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False Dichotomy

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"False Dichotomy: This is where you say that there are only two choices, when actually there are more. For instance, you might say that someone is either alive, or they're dead, ignoring the fact that they might be Dracula. Or you might say that if someone's not a Democrat, they must be some sort of Republican, ignoring the very real possibility that they could be Dracula."
Lore Sjöberg, Alt Text episode 5, "Logical Fallacies"

A false dichotomynote  — also known as either/or reasoning, the black/white fallacy, false dilemma, false choice or binary thinking — is when just two options are presented for something when there are actually (many) others. Moreover, the two options presented are rigged to favour one answer. There are two ways of doing this:

Classic. One choice is an unacceptable extreme, the presenter hopes the target will commit to the not-unacceptable-extreme option: "Kill the children, or buy their cookies."

Polarization. Both choices are unacceptable extremes, the presenter hopes the target will commit to the less-unacceptable option: "Kill the children with their own cookies, or only kill half of them."

Reality is rarely so simple, unforgiving, or rigged. Instead of an artificial binary choice favouring an ideology, life offers a diverse landscape of choices and consequences.

A more subtle form is to argue that a statement of support for one thing means the speaker opposes another thing which is seen to be an opposed position, but which is not actually mutually exclusive with it at all:

Alice: I like cats.
Bob: Why do you hate dogs?

This binary approach is also a common media trope. Simply put: it is a lot easier for an audience to understand a story where characters are villains or heroes.note  In the simpler romances, it is more straightforward if characters exhibit a transcendent love, or an excoriating hate. Contrast Golden Mean Fallacy. Necessary for someone to be able to Take a Third Option (though, of course, doing that instantly subverts this trope by revealing the falsity of the dichotomy). A Sadistic Choice is similar, except all of the given options are horrible. Compare and contrast the Semantic Slippery Slope Fallacy.

Super-Trope to:

  • All Myths Are True: Whenever there is a myth, it is inevitably true, as opposed to only some myths being true, or the myth being only partially true.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: A character has the delusional belief that good and evil is cut and dry.
  • Books vs. Screens: You can either like books or screen-based entertainment, not both, often with an assertion that books are superior. Not to mention the existence of E-books.
  • Brains Versus Brawn: You are either smart or physically capable/strong. Can't be both!
  • Dumb Is Good: You can either be moral or smart, it's impossible to be both (or neither).
  • Enemy Mine: This invokes the false dilemma that you and your "friend" must be on the same side, simply because you both oppose the same thing.
  • Family Versus Career: A woman can either be devoted to her family or devoted to her job.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: When putting the baby up for adoption isn't even mentioned as a possibility.
  • If Jesus, Then Aliens: If someone believes in one supernatural thing, they take that as evidence that anything could exist.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: This trope denies that a woman can be moral and ethical, and sexually active or desirous at the same time. She is either one or the other.
  • Man Versus Career: A woman is either married to her man or Married to the Job.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: The belief that one cannot delve into the inner workings of nature and still appreciate its beauty, because for some, knowing how nature functions takes away any wonder, mystique, and meaning it has.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: People eat either lots of meat or no meat whatsoever, and the two groups inevitably clash. "Balanced diet"? What is that?
  • Neutrality Backlash: When a False Dichotomy is enforced by one side or both extremes via active hostility towards third options.
  • No Bisexuals: People are either gay or straight, because some believe that you cannot be attracted to two or more genders.
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: The notion that a powerful being can either be a deity or an alien, and that aliens can't be deities even if they're very powerful.
  • No True Scotsman: The fallacy that if an X is or does Y, they're not a genuine X.
  • Pascal's Wager: It assumes that there is only one way to believe in the divine and that therefore it's a binary choice between (in the original context) Christianity or atheism. In reality, Christianity is only one of many mutually contradictory religions, not to mention the fact that Christians don't even all agree on which is the correct version of their own religion.
  • Perfect Solution Fallacy: Arguing that a course of action is no good because it's imperfect.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: You can either be strong and get taken seriously, or a Girly Girl. You can't possibly be both.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: You either solely value logic and disregard emotion entirely, or vice versa, with no middle ground. Never mind that Romanticism is a philosophy, hence intellectual, and that without emotions we wouldn't even care about Enlightenment.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Can run into this if a choice that's both lawful AND good isn't on the table.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Jokes that sort people into two categories.
  • With Us or Against Us: An extremist who believes anyone who isn't explicitly with them is their enemy.

The inverse is called Denying the Correlative, wherein someone attempts to Take a Third Option where there is no third option. For example, being asked a yes or no question and answering "maybe."

Looks like this fallacy but is not:

  • There really are only two options. If a cafeteria only serves tea or coffee and you ask for a drink, "tea or coffee?" is not presenting a false dilemma.
  • The choices are "A" or "Not A". In this case, "Not A" encompasses everything that isn't "A", even if that category is massive. For example, "You're either a Conservative, or not a Conservative," does include all possibilities, even though "Not a Conservative" includes liberals, libertarians, anarchists, or any other political philosophy that isn't simply conservatism by another name.
  • The act of presenting two options makes there become just two options. For example, if asked to call heads or tails on a coin, it can be assumed any other states the coin might land in are going to be discarded.
  • There really are only two options, even though there's a third (semi-)option that comes from combining (bits of) the other two. This is usually due to a linguistic quirk of English whereby both the Inclusive Or (A or B or both) and Exclusive Or (A or B but never both, often abbreviated xor) are both just 'or'. E.g. the statement "Everyone reading this page is alive or a human" is true for an Inclusive Or, but not for an Exclusive Or. Naturally, most statements like that are misleading in general speech. See the trope Mathematician's Answer.


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  • Blue Spring Ride: Kou has to choose between dating Futaba, a girl that he's loved for several years, or to give emotional support to Yui, who is currently going through a rough spot in her life. Never once does it occur to him that he could date Futaba, while still being a good friend and support to Yui.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Towards the end of the story, Alphonse acquires a Philosopher's Stone and uses it to his advantage to fight Kimbly and Pride. Kimbly wonders why: if Alphonse were to use the Stone to flee instead, he could use its power to restore his and Edward's bodies in full... while leaving Amestris and its people to its fate. Alphonse throws out this logic and claims there is no reason he should not be able to pull off both. Kimbly accepts this, but points out that it brings one more possibility on the table: fail to restore their bodies and fail to save anyone.
  • At the end of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Fuse is given a choice between killing Kei or sparing her... but the second he shoots her, a squadmate with him is shown unloading his own pistol, making it clear the "choice" was no choice at all, merely a test of his loyalty. If Fuse had refused, his squad would've just shot him and killed Kei themselves.
  • Terror in Resonance: During their first bombing, Twelve gives a bomb to his classmate Lisa to make Nine remember their mutual painful memory. Nine calls Lisa and gives her two options; join them as an accomplice, or die as a victim. Obviously, she chooses staying alive.

    Comic Books 
  • During the initial promotion for Civil War (2006), Marvel released a pair of message board signature images reading either "I'm with Captain America" or "I'm with Iron Man". Within days, fans were creating their own versions by the dozens, the most popular being: "You're all fucked when the Hulk gets back" or "THOU ART NO THOR"!
  • Parodied in Spider-Man with J. Jonah Jameson's favorite description of Spidey; "Threat or Menace?". Basically suggesting that either Spider-Man is a danger to others around him accidentally, or he's an actively malevolent thug. The (true) third option that Spider-Man is neither of those things and is actually a hero who protects people is, of course, ignored by Jameson.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: In his hellish prison-turned-junta Garrus-9, Overlord gives everyone who wins the Gladiator Games a choice; either commit suicide or fight him for their freedom. Overlord, for reference, is a genetically-enhanced Super-Soldier capable of slaughtering entire armies single-handedly. There is no choice but to die. The third option of simply running away before this point is pointed out by Impactor, but Snare sums up why nobody takes it; they're all rightfully terrified of what Overlord would do if anybody refuses to play along with his rules.
  • The chief cause of the threeway conflict between humans, mutants, and robots that forms the crux of X-Men is extremists on all three sides insisting that people must choose and can only be one, and that any alternate options like peaceful coexistence or overlap between groups is impossible. The X-Men fight to prove that false dichotomy wrong, and stories frequently highlight the Insane Troll Logic behind the dichotomy.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Loud House fanfiction Cringeworthy (MSTed here, Luna writes a pop song, but other characters assume she must have stopped liking rock, ignoring the possibility that she likes both. Also, the story acts as though the only two options for describing Luna's song are "awful" and "awesome".

