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Never Trust a Trailer

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The trailer for the second season of our Echo Chamber web series.

"Considering what we get, it's highly possible that Movie Trailer Voiceover Guy also sells billions of dollars worth of used cars and swampland real estate every year."

If Covers Always Lie, trailers can, too. Sometimes Tonight, Someone Dies or hyping The Reveal might not be enough. And with the Internet an open window these days for writers and directors to viewers' likes, dislikes, hopes, predictions, and Shipping loyalties, it's easy to know exactly how to bait fans into watching the next episode. Be careful not to believe everything you see, though, because as all Fan Vid makers know, any scene can be mixed-and-matched with another to look completely different from their real context.

Of course, Tropes Are Tools, as used correctly this can be a very clever way of averting Trailers Always Spoil (by not mentioning or downplaying the real main plot).

Indeed, the creation of fake trailers to make a movie look like it's from a completely different genre has become one of the Internet's most beloved recent art forms, such as The Shining as a family-oriented romantic comedy, Mary Poppins as a slasher horror flick, Elf as a thriller, Luke Cage as a '90s sitcom, or the one that started it all, The Ten Commandments (1956) as a high school romantic comedy.

Another way it can backfire is if you can't find enough good footage to make a decent trailer, audiences can extrapolate just how bad the rest of the material must be.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

However, this practice may die out because a judge ruled that studios can be sued for misleading trailers.

See this list for more examples.


  • Advertised Extra: This person is portrayed as a major character, but isn't.
    • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: A subtrope of this, where the disproportionate appearance of a sexually-alluring character in the publicity material (and who may not appear in the work at all) is used to make the work seem more erotic than it actually is.
  • Billing Displacement: The big-name actor plays a smaller part in the work than the marketing materials suggest.
  • Clickbait Gag: A gag about how thumbnails and headlines for web content exaggerate the content to get more readers.
  • Covers Always Lie: The illustration on the front of the book has nothing to do with the book itself. Some cases, it's gorier or sexier than the real thing.
    • Red Skies Crossover: A big Crossover event was advertised, but the effect it has on the story is woefully minimal.
    • Superdickery: For some reason, the hero is acting like an asshole. Buy the book to find out why! Turns out that the character isn't really acting like a dick at all.
    • Wolverine Publicity: A hugely popular character is advertised on the cover as a bait hook for readers... but their involvement in the story ranges from paper-thin to absolutely none.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: Where the trailer includes a scene that's been cut from the film.
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Someone - most likely fans - has created a very convincing trailer for a movie which is unlikely to ever be released.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: A major character doesn't show up in the trailer at all, either to avoid major spoilers or to create a misleading impression of the film.
  • Tonight, Someone Kisses: Taking a kiss out of context.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Surprising, but these two often overlap heavily. It's not uncommon for a trailer to give away a plot-twist that occurs late in a film, while giving the impression that said plot-twist occurs much earlier and drives the primary conflict.
  • Trailer Spoof: The trailer pretends to be for a different movie.

Often a form of Misaimed Marketing (it's been said that trailers reflect the movie the studio wanted to make, rather than the one that actually got made). If it's a TV show's Title Sequence that lies, those are Bait-and-Switch Credits.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • This trailer for Snickers' Super Bowl ad leads you to believe that the guys in it really have Betty White on their team. In the actual commercial she is called "Mike" and is told, "You play like Betty White!" She then eats a Snickers, and after a brief cutaway, she's replaced by a guy, proving that she only appears in the ad to support the tagline: "You're not you when you're hungry." And so does Abe Vigoda.
  • In the print ads for Son of Svengoolie, if a film was called "X of Dracula" or "Frankenstein's X" they always ran a picture of Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff in costume as the title monster, even if they weren't in the film and it wasn't a Universal Horror film.

