he's just being used by corpos who want to capitalize on his faith to market it, and if pressed enough even the production company agent assigned to him reveals herself to be the "spiritual but not religious" type and berates him for making a spectacle of his private relationship with God.
  • God of War (PS4): When Kratos and Atreus discover that Atreus is called "Loki" by the giants, they are, if anything, slightly confused. Players who know their Norse mythology however knows that it means Atreus is fated to bring about the end of the gods, and the Norse world as we know it.
  • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the "Almighty Sinnoh" plotline is essentially about people warring (literally so, though they've calmed down in the present day) over something the player has known for a long time. Both the Pearl and Diamond clans worship the deity that created their land, but the Diamond people are convinced it was a god with powers over time while the Pearl clan are set in their idea that their guardian deity ruled over space; and thus, religious conflicts ensued. There's even a NPC or two entertaining the idea that both might be real and how that would make a lot of their messy history retroactively pointless. Of course, anyone who's played Diamond and Pearl knows they're both right and wrong, as both time and space deities exist and the true almighty deity is Arceus. At the end of the game, after finding out that Dialga and Palkia both exist, Adaman and Irida themselves acknowledge that their whole rivalry was mostly pointless in the end because neither clan had the whole idea. For extra irony, Cogita reveals to the player character that the founders of the Diamond and Pearl clans traveled to settle in Hisui because they truly wanted to worship Arceus (who they knew as Almighty Sinnoh), only for one clan to encounter Dialga and the other Palkia respectively and to mistake the dragon they saw for Arceus.
  • Mary Skelter 2 calls back to several events from the original Mary Skelter: Nightmares in this manner, largely to make the player feel uncomfortable:
    • Little Mermaid's existence in general tips the player off that something is obviously wrong with this game's timeline, as she dies in the backstory of Nightmares.
    • Gretel states that she's at peace with Hansel's death because he died for a cause, and does not know how she would react if they died for nothing. In Nightmares, these's no Little Mermaid to defuse the encounter with Gretel — the Blood Team concludes that Violence is the Only Option and executes Hansel.
    • After the Dawn is sacked by the Mysterious Nightmare, Otsuu muses that the situation would be better with Professor Tohjima around. Tohjima is the Big Bad of the first game and is largely responsible for the Jail and its creatures to begin with. Likewise, Red Riding Hood states that there's no way that she would ever harm her "Dad" Tohjima, but helps the Blood Team end his life in the climax of Nightmares.
  • Death end re;Quest 2 has the antagonist mention that they are taking revenge for what happened to their baby sister Lydia. This line means nothing to the other characters, but tells the player almost everything: Julietta is the sister of Lydia Nolan from the first game and therefore an Observer, which explains her ability to create all of the supernatural things that occur in the game.
  • Wild ARMs: Million Memories loves doing this, thanks to it being an amalgamation of all six continuities in the series.
    • In Chapter 3, your party comes across a large statue in the Abyss, guard by a security robot. It's Berserk, Taken for Granite, and sealed away.
    • In Chapter 6, the infamous shovel scene from Wild ARMs 5 is re-used. Only this time you get to see Jack cringing at Dean crying "No! Black Fenrir!" due to Black Fenrir being the sword his late commanding officer used as a knight of Arctica.
    • Then there is the infamous use of this trope regarding the Rudy's betrayal plotline. Given Mother's taste for destruction and a quick moment in the animated introduction where the two are facing off against each other, the player is left with the idea that she is the force behind it. Then the betrayal happens but it is Siegfried who instigated it, in exchange for a team up against Mother. The dramatic irony comes from the fact the player should have seen this coming based on what happened in the Gate Generator in the first game and the fact Siegfried is clearly the Darth Vader to Rudy's Luke Skywalker but may have missed it due to the game absolutely shredding their emotions.
  • In Halo 2, some terminals feature exposition from Jameson Locke about Thel 'Vadamee, noting that if the UNSC didn't eliminate Thel soon, he could be the cause of the end of the human race. Said terminals are found in levels that show the Prophets and the Covenant stripping Thel of his rank, publicly shaming him and forcing him into suicide missions as the Arbiter, which would eventually result in Thel's Heel–Face Turn and join humanity's side and thus neutralize him as a direct threat against humanity.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Mia's party wants to travel to the east in case the Revenant is to the west, not knowing that Aeyr the Revenant is actually to their east. Meanwhile, Aeyr's party heads east in the hopes of finding Mia, not knowing that she's actually to their west. This is to create suspense for the moment Mia learns the truth about Aeyr and about how her traveling companion, Amalie, knew about Aeyr being the Revenant all along.
