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Fauxtastic Voyage

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You've promised the people a trip around the world. You've taken their money. There's just one problem: there's no way you can deliver. Unless, of course, you cheat like mad. Herd them onto a bus (or train, or airplane), slide scenery past the windows, get a few friends to dress up in foreign costumes and wave as they "go past" — sure, it's a bit zany, but it should work. Shouldn't it?

Almost invariably played for laughs. There will inevitably be moments when the tour guide is called on to explain why the Sahara desert features an igloo and the friendly Bedouin tribesmen are wearing Indian headdresses, or conversely when the stagehands must rapidly improvise a suitable stand-in after the guide gets carried away and announces something not on the itinerary. The fakeness of the whole enterprise will be readily apparent to the audience, but not to the mark (who may have the excuse of being short-sighted, but usually doesn't). The Mark will almost never realise they've been had unless the schemers have an attack of conscience and confess — in which case, often, it will turn out that they had in fact figured it out but chose to play along.

The machinery of the Fauxtastic Voyage will sometimes appear in dramatic contexts, usually without painted scrolling scenery of any kind, with the villain using it to pull something on the hero. In these cases, the scenery is carefully prepared and much more convincing, and the audience usually starts out believing that it is real, although they may be tipped off before the hero discovers the truth (perhaps just as he realises something is not quite right), in order to fully appreciate the hero's danger. The dramatic Fauxtastic Voyage may contain elements of, or appear as an element of, the Faked Rip Van Winkle and/or the Lotus-Eater Machine.


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  • In a commercial for Doritos, a little kid offers to give a man a trip in a time machine in exchange for a bag of Doritos. The kid has the man get in a cardboard box and shakes it. Apparently, the kid set up the box in the yard of a cranky old man who vaguely resembles him. When the old man comes out to yell at the kid, the kid takes off, leaving the man in the box behind. The man in the box gets out, sees the old man, and assumes that he's the future version of the kid.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Lupin III:
    • "Now Museum, Now You Don't": Lupin and his gang made a daring airborne heist of classic artwork from a plane guarded by Zenigata himself. The plane never left the hangar, and the background outside was airborne footage from an old movie. Zenigata got wise when they were strafed by a WWII airplane, but weren't hit.
    • Lupin III: Crisis in Tokyo: The movie opens with Zenigata getting onto the plane. Suspicious, he checks the guard by pulling on his face, but he's not wearing a mask. The inspector falls asleep, and wakes up to a disaster-storm! Actually, this trope.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
    • The team uses this trick to foil a mass friendly extraction of prisoners.
    • In a later episode, Berg Katse tries to trick Ken and a scientist into thinking they've been asleep for 20 years with a tour of a war-ravaged Earth, so that he can get hold of equations for condensing and exploding portions of Earth's mantle.
  • A chapter of Kochikame manga has the main characters providing a trip for a group of senior citizens to Hawaii. They couldn't get a flight, Ryotsu being a tour guide tricked them by putting them on a plane which is just the chassis carried by a bus to a beach in another part of Japan. The windows were shut and opened when a slide scenery is placed. The elderly exit on a beach and unaware of the "shuttle" bus behind. Afterwards, they all went home by train drunk.

    Comic Books 
  • The Smurfs:
    • In the story "Astro Smurf", the Smurfs pull this to "fulfill" one of their fellows' dream to travel to other worlds, including magically disguising themselves as ETs named the Schlips. This story also made it into the Animated Adaptation, with the Schlips renamed the Swoofs.
    • A sequel story that appeared in the cartoon show, "Dreamy's Pen Pals", had Dreamy as Astro Smurf revisit the Swoofs, but this time they transformed the Smurf Village into the Swoof Village through stage props. Unfortunately, Brainy had cut corners in completing the transformation formula Papa Smurf used to turn the Smurfs into Swoofs, so they ended up changing back into Smurfs a bit too soon, revealing to Dreamy that he had never really traveled to the stars.
  • In a Golden Age Superman story, a con man sells "suspended animation" to people, claiming they'll wake up in the glorious future of 1972. Superman turns this back on him by constructing a fake ruined future world for the con man and his clients to wake up in.
  • A Golden Age Batman story has the Joker pretending that he has a time machine and pretending to send fugitives into either the past or the future (in reality just movie lots) to escape the law, bilking them out of their loot in the process.

  • In Batman: The Movie, Commodore Schmidlapp, an aged sailor with poor eyesight and partial dementia, is held prisoner by the villains completely unbeknown to him. They rig up his cell to make him think he's still on his yacht and convince him that the Joker is just a pallid steward.
  • In Micmacs, the heroes use this trope to make some executives at an arms company confess war crimes, which they quickly post to YouTube.
  • In The Truman Show, the lead character recalls his trip to Mount Rushmore as a child... which was very obviously faked, via a large styrofoam replica of Mount Rushmore sitting high on a hill somewhere. This was necessary to keep him inside the dome where his life is being filmed.
  • In Leprechaun 2, the male hero runs some kind of historical tour or something. He just drives them around in circles telling scary stories.
  • The main portion of the film The Magic Christian starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. Much of the it was filmed on the Queen Elizabeth II. Quite surreal.
  • Played for laughs in Spy Hard in which the train pulls out of the station, then we see the train isn't moving; the stationery is.
  • The Ipcress File: As part of his brainwashing, Harry Palmer is made to think his kidnappers have taken him to communist Albania. When he breaks out of his prison, he's surprised to find he's in the middle of London.
  • In Now You See Me 2, The Horsemen's final trick on Mabry and Tressler involves faking an aeroplane flight, when they are really on a barge in the middle of the Thames.
  • Boiler Room: The "companies" promoted by chop shop brokerage firm J.T. Marlin actually use run-down buildings, sham offices, and Too Good to Be True returns to convince unwitting investors they're legit via a pump-and-dump scam. Even the main protagonist isn't aware the stock he's selling is fraudulent until he physically visits the location of one such "company" and checks their records.

