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"That one is keeping a secret, but I'm totally onto her. She's psychic!"

When somebody comes to a completely logical conclusion from what they know, and are completely wrong.

The reasoning is usually (although not always) completely logically valid, but either one of the premises is wrong, there exist things outside the frame of reference of the deducer, or there are just plain facts not in evidence that cause the wrong conclusion to be reached.

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Sometimes, assumptions based on what a character thinks or knows are used against them intentionally. See Kansas City Shuffle.

A common feature of rational Wrong Genre Savvy characters who don't think they're in a story, Master of Delusion characters, and Know-Nothing Know-It-Alls.

As a general rule, an example should usually have the audience already know the conclusion is false. Exceptions to this rule exist, such as the Sherlock Holmes one below, but tread carefully in adding examples that don't have this trait.

Contrast Right for the Wrong Reasons, which is getting the facts wrong but the conclusion correct. Many examples of Sure, Let's Go with That and Future Imperfect are the result of the assuming party being entertainingly wrong.

This trope is the enemy of Occam's Razor. Not to be confused with Sustained Misunderstanding.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the first volume of Accel World, Kuroyukihime is trying to find out the identity of the Burst Linker who's hunting her for the point bounty. Her initial choice is Haruyuki's long-time friend Chiyuri, considering that the Burst Linker is someone with access to the Umesato school network, and that Chiyuri was fairly hostile toward Kuroyukihime in their first meeting. Of course, Haruyuki knows Chiyuri isn't a Burst Linker, since he describes her as unable to hide her feelings and terrible at video games, and the truth is that the actual culprit used a backdoor program in Chiyuri's neurolinker to access the Umesato network.
  • In Bakuman。, Moritaka Mashiro assumes that his uncle, Nobuhiro "Taro Kawaguchi" Mashiro committed suicide, since he'd been unemployed for a while after the cancellation of his last series, and he was deep in debt (It didn't help that the girl he'd had a crush on moved on and married someone else before his debut). In reality, Nobuhiro had overworked himself while trying to get serialized again, and Moritaka's father (Nobuhiro's older brother) points out that Nobuhiro wasn't the type to give up and kill himself.
  • Boku Girl is about an androgynous boy named Mizuki turned physically female for the amusement of trickster god(dess) Loki. Outsiders who learn Mizuki is female but do not know about the gender bending take his declarations of being male as something along the lines of Mizuki being transgender. On the other hand, Mizuki's crush Fujiwara, who is unaware of the gender bending but does know Mizuki was originally male, comes to the opposite conclusion and thinks Mizuki is male-to-female.
  • In Bokurano, in the manga, just before Waku's battle, the pilots enter Zearth's cockpit and try to find out where their seats are, which is fairly easy for most of them, since the chairs are replicas of the ones they sit in at home. Since Maki's adoptive parents will give birth to a boy soon, Maki assumes that the crib belongs to her, rather than Chizu's unborn baby(who technically counts as a pilot), and sits there, rather than the chair she initially assumed was hers.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, the magic side hates and fears Touma Kamijou because of his Imagine Breaker. After finding that Touma has made "alliances" with several powerful people from both the science and magic sides, they conclude that Touma is building an army to take over both sides, calling this army the "Kamijou Faction" ("Kamijou Forces" in the English dub). They couldn't be more wrong, Touma has no interest in taking over anything and only wants to help and protect people. These powerful people are mostly members of his Unwanted Harem, and most of them are unaware of magic and Touma's adventures.
  • Katarina in Destruction Flag Otome actually does have a reason for wanting to know how to farm 'just in case' and other weird things like her constant practice at making toy snakes and so on. It's just that these are really silly solutions to problems that don't even exist anymore. She also tends to make similarly wacky interpretations of why her friends do what they do. They make sense in the context of her feeling that she's living in an otome game, but that's gone way off the rails by this point.
  • In Dragon Ball's Red Ribbon Army arc, when the Red Ribbon leaders observe Goku apparently leaving the site of the next Dragon Ball, Adjudant Black, on the (Very accurate) theory that Goku must have gotten his Radar from someone else, suggests that he's going back to that someone for help. A scout is sent to follow Goku, and sees him talking to an old man. The Red Ribbon then makes the very inaccurate conclusion that the genius behind the Dragon Radar is the Muten Roshi.
  • In chapter 70 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Miko walks in at just the right time to see Kaguya accusing Shirogane of promiscuity, but too late to see the flawed thought process that gave rise to it. Chapter 80 just takes it up a notch, with Iino theorizing that all of her less than savory walk-ins with the Student Council are all Kaguya's fault. Not to mention her thinking of the Student Council as a den of lust and sexual exploitation.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
    • Characters outside of the main cast are under the impression that Kobayashi is Kanna's mother. This is not an unreasonable assumption. Kanna lives in Kobayashi's home, goes by "Kanna Kobayashi" at school, and Kobayashi is a Parental Substitute to Kanna. Further, Kobayashi doesn't really argue against the description, even as she's shown to dislike it, and she herself notes she's old enough that some of her classmates have children of their own. The full truth is that Kanna is an exiled dragon child that Kobayashi took in because she had nowhere else to go. Kanna's best friend, Saikawa, does note that Kanna calls her mom "Kobayashi" and refers to their maid as "Lady" Tohru, but is so overwhelmed by Kanna's cuteness that she never pursues this line of thought.
    • Taketo misinterprets the kind of person Kobayashi is due to Ilulu giving him information that is wildly out of context, which only gets worse when he meets her for the first time and sees what appears to be her forcing Ilulu to act like a dog.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Todoroki has noticed that there is some kind of connection between protagonist Midoriya and number one superhero All Might. He knows that Midoriya's Quirk is very similar to All Might's, but the fact that All Might's Quirk can be passed down to anyone of his choosing is a closely guarded secret. Given how Quirks are often hereditary, he asks Midoriya if he is All Might's illegitimate child.
    • Similarly, Bakugo, having known Izuku since they were both kids and having a massive Inferiority Superiority Complex, assumes that Izuku was hiding his power their whole lives, and disregards Izuku's confession that he was recently given his Quirk... that is, before the circumstances surrounding All Might's retirement lead Bakugo to put two and two together and deduce the truth.
    • In an anime-only episode, a group of students have to solve a mock murder of a villain, played by All Might, killed by one of his hostages. When Tsuyu checks All Might, he laughs because the movements tickle him. Tsuyu assumes All Might simply broke character. Everyone realizes too late, only after All Might has disappeared and escaped, that the villain was Playing Possum all along and All Might's moment of Corpsing was a deliberate clue they all missed.
  • Ucchi, of No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, turns this into something of a Running Gag. She's completely convinced that Tomoko is a Psycho Lesbian Stalker with a Crush, based on the many instances of Tomoko saying or doing something pervy, violating her personal space, or peeping at her in a private manner. In reality, Tomoko just has No Social Skills and barely even knows Ucchi's name - she stumbles into sexual situations mostly by accident, and doesn't clear it up with Ucchi because she doesn't care enough to and Ucchi's too neurotic to ask. It doesn't occur to Ucchi that someone would be peeking up her skirt out of curiosity for whether cheerleader outfits include spats, and then leave the room when other people show up out of social anxiety rather than fear of being caught. And funnily, she's basically right that Tomoko is at least Ambiguously Bi and a perv; it's just that none of that energy is directed at her.
  • One Piece:
    • Upon learning that his friend and leader is also the father of Monkey D. Luffy, Emporio Ivankov makes the perfectly valid assumption that Luffy's brother Ace is also the son of the friend and leader and assists Luffy in a jailbreak to save Ace from certain death. Revealed only after the jailbreak is that Luffy and Ace are not blood-related siblings. Though he was correct in assuming that Ace's father was a world-renowned criminal — only instead of "The Revolutionary" Monkey D. Dragon like Luffy, it was "The Pirate King" Gold Roger.
    • In his backstory, Chopper went on a journey and nearly got himself killed securing a mushroom he thought was a miraculous cure-all. Tragically, the reason Chopper thought this was because there was a skull-and-crossbones next to the mushroom's picture and his mentor Dr. Hiriluk had taught him to associate the skull-and-crossbones with the indomitable pirate spirit.
    • Thanks to his refusal to fight her seriously during their battle, Tashigi accused Zoro of being sexist. Zoro actually has no issues fighting women so much as he has issues fighting Tashigi, who shares her face with the girl that inspired his dream. To defeat her would mean tarnishing the memory of his greatest rival. Otherwise, it's fairly obvious Zoro isn't sexist — the only reason Tashigi hasn't realized the truth herself is due to her own insecurities.
    • In the climax of the Totto Land arc, Big Mom is in the midst of Berserker Rage inducing hunger pangs for a cake that was destroyed before she could eat it. A substitute cake is made to placate her, but the one delivering it had, just the day before, led an assassination attempt on Big Mom. Big Mom's children all assume that the cake must be poisoned and, when Big Mom reaches it, they can only pray that both the poison fails to work and the cake tastes good in spite of it. Anything else would doom them all. What the Big Mom pirates don't know is Sanji led the cake's creation, the idea of poisoning food, even an enemy's, is unthinkable to him, and he managed to convince the allies delivering the cake to leave it alone. The result is an outcome the Big Mom pirates never considered: the cake is not poisoned at all and tastes delicious enough to satisfy Big Mom.
    • When Luffy took some of his friends into Totto Land to rescue Sanji from his forced marriage to one of Big Mom's daughters, all they wanted to do was slip in and out quietly. Circumstances changed this to "Save Sanji's family from Big Mom's assassination and maybe kill her too" and teamed up with Capone "Gang" Bege to accomplish this. While the rescue worked out, the assassination failed and the heroes were forced to fight their way out, and along the way Big Mom's palace was destroyed due to an outside factor Luffy was only tangibly connected to. An Intrepid Reporter who had come to the wedding later wrote that Luffy "obviously" carefully planned out his assault on Big Mom's territory, completely unaware that the debacle was actually a rescue mission that had Gone Horribly Wrong, and declared Luffy the Fifth Emperor of pirates.
  • When the girls of Princess Principal are assigned to try and locate a killer that uses poison gas, they decide their best option is to infiltrate the laundry mill that washes the uniforms of the soldiers their suspect is among and test the uniforms for traces of the gas. A solid idea, since women wouldn't be able to infiltrate the barracks directly and the men typically don't handle their own laundry. What they don't realize is this man does, in fact, do his own laundry. They would never have seen his uniform if the other soldiers hadn't sent his to be washed without telling him first.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • Tsukune's older cousin came to a perfectly valid conclusion considering she didn't know about monsters being real prior to her arrival. Of course she was clearly not being entirely observant seeing as a succubus transformed right in front of her, a snow demon froze a goldfish in an unobscured line of sight before her, and a witch's magic kept dropping amusing weights on everyone that tried to talk to Tsukume.
    • That and a faerie like spirit came right out of the cursed mirror she was holding, and she was still in denial till All Hell broke loose at the Extranormal Institute she was visiting.
  • In The Royal Tutor, Licht's boss at the cafe correctly deduces that Licht is a pampered son from a well-off family. The boss simply didn't realize that Licht happened to be one of the princes of the kingdom.
  • In the Sailor Moon anime, Uranus, Neptune, Kaolinite and the Monster of the Week Senishienta all believe that Usagi's brilliantly shining Pure Heart must be one of the Talismans. Except when Uranus examines it, it turns out that it's merely a mark of her extremely pure heart, which has nothing to do with whether it contains a talisman.
  • In Sword Art Online, Siune, a woman with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, notices that she's been getting less medications over the course of the past month, and concludes that she's been switched from salvage therapy to quality of life treatment, meaning that she'll die soon. It actually turns out that she's on the verge of full remission, and soon leaves the hospital.
  • In Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online, after playing in Gun Gale Online, Karen/LLENN makes significant progress in overcoming her Height Angst and developing a better self-image, resulting in her cutting her hair, since the only reason she'd kept it long was in order to seem more feminine. Unfortunately, she knows her family wouldn't approve of her playing a VRMMO, so she doesn't tell them about it. As a result, the rest of her family thinks she cut her hair because of a breakup, and when she misses her older sister's calls due to being on GGO, her sister assumes Karen's depressed about not making friends (LLENN did make some friends, but only while playing GGO).
  • Rinne from ViVid Strike! thinks that Vivio is a Spoiled Brat who has never undergone any hardship, unaware that the horrors that she went through in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers vastly outstrips the bullying that Rinne experienced in her past. Of course, Rinne would have no way of knowing this since most of Vivio's past was classified by the TSAB and she doesn't let the memory of it affect her. She's also unaware that they have common ground in being adopted (you'd think the whole Has Two Mommies thing would have clued her in).
  • Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! created the Duel Disk for this reason. He realized that Pegasus had some kind of way to read his opponent's strategies, and deduced that it was some kind of tell-spotting technique, that Pegasus had some kind of well-honed way to, at close range, read an opponent's body language and facial expressions and figure out their thoughts. Hence, he invented a dueling machine that positioned the opponents a good distance apart, and put a bunch of giant holographic cards and monsters in between them. Unfortunately for him, he didn't realize at the time that Pegasus's powers work through straight-up magical Mind Reading, and though it does have a range, it's a lot longer than the distance the Duel Disk works at, and therefore none of this would matter even if he ever got the chance to use it.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • There's a moment of this at the conclusion to Batman R.I.P. Batman concludes that the Joker's playing card suits were a reference to the red and black poisoned flower petals used against Batman during the climax. They weren't. There was no clue, the Joker was addressing Batman's skill at solving these kinds of things by providing a riddle with no answer. The Joker's crazy, you can't expect him to be honest all the time.
    • In The Batman Adventures, a comic based on Batman: The Animated Series, Riddler manages to deduce that Batman has to be a rich Gothamite with a personal grudge against crime. He proceeds to accost a roomful of suspects matching the criteria. Bruce Wayne is not among them.
    • A similar instance happens in Chase, when federal agent Cameron Chase is sent to Gotham to determine who Batman is (if he's even real). She deduces that Batman must be someone wealthy with a history of supporting social causes, probably has old family ties to Gotham and is a known associate of other superheroes and the Gordon family. At a party, she notices Gotham Broadcasting manager Alan Scott standing around confidently and realizes he fits all the criteria, noting that he "can't help but stand out amidst the group of useless schmoozers like Wayne."
  • An early issue of Fables introduces a hack tabloid journalist who manages to uncover and piece together evidence that the residents of Fabletown have lived in the same New York neighborhood for over 200 years without aging a day — thus making him the first "Mundy" ever to figure out the Fables' secret. And then he immediately jumps to the conclusion that they're all vampires, threatening to expose them to the world if they don't turn him into one of them. Since they obviously can't do that (and they can't just tell him who they really are), the Fables have no choice but to hatch a plan to steal and destroy his evidence.
  • In Lady Mechanika, young Allie Littleton is a fan of the titular adventuress, but when she meets Lady Mechanika in person, she asserts that she must be an impostor. After all, the real Lady Mechanika is a famous Action Girl and would never wear anything as "frumpy" as the Victorian dress she has on at the time (which is her normal attire when she isn't on the job). She later "proves" Lady Mechanika is an impostor by asking a question about one of her adventures... except the adventure is from a penny dreadful Allie read about Lady Mechanika, and not one of her actual escapades.note 
  • In a MAD parody of Superman 2, Lois Lane realizes why Clark Kent always seems to vanish whenever Superman shows up. It's because... he hates Superman and avoids him.
  • New 52:
    • In Action Comics #2, Lex Luthor captures Superman and subjects him to torture and experimentation. At one point, Luthor orders him to "drop the act" and reveal his true form. Superman asks what he's talking about, and Luthor carts in a twisted inhuman corpse, saying that logically Superman is this creature's kinsman and shape-shifted into a human form to blend in. (A later issue, which reveals that the corpse was found in the vicinity on the night Superman's spacecraft landed, does at least mean Luthor had a reason for thinking it was related to him beyond just "they're both alien".)
    • After promoting how he's going to reveal "Superman's real identity," on TV, Jimmy Olson finally says Superman doesn't have one. In truth, Jimmy believes he knows who Superman is but doesn't want to ruin him. When criminals come after him for the info, Jimmy runs to the man he's convinced is Superman: Magazine publisher Colin Thornton. Jimmy even attacks him in his limo, tearing off the man's shirt and it's when Thornton kicks him out that Jimmy realizes he was wrong (even more so given Thornton is actually the demonic Lord Satanus.)
  • Spider-Man:
    • Just about every recurring member of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery is able to figure out that Spidey's usual photographer, Peter Parker, has a personal connection to him. So hey, maybe if we kidnap the kid, Spidey will show up and save him!
    • When Peter starts working at Horizon Labs instead, you'd think this trope would go away. Nope! Instead, he becomes known as "the guy who builds Spider-Man's equipment." Cue more Peter Parker Held Hostage.
    • A private eye makes a big deal of coming into "the payday of a lifetime." He talks to himself on how Spider-Man is seen at the Daily Bugle all the time and they publish his photos a lot. He thinks of how the guy is in good shape but puts on a show of looking worse in public so no one connects him and must be passionate to be a hero. The issue ends with the smirking PI at the Bugle confronting the man he is convinced is Spider-Man...J. Jonah Jameson.
  • In a Silver Age Superman story, Jimmy Olsen sees Bizarro Superman dressed as Bizarro Clark Kent. He logically concludes that since Bizarro always does everything wrong, Clark Kent is therefore not Superman.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach immediately assumes from the death of the Comedian that there's someone going around killing superheroes, and is more deeply convinced when Doctor Manhattan has a breakdown and leaves Earth. He's wrong; the Comedian was killed for knowing the truth about a conspiracy, and Doc was manipulated into his breakdown to keep him from uncovering it. They were taken out by the same conspiracy, but that was because of things about them and only them; every other superhero was (more or less) perfectly safe. Rorschach had the bad luck to tell his theory to the actual killer, who proceeded to orchestrate more fake attempts and disappearances to keep Rorschach on the wrong trail.
  • A Webelos Woody comic from a 1989 issue of Boys' Life involves this trope. Woody is learning about air pressure and discusses many facts about air pressure in regards to a brick he's holding. He deduces that the brick is lighter than the air pressure pushing up on it and should therefore shoot upward when he releases it. The brick though falls on Woody's foot. Text at the end verifies that Woody's facts were true and the math was correct. It gets explained though that Woody didn't understand that an equal amount of air pressure was pushing down on the brick too, cancelling both forces out. Gravity then took over and made the brick fall.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Dragon Ball fanfic Life With You, Goku and Chi-Chi come to the conclusion that Goku saw the "Full Moon Monster" at a very young age and was so horribly traumatized by the event that the sight of the full moon has triggered blackouts ever since. Of course, they have no way of knowing that Goku was the Full Moon Monster and the Blutz Waves emitted by the Moon still affect him even after he lost his tail.
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    Films — Animation 
  • Quoted above is a scene from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. Twilight Sparkle knows Pinkie Pie and Applejack's names despite having met them for the first time, acting rather suspicious when questioned about it. Pinkie picks up on it and believes she has Twilight figured out — she's psychic! It isn't until later that she correctly guesses that Twilight is actually a pony princess from another world whose friends are pony versions of her friends.
  • WALL•E has the title character seeing EVE undergoing diagnostics and repairs after the plant was stolen from her body and the Captain thought she was malfunctioning. For the last 700 years, WALL•E's ideas for repairs are "take pieces from broken down robots", and seeing EVE through a blurred-out glass, he thinks she is being tortured and taken apart, having no way to know that the repairs are enjoyable for EVE.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Andhadhun, Sofie concludes that Simi and Akash have eloped when she sees a news report that says that it is believed that Simi committed suicide although her body hasn't been found and that she was last seen leaving with Akash, whose whereabouts are unknown. What actually happened was that Akash kidnapped Simi.
  • In the 1943 film The Batman, Dr Daka, the Big Bad, finds that Batman keeps interfering with his plans despite his minions repeatedly claiming they've killed him. He comes to the reasonable conclusion that "Batman" is the Collective Identity of a group of agents working against him, so killing one just means another takes his place.
  • In The Guilty, Asger finds out that Michael came over to Iben's place, yelled a lot, and left with her, only for her to call emergency services and their infant son Oliver to be found gutted when the police arrive. Asger deduces that Michael killed Oliver and abducted Iben, likely planning to kill her too. What actually happened was that Michael found out that Iben had killed Oliver during a psychotic episode and took her to be committed to a psychiatric ward.
  • The entire plot of Hot Fuzz is this. Nicholas Angel examines the evidence he has uncovered and deduces that a string of murders that has been going on in town is all part of a master scheme involving real estate prices. The truth is much sillier. Each of the murder victims were actually going to make the town appear bad in the annual contest for best town, and the current Mayor is a little bit obsessed with winning every year due to a promise to his dead wife. The people were killed for having an annoying laugh, being a bad actor, making typos in a newspaper, having a gaudy house, and planning to move away, specifically. Funnily enough all of these details are offhandedly mentioned by Nick and Danny while brainstorming but neither ever considers they'd be motivation for murder.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • The Curse of the Black Pearl: Norrington refuses to interrogate Jack Sparrow about where to find the pirates who attacked Port Royal and kidnapped Elizabeth. The pirates who attacked left Sparrow in his jail cell, therefore they weren't his allies, and so there's no reason to think that Sparrow knows where they went. In any case, Norrington wouldn't trust a pirate's word anyway. Norrington's conclusion is wrong because there are certain facts that he can't have known (they weren't his allies, but they were his old crew and were in fact his enemies, and he did know where they went). So Will takes it on himself to spring him and go after Elizabeth himself. Norrington also criticizes Jack as the "worst pirate" he's ever met for, among other things, having a compass that doesn't point north and only one shot for his pistol. Not only does Jack demonstrate himself to be a skilled pirate, but it's later revealed the compass is enchanted and he only carries one shot as a reminder of being marooned by his crew with said pistol.
    • Dead Man's Chest: When Cutler Beckett asks Will to steal Jack's compass, Elizabeth recalls that it had been used to navigate to the Isla de Muerta, and assumes that Beckett is after the Aztec gold. She sneaks into his office at night to dissuade him, whereupon Beckett explains that the compass doesn't only point to the Isla. Immediately after, he himself makes the mistake of assuming she has no further reason to be there.
      Elizabeth: [cocks pistol] Recall that you robbed me of my wedding night.
  • Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil:
    • The conflict ensues largely because a bunch of college kids assumed their friend is being held captive by a bunch of depraved hillbillies. In reality, the hillbillies rescued their friend.
    • When the college students start attacking them-and getting themselves killed in the process-Dale and Tucker assume these kids are in some kind of suicide pact.