  • Fallout: When you find the audio diaries of a man named Richard Grey at the Mariposa Military Base from several decades before the present after his exposure to the virus within, he says that he assumes his companion, Harold, must be dead because he would have tried to help him. However, Harold is still alive by the game's time, and his inability to help Richard was because he passed out after being knocked unconscious. Likewise, Harold believes Richard to be dead since the last time he saw him was when he got thrown into a vat of an unknown substance. Unbeknownst to Harold, Richard Grey was mutated instead of killed at Mariposa, and he became the dreaded Master who tried to take over the wasteland with an army of mutants. Even over a century later in Fallout 3, Harold never found out what happened to his old friend, with no option at any point in the series for the player to tell him the truth, nor is there any way to tell the Master what happened to him.
  • An interesting variation in Horizon Zero Dawn, as it relies on difference of cultural knowledge between the player and the protagonist when shown the same information. When the protagonist Aloy, in the begining of the game, approaches an Old World door that visibly scans her and shows an older woman that looks exactly like her and a DNA strand with the numbers "99.84%", it's made very clear to the audience that Aloy is a clone of the displayed woman. Except Aloy's society has no notion of what a clone is, so it takes her significantly longer to learn it, hoping all the while it'll reveal who her mother is, even though the audience knows she doesn't have one in the sense that she's hoping for.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The fourth game was able to pull this off surprisingly (and painfully) well: When the MASON system is used in the final case to see the case that lost Phoenix his badge, it's obvious at one point the one piece you need to present, but the player knows the evidence is forged and will lose Phoenix his title and job. However, submitting anything else will fail, and you can't Mercy Kill yourself, either. You end up having to submit the forged piece, or just shut off your game. The result is cringing and painful to see play out.
    • There are multiple instances of the player actually seeing a cutscene of the guilty party incriminating himself (most often the first case in a game), but obviously the characters don't know until the end of the case. This is mainly used in Case 1 of most games to establish the killer as a Warm-Up Boss.
    • The fourth case of the third game takes place chronologically before any other case in the main series (to wit, all excluding Investigations), even before the same game's first case, which was also a flashback chapter. Since Dahlia Hawthorne appears in case 3-1, we already know that she won't be outed as the murderer, no matter how much we want it. A young Edgeworth is the prosecutor, and his perfect record as of 1-2 means that he's not going to lose the case. And finally, we know that Mia was traumatized by this case, so something bad is going to happen. As it happens, all three circumstances are fulfilled by the exact same action. The defendant, Terry Fawles, afraid that he'd betrayed his dear Dahlia, drinks the contents of the bottle necklace, unwittingly poisoning himself to death right on the stand. With no defendant, the case is incomplete and declared a permanent mistrial. Dalia walks because of this, Edgeworth doesn't lose the case (though, it's not a win either), and this tragic, horrific end to her first case causes Mia to stop taking cases for about six months.

      But that's not all: in 3-4, Mia is being helped by one of her coworkers, Diego Armando. If you were paying attention during 3-1, though, you know that that's the name of Mia's boyfriend Dahlia poisoned six months before 3-1 because he was looking into her and by the end of the case you find out exactly why he was doing that. You can also see that the bottle necklace Dahlia uses to poison Armando and gives to Phoenix to hide it is the one Terry Fawles drinks from to kill himself. 3-4 is just one great big Player Punch... It also finally explains why Godot has such a grudge against Phoenix, something that he still hasn't learned yet.
    • Case 4 of Ace Attorney Investigations:
      • It's a flashback to when Edgeworth was younger, and still apprenticed to Manfred von Karma. It's a bit unsettling to watch Edgeworth being so obedient to him if you've played the first game and therefore know that Manfred von Karma killed Edgeworth's father. And it manages to be before 3-4, which was Edgeworth's court debut, so the audience also knows that the case Edgeworth is preparing for at the start of it is never going to go to court; the defendant is one of the victims in the case.
      • One scene with Edgeworth and von Karma even doubles as Dramatic Irony and Foreshadowing. Edgeworth says that no man is above the law. Von Karma disagrees, saying there are people like that. To the player who knows von Karma killed Edgeworth's father, the implication is that von Karma is referring to himself. However, the very next case in Investigations deals with a criminal who hides behind his diplomatic immunity, making him "above the law".