  • Ray Bradbury:
    • Used in the short story "The Rocket" for an entirely non-malevolent purpose — the protagonist just wants to take his children on the space adventure they asked for.
    • Bradbury revisits this idea in "The Toynbee Convector". A man announces that he has successfully traveled 100 years into the future and reveals that the human species will overcome war, poverty, disease and prejudice and create a utopia. 100 years later, after this utopia has indeed come to pass, the still-living millionaire lets a reporter interview him, and reveals that he only made up the "time-machine" via special effects, to give humanity hope for the future in a time when he believed that we would exterminate ourselves.
  • At the end of the X-Wing Series book Wedge's Gamble, Corran Horn gets the dramatic version of this treatment from Ysanne Isard when she takes him to her secret prison, Lusankya, which is believed to be on a distant planet. The truth of the situation isn't revealed until near the end of the next book, The Krytos Trap. The Lusankya and its prison deck are a huge ship buried on the same planet where Corran was abducted. He clues in because of gravity.
  • In Have Spacesuit, Will Travel the protagonist notices that the gravity in the room he is in is much less than normal. He notes that if it continues for a long time, that he must be off Earth (it is possible to have low gravity for a short time on Earth, just be in an elevator going down) and therefore it is not a Fauxtastic Voyage.
  • "Bitterblooms", by George R. R. Martin, features something of this sort. A woman uses a computer to facsimile a number of space voyages in order to seduce a native of the planet she has crash-landed on.
  • Doc Savage: In Devil on the Moon, the Man on the Moon uses a fake rocket to convince his prisoners that they have been transported to the moon.
  • In the third novel of The Demon Princes series, the protagonist and others are taken from a spaceport to the villain's planet via a spaceship with no windows in the passenger compartment. He deduces that they are really on just another continent on the same planet after doing a few orbits around it as the gravity feels exactly the same as the planet they had left, and the pilot neglected to perform the standard procedure of gradually equalizing the air pressure of the craft to the outside atmosphere when landing on a different planet.
  • The plot of Waste Of Space Gina Damico revolves around an intergalactic voyage reality show that, unknown to the teen participants, is really held in a desert warehouse equipped with state-of-the-art special effects.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of ChuckleVision, Paul and Barry sink a man's boat, so the two make him and his wife think they are on a cruise in the boat when really they are on a double-decker bus. It's done really poorly too, as the passengers are not allowed to open the curtains.
  • One episode of Get Smart had 86 and 99 captured. To hide their actual location, they are blindfolded, and tricked into thinking a simulated airplane ride to another country was real (even though they never leave the same room). They are then secretly allowed to contact CONTROL who arranges a massive paratrooper raid to rescue them (and then have to apologize to that nation when it is found to be a hoax).
  • The Goodies episode "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express": The Goodies set up a fake train journey in which the train never really leaves the station — at least, that's the plan...
  • An example of the dramatic sort: The Doctor Who serial "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" features a Well-Intentioned Extremist who plans to wipe out industrial civilisation with Applied Phlebotinum and start afresh; in a corner of his Elaborate Underground Base is a mock spaceship in which a group of volunteers are on a Fauxtastic Space Voyage to "colonize a new planet". They buy the idea of a "new type of drive" able to cross such distances but Sarah Jane (who has traveled through space for real) is able to see through the sham quickly.
  • Done to a captured German general in Hogan's Heroes. They drug him and put him inside a piece of crashed plane that they've rigged up on pulleys, giving him the impression that he's being flown to England. It works.
  • This was a standard con on Mission: Impossible. The early first season episode "The Train" had the team set up a fauxtastic train ride ending in a simulated crash, and combined it with a Faked Rip Van Winkle to get an Engineered Public Confession from the mark.
    • And there were many to follow. In "Submarine" they conned a Nazi into thinking he was on a u-boat that had escaped the Allies and would take him to a secret Nazi base, faked a couple of plane flights and a truck ride in order to get their marks to controlled locations.
    • A frequent variation was to fake a disaster of some sort as part of the plan. "The Photographer" features a staged nuclear war (complete with scarred landscape), and "The Survivors" has a faux earthquake.
  • A similar thing occurred in Arrested Development, when Gob manages to convince Japanese investors that the Bluth company actually has built a housing development, by setting up a model town outside the window (and getting the investors to stand way back, stay perfectly still, and squint).
    • And then there's the self-inflicted variation. Buster stows away in the trunk of Michael's car when Michael goes to Mexico. He falls asleep. When he wakes up ten minutes later, he assumes it's been hours and gets out. Having lost his glasses, he fails to recognize the neighborhood and spends the episode thinking he's in Mexico.
  • In NewsRadio, Jimmy James faked his own around-the-world hot air balloon trip on a sound stage in the WNYX building with the help of office handyman Joe, who eventually ended up playing the role of an Arab peasant who rescued Jimmy after the balloon "crashed."
  • This was a common plot of the day in F/X: The Series where a special effects artist had to trick someone into believing something, like being on a trip to another country. In one episode, the FX crew, like the IMF, had used this as an element of a Faked Rip Van Winkle ploy to take a villain 20 Minutes into the Future so that the villain would reveal the location of a bomb he's planted.
  • The Prisoner (1967): The episode "The Chimes of Big Ben" follows the title character as he escapes from The Village and makes his way back to report his experiences to his former employers. The fact that the "escape" is a sham is revealed when the chimes of Big Ben sound the same hour shown on Number Six's watch... a watch he obtained when he was supposedly in Poland, which is in a different time zone from his agency office in London.
  • The first segment of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Devil Fish" features Pearl pulling a travel agency scam, but when one of the couples she's conned inconveniently arrives at Castle Forrester, she, Bobo and Observer have to pull an elaborate ruse to convince the couple that they're on an ocean cruise. They even go so far as to get Mike and the bots to make ice sculptures for them. (Crow somehow manages to recreate a full-scale version of Michaelangelo's David using only two ice cubes.)
