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Less Disturbing in Context

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Actually, she's a wolf, and she was going to kiss him. Get it right, kid.

* p4 has joined #hynes
<Opius>So i stroke and stroke and stroke, and it does nothing
<Opius>then all of a sudden it goes nuts and puts white shit all over my work
<p4>i wont ask
qdb.us #33726 (abridged) spoiler 
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Sometimes, when you walk in at the climax of something, it appears disturbingly violent and brutal (or creepy). And then, when you watch it in the proper order, it actually seems less disturbing, if possibly still brutal (or creepy).

What's going on here?

Answer: The violence is built up to; the Villain is shown to be Ax-Crazy, and the hero is shown to be acting relatively sanely, and the point you walked in was the Darkest Hour.

In other words, it's Less Disturbing In Context.

Note: If the film/show you're watching contains only one such scene, then your parents/grandparents/significant other/etc. will, with 100% certainty, walk in on you just when it happens to be on.

Subtrope of It Makes Sense in Context. Compare Super Dickery (for situations that are deliberately set up to appear disturbing when taken out of context). Contrast Fridge Horror (for situations that get more disturbing when the implications sink in). Bonus internet points if "It's Not What It Looks Like" is uttered.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Rika's suicide is quite disturbing taken out of context, but in the context of the series, it becomes positive. Disturbing, but less. This is done intentionally, because the infamous scene appears at the beginning of the fifth episode, before the opening sequence, with absolutely no context, and it's not until the second half of the season that we see the events leading up to that scene.
    • Inverted in the first episode with a Cold Opening that may be shocking, but isn't quite disturbing until seen in the context of the arc. And then becomes more disturbing the more context is revealed after the arc.
  • The plot of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: A suicidal teacher wins the love of his students by asking them to commit double, or possibly collective, suicide with him. How is it less disturbing in context? 'Cuz it's played for laughs, that's why.
    • The fact that you will laugh at it is probably the most disturbing thing about it all, you seriously disturbed person, you.
  • Young man mutating into a monster and ripping a little girl's head off with his teeth? Even those who had read/watched Dance in the Vampire Bund up to that point probably flinched a little over that scene (while cheering the backfiring of a rather sadistic Shape Shifter Guilt Trip, admittedly) , seeing it out of context....
    • The key thing that makes this less disturbing in context is that this is one of the main characters doing it and he's done this kind of thing before (albeit usually to those who look like they could put up a fight).
  • Ax-Crazy heroin addict trying to kill classmates because they're standing there? He's actually a Messianic Archetype picking up garbage from the school grounds. Villain with Good Publicity seducing three girls for his demonic rituals? He's actually a Chaste Hero who loves them Like Brother and Sister. In Angel Densetsu the stuff In-Universe is always horror ... but for the readers it's always hilarious or heartwarming.
  • The short-lived manga Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment is completely about this trope: What appears to be Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, ranging from the kids arriving in the classroom only to see their school pet chopped up into a bloody mess to what appears to be a narcotics ring run by an 8-year-old, are proven by the protagonist, a young aspiring attorney, to be completely normal things when placed in their proper contexts.note  This is, in fact, the very theme of the series, which is to avoid jumping to conclusions and to be more trusting of people.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has tons of moments like this, but special mention has to go to the entirety of Part 7 (Steel Ball Run), which often has its plot described as “Jesus told me to kill the president!”. Hard as it is to believe, It Makes Sense in Context; the President in question is the Big Bad and the MacGuffin of the story is a collection of body parts that are heavily implied to be those of Jesus.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Once Upon a Time in China series, Wong Fei-Hung has a romantic relationship with his own aunt... who is not a blood relative, only a relative through marriage.
  • There are one or two scenes in Love Actually that look like porn. In actuality the characters are lighting doubles and the director needs to make sure "everything" will be visible (while the characters just sit there and chat about the weather and politics). When watching the movie alone, it is practically guaranteed that someone else will enter the room during that scene. (Still, some red-blooded males might actually be less embarrassed about being caught watching porn rather than Love Actually...)
  • If you haven't seen Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember where Austin beats up Mini-Me probably looks pretty brutal and unfair. Unnecessary misunderstanding? Yes. But hardly unfair.
  • This trope is played with in Grosse Pointe Blank. The trained assassin, Blank, kills someone because this person is trying to assassinate him. However, Blank's girlfriend, who witnesses this, treats it like he's a serial killer and would kill anyone for no reason. Luckily, it got better.
  • I Love You Phillip Morris: About twenty minutes in, the movie suddenly cuts to Stephen having sex with a mustached man, complete with a barely covered, sweaty Jim Carrey (read: it's so graphic, it had a very limited release in American theaters). Granted, it's about a closeted Straight Gay conman and the scene is completely unprecedented, but failing to have any knowledge on the premise can give the impression that softcore gay pornography is being viewed.
  • If you watched Timecop in the VHS days, you might have thought someone had taped over it halfway through when it suddenly switched to porn. If you get into an awkward situation, just explain to your grandma that the movie is actually about an agency that polices time travel and the scene in question is a virtual reality sex simulation that has no bearing on the plot.
  • Inverted in 10 Cloverfield Lane. There's a scene where John Goodman's character Howard shaves and puts on some nice clothes before preparing dinner for a nice young woman, even offering some ice cream. Seems innocent enough out of context. In context it's one of the most horrifying scenes in the entire film because of the sheer implications; Howard is an unhinged murderer and possible rapist who just murdered the only other man in the bunker the characters are in, seems unhealthily obsessed with the woman in question, and keeps comparing her to his possibly dead daughter. The implication of the whole scene is that he's on the verge of raping and/or killing her.
  • A lot of reviews of Venom (2018) brought up a scene where Eddie makes out with Venom, causing people to see the movie just to witness that insanity firsthand and be disappointed when the context makes it perfectly sensible; he isn’t literally kissing Venom, he’s kissing his Love Interest who just happens to be wearing the symbiote at the time.
  • Inverted in There Will Be Blood. Most people who see the infamous “I drink your milkshake” clip expect the whole scene it appears in to be bizarre and silly. In reality, the context in which it’s said is deadly serious and the line itself is a part of a massive Kick the Dog moment. It’s also immediately followed by Daniel savagely bashing Eli’s skull in with a bowling pin.
  • The trailer for Captain Marvel shows a scene of Captain Marvel violently attacking an old woman. To people not familiar with the backstory it's quite shocking, but she's actually fighting an alien shapeshifter.

    Literature 
  • A lot of things in A Brother's Price sound less disturbing in context. One of those is the word "child brides" which sounds horrible, considering the Real Life thing. However, as the novel is Speculative Fiction, the Exotic Extended Marriage is such that the "child brides" are the younger sisters of the adult wives in a sororal polygyny marriage, and the husband has his own bedroom, where his wives visit him if they wish to. It is made very obvious that wives don't start visiting the husband's quarters at night until they come of age (and "interested in men", as one character puts it), and it is implied that they can choose to sleep alone for the rest of their lives. (If they're lucky, they might even be able to get a husband of more appropriate age later, though that would require to split the family.)
  • In Dragon Bones, despite the fact that "There are no slaves in Hurog" (slavery is so thouroughly abolished that every slave who sets foot on Hurog land becomes free), the protagonist Ward owns a slave. Disturbing, isn't it? But the context is such that Oreg was Made a Slave by a distant ancestor of Ward, and is now bound to a ring, that apparently is magically compelled to be inherited by the son of the prior owner. Oreg cannot be freed. Neither can the magic ring be taken off. An evil sorcerer did it. At the end of the book, Ward kills his friend and ally Oreg, and also, castle Hurog collapses. Sounds bad? Fortunately, the castle was evacuated at the time, and Oreg asked Ward to kill him in order to bring that about. And he comes back.
  • A major plot point of the His Dark Materials trilogy involves the two main characters killing the Christian God. People hearing this without context probably imagine this as quite different from how it was actually portrayed. Technically, he dies of old age, and the two of them just happened to be there when it happens, and while they may have had a role in it they didn't do it intentionally, in essence making it a Mercy Kill. And under one interpretation, God is really the Dust, while the "God" that dies is an impostor.
  • There's a Babysitters Club book that does this in-universe: Jessi goes to visit Stacey in NYC and overhears two guys discussing their plan to commit a robbery. She and her pseudo-boyfriend then spend the whole book following them around trying to get more concrete evidence, before hearing a repeat of the same scene, except this time with the two men bursting into laughter partway through and one exclaiming "Check your script!"
  • In The Waste Lands, some of the dialogue concerning the tribe of Pubes.
  • In Seven Men of Gascony the sixteen year old Camp Follower Nicheolette took turns marrying several members of The Squad until they died in combat or otherwise. Not brutal but kind of squicky. It is less disturbing when it is understood that this was to announce to other soldiers that she had the squad's protection in a camp full of young men who were accustomed to violence and seldom saw a woman.
  • "Nothing Like Murder", one of Isaac Asimov's "Black Widower" stories, has a Russian guest with sketchy English lament how violent America is, since he heard two men calmly discussing tying someone up in the dark, presumably planning to kidnap and murder them. Eventually Henry, the urbane English butler works out the complainant has overheard the men reciting the "One ring" prophecy from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." (For one thing, 'Mordor' sounds like 'murder'.)
  • A lot of the demerits listed in Skippy's List are real US Military regulations, taken out of context and quoted in such a way as to imply a Noodle Incident had taken place. For example...
  • Discussed in Appointment with Death. Hercule Poirot overhears someone say "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?'. He then thinks of the story about Anthony Trollope (in the Real Life section of this trope), but decides it's not as innocent as that.
  • In Relentless by Dean Koontz, Penny is furious about a man who's threatening her family. She says that she wants to blow up a hotel or other large building and how relaxing and satisfying it is to do this. It turns out that Penny's parents used to own a demolition company, so she grew up watching controlled implosions and always found them exciting.
  • Perdido Street Station pretty much begins with a man having sex with a red-skinned woman who has a beetle for a head. It sounds like some kind of Lovecraftian horror scene, but in context it's actually a rather sweet and heartwarming moment; the woman is his girlfriend, just happens to be part of fantasy race of sapient bug people, the sex is totally consensual, and he's basically making up with her after they had an argument about the seriousness of their relationship. The book does have a lot of horror scenes, this just isn't one of them.
  • Nina Tanleven: In-universe example in The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed - Jimmy's confession that he "hung" Cornelius Fletcher, and later that he "hung him every day", makes considerably more sense to the characters when they find out the truth: Cornelius was placed into a set of harnesses and "hung" in the air via ropes and pulleys so he could work on the mural that became his last and greatest painting.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This happens on any number of occasions in Frasier, and is usually effective in-universe. Some of the better examples:
    "Niles was getting on my nerves, so I had to go in and steal his ovaries."
    "I tell ya, I'd be happy if Niles traded in a couple of teeth for his cojones!" Bonus 
  • Friends: When Phoebe goes to the hospital in labor, she tells the receptionist that "The father is my brother." She's acting as a surrogate for her brother and his wife, but the receptionist doesn't know that, and gives her a very strange look.
    Rachel: I am so going to miss watching you freak people out like that!
    • As the quote indicates, the writers got a lot of mileage out of this gag.
  • Scrubs: The following conversation between Dr. Kelso and Carla:
    Kelso: ...And yet, for some reason I'm not wearing a party hat sitting bare-ass on the hospital's copier machine. You know why? It's not because I have "Johnny" tattooed on my butt. He was an old navy buddy and if you went through what we did you'd understand... It's because your little theory is way off.
  • Everything Larry David does in Curb Your Enthusiasm, due to the other characters misinterpreting what Larry has done. An example being the episode in which Larry puts a water bottle down his pants to sneak it into a theatre, and a little girl hugs him. She feels the water bottle, then runs into the lobby screaming, "MOMMY! MOMMY! That bald man's in the bathroom and there's something hard in his pants!" Larry has no choice but to escape through the window.
  • A common trope is to introduce a character who initially seems friendly, then have them do something shocking that appears to be an out of character moment. Then their back story starts getting revealed and it becomes clear why these things have been done. An example being Gus in Breaking Bad who seems friendly considering his position as a drug dealer. But then we see him brutally murder Victor for the sole reason of scaring Walt and Jesse. Soon we see a flashback where Gus's friend Max is killed in a similar manner.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has a scene where Picard praises Riker for letting a little girl die. The scene is actually referring to a Secret Test of Character in that episode where Riker was given Q powers and yes Riker letting the girl die was a ultimately good thing. Out of context though it sounds like Picard is a total sociopath who hates children to murderous degrees.
    • Similarly, Star Trek: Voyager has a episode where Janeway Unpersons a dead crew member, forcing the rest of the crew to act like she never existed in an almost 1984-esque scene. Except it's only really scary out of context; she's only doing it to fix an error in the Doctor's programming and everyone talks about the woman again once things are fixed.

    Music 
  • Tim Minchin has a song all about this, called Context. It's all about how he hates Jews who make and distribute kiddy porn, Black people who risk billions of other people's money gambling on future derivatives, the rich who use their wealth as an excuse for bigotry, the poor who use their poverty as an excuse for bigotry, whores who don't accept Visa, and more. But he only remembers the spoilered parts after he's run through it once...
  • Dir en grey's "Mazohyst of Decadence" is another lyrical example, which, ripped from its context of abortion being a primary method of birth control in Japan, seems like a right-wing anti-abortion rant and Victim Blaming, when it's actually lashing out at a society that refuses to acknowledge the need for birth control and sex education and uses the most painful and traumatizing last-ditch procedure as a substitute for preventing pregnancy in the first place.
  • Pink's violent racism in the final portion of The Wall is less disturbing when you realize it may or may not really be happening. Either way, Pink Floyd is definitely not endorsing Pink's views, just showing the eventual effects of his isolation and mental instability (and he does get a My God, What Have I Done? moment at the end of the album).

    Theatre 
  • Inverted in Next to Normal; The song "There's A World" is a slow, calm Somewhere Song, where the singer is telling someone about a place where they can go where they will be happy. In context, the song is actually about the embodiment of a mental illness convincing a woman to slit her wrists.

    Video Games 
  • Not violent, but there are some scenes in MOTHER 3 that are... questionable. When Lucas gains PSI powers, it involves another character (that just so happens to look like a transvestite) holding his head under the water of a hot spring. Out of context, it could easily be mistaken for some kind of weird rape scene. The creator didn't clarify things when he was asked about it either.
  • Many people, gamers and non-gamers, who watched Bioshock Infinite's first concept art and videos full of racist and xenophobic art felt extremely offended about it, and even sent death threats to the creators' studio. However, the game is explicitly stated to be set in Columbia, a fictional city floating in the skies, under the command of religious, militaristic racist and xenophobic leaders, and the primary enemies, so all the racist and disturbing concept art was about them.
  • To some, Vincent's "Monsters? They looked like monsters to you?" quote is Silent Hill 3's Wham Line, but skeptics of the "monsters are actually people" interpretation point out his next line is "Don't worry, it's just a joke." It's worth noting that Vincent is a Manipulative Bastard who enjoys making people squirm, but the game at least offers the possibility that the monsters are just that, monsters. On top of that, the rules of Silent Hill change from game to game, so even if Vincent were telling the truth, that doesn't mean the monsters in every game are also people.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Nero's special Devil Bringer move against Sanctus: brutally pummeling an old man in the gut with his giant demonic arm, repeatedly. If you know what that old man was up to it's a bit less unheroic to be doing that, but it's still hard to watch. Similarly, there's Dante blasting the aforementioned old man at point blank range with his gun in the intro, which is quite shocking at first until later on it's revealed to be more of a case of him being pragmatic for once.
  • Due to foreign MMOs sometimes having been through "Blind Idiot" Translation, we get some weird terms that most bystanders would be freaked out by. Namely in RF Online, you could get someone saying something like "I'm killing hobos for money!". Hobo is actually a type of enemy that is good farming material for lower levels.
  • The way Persona 3's Evokers (handgun-shaped devices needed for summoning Personas) are used - by putting it to your head and pulling the trigger - can be disturbing even to those who know that they don't shoot bullets. This is especially jarring during the opening cutscene (when you aren't supposed to know about it yet), where one of the characters seemingly tries to kill herself. It's even acknowledged In-Universe, with Junpei himself Lampshading about it. Strangely enough, a lot of people find Evokers one of the coolest things in the franchise.
  • Not only is Super Paper Mario about an Omnicidal Maniac trying to destroy the the multi-verse, an entire chapter of the story is dedicated to the heroes' murder and their descent into the underworld. It's actually presented in a humorous tone, and the characters actually make it to heaven before continuing on with their quest.
  • In the Mass Effect 2 DLC Overlord, a Paragon Shepard has the option to pistol whip Dr. Archer for what he did to his autistic younger brother, essentially turning him into a living computer, the titular Overlord. In any other context this might come off as a Jumping Off the Slippery Slope moment since Shepard, who's fully armored and makes a habit of taking out species destroying monsters is attacking an unarmed man, and as a Paragon isn't supposed to do stuff like that, but in context you'll probably be cheering instead.
  • Dwarf Fortress has a tendency to create these situations. At least once a week a topic pops up on Reddit with a title that at first glance would offend anyone suddenly becomes more tame once they notice it is in the DF subreddit. Though some of these things might not seem less disturbing to people who don't play Dwarf Fortress. For example, a title along the lines of "I need to find a way to efficiently kill children." is not unheard of. And this doesn't count the various situations in-game that can occur by accident, like mothers using their babies as shields or occasionally weapons.
  • Like the example above, the subreddit for Crusader Kings II has a similar problem with strange topics, with titles that would be highly disturbing, offensive, or even criminal outside the context of the game, as the cruelty and perversity potentials for this game are huge. Posts asking about how to castrate/murder/seduce one's children are par for the course. Questions and memes on mass murder, genocide, and whether or not one should seduce one's sister-daughter to produce a child who will marry her grandfather-uncle are also common. Such topics are frequent enough that a separate subreddit in the spirit of /r/nocontext was set up to compile all such occurrences.
  • While playing Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, you may get some weird looks if people overhear a woman moaning and groaning, followed by the question "What did you do to me?" It is then necessary to explain that she was in fact in a hospital dying of injuries, and you were saving her life by feeding her some of your vampire blood. (The subtext may be intentional.)
  • Batman: Arkham Knight is quite possibly the only time the Punk in the Trunk trope was or will ever be used in a benign context: the only passenger seats in the Batmobile are in there. Even with that in mind, driving around with a young handicapped girl in the trunk of your car would still need some additional context to not seem like the actions of a Serial Killer.

    Web Comics 
  • This Sluggy Freelance strip. It's amazing how quickly you become desensitized to kittens slaughtering half-naked people.
  • minus.:
    • More "Less Poignant in Context", but this strip. It becomes less hopeful and more reasonable with the knowledge that the girl with the baseball bat is basically God.
    • A straight example is the last arc. The title character kills every human being on Earth — accidentally. The reason it isn't a full-on Downer Ending is because everyone chooses to live on in the spirit world instead, and "life" there is essentially just like life on Earth. It's still pretty gloomy, though.
  • Homestuck:
    • In terms of Squick rather than brutal violence: in the epilogue to Act 4, Jade's grandfather stuffs and preserves the corpse of her dead dream self.
    • Also, later on this part, showing an an angry glowing vampire chainsawing a clearly terrified guy in half. If you read the events leading up to that point, you would be cheering on the vampire with the chainsaw. (click the ==> button a few times)
    • Also, the semi-frequent Kissing of Corpses is a lot less disturbing (although still somewhat squicky) when you understand it's a way of resurrecting someone who's recently died.
    • The first view of Kanaya we have, before she's introduced or even named, is an anachronistic shot of her doing something to a sleeping Tavros involving a chainsaw and a Gory Discretion Shot, which also freaks out Karkat when he sees it out of context. When we reach that point in the timeline... she's amputating Tavros's ruined legs to give him mecha prostheses.
  • Freefall (pictured) features a romantic subplot between a veterinarian and his patient. Said patient is smart enough to handle fusion reactors, so legal informed consent goes without saying.
  • Goblins:
    • "I'm nine years old and I'm still a virgin!". Goblins, in the comic, only live thirty years, and therefore age much faster than humans.
    • And an in-universe example: Minmax ends up on the receiving end of an angry mob since he appears to be commenting on the attractiveness of underage girls (along the lines of "she's thirteen, but still pretty hot"). Except that the numbers he lists are their charisma stats, not their age. The townspeople don't make the connection, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Wapsi Square tends towards this rather frequently. For example, this strip is much less frightening if you know that the woman on the beach is essentially indestructible.
  • But I'm a Cat Person: "I got this list of the names of a bunch of impressionable teenagers! It has all their contact information!"

    Web Original 
  • The first line of this bash.org quote.
    NH Boy I broke my G-string while fingering a minor :(
    rycool ...
    NH Boy I was trying to play Knocking on Heaven's Door.
    NH Boy Oh well, time to buy new strings.
  • This short story from rec.humor.funny has this happening to two people playing multiplayer Doom on a plane.
  • Just try talking about Survival of the Fittest without people giving you strange looks. Just... try. This includes talking about the premise of teenagers being kidnapped by terrorists and forced to fight to the death. And specific scenes can fall into this as well; to most people a scene where a teenager pins another teenager to a tree with a sword and carves words into his chest would be disturbing, for example, but once you know the context it's much more positive.
  • Reddit's r/nocontext is a repository of these moments. A number of subreddits about particular works, video games in particular, listed elsewhere on this page have also been soft-banned (technically permitted but usually downvoted) from r/nocontext for producing too many such lines too easily; Dwarf Fortress, Crusader Kings II, and The Binding of Isaac are among those who hold this dubious honor.
  • A number of supposedly true short stories about Soviet borderguard sergeant "Allur" have been circulating Russian websites since late 1990s. In one story an inspecting major enters a weapon storeroom, then a gunshot is heard. The sergeant and a private rush in and see the major and another private covered head to toes in white goo and holding a Playboy issuenote . As it turned out, the major was checking if all rifles were properly unloaded, one rifle shot, the bullet flew through a can of wallpaper glue atop the weapon locker, splattering the glue all over the room, then the falling can knocked somebody's porn stash off the locker. In the end all blame was assigned to the last private who used the gun.
  • Occasionally, CinemaSins will remove the video of a scene and say "This is only a sin if you listen to just the audio."

    Western Animation 
  • In Invader Zim...
    Zim:"The Dib! THE DIB! I don't care how delicious he is, he's evil!
    • Also AMV of the Halloween Episode would count as well. The episode is actually much more lighthearted.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The episode "Lesson Zero" has a twofer:
      • Twilight come across what appears to be Fluttershy beating a bear severely and then breaking its neck. She was actually performing chiropractic therapy on it.
      • That same episode has a driven-to-insanity Twilight approach three VERY young girls and saying "Hi, girls..." slowly and with a really creepy face. Anyone who sees this without realizing what it is may just scream "RUN, CHILDREN! RUN!"note .
    • "The Return of Harmony, Part 2" features a scene where Discorded Rainbow Dash is tied up and pleading "Lemme go! I don't need you guys! Leave me alone!" as Twilight Sparkle walks up to her. Twilight is, in fact, trying to save her from being Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • Another is Homer Simpson's "Oh great, now my testicle's got ants on it!". (To top that, both Spanish dubs make it slightly worse, as the phrasing comes off more as "ants in it"). It was the chapter where Homer gets sent to an island as a missionary, and he drops the ox testicle he was drinking from.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has Patrick's line "Wait, Jeffery! I have to touch you!" He was obsessed with touching everything at a jellyfishing museum, and Jeffery was a mascot they were featuring there.
  • For an example that is only marginally less disturbing in context, whenever fans of South Park discuss the scene in which Cartman arranges the deaths of Scott Tenorman's parents and feeds them to him, it is phrased in such a way as to imply that he pulled the trigger himself. In reality, he tricked them into trespassing on a paranoid farmer's property, who is the one to have actually shot them. That said, considering that Cartman orchestrates the deaths of two innocents because his nemesis cheated him out of sixteen dollars, and he gets away with it, it is understandable why fans would find that to be mere semantics.
  • If you don't know the story, it can be jarring to see images from Der Fuehrer's Face showing Donald Duck in full Nazi uniform with a Swastika armband saluting, "Heil Hitler!" Of course, the cartoon itself is a Propaganda Wartime Cartoon: Donald is having a Dream Sequence in which he is a factory worker in 'Nutzi Land', and part of the ridiculous standards forced on him (along with a 48 hour workday and constantly changing shells) is that he must salute pictures of Hitler whenever they appear on the line, or else. He eventually wakes up, glad to be a citizen of Eagleland instead of one of Those Wacky Nazis. Still, Disney itself doesn't circulate the cartoon these days without a very full disclaimer about the context (delivered by Leonard Maltin, no less).

    This Very Wiki 

    Real Life 
  • In Norway, a role-player had lost a note he'd written in first-person during a Modern Day game on the bus in Trondheim, and was pulled out of class in Olso by policemen who wanted to know why and how the hell he was going to do with a list of explosives, weapons and a plan to blow up an oil platform, and who he was working with, and who he was working for...
  • Anthony Trollope overheard some people discussing the latest installment of his novel which was being published a chapter at a time in a magazine. One reader said, "I wish he'd kill off that horrible old woman!" Trollope interrupted to say, "That's an excellent idea. I'll kill her this afternoon!" (The same story is told about Charles Dickens and some other popular authors of the day.)
  • Richmal Crompton used this as the plot of one of the Just William stories: William eavesdrops on a man telling his friend that he's planning to kill a woman, but he turns out to be a writer talking about one of his characters.
  • David Cameron unveiling Margaret Thatcher's bust at Conservative Party headquarters.
  • An advice columnist once advised a victim of frequent eavesdropping to have a little fun with the situation by loudly debating where to hide the drugs, what girl to send on the next call, or the like. A policeman wrote in to ask the column to print a correction, as he foresaw wasting time investigating calls from frightened gossips!
  • If you study typesetting, you will learn how to eliminate widows and orphans.
  • The Bible. (In some cases. In some more context makes for Fridge Horror). The part where someone gives Jesus water with vinegar? Not additional torture, Romans used vinegar to disinfect water and make it more refreshing as a beverage. Likewise, Onan took advantage of a widow, something that would have been obvious to a contemporary, but could do with an additional explanation in modern publications of the Bible. His cruel fate is a lot less disturbing once you know the context.
  • An infamous screenshot appears to show Fred Rogers Flipping the Bird at the camera. While the picture itself is indeed real, the context makes it quite innocent, as it simply appears in the middle of a familiar children's finger-play that involves raising your fingers one at a time ("Where is tall-man?"), and of course skipping one of them would have just made kids wonder why. As a grown adult who participates in society, he likely knew perfectly well what the gesture would have meant out of context — and the knowing grin is a hint, too.
    • There's a similar image involving Sir Patrick Stewart in his role as Captain Picard, but, in this case, it's because he's in the middle of snapping his fingers and the camera just happens to be at the right/wrong angle to hide his thumb.
  • There is a story of a British man visiting San Francisco for the first time and asking a cabby where he can pick up a pack of fags. Fags in British slang are cigarettes. In American slang they're not.


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