  • Part of the choice between factions in Captain America: Civil War. Would you rather have superheroes who are so overly regulated they can never be effective at all, or no authority/oversight so superheroes can do whatever they want without repercussions? This may be justified because they are being told that the current arrangement is the compromise by Thaddeus Ross, who is using the Accords as a power play to control the Avengers who support him and round up the ones who don't. After seeing his severity later in the film and his unreasonable pettiness in the next, the remaining "Pro-Accords" Avengers quit.
  • This pops up in Batman: Under the Red Hood when Batman's one rule is directly challenged by Red Hood, actually the resurrected Robin who was murdered by Joker. Batman states that he can never kill because it would be Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, while Robin criticizes his logic and points out there is a third option: just kill The Joker and nobody else. Batman still balks at this, fearing he lacks the self-control to just stop after getting a taste for it.
    Robin: Why?! I'm not talking about killing Penguin or Scarecrow or Dent. I'm talking about him. Just him. And doing it because... because he took me away from you.
    Batman: ...I can't. I'm sorry.
  • Expelled: The film presents the issue as wholly a matter of unguided and naturalistic evolution vs intelligent design (which has obvious religious implications, despite ID advocates claims otherwise). The fact that many churches support evolution is dismissed with the claim they simply do this in siding against conservative Christians (no mention of t how one such group is the Catholics, with a doctrine that's hardly liberal Christian). So all of the evolutionary biologists in the film are atheists, and this was surely no coincidence given how Stein frames things here (again, despite claiming that ID's not a religious movement).
  • A Few Good Men: Colonel Jessup, after having been accused of killing one of his own men (admittedly by accident): "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post." You are either at war or not a soldier, used against a military lawyer.
  • A Matter of Faith: The only options raised in the debate are naturalistic evolution versus creationism. In reality, many believers Take a Third Option of theistic evolution, claiming God at least started it or perhaps guided the process. Of course, the film was backed by creationist groups which reject this, so naturally the idea isn't brought up at all.
  • The "Battle of Wits" from The Princess Bride presents this. The Man in Black puts two goblets between them and asks, "Where is the poison?" Vizzini goes through dozens of justifications and possibilities for why one would poison either one, trying to stall for time. Either way, he never considers that they were both poisoned. Vizzini pulled the fallacy on himself, since the Man in Black never said that only one of the goblets was poisoned.
  • Layla from Sky High (2005), asked to demonstrate her powers, claims that the hero/sidekick dichotomy is a false one, but is cut off by Boomer declaring her a sidekick.
  • Star Wars:
    • Revenge of the Sith: Two for one, but only one called out:
      Anakin: If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy!
      Obi-Wan: Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
  • Thank You for Smoking: Nick Naylor's career as a tobacco lobbyist runs on this, using rapid attacks of Chewbacca Defense, Insane Troll Logic, and Moving the Goalposts to discredit his opponents, thereby making himself looking like the smarter one by comparison. As he explains it to his son during a theoretical debate exercise, "I proved that you're wrong. And if you're wrong, I'm right."
  • Fletcher's general view in Whiplash boils down to a belief that praising people, whether they deserve it or not, makes them complacent and prevents them from going further, as evidenced in his "good job" monologue, but he goes the other extreme, offering up nothing but horrific verbal abuse. The idea that a teacher can praise a student for doing well and also push them to do better is something that doesn't seem to occur to Fletcher and is a sign that he just likes being awful to people because he's a bully.

  • There's a standard joke about someone moving to Northern Ireland and being asked by the locals if they're Protestant or Catholic: when they explain that they are in fact atheist/Buddhist/Muslim/other, the locals respond "Yes, but are you a Protestant or a Catholic atheist/Buddhist/Muslim/other?"
  • Similar joke: an atheist is asked but is asked to clarify " it the Protestant God or the Catholic God you don't believe in?"
  • This joke includes one at the end. The third interviewee presumes that the prospective employer must wear contacts, as it would be hard to wear glasses without ears. Apparently, it did not occur to the interviewee that his prospective employer might not require any correction to his vision at all.
  • If you see a $5 note and a $10 note on the ground, which would you pick?
  • "That city only has prostitutes and troops!" "My mom lives there!" "She's guaranteeing the town safety."
  • At an asylum, a patient's sanity is tested by filling a bathtub with water, then asking the patient to empty it in the shortest time possible, given a choice between a cup and a bucket for doing so. A sane person would choose to pull out the plug.
  • One common joke involves a kid riding a bicycle (or donkey, in some versions) across a border with a sack of straw every day for years; a suspicious border guard stops him every time and checks the sack for smuggled goods, never finding anything. When the two meet years later and the officer asks what the kid was actually smuggling, the answer is "bikes/donkeys". The false dichotomy comes in because the guard falsely assumed that the kid was either smuggling something in the sack, or not smuggling at all.
  • The infamous trolley problem. As many people have pointed out, if you were actually in this situation in real life, it's highly unlikely that your only two options would be to do nothing and let the children get hit, or flip the switch to the other track and then let the rail worker get hit.

  • The Author Filibuster in Atlas Shrugged opposes the Golden Mean Fallacy so thoroughly it becomes this instead.
    John Galt: There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.
  • Brave New World: Mustapha Mond's experiment in equality fails to be an argument against free will because the experiment seems to have been engineered to fail. The people involved in the experiment were Alphas. They not only had a high intelligence that made them efficient at intellectual work, they were conditioned all their prior life to be happy only with specific jobs. This ensured civil war, because they were literally brainwashed into being incapable of accepting the menial jobs they were shown. Yet no character points this out. If the experiment involved members of all castes, except without the caste system being enforced (allowing castes to interbreed, and take different jobs if they wanted to), or the citizens selected for the experiment were adults who were spared conditioning as children, the experiment could probably have succeeded. The "brilliant minds" who became disillusioned with society and were banished to the world's many islands to do as they please (alluded to at the book's end and explored in Huxley's Island) certainly created what could very well be a viable alternative to "civilization" (with its brainwashing and enforced caste system) and "savage" (poverty- and conflict-ridden) reservations. Thus the presented trilemma between pointless hedonism, civil war, and low-technology reservations is a false one.
  • A Sherlock Holmes sequel-by-other-hands has Holmes called upon to judge which of two violins is the one Davy Crockett played at the Alamo. He quickly identifies one as a fake, but realises that he was intended to; the owner wanted him to declare a violin as genuine, and so was presenting him with the false dichotomy of "which one's the fake?" They both are.
  • In The Tar-Aiym Krang, Tru and Bran spend an inordinate amount of exposition debating whether the titular legendary artifact for which they are searching is a musical instrument, as per one version of the myth, or a powerful weapon, as per a different version. Naturally, the actual Krang turns out to be a sonic weapon of unprecedented power.
  • In The Twilight Saga, Bella believes she must either be with Edward or with Jacob. She also believes she must either become a vampire or grow old. Later, she believes that she must either wait until her belly is full-sized to deliver, or abort it, because no life-threatening pregnancy was ever solved by putting the babies on life-support to save the life of the mother. Bella thinks only in absolutes throughout the series. Another example would be when Edward leaves her in the second book. To her, her only options are being happy with Edward, or being miserable without him. Being happy without Edward never once occurs to her, no matter how often it's suggested to her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Colbert Report:
    • Stephen Colbert loves this trope and takes it to the extreme, often asking questions such as "America: greatest nation in the world, or greatest nation in the universe?" When the interviewee starts to say he/she doesn't want to be quoted as saying either of those, he explains that those are the only options available: "So I'll put you down for 'world,' because that's not AS great as 'universe'..."
    • "Pick a side, we're at war."
    • "George W. Bush: Great President, or The Greatest President?"
    • He also divides the supermarket into cheese and non-cheese. Assuming that he classifies everything with cheese in it as cheese, it's a real dichotomy… but not a particularly important one. What about cottage cheese and other borderline dairy products?
  • Game of Thrones: In season 7 the campaign of the exiled queen Daenerys to retake her ancestral throne inexplicably grinds to a halt despite her overwhelmingly superior forces that includes three dragons. The use of dragons is suddenly out of the question because, presumably, they would inevitably cause massive civilian casualties. The idea of using them for intimidation is never even entertained, despite the historical precedent (one of Daenerys' ancestresses had conquered an obstinate kingdom by flying her dragon to the queen's castle and... offering the queen's young son a ride on the dragon's back. Somehow the queen had no further questions and bent the knee immediately) and the previously demonstrated perfect level of control Daenerys had over her dragons.
  • Parks and Recreation: Leslie tried to drum up public support for building a park by phrasing the question, "Wouldn't you rather have a park than a storage facility for nuclear waste?"
  • Revolution: In "The Dark Tower", Nora Clayton gets shot in the gut by a coil gun and is bleeding out. Rachel Matheson tries to convince Team Matheson to just leave her behind and turn the power back, and Nora herself even urges them to leave her. However, Charlie Matheson intervenes and flat out states that this is not an either-or situation and that they can both turn the power back and get Nora to an infirmary. So, Aaron Pittman and Rachel go on to get the power back on, and Charlie and Miles Matheson go on to get Nora to an infirmary.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Many, many debates about alignment in the D&D game have arisen because of assuming every possible action must be either "Good" or "Evil", while overlooking the existence of "Neutral" as an alternative. This frequently comes up for the paladin class, because the phrasing of their code of honor implies that even tolerating any act of evil or chaos can cost them all their class features.
    • The infamous "Baby Orc Dilemma" from early editions is the result of jerkass DMs using a false dichotomy (either kill a innocent baby monster or let it grow up to be evil) to force Paladins into "falling" by boxing them into a Sadistic Choice between two evil options. The actual result of the choice — the Paladin falling — is the same either way, so it's lose-lose. The rather obvious options (ensuring the baby is raised properly by good people, adopting it yourself, that the baby just won't grow up to be evil, etc.) are not allowed. Stamping out this sort of nonsense is why later editions ditch the Always Chaotic Evil concept (which they were doing anyways) and spell out Paladin codes in the player handbook rather then leaving them up to the whims of the DM.
  • RPG game Paranoia: if you aren't a fanatic supporter of the oppressive totalitarian regime, a loyal servant of The Computer, you are a death-dealing commie mutant traitor. This one is notable because everyone in Paranoia is a commie mutant traitor at heart, so instead of there being more than two possibilities, it turns out there's only one. Well, some of the commie mutant traitors do love the Computer.

    Video Games 
  • One sidequest in Mass Effect: Andromeda involves investigating a murder. Eventually, you learn that the suspect did indeed try to kill the victim, but the shot missed, and the victim was instead killed by hostile aliens. The game then presents only two options: arrest the suspect for the murder, which he didn't technically commit, or let him go, even though he really was trying to kill someone. For some reason, the game forgets that attempted murder is also a crime, if a less serious one.

    Visual Novels 
  • Part of a trick played on Kyousuke in The Devil on G-String, which is especially amusing because he just saw it pulled on his idiot friend. The trick pulled on his friend was the question "Which river is the longest in the world? A. the Amazon B. the Yangtze C. the Edo?"note  while it was never stated that it was actually a multiple choice question, and thus the answer is the Nile. The trick played on Kyousuke comes immediately after, where he gets asked, "Will you go on a date with Mizuha at a classical concert or somewhere else?" and he accidentally picks option one before realizing that 'don't go on a date at all' was also a valid choice, but is too proud to back down now.

  • Summed up nicely in this Deep Fried strip. An alien is asked, "Paper or plastic?" at the store, and gets angry that he's not given any other options.
  • In Edition Wars: Invaders from the Fourth Dimension, a story in The Order of the Stick book Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales, the Fourth Edition version of Haley is able to knock out Durkon by stabbing him in the foot, because nowhere in the rules does it say that she can't knock him out by stabbing him in the foot.
    4E Elan: Then that means you used—
    4E Haley: Yes. I used the power of abandoned verisimilitude!
    4E Elan: Anything is possible when you don't care about what's actually possible!
    • A straighter example is the conflict to begin with. 4E Roy believes that people can either play 4th Edition or 3.5. Eventually both teams Take a Third Option by attacking other types of gaming.
  • Called out in the Fantasy theme of Irregular Webcomic!: When one of the Player Characters asks the DM "Would you rather have campaign progress or character development?" the DM promptly replies "It is not a dichotomy!" In the accompanying rant, it is commented, "Of course not. In a dichotomy, you do get one of the options."
  • Averted in this Mountain Time comic in the form of the battle cry of the Rally for More Options.
  • xkcd:
    • Deconstructed in "Charity". Telling someone they are in the wrong for choosing a middle ground does not mean they will make the choice you feel is just. Then your side loses completely should they choose the other option.
    • False Dichotomy is named after the fallacy and provides a sillier and more meta example.
      Cueball: Yes, but we have to embrace false dichotomies, because the only alternative is cannibalism.

    Web Originals 
  • Extremely common in a Flame War. In fact you can test this yourself; go to any wikia based site and bring up a commonly held but non-verifiable belief, you won't have to wait long to see this kind of argument show up.
  • A popular joke on YouTube is to comment on a video by reciting the number of "dislike" ratings the video has at the time of commenting and accusing all of them of something; common examples include "[X] people missed the 'like' button," "[X] people had no childhood," "[X] people are Justin Bieber fans," or some kind of threat. Such comments tend to be found in the highest rated comments, but luckily, subversions and parodies are replacing them in that spot (a common version referencing something in the video or relevant to it).

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "Son of Stan, pt. 2", Stan and Francine argue over whether the proper way to raise Steve is to be totally strict, or totally permissive. Stan settles the matter by cloning Steve and letting Francine raise Steve her way, while he raises Steve-arino (the clone) his way. It turns out that neither way is correct: Steve ends up becoming a disrespectful slob thanks to Francine's lack of disciplining him, while Steve-arino becomes a psychopathic killer thanks to Stan's oppressive parenting.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series episode "Almost Got 'Im", Harley Quinn has Catwoman strapped to a Conveyor Belt of Doom with Batman cornering her. She tries to convince Batman that he could only capture Harley or save Catwoman. Batman proves her wrong by simply shutting off the power to the conveyor belt without letting her go.
    Harley: Good call. Help!
  • The 1967 cartoon The Bear That Wasn't (based on the book of the same name) has a bear told by factory managers that he's not a bear but a silly man in a fur coat that needs a shave. They tell him this over and over, but the clincher comes when the factory's president is brought in. The president takes the bear to the zoo and explains that bears belong in the zoo. Since the bear was not in the zoo, he could not be a bear. The bears in the zoo even agree, saying that a real bear would be in the zoo with them!
  • In Dragons: Riders of Berk, Hiccup must choose between beating Snotlout at The Thawfest Games or letting Snotlout win, with it being shown that if Snotlout doesn't win, he's in for hell from his father (of breaking the family streak) to the point of Snotlout outright panicking when he thinks it'll happen. It's never brought up that maybe Snotlout's dad is taking this too seriously, shouldn't have his love for his son based on a game, or anything of the sort. It also doesn't help that Snotlout is an obnoxious winner, not even realizing that Hiccup threw the race for him, when part of Hiccup's dilemma was if he was just winning to be a jerk (he Took a Level in Jerkass so they could wonder that, too) instead of helping out a friend.
  • In the episode "Screwed the Pooch" from Family Guy:
    Lawyer: Mr. Griffin, which of the following two phrases best describes Brian Griffin: "problem drinker" or "African American haberdasher"?
    Peter: Uh, do I-I guess problem drinker, but that's uh-
    Lawyer: Thank you. Now: "sexual deviant" or "magic picture that if you stare at it long enough, you see something"?
    Peter: Well, sexual deviant, but that other one's not even, eh-
    Lawyer: Thank you.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank Hill and his friends can't wrap their head around their neighbor Khan Souphanousinphone not being either Chinese or Japanese, even after he corrects them.
    Hank: So are you Chinese or Japanese?
    Khan: No, we are Laotian.
    Bill: The ocean? What ocean?
    Khan: From Laos, stupid! It's a landlocked country in South-East Asia between Vietnam and Thailand, population approximately 4.7 million!
    Hank: (long pause) So are you Chinese or Japanese?
    Khan: D'oh!
  • In Over the Garden Wall, the Deal with the Devil the Beast operates under is actually one of these. He told the Woodsman (and later Wirt) that their only choices were to keep their loved one's soul lit in the Dark Lantern or let them die. In reality no such choice exists, as the Dark Lantern doesn't actually contain the soul of the Woodsman's daughter; it contains the Beast's soul and he tricks people into keeping it lit because if it goes out he'll die. Take a wild guess what happens when Wirt finally figures out the trick and gives the Woodsman the lantern...
  • South Park
    • "Gnomes" is about Harbucks Coffee threatening the existence of Tweek Bros. Coffeehouse. Mr. Tweek gets the public on his side to oppose the larger corporation and a proposition is soon presented that would determine whether or not Harbucks would be allowed to stay. An ad is soon presented by "Citizens for a Fair and Equal way to get Harbucks Coffee kicked out of Town Forever".
      It's time to stop large corporations. Prop. 10 is about children. Vote yes on Prop. 10, or else, you hate children. You don't hate… children… do you?
    • Spoofed in "The Death of Eric Cartman":
      Mrs. Stotch: I don't know whether to ground him or call a doctor.
      Mr. Stotch: I think you should call a doctor. I'll ground him.

Alternative Title(s): False Dilemma, False Dichotomies