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Ship in a Bottle" ends with the holographic Dr. Moriarty and his lady friend exploring a simulated world in a box under the guise of having escaped the holodeck and stolen a shuttle.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Projections" plays around with the idea that the EMH Doctor is really Dr. Louis Zimmerman and that his time on Voyager was really a Fauxtastic Voyage he had taken, with the crew of Voyager being holograms. As it turns out, the EMH Doctor is really himself and he has been trapped in a holographic simulation on board Voyager, subjected to an identity crisis.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Stratagem", the NX-01 crew use a rigged shuttlepod to pull the wool over Degra's eyes: not only do they make him think he's in space, they convince him that he's lost his memory, that Archer is a Fire-Forged Friend, and that it's the future.
  • An episode of Castle has a scientist doing a video chat to a classroom from Antartica, talking in his tent as a storm rages outside. The students are horrified when a massive shape attacks him, thinking the guy has been gorged by a bear. Castle and Beckett are confused when they're called to investigate...and then learn that the guy was broadcasting from a fake set in his New York apartment. It turns out he's been scamming colleges for years by getting them to pony up for "research trips" and then faking the journeys in his own home.
  • Defied in a recurring sketch in Late Night with Conan O'Brien which has Conan interview a cast member (Brian McCann) who claims to be reporting from a distant location while actually standing in front of a projected background. When Conan expresses skepticism that the correspondent is actually at the distant location, the correspondent insists he really is there and purports to prove it by walking to another location (represented by another projected background). The sketch typically ends with Conan walking to where the correspondent is standing (a few feet away on the stage) to hit him with a chair.
  • Similar to the above, The Daily Show typically has its foreign correspondents in front of a greenscreen showing either appropriate or inappropriate imagery (Columbus, OH as a desert wasteland; after a few lines of dialogue, the location bug changes to 'Bartertown'). Then they actually were able to send a correspondent to the actual Iraq... and had a segment with that correspondent, AND a fake on-location person who was using the really-there speaker's footage as his greenscreen!
  • The Avengers (1960s) episode "Escape In Time" involved a criminal mastermind who had created a fake time machine. He offered to send other criminals into the past, the ultimate untraceable hideout, and gave them a brief trip into various periods of the past (actually well-dressed sets) to "prove" the time machine was genuine. Once they were convinced, they paid him a fortune for their permanent escape — and were promptly killed as soon as they handed over the money.
  • This was the entire premise of the British Reality TV series Space Cadets, in which a group of people were flown to Russia to undergo astronaut training before being launched into space live on TV. In fact it was an extremely elaborate hoax whose participants never left the studiocountry (the prank was executed at an abandoned air force base in the UK), a fact which the audience were in on from the beginning.
  • This was also done on the last series of Big Brother Australia. Housemates were led to believe they were being flown to Bali. After a fake plane ride they were led into the 'Bali Big Brother House', which was in fact right next door to the 'normal' BB house. Housemates did not realize the deception even though they could hear other HMs next door and could see Kookaburras perched on the walls of the supposed Balinese house.
  • In one episode of Blackadder season 2, the titular character does this while attempting to upstage Sir Walter Raleigh.
    • Slightly subverted, in that he does end up on an undiscovered continent (Australia, if the boomerang he brings back is any indication) by mistake. He originally planned to hide out in France, but the incompetent Captain he hired didn't know the way to France and didn't even have a crew.
    • Also subverted in Blackadder Back and Forth, in which a present-day Blackadder tries to con his friends into believing that he created a time machine, only to find that it works after all.
  • Used in an episode of Hannay to persuade Richard Hannay that he has been kidnapped and is being held in the hold of a ship.
  • The "Movie" of Even Stevens has a variation as the Stevens think they're on a big island vacation, unaware they're actually on a reality prank show. Instead of a distant tropical island, it turns out they're less than a hundred miles from their home as the plane just flew around in wide circles for a day.
  • The fourth movie of Kamen Rider Den-O: the Big Bad demands the DenLiner from the heroes in exchange for his captive, New Den-O, so he can travel to the time period his brother is currently in. While he did get his hands on the time train, the heroes set up a Zany Scheme to trick him into believing that he traveled through time, but the train actually never moved an inch.
  • On 30 Rock, Tracy thinks he's achieving his dream of travelling on the Space Shuttle, thanks to an elaborate hoax.
    • Inverted later in the series, when he fakes a trip to Africa in order to escape from a life of respectability.
  • In the Leverage episode "The (Very) Big Bird Job", the crew do this to convince the mark that he has stolen, and then crashed, the Spruce Goose.
  • The first big secret in Ascension (Miniseries).
  • Blake's 7: In the episode "Gold", a luxury starliner is used to secretly transport gold shipments. The passengers are drugged and shown videos of the planets they're supposedly passing, while the starliner makes a direct journey to its destination.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Room 2426", Dr. Martin Decker's cellmate Joseph convinces him that he can transport himself using the power of his mind to a safe location. Martin loses consciousness and later wakes up to find himself in a resistance safehouse being tended to by Joseph, who explains that the first time teletransporting is difficult for everyone. Now that he is free, Martin intends to destroy the notebooks containing the information on how to create a bioweapon that the State is seeking. However, Joseph tells him that it is too dangerous for him to go out and gets Martin to reveal the notebooks' location to him. After Joseph leaves, Martin pulls back a curtain and discovers what were seemingly the sounds of the street below are coming from a pair of speakers. He then realizes that it was all an elaborate trick and he is still a prisoner. Joseph and his superiors gloat on their success, seeing Martin overcome... only to stare in shock when Martin uses Joseph's "lessons" to teleport from his cell to find his notebook.

