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Randomly Reversed Letters

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"The flames will make it look like you're going faster, and the backwards R is charming because we're children."
JP, Craig of the Creek, "Creek Cart Racers"

Showing that someone (usually a child) is of limited literacy by oɔɔasional letterƨ being rɘversed in their writing.

When the only reversed letter is R or N, this can make text look pseudo-Russian.

The Trope Namer is an entry in Roger Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary, submitted by Andy Ihnatko, about the "Grafik Artz" techniques used to fake amateur drawing in movies.

Truth in Television, in Real Life children do often get letters mixed up. Vox hypothesizes that this is potentially due to our brains not bothering too much with remembering left/right orientation since generally it's irrelevant in nature.

A subtrope of Stylistic Suck. May be combined with Xtreme Kool Letterz. See also The Backwards Я and The Illegible‎. May also serve as an example of Handwriting as Characterization.


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  • Toys "Я" Usnote  used this in the logo for the store chain. Whenever they printed their name in normal writing in a catalogue, on their website or otherwise, they just used a normal R. Didn't stop some people versed in the Cyrillic alphabet from calling them "Toys Ya Us", though.

     AnimƎ and Manga  
  • In the ending of GunBuster, when Noriko and Kazumi return to Earth after over 12,000 years, and the Earth lights up into a giant "Welcome Home" sign, one of the katakana is reversed.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid featured a Bland-Name Product version of Toys "Я" Us called Toy"s" Plus with a backwards P.

     Ɔomic Books  
  • In Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland (a B.P.R.D. spinoff), all the residents of Hallam write their lowercase "a"s backwards. It is perhaps the first clue that the people of Hallam aren't entirely human.
  • The Transformers (Marvel):
    • Issue 23 features the backwards S twice in the phrase "HUMANS ARE WIMPS" scrawled across the Statue of Liberty on the cover. In the story, the Decepticon Battlechargers Runabout and Runamuck witness an angry human kid vandalizing a wall, and are inspired to spray-paint graffiti on various landmarks, calling out Optimus Prime and the Autobots in Cybertronian (thus rendering it undecipherable to humans). When they get to Liberty Island, they decide to demonstrate their new-found ability to write in English, leading to the defacement shown on the cover.
    • The backwards S is infamously used again on the cover of issue 70, which gives us this lovely image of a TeleFragged Megatron and Ratchet.

  • House Shark: After making Zachary dress as a female shark to lure the house shark out, they draw signs enticing the shark to come to him. On at least one of the signs, there are Ss written backwards.
  • The ridiculously obscure movie The Misadventures Of Amy Everhart takes this to an extreme: Amy's sister Hannah can only write backwards (but her writing is otherwise coherent).
  • In The Shining, Danny, who's channeling the hotel's evil, writes his Madness Mantra, "REDRUM" ("MURDER" in reverse) in crayon on the bathroom door with the middle two letters backwards.
  • In the title screen for Star Trek: Nemesis, the "R" in "Trek" and the second "E" in "Nemesis" are reversed.
  • Toy Story: Andy writes his name on Woody's foot with a backwards N.

  • In Animal Farm, the Seven Commandments of Animalism, as originally written on the wall by Snowball, have only two errors of penmanship, one of them being the reversal of one of the S's. In the edition with full-color illustrations by Ralph Steadman, the reversed S is the one in the Fifth Commandment, "No animal shall drink alcohol."
  • In Breakfast of Champions, in the 1930s, Dwayne Hoover's stepfather acquired the title to a farm just south of Shepherdstown that once had been owned by the descendants of slaves and which he later would develop into a Trashy Tourist Trap called Sacred Miracle Cave. Dwayne recalls that the first time Dwayne's family went to visit the property which his stepfather called "a God damn Nigger farm," his stepfather ripped off and threw into a ditch a sign on the mailbox saying "BLUƎBIRD FARM."
  • Encyclopedia Brown sets up his detective agency in his father's garage, with a hand-lettered sign. Since he's a child genius, the sign presumably looks perfect. However, on some editions of the book, the publishers apparently took the "child" part of "child genius" and ran with it, reproducing his sign on the back cover of the books with random letters reversed.
  • In Hogfather, it's mentioned that Twyla reverses some of the letters in her messages to the Hogfather (a fantasy counterpart to Santa Claus) in an effort to seem cute.
  • The Lotterys Plus One: When Sumac is moving her things to the Spare Oom (Spare Room), she takes note of the sign on the door to Brian's and Oak's room. Half of the letters on it are backwards.
  • Poem "A Roadside Stand" by Robert Frost is about roadside fruit stands in farm country, with signs that have "N turned wrong and S turned wrong." The urban drivers sneer at the yokels, but the poem is written with sympathy for the farmers that just want a little of the success that popular culture suggests should be theirs.

     Live AƆtioИ TV  
  • Parodied in the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode "Tactical Village", where Gina claims that the addictive computer game "Kwazy Kupcakes" has a reversed w.

  • Korn's logo spells their name with a backwards R.
  • Nine Inch Nails spells their initials with the second N being backwards.
  • Similarly, Linkin Park was spelled with both Ns reversed on the cover of Hybrid Theory.
  • Eminem frequently spells his name as EMINƎM.

     Video Games 
  • The title screen, game cover and flyers for Big Karnak have the second "K" from "Karnak" flipped around. It forms a nice symmetrical effect for good measure.
  • Sophie's Guardian: Some of the "e"s are shown written backwards, possibly to emulate child-like handwriting.
  • Sunset Overdrive: In the game's title screen and cover, it's actually SUИSET OVERDRIVE.

     Web AnimatioИ  

     WestƎЯn AnimatioИ  
  • In the Futurama episode "Bender Gets Made", the sign on Tinny Tim's oil-ade stand has a backwards L and E. This gets lampshaded by Tim himself:
    Tinny Tim: But I'm only programmed to sell oil-ade and write in cute backwards letters like on the sign here.
  • A classic Family Guy episode referenced this when Lois mentions that Stewie signed a get-well card for Peter:
    Peter: Hold on, give me that! ...Did you forge my signature? I see, and is this backwards 'S' supposed to be cute?! Oh, I'm going to crap double for you tonight!
  • The page image, from The Little Rascals episode "Beauty Queen for a Day", is a "No Girls Allowed" sign, with a reversed S, in the treehouse window. The same reversed S appears on the boys' He-Man Woman Haters' Club banner.
    • It's also used in "Rock & Roll Rascals", when Alfalfa forges Greg Groove's autograph for Buckwheat and Porky to deliver to Darla. Darla doesn't seem to notice.
  • The Loud House: In "One Flu Over the Loud House", the word "RUN!" with a backwards "R" can be seen written on one of the hallway's walls in the initial shot of Lincoln seeing its messy status.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Bart sets up a lemonade stand but doesn't get any customers. Lisa suggests he play to their sympathy, flips the "N" and one of the "E"s around, then turns his baseball cap backwards so he looks "pathetic". All this manages to do is get a passing Nelson to "Haw-HAW!" at him.
    • In "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays", it gets inverted as Moe climbs up to the front sign of a Toys Я Us and flips the backwards R around the correct way.