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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.
Sponge Bob Square Pants, "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 your going the wrong way.

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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    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.
  • The Pagemaster: Averted by Long John Silver. After getting two moronic reads from his crew ("It's in the middle, by the waterfall." "No, it's east, by some broccoli."), Silver snatches the map away and turns it so that he can tell his crew that the treasure is west by a tree. He never budges from that spot until the map is read right, although one has to wonder why he let his idiot crew try to read it first.

    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.

  • 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.
  • Moongobble and Me: In book 1, Moongobble accidentally holds the map upside down while they're on their quest to find the Dragon of Doom, resulting in a few wrong turns... until the Rusty Knight asks to see it, since he's quite good with maps, and promptly points out the mistake, causing Moongobble to turn red with embarrassment.

    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?"
  • Doctor Who. In "Praxeus", Graham is using a scanner to track down a mysterious energy source, and tells Yaz and Jake it's behind a wall. Yaz reaches over and turns the device around so it's properly oriented, leading Graham to announce the source is actually behind a door in the exact same tone of voice.
  • 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.
  • In the first episode of the first Brødrene Dal series "The Secret of Professor Drøvel", the brothers are traveling down the Flood River when they hit the end. Brummund argues that they've travelled the right direction, until Roms checks the map.
    Roms: Where in the world have you learned to read maps, Brummund? CAN'T YOU SEE THAT IT'S UPSIDE DOWN?!?!

  • They Might Be Giants: "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.

  • The Navy Lark: One of the many, many navigational blunders involving Sub-Lt Phillips involved him reading the map upside down, backwards, or in some cases entirely fictional maps, although it is highlighted by the other cast members that him reading it the right way up would hardly make a difference.

    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.
  • Defied in Skylanders Giants; Kaos initially thinks the Iron Fist of Arkus is in the sky and sets out to get a giant ladder, but Glumshanks clarifies that he's looking at the map upside down, and the Fist is actually underground and they need a drill to get it.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Dennis the Menace: In "Wheeling and Double-Dealing" Dennis and PeeBee get into a perpetual motion car race against Winston and his lackeys. Winston's lackeys sabotage Dennis and PeeBee's road map by drawing a line on it to lead Dennis and PeeBee in the wrong direction. When the two drive their car into a lake, the line washes off, and the two realize they've been tricked.
  • 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.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Asteroid Belt Space Race", Moonbeam serves as Uncle Zucchini's navigator across the asteroid belt, but reads the map upside down. When Zucchini points it out, Moonbeam insists that he should turn his saucer upside down.
  • 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.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants:
    • 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, "The Idol Rich" has an example that 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.
    • In "Gruel and Unusual Punishment", Baloo mistakes a Thembrian prison for a weight loss clinic due to a guacamole stain on the map covering the location.


Video Example(s):



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

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Main / ReadTheMapUpsideDown

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