  • In the second act of The Fantasticks, the rogue El Gallo takes innocent young Luisa on an illusory "'round-the-world trip" in the musical number "Round and Round". Whether Luisa is actually deceived or is playing along with the gag is difficult to ascertain, but it appears that she believes the experience is real.

    Video Games 
  • In the "I Was Born to Love You" level of Elite Beat Agents, a young Leonardo Da Vinci, in the process of wooing the model for the Mona Lisa, takes her down "the special passage" - an alleyway that he rapidly paints to look like a "tunnel of love". If the player does very well, the illusion is perfect; if the player is only doing moderately well, he's painting the tunnel inches ahead of them; if the player is failing, he collapses in exhaustion. Whether the model is really being fooled or just impressed by Leo's artistic skill is left unsaid.
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future features a variant of this in the form of faux time traveling (Faked Rip Van Winkle?) as part of a Batman Gambit that's masterminded by the antagonist of the game.
  • In Prey (2017), the opening of the game features the player character being picked from their apartment with a helicopter, given a scenic view of a futuristic San Francisco before landing on the Talos Corporation headquarters. They are then led through several areas in the building and ultimately enter the test facilities where the plot kicks in. Shortly afterwards the player finds out that all those experiences were an elaborate simulation created through moving setpieces, hi-def screens and other gimmicks. In truth, the player never left the same, hangar-sized area holding facility they were being kept. This ends up becoming a significant foreshadowing for the game's themes around player perceptions.

