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Read the Map Upside Down

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Mr. Krabs: Where's the X? It's supposed to be right here. Ten thousand paces east.
Patrick: Oh! East? I thought you said "Weast".
Mr. Krabs: Weast? What kind of compass are you reading, lad?
Patrick: This one, sir.
Mr. Krabs: That's west, Patrick. You're fired again.
SpongeBob SquarePants, "Arrrgh!"

When heading on a mapped adventure, it is important to follow the map accordingly. One wrong move could send you into great danger. In some cases though, you end up reading the directions incorrectly, resulting in you going the wrong way.

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Of course, this could also occur from misreading details about obstacles that you are to encounter. This can result in you either underestimating or overestimating the obstacle.

It's possible to recover, but it can still be embarrassing. If racing to the goal against a competing adventurer, this mistake can severely cost you.

Compare Upside Down Blueprints, for when the instructions for a building's architecture are misread causing the construction to be put together wrong, and Had the Silly Thing in Reverse, for when travelers have accidentally driven a vehicle backwards.


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Examples:

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    Fan Works 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when Nappa and Vegeta prepare to face Goku, Vegeta uses his scouter to read Goku's power level. When he reads it as 1006, he tells Nappa to deal with him. After Nappa gets beaten and broken by Goku, Vegeta realizes the scouter was upside down and that Goku's power level is actually "over 9000".

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: During their expedition to find the lost city, the team comes across two paths. Upon examining the journal, Milo points to the left path. However the left path has a monster that the team backs away from immediately. Upon examining the journal again, Milo notices his mistake and points to the right path.
    • Beauty and the Beast: In the novelization, holding the map upside down is how Maurice got lost and arrived at the Beast's castle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Galaxy Quest, Alexander is using their universe's equivalent of a tricorder to lead the way to the team's goal. Then he realizes he was holding it upside-down. This event causes Tommy Webber to lose all respect for him.
    Tommy Webber: You know, with all that makeup and stuff, I actually thought you were SMART for a second.
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    Literature 
  • All Hell Let Loose, a history of the Second World War by Max Hastings. He mentions in passing that bad map-reading was a fault in officers that their soldiers found hard to forgive. At best it would lead to wasted effort, at worst it would lead them into greater danger.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Band of Brothers Lt. Peacock's incompetence is displayed in a cutaway sequence by having him look at a map when the soldier standing next to him turns the map rightside-up.
  • Bassie & Adriaan: Bassie has a habit of accidentally reading things, including maps, upside down, and not realizing his error until Adriaan points it out. One notable example involving a map appears in the second series, Het geheim van de sleutel; when Bassie tells the audience why he and Adriaan have a new caravan, he recalls how they once ended up on a narrow road due to him reading the map upside down, and when they unhooked the caravan to try and turn around, it rolled off the road and into a ditch, completely destroying it.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth: A variant shows up in which General Melchett looks at the blank side of a map and notes "It's a barren, featureless desert out there, isn't it?"
  • Red Dwarf: In "Duct Soup", the crew are forced to travel through Starbug's ventilation system in order to restart the powered-down ship. After a long, tough journey, they end up back where they started. Kryten is briefly bewildered, glancing at the map... then turns it the other way up.

    Music 
  • They Might Be Giants: Taken Up to Eleven in "They Got Lost". John wasn't just reading a map incorrectly; he'd picked up the wrong piece of paper and had been directing the band based on a crumpled burger wrapper.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer: Dwarf tunneling units can pop up out of the ground somewhere other than where they were supposed to go. This also causes them to lose a turn as they argue over whose fault it was.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: One of Celica's intro animations has her holding a map upside down. It's part of her having No Sense of Direction.
  • Conker: Live & Reloaded: In the multiplayer mode, both sides get a hold of a map (due to it being printed on a magazine) leading to something powerful. The Tediz get there first due to Vin Kriplespex making a wrong turn ending up in the right place due to the map being upside down. When The S.H.C. realize they made a mistake, they are quick to catch up with the Tediz.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel: The second game has a sidequest where two characters plan to attack some enemy soldiers and then retreat to a different town; however, they sat across from each other when looking at the map, leading to one of them reading it upside down. This causes them to go to separate towns while they both worry about where the other is.
  • Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert!: Marvin goes to the wrong castle when searching for Bugs Bunny due to reading the map upside-down, and fights Pepe Le Pew instead.

    Western Animation 
  • Dragon Tales: In "Pigment of Your Imagination", the group goes on a treasure hunt to find paint at Rainbow Canyon. They have a treasure map that Max tries to read but he is holding it upside down. After an incident, the map breaks.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Hearth's Warming Eve", when Chancellor Puddinghead is leading herself and Smart Cookie around in circles, it turns out that she's quite literally holding the map upside-down.
  • Ninjago: In the pilot , the ninja arrive at the site where Samukai and his army are digging in search of the first of the Golden Weapons based off of the map for finding the Weapons. Once they steal the map back, Jay notices that Samukai was holding it upside down and is therefore digging at the wrong spot. This gives the ninja the opportunity to reach the actual location of the first Weapon before Samukai's army can, but said army blocks their path once they try to leave.
  • Rugrats: In "Graham Canyon", the Pickles family attempt to take a vacation to the Grand Canyon. During the long car ride, Angelica decides to pass the time by coloring with markers, but Tommy points out that they don't have a coloring book, so Angelica decides to color on Stu and Didi's road map instead. She uses a purple marker, which results in Stu and Didi taking a wrong turn when they look over the map (as the path to the Grand Canyon was also purple) and ending up in a ghost town.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Arrgh!", Mr. Krabs becomes obsessed with finding the Flying Dutchman's treasure and gets SpongeBob and Patrick involved. He puts Patrick in charge of the compass, and he directs them to go west when Mr. Krabs requests east, simply because he thought Mr. Krabs said "weast".
    • In "Squid's on a Bus", SpongeBob takes out a giant map and puts it on the bus's window. It's upside-down, so he has to flip it over.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In "Mine Your Own Business", It's revealed that Mystery Inc is lost because Shaggy has been reading their map upside down, which Velma points out.
  • Talespin: In an inversion, one episode actually causes the hero to go in the right direction. While looking for a treasure with a clue that it was "right under his nose", he ends up looking at a map upside down and realizes that a lake that everyone saw as being shaped like a moose head looked like a mustachioed nose from the other direction.

 
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Weast

Mr. Krabs asks Patrick to take them ten thousand paces east. Unfortunately, Patrick mishears him and points them west.

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