    • Case 3 of Investigations 2 takes this up even further: you get to play as Gregory Edgeworth during his last case, going up against Manfred von Karma. By now, most players will know just how this ends... It's made all the worse by the fact Gregory realizes von Karma is a monster the moment he meets him, he just doesn't realize how much... Similar to the 4th game's example above, the final deduction you have to make in the past segment is one the player knows will have horrible consequences, but the game won't continue until you present it. In case it wasn't obvious by now, it's "von Karma forged the autopsy report." And since von Karma still has his perfect record by the time of 1-4, you know Gregory won't be able to get the defendant cleared, and that the real killer will get away with it. Fortunately, Miles manages to resolve everything when the case is re-opened in the present day.
    • Case 4 of Justice for All includes a scene in which Phoenix goes to his client's house to feed his cat and has a friendly conversation with his butler. While this is not a significant event for Phoenix, it is EXTREMELY significant to the player: in an earlier scene, the player sees Maya's kidnapper from her perspective. Said kidnapper is the same person as the butler Phoenix chats with later on. As a result, the player starts to suspect Matt Engarde of wrongdoing long before Phoenix. Once again, this event doubles as Dramatic Irony and Foreshadowing.
    • The tendency to present cases out of chronological order comes to a head in Dual Destinies, where in the fourth case, it's mentioned that the body was discovered by the director of the space center, Yuri Cosmos, and a detective, Candice Arme, a specialist in cases involving explosives. Having already played the first case, the player already knows that Candice Arme will never actually be called to testify, as she was bludgeoned to death by Ted Tonate earlier in the day, and also the case that you're currently trying is going to be interrupted by someone blowing up the courtroom.
    • Then there's the fact that Trucy Wright's mother, Thalassa Gramarye is not only alive, but also had another child — Apollo — with another man before she married Zak Gramarye. Two games later, and the two of them still don't know that they're actually half-siblings.
    • The Dramatic Irony is turned up even further in Spirit of Justice, where the culprit of the second case, upon being revealed, revels in the fact that it was Apollo who saw through his magic trick, and not Trucy, because it meant that in the end, the heir to the Gramarye name did not beat him. The player meanwhile knows that, since Apollo is also the son of Thalassa, it was a Gramarye that brought Retinz down in the end.
    • And during the last case of Spirit of Justice, we find out the untimely fate of Apollo's biological father. He was a travelling musician who died in an arson in a foreign country. Other characters say that, since all of his belongings burned up in the blaze and the police force was in a state of chaos because their queen also died in the fire, Apollo's mother most likely never found out what happened to her husband and child. Apollo briefly laments the fact that he never knew his mother and she probably doesn't know that he is alive, even though, unbeknownst to him, he actually met her on a case a few games ago!
  • A Requiem for Innocence does this hard. You already know that Morgana will be captured and locked up by Jacopo and Mell, that she will die cursing them, and that Maria will end up hating Jacopo for his actions after becoming a lord, and you get to see it all crumble around you.
  • A Little Lily Princess:
    • In Jessie’s route. While Jessie struggles to understand the difficulty of Sara’s new life, Sara’s naivety keeps her from understanding why Jessie thinks becoming a dancer (like she wants) isn’t much different than being married off to the older man who believes the Victorian stereotypes about red-haired women (like her parents want), and the problems that come with.
    • In a scene common to all routes, Mr. Carmichael, upon finding out that Mr. Carrisford has been sending gifts to Sara via Ram Dass after finding out about her bad living situation, suggests that he might take the child he has been helping in so she can be a companion for the one he's looking for once he finds the latter. Mr. Carissford wants to arrange another form of help because he considers that taking a girl from London to France, where she doesn't even speak the language, would be cruel. Sara has been shown to speak perfect French, on top of being the very child Mr. Carrisford is looking for.
  • In Kindred Spirits on the Roof, after the player completes the main story events for a month, which are done from the perspective of Yuna and the kindred spirits, the player will unlock additional scenes from the perspective of the couples Yuna is helping. In August, after Umi and Sasa have Their First Time on August 12, they feel self-conscious upon seeing Yuna the next morning, but Sasa is confident that "There's no way Toomi would know what we were doing, I guess." Unbeknownst to her, one of the kindred spirits, Megumi, was watching Umi and Sasa, and tells Yuna all about what they were up to.
  • This forms a big part of the plot for the Nemesis route of Full Metal Daemon Muramasa. The main character Kageaki Minato is someone who deals with the mother of all Guilt Complexes and only wants to face punishment for his actions when others refuse to give him it. This makes him swear fealty to Kanae Otori when she promises to to punish him as revenge for the murder of Yuhi Nitta once he has accomplished his more pressing goals. At one point however, Kageaki witnesses his father be murdered by a silver knight and swears a revenge of his own. What he doesn't know is that Kanae was the knight, forcing her into an awkward situation as she knows that if she reveals that she was the killer then Kageaki will just blame himself for it and stop fighting, something that goes against her own morals of never killing someone that doesn't wish to fight. In the end they both engage in a final battle with Kageaki being none the wiser as to the identity of his foe with it ending in a Mutual Kill. Even after everything is said and done he still tries to press on in spite of being mortally wounded, all to face punishment, not knowing that Kanae had kept her promise.

    Web Animation 
  • Everything Is Broken: In part 13 Rainbow Dash sees Scootaloo talking with RF Rainbow Dash, she does not understand what is happening but if the viewer have read Rainbow Factory, then it is obvious.
Scootaloo: I thought you loved me!
RF Rainbow Dash: I did love you! I tried so hard for you! In hopes you would pass your test! You had it in you, kid. It was up to you to save yourself!
  • Helluva Boss: The season 2 premier "The Circus" begins with an extended flashback sequence of Stolas and Blitzo's childhoods. Despite their circumstances, both kids are hopeful about their futures at the end of the segment, while the audience is aware of how complicated and tragic both their lives become later on.
  • Red vs. Blue: In season 15 episode 13, Carolina says to the Director, "With all due respect, I doubt I'll ever be fighting a war alongside Red and Blue idiots, sir." Of course, since this is a flashback episode, the audience knows that that is exactly what she will end up doing in the future.
  • In RWBY, Weiss Schnee repeatedly refuses Jaune Arc's advances, and later remarks that he's just like every other boy who wants to date her solely because she's a rich heiress of a company. However, Jaune later confides to his friends that Weiss is the most incredible girl he has ever met, lists all her positive qualities like her intelligence and singing ability, and honestly doesn't understand why she won't take him seriously. Pyrrha comments he should have just told Weiss that amazing speech instead of swaggering and using corny pickup lines. For extra irony, Jaune doesn't notice Pyrrha has feelings for him, and thinks such a famous person like her has several dates, when it's actually the opposite.
  • The Twins (2022): This is what drives the horror at the end of the short. We the audience know that Lucas is dead and the Lucas we see is really Lake, who's decided to take over Lucas's life. No one else realizes and the class laughs when "Lucas" says "Lake" just must be late for class again. The Missing Child poster for Lake at the end emphasizes this even more.

  • In the Cocoon Academy arc of Brawl in the Family, Professor Dragmire tells his students that with his help, every one of them will become a hero. A reverse shot then shows that his class consists of Dedede, Bowser, Jessie, Wario, and K. Rool.
  • Darths & Droids has some In-Universe examples:
    • The roleplayers know that, in the RPG they're playing, planet Naboo has been destroyed and Jar Jar Binks is now dead. The characters they're roleplaying don't know this yet. Jim (who, in previous games, had a lot of trouble separating in-character and out-of-character knowledge) announces, in-character as Han Solo: "I am sure that we will have many fun adventures on the surface of the planet Naboo with our friend Jar Jar, who will surely greet us there upon arrival."
    • Annie tells Corey "There is absolutely nothing weird about Princess [that is, Leia] kissing Luke". Note that at this point Annie (but not Princess) has all the information needed to deduce why there is, but Corey (who wasn't there for the first three games) doesn't, and she knows that too. Since she's speaking out of character, that's practically Dramatic Irony as Metagame.
  • The whole Dork Tower arc in which Matt takes an incredibly long bus trip home, while reflecting that he's not missing anything important back in Mud Bay ... unaware that Gilly has returned and apparently announced that she's getting married. The most ironic bit comes when the others realise maybe they should let him know about his long-time crush's wedding, but they can't get through because he's drained his phone watching The Graduate.
  • In Faux Pas, while Cindy is thinking how thoughtful the cat is, the cat is thinking that Cindy aware of its deception.
  • In Freefall, Blunt regards it as essential that an upgrade go out essentially lobotomizing every robot on the planet, because it must be needed for human safety; when Florence stops it, he laments the catastrophe and explains that nothing will happen, everything will go on. The other robots tell him to check the meaning of the word "catastrophe".