    Western Animation 
  • The Wraparound Background trick in animation is sometimes lampooned by having the background turn out to be the backdrop of a Fauxtastic Voyage. (See the Wraparound Background page for examples.)
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy
    • In the episode "Ready, Set, Ed!", the Eds use this trick to convince the other kids they're being taken on a trip around the world in Eddy's new "rocket car". For the most part, the scam works because the "rocket car" is so cramped (or, as Double D put it, "compact") and there's only one tiny window outside. The best the kids could get are small glimpses... until Kevin sees Ed standing still while the background keeps moving.
    • In "Wish You Were Ed", the Eds convince Rolf that a "magic shoe" has transported him to a village in "the Old Country". It's really a convincing mock-up, with the villagers played by the three Eds in garish, vaguely Eastern-European costumes, but their cover is blown by Johnny and Plank blundering onto the scene.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: "Xmas Marks the Spot" had the Ghostbusters capturing, then having to take the place of, the ghosts from Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Peter, standing in for the Ghost of Christmas Past, took Ebenezer Scrooge on a fake trip to the past using a wheelchair and a Viewmaster.
  • The Invader Zim episode "A Room With a Moose" features a reversal, where the kids are shipped via bus into a tunnel leading to another dimension (the eponymous "room with a moose"), but the windows depict a loop of mundane Earth scenery to keep them from realizing such.
  • A twist on this plot was featured in a 1955 Tex Avery cartoon short Cellbound. A convict trying to escape from prison is hiding from the prison warden by pulling the innards out of a TV set (which the warden bought as an anniversary gift for his wife) and climbing inside. The warden then decides to turn on the TV, forcing the con to quickly act out almost a dozen different TV shows to keep the ruse going.
  • As another variant, there is the oft-repeated cartoon gag of waving a seascape around outside a window, to make another character seasick. (Screwball Squirrel, for instance).
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow", Babs and Buster decide to give Elmyra A Taste of Their Own Medicine and disguise themselves as Space Bunnies, who take Elmyra in a rocket (actually a cement mixer) to the Planet of the Bunnies, where rabbits keep humans as pets instead of the other way around. After getting the same rough treatment she's given her own pets, Elmyra gladly hops on a rocket back to Earth, which is actually a cannon that shoots her back to her home.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Sandy's Rocket", SpongeBob and Patrick take Sandy's spaceship to the moon, but they fly past it and back on Bikini Bottom, which they mistake for the moon. They then go around trapping their friends and neighbors, thinking they're aliens in disguise.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012): Minka wants to go to space. The other pets obviously can't make that happen, so they decide to fake it, using the dumbwaiter as a faux rocket and dressing up as aliens. Minka enjoys her trip.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: It turns out that after Lila's appearance in "Volpina," she stopped attending school for a while. She told her mother school was closed due to supervillain activity and told the school she was traveling the world with her mother (and various celebrities). To sell the story, she's been doing regular video chats with her class, using a poster on her wall as a "window" and pulling up facts about the area on her laptop so that she can counter Marinette's accusations.

    Real Life 
  • A popular urban legend states that Empress Catherine the Great of Russia once asked the nobles of her court to take her on a tour to make sure that all the peasants were being treated well. Since this was feudal Russia, the peasants weren't being treated well, and the nobles didn't intend to start. So the minister Potemkin went to the extraordinary lengths of hiring a group of actors to travel ahead of Catherine, pretending to be peasants and appearing to be well-treated. This remarkable maneuver was known as the Potemkin Village.
  • In 1955, Burma-Shave offered a free trip to Mars for anyone who collected 900 empty bottles of their product. Arliss French, a grocery store manager, alerted Burma-Shave that he intended to claim the prize. Burma-Shave responded that it was a one-way trip, but French was not dissuaded. After turning in the 900 bottles, Burma-Shave couldn't provide the transportation to Mars as promised, but sent him and his family to Moers, Germany.
  • For the contestants in the abovementioned TV show Space Cadets, it was this in retrospect once they realized the truth in the final episode.
  • Governments have been known to try to do this to visiting journalists, too; Moammar al-Gaddafi tried to arrange for displays of support to fool BBC journalists. The facade cracked after a journo recognized that an alleged NATO "bombed site" had the wreckage of a Russian-made (hence Libyan Air Force) ejector seat in the rubble, and really broke apart after the journalists saw the exact same faces at two pro-Gaddafi "rallies".
  • Exploited in the 1983 Balkan Bulgarian hijacking. In short, four men hijacked a local flight from Sofia to Varna and demanded to go to Vienna. The Bulgarian government cut off the power to Varna and placed German-speaking officials at the airport to fool the hijackers into thinking they were going to Austria. The ruse was only discovered when the hijackers realized the officers were wearing Bulgarian-made jackets.