    Literature 
  • In the Aunt Dimity series, many of the plots resolve themselves in this way. Lori was right to suspect someone was in the woods in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, but it wasn't a vampire or a pedophile, it was a neighbor with a sun allergy thinking about a lost love. Willis Sr.'s new housekeepers have a secret, but they aren't burglars casing the joint, they're caring for an elderly aunt with dementia who grew up in the house. The elderly man wasn't robbed of his treasures by his family, his grandson loaned them to a museum with an inadequate security system, and he wasn't imprisoned by relatives taking advantage of his illness, he himself sent word that he couldn't see anyone due to his post-polio syndrome. The mysterious neighbour isn't scheming to knock down the value of Finch's houses and buy them on the cheap before putting up some profitable and soulless development, he and his ancestors have saved Finch from gentrification by owning nearly all of it outright in a trust and screening potential new residents.
  • In Blood Trail, Detective Celluci looks into Henry Fitzroy's background and finds a lot of missing paperwork. While the specific conclusion that he comes to—that Henry is involved in organized crime — is definitely influenced by the fact that they're involved with the same woman, it's still more logical than the truth, which is that Henry is a centuries-old vampire.
  • In the first few chapters of Citadel, the super-powered agent in training Isaac grows increasingly concerned that his male roommate, Kelly, is skipping training. Kelly, a gender-fluid shapeshifter, spends that same time wondering what she did to offend Isaac, since he barely acknowledges her when they cross paths outside their shared residence.
  • Discworld:
    • In Reaper Man, Miss Flitworth's initial impression of Bill Door (the alias used by Death after his forced retirement) is that he's "one of them Men of Mystery" on the run from the authorities. The rest of Sheepridge think he's probably a revenuer. Bill Door's reaction on learning this is No. Not taxes.
    • In Jingo, both Vimes and 71-Hour Achmed come to the same conclusion regarding a plot to kill a Klatchian prince: That it's deliberately designed to be an act of war. They each even figure it's their side (Klatch for Achmed, Ankh-Morpork for Vimes). The difference is that Achmed is the one who's right.
    • In The Truth, this happens on two notable occasions with the otherwise very sharp William De Worde. First, he thinks that he's sussed out who the Watch Werewolf is: Nobby Nobbs. Second, he thinks that "Deep Bone" — really Gaspode — said "pull one of the other ones" instead of "pull the other one" because he's a foreigner who hasn't quite got the hang of all the idioms. Since he's led to believe that "Deep Bone" is part werewolf and most of the werewolves in the city come from Uberwald, this isn't an unfair assumption.
  • Harry Potter:
    • A major plot point in the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Given what they know, Harry, Ron, and Hermione come to a perfectly valid conclusion that Voldemort's supporter within Hogwarts is Severus Snape, the Head of Slytherin House and Potions Master who actively loathes Harry and appeared to be sabotaging Harry during his first Quidditch match. Turns out it's Quirrell, teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, and much of Snape's suspicious behavior was him acting to counter Quirrell. Much later it turns out that Snape has been deliberately cultivating this kind of image since the first war.
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has several:
      • Dumbledore and Harry both come to the perfectly valid conclusion that Voldemort had tried to get a job at Hogwarts in an attempt to get hold of an item belonging to a Hogwarts Founder for use as a Soul Jar. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry realizes they had it backwards, and that Voldemort used the interview to hide one of his Soul Jars in a hidden room on the way to Dumbledore's office. Actually getting the job would've just been a bonus.
      • Also in The Half Blood Prince, knowing that Mrs. Weasley doesn't like Bill's girlfriend Fleur Delacour, and seeing that she has been repeatedly inviting Tonks over for meals, Harry and the others assume that Mrs. Weasley is trying to get Bill and Tonks together. Harry even notes at Christmas in one scene involving Lupin that Mrs. Weasley seems mad at Lupin that she isn't getting Tonks for a daughter-in-law. In actuality, Mrs. Weasley had been inviting Tonks over to help her with her relationship issues with Lupin, who had been pushing Tonks away due to his personal hangups. She really did dislike the idea of Bill marrying Fleur, but that was unrelated and she gets over it.
      • Speaking of Tonks... after Harry encounters Tonks inside Hogwarts, he speculates to Ron and Hermione that Tonks might have been in love with Sirius, the reasons being that: (A) Tonks was nearly in tears after Harry mentioned Sirius' name, and (B) her Patronus resembles a four-legged entity nowadays. Near the end of the year, Tonks confesses her love for everyone within earshot (including Harry) to hear, prompting Harry to realize that he was right about Tonks being in love; he was mistaken only about with whom she's in love.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • It's a belief of many Manticoran flag officers that one is not truly surprised in space combat, they just wind up in this trope due to overlooking or being kept from some key piece of information.
    • An example occurs in the very first book, On Basilisk Station. The climax of the book is a fight to the death between a Havenite Q-Ship and Harrington's very-much-outgunned light cruiser. The battle breaks out because Harrington has figured out Haven's plan to use a native insurrection and attack on humans, including Havenite traders, to act as an excuse to launch a military occupation and seize the system, and that the Q-ship is supposed to be an "innocent trader" that goes running for "help" from a waiting invasion force, and so she has to stop it before it can. All of which is completely true, but circumstances are such that the plan has been shot to hell and the Havenite captain is running to tell the waiting invasion force to not to launch the invasion. And so the two ships get into a battle neither wants over something that both are trying to prevent.
    • A Rising Thunder:
      • In the thirteenth book, in one scene Mesan antagonist Benjamin Detweiler is telling his father Albrecht everything Manticore and Haven have learned about them in the past book, including the fact they had Haven's Secretary of State reignite the war several books ago. Albrecht's surprised because they actually didn't have anything to do with that one. They just helped it along when they realized it was occurring. Benjamin points out that the circumstantial evidence alongside their use of Puppeteer Parasite nanotech to tie up loose ends supports their belief.
      • An example from the same book comes from the Mesans themselves. They had earlier covered up the destruction of one of their secret facilities by claiming that infamous Manticoran & Havenite spies had assisted local terrorists in a bombing that killed a large number of civilians and died in the blast. The fact that those spies had needed a long time to get home so they could report in supported their belief that the two were dead. Not only was Mesa wrong about this, but the fact that they're alive to now dispute their claims makes them an even bigger Spanner in the Works than they would've been otherwise.
  • Safehold:
    • Aivah Parsahn manages to work out that Merlin Athrawes is able to change his appearance and travel at speeds that should be impossible. Because Aivah is not aware of Safehold's true history as a Lost Colony, she deduces that these are simply part of Merlin's abilities as a seijin rather than because he's a Ridiculously Human Robot with access to aircraft. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption to make, since the seijin title is Merlin's method for explaining away his capabilities for public consumption.
    • The Sisterhood of Saint Kohdy is an Ancient Tradition even older than Charis' equivalent Brotherhood of Saint Zherneau. However, their patron had only begun to suspect that the "Archangels" weren't entirely on the up-and-up prior to his death. As a result, they do not know Safehold's full history like the Brotherhood does. They were, however, able to work out that the original colonists, known as Adams and Eves, were someplace else before awakening on Safehold on the Day of Creation. There has been debate within the Sisterhood itself over whether it was the colonists or the colonists' souls that were somewhere else.
  • The Salvation War:
    • The demon lord Belial is extremely confused about why the humans are slaughtering the demonic hordes even though they used to only cower in fear a "mere" five millenia ago. He thinks about his own forges, and how his slight refinements to tridents made them much better. He comes to the conclusion that humans have been so scared of the mighty demons that they stockpiled many great weapons over the thousands of years and only use them now that they're facing extinction. Wrong, sure, but much closer to the fact than the rest of Hell assuming that humans suddenly have magic.
    • The demons thinking they would just crush the human race with ease actually makes a lot of sense given the knowledge they have and their society as a whole. Hell's social and technological level is essentially the bronze age, and demons are immortal (unless they are killed); some been kicking around for thousands if not millions of years. They don't have the concept of science and their latest information on humanity is at least several centuries old, which is completely up-to-date by demon standards.
    • The White House assumes that the sky volcano that was randomly moving around Detroit, spreading lava everywhere, was an intentional tactic by the demons to cause more damage than the previous one that stayed in the same place (limiting how far the lava spread). What really happened was a combination of the Nagas on the other end unable to make the portal in unison combined with the portal's guide demon being shot down before it could be opened.
  • In "The Adventure of the Yellow Face", Sherlock Holmes deduces that a man's wife, recently immigrated from America, who has been spending money and apparently keeping a cottage for a mysterious yellow-face figure, is being blackmailed by her first husband, someone who apparently did not die of the Scarlet Fever she claimed he had. In a rare case, Sherlock is absolutely wrong.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Eddard Stark in A Game of Thrones knows that his son Bran had a suspicious fall while the Lannister siblings Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion were around, and that someone sent a man with a very rare and expensive knife to kill Bran shortly after. Furthermore, he later learns that the recently deceased Jon Arryn was looking through a book on noble genealogy before his death, a book which shows that all of Robert Baratheon's confirmed bastards and general family have his black hair while all of his wife Cersei's children have the characteristic Lannister golden hair, and he received a message from Lysa Arryn accusing the Lannisters of murdering her husband Jon. From all this he comes to the conclusion that Jon Arryn was murdered by Cersei and her brother Jaime because Jon had discovered that her children were the product of incest, and they tried to kill Bran because he saw them together. He's almost right except for two details. The first is that it's later implied that it was Joffrey, the oldest of Cersei and Jaime's children who sent the man with the knife to murder Bran because he had heard Robert call Bran's paralysis a horrible fate and say that Bran should receive a Mercy Kill, and the second is that Cersei and Jaime had nothing to do with Jon Arryn's death, it was actually Lysa acting under Petyr Baelish's orders, and the letter was meant to throw everyone off their trail and sow distrust between the rival houses.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the The Thrawn Trilogy, Grand Admiral Thrawn discovers that a Noghri commando named Khabarakh has suddenly returned to his homeworld, Honoghr, after being missing in action for about a month following a failed mission to kidnap Princess Leia on Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld. Khabarakh maintains that he had used that month to meditate over his failure. Thrawn, still suspicious, has his ship thoroughly examined, and finds Wookiee hairs all over. He concludes, quite logically, that Khabarakh had in fact been held on Kashyyyk for the last month, and has him taken into custody on suspicion of treason. Unfortunately for Thrawn, the conclusion was wrong: Khabarakh's story was true, and the Wookiee hairs were all from Chewbacca, who had been aboard the ship (and had helped with a bit of cover-up sabotage to it). This is one of the few times that Thrawn is shown to be fallible, and in fact this error eventually leads to his downfall, because had he known a bit more information, he might have realized that there were Rebel spies on the planet. Specifically, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO — who eventually were able to expose the Empire's betrayal of the Noghri. This caused them to turn on and assassinate Thrawn.
    • Thrawn's major piece of missing information was something only a handful of people alive were aware of: Leia was Vader's daughter. The Noghri could determine that by her smell, and that relationship gave "Lady Vader" influence with them, enough for them to talk. Had he known that, and knowing Vader's reputation among Noghri, he might have realized why they were so "unsuccessful" in hunting her down.
  • The Stormlight Archive book 2, Words of Radiance:
    • Tyn is perfectly reasonable in believing that Shallan is just using the identity of a conveniently housebound, never-seen noblewoman as her cover and still needs a dose of reality as to doing what needs to be done. Unfortunately for her, she's wrong on the first count.
    • The book is pretty much full of this. Characters are constantly making assumptions about each other, their abilities, their religions, and more, that seem reasonable but are based on incomplete or incorrect information. Among the most amusing incidents comes when Shallan and Kaladin are falling into the chasms together. They both use their abilities to protect them, but being unaware of the extent of their abilities or each other's abilities, they both assume they're responsible for their survival.
  • In the early stories of the Whateley Universe, Phase brilliantly deduces that the person who left him an extortion note just before school starts is...Assistant Administrator Amelia Hartford, who has a grudge against Phase's older sisters! Phase is so, so wrong. But he doesn't figure that out for about a month, when he spots the real clue and realizes what it means (which is probably a correct series of deductions).
  • Worm:
    • The events of June 20th (Arcs 18 Queen and 19 Scourge) get classified because the evil clone of Eidolon created by Echidna revealed the truth about Cauldron to everyone. Then Interlude 19 (Donation Bonus #2) shows us a thread from the In-Universe Parahumans Online forum in which, from the sketchy data they have, the forum members come up with theory which is not only false, but leads them to specifically rule out the existence of evil duplicates of prominent superheroes.
    • Taylor creates a series of increasingly complex theories about Dragon, such as her being crippled in the destruction of Newfoundland and blackmailed by the PRT, to explain oddities resulting from Dragon being an Artificial Intelligence.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This forms an entertaining subplot in the first episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Watson's mysterious roommate doesn't seem to have a regular job, interacts with many unsavory people, seems to know a suspicious amount about crime and related subjects, and owns a set of lockpicks. Could he be a criminal mastermind?
  • On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Superior is convinced Coulson is responsible for the outbreak of superpowers and alien attacks because Coulson can be connected to almost all of them. Which is true, except for having the causality wrong since Phil's job is to react to such incidents.
  • The Andy Griffith Show:
    • Andy and Barney came to the completely logical conclusion that Opie's friend, "Mr. Ockley" wasn't real, given the description Opie gave (jingles while he walks, can blow smoke out of his ears, runs around the top of trees, has 12 hands, and wears a silver hat). Turns out he is a tree climber, covered with tools (which he calls his "extra hands"), and can do a trick where he catches smoke in his mouth and releases it from his ears note 
    • Another episode had Andy and Barney worried about the town drunk buying a car. They later find the car crashed, found that Otis had let himself into the jail. They came to the conclusion Otis drove drunk. Turns out Otis had sold his car before even having a sip, already deciding a drunk like him doesn't belong behind the wheel.
  • Babylon 5: When trying to get the League of Non-Aligned Worlds to accept White Star patrols along their borders, Sheridan concocted a scheme that made the League ambassadors think there was a new enemy that only the White Stars could detect and so insisted that Sheridan deploy them to protect their space, exactly as he intended.
  • Blackadder: The season four episode General Hospital centre around Edmund trying to root out a spy in a nearby hospital. In the end of the episode, he comes to the conclusion that Nurse Mary is the spy and gives a perfectly explanation as to why, that she, among other things, have a German sounding name, knows German, admitting earlier that the nice nurse persona was an act and was willing to blame Captain Darling as the spy, whom Edmund knows is innocent despite his own disliking of. This is a conclusion you'd expect in a war series, but this being a Brit Com, means the leak had a more silly explanation. The real spy was his friend George, for sending letters to his German relatives.
  • Black Lightning: Crime boss Tobias Whale believes he killed Black Lightning nearly a decade earlier. In reality, Jefferson Pierce survived the attack but decided to retire at the urging of his wife. When Lightning returns, Tobias assumes this is a new guy taking up the suit and mantle, not getting this is his old enemy.
  • Mixed with Deceptive Legacy, an episode of Continuum has Liber8 killing women with the same name of Lilly Jones and time-travelling cop Kiera realizes they're trying to wipe her out of existence by killing her grandmother. As it happens, Kiera has already found the woman she believes is her grandmother, remembering her mother's tales of her being a strong, independent and compassionate woman and so thinks it's a successful lawyer. But then Kiera sees another woman named Lilly Jones who has the right tattoo and realizes her real grandmother is a pregnant homeless woman with a hot temper.
  • Also seen in Criminal Minds when an initial profile ends up being wrong and they're forced to re-evaluate the entire motive (and suspect). Often the result of Pulling the Thread.
  • Doctor Who: In "Resolution", the Doctor, examining a slime trail left on a sewer wall by a mysterious alien creature spotted by an archaeologist working in the sewer, deduces that the creature, which is missing, slid down the wall and into the water to escape. In actuality, the creature, a Dalek recon scout, created the slime trail in the reverse order, and has latched on to the archaeologist to use her as a Meat Puppet.
  • In Forever, an old girlfriend of Abe's observes the dynamic between Abe and Henry and figures out that they are father and son, but she understandably has their roles the wrong way round.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Cersei is convinced that Tyrion is the one who murdered Joffrey at his wedding day feast. He previously had threatened to find a way to ruin Cersei's happiness at a moment she was convinced she was safe, openly hated Joffrey, had threatened to murder Joff previously and had tried to leave the feast more than once just before Joffrey died of poison. All in all it is pretty convincing, if entirely circumstantial. It just happens to be absolutely wrong, it's revealed to have been Olenna Tyrell working with Littlefinger to protect Sansa.
    • This tends to be Littlefinger's M.O. Using knowledge of other peoples' assumptions against them to stir chaos and turn people against each other. Of course, the success rate of simply causing chaos to benefit himself tends to fall a little into Gambit Roulette territory. It would be a bit more believable if he had another few dozen chaos schemes that resulted in no major benefits at all. In the end he falls into the same trap himself; framing Anya as attempting to overthrow Sansa as Lady of Winterfell seems like a perfectly logical power play, and given their mutual antagonism possibly even true. What he doesn't know is that Arya completely rejects her role as a noble Lady, and the second Sansa pauses to think about it the whole scheme blows up in his face.
  • This is a Running Gag in How I Met Your Mother: Ted fancies himself "quite the detective", but his elaborate deductions are always wrong. In episode "Daisy", for example, Ted is onto Lily, suspecting her to have started smoking again. His elaborate summation ends with him pulling a .... pregnancy test from a flower vase. Apparently, all the changes Ted saw with Lily were due to her new circumstances.
  • While arguing over how to sensitively address casting Murtaugh in their version of Lethal Weapon 6, Frank of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia suggests they try to get James Earl Jones for the part, as he "does a great blackface".
    Dennis: James Earl Jones has a black face! He is a black man!
    Frank: No, he isn't! When he played Darth Vader and they took the helmet off him, he was white!
  • In the pilot of Jonathan Creek, Jonathan uses a complex model to demonstrate how a woman could have escaped from her top-level office to commit a murder, while a secretary was waiting outside the entire time. After the demonstration, Jonathan admits that while theoretically possible, it requires too many things out of the woman's control to have actually been what occurred.
  • Commonly seen in the Law & Order franchise when one or more of the initial, red-herring, suspects turns out to have a perfectly reasonable explanation for their suspicious behavior. The guy with the shrine to a dead kid who was stalking him, who quit a high-paying job to work with young children, all seeming to perfectly fit a predatory pedophile? The kid's real father concerned about his care by the adoptive parents and wanted to be close to him.
  • In an episode of The Mole, which frequently peppers the contestants' interactions with hints about who the mole is, one time had the host meet up with the contestants while eating an apple. One of the contestants assumed that meant "The Big Apple", and thought the mole was a fellow contestant from New York. It wasn't, and he was eliminated right after, but the kicker was the apple thing was a clue, to lead them toward the actual mole, who was from Washington state, whose state fruit is the apple.
  • Orphan Black: Krystal is correct that she is being targeted by a conspiracy targeting her and correct about who is behind the conspiracy, but is wrong about why they exist and what their goals are.
  • This happens a few times in Our Miss Brooks:
    • In "The Burglar", Miss Brooks believes the man she recommended for the job of school custodian had stolen the cafeteria silverware, Mr. Conklin's watch and Mr. Boynton's desk.
    • "The Wrong Mrs. Boynton" has Miss Brooks guess that Mr. Boynton wants someone to play his wife to impress a College dean. She gladly takes on the role, until she finds out she's playing his mother, not his wife!
    • During "The Wrong Mrs. Boynton", "Mr. Boynton's Lots", and "June Bride", Walter Denton and the Conklins jump to the conclusion that Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton are finally getting married.
    • Miss Brooks believes Mr. Boynton is finally going to propose in "Mrs. Davis Reads Tea Leaves". It turns out that he wants to start a summer camp!
  • Happens a lot on Psych as, while brilliant, Shawn's lack of police training means he can jump to the wrong conclusions a lot.
    • One episode opens with a flashback of Shawn doing a book report on Charlotte's Web even though he hasn't finished reading it. Shawn tells dad Henry he doesn't see the point as "It's obvious what happens: Wilbur wins first prize at the fair and he and Charlotte live happily ever after." A smiling Henry bets Shawn a trip to Disneyland he gets an "A" on the report and Shawn starts planning it out.
    • Shawn is about to accuse a man of murder only to have Henry interrupt. He takes Shawn aside to tell him that the guy is innocent because of a detail in the police report Shawn didn't bother reading. Thinking fast, Shawn is able to figure out who the real killer is and then acts like he meant to accuse the other guy to "flush him out."
    • This leads to the plot of the episode as Shawn is hired to take part in a think thank by a billionaire to come up with ways to kidnap him as a "security precaution". Too late, Shawn discovers they are the kidnappers and he's just given them the perfect plan.
  • On Quantico, the team are tracking who was behind the bombing of an airliner. They find a company short-sold the stock for the plane's cargo before the crash and thus logically conclude they must have known it was going to happen. The team do a full-on investigation at a party with aliases, costumes, bugs and more. Alex is putting up a tracker in the computer when she overhears the heads of the company talking...and discovers they had nothing to do with the crash as the company is actually just a massive Ponzi Scheme. The reason they decided to short-sell that particular stock? Because it was a shipping company and one of the partners was ticked they lost his mom's birthday present.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In the episode "Arthur's Mantle", Dr. Lee knows that Sam and Cameron were in a room with an Ancient artifact; that the security cameras in that room went out and when they came back on the two of them were no longer visible; and that the cameras in the hallway outside the only exit don't show them leaving the room. He concludes that the artifact must have miniaturized them and spends quite a bit of time trying to find them on the floor of the room. In reality, it rendered them invisible and intangible, and Sam spends most the episode hovering over Dr. Lee's shoulder, frustrated with the fact that she can't communicate this to him.
    • In a later episode, another device sends Sam into an alternate reality. When she returns she discovers the rest of her team had assumed she'd been rendered into "ghost" form again and spent three weeks "keeping company" to an empty room.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • The episode "Little Green Men" had 20th century humans unable to communicate with Rom, Nog, and Quark (whose Universal Translators weren't working) making assumptions about the three's behavior that were wrong but made sense from their perspective.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow," Data is sent back to the turn of the 19th century. He discovers Guinan also happens to be in that time period, and comes to the conclusion she somehow was sent back in time as well. Data had no way of knowing Guinan's real age.
  • During the first season, The Tribe meets Bray and Trudy, a handsome boy and heavily pregnant girl travelling together. They refuse to leave each other under any circumstances, and Trudy is very possessive of Bray and bullies any girls who show interest in him. The Mall Rats quite naturally assume that the pair are in a sexual relationship, but the truth is more complicated: Trudy has a crush on Bray, but slept with his brother, Zoot who became a fanatical tyrant after the Virus hit. Bray's morals demanded that he protect Trudy (and his nephew) while she was in such a vulnerable state, but he doesn't have any feelings for her at all, much to Trudy's anger. Because of the circumstances, though, it takes some time before all this is sorted out.
  • Voyagers!, "Jack's Back": After spending a fair amount of time examining Jeff's shoe and all the different things on it, Doyle concludes he's been to the Royal Zoological Gardens. Jeff can't tell him the truth.
  • The X-Files
    • Scully became convinced that Skinner was going to try to kill her when the Well-Manicured Man told her a hit had been put out on her and that "they'll send someone you know". He was the most logical suspect based on what little she had to go on.
    • A few seasons later, Skinner thinks that Mulder thinks he's a mole. He awaits in dread when Mulder announces he's discovered the mole's identity, only for him to name someone else.

    Roleplay 
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Minor character Vanessa comes across Lenore, Ciro, and Michal while they're talking about the strange smoke from the previous night. They're really discussing the fog that gave them their superpowers, but Vanessa, being ignorant to the event, instead assumes that they're talking about getting high.
    • Hyeon and his group learn that they're being watched by a government agent just before Rose sends them an invitation to meet up in a local graveyard to talk about their powers. Hyeon goes on a rant about how it's an obvious trap, and that they should stay home and enjoy some weed brownies instead of walking right into it. The reality is that the agent isn't related to the graveyard meeting at all.
  • Scary News out of Tokyo-3 is full of people trying to extrapolate the truth about the current crisis from what little they know about NERV and the Angels that isn't classified, and going in completely the wrong direction — when any of them makes a correct guess, it's usually by accident and frequently followed by skeptical dismissals. You know things are bad when the resident conspiracy theorists aren't crazy enough.

    Tabletop Games 
  • From Forgotten Realms: The history of High Moor. The resident pissed-off druid in Elminster's Ecologies II, Bara, assumes it to be the result of typical human deforestation. It's really the result of a Killing Storm unleashed by elves during a civil war. She just assumed based on what she saw and knows, and probably never saw a single elf capable or willing to do this, nor would she know, since elves aren't eager to tell anyone else about less glamorous moments of their past. The fact she's a self-professed misanthrope who figures Humans Are the Real Monsters probably didn't help her.

    Theatre 
  • In Abie's Irish Rose, Patrick Murphy obverses all the oranges festooning the place of his daughter's wedding, and leaps to the horrifying conclusion: his Rose Mary is marrying a Protestant! When Patrick encounters Solomon Levy, the proud and obviously non-Protestant father of a Nice Jewish Boy who by implausible coincidence is getting married to a certain "Rosie Murpheski" at the same time, he grills him about "all the A.P.A. decorations":
    Solomon: Vell, I tell you why! The girl's from California!
    Patrick: So's my daughter!
    Solomon: Bud my son is marrying a Jewish girl!
    Patrick: My daughter is marrying an Irish boy!
    Solomon: My son isn't Irish!
    Patrick: Well, my God! My daughter isn't Jewish!
  • In My Fair Lady, during the Embassy Ball, Zoltan Karpathy (a rival dialectitian) is asked by the the Duchess to determine Eliza's background. He picks up on all the clues present that Eliza's perfect English is the product of coaching, but when he assumes that her manners are innate, he comes to the conclusion that she's a foreign aristocrat instead of that she's a lower-class Englishwoman.
    Higgins: Oozing charm from ev'ry pore, he oiled his way across the floor.
    Ev'ry trick that he could play he used to strip her mask away.
    And when at last the dance was done, he glowed as if he knew he'd won.
    And with a voice to eager and a smile too broad
    He announced to the hostess that she was — A Fraud!
    "Her English is too good," he said. "That clearly indicates that she is foreign.
    "Whereas others are instructed in their native language, English people aren't.
    "And although she may have studied with an expert dialectician and grammarian,
    "I can tell that she was born — Hungarian!"
    And not only Hungarian, but of royal blood.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum:
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Rito think, upon seeing the Sheikah Slate on his belt, that Link is a descendant of the Hylian Champion who fought and died to defend Hyrule from Calamity Ganon a century before and who was bequeathed the Sheikah Slate as an heirloom. They don't realize that he was Only Mostly Dead as a result of that battle and that he spent the following century in the Shrine of Resurrection to heal. Though the elder Kaneli does start to catch onto the truth once he sees Link carrying the Master Sword.
  • The Longest Journey has you tricking a sea-captain into thinking wheat worms are eating through the apple supplies:
    "These are worms, all right — viscous, snarling wheat worms driven mad by their hunger for a change of diet!"
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 3, the plot of the "Leviathan" DLC revolves around Shepard trying to track down the Leviathan, believed to be a Reaper who has mysteriously gone rogue from the others. Despite all of the mounting evidence pointing to this conclusion, it turns out that Leviathan is actually a giant sea-monster, one of The Remnant of the race that came before the Reapers and whose image the Reapers stole for their own. It also makes the Reapers' God-Complex seem downright modest in comparison.
    • At the beginning of Mass Effect 2, Shepard off-handedly wonders if they are a clone, before Jacob reassures them that they are the real Shepard; the Illusive Man wanted them back exactly like they were, not a clone. In Mass Effect 3's "Citadel" DLC, the main villain is Shepard's clone, created as a backup in case the Lazarus Project failed. Shepard was right about being cloned; they just got the fact of who the clone was wrong.
  • In Persona 4 the team comes up with multiple theories arrived at rationally, based on the information they have. They just happen to also be wrong. The killer isn't targeting women or people who had some indirect connection to Mayumi Yamano, the Midnight Channel isn't some ability of the killer used to announce the next target and the killer isn't even directly responsible for most of the people being thrown in the televisions!
  • In Persona 5, during the Medjed arc, a mysterious hacker named Alibaba asks the Phantom Thieves to change the heart of someone named Futaba Sakura (who happens to be Alibaba herself). The Phantom Thieves quickly and correctly guess that Futaba is related to Sojiro Sakura, owner of the café where the protagonist stays, but don't immediately understand why Futaba would need a change of heart. After asking around and finding out that no one in Sojiro's neighborhood has heard of Futaba, as well as the protagonist overhearing a conversation in which Sae threatens to revoke Sojiro's parental authority, the protagonists briefly wonder if Sojiro is abusing Futaba, and whether Futaba wants to be free of the scars of that abuse. It turns out that Futaba is actually a badly traumatized shut-in who hopes the Phantom Thieves can heal her heart.
  • The events of Save the Prince came about because a traveling sorcerer prince who was looking for a bride saw a beautiful girl on a castle balcony and in his mind beautiful girl + castle = princess. When the king denied having a daughter, naturally he was lying to try and keep his intended from said sorcerer and naturally the logical response was to start turning people into stone.
  • In Undertale:
    • The Player Character is allowed to name themselves as one of Alphys' crushes when asked about it during Mettaton's Pop Quiz. He points out that you are completely wrong (the actual answer is most likely Undyne), but deserve credit for the answer as you are 'correct' in a metaphorical sense due to the way she acts towards you, and that he loves how conceited the answer is.
    • Among Papyrus's possessions is a Jolly Roger flag, a human artifact which leads him to believe that humans evolved from skeletons.
    • In Deltarune, if you go for a pacifist playthrough and don't go back to him with Susie, then after the battle with King he assumes that the gathering is Clover's birthday party and Susie is Clover's mother, and the reason she ate the cake was to protect Clover. Susie begins to object, then realizes that playing along might get her more cake.
  • In Chapter 6 of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the party discovers that ex-Chairman Bana was plotting an assassination during the negotiations between the Queen of Uraya and the Emperor of Mor Ardain. Their investigations (which included a report of a Nopon attempting to purchase poisons, a large unexplained sealed crate being among the cargo, and very strong-smelling ingredients being used by the chefs) led them to the natural conclusion that Bana was aiming to poison the banquet, so they rush in to stop the Tirkin chefs. After a quick battle, it turns out that those chefs are the world-renowned Dragon Chefs, and, as confirmed by Zeke who tested one of their dishes, damned good ones. Bana had actually elected to take a much less subtle approach in smuggling in an upgraded version of Rosa to carry out the assassination and wipe out any witnesses.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations:
    • Iris has a secret involving Phoenix which she doesn't want him to find out. During the final case Phoenix comes to Hazakura where Iris lives and on the same day she receives a letter telling her to come to a certain place at certain time "unless she wants her secret to be exposed". Iris of course thought she was being blackmailed and the blackmailer threatens to tell the aforementioned secret to Phoenix. As it turned out it was actually a love letter.
    • When Phoenix met Iris for the first time he was rather shocked. As the player knows it was because she looked exacly like his ex-girlfriend who should be in prison after she tried to kill him (and as it's later revealed, Dahlia had recently been executed). Maya, however, unaware of that fact, seeing Phoenix stunned after seeing such a beautiful girl, thought she just witnessed Love at First Sight.
  • In the second to last trial in Super Danganronpa 2 the team realizes that Nagito arranged it so that one of them would accidentally throw a bottle filled with deadly poison at him and guess that the reason for this was because he was trusting his luck to have it be the traitor so they could be unmasked at the trial. The last trial of the game reveals that it was actually the exact opposite. The intent had been for them to be unable to guess who had done it so that everyone besides the traitor would die and the traitor would be able to escape the killing game.

    Web Animation 
  • The Dark Angels commanders in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device learn that both Cypher and Mechanicus are on one planet and conclude that AdMech must be in league with Cypher, while in fact the Techpriests were lured there for unknown reasons and they don't even know of Cypher's existence.
  • RWBY
    • Jaune assumes that Pyrrha is a deeply compassionate girl who wants to make her teammates happy (which is true), and that, furthermore, she's so ridiculously out of his league (also true) that her constant attempts to spend time with him and build his self-esteem could not possibly have romantic motivations (not true). Nothing about his thought process is wrong, but the viewers know that his conclusions are. note  Of course, this didn't stop the fanbase from raking Jaune over the coals for 'being so blind'.
    • When Professor Goodwitch first heard Nora and Ren were partners, she assumed they'd be a terrible match because they're so starkly different. Their differences are actually the reason they have been friends since childhood.

    Webcomics 
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Grace chooses Die Hard as the first movie in a Christmas Special marathon due to assuming that if it is a movie set during Christmastime it must be a Christmas Special. (She does realize it's a violent action movie, but still thought it counted as "Christmas".)
    • The very first thing Ellen notices on meeting Diane is an uncanny resemblance to Susan. As the story continues, Ellen and Nanase discover Diane was adopted as an infant, was born approximately twenty minutes earlier than Susan, happens to have the exact same magical affinity as her, and was protected by an immortal who had vowed to be Susan's ally. Ellen and Nanase reach the conclusion that the two must be related, as does Diane when she gets enough pieces to put together. Their initial idea that the pair might be twins separated at birth is debunked by Tedd's father, but Susan's father was "a cheating cheater who cheated" on Susan's mother, opening the possibility of being half-sisters. It is eventually revealed that they are related, but more distantly than anyone considered. Their familial connection is Adrian Raven, a teacher at Diane's high school. He's an elf, a half-immortal, who's lived for centuries believing he couldn't even have children. Susan is the descendant of a woman he was with in his biological twenties, while Diane is his biological daughter.
    • One piece of evidence that Ellen and Nanase present to Susan when telling her about Diane for the first time is that Jerry, an immortal sworn to be Susan's ally, appears to believe it's true. He helped Diane while claiming it was due to a debt "to her sister", while doing nothing to help Diane's adopted sister, Rhea. Because Jerry is an immortal, a magical being with the power to travel invisibly and see much more than a mortal would, Susan takes this as conclusive evidence that they are sisters. Unknown to any of them, Jerry is in the room, invisible, and noting that he doesn't actually know any more than anyone else does.
      Jerry: I reached that conclusion for the same reasons Ellen and Nanase did. I don't know jack.
  • Girl Genius:
    • At the beginning of the story, it is perfectly logical for Baron Wulfenbach and his son Gilgamesh to conclude that a young soldier is the Spark responsible for a rampaging clank, rather than the girl he was found with, because you can't hide "the Spark". The girl, Agatha Clay, studies at the local university under Dr. Beetle: if she were a Spark, all her professors would know. The soldier, Moloch von Zinzer, only just came into town. What the Baron and Gil don't know is that you can hide "the Spark": Agatha had been wearing a device that does exactly that. Of course, since Klaus leaves early, he misses the big clue of the Clank going off to "protect" Agatha, leading Gil to do the sensible thing — check their hands, revealing that the soldier's hands are clean... but Agatha's has grease and oil on them from building the clank. Which leads Gil to come to the conclusion that Agatha is breaking through now due to the stress in her life. Once again, somewhat wrong: she broke through when she was five, and the same necklace that had hidden her was acting as a Power Limiter.
    • Jiminez comes to realize that his feelings for Larana... right around the time he mistakenly comes to think that she's in love with his brother, Aldin. He is eventually set right, but Aldin lets the misunderstanding stand because it is throwing Jiminez off his game and makes it much more likely Aldin and Larana will be able to complete their covert mission for the Library without being found out.
  • Banquo in the second Hark! A Vagrant strip on this page.
  • At one point in Homestuck, Terezi comes across the scene of Eridan's recent killing spree. Having just seen Tavros after he was impaled by Vriska, she concocts a crazy sequence of events positing Vriska as the killer there as well... except she immediately realizes it makes no sense. Especially since some of the evidence she saw was the result of one of the "victims" reviving as the troll equivalent of a vampire.
  • In Kaspall, Sam concludes that the world would be a lot better if it was just humans, because there would be no Fantastic Racism.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Corrie is forced to disguise as a wolf named Dale after being entered into the Species Registry as one. Unfortunately for her, this means that she'll have to fake being a hunter, but Bruno helps her with that. Rudy and Fiona realize that Corrie is not actually hunting her own kills and then conclude that she's the secret daughter of Ralph Dewclaw, a laughably incompetent hunter, based on her inability to hunt and her scent matching his (she's wearing his wolfskin). In the short term, Corrie's relieved that her secret is still safe, but it turns out that Rudy and Fiona were actually right.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Durkon at one point concludes that the storm Miko ambushed the Order of the Stick in was sent by his patron God, Thor. He reasoned if there hadn't been a storm, the Order would have destroyed Miko before she even got in melee range with arrows and flame spells. She wouldn't have told them why she was following them, or figured out that her "detect evil" spell had been getting a false reading. The storm also cleared just as soon as Durkon noted this. Turns out, Thor was just drunk.
    • In one comic, Roy concludes that if there were no raise dead or planeshift spells (meaning death was permanent, and you didn't even know for certain there was an afterlife), nobody would have wars.
    • When we finally meet Haley's father, he severely misunderstands his daughter's place in the Order.
      Roy: Actually, your daughter works for me, Mr. Starshine, not the other way around. I'm the leader of the Order of the Stick.
      Ian: Oh, I see. [sotto voce, to Haley] Good work, Kitten. Always let the stuffed shirts think they're in charge. This way, you can subtly manipulate them into doing what you need without them realizing that you arranged it all from the shadows.
      Haley: No, Dad—
      Roy: And for that matter, we didn't come here to rescue you. We're here in this region on a totally unrelated mission. It's just sheer coincidence that we happened to get thrown in the same cell block as you.
      Ian: [sotto voce, to Haley] Wow. You've gotten good at this.
    • Later, Tarquin recounted how his ninth wife Penelope had, when she was younger, had a child with a man who turned out to be a member of Girard Draketooth's family, and that the latter had spirited the child away with him to raise her amongst his own. Penelope died soon before she had the chance to hire adventurers to help her follow up on a lead that could have reunited her with them. Upon learning this, Haley, Durkon and Elan came to the conclusion that, since Nale seemed to have knowledge about the Gate that the Draketooths were guarding, that he had Sabine discreetly kill her to prevent anyone else from learning anything more about it. A perfectly reasonable outcome, though the truth turned out to be something they couldn't have known. Vaarsuvius's then-recent Deal with the Devil culminated in their casting of Familicide, which they had intended to scourge the world of any Black Dragons related to the one that had attempted to take revenge on V, as well as any related to her. V had, at the time, failed to take into account that this would also apply to any Half-Human Hybrids (or, indeed, any other crossbreeds) that were related to any affected Black Dragons, and, as the Draketooth family were Black Dragon descended, Penelope had been caught in the crossfire of the spell by dint of mothering a child of their blood.
  • In Narbonic, Dave's internet girlfriend Lovelace (who is actually Professor Madblood's supercomputer) lets slip that she's staying in the same hotel room as Madblood at a convention. When Dave and Helen break into Madblood's room to find her, they discover only one set of luggage; Dave mistakenly concludes from this that Lovelace is Madblood.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: After waking up from a coma that was caused by a Power-Strain Blackout, Onni has a general dazed attitude, causing Trond to come to the conclusion that he suffered a stroke. What Trond doesn't know is that Onni saw his younger sister's soul leave for the afterlife little before waking up from his coma, and Onni's daze is his emotional reaction to it.

    Web Original 
  • The aliens in Humans Don't Make Good Pets make several inferences about the protagonist due to not knowing a thing about human biology, including that humans are sentient. At one point, one of them assumes he must have infrared vision to know which pipe in a room was hot when he used it to cook meat. In reality, he just held his hand over each pipe until he found one that was hot enough.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-451 is a former agent who ran afoul of an artifact that rendered him completely incapable of perceiving or meaningfully interacting with other people. His diary reveals that he has come up with increasingly outlandish ideas as to what has happened, all based on the assumption that the problem is with the rest of humanity and not himself.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prince Zuko is hunting the Avatar expecting an old man, since he hadn't been seen in a century. A valid assumption since he has no way of knowing Aang was frozen in an iceberg.
    • In the episode "Serpent's Pass", Toph is drowning, and Sokka yells out that he's going to save her. However, Suki ends up jumping into the water before he gets a chance to, and since Toph is blind, she can't tell the difference, thus assuming when the two resurface that Sokka rescued her. The "entertaining" part comes in when Toph gives Suki a Smooch of Victory before she gets a chance to reveal herself.
      Toph: Sokka, you saved me! [smooch]
      Suki: Actually, it's me.
      Toph: Oh... you can go ahead and let me drown now.
  • In The Batman, a couple of far-future archaeologists who are excavating the Batcave have a few conclusions like this. They think Oracle's wheelchair belonged to Alfred, for example, and after seeing a portrait of the Wayne family (Bruce and his parents), they conclude that Thomas Wayne was Batman, and Bruce was Robin. Rock-solid logic that fits their evidence, and is completely wrong.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • In Season 3, Terry/Batman's girlfriend Dana finally figures out why he's always ditching her in favor of his job... It's because he views his boss as a father figure and presumably wants to spend time with him and impress him with his diligence. Max thinks it's an entertainingly wrong conclusion, but Terry admits that there's some truth to it. Becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when the Distant Finale reveals that Bruce actually is Terry's father, genetically.
    • In an earlier episode, prior to discovering his identity as Batman, Max reviewed Terry's habit of sleeping in class, falling grades, change in attitude, and unexplained injuries and came to the conclusion he'd joined a gang.
  • In an episode of Gargoyles, both the titled characters and Macbeth are on the hunt for scrolls written by Merlin. Naturally, they assumed the writings of the great wizard in history would contain all kinds of spells, incantations, and magic, but it turned out the scrolls were just a journal.
  • King of the Hill:
    • In one episode John Redcorn inadvertently helps Dale into having an honest-to-goodness spiritual vision during a camping trip. Dale's vision tells him, in pretty unambiguous terms, that his son Joseph was actually fathered by a Native American man. But instead of finally piecing together the many obvious hints that John Redcorn is his son's biological father, he becomes convinced that he is actually a Native American. Eager to throw him off, John Redcorn agrees with him, and Dale spends the rest of the episode hilariously trying to "reconnect" with his Native American roots.
    • Dale does this a lot when it comes to Joseph. For instance, he once figured out that nine months before Joseph was born, he was halfway across the country chasing a UFO sighting. He comes to the only obvious conclusion, the aliens impregnated Nancy because they knew Dale was onto them and wanted to distract him! He later "remembers" that the aliens abducted him and said it was likely that they harvested his sperm to impregnate Nancy with, and therefore Joseph is biologically his son after all! However, it's implied that he made up that last part to make Joseph feel better since he was going through an identity crisis after "learning" that he was half-alien.
    • For Dale being Entertainingly Wrong in the other direction on his family tree, his own father (who he believes is a real ladies man) attempted to come out to him as gay. In his awkwardness, he merely said to Dale that the rodeo he works at is a gay rodeo, and that his friend that Dale met earlier is his partner. Dale is disgusted, telling his dad to get out of his sight. After all, his dad obviously just confessed to being a government agent, the natural enemy of a Conspiracy Theorist like Dale! Why else would he be working at the gay rodeo with a "partner"? They must be undercover! Of course, when it's all straightened out (ha ha), Dale is perfectly accepting of his dad's sexuality. After all, John Redcorn is gay and Dale's been friends with him for years!
    • Peggy Hill often gets hit with a case of this as well, either due to her over-inflated ego or whenever her (in)ability to speak Spanish comes up. In one episode, she came to the conclusion that the actor who plays Monsignor Martinez, whose children she had been tutoring, was in love with her. He'd been speaking in a rather romantic tone, buying flowers and gifts, and said that his wife was "with her ancestors". However, he was just poor with English. What he meant was that his wife went to visit her grandparents and the flowers and gifts were a surprise for her when she got back. Funnier still, she thought she wooed him with her skills in Spanish!
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In the Christmas Special, "Santa Claws", Ladybug finds evidence of a missing Adrian and a Cataclysm-destroyed poster board nearby. Her conclusion is that Cat Noir protected Adrian from an Akumatized supervillain. The truth is that Adrian and Cat Noir are the same person.
  • In The Simpsons "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2", the police accuse and arrest Homer for the shooting due to a number of evidence that seemingly points to him; an eyelash with Simpson DNA on the suit Burns was wearing when he got shot, Burns waking up from his coma shouting "Homer Simpson!", and most damaging, the gun that was used to shoot burns not only found in the family's car, but also has Homer's fingerprints! The eyelash came from Maggie, who was left in the car. Burns tried to steal her candy, and during the struggle, his gun fell out of its holder, firing and shooting him. Homer got his fingerprints on it while feeling around for an ice cream cone he dropped. Oh, and Burns was saying "Homer Simpson" due to brain damage- it was ALL he could say.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Holocron Heist", Master Yoda has a premonition that there are going to be intruders in the Jedi Temple. The Jedi, therefore, assume that the intruders are after information on military deployments and strategies, stored on the computers in the Temple's communication centres. As the audience knows, however, bounty hunter Cad Bane and accomplices have actually been hired by Sith Lord Darth Sidious to steal a holocron — a Force-powered data storage device that can only be opened by a Jedi, and thus usually useless to anyone who isn't one. This misconception allows Bane to escape with a holocron, especially as he also had his personal droid engage in some misdirection to fool Anakin and Obi-Wan, in pursuit, into thinking the intruders were headed for the communications centre.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "Bibo", Tam and Neeku, seeing the giant sea monster attacking the Colossus and knowing from Eila that the monster wants Bibo, Neeku's new pet, assume that the monster eats Bibo's species. This horrifies Neeku. The monster is Bibo's mother and she wants him back.
  • Steven Universe: A pivotal moment in the show's backstory is the shattering of Pink Diamond by Rose Quartz. In "The Trial", Steven, who possesses Rose's Gem, is put on trial by Blue and Yellow Diamond, who want to see "Rose Quartz" answer for her crimes. During the trial, the Blue Zircon assigned to defend Steven realizes that the known details about the crime don't add up. For starters, how did Rose, by then a known war criminal, get anywhere near Pink Diamond in the first place? The conclusion Blue Zircon reaches is that Pink was lured from safety by someone she knew and trusted, and the only ones she knew, trusted, and could have shattered her were the other Diamonds. "A Single Pale Rose" reveals that Blue Zircon was very close, but would never have considered the truth: The one responsible for Pink Diamond's shattering was Pink Diamond herself. She faked the whole thing because she was Rose Quartz all along and wanted to shed her Diamond persona entirely in favor of living on Earth.

    Real Life 
  • The common belief in Ancient Egypt was that the heart was the center of the body, responsible for producing all thought and emotion. The reason for this belief was that the human heart is connected to all parts of the body through veins, and a quickened pulse preceded strong emotions. For this reason, the heart was preserved when someone died and was mummified. Meanwhile, ancient Egyptians believed that the brain was only responsible for creating mucus, so they just threw it away. This is also the source of using hearts to represent emotion, making it Older Than Dirt.
  • An example of It Will Never Catch On from Real Life: someone predicted television would never be successful in the United States because "Americans don't have the attention span to sit and watch a box for an hour". Logically sound, but based on wrong assumptions.
  • A lesser known real-life example occurred when Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, heard about the Europeans approaching the Inca capital of Cuzco. He noted that the Europeans had cooking pots (metal helmets for protection) over their heads. Atahualpa believed that anyone who wore cooking pots was crazy, which goes double if they didn't even use those cooking pots for preparing food!
  • Ignorance Is Blitz: Mangled Moments of History from Actual College Students contains a healthy share of these, surprisingly, to the point of doubling for Right for the Wrong Reasons (had the phrase been explained properly).
  • University teaching assistants, who are often responsible for grading undergraduate essays and exams, often have many a tale of the entertainingly wrong answer: whether it's a term definition, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, or essay question, someone will find a way to botch it beyond all belief working with the limited knowledge that they have.
  • Wilbur Wright declared out of frustration that man would never fly... a solid day before this happened. One of the Wright brothers, knowing the limitations of his own invention, didn't think it would ever be possible to use one to fly over the Atlantic.
  • Francis E. Dec's entire worldview was completely wrong, but some things stand out. For example, he claimed that the Polish Christmas tradition of kolęda — children going from house to house dressed up as devils and angels and singing Christmas carols — is actually a leftover from ancient (reality note: nonexistent) religion of Astrocism. This is especially jarring to someone who took part in kolędas.
  • People once believed tomatoes were poisonous, being related to deadly nightshade and actually making people who ate it seriously sick. Both of these were true. However, the true culprit was the lead plates most people ate the tomatoes off of; while lead plates aren't a generally good idea, the real problem was that tomatoes are acidic enough to dissolve the lead off the plates, assimilate it and transport it into human biology.
  • Many of the educated people who have developed pseudoscientific theories and/or reject accepted scientific consensus do so because they take facts they know and extrapolate them to a completely wrong conclusion, unaware that there are facts they don't know and that what they do know is often a very simplistic explanation useful for teaching students or the public but useless for detailed study of the topic.


Alternative Title(s): Hilariously Wrong, Wrong For The Right Reasons

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