    Comic Books 
  • Most of the hype for Earth 2 focused on that world's versions of the Big Three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. They're killed off in the first issue.
    • DC also tried to spin the marketing for the series as a Darker and Edgier take on the Golden Age heroes, when it actually falls heavily on the "Idealistic" side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Still, the forces of Darkseid do their damnedest to wreck everything, and the final arc before the "Society" Retool is called "World's End" for a very good reason.
  • When Forever Evil (2013) was first announced, DC billed it as Lex Luthor allying the various villains of the DCU to systematically take down the Justice Leagues & every other costume vigilante; the actual story is about Lex Luthor teaming up with any remaining heroes and villains to take down an alternate universe Justice League who have taken over Earth.
  • The solicit introducing the new post-Fear Itself Avengers line-up showed the teenage version of The Vision from Young Avengers. When the book actually dropped, the cover had been altered to instead show the classic, adult Vision. Presumably, this was to hide the fact that the Teen!Vision was being killed off in Avengers: The Children's Crusade.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis had promo art that featured the idea of The Joker killing Jimmy Olsen and the tagline saying "Jimmy Olsen must die!" and Wizard even had a cover of Superman holding a dead-by-Joker toxin Jimmy Olsen. In the actual comic, the only time the two meet was early on when Jimmy interviewed the Joker while the latter was being held in Arkham.
  • Played with for The Walking Dead: The solicitations for the series listed an 194th and 195th issue, but it was planned for Issue 193 to be the last.
  • Several covers of Ultimate Comics: X-Men features the team wearing costumes, including Jimmy Hudson in a version of Earth-616 Wolverine's classic yellow threads. In the stories themselves, they're a case of Not Wearing Spandex.

    Fan Works 
  • The trailer for Turnabout Storm shows Phoenix Wright using his Hot-Blooded attitude to scare and intimidate Fluttershy. In the actual story, however, Fluttershy will only speak to Phoenix, since she thinks he's an actual kind of phoenix. Though that part does manifest in the form of Phoenix having to accuse Fluttershy to buy time.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, Chapter 10 of "The Evil Gods Part 2" is titled, ""Piper and Jerry goes to Washington DC to Find out Who the Tractor is and Defeat them Once and for All so they would not terrorized by them ever again for as long as God allows Time to go on For." The Prayer Warriors go to "Washing Dick", but do not identify or defeat the traitor.
  • The "previews" for Mass Effect: Human Revolution will often have details changed from what actually happens.
  • At the end of Shadowchasers Twice Told Tales, the author provides a rather vivid and dramatic "trailer" for Shadowchasers Backwater that he admits should not be taken fully at face-value, claiming it contains many scenes where the contexts are probably either misinterpreted and/or incomplete.
  • The summary for Persona 4 Hot Springs With Yukiko makes it vaguely sound like a Revenge Fic for the game's hot springs scene, in which the girls threw things at the guys for barging in on them, even though they were the ones in the hot springs at the wrong time. In actuality, it's a Yu/Yukiko fic in which they end up in mixed bathing.
  • The trailer for season two of the Abridged Series Ultra Fast Pony plays this for laughs, with the creator Wacarb running down a long list of things that will happen that did not, as well as Twilight saying the line "I am so full of all of the emotions" over footage of her break down in Lesson Zero which was never stated at any point in the season. Later Wacarb went on record, saying that the trailers should be treated as their own little thing and not a real representation of the season, after several people questioned him about it. Though it is averted with the following seasons' trailers, which are more obviously designed just to get people excited and not to give them any information on what's to come.
    • This actually gets a Call-Back in the season three finale The Longest Recap Ever, where Twilight finally says the line from the trailer and asks the audience if they can finally shut up about it.
  • Mobile Fighter Evangelion was actually inspired by this trope, with the writer originally making presumptions based on a smiling Asuka, a grim looking Shinji, and an icy-looking Rei for the Neon Genesis Evangelion poster that's currently that page's image that Asuka was a Cheerful Child, Shinji was a Determinator, and Rei was an Ice Queen Drill Sergeant Nasty rather than the Tsundere, Shrinking Violet, and Emotionless Girl they respectively really were and deciding to make a story based around his assumptions.
  • Corrin In Peril says that the main couple is Corrin and Ryoma, and also includes Yuri and Ignatz as characters. The two not only do not appear in the fic but are not even from the same world- it's a Fire Emblem Fates fic and the two are from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Curiously enough, the fic was first published in 2016, more than three years before Three Houses was released, so Yuri and Ignatz could only have been added later.

  • Gloryhammer: The first music video released on YouTube for the album "Return to the Kingdom of Fife" was an animated one for "Keeper of the Celestial Flame of Abernethy". The animation makes it look like the beginning of the album's story (the Zargothrax clone awakening) is shortly followed by the climax of the story (the clone freeing the original), when there are apparently decades in between.

  • Feld Entertainment has done this with their Disney on Ice and Disney Live! shows a few times:
    • In 2010, when Mickey's Rockin' Road Show came to Nashville and Greensboro, it was advertised as a show featuring Playhouse Disney characters such as Mickey and his friends, the Little Einsteins cast, Handy Manny and the characters from My Friends Tigger and Pooh.
    • In 2015, they promoted showings of Let's Celebrate! in California as Frozen on Ice.
    • One showing of Phineas and Ferb LIVE! was promoted as Three Classic Fairy Tales.
  • Some posters for the musical adaptation of Kinky Boots show the young Lola and Charlie together as well as regular Lola and Charlie together, portraying a story about growing up. The young Lola and Charlie only appear in the opening number and never interact with one another.
  • When Waiting for Godot made its American debut in Miami, its marketing prominently featured stars Bert Lahr (The Cowardly Lion) and Tom Ewell (from The Seven-Year Itch). Posters declared the play to be "the laugh sensation of two continents."