  • In General Protection Fault, Nick starts out as one of the few people who implicitly trusts Trudy, while Ki dislikes Trudy and knows she's up to no good. After Nick almost helps Trudy Take Over the World, he deeply regrets trusting her, but Ki says he isn't entirely wrong to see the good in people. Some time later, Nick and Ki's respective experiences influence them when they decide whether to trust Trish. While Nick realizes how much his trust can be abused and finds holes in Trish's story, Ki reaches the opposite conclusion and decides to give Trish a chance, with the ironic part being that it's because Nick showed her the value of trusting people.
    • During a meeting with Goodman Rubber, Dwayne introduces Mr. Jones to Trent Terrell, Trudy's replacement as GPF's marketing professional. Mr. Jones, who's probably even worse than Nick in judging character, laments how Trudy fell in with the wrong crowd- she actually joined C.R.U.D.E. to become a supervillain, and planned on disposing of her colleagues once she achieved her goal. Even better, Mr. Jones then suggests that she and Trent might have made a good couple- Trudy and Trent had been in a relationship until Trent betrayed Trudy in order to get a job.
  • Girl Genius loves this.
    • This page is a truly shining example. No, Klaus, noooo! (Context: "Agatha" is being possessed by her Familial Body Snatcher mother.) Four pages later, it manages to get From Bad to Worse. (Context: "Agatha" just attacked Klaus and put on a locket to complete her disguise, accidentally handing control back to Agatha.)
    • Funny here. The false Heterodyne knows Gil and tells him she is the Lady Heterodyne — not knowing that he knows the true one.
      Zola: Surprised?
      Gil: Er... more than you can possibly imagine.
    • Five pages later we (and him) learn that Zola plans to kill the Baron's son because she believes he'll be an even more ruthless and insane ruler when the Baron dies. Er...
    • Merlot was working with some of the Baron's cryptographers to decode Doctor Beetle's notes, and discovered that Beetle knew that Agatha was a Heterodyne. Merlot realized that if the Baron ever found out this, he will be sent to the Castle Heterodyne as promised — Merlot failed to find Agatha to hand her over to the Baron after he had expelled her himself. So he destroyed all of the evidence and killed the cryptographers. Which got him sent to the Castle anyway. The irony? The reason Merlot couldn't find Agatha was because she was already aboard Castle Wulfenbach and by the time Merlot started destroying evidence, the Baron probably had already discovered her identity.
    • This strip gets some humor value from information known to Tarvek but not Agatha. Agatha mentions that she can't just say "Appear before me, all-powerful creature" and expect it to work, not realizing that Higgs, who appears to hand her tea at that exact moment is secretly her incredibly powerful Jager spymaster. Tarvek, who knows the spoilered information and is helping to keep it from Agatha, makes an amusing nervous face in the background.
    • Kjarl Thotep cheerfully explains that the time blockage in Mechanicsburg probably isn't that serious, because if it was, then they'd have Dreen, unaware that this dimension not only has Dreen, but that the timestop appears to have attracted something that's like Dreen only more so.
    • Zeetha and Bangledesh DuPree, being fellow Boisterous Bruisers with a hatred of mind control, are Friendly Enemies (when they're enemies at all — since Bang works for the Baron and Gil, it depends which of them she currently feels like sticking with) who enjoy fighting each other because they're evenly matched, but don't take it seriously. Shame that Zeetha seeks revenge on the pirate queen she never saw who masterminded her kidnapping — and Bang seeks vengeance on the kidnap victim she never saw who killed her crew.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Elliot calls Sarah to arrange a suitable place to talk about breaking up with her. Sarah, having been thinking about meeting to talk about the same thing, recognizes the intention behind it based on the wording and the places suggested but jumps to the wrong conclusion as to the reason for doing so and so arrives at the agreed upon place with preconceived ideas.
    • When talking about their theories about how magic resistance is inherited, Tedd mentions that the only way to test one particular hypothesis is to find someone who hasn't been exposed to much magic, has a mother who also wasn't exposed to much magic, and a father who is a powerful mage. What Tedd doesn't realize (but the audience and two other characters do) is that Diane, who Tedd is explaining all of this to, fits that description perfectly.
  • Homestuck:
    • Rose's house will soon be hit by meteors, and is relying on Dave to install his copy of Sburb and save her life. You then get to control Dave, but this is Dave earlier in the day, who thinks that Sburb is just some useless game, causing him to lose his copy nonchalantly.
    • The narration while Kanaya reads a walkthrough she found in the Furthest Ring. She grew up idolizing the writer and has no doubt that due to her leadership, they succeeded with flying colors. It was written by Rose, in the session coming directly after Kanaya's, which they accidentally screw up so badly that it broke the trolls' game as well.
    • Played to Tear Jerker effect when Rose and John meet in person for the first time.
      • John asks Rose to help him find their parents. She can't answer him, but leads him to them. On the way, he jokes about talking to her like she's a dog and being told by Karkat that he has to marry her. She's leading him to their parents' corpses, who were killed by someone who was currently part dog.
      • Rose meets what's left of the Warweary Villein's army; as we already know at this point, WV lost his entire army except these particular survivors and decided to exile himself because he felt like a failure. When we meet the survivors of his army, however, they reveal that they idolize and admire WV (a couple of them even have crushes on him) and wait for him to return to lead them to victory. And then, to add insult to injury, Jack shows up and slaughters them all.
    • John becomes victim to this again when he expects to meet Vriska after the Scratch. At the moment, she's dead.
    • After Gamzee sobers up and goes crazy, killing two other trolls in their friend group, Karkat keeps the others from killing him by calming Gamzee down from his rage and becoming moirails with him (which basically means that they are supposed to be Platonic Life-Partners and mutual morality chains who keep each other in check). What he and the rest of the group don't know is that, while Gamzee is no longer in a murderous rage, he is still evil, and actively helping Lord English.
      • For even further irony, Gamzee eventually ends up being the one who kills Karkat, and even by then, the rest of his former friends still don't know about his association with Lord English.
      • This is also the case with Gamzee's dancestor Kurloz; his friends, the rest of the "dancestors", think he's creepy but harmless, despite being responsible or at least present for serious tragedies that befell both his now-ex-girlfriend and his now-ex-moirail. They, too, apparently don't find out that Kurloz is also helping and worshipping Lord English (and even working with Gamzee).
    • There's a cringe-inducingly awkward (in-universe) example with Jane and Jake. We know she has a big crush on him. He asks her if she does, and she panics and denies it. She tries to correct herself, but Jake says he appreciates her honesty. He then tells her that he probably would have agreed to go out with her if she'd asked, but that the whole thing was just a big daydream and that he's actually really relieved to have just one friend who has no potential romantic interest in him. He then asks if she can spare a friendly ear while he confides in some stuff and Jane, semi-hysterically, accepts. He then goes on to talk about how he's pretty sure Dirk has a crush on him and that he's actually not 100% opposed to the idea of going out with him, and asks whether or not she thinks that's weird. All throughout Jane is trying her very, very best to be the friend that he requests, but to the audience it's incredibly obvious that she could not possibly be feeling more uncomfortable.
    • In one intermission flash, it's possible to control Damara beyond the first area as an Easter Egg. If you talk to Rose or Dave, they will remark that she seems harmless and sweet. She is, in fact, an Axe-Crazy Wild Card who serves Lord English.
  • In Kubera, when Teo looks up information on Gandharva, the book goes on for ages about a lot of meaningless statistics and history which have no relevance to the plot; it also mentions, in a footnote, that Gandharva has a daughter who is so weak and unimportant that even her name is not recorded. Of course, since in the present day all of Gandharva's actions are centered around the hope that she might be alive, the reader knows that Gandharva's daughter is in fact the single most important part of his biography.
  • In M9 Girls! Vero is constantly being turned down by Karlita and the other girls when she shares her conspiracy theories about their lab job. We the readers know better.
  • In Mage & Demon Queen, season 2, episode 1, King Albert Siegwald assumes that Malori Crowett's being one of the top students of the Adventurer's Academy, and her constant, repeated trips to the 100th floor means she absolutely hates Demon Queen Velverosa, will stop at nothing to kill her, and is thus humanity's best champion in their war against the demons. As established in the very beginning of the comic, however, Malori wants to marry Velverosa.
  • In Misfile, Cassiel and James attempt Operation: Jealousy in the hopes of breaking up and reclaiming their exes, Ash and Rumisel. Neither of them knows that Ash is a boy who was Gender Bender'd by a Cosmic Retcon, he finds the idea of "her" former relationship with James creepy and disgustingnote , and that Rumisel (who's in on the whole thing) is just pretending to be Ash's boyfriend specifically to keep guys from chasing "her".
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar hears someone in robes and assumes it's V. He predicts the Order's reaction, and Roy's having to admit that he's a valuable team member — while the audience sees one of their foes coming down the way. And this is hardly even the first, last, or best example. Much of the suspense Rich Burlew generates comes from the audience being shown something important that the characters would want to know, but which they nonetheless remain blithely ignorant of up until the moment where their lack of awareness costs them dearly.
    • After the Order's first encounter with Xykon, Roy was under the belief that Xykon had been destroyed and he had finally fulfilled his father's blood oath, unaware that Xykon's phylactery would enable him to regenerate a new body. Roy remained in the dark about this fact until the Azure City arc where his father's spirit told him (rudely and harshly, for that matter) that Xykon was still alive.
    • After Roy comes Back from the Dead, he and Celia discuss their different attitudes to violence. Roy notes that Celia, being an outsider, will sort of merge with her native plane of existence when she dies, while most other races have elaborate afterlives and at least the possibility of resurrection. He concludes that in a world where people didn't know for certain the afterlife was a real place, there would be much less war.
    • Subverted in the Blood Runs In the Family arc, when the latest version of the Linear Guild heads to Girard's Pyramid to confront the Order. General Tarquin has disguised himself as Thog, which makes it seem like this will come into play, with the audience knowing "Thog's" true identity while the Order remain unaware. Except that once the fighting actually begins, Roy figures out immediately that the helmeted figure isn't actually Thog, and while his attempt to unmask him appears to fail (due to Tarquin wearing a mask beneath his helmet), it turns out a few strips later that both Roy and Elan have surmised his true identity anyway— Roy from a number of small clues (including, ironically, the presence of the backup mask), and Elan due to his understanding of storytelling conventions.
    • Near the end of that same arc, the vampire Malack kills Durkon and turns him into a vampiric thrall, before Malack's destruction leaves Durkon as a free-willed vampire. He assures the Order that he remains their ally, but the final page of the book gives the lie to this, as we see inside Durkon's mind, where his actual personality is held hostage by a vampiric imposter. A significant portion of the following book elapses with the characters largely unaware of the traitor in their midst (except for Belkar who is suspicious); by the time the truth comes out, it's almost too late.
  • Schlock Mercenary: The entire company is captured by the UNS and given False Memories instead of execution. They eventually discover which of their memories were faked, but can't regain the old ones. One of the faked memories is the wedding between the doctor and the reverend. They spend the entire night crying, since they're not married any more. What they don't realize is that they are still married. The same UNS admiral who wiped their memories gave them a short but completely legal (and theologically sound) marriage ceremony before their minds were altered.
  • In Sinfest, the green succubus is unaware that she's the Replacement Scrappy in Baby Blue's eyes. She gets surprised by Baby Blue's Not a Morning Person nastiness and how she's naturally thinking bad thoughts.
  • Sire: Dramatic Irony is a tangible force in the universe called "The Binding" and if the characters do not live by the rules and morals of their sire/dam's story then they will be given a tragic ending.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: An astute reader may figure out the meaning of the possible Rash cure and a never-seen-before type of ghost making their first appearance in the exact same place as early as Chapter 9 or 10. The characters, on the other hand, had no idea of what had caused the ghosts to appear until they investigated the place that made the cure in Chapter 12. In Chapter 19, they are shown to have sufficiently connected the dots off-panel to expect the strange ghosts in a place turning out to be a cure testing facility.
  • In The Transformistress's Hero Rehab series, "The Nurse" focuses on a Vampire Hunter being rescued by an army of monsters and then acting as their chief physician. They're quickly flabbergasted by the monsters wasting medicine on Orcs that have a Healing Factor and using human medicine for centaurs instead of horse medicine, proclaiming "It's like you fools don't even know how to properly be monsters!" But the series as a whole is about humans turning into Cute Monster Girls, with the hunter oblivious to becoming a female vampire herself until the next panel has her giving in to bloodlust, meaning that her patients genuinely don't know how to be what they've become.
  • Trevor (2020): It seems lost on Dr. Maddison that he wants to stop the military experiments aimed at weaponizing Trevor’s condition . . . by effectively weaponizing Trevor to wipe out the rest of the medical team.
  • Used in Wapsi Square here with Luci talking to Jacqui about Shelly using the analogy of a tattoo, not knowing that Shelly had recently acquired a tattoo covering the entire front of her torso.
  • In Ask White Pearl and Steven (almost!) anything, the readers know that Steven is the half-human son of White Diamond, but nobody in-universe does with the exception of White Pearl, who is unable to tell anyone.

    Web Original 
  • In the fourth episode of the TV Tropes original webseries Echo Chamber, Tom assumes he is the dumbass who has a point, when it is obvious to the audience that it is Zack who has a point, although they are both dumbasses.
  • The Hamster's Paradise post Hit or Myth is about a Plainmane elder telling some pups a story about the origins of meatmoss. There was once a beast called the All-Eater which walked on two legs, had sharp teeth, and a face similar to the 'hounds, that didn't respect the balance of nature and killed everything in its path. The suns and the moons tried to kill the All-Eater, but could only destroy its spirit, making it as mindless as a plant. The pups ask the elder if this story is true, and the elder says it could be. By this point, the readers have probably caught on that this is a distorted folk memory of the harmsters, the planet's first sapient species, who killed things for fun until they all died of a transmissible cancer.
  • A big part of the fun with watching The Nostalgia Critic's self-hate for not having any power, is knowing he does. The contributors might love humiliating him, but they've followed him willingly in every single anniversary. He just can't make that connection. His Once an Episode catchphrase is telling us about who he is and what he does. Seems simple enough, but factor in that he's a mess of insecurity regarding practically everything, and that catchphrase becomes self-reassurance.
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Most of the viewers are familiar with the story of Jane Eyre, so they knew that the man who nearly ran Jane over in his car was in fact her employer. Naturally, they happily cringed at her when Jane tried to calm herself down, saying: "It's not like I'm ever gonna see him again anyway." Oh, Jane! You don't even...
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has several examples, including Lizzie's declaration that she feels sorry for whichever hapless girl ends up dating "that douche" Darcy and her somewhat later statement that she'll be reduced to drastic measures if Lydia turns out to be connected in some way to someone related to Darcy.
  • Noob: La Quête Légendaire centers around a fictional MMORPG questline that is intended to end with fighting a world boss that is controlled by a human being rather than artificial intelligence. The players that are doing the questline are doing it in secret because they are not exactly part of the tier of players that usually takes care of that kind of thing and will have to hand it over to the game's elite if they find out about it. The web-movie has companion short feature that is basically the story from the perspective of the guy controlling the world boss. It shows him getting bored out his mind waiting for people to show up and getting the impression that nodody cares about his questline despite The End of the World as We Know It being the alternative to fighting him. He does run into a few other players, but they all seem to be doing completely unrelated stuff... except that two were unknowingly involved in the questline and three were actually involved and deliberately keeping silent about it.
  • Happens fairly often in Escape the Night:
    • Season 1:
      • At the end of Episode 2, Justine starts trash-talking Andrea, whom she had failed to save earlier. Almost immediately afterwards, the group receives word of a traitor amongst them and everyone suspects Justine. In Episode 3, Justine confesses her fear of claustrophobia to her best friend, then cut to the group realising they need to bury one of them alive. Justine begins to cry Tears of Fear, but everyone else expects them to be Crocodile Tears and she is buried alive. Shortly afterwards, they realise Justine wasn't The Mole and they just killed an innocent person.
      • In Episode 6, Matt tries to make a Heroic Sacrifice during an exorcism, but after he forgets to read the full instructions, he ends up accidentally killing his teammate. Had he read the whole note, he would've read that he had the choice of either killing himself or his teammate.
    • In Season 3 Episode 2, Jc is voted by Mat to partake in a death challenge, since Mat did not witness Jc's contributions, being in a separate group earlier in the episode. Afterwards, Jc is forced to pick one person to help him in the final challenge. He picks Mat. Nevertheless, Mat tries his best to save Jc, but ultimately fails.
  • Happens during the Canary Channel arc of The Unexpectables. For the better part of 2 or 3 sessions, Remy is unaware that the rest of the main cast actually survived the attack from the United Clergy of Orun, presuming them dead when they were tossed into the sea at the end of Episode 67.
  • In Who Says, it's implied that both Heaven and Hell use Limbo as a model to turn new souls they acquire into innocence-farms (and the methods in which they achieve this) was all a Contrived Coincidence.
    The sad but tragic part is that as far as my sources indicate, neither side knows what the other is doing and they have no clue just how similar they've become.
    Surprising perhaps, but not shocking.
  • On Day 5 of Double Life SMP, while discussing how Scar stole the Enchanting Table the previous day and how he and his allies would have to find a way to get it from him, Martyn remarks, "There's no way he's not buried it in the Panda Sanctuary, by the way, it's just gonna be underneath a couple of, like, dirt blocks or something for sure." As it turns out, according to Scar's episode for Day 4, that's exactly what he did, and that's what the Red Lives (who want Scar dead) find when they start griefing the Panda Sanctuary.note 

Alternative Title(s): Audience Superiority


Sasuke Talks to Young Naruto

Kid Naturo talks to a strange man about his friend and how he desperately wants to save him, completely unaware that the stranger and friend are the same person.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / DramaticIrony

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