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. But unknown to her, the Alpha Bitch'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 the Alpha Bitch is about to laugh in Alice's face and get the part that Alice deserved.
- 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. A favorite trick of time-travel or historical works; see It Will Never Catch On. Foregone Conclusion or Doomed by Canon may crank it Up to Eleven. May end with an Internal Reveal. The opposite is Tomato Surprise, when the characters know something that the audience doesn't know.
A type of Irony.
- As the Big Bad of Astérix 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 high 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.
- In Astro City, Cammie, 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 Glory Hound ways mean he gets less than even his exploits would merit in the abstract.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Dresden Files: Down Town: Harry thinks about how glad he is that Molly can't read his mind. Yeah, about that...
- 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.
- Star Wars 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.
- 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 is definitely not a paragon of sanity.
- X-Men Forever reveals that Homo superior — mutants — aren't the Superior Successor to humanity, but a flawed creation as their mutant powers end up burning out their lives.
- Sue Townsend uses this a lot in her Adrian Mole books, to great (mostly) comedic effect. Particularly remarkable in that the books are diaries...
- 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.
- 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 figure 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's 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.
- The Dresden Files, Blood Rites: Subverted. 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. Crap.
- 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.)
- A Frozen Heart, a tie-in novel to Disney's Frozen, 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 his brothers were bullies who pretended he was invisible for two years, she doubts they are as bad he claims and he should take responsibility for his actions. However, not only was this something he didn't lie about, it turns out his family is far more monstrous and violent. As such, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf continue to live their happy lives having adventures while thinking Hans got what he deserves, completely unaware that they sent him back to a cruel and unfeeling man, his father, who continues the torment Hans was trying to escape from.
- 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 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.
- This crops up in the Honorverse a bit.
Dear God. She doesn't know we're here.
- In the first book, Honor is pursuing 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 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.
- 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.
- In the first book, Honor is pursuing 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.
- Humanx Commonwealth: In Flinx in Flux, 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 Esmeraldanote . 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...
- 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.
- In Jason Matthews's Red Sparrow, the majority of the story is about the CIA protecting their penetration of the SVR, and the Russians attempting to unmask the traitor among them. The novel starts by introducing the mole and the American case officer handling him.
- 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. Further more, it is fairly obvious to the readers that Colley is a closet homosexual, yet poor Colley lacks the self-awareness to realise this before it gets him into serious trouble.
- Rokujyouma no Shinryakusha!?:
- 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.
- 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.
- In the book series The Sword, the Ring and the Chalice, when Noble Fugitive Alexeika first met Prince Dain, she initially presumed he was 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 didn't realize (and the readers did) was that Dain's sister and adoptive family was 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 pointed this out to her when she made such accusations towards Dain.
- This trope comes heavily into play in the eighth book of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 particular 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.
- Isaac Asimov's 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 and unpleasant 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).
- 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 From 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.
- 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.
Elphaba: I'd be so happy I could melt!
- 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.
- 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:
First Poet Twas one man, say they all, ay, swear to it, one man who, single-handed,
- 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), 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.
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.
- 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 realises 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. After summoning Galacta Knight during Meta Knightmare Returns and getting slashed for its trouble, it revives itself as Star Dream Soul OS. Star Dream Soul OS starts deleting Haltmann's soul from its system and effectively loses its sentience, having regressed back into a mindless killing machine during the second half of its final form.
- 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 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 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.
- 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 Fazbear 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 return his feelings. 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.
- 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!
- Funny here. The false Heterodyne knows Gil and tells him she is the Lady Heterodyne — not knowing that he knows the true one.
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.
- In 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 sufficently connected the dots off-panel to expect the strange ghosts in a place turning out to be a cure testing facility.
- 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.
- The History of Rome does this; we all know how Roman history turns out, but Mike Duncan tries as much as possible to put listeners in the shoes of the Romans, with the effect that episodes often induce a certain kind of dread at the upcoming reckoning.
- 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.
- 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.