    Web Animation 
  • An egregious example is the trailer for the third Arfenhouse movie. The actual movie turned out to be a few seconds long (not counting credits) and was a Take That, Audience! to all the creator's fans who were nagging him to deliver on his promise of a sequel, though real sequels were eventually made.
  • Parodied in Homestar Runner starting with Jibblies 2. The costumes Strong Bad is wearing in the teasers for upcoming Halloween toons are never the ones he wears in the toons themselves.
    COACH Z: Hey, Strong Bad! I thought you was gonna dress up as the alien this year!
    STRONG BAD: (dressed as Beetlejuice) Yeah, I was gonna, but when I got to Hammacher Schlammacher's, they were all sold out. I did get an awesome Shiatsu massage wine opener, though.
  • Parodied by Legendary Frog in the One Ring to Rule Them All: Special Edition, in which a "One Ring 3" Teaser includes shout outs to the movie Speed, the Incredible Hulk, and Charlie's Angels. Lampshaded by Sauron, who asks "Will any of this be in the actual movie?" His goblin assistant, Wayne, tells him that it'll all be cut in post-production.
  • The season 7 trailer for Red vs. Blue showed both Church and Tex watching over the Red and Blue teams in Valhalla. Neither actually appears in that season. In fact, according to Word of God, the "original" Church actually died at the end of the last season, so it seems likely Tex did as well. The difference here is that Red vs. Blue trailers are more like prelude episodes than actual previews. The season 7 trailer contained no footage from later episodes because it wasn't supposed to. Church and Tex seem to have been inserted into it to encourage Wild Mass Guessing as to what unseen role they may have had in the season.
  • RWBY:
    • Early trailers made the show look like it was going to be a fairy tale-themed Dead Fantasy when it actually starts out as a high school-themed fantasy. The first few episodes introduce the setting and characters, often comically, and there are few fight scenes, causing some disappointment among some fans who were expecting more combat. Rooster Teeth acknowledged the dissonance at the time the early episodes first aired.
    • The first two trailers, "Red" and "White", don't show off the characters well. They instead focus on showing off the series' action potential. Ruby and Weiss are both much more somber than usual, which confused many fans when the series revealed them to be a Large Ham and Academic Alpha Bitch instead.
    • The Volume 2 trailer contains altered scenes to disguise their true context. The most obvious is a shot of Ruby cradling Weiss's unconscious body; the trailer makes this look like a serious moment in a real battle, since they're both in their normal fighting clothes and Weiss is holding her sword. However, this shot's counterpart in the show itself (same animation, but a different render) is played completely for laughs, because they're actually just participating in a Food Fight, wearing their school uniforms, and Weiss is just holding a swordfish instead of a real weapon. While Volume 2 did eventually deliver some pretty dark moments, and Weiss does get messed up pretty badly later on, it's Blake who eventually ends up cradling her, and in genuinely serious context.

    Web Comics 
  • When My Impossible Soulmate was first announced, the initial preview and premise made it look like a grounded, high school romance with a simple story of unrequited love. Once the comic officially debuted however, the author revealed the comic's other genre, an isekai fantasy.
  • If you aren't familiar with Sluggy Freelance, then the first half of this video would have you convinced that the comic revolves around... well, a relatively minor side character. After that it breaks down into half a dozen tiny trailers not to be entirely trusted, before finally giving up and summarizing the comic in one sentence.
  • Not a trailer, but a preview fragment. These 2 panels give the impression that the heroes of Swords and Sausages are going to wake up in bed together, naked, under the same blanket. The full page reveals that Tor was only shirtless and Silver slept fully dressed — her hair partially obscured her vest, which has the same colour as Tor's pants.

    Web Original 

Dishonest as it may be, you gotta admit that it is kinda funny, too.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Trailers Always Lie



As the Nostalgia Critic points out, despite the trailers showing Merida's archery skills, she only fights twice in the movie. Even with the notion that Merida ended up swapping roles with her mother, the sight of her cowering before Mordu was NOT what people had in mind when first seeing the trailer.

How well does it match the trope?

4.1 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / FauxActionGirl

Media sources: