Follow TV Tropes


Right for the Wrong Reasons

Go To

"[D]idn't Aristarchus and the Pythagoreans propose heliocentrism in ancient times? If only they had prevailed, we might have had Real Science millennia sooner. What was their evidence?
Well, you see, Fire is nobler than earth and the center is a nobler position. So fire has to be in the center. QED.
There are many names for this sort of thinking, but 'scientific' is not one of them."
Michael F. Flynn, The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown

Someone makes a conclusion based on what they perceive are facts. Their conclusion is correct but the assumed facts themselves are wrong.

The Gettier Problem is a well-known issue in epistemology that uses this scenario to mount an attack on the definition of "knowledge" as "justified, true belief"—a conclusion reached this way is justified and true, but intuitively we wouldn't call it knowledge.

Supertrope of Worrying for the Wrong Reason. Compare and contrast Framing the Guilty Party, where the facts are known to be false, but the conclusion is still correct. Also compare Conviction by Counterfactual Clue. Can sometimes overlap with Accidentally Correct Writing when it happens on a meta-level. Dismissing the conclusion because of erroneous facts would be the Fallacy Fallacy. When the premises and the conclusion are correct, but the logic connecting them is false you have a Bat Deduction. For the direct inverse, where the logic and premises are perfectly sound, but the conclusion isn't, see Entertainingly Wrong. May be a reason for Don't Shoot the Message. Often the case when the Cloud Cuckoo Lander is right. May result in Dumbass Has a Point.


Contrast with "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.", where someone bluffs another based on a claim which they don't know happens to be correct.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In One-Punch Man, Fubuki has power equivalent to a high A-Rank, but doesn't believe she could be at the top. Her sister Tatsumaki surmises she has the potential to be S-Rank alongside her but believes there's something mentally holding back her potential, which is true. Tatsumaki incorrectly surmises it's her friends and associates; it's actually fear and inferiority of her older sister.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, the villain Terra of the Left notices that Touma is not using his Imagine Breaker's full potential, and concludes that Touma has amnesia. He mocks him, saying that if Touma didn't lose his memories, he would have been much more powerful. While Terra was correct that Touma had amnesia, Touma did not know Imagine Breaker's full potential before he lost his memories either.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’: When Sorbet first wishes for Frieza's revival, Shenron says that it's pointless to bring him back since he would return in pieces. After talking with Tagoma, Sorbet demands that his wish be granted. Shenron calls it a foolish wish, but grants it anyway. As it turns out, the wish was foolish, albeit not for the reason Shenron originally stated. Instead of returning to his empire, Frieza launches a full-scale invasion of Earth for the sake of getting revenge on Goku; that decision led to his entire army and what was left of his empire being wiped out, the very thing Sorbet originally brought Frieza back to prevent.
  • Dragon Ball Super: During the Future Trunks Saga, after Beerus kills Zamasu, he believes that this means Goku Black will be Ret Gone and Future Trunks' timeline is safe. However, Trunks, recalling that the deaths of the mainstream timeline versions of the Androids and Cell had no effect on their counterparts in his timeline, is not so sure and take Goku and Vegeta back with him to the future just to be certain, and indeed, nothing has changed; Black still exists and is still wreaking havoc. However, while Trunks was correct to assume that his timeline was still in danger, it wasn't for the reason he thought; Black explains that his Time Ring protects him from any changes in time, meaning that Beerus killing his past self wouldn't affect him even if it erased the timeline he originally came from.
  • In School Rumble, when Yakumo is helping Harima with his manga, she realizes that the main characters (who are love interests) are based off Harima and her own sister. When she brings this up, Harima, horrified, concludes that she has the power to read minds. She can read minds, but she's never been good at reading Harima's. She figured it out simply because it's really obvious.
  • After Phos returns from the Moon in Land of the Lustrous, Euclase notices that they are behaving strangely and suspects that they're planning something. While Euclase is correct in that Phos is trying to convince others to travel to the Moon, they surmise that the suspicious behavior is because Phos is an impostor. In reality, Phos had undergone a Face–Heel Turn upon learning the truth about the Lunarians' goals and Adamant Sensei.
  • A meta example in Naruto. The masked ninja Tobi spends the majority of his appearances claiming to be Madara Uchiha, somehow living beyond his natural years to cause all the problems preceding the story. He states a lot of facts that support this, until it's revealed that the real Madara was dead and Tobi is actually Obito Uchiha. While it seems like Tobi may have been lying this whole time, when you see his backstory you realise he was technically telling the truth he was only lying when he applied it to himself.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: When Madoka says that she dreamt about Homura before actually meeting her, Sayaka remarks that perhaps the two met in a past life. Assuming a given value of 'past life' (one that involves time travel), she is correct.
    • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, when Homura confronts Bebe, she believes that the latter knows what's going on because she thinks that Bebe is the witch that created the fake Mitakihara. In fact, Bebe does know what is going on but was not the one to create the barrier.
  • During a Tournament Arc in My Hero Academia, main characters Uraraka and Bakugo are paired together in a match, Bakugo keeps a heavy hit in reserve just in case Uraraka, who he knows is friends with the crafty Midoriya, came in with a strategy she could use to win. While he's right about the fact that Uraraka had a plan, she actually declined Midoriya's help, wanting to win or lose on her own merit. Midoriya sets the record straight after the match when Bakugo demands to know if that plan was indeed his.
    • Todoroki is almost immediately able to pinpoint that Midoriya has some form of relationship with All Might and is All Might's protege due to sharing the same quirk. However, he mistakenly believes that Midoriya is All Might's illegitimate son.
  • About halfway through Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's it's revealed that the Wolkenritter are actually semi-autonomous programs. Fate (who was in the middle of her "am I even human?" phase) compares them to herself, which Chrono and Lindy are very quick to deny. As we find out later on in the episode, that is probably the most accurate comparison that could possibly be made since they're almost identical to her back in the first season (completely human despite their artificial nature, driven to help a dying mother figure, and suffering to the point that you just want to give them a hug).
  • In Kimagure Orange Road, Sayuri is the only one beside Kyosuke and Madoka herself who know they like each other. She came at this conclusion because as she was stalking Madoka she saw her and Kyosuke enter the ABCB and heard the noise of lovemaking soon after, not imagining it was actually a porn movie put on by Hikari, Madoka's best friend and Kyosuke's girlfriend, without knowing what it actually was.
  • Near the beginning of Nanbaka, Gokuu interviews the Cell 13 prisoners to find out why they got in jail. He makes up tragic backstories for them and guesses that Nico got in for drug peddling, Rock broke out to see a friend, and Jyugo being involved in all of it. He was right about them having tragic backstories, but Rock made a friend when he escaped since Jyugo took him to a restaurant so he could eat good food away from wardens who looked down on him, Nico's unwitting involvement in drug peddling landed him in a jail that used him as a human guinea pig, and Jyugo really did connect the group, but it's through him helping them with their problems rather than them helping him.
  • In Isekai De Kojiin Wo Hiraitakedo Nazeka Darehitori Sudatou To Shiai Ken, the king who summons an entire class to a new world to fight the demon king, sends the protagonist, Shinji Naomi off to run an orphanage, seeing him as a worthless incompetent, because while the rest of his class all get nifty Awesome, but Impractical skills useful only in warfare, Shinji gets the Boring, but Practical "protect" and "analyze" skills. What the king fails to realize, is that Shinji is the perfect choice to run an orphanage because he's honest, forthright, trustworthy, and is a Friend to All Children. Not to mention that his "protect" skill works best when he wants to protect something, and there's no way Shinji would want to protect the class that constantly mocks and derides him, back on Earth or in this new world.
  • This happens a few times in Death Note, mostly in the manga version:
    • Aizawa once mentions that deaths having occurred at Kira's hand while Light was under surveillance doesn't necessarily prove Light's innocence, saying that Light could have killed when he was in a situation where he wasn't being watched by the cameras; while Aizawa is right here in that this incident indeed does not prove Light's innocence (as he had an alibi where he was able to find a way to access criminals' names and faces _while_ being under surveillance), Aizawa misses the point here. The issue is not that criminals died while Light's activities were being closely monitored, but rather that criminals died while Light had no way of gaining information about them.
    • When Mello is attacked by the Task Force and Soichiro reveals he knows Mello's true name, Mello concludes that this is because Kira controlled one of Mello's subordinates into revealing his name, meaning that the Task Force has teamed up with Kira. However, while Mello is right about the Task Force having teamed up with Kira, the only reason they know Mello's real name is because of the fact that Soichiro took the Shinigami Eye deal.
    • After Mello reveals to Near that one of the rules in the Death Note is fake, Near narrows down the fake rule to the 13-day-rule. Near is right in assuming this, but his thought process for eliminating another fake rule (that the whoever touched the notebook will die if it is destroyed) was that Mello could not have learned about that rule being fake because Mello could not have tested that rule. However, the reason Mello learned of the fake rule was not because of his testing, but rather because a Shinigami told him.
    • When Light has Kiyomi Takada say things that are uncharacteristic of her to say as a newscaster (her sharing her personal opinions about Kira), Mikami finds something off, and concludes that someone must have made her act this way, and comes to the conclusion that she is having meetings with Kira. While it is true she was having meetings with Light, Takada herself didn't even know that Light was Kira, meaning Kira could very well have not been the only person to have her say such things.
    • Light eventually concludes that Near has figured out that the second L, Kira, is Light Yagami. However, Light thinks Near deduces this because of Light's connection to Misa Amane, the alleged former Second Kira, and the election of Kiyomi Takada, someone who was once close to him. While Near most certainly did figure out Light is the second L and Kira, it was not for these reasons. To add an extra layer to that, had Near concluded that Light is the second L from Takada's election, that would have also been an instance of Right for the Wrong Reasons, because Takada's election had nothing to do with Light and her connection to Light was nothing but a coincidence.
  • Karen from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a rabid Kaguya/Shirogane shipper, and is wholly convinced that the two are hopelessly in love with each other (something that her best friend Erika dismisses as fangirlish delusions). She is right about the two being in love, though it's based completely on her having a pair of Shipping Goggles glued to her face rather than having any basis in fact.

    Comic Books 
  • In Detective Comics #373, "The Riddler On The Roof", Elongated Man visits Gotham while Batman's busy elsewhere, and Commissioner Gordon shows him the Riddler's latest clue. He stops the Riddler shortly before Batman, who has finished his own case and seen the clue, shows up. However, when they compare notes, they have completely different interpretations of what the riddle means, even though they both connected it to the same crime. Basically, either Batman, Commissioner Gordon, or both were Right for the Wrong Reasons—and out of sheer spite, the Riddler won't say which.
    • A story from the 90s saw Batman deal with a clay Golem destroying Jewish business in Gotham. A large clockwise swastika on the golem's belly led Batman to believe that the Golem's creator was being forced to send it out and the Buddhist-style swastika was a clue to his identity (someone educated enough to know about Yiddish traditions and the swastika's history). When Batman tracks down the creator (a Warsaw ghetto survivor being forced by a gang of Neo-Nazis), the man tells Batman he knew nothing about Buddhism: the swastika was a Stealth Insult to his captors, as he couldn't bring himself to draw the counter-clockwise Nazi swastika and his captors were too ignorant to tell he drew it wrong.
  • The Killing Joke, as quoted, has an example of a crazy person achieving this to show just how far the trope can go.
  • Watchmen
    • Unlike everyone else who just thinks of him as a benevolent philanthropist, Rorschach is very suspicious of Veidt, which turns out to have been warranted. However, this is because Rorschach has some fringe right-wing views, and so he naturally assumes the Ambiguously Gay and liberal Nice Guy must be up to something evil.
    • After the Comedian is killed, Rorschach suspects that other superheroes will be targeted for murder from a "cape-killer," so he warns the surviving Crimebusters. Sure enough, an attempt is made on Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias's life. Veidt is behind it all. He killed the Comedian because he knew too much about his plans and sent an assassin against himself to throw off suspicion
  • In a Jack of the Tales comic, Jack correctly believes that Goldilocks is actually an agent for Mr Revise, but comes to the conclusion because all of Revise's known agents wear glasses, which he assumes has some significance, so is immediately suspicious of the bespectacled Goldilocks. As she exasperatedly tells him, she wears glasses because she has bad eyesight.
  • Runaways:
    • Gert has a deep distrust of her parents. Not because she knew they were supervillains, but because they told her that her pet pig ran away. Which it probably did, considering how Old Lace got out.
    • An unintentional example - Klara warns Molly that hanging out with someone like Xavin leads to problems. While she bases this on prejudice - because she thinks that Xavin is an "abomination" - Xavin does end up causing the team a lot of unnecessary problems when they have a run-in with Xavin's former mentor and then get attacked by Majesdanian survivors of the war that Xavin's family started.
  • During the "Funeral for a Friend" portion of The Death of Superman, Lex Luthor II takes a wooden chair and smashes it against Doomsday's prone body in anger. The cops watching him think he's doing so because Doomsday killed Superman. They're right, but it's only because Luthor was The Only One Allowed to Defeat Him.
  • One The Simpsons comic has the police looking for the criminal spraypaint tagger "El Barto". Eventually, they do manage to cuff the perpetrator (Bart, of course), but not because they caught him in the act. No, Bart had accidentally gotten ketchup on his shirt while having a lunch at Krusty Burger, and ketchup just so happens to be the same color of red as the El Barto spraypaint tags.

  • In Dirty Sympathy, the Judge denies Klavier's request to be prosecutor of trial for Shadi Enigmar's murder stating that cases will not be assigned according to personal whim and thinks Klavier has a personal stake, such as putting away Phoenix Wright for good. Unbeknownst to the judge, Klavier did a personal stake in the trial: he helped kill Shadi Enigmar and wanted to make sure his brother was framed for it. Which is lampshaded by Apollo.
    Apollo: You sound all indignant about that. But your boss did the wrong math and got the right answer anyway.
  • The premise for the prequel Jet's Troubling Obsession in The Stalking Zuko Series with Jet constantly trying to prove that "Lee" is a firebender and Lee reacting in annoyance. in the final chapter when Jet realizes that while he never found proof for "Lee" being a firebender, he saw many instances where Lee's uncle Mushi was firebending. He realizes that Mushi was able to stay warm in their poorly insulated apartment naked in early spring and is making large quantities of tea without firewood. When Lee gets angry after Jet threatens to turn Mushi in for it, he ends up proving his point.
  • When Naruto goes awol to save a falsely-accused Gaara from execution in Eroninja, the Royal Guard presiding over the execution demands Temari write up a list of everyone who might aid Naruto. Once Temari hands back a page completely full of names, the Royal Guard assumes Temari made most of them up to make them waste time checking each name on the list. In reality, every person named on that list would aid Naruto (most of them unconditionally), but Temari knows Naruto is smart enough to avoid any of his known allies and would thus avoid everyone on that list.
  • In the Cardcaptor Sakura fic Shadow of the Dragon, Renji is able to tell right away that Sakura isn't the one sleeping around with everyone, and assumes it's Reiko's spirit possessing Sakura. While he's right that it's not Sakura, he's wrong about the cause: Sakura's attacker actually used Sympathetic Magic to transform Reiko into a corporeal doppelganger of Sakura as part of his campaign against her. Syaoran and the others decide to just go with his assumption to protect Sakura's secret.
  • In Suzumiya Haruhi No Index, Haruhi correctly deduces that the comatose nuns are suffering from oxygen deprivation when she notices the room isn't properly ventilated, but the real source is God's Divine Punishment.
  • In On Life On Death On Everything Inbetween, Rukia correctly figures out that Ichigo was traumatized, but thinks it's due to a Hollow attack from when they'd met about a week ago. He's actually having nightmares because he had spent a decade fighting in a war so bad that it included him losing an eye and having his throat slit while being held captive.
  • America figures Liechtenstein has a crush on England in Just the Usual Antics when he sees her staring at him. While she was actually looking at the fairies that were flying near England, America wasn't wrong about them liking each other and getting along well.
  • Buffy realizes that Xander's new girlfriend Karen has "Hercules level strength" in Crush after Karen admitting to being Argosian makes her think Karen is descended from Jason and the Argonauts. In reality, Karen is Karen Starr aka Powergirl.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Trans-Galactic Republic may mostly avert Ragnarök Proofing and thus not accurately recall events from millions of years ago — but they do remember the Yuuzhan Vong were bad news. So yes, that organic-looking spacefaring thing should be treated with caution. The Flood is a LOT worse than the Vong were...
  • In Swapping The Cage, both Sarutobi and Inoichi realize that the new Naruto isn't really Naruto but the Kyuubi (who goes by Kuushou) who has a false mindscape. However, they think Inoichi's counterpart brainwashed the Kyuubi by inserting a fake personality called Naruto. In reality, Kuushou knows full well he's the Kyuubi and he created his false mindscape with the help of his world's Ino (who's his adopted big sister).
  • In Soul Hunter, Yang says Ichigo has been holding out on them when it comes to his battle skills once she finds out that he's capable of using Kido. While she's correct that he's been holding back (only ever going one tier up at most when he's got several), his Kido skills are abysmal.
  • Zangetsu is suspicious of Aizen in The Snow Has Stopped The Rain because of his unusual interest in Ichigo, but then he asks if he's a child molester, one of the very few crimes Aizen isn't guilty of.
  • In Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Tsali eventually surmises that Maledict isn't actually interested in fighting Sonic the Hedgehog at all, and guesses that it's because he's gonna replace Tsali with them. It's actually because Sonic, Shadow, and Eric are his cloned sons.
  • In Destiny Is A Hazy Thing, Anko insists that being granted nobility won't affect Naruto's loyalty to Konoha. Unbeknownst to her, that's because Naruto isn't loyal to Konoha; he just needs the benefits working for them provides.
  • An Alternate Keitaro Urashima: After Motoko loses to Keitaro in a duel and subsequently suffers a major Humiliation Conga, Naru has No Sympathy for her and believes that she deserves it. While Naru says so for purely petty reasons (namely being forced to apologize to Keitaro for attacking him over her own mistake), she is right that Motoko deserves it, in that it was Motoko's own actions that led to said Humiliation Conga since she repeatedly ignored warnings to stay away from Keitaro and threatened him with her sword right in front of a cop. Furthermore, it's stated that Keitaro is not the first person Motoko has done this to; he's merely the first one who actually pressed charges.
  • Persona EG: ZIT believes early on that Sunset Shimmer has something to do with with Zodiac because they don't like her, due to her being The Bully, instead of having any proof. Though they are wrong with some of their accusations, such as thinking she is the dark persona user Eris, they are eventually proven right that she is involved with Zodiac when Eris reveals that her boss, Mephistopheles, is in fact Sunset Shimmer.
  • In Reaching for a Dream, Naruto makes a crack that Madara's Assimilation Plot is probably because Hashirama got the girl he himself wanted. While Madara's reaction shows Naruto was right, he made the claim because of how much of a walking cliche the man is.
  • In Sunrider: Mask of Zero, Cosette declines an invitation from a group of notorious pirates hunting for Zero. She knows it will result in an Epic Fail, but under the belief that the rival groups are using a Uriah Gambit clusterfuck that'll leave Zero on top. She doesn't think that Zero will personally wipe out all the pirates single-handedly.
  • In Birds of a Feather, Oliver correctly deduces Laurel is lying about how she got her injuries and concludes "someone's hurting her", seemingly thinking of some kind of Domestic Abuse. The injuries are actually from her being the Black Canary, so he's right in that people are intentionally hurting her, but he's way off as to how/why.
  • Integration: After Sci-Twi almost gets kidnapped by the Changelings, she reveals to her friends that they knew about the magical incidents at Canterlot High. Pinkie Pie immediately guesses that the assailants are, like pre-Heel–Face Turn Sunset and the Sirens, exiles from Equestria who seek to use magic in another Take Over the World scheme. It turns out that the assailants are actually from the Human world, but they're interested in replicating the magical abilities that the Rainbooms have because it'll allow them to easily dominate the criminal underworld.
  • Jedi Master Sinube in The Havoc Side of the Force comes to the entirely correct conclusion that Harry Potter is from the future. Since he knows nothing of the current time period, he can't be from the present, and due to his ability to violate thermodynamics with ease and being able to fly far better than someone from a more primitive civilization should, he can't be from the past. In reality, Harry is from the future but his civilization is far more primitive than the galactic standard. He can do what he can due to magic and for piloting, it's a combination of his experience on a broom and a LOT of advice from HK-47.
  • Ranma correctly figures out in How I Learned to Love the Wild Horse that despite his initial thoughts, Mandy and her posse aren't his handlers because they don't know the truth about Ranko. While they aren't his handlers, Sam, Clover, and Alex don't know the truth either because Britney gave them bad intel.
  • In Unexpected Surprise:
    • Gabriel, in order to ensure Marinette has no Gold Digger intentions, asks that she tells him the name of Emma's father. When she refuses, he assumes that she is trying to protect Adrien, and is convinced she has no such plans. It is true that she doesn't, but the main reason she refuses is that she simply has no name to give.
    • Emily dreams all the time that she will meet her daddy on the roof. So when during one of the attempts, when she almost falls, Adrien grabs her and gets them both to the roof, she starts calling him daddy. He is, but canon doesn't seem to have had any prophetic dreams so far.
  • From The Outside, Satsuki is agoraphobic and, so, considers going outside dangerous, however, to her understanding, it's because of an asthma attack and Soichiro's death, instead of realizing that those events happened because of other reasons and not just because they went outside.
  • Crocodile in Blood Man Luffy correctly guesses that Luffy would refuse the World Government's offer to become a Shichibukai on the basis that Luffy's not a dog nor is he smart enough to play them for fools, citing that Luffy wants to be Pirate King and "Kings don't bow down to the world, the world bows down to kings." Luffy corrects him that he wants to be Pirate King because it means being the freest person in the world, something he can't do if he's following the government's orders.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: Flash figured out that Twilight was jealous of Trixie and assured her she has nothing to be worry about. But he assumes she is jealous because Trixie is getting better with magic and is endangering Twilight's status as the princess's number one student, and assures her she is still great at magic and is now simply tied with Trixie. Twilight was actually jealous of Trixie getting close with Flash and was afraid what might happen if they started a relationship, and Flash's cluelessness to this angers not only her but Trixie as well.
  • This happens twice in Conversations with a Cryptid.
    • Bakugou warns Izuku that he's probably being targeted by a villain, since all the other kids he knew in elementary and middle school had mysteriously disappeared (with one being used for All for One's Noumu project). Izuku was being specifically targeted by a villain, but this one had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to Izuku's childhood bullies.
    • Izuku pretty quickly realizes that his Disappeared Dad Hisashi is a criminal, and connects his disappearance to All for One's operation coming under attack by All Might. This is entirely accurate. He then concludes that Hisashi is a member of All for One's inner circle, panicking when his boss looked to be losing. This is not accurate. Hisashi is All for One himself.

    Films — Animated 
  • Mulan:
    • The leader of the soldiers sings, "Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons?" He had no way of knowing Mulan was a girl at the time. His song was meant to question the abilities of the men.
    • When Mushu decides that he needs to make Mulan a war hero to redeem himself in the eyes of the Fa family ancestors, he blithely forges a letter informing the unit Mulan is in that another army unit is engaging the Huns and in desperate need of their help. Mushu only knew that the second unit was more likely to see combat with the Huns and wanted to get Mulan on the front line, but had no way of knowing what their situation was. Turns out he was completely right — the second unit was fighting the Huns and was in desperate need of reinforcements. Too bad he didn't decide to forge that letter sooner...
  • Despicable Me 2:
    • When one of Gru's adopted daughters, Margo, falls in love with a boy named Antonio, Gru is incredibly suspicious of Antonio, not for any specific reason but just because Antonio is a boy putting the moves on his little girl. But while Gru's actual motive is that he was just being paranoid, he turns out to be right about the fact that Antonio isn't a good match for Margo, because Antonio is a huge flirt and Margo is just another pretty girl to him. But Gru didn't actually know that at first.
    • Gru is also initially suspicious of Antonio's father Eduardo because of his similar appearance to a villain named El Macho. Despite no evidence being found at Eduardo's restaurant, Gru insists he's right more as a chance to get Eduardo's son in jail as well. Turns out he's right about Eduardo being El Macho and being behind the crime, but not about his son being in on it.
  • One of the shorts bundled on the Blu-Ray of Inside Out has Riley being called to answer a question in the textbook after she'd been doodling most of class. Joy, working under the assumption that it's multiple choice, has Riley answer "C." It turns out she's in Spanish class — which all of the emotions somehow missed — and the question was a "Yes or No" one to which "Sí" was the correct answer.note 
  • In The Brave Little Toaster when they realize the house is being sold and the appliances are deciding whether or not to leave and find The Master, Vacuum says they should just stay behind because "They'll have a new master anyways". Turns out he was right about staying behind but not because of the new master, as their original owner was on his way to pick them up to take to college with him.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox: The farmers use a recording of Kristofferson's voice to try and lure Fox out of hiding. He doesn't fall for it, but only because he thinks it doesn't sound anything like him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1995 Assassins (Antonio Banderas / Sylvester Stallone), the evil assassin is searching for the escaping female hacker who has the secret data. He touches the front hoods of several parked cars, muttering to himself "Cold... Cold...", until he stumbles upon a car with warm engine. This leads him to the conclusion that that's the apartment house where she will be. However, the hacker was running on foot for the last 10 or so minutes and didn't use a car to get home. The car belongs to a neighbor who just happened to return home for completely unrelated reasons.
  • There was a massive scene in Hot Fuzz where Nick Angel accused Tim Dalton's shopkeeper character of committing the murders, complete with motives. He didn't identify the correct motives, and the shopkeeper had a watertight alibi, BUT - and it's a big but - in TWO twists, not only was he right all along with the shopkeeper being complicit with the murders, but he'd actually name checked all of the REAL motives in passing over the course of his original speech. So it was right for the right reasons, and while he did acknowledge the right reasons, he didn't identify them as being the right reasons until the very climax.
  • Played for laughs in Stand by Me. In the scene where the four boys are walking through the back woods, Vern asks Teddy if he thinks Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman. Teddy says "No you idiot. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon! Superman is a real person! There's no way they could have a fight."
    Vern: Yeah, I guess you're right. (beat) It'd be a good fight though!
  • In Without a Clue. Holmes' (and Watson's) contrived method of solving the final clue turns out to be true, but the real solution is far simpler. To elaborate: Holmes and Watson read the final clue, a partial serial number (234) as being part of a kidnap victim's code. The victim's favorite book of the bible was the book of Psalms. Psalm 23, verse 4 leads them to a passage that referenced an In-Universe famous play: The Shadow Of Death, which played at a local theatre which was, in fact, where he was being held captive. Of course, 234 was also the address of the theatre, which was what the victim really intended.
    • It is left to the viewer to decide, which conclusion Professor Moriarty drew. He just said "very clever", but then said that the only other man able to solve the riddle, Dr. Watson, was at the bottom of the Thames. An educated guess would be that he arrived at the conclusion the same way Watson and Holmes did. The solution being the address just seems a bit - pedestrian.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Kirk connects several events that have occurred as meaning the Narada is attacking Vulcan, and even Spock says his logic is sound. He's right, but his conclusions such as "lightning storm in space=Narada" are wrong (the lightning storm being Spock Prime coming through a black hole in this instance, which Kirk simply can't know of at this point).
    • Bonus points for this being a double case. Kirk's desire to raise shields may be born out of his unwarranted certainty in his conclusion but the circumstantial evidence is enough to suggest that raising shields and proceeding with caution is still a good idea.
  • At the end of the Burn the Witch! scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it's revealed that the woman really is a witch, despite all the fabricated evidence and Insane Troll Logic the peasants have used against her. Also, when someone suggests making a bridge out of her to see if she's made of wood, he's shot down because bridges can be made of stone as well.
  • In The Princess Bride, there is a complex example. Inigo is able to track down Westley when he hears his scream, and when questioned by Fezzik how he knows it's him, Inigo replies that it is the sound of ultimate suffering and he is the only one who could feel it that night due to his true love marrying another. Technically, it's because he was just tortured to mostly-death. However, he was tortured purely out of spite because Prince Humperdinck realized Princess Buttercup loved Westley instead of him.
  • In Just Cause: Bobby Earl Ferguson is convicted because he was beaten into confessing and is a black in the deep south. However, even the jury convicts him because they're racist pricks rather than because of any evidence Bobby Earl actually IS GUILTY.
  • In Fireworks Wednesday, Mojdeh accuses her husband Morteza of cheating on her with the neighbour. Although most of her evidence turns out to have an innocent explanation, she is actually correct.
  • In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, after the new incarnation of Godzilla has defeated King Ghidorah, one of the onlookers says "would you look at the size of that thing, it's not going to be friendly." He makes the odd assumption that if a creature is really big, then it is evil, which contradicts the portrayal of other notable Toho giants like Mothra and Sanda, who have been friendly. But the onlooker turns out to be correct, as Godzilla proceeds to go on another destructive rampage.
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Chance says they should just stay at the farm because they've been abandoned. He believes since their owners don't want them any longer, they might as well eke out a living on the farm. Of course, he's right all along that they should have stayed, not because they were abandoned but because their owners were coming back for them in a couple of weeks.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day John Connor flees for dear life from the T-1000 not because it's a murderous killing machine sent to kill him (he's unaware at the time), but because he just robbed an ATM and the T-1000 is disguised as a police officer who John assumes wants to arrest him for the theft. This is mirrored by Sarah later in the film who hides from the T-1000, this time disguised as a guard, because she's in the midst of escaping the mental institution and doesn't realize he's actually a terminator there to kill her.
  • Back to the Future Part III:
    • An inversion: 1955 Doc Brown has Marty set to make his trip into 1885, but Marty protests that he'll hit a billboard with some Indians on it. Doc assures him that since he'll go back in time before reaching the billboard, the Indians won't be there. Marty does as told...and arrives to find actual Indians charging at him in the same place. Doc was Wrong for the Right Reasons. Or you could say this is a straight example, and Marty was Right for the Wrong Reasons.
    • A straight example: One of Buford Tannen's mooks reads the "Injun" word on Marty's "moccasins" as "Nee-kay." That's a completely incorrect way to pronounce Nike, the shoe company. It's pretty close to the correct pronunciation of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.
  • Home Alone:
    • Harry and Marv notice something strange about Kevin and begin following in their van to see which house he goes in. When he runs, they conclude something must be up because, in Harry's words, "I knew he looked at me weird! Why would he run?" Of course something is in fact up because Kevin is home alone and recognized Harry as the police officer from the beginning, but the real reason he ran is because two creepy guys in a beat up van were following him down the street.
    • Later Buzz isn't worried and declares that Kevin will be just fine because "A, he's not that lucky. 2, they have smoke detectors, and D, they live on the most boring street in the USA where nothing even remotely dangerous will happen." He's right about Kevin being alright, but it's only thanks to the little guy's ingenuity, affinity for traps that would make Jigsaw ask for an autograph, and one tough grandfather.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle: When Whiskey breaks the vial of Poppy's antidote, Harry believes he did it intentionally under someone else's orders and shoots him in the head. As it turns out, he was partly correct - Whiskey did break the vial intentionally, but he wasn't working for another organisation, as he was acting on his own when he did it.
  • In Men in Black 3, J travels back in time to 1969 and is pulled over by two racist cops who believe that he stole the car because it is a very expensive model and Will Smith is black. J tells them that he stole the car, indeed, but that it was not because he is black.
  • In Searching, David finds some disturbing messages between Margot and his brother Peter and based off their messages, believed they did something terrible behind his back. David is correct but for the wrong reasons. David had assumed they were in an incestuous relationship but in reality, Peter was sharing his weed with Margot and was not responsible for her disappearance.
  • In Get Out, Rodney quickly realizes that his friend Chris is in trouble, but comes to a laughably wrong conclusion about the kind of trouble Chris is in. He thinks that Chris has wandered into an erotic thriller in the vein of Eyes Wide Shut, one in which rich white people kidnap and brainwash black people for kinky sex games, as opposed to the horror movie about white people stealing black people's bodies to attain immortality that's actually going on.

  • Discworld:
  • In The Leaky Establishment by David Langford, Tappen has a Eureka Moment near the end when he connects the surprisingly high radioactivity of Roger Pell's home-made whiskey with a few other pieces of circumstantial evidence to conclude, correctly, that Pell has been pinching plutonium from work to create a nuclear reactor under his house. However, when he explains his chain of reasoning to Pell, Pell replies that the whiskey is carefully shielded from the reactor, but may have been made with pure ethanol stolen from a lab near the nuclear fuels store.
  • A story in Sideways Stories from Wayside School has a character who always comes up with the correct number when counting, albeit by counting completely random numbers (example: "three, ten, nineteen, sixty-four, five. The answer is five!"), lampshaded by the teacher's odd reaction (nodding, but saying "No"). When told to count "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten", he takes it to Literal Genie-level conclusions and counts all ten numbers regardless of the number of objects he's attempting to count, giving him "ten" for everything, resulting in him only counting right when he counts wrong and vice-versa, or something.
    • In a later book, the same character multiplies five times twelve by writing the number five on a piece of paper and tearing it into twelve pieces. He gets the right answer too.
  • In the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight, Hardhat deduces that Noel Matthews's hidden superpower is shapeshifting because Noel was able to pass as an attractive woman during the exercise, and Hardhat would rather deal with Shapeshifting Squick than accept the Unsettling Gender Reveal. Noel really is a shapeshifter but was not in fact in a female form during the exercise. When informed of some of the facts, Hardhat drops his theory.
  • In Foucault's Pendulum during a discussion on the "four types of people in the world", this principle is lampshaded as the province of 'Morons'.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Isard's Revenge, smuggler Talon Karrde visits the Errant Venture, the converted Star Destroyer belonging to ex-smuggler Booster Terrik. Terrik believes the visit is regarding one of Karrde's associates, Aves, getting his own ship. Terrik is absolutely correct about Aves getting a new ship (and also correctly identifying the ship he's getting), even spelling out his line of logic (which is partly based on the fact that Karrde came to his ship). Karrde's visit, however, has nothing to do with Aves or his new ship; instead, it concerns two functional astromechs from X-wings presumed destroyed, belonging to two people presumed dead. Specifically, the astromechs belonging to Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn. Karrde even invokes the name of the trope, saying, "This is why you're dangerous, Booster, you're right for all the wrong reasons."
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn of The Thrawn Trilogy makes a few of these. Thrawn's The Chessmaster and a Manipulative Bastard who is often magnificent, and usually he's spectacular at gauging what any given individual will do in response to the situation. As the trilogy goes on and unforeseen events crop up with more regularity he starts being wrong about the why, but still right—until the end, when he's not. The main issue (besides overestimating the abilities and sanity of his allies) is that he's completely unaware that Luke and Leia are Darth Vader's children; since the things he doesn't predict lead almost entirely from that, he had no way of predicting them.
    • In Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, after Jedi Knights Shryne, Starstone, and Chatak escape Order 66, they receive a signal recalling them to the Jedi Temple. Starstone correctly speculates that all of the clones have turned on the Jedi, but thinks it's because they're in league with Count Dooku and the Separatists. They aren't, but their boss is.
    • In the X-Wing Series, Elassar Targon, the new Wraith Squadron pilot, is noted to be very superstitious. When Face is conducting a mission briefing involving a mock-up of the Millennium Falcon piloted by Wedge and Chewbacca which will serve as a decoy, fellow pilot Runt sneezes. Elassar sees this as a bad omen and becomes convinced there's something wrong and the mission is jinxed. He's right, but it has nothing to do with jinxes and everything to do with Wedge not knowing how to speak Wookiee.
  • This is Dirk Gently's standard operating procedure; it reaches its apex in the second book, when he spontaneously decides his client's death is someone else's fault simply so he can stop feeling guilty about it. It turns out to be directly her fault.
  • The ever-suspicious Efficient Baxter from P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle saga frequently takes the right course of action after drawing the wrong conclusion. For instance, he'll assume two characters are accomplices helping one another steal the same object, when in reality they're rivals trying to steal the same object, thieves-for-hire unaware that they were hired by the same employer, or unrelated thieves who don't decide to team up until Baxter has already marked them out as conspirators.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • When King Robert wants to make Jaime Lannister the Warden of the East, Eddard Stark is suspicious of him; he remembers seeing Jaime slouched on the Iron Throne after betraying and killing Mad King Aerys, and takes this as evidence of Jaime wanting the throne for himself. Robert jokes that Jaime was probably just tired and needed a place to sit... and is completely correct.note 
    • In book 4, Lord Orton Merryweather recommends Ser Bonnifer Hasty be given the job of administering to the Riverlands and returning peace to the war torn area. Jaime, who knows that Lord Merryweather is an idiot, thinks that Merryweather probably made the choice for no more reason than due to Hasty's nickname "The Good" and the fact that Hasty has a light connection to Merryweather's family, as Hasty served Merryweather's grandfather. Nonetheless, Jaime reflects that it's likely to be an excellent choice: Hasty is a serious, dutiful man committed to ruling fairly, (albeit it in a humorless and overly religious way) and as Hasty isn't from the area and has no major family ties to any of the various factions, he isn't likely to unfairly favor any particular side among the fractious local lords or to be accused of doing so.
    • Lady Barbrey Dustin is 100% convinced that maesters are not the neutral players in the political game that they claim to be. She points out how all their useful functions as servators, such as reading, writing, overseeing the ravens and healing, are specifically designed to lull Lords into not questioning the motives behind the advice they give. All so that the Citadel may uncontestedly rule from the shadows, puppeteers of all who dance on their strings. Yes... But, seriously... no. They really aren't completely neutral and many do have agendas... Which are mostly cultural or personal ones, not necessarily institutional or familial ones. See, they don't kid about wanting to serve and educate, but there are political factions within the Citadel divided on how best to do that, and individual maesters can fall into any camp with differing degrees and methods of active participation in wider society. Ruling from the shadows isn't on the table as a concerted, overriding consensus agenda, however. Every initiate of the Citadel we get much insight of, from the surrogate parent of Maester Cressen, the sleazy Maester Pycelle, the dedicatedly heretical ex-maester Qyburn to the sincerely devoted Maester Luwin and others... they all have many reasons behind the biases they act on; mostly personal ones.
  • In the Jack Reacher novel The Enemy, Major Reacher arrests a general and some subordinates for murder. His vague statements about evidence convince them that he knows about their massive conspiracy to murder numerous military officers, and fear they stumbled on their secret papers; in fact, he's arresting them for a Love Triangle gone horribly wrong and hasn't found the papers. Reacher was confused about why they surrendered so easily.
  • In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Unfinished Tales there is a sequence describing a meeting of the White Council, where Saruman becomes irritated over Gandalf's smoking, and Gandalf responds by praising the halfling's herb and blowing small smoke rings through a large one. It's almost comical how Saruman reads layers upon layers of hidden meanings into this gesture, coming to the conclusion that Gandalf's visits into the Shire and his smoking of pipeweed somehow relate to a secret plot involving the One Ring, and hobbits must somehow be involved with the matter. He proceeds to send spies across the Shire and starts to secretly smoke pipeweed himself to discover Gandalf's secret, to no avail. The kicker is that Gandalf was unaware that Bilbo's old ring was the One Ring at the time, and the smoke rings had absolutely no hidden meaning behind them.
  • Speaking of Tolkien, at the heart of The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers and The Return of the King especially - is a very cynical (and tragic) example of this trope. Samwise protests when Sméagol offers to serve as Frodo's guide to Mordor, suspecting that Sméagol is still Gollum, and therefore still evil. He's technically correct, but he's also unfair: Sméagol really did try to change his ways, actually succeeded in banishing his Gollum persona for a time, saved Frodo's life, and turned evil again only because he believed Frodo and Sam to have betrayed him...which is also technically correct, for Frodo did lie to Sméagol, even if it was with the best of intentions. One could say, then, that Sam was Right For The Wrong Reasons because Frodo made him right where he wasn't before.
  • In the novel The Day of the Jackal, the manhunt for hitman the Jackal starts with the police discovering his real identity, Englishman Charles Calthrop. It works, but in the epilogue the real Charles Calthrop turns up alive and well, completely unconnected.
  • In the Harry Potter series:
    • The climax of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sees the Golden Trio going through the trapdoor guarded by Hagrid's pet three-headed dog to try to beat Snape to the Stone, which they believe Snape is trying to steal. Yes, the Stone is in danger of being stolen, but what Harry discovers at the end of the road is one of the first indicators that he and Snape were on the same side all along.
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has one by way of sarcasm: the Trio are trying to figure out why someone named Tom Riddle got an award fifty years ago, and Ron suggests he killed Myrtle, an annoying ghost. Turns out he did do that, though the award was, ironically, for supposedly catching Myrtle's killer.
    • In the same book Dobby, a house-elf, tries to convince Harry not to come back to Hogwarts, claiming it will put him in great danger; he later tries to force Harry to go home. Ron suggests that Dobby belongs to Harry's rival, Draco Malfoy, and is trying to trick him. It turns out that Dobby does belong to the Malfoy family, but he's not lying about his motives — it's just that the Malfoys are involved in the danger Dobby is trying to protect Harry from.
    • in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry anonymously receives a very expensive Flying Broomstick for Christmas. Hermione believes that it's from Sirius Black, the escaped convict who is believed to be trying to kill Harry. She's right, but Sirius actually wants to kill somebody else and legitimately intended the broom to be a gift for Harry.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry and Ron speculate that Rita Skeeter is getting her information by bugging them, i.e. using electronic surveillance devices to listen in. Hermione points out that electrical devices don't work around Hogwarts. Later on, however, she deduces that Rita was indeed bugging them- she's a beetle animagus, and she's using that form to get close to events incognito and listen in.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Luna believes Sirius is innocent because he's just the alter ego of the musician Stubby Boardman, who happened to have an alibi for the crime Sirius was accused of committing. Sirius is innocent but he's not a celebrity's alter ego.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry has a bad case of Theory Tunnel Vision, and is absolutely convinced that Draco has joined the Death Eaters and is a: up to some evil plot and b: responsible for the cursed-necklace and poisoned-mead incidents, despite a lack of evidence proving any of this. The readers already know Draco's been ordered by Voldemort to do something, though we don't find out what the plot is until the very end — he's been assigned to kill Dumbledore, and the necklace and mead were clumsy attempts to get the job done ahead of schedule, because the final plan involved fixing the broken Vanishing Cabinet so the Death Eaters could invade Hogwarts.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort assumes that Harry is going to sacrifice himself because he doesn't want to see the others die around him. While that technically is true, there is another factor at play; Harry has to let Voldemort kill him, so the part of Voldemort's soul inside him would be destroyed. At the same time, Harry is sacrificing himself for the other students the same way his mother did for him.
      • During the final battle, Voldemort assumes that the Hogwarts defenders are all fighting and dying to protect Harry because the boy asked them to do so, his reasoning being that any rational person would sacrifice everyone they know rather than die themselves. While he is correct that they are all fighting and dying at Harry's request, it is so he can get enough time to destroy the diadem Horcrux and then commit suicide via Voldemort and save everyone else. This is Lampshaded numerous times, as Voldemort cannot understand acts of love, loyalty, or friendship.
  • The Exile's Violin: Clay is suspicous of Gunslinger because he sees the man as a rival for Jacquie's affection, instead of genuinely believing him to be untrustworthy. Gunslinger is The Mole.
  • Behemoth, the second book in the Leviathan Series, has one moment where Prince Alek's bodyguard Bauer, believes several soldiers searching the Cafe they are in are looking for him, seeing as the entire Austrian military and the German military are after Alek. Alek dismisses Bauer's theory, on account of the fact that they seem to be using a photograph as a reference for whoever they are after, and no painting or photograph was ever taken of Alek. Just as Alek tells Bauer this, one of the soldiers stops and looks directly...not at Alek, but at Bauer, and Alek realises that a photograph of Bauer would have been fairly easy to obtain.
  • In The Name of the Rose the Sherlock Holmes expy theorizes that the killer is copying a pattern from the Book of Revelation. In fact, the initial pattern was a coincidence, and the murderer maintained the pattern as misdirection once the detective noticed it.
    • This is also a Shout-Out to "Death and the Compass" by Jorge Luis Borges, where the murderer uses the detective's deduced pattern to lure the detective to a specific place.
  • In Tris's The Circle Opens book, Shatterglass, the people of Tharios strongly believe that dead bodies cause pollution. Bodies and places where death has occurred are cleansed with powerful magic (which causes problems, as it erases evidence the police need to find a serial killer). When questioned, one citizen says that such cleansing kept Tharios safe from a plague many years ago. However, they believe that the contamination is spiritual rather than pathogenic.
  • In the Honor Harrington book At All Costs, when President Pritchart is seeking a face-to-face summit with Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore in order to negotiate a peace treaty, Theisman recommends that she specifically request that Honor Harrington be present for several reasons, including that "all reports indicate she has a rather uncanny ability to tell when people are lying to her." When Mike Henke delivers the summit proposal on Pritchart's behalf, however, Honor assumes that the Living Lie Detector being invited is the treecats Ariel and Nimitz.
  • In the Relativity short story "In Search of the Liber Seed", Michael reassures his friends that the howling they hear in the woods can't possibly be a werewolf, because werewolves only come out at night.
  • In the Alex Cross book Along Came A Spider, Alex's grandmother objects to his relationship with Jezzie Flanagan because Alex is black and Jezzie is white. Unbeknownst to both Alex and his grandmother, Jezzie is responsible for the kidnapping and murder that Alex is investigating. After Jezzie's perfidy is exposed, Alex's grandmother notes that she cannot say 'I told you so' because she had not predicted this development.
  • The Many Lives Of Stephen Leeds: Audrey believes that she's a hallucination because she's crazy, regardless of the fact that she actually is a hallucination.
  • In the short story "Poppa Needs Shorts", a young boy deliberately causes a short-circuit which saves his father's life. His family wonders if he's a genius, but the narration makes it clear that the boy had no idea how electricity works - he had simply pieced together a bunch of "facts" that he didn't actually understand, and then decided on a course of action that just happened to be correct.
  • In Magic Kingdom for Sale — SOLD!, Ben is initially convinced that the advert to purchase a magic kingdom is a scam for the obvious reason. He eventually learns that it is a scam — not because the kingdom doesn't exist, but because it's beset by enemies and what he's bought is less "permanent vacation to fairyland" and more "full time job that will kill him if he doesn't do it exactly right". Each time the seller simply waits the new king to be killed and puts it back on the market.
  • In Karl May's novels and stories set in the Old West, the cowboys, scouts and settlers in the West from either USA or Mexico are never idealized. Their vices, avarice, theft, violence, filth are usually touched with Brutal Honesty. He did it to contrast the Incorruptible Pure Pureness of the heroes Winnetou and Charlie / Old Shatterhand, but he reflects reality pretty accurately. The Western frontier had been a pretty dismal place before being fully settled and people trying their luck there were usually on the less savoury side.
  • One Encyclopedia Brown mystery had Brown and Sally Kimball deduce that one of three men had an opportunity to call in a bomb scare. The culprit is determined to be right-handed. The girl who hired them says that any of the suspects could have done it because they're "strange". She suggests the second one who comes under suspicion is strange because his left ear is higher than his right. Sally looks at the guy and tells her that it's actually an optical illusion because his left sideburn is longer than his right. He turns out to be the culprit, but Encyclopedia determines this because right-handed men have longer left sideburns due to not being able to reach it as well. The girl was right to suspect him because of his longer sideburn, but wrong in that he was the culprit because he was "strange".
  • The Dresden Files: In Ghost Story Daniel and Butters dress up in grey cloaks to pose as Wardens and confront Aristides the warlock. Aristides sees through their disguises right away because neither is wearing one of the silver swords Wardens are famous for. The silver swords were an invention by Warden-Captain Anastasia Luccio and were only ever given to Wardens during her tenure, and Wardens have complete freedom to use whatever weapons and magical gadgetry they want, but they have become so intimately associated with the Wardens that to someone semi-clueless like Aristides it becomes a dead giveaway.
  • Worm: A minor moment in the final chapters, where Tattletale (whose superpower is basically a Sherlock Scan combined with Bat Deduction) is trying to manipulate Lung (a former enemy with several reasons to hate them) to fight with them. She brings up the Yàngbǎn, a group of Chinese parahumans, as one enemy they're going to have to fight, apparently hoping that the prospect of combating such a powerful group would appeal to Lung's Blood Knight tendencies. Lung agrees without any resistance, surprising her. What Tattletale didn't know is that the Yàngbǎn had previously held Lung prisoner and attempted to brainwash him, so he hates them far more than he does the Undersiders. Tattletale then complains about getting credit for brilliant insights she didn't actually have.

    Live-Action TV 
  • During Day 6 of 24, a character attacks Kal Penn's character, assuming he's linked to terrorists. He is, though the guy has no way of knowing that (he's just a bigoted jerk).
  • In an episode of Cheers, Diane picks the winners of football games using specious logic. ("A bear against a dolphin? That's hardly a fair fight!") Of course, she beats the pants off everyone else this way. Exasperated, Sam tries to duplicate her thought process, hoping to get the same result.
  • Supernatural, in Nightshifter, a shapeshifter is murdering people during robberies. Ronald Reznick, who worked at the bank, sees the eye flare in security footage and assumes that the robber isn't human, coming to the conclusion that it is a mandroid cyborg. Dean tells him that while it isn't completely human, it ain't a cyborg. Ronald, however, is so relieved to hear that he wasn't going crazy so he laughs.
    Dean: What are you, nuts?
    Ronald: That's just it. I'm not nuts. I mean, I was so scared that I was losing my marbles. But this is real! I mean, I, I, I was right! Except for the Mandroid thing. Thank you.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In an episode, O'Brien's wife thinks some footage of him is fake because he does not drink coffee in the evenings, which he is doing in the video. The footage is fake, but when he gets back safely one of the first things he does is ask for a cup of coffee, since he does drink it in the evenings.
    • When the crew goes back to the early 21st century, Dax has to get her com badge back from one of the residents of a glorified slum. He deduces she is a "good alien" from talking to her. Not because he had any medical knowledge or figured out she was a Fish out of Water, but because he is utterly insane.
  • Law & Order: ADA Southerlyn was fired not because she was a lesbian, but for becoming convinced a defendant was innocent essentially due to white guilt, and spending most of the episode playing for the other team. In fact, her boss is very noticeably surprised when she asks if she's being fired because she's gay — he'd honestly had no idea.
  • "Bombshell", an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, has a former supermodel and reality TV star poisoned. The detectives suspect her sister is responsible for her murder, reasoning that the sister was envious of all the fame her sexy sibling received (which, ironically, is pretty disingenuous thinking because by that point the bombshell was an overweight alcoholic and drug addict and viewed with scorn by much of the public); they're right, but they were incorrect about the motive. It turns out that the sister committed the murder because the bombshell had recently given birth to a baby girl, and the sister believed her to be a bad mother and wanted to raise the child herself, resorting to murder in order to gain custody. For added irony, the detectives' suspicion of the sister also caused them to suspect that she also killed her nephew at the start of the episode (again by poisoning), whereas for most of the episode they had believed that his stepfather was responsible for the deed, and it turned out they were right in the first place.
  • House: Dr. House came up with an effective treatment for a soap opera actor's quinine allergy while convinced that the patient had something else. Cuddy was called out by an inspector for giving him as much leeway as she did. Which included, um, kidnapping the patient. This is because the treatment for all kinds of allergies is essentially the same thing, but more important is stopping exposure to the allergen, which is how House figured out he was wrong.
  • On the Game Show 1 vs. 100, a contestant was give the question, "How many US states do not touch any other state? One, two, or three?" Thinking out loud, the contestant said that Hawaii is in the ocean, and one of the Great Lakes states is completely surrounded by lakes, so the answer must be two. The answer is two, but it's because the two states in question are Hawaii (which is indeed surrounded by ocean) and Alaska (which borders northwestern Canada).
  • Crops up often enough on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?:
    • One woman was asked "True or False: The female seahorse carries her baby in a pouch". Although seahorses are quite famous for the males doing this, her answer was no, because she'd never seen a pouch on a seahorse. (Which raises the question as to how many seahorses she's seen!)
    • On a celebrity edition, Kellie Pickler was given a question regarding which of the Founding Fathers went on to be a president. Of the choices given, she reasoned it had to be Franklin Pierce because... all the letters in his last name were in HER last name! How that was supposed to be relevant, we'll never know. The most common theory is that Pickler a lot smarter than she seems and has gone the Jessica Simpson route of playing dumber than she is because it gets people talking about her and is good for business.
  • On the Brit game show Perfection, which is all true/false questions, this tends to happen at least Once an Episode.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street," weird things start happening in a suburban neighborhood. All the residents start suspecting the problems have been caused by aliens and start pointing fingers at one another until one of the residents shoots another one. Then, it's revealed that aliens really were causing the strange things, but none of the residents were aliens themselves.
  • Subverted in Season 2 of The Tudors. At the end of the season, five men — Thomas Wyatt, Henry Norris, Mark Smeaton, George Boleyn and William Brereton — are all arrested and accused of adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII has no real belief in their genuine guilt — he just wants an excuse to get rid of Anne. Unbeknownst to him however, Wyatt genuinely *did* sleep with with Anne, and perversely, is the only one let off.
  • CSI:
    • A woman who'd made a living as a psychic was murdered after she'd been hired to contact another murder victim's spirit. The killer believed that she'd succeeded in this, and had learned that he'd hidden the body on his property in the Las Vegas neighborhood of Summerlin. In fact, she hadn't divined any such thing; rather, she'd said that the victim's spirit was in Summerland, a New Age-style counterpart to Heaven.
    • Used in another episode where a man suspects that his neighbor kidnapped and killed his daughter plants an already-dead body in the man's chimney to focus police attention on him. Turns out the dad was right and the neighbor not only killed his daughter, but her body was actually in the same chimney hidden behind a brick extension and is uncovered by the CSI team during their investigation of the planted body.
    • In another episode the team investigates the murder of several monks in a Buddhist temple, all shot between the eyes. They determine that they were all on their knees and didn't try to flee, but were praying for their aggressor, and hypothesize that the murderer frequented the temple and is a Buddhist himself because the place between the eyes is the sixth chakra in the Buddhist religion. They correctly pin the murders on the East Asian janitor, but when they ask him why he shot them in their sixth chakra, he shrugs and says "I shot them between the eyes".
  • In Criminal Minds episode "A Higher Power" the detective who called the team in started investigating the spike in suicides because he didn't believe that his relative would have committed suicide. Turns out the unsub was faking the suicides but didn't have a trophy from the detective's relative... suggesting it really was a suicide that time.
    • The unsub of "Taboo" thought it was OK to lust after his older sister since he was adopted — they're not blood siblings so it should be fine, right? Actually no since while they aren't siblings they are mother and child.
  • The MythBusters have occasionally come to this conclusion regarding certain movie scenes.
    • The bus turn in Speed could have happened as depicted...but the turn would have been made even if the passengers aboard had not shifted to the inside of the turn.
    • Shooting the milk in Kiss the Girls wouldn't have helped...but the spark from the gun could never have ignited the methane. Both scenes were labeled as "Busted" because the reasoning behind them didn't fit with reality, even if they would have happened as depicted.
    • The same applies to the Crocodile Escape. Running around crazily on land does help you escape crocodiles, but it's because crocodiles are ambush predators that rarely engage in a chase on land in the first place. About all you have to do is stay out of the water and only run if one actually does lunge at you. Which all the crocs were too laid-back to do. The myth was Busted not because the maneuver failed, but because it was unnecessary.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the serial, "The Myth Makers", Vicki and Steven assume the Doctor will be inside the Trojan Horse because he's going to want to be sure he can get access to the TARDIS (currently inside Troy). The Doctor is in the Horse, but only because Odysseus forced him to be inside.
  • In the NCIS episode "Leap of Faith," Tony is convinced that a suicidal naval officer was killed by his wife simply because he always suspects the wife, especially if money's involved. It turns out that Tony's half-right—the wife did kill him, but it was because she was a Syrian Mole and he was a loose end.
  • In Season 3 of Grimm, when the Royals are tracing Adalind's flight from Europe, they notice it passed over Oregon, and conclude that she's decided to go home. Actually, she ended up in Portland because Nick's mother thought Nick could protect her, and if Kelly had realised who Adalind was, and that she came from Portland originally, she probably wouldn't have made that decision (for all sorts of reasons). Appropriately enough, the episode is called "Synchronicity".
  • On Glee, before Kurt and Blaine started dating, Blaine was briefly attracted to Rachel and questioned whether or not he might be bi. While Kurt was correct that they have incompatible orientations, he also claims that bisexuality doesn't exist at all and is nothing but a coping mechanism for closeted gays. And since no one ever calls him out on such an ignorant statement or the fact that he was acting out of jealousy the whole time, he is vindicated at the end when Blaine realizes he's gay after all.
  • On Suits the various legal stunts the characters have pulled definitely warrant an SEC investigation into the way they do business. However, the SEC investigator is highly biased and focuses his investigation on things that are completely innocuous and/or taken out of context.
  • In the fourth season of Downton Abbey, the new nanny for the children gets short with butler Thomas. Thomas, not caring much for her attitude, engages in a scheme to get Nanny West fired, throwing something of a Hail Mary by fabricating a story to Cora that he suspected she was neglecting the children. Upon telling Cora, she walks by the nursery one night... where she hears Nanny West verbally abusing baby Sybbie, calling her a "chauffeur's daughter" and a "wicked little cross-breed" (her mother was English, her father Irish). Nanny West is gone the next morning.
  • Happens a few times on Cold Case. The detectives reopen a case based on newly-discovered evidence that points to a particular suspect. The evidence turns out to be a Red Herring, but the suspect in question turns out to be guilty nonetheless.
  • In an episode of Castle, a late-night talk show host tells Castle that someone wants him dead and winds up dead the next day... of a heart attack. Based on the man's suspicions, Castle presses Beckett to investigate, and it turns out he was murdered. It comes out that the studio had been trying to force him out, with a threatening-sounding mention of his bad heart. The studio had nothing to do with it it was actually a friend, who killed the victim for firing him from the show... in order to please the studio. Thus the victim was right about his upcoming death for the wrong reason, causing Castle to be right about murder for the wrong reason.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Viserys Targaryen, knowing almost nothing about Westeros, arrogantly assumes he can retake the entire continent with a horde of Dothraki (who are deadly in the field, but utterly useless at siege warfare). He justifies this belief by claiming that the current king is an impatient Blood Knight who would leave his castle to face his foe in open combat. It turns out that Robert considers this exact strategy, not because he's an idiot who is blind to tactics and strategy, but because he also considers broader political implications.
      Robert: Let's say that Viserys lands with 40,000 Dothraki screamers at his back. We hole up in our castles. Wise move. Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field. They leave us in our castles. They go from town to town, looting and burning, killing every man who can't hide behind a stone wall, stealing all our crops and livestock, enslaving all our women and children. How long do the people of the Seven Kingdoms stand behind their absentee king, their cowardly king hiding behind his high walls? When do the people decide that Viserys Targaryen is the rightful monarch after all?
    • Poor Jon Snow just can't catch a break from this.
      • Alliser Thorne immediately takes a dislike to Jon, both because he's too uppity for a bastard, and because his family led the rebellion that deposed Thorne's king. He genuinely does his best to break Jon, and recommends that he get assigned to be a steward, instead of a ranger (which his fighting skills qualified him for). Why does Commander Mormont let him get away with it? Because, despite Jon's skills and intelligence, he genuinely needs to be broken of his sense of superiority before he'll be accepted by his less privileged compatriots. They bond under common hardship and a shared loathing of their trainer, which turns them into True Companions who will fight and die together. As for assigning him to be a steward, Sam points out that the position he gets is the perfect path for someone being groomed for leadership.
      • He broke a few oaths of the Night's Watch but when he leads the Wildlings to live south of the Wall, it's the final straw for a group of his Watch brothers, who view Jon as betraying the Watch and execute him in a mutiny — except Jon actually allowed the Wildlings to go through the Wall so they won't come back as part of the growing undead army, not to malign the Watch.
      • The Season 6 finale reveals that this is his entire existence in a nutshell. All his life he was told that he is the illegitimate child of a highborn northerner, hence the surname "Snow". While that is true, his northerner parent is not the one who he thinks. Ned telling Jon, "You might not have my name, but you have my blood," in Season 1 perfectly sums this up.
    • In Season 7, when Jaime kills Lady Olenna Tyrell by offering her poisoned wine as an alternative to a painful and degrading public execution, her last words are a confession that she was the one who murdered King Joffrey. When Jaime relays this fact to Cersei, she doesn't believe him at first. He explains that timid Tommen would have been much easier for her granddaughter Margaery to control, and through Margaery, Olenna would have become the most powerful person in Westeros. This convinces Cersei and she's obviously pissed, but the truth is much less complicated: Olenna killed Joffrey to protect Margaery, nothing more nothing less.
    • Joff actually gets this about once a season.
      • In Season 1, he mentions that Westeros should have a standing, professional army loyal only to the crown, noting the feudal system of each lord having their own private army is barbaric. This is actually a rather progressive stance, but his way of going about it is completely impractical.
      • In Season 2, he deduces that after the Greyjoys take the North, it's the perfect time to strike against Robb Stark. Normally he'd be right and it would in fact be the perfect time to try to hammer the Stark forces and remove them from the war, but he's completely overlooking the more pressing threat of Stannis bearing down on the capital.
      • In Season 3, he declares in "Mhysa" that "My father won the real war", referring to Robert killing Rhaegar. Robert, of course, is not actually his father, but he did win the war when he crushed the Targaryen forces at the trident and killed Rhaegar. Additionally, it it was his real father, Jaime, who actually ended the war when he assassinated Aerys.
      • In Season 3, Joffrey complains that Tywin is not sufficiently concerned that Daenerys Targaryen and her three dragons are the primary threat to Westeros. He isn't wrong, but it comes off as him simply finding the dragons more interesting than people. Here, the situation is similar to the one mentioned in Season 2; he's ignoring the more pressing threat of Robb Stark and other forces that oppose him in Westeros while cowering in fear over something that, from his perspective, is nothing more than a rumor half the world away. It makes an interesting contrast with Robert, whose fixation on the threat Dany posed was firmly a case of Jerkass Has a Point.
  • When Professor Bobo fall into a wormhole in Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pearl forces the others to go into the wormhole after him. When asked why, she points out he could be sent back in time and cause a Butterfly of Doom... which could RetGone slot machines, her favorite hobby. In the next episode, when she starts to lose interest, Brain Guy has to explain it back to her and she gets back on it... to save Chicken in a Biscuit crackers.
  • On iZombie, Blaine tells Liv he's cut ties with all the shady characters from his previous life, so when she sees him talking to a pair of shady characters she figures he's full of it and decides not to supply him with brains. Actually, the shady characters are trying to kidnap him, because he has cut ties with them... in order to run a zombification/extortion scheme on his own. Liv is totally right not to trust him.
  • In the first season of Galavant, King Richard's older, crueler, no nonsense brother Kingsley returns from a lifetime of conquest and pillaging to usurp Richard's place. Kingsley is Wrong Genre Savvy and believes he's in a serious tale of political intrigue with a Deadly Decadent Court rather than a musical which is an Affectionate Parody of your standard medievalish fantasy, so he expects Richard will inevitably try to kill him for power. Instead Richard spends the day moping, feeling sorry for himself and not even considering trying to do anything to Kingsley... until Galavant finds Richard, the two get astoundingly drunk together, and Galavant convinces Richard to kill Kingsley for entirely different reasons. The two men, who are still drunk out of their mind, make the least stealthy assassination attempt ever, and are promptly apprehended by Kingsley and his guards.
  • Covert Affairs once sent Annie back to the CIA academy to find a mole. (Episode "Bang and Blame".) During a firearms exercise, the other participants each grab a gun and shoot their way out of a maze. Annie, on the other hand, uses the gun she picks up to smash open a glass box and use the map inside to navigate the maze. The instructor says this was the right course of action since she didn't give away her position with gunfire. However, this wasn't the reason Annie eschewed the gun. It turns out she was sick the day they had firearms practice.
  • I Love Lucy: Ricky thinks Lucy is making money through the stock market, so when he sees the words "Can All Pet" on a notepad, he assumes it's a stock tip for a company called Canadian Allied Petroleum and buys shares. "Can All Pet" was actually an item on Lucy's grocery list, but it turns out Ricky was right about the stock and made money.
  • Breaking Bad: After Brock gets poisoned, Jesse assumes that Walter stole the ricin cigarette that Jesse was holding and used that to poison him. Walter convinces him that he was poisoned by Gus Fring, instead. What really happened was Walter did poison Brock, but stealing the ricin cigarette from Jesse was a ruse and he used a different means to poison him.
  • Daredevil (2015): In the first episode of season 2, Matt Murdock accosts crooked arms dealer Turk Barrett and tries to interrogate him for information on recent massacres of the Kitchen Irish and Dogs of Hell. Turk says there are rumors that there's a new crew in town with military precision. However, it turns out that the rumors are wrong, as the shootings are all solely the work of Frank Castle. But then, near the end of the season, it turns out that there is a new crew in town with military precision shooters: the Blacksmith, who is actually Frank Castle's former commanding officer Colonel Schoonover, and many of his men are the former soldiers who served under him. Meaning that the rumors were true, just not in the way that the rumors were going.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • This Dilbert comic where the Pointy-Haired Boss finally makes a right decision because "his ignorance clouded his poor judgment".
  • In a Mafalda strip, when Mafalda's mother unplugs the TV while Gui was watching, he tries to keep watching the show by peeking through the power outlet. When Mafalda recounts the incident to Manolito, they both start laughing...until the latter says "The images come through the wire so small! How was he supposed to see anything?"
  • In a 2018 The Phantom storyline, Eric Sahara, aka international terrorist The Nomad, is suspicious that his daughter's best friend at boarding school is the former ward of the Bangallan President, and becomes convinced she's actually some kind of spy for his enemies, there to find information on his activities. This is pure paranoia on his part, as Heloise Walker's presence is a coincidence and her friendship with Kadia is genuine. However, at the same time as he reaches this conclusion, Heloise does start trying to find information on his activities, but not on behalf of the enemies he thinks. Sahara is unaware of her connection to his greatest enemy; she's the Phantom's daughter.

  • In Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities, he uses the sum 1/4 X 8/5 = 18/45 as an example of the result being right (18/45 can be simplified to 2/5, the correct answer), but the methodology being completely wrong.
    • A similar idea is to simplify the fraction 16/64 by cancelling out the 6s to leave 1/4, which again just happens to be the correct answer.
      • 26/65 is yet another option.
  • An old joke: Three old men go to the doctor for a checkup (please don't ask why the doctor is giving all three men their checkup at the same time). Since they're getting on in years, the doctor decides to check their mental faculties as well. So he asks the first man, "What's three times three?" And the old man says, "273." So the doctor moves on to the second guy and asks the same question. "Tuesday," is the reply. Finally he asks the third old man. "9." "That's great!" says the doctor, "How'd you get to that answer?" "I subtracted 273 from Tuesday."
  • On an episode of the Newlywed Game, a woman was asked how many decades old her mother-in-law was. The woman smiled and said, "10," getting a laugh from the audience. When the host asked the husband how many decades old his mother was, he said, "I don't know what that is, but my mother is 44. If there are four years in a decade, she's 10 decades."
  • A woman was asked, "If a car is traveling at 80 miles an hour, how long would it take the car to go 80 miles?" The woman makes a lengthy calculation, beginning with, "I run the mile in about nine minutes," as part of her calculation. She says a tire turns about 400 times in a mile. In the end, she says "About 58 minutes," which is pretty close considering the factors she used to get there.
  • The myth of Icarus holds that his wings, made of wax, evaporated in proximity to the sun. As Icarus Allusion indicates, higher altitude would actually mean a reduction in temperature and therefore cause the wax to become brittle and shatter. Either way, Icarus doesn't make it out alive.

    Video Games 
  • In Rosenkreuzstilette, Spiritia finds out that the RKS's rebellion was indeed a waste of time and a potential downer for human-Magi relations, but not because (as she initially assumed) Count Sepperin had turned against the empire. Instead, his daughter had planned these machinations for her entertainment, along with her desire to usurp GOD!
  • In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Rozalin comes to the conclusion that her "father", "Overlord Zenon" is a fake for completely arbitrary and selfish reasons. It's helped by the fact that he doesn't exactly deny it when she confronts him, but she completely misses all the real hints that her father really is a fake and that Overlord Zenon has reincarnated into none other than Rozalin herself.
  • Early in Ghost Trick, the protagonist and Ghost Amnesia sufferer Sissel learns his name as he infiltrates a foreign base where the people present call him by that name while viewing data on him. It turns out that not only was Sissel merely a pseudonym that the foreigners were given to refer to him, but the main character isn't even the man in the picture. Despite all of this, the protagonist's name really is Sissel.
  • In Mass Effect 3, during the first part of the game, one of the ongoing conversations that a player can eavesdrop on is a volus by the name of Rupe Elkoss talking with a human woman named Sarah about "Sanctuary", the much-advertised "safe haven" from the war. Elkoss, himself a successful CEO of a multi-planetary corporate combine ("Isn't that that company that makes... everything?") gives several reasons as to why Sanctuary is obviously a fraud, all based on his presumption it's some amoral, unscrupulous businessman seeking to make money off of people's fear. Sanctuary is a scam alright... but it's not a racket. It's a front for a Cerberus operation; the refugees are either indoctrinated into Cerberus soldiers, turned into husks as part of experiments with Reaper technology, or simply slaughtered outright. Oh, and there is "some amoral, unscrupulous businessman" running it, who just happens to be Miranda Lawson's father.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Avitus Rix doesn't believe his mentor, Saren Arterius (yes, that Saren) went rogue and attacked the Citadel of his own free will, but believes it was because something happened to Saren that made him go mad, since Avitus didn't know about indoctrination.
  • In BioShock Infinite, the Order of the Raven manages to correctly guess that their leader Comstock has Native American blood in him. Yet the way they discovered this is through usage of the laughably debunked "science" of phrenology.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir is hated by the nobility of Ferelden, despite his deserved reputation as a war hero, because of his assumption of the regency after the king's death. They view it as a power-grab, and they're absolutely right, but the nobles are more upset that an up-jumped farmer presumes to lead them than they are that someone seized the throne. Consequently, despite his accomplishments, he starts with almost no allies who are not simultaneously serious liabilities, and his gross political ineptitude means that he never really gains any support.
      • Loghain himself considers the King wanting to bring Grey Warden reinforcements from neighboring Orlais as to be the clinching evidence that the King is plotting to dump his current queen (Loghain's daughter) and marry Orlais' Empress to unite the countries. The plan turns out to be real, but the Wardens aren't involved in any way.
    • Later in the series, Sera - essentially a street punk turned would-be revolutionary, whose sense of humour tends to top out at "juvenile" - manages to correctly guess that the prophet Andraste had ginger hair. She does so by misconstruing the burning eye on Cassandra's Seeker armour as "Andraste's hairy eyeball" and forming conclusions based on that.
      Sera: Well, there you go then.
      Cassandra: No. No, there we don't go.
  • In Radiant Historia, the corrupt government of Alistel spreads propaganda that the gradual Desertification of the world is being directly caused by queen of the country they're fighting against being so evil. Unbeknownst to them, they're actually right about her being the cause of the Desertification increasing. The royal family of Granorg has the responsiblity to perform a ritual that will stop the Desertification, but Protea only cares about living a decadant life for herself so has no interest in performing the ritual. And she couldn't perform it even if she wanted to, because she isn't of the royal bloodline.
  • In Ōkami, Issun hesitates in giving Rao the Fox Rods because owning them would make her a target for evil creatures. Rao is actually being impersonated by one of their most powerful enemies, which makes him right that her having them would be a bad thing.
  • In Star Control 2, the Spathi are terrified of a so-called "Ultimate Evil". Their "proof" that it exists is that their sensors have never picked up any signs of its existence. Meaning it's hiding, which is just further proof of its nefarious intent. Turns out their next door neighbors, the Orz, are apparently manifestations of an actual (likely malevolent given the fate of the Androsynth) extradimensional being.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, this is what prompts Kuja to change course from gathering Summon Magic to harness the game's Limit Break system instead. In the process of attempting to extract Eiko's Eidolons, Mog (her best friend, a Moogle) comes to the rescue by revealing her true identity as the Eidolon Madeen, which Kuja interprets as the Moogle having gone into a Trance. He then decides that attaining a Trance of his own will give him the power he needs to take revenge on Garland, and, to say the least, it does.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: has this twofold in Neverland. Hook has acquired a great number of treasure maps, all of which have led to junk and Heartless. He believes that whosoever buried the treasure has built plenty of fake maps to prevent anybody else from getting at the treasure; thus, if Smee digs at each location on every one of the maps, they'll find the treasure eventually. The truth is, Pete is relying on Hook's greed to generate a great number of Heartless so Maleficent will have an army at her disposal next time they meet up. However, no matter how many fake treasures Smee digs up, Pete never finds Heartless left behind; he figures Hook needs something to really be greedy about in order to create Heartless, and so provides a very wealthy treasure at the final map spot. In fact, Organization XIII has been sending Roxas to defeat Heartless, and it just so happens that he always comes out where Hook is having Smee dig - as such, he's striking them down as fast as Hook's greed can generate them.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: In Birthright, Hinoka figures out that the Archduke Izana of Izumo is an imposter based on how casually he talks, believing that no royal would ever act that way. The real Archduke does indeed speak that way, and she just happened to be correct that he was being impersonated when the party got there.
  • In RuneScape, one of your tasks for the Fremennik Trials is to play an enchanted harp strung with golden fleece. A nearby troll has golden sheep, but doesn't want humans getting near the pasture. Another Fremennik going through the trials tells you he traded the troll a pet rock for the fleece. When you try the same trade, the troll refuses— not because he's realized the pet rock is a scam, but because he's afraid that if he has two pet rocks, they will breed.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the guard to the entrance of Goron City immediately greets Link by his name despite never having met him before. When Link asks how he knew, the guard admits he didn't; he simply greets every Hylian traveler who wanders into Goron City as if they were the hundred-years-"dead" Hylian Champion just to pass the time.
  • In Persona 3, the main goal of the S.E.E.S. is to find and eliminate the 12 Arcanum Shadows that lurk the city during a Full Moon. However, there is a group that opposes their actions - Strega, who tries to hinder the main cast from killing all 12 Shadows because they believed that their Persona powers would disappear if all Arcarum Shadows are gone. The S.E.E.S. eventually defeat all the 12, only to find out that killing them all would cause the 13th Arcarum to appear, Death, who can bring about The Fall. Fuuka at one point, even lampshades that Strega was right about something after all.
  • Around halfway through Persona 5, the Phantom Thieves become so popular that their website hosts an anonymous poll as to who they should target next. At this point, the Thieves are also looking for the culprit behind the Mental Shutdown incidents. One of the names that ends up in the target rankings is Goro Akechi, simply out of spite for him denouncing the Phantom Thieves on TV. However, Akechi is not only The Dragon, he's the one behind the Mental Shutdowns. The eventual winner of the poll ends up being a case of this too. Kunikazu Okumura ranks 1st because the villains rigged the poll, as he was a loose end they needed to dispose of, and framing the Phantom Thieves for his death would kill two birds with one stone. However, because he really was abusing his employees and about to force his daughter into an arranged marriage with an abusive Jerkass for political gain, his actions probably would've got him targeted by the Thieves anyway.
  • In Night in the Woods, when Mae happens to see a kidnapping, she (being something of a Womanchild) assumes that a ghost is responsible, and goes ghost hunting. While she doesn't find any evidence of ghosts at the creepy historical sites she can investigate, the actual culprit is present, since they and their organization are deeply involved with the town's history.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins Guillo doesn't like or trust Milliarde from pretty much the instant they meet, constantly calling her a wench, calling her evil, and constantly talking down to her. Of course she actually is a mole sent by Lord Baelheit (and his daughter to boot), but the actual reason Guillo didn't like or trust her is because he is in love with Sagi and jealously views her as competition.
  • During Mettaton's deadly quiz show in Undertale he realizes Alphys is helping you and asks the Armor-Piercing Question of "Who does Alphys have a crush on" as punishment. The correct answer is Undyne but if you answer yourself that's also accepted as correct: Mettaton finds your sheer conceited audacity hilarious and goes on to acknowledge that it's actually a fair assumption as Alphys has been closely watching you ever since your adventure started.
  • Played for Laughs in Batman: Arkham Knight. One of the pieces of Enemy Chatter has a Mook speculating on Nightwing and Robin's Secret Identities before concluding that they're both the same person. He's right in the sense that Nightwing (Dick Grayson) was Robin, but clearly has no idea that Dick "graduated" to the Nightwing identity and passed the mantle on to Tim Drake.
  • Played for Laughs in World of Warcraft when some fishermen are telling tall tales. One claims to have fought off a pack of land sharks but another calls her out on the ridiculousness of her story... because sharks are solitary hunters.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: Alistair Grout goes on a very eloquent rant about how Freudian psychology is so much bunk, and that ignoring the physiological component of mental illness is a recipe for disaster (both well accepted truths in modern mental health care), followed by an expressed hope that phrenology will retake its rightful place among the sciences.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the recruitment mission for the Dark Brotherhood involves you being kidnapped and being forced to kill one of three random people at the orders of your kidnapper Astrid, who tells you that "No one is leaving here until someone dies". While you're supposed to do what she says, killing her and escaping is also a valid option.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney does this a lot, often realizing the culprit before fully understanding their motive or method:
    • In Case 4 of Justice for All, Adrian Andrews actually did stab Juan Corrida and frame Matt for the murder, but she did it after Juan was already dead.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Drew Misham, an art forger, had a postage stamp framed for whatever reason. Said postage stamp happened to have a powerful poison on its back. Seven years later, Drew dies from licking the stamp to use it. It's suggested that the art forger had the stamp framed because he knew it was poisoned. Apollo, assuming this to be true, makes quite an impressive leap of logic: Drew is not the art forger, but rather he acts as the face of one, namely his daughter Vera. SHE had the stamp framed, allegedly suspecting the poison, and later Drew, who suspected nothing, used the stamp and died of the poison. Almost all of the above is true... except the stamp was framed because Drew's daughter liked the picture on it.
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, one of Yumihiko Ichiyanagi's early arguments actually turns out to be a case of this. Manousuke Naito is found dead in prison, so Yumihiko has Souta Sarushiro arrested simply because he happened to be Naito's friend, then comes up with a flimsy reasoning involving a chess board he sent to the prison as a gift containing a chisel in a secret compartment. Everyone both in-universe and out laughs this off at the time, however, it is revealed much later that Souta is the true Big Bad of the game, and while he didn't personally murder Naito, he did manipulate events with the explicit intention of him ending up dead, the chisel was planted in the compartment for that very purpose, and his motive for doing so did indeed involve their friendship (more specifically, Souta believed Naito had betrayed that friendship due to an event Naito himself doesn't even remember).
    • There's a weird "non-culprit" example in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. In case 2, much of the case revolves around the fact that nobody is supposed to enter the Forbidden Chamber because supposedly, an evil demon named "Tenma Taro" is locked inside. Naturally, some characters treat this as mere superstition, and some characters treat this as real. It turns out that yes, it's just superstition, there is no demon. But, there is a good reason not to go into the Forbidden Chamber anyway: it turns out that "Tenma Taro" is actually the name of a gold ingot that, when it first appeared, caused the villagers to fight over the gold out of greed, as if they were possessed by monsters. So there's actually a good reason to keep the Forbidden Chamber locked up, because if people saw there was gold in there, they'd start fighting over it again.
    • An out of universe example, from Dual Destinies. The player, especially if they kept up with the promotional material for the game including the initial teaser trailer, is going to assume that Tonate is the culprit of the first case, since he's presented as the obvious guy who really obviously committed the bombing. He IS the culprit of the first case, but not because he's the bomber. The bomber was someone else, which isn't revealed until late into the game.
  • Super Danganronpa 2: The victim of chapter 5 seemingly arranged for their killing blow to be dealt by The Mole, but it turns out that's barely half of the story. First of all, unlike in the previous game, Nanami wasn't working with Monokuma; it was the rest of the class, who had been members of SHSL Despair before their memories were wiped as an attempted rehabilitation. Komaeda, after discovering this, DID count on his unnatural luck making it so that she threw the poison container which killed him, but only so that she, the sole innocent, would survive if the others mistakenly believed he'd committed suicide and voted for him instead.
    • In the third trial of New Danganronpa V3, suspicion actually falls on the killer twice before they're formally accused by the protagonist. However, the first accusation is based on an incorrect interpretation of the evidence, and the second time, they still haven't completely eliminated the possibility that both victims were killed by different people (Monokuma will only punish Angie's murderer, so voting for Korekiyo when they only confessed to killing Tenko might still get everyone killed); amusingly enough, this leads to a debate where you have to side with an admitted killer.

    Web Comics 
  • Belkar from The Order of the Stick correctly guesses that Durkon isn't himself after becoming a vampire. His reasoning? "He had a spell prepared that will actually solve our problem! That proves that he can't possibly be Durkon!!" Belkar later reveals that he also is also aware of the more relevant fact that Vampire Durkon behaves like a Fully-Embraced Fiend in unguarded moments.
  • Quentyn Quinn from Tales of the Questor believes that a bunch of human coins are forged because the heads face the wrong way. Unbeknownst to him, the direction the heads face is irrelevant, but the coins are indeed fakes.
  • The premise of Request Comics #23.
  • Touched upon in this episode of Dinosaur Comics.
  • Also seen in this xkcd.
  • As well as this page of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, which looks at "Lucky Moron Sequences".
  • In Homestuck Betty "Batterwitch" Crocker is an evil alien empress, plotting dominion over the entire world, and was also the cruel stepmother of John's Nanna and Jade's Grandpa. John knows none of this, but has a deep dislike of her because he's getting tired of cake.
  • In Kevin & Kell, when Corrie is disguised as a wolf by using Ralph's skin, Fiona notices something suspicious about her. Corrie thinks it's that Fiona has discovered her identity, but Fiona says that Corrie is Ralph's daughter. Corrie dismisses this theory, reasoning that Fiona only came to that conclusion due to Ralph's scent on the skin, until Bruno later finds out her origins, and discovers that this is the truth.
  • Played with in 8-Bit Theater, while the group is searching for an invisible flying castle, Fighter points to a castle in the sky thinking maybe it's the one they're looking for.
    Black Mage: Does that LOOK like an invisible sky castle?
    Fighter: Sure, maybe. I've never seen one.
    Black Mage: Can you imagine why?
    Fighter: ...Because they're quite rare?
    Black Mage: I... You...
    Thief: Technically he's not wrong you know.
    Black Mage: But he SHOULD be.
  • In Drowtales, the Kyorl'solenurn Clan oppose tainting (the merging of one's aura to a nether being) on religious grounds, believing that it goes against the will of the Goddess Sharess, and make a point to kill any tainted they come across and Mercy Kill members of their own clan who may become tainted by accident. They also oppose the mandatory tainting at the local Wizarding School that's given as a sort of "vaccine" for nether summoners, which turns out to be this trope because almost all of the seeds being given out are intentionally faulty and will kill their users within 50 years but the Kyorl don't know this.
    • Also, Quain'tana's opposition to her daughter Mel'arnach's relationship with Snadhya'rune Vel'Sharen is primarily based on Snadhya being the eldest daughter of Quain's greatest enemies, but now that Snadhya has let her Mask of Sanity slip, and it's heavily implied is only using Mel as a pawn, including coldly leaving her to to essentially become a Baby Factory, it's become a case of this.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Tedd correctly guesses that Larry is crushing on him. He also assumes it's because Larry is gay. He's wrong about that.
    • In an earlier strip, the math teacher says Grace and Ellen are a mystery that needs solving, and makes a whole bunch of calculations based on their statistics. To their shock, he claims the result is "a duplicate squirrel of some sort", before admitting he was just messing with them and the whole thing was gibberish. Unbeknownst to the teacher, Ellen is a duplicate of Elliot, and Grace is a human/squirrel/alien hybrid shapeshifter whose normal form resembles a humanoid squirrel.
    • Voltaire comes to the correct conclusion that there are more seers than just the two he knows about. (warning: spoilers). However, his reasons are a little bit off. Magic just underwent a small change, meaning that someone must have talked it out of making a large change. Voltaire assumes that Arthur wouldn't want to make such an argument, and that Tedd was in no shape emotionally to do so, meaning that some unknown third seer must have been present to do the talking. There are other seers. About a thousand of them, in fact. However, the only other seer who spoke with The Will of Magic was a kid named Van who didn't really do much. In reality, Tedd was the one who convinced magic not to change.
  • Girl Genius:
    • When the castle traps a group in a room to request repairs Professor Tiktoffen yells that they're doomed and can't leave since no-one has made any progress in the room and the castle keeps killing people there. Theo on the other hand notices that Gil is looking in glee at the broken mechanisms and already has figured out that the reason they're going to be stuck is because Gil has entered The Madness Place and isn't going to walk away from it:
      Theo: Uh oh. You may be right but for the wrong reason. Gil?
      Gil: Oooh—This looks... Interesting!
    • Oublenmach, one of the Storm King conspirators, claims that Van Heliotrope is the most important man in Mechanicsburg because he is the ringer of the Doom Bell, which announces the return of the Heterodyne and opens their treasure vault. Van is the most important man in town, but because he's the castle seneschal (essentially the mayor), a position that was supposed to be extinct. "Doom Bell ringer" is an entirely ceremonial position; the Castle can ring the Bell on its own.
    • The abbot deduces that the woman one of his monks is trying to kill is the Lady Heterodyne, because why else would Storm Lord assassins be on the train? The monk in question admits that she is the Heterodyne, but the assassins were after a completely different woman.
  • During the debate about robot rights in Freefall, someone in the audience asks how something that isn't alive can be self-aware, and is mollified when another audience member offers vampires and ghosts as an example. Max, who's arguing for robot rights, is horrified. "That was a smart question! Don't accept a dumb answer!"
  • In a (spoilery) fancomic set at the end of Crusaders of the Lost Mark, Berry Punch realizes she is, in fact, inebriated. This is, however, because something has happened she did not expect any time soon.

    Web Original 
  • Used in Red vs. Blue Reconstruction, when the reds are fighting Washington and Church.
    Sarge: Alright, men. Stand down.
    Grif: Stand down? We outnumber them three to two. That's like a three with a two. That's... 32% advantage... if you Carry the One.
    Simmons: I don't want to know how you came up with that, but you're actually right!
    • Used again in Revelation (Season 8), when Sarge guesses that Washington killed Donut and Lopez and took Simmons prisoner due to Simmons answering the radio wrong, using an obvious lie about said radio and a lack of tinkling glasses in the background, but this trope comes into effect when he analyzes Simmons "coded messages":
      Sarge: He also mentioned that the weather was rainier. And as we all know, Mt. Rainier is the biggest landmass in the state of... Washington.
      Grif: We do? I mean, we do!
      Sarge: How many Washingtons do we know?
      Grif: Wait, did he mean Agent Washington?
      Sarge: And who's the biggest mass we know associated with Washington?
      Grif: The Meta!
      Sarge: So the Meta and Washington have teamed up to kill Donut and Lopez, and now they're holding Simmons and Doc prisoner.
      Grif: We have to help 'em! Wait, Doc? Ho- how do you know he's there?
      Sarge: Please, Grif, it's so obvious. I don't wanna insult your intelligence by explaining every little detail.
  • In Bravemule (a Dwarf Fortress story that's out there even by DF standards), Kou the warrior is told to raise crops. This is the rationale she presents for watering the field:
    Kou's narration: "Drowning fire that murders the crop murders the fire, therefrom I surmise drowning the seeds would unmurder the crop."
  • In Dragon Ball Abridged, Bulma starts hitting on Trunks. Who, unbeknownst to her but well known to the audience, is her Kid from the Future.
    Bulma: So hey, like just gonna throw this out there. You're really cute.
    Trunks: Well, you know, my mom always said I was a cute kid.
    Bulma: Oh, a momma's boy huh? I'll be your mommy. (saucy wink)
  • Played for Drama in Demo Reel, as Uncle Yo assumes Donnie's mother told him to stay out of Hollywood and that's why he hates it so much. He does hate Hollywood because of his mom, but only because the unfair system made her kill herself.
  • One segment of AMV Hell pokes fun at some E = MC Hammer equations on a blackboard by pointing out all the algebraic mistakes in them. It further notes that the final question actually turns out to have the correct answer, despite making several mistakes in the solution.
  • In Danganronpa Abridged Thing, an "abridged parody" of Danganronpa: The Animation, during the first trial Touko Fukawa says the murderer has to be a guy, because only "cis white male" scum are capable of doing something so horrible. (She blows Naegi off when he points out that they're all Japanese). It later turns out that the murderer is male, but Fukawa reached that correct conclusion through an idiotic train of logic.
  • The Cynical Brit: TB concludes that Wheatley in Portal 2 is untrustworthy...because of his accent.
  • The Nostalgia Critic asks Evilina in The Cat in the Hat if the movie has broken him. The reason why he's asking is because he has no jokes to make for a scene, but he's right for other reasons; like how it made a Papa Wolf hit a child and make her cry.
  • When Turpster plays Trouble in Terrorist Town with Sips, Hat Films and the other members of the Yogscast, he has a habit of murdering people without reason when playing as the detective. Quite a few times when he commits RDM (killing without good reason, long story short), the person in question actually was the murderer or a traitor, although it still counts as breaking the rules and earns him a lot of flak from the other players. He ends up pressing Lewis Brindley's Berserk Button in particular, and gets killed twice for this.
  • The Noob webseries and comics has Dark Avenger getting regularly beaten by Sparadrap's Invincible Incompetent. This leads Dark Avenger to believe that Sparadrap is actually an elite MMORPG player displaying Obfuscating Stupidity. One of the things Dark Avenger's superiors have against the theory is the reason why an elite player would pretend to be a Noob. Dark Avenger's reply to it is that Sparadrap is probably a spy for his faction's elite guild. Actual facts: Dark Avenger's defeats are 95% Sparadrap's Invincible Incompetent and 5% Sparadrap's elite player younger brother taking over his avatar. The brother in question has a record of showing up with his own avatar or taking over Sparadrap's at the right time on other occasions precisely because he'd been keeping an eye on Sparadrap's screen.
  • This happens to poor Zylus (another Yogscast member) whenever he plays Trouble in Terrorist Town. Rythian ends up committing RDM by saying that he just "knows" Zylus to be guilty — he is, but Rythian's only defence is "is it RDM when, in your heart you know it to be true". Lewis then kills him for being too quiet.
  • Wrestle Wrestle: Spoony insisted that the anger over the 2015 Royal Rumble wasn't about Roman Reigns winning instead of Daniel Bryan as much as that the WWE management decided who they were going to push over the wishes of the fans.
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Alucard concludes that since the Nazis were organized and their then-mysterious enemies are organized, their enemies must be Nazis. That he's correct only by sheer coincidence doesn't stop him from rubbing it in Integra's face when it turns out to be true. Later in the series, the one building in London the Major forbids being razed to the ground is the Holocaust Museum, because "no one will deny what we did." He's a Nazi, and a particularly bloodthirsty, war-hungry example at that. Of course he'd be proud. That he's also come to a morally and factually correct conclusion is happen-stance.
  • Paladin King Trevor from the Lamia Daughter Quest roleplay is a Deconstruction of this. He claims that the Citadel kingdom is evil, and he's absolutely right about that, but he's wrong about pretty much every particular. He believes that it's evil in an entirely mundane way, while it's actually a Genius Loci that feeds on periodic human sacrifices and acts like the Lily Weatherwax of heroic fantasy. Because of his misconception of Citadel, he ends up playing right into its hands, giving an army to one of its stooges and eventually becoming a pawn himself.
  • In Dorkly's Pokémon Rusty, in Rusty's first gym battle against the clearly-too-strong-for-him Blaine, Rusty, after sending two clearly disadvantaged Pokémon to die, sends out his Cubone. Blaine praises Rusty for actually thinking straight as Cubone is a Ground-type, which is super effective against his Fire-type Growlithe. Rusty scoffs at Blaine, calling him an idiot, as Cubone is a "Bone-type" and dogs have a weakness for bones. It ends up being a moot point anyway as Growlithe is too high-leveled for Cubone to do anything.
  • In NicoB's Let's Play of Ace Attorney Investigations 2, he figured out that Souta Sarushiro (renamed Simon Keyes in the Fan Translation) was the true mastermind of the game well before the reveal because he mistakenly thought that Simon had the same hair color as the murdered Isaac Dover and hence had to be his son out for revenge which caused him to subsequently spot several more connections the mastermind had with previous cases. Ironically, Simon himself mistakenly thought that Isaac was his father too, making this a weirdly meta example.
  • The "Sleepwaker" arc in Atop the Fourth Wall sees Pollo, Harvey Finevoice, and Linksano go What the Hell, Hero? when Linkara resorted to spying on them after discovering that 90s Kid was working with Lord Vyce. Turns out 90s Kid has good reason to be working with Vyce—the Entity has hijacked Linkara's body and used the pretext of fearing that Vyce would take the Entity's place to justify his actions.
  • During the Game Grumps review of Punch-Out!! on Wii they remark that the developers can't be accused of racism because they, as a Japanese team, put in the self-deprecating Piston Hondo. They're right that such an accusation would hold little merit, but it's because of Bear Hugger as the game (Just the Wii version specifically) was made by Canadian developers Next Level Gaming Inc. In fact, they went out of their way to pick Bear Hugger as the only character to return from Super Punch Out!!.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Peggy gets a lawn gnome which Hank despises, so when Bobby accidentally damages it while playing Hank uses this as pretext to get rid of it. Seeing how upset this makes Peggy, Hank confesses but claims he did the whole thing. Peggy correctly guesses that he's lying to protect Bobby, but wrongly believes that Bobby is wholly to blame and thus punishes him very harshly. Later on, Hank goes out and buys a new gnome, then gives it to Bobby to try and smooth things out. Again, Peggy figures most of this out, but assumes that Hank did it out of pity rather than guilt, ultimately deciding that Bobby's been in the doghouse long enough.
  • South Park:
    • This trope is named explicitly in the episode "Best Friends Forever". At the end of the episode, Stan delivers An Aesop about how his group - which wanted Kenny kept on life support - was wrong for the right reasons (that they love him and don't want him to die). Cartman's group, which wanted Kenny taken off life-support was right for the wrong reasons (Cartman was being a selfish prick who wanted to get Kenny's PSP).
    • Also shows up in "The Snuke". When Cartman's racist note  suspicion that the new Muslim family in town are terrorists sets off an investigation that ultimately uncovers and foils a real terrorist plot being carried out by Russian mercenaries to help the British take back the United States, he concludes that his bigotry actually saved the day and thus he was doing the right thing. Kyle argues that he isn't right, "not in the way you're saying".
    • In "Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy", Cartman (who, in this episode, was a hall monitor parodying Dog the Bounty Hunter) teams up with Kyle to take down a kindergarten teacher having a sexual relationship with Ike, since the cops won't take the case seriously. However, unlike Kyle, who's doing it because of how sick and perverted it is, Cartman's in it because he caught the pair making out in the halls without a hall pass.
    • In "Cartman Finds Love" Cartman tries to force Token and Nicole together just because they're both black, but it turns out they're perfect for each other anyway.
    • "The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers": While being chased by the 6th grade army who want to get their videotape, Cartman suggests the group wade across a river to because he's role playing as a wizard and declares the 6th graders can't cross as a rule. When the 6th graders arrive, they actually can't cross it because the water will rust their bike chains.
    • In "The Coon", Cartman was right that Mysterion's true identity was Kenny (something that was only made clear to the viewers later in the series), but he only came to this conclusion just from the fact that Kenny had a picture of Mysterion in his locker (Stan and Clyde also have pictures of Mysterion in their lockers).
  • In Adventure Time Flame Princess eventually realises that the reason Finn has been putting out her fires is because fire is harmful to him... and reasons that it's because he's a water elemental.
  • In Winx Club, Tecna grows suspicious of their new teacher Avalon over his lack of wings. Her investigation soon points him to be the evil Angel of Darkness, but most of the evidence was coincidental or false. So it seems Avalon is actually good, except that he was actually Lord Darkar's spy in Alfea, so Tecna was right that Avalon was evil.
  • A variant in Ultimate Spider-Man, in which Spidey is right for the wrong reasons when he's not trying to be right. In "For Your Eye Only", Spidey taunts the Zodiac goons by giving them nicknames based on their animal-head masks. The ones in the lion masks he calls "Leo", and he never realises that that is actually their codename.
  • In the episode of SpongeBob where he loses his name tag, SpongeBob and Patrick are trying to retrace SpongeBob's steps that led up to him losing his nametag. Spongebob says he put an apple on Mr. Krabs's desk, then two guys threw him in the dumpster. Patrick says the nametag must be in the apple and that they should go to Mr. Krabs's desk to find it. Spongebob says Mr. Krabs would have thrown the apple away by now and suggests checking the dumpster for the nametag. When they get there, they discover Spongebob is wearing his shirt backward and that he's had his nametag on the whole time. They had been wrong about the nametag being in the apple, but they did find it in the dumpster (because that's where they were when they found it).
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode Test of Time, Billy asks for the Grim Reaper's help so he could actually study for his history report that he failed to do. Grim's response?
    Grim: (spots a bottle of shampoo, then points to his bald skull) I've got to wash my hair!
    Billy: (starts walking off) Aw man, what're the chances of—(stops himself) HEY, WAIT A MINUTE! Do you think I'm stupid?
    Grim: Well, uh...
    Billy: When I asked you to be my go-go dance partner the other day you said you couldn't because you had to "wash your hair". Nobody could wash their hair that much!
  • In Gravity Falls' first episode, Dipper concludes that his sister's new boyfriend, Norman, is a zombie with dark designs on Mabel. It turns out he's actually a bunch of gnomes in a Totem Pole Trench, and they plan to kidnap and marry her.
  • In Hey Arnold! the Grandpa discovers that Dino Spumoni is not a ghost based on the fact that ghosts can't take showers....they take baths.
  • In Archer, Lana hates new agent Conway Stern because his arrival stole her thunder and spends quite a bit of time attempting to find evidence that he's dirty. Given it's on this page, she's actually right and he's The Mole, but her reasons for suspecting him were entirely petty.
    • Likewise in the case of Cecil Tunt, Cheryl's brother, who is introduced looking for evidence that she's insane to get her committed to a mental institute. As several characters point out, Cheryl is quite thoroughly crazy and having her committed might not be such a bad idea... but Cecil was only doing it because he wanted her money, having wasted most of his own inheritance (though, in a twist, on mismanagement via charity).
  • Pinky and the Brain: In one episode, Brain uses his Mobile-Suit Human to get a job at a company, simulate an accident and sue his employer for turning him into a mouse. The judge rules in favor of the company and orders Brain to be arrested for fraud and perjury but these decisions are based on the belief that Brain is not a mouse. The judge also has Brain arrested for public nudity but that doesn't count as being "right" because mice aren't required to wear clothes in public.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! episode "The Fall of Asgard", Captain America figures that he can't be dead because a real afterlife would include Bucky Barnes. Cap isn't dead, but he is in a real afterlife. Bucky is absent because Bucky isn't really dead.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In Bash Johnson: 11th Grade Ninja, a de-stanked student thinks Bash was the one who turned him back to normal because he thinks Bash is the Ninja. He's wrong about Bash being the Ninja but is right about Bash being the one who turned him back to normal.
  • Hong Kong Phooey: One episode features a criminal who can become invisible and uses this power to steal a set of rare rings. The last two rings belong to people who live in Genova, and Rosemary believes the first owner whose ring the thief will steal is the opera singer because even criminals follow the "ladies first" policy. The singer's ring is indeed the first of the last two the criminal steals but that's because the other ring already belongs to the criminal.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "Hollywaste", a movie star (sister of a villain) is the Planeteers' primary suspect in a series of incidents. Wheeler is the only one who believes her, but doesn't present any arguments other than "she's cute, so she's innocent". In the end, he does end up right; the actress was framed. The real culprit then gets arrested, and the other Planeteers apologize.
  • An episode of Batman: The Animated Series has Summer Gleason hot on Bruce's tail refusing to believe Bruce Wayne is as honest as he presents himself to be. Of course she's right about him hiding what he really is, but she was thinking he's a Corrupt Corporate Executive or Villain with Good Publicity who's possibly connected to the mob and would outright scoff at the idea that Rich Idiot with No Day Job was hiding that he was actually the Dark Knight.
  • Batman Beyond: In "Hidden Agenda", Terry's classmate Max Gibson figures out that Terry has been leading a double-life. However, she thinks he's with the Jokerz gang instead of being the new Batman. She becomes a Secret Keeper to Terry when she learns the truth in the end.
  • In "Dark Cupid" of Miraculous Ladybug, Marinette finds a discarded love poem Adrien, her crush, wrote to Ladybug (he doesn't realize they're one and the same). However, because he didn't include who the poem is for, Tikki convinces Marinette that the poem is for her, which is...technically true. Marinette writes and mails a response poem, but forgets to sign it, and a ladybug flying in convinces him that the poem was from his hero. Which is also technically true.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: After Time Travel Agents Cavendish and Dakota repeatedly have their plans to prevent pistachios from going extinct in the future ruined, Caverndish realizes that Milo is always nearby when it happens and believes that he must be an enemy agent trying to thwart them. Milo's presence is responsible, but it's because Murphy's Law causes the disasters to happen and he's not doing it on purpose.
  • In BoJack Horseman, Todd correctly figures out that Bojack bought the video game to sabotage his rock opera, although his method of deduction was a strange series of word associations, as opposed to looking at the receipt that Bojack left under the couch.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Parent Map", Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst are correct that the friendship problem the Cutie Map assigned them to was related to their parents. However, they initially don't think they were here to resolve the issues between themselves and their parents, and instead assume the problem is their parents' conflicting ideas on how to run their childhood village (a conflict that comes to an unexpectedly quick and immediate resolution).
    • In the beginning of Season 8, Chancellor Neighsay tries to close the School of Friendship believing, among a couple of valid arguments against it, that it will endanger ponykind by allowing non-pony students to attend. In the finale he ends up being right about the school endangering ponykind, but it's actually a pony student who enacts a scheme to take over the school and drain all of Equestria's magic while the group of non-pony students play a crucial role in saving the day. He has a Heel Realization over this and changes for the better.
  • In Young Justice, the eponymous team is worried there may be a mole among them. Batman suggests that Superboy might be the mole and himself be unaware of it because of his origins at Project CADMUS, turning him into an unwitting Manchurian Agent. His evidence is correct but his conclusion is wrong. Speedy/Red Arrow turns out to be the unsuspecting clone used by the Light as the mole, and CADMUS really did program a trigger phrase into Superboy, but it had nothing to do with this.

    Real Life 
  • This is why in formal logic, "fallacious arguments" are considered to be not synonymous with "false conclusions": see also Fallacy Fallacy.
  • During the plague epidemics of Europe from the 17th to the 18th century, plague doctors used a protective garment of thick waxed- or greased-fabric overcoat, gloves, leggings, boots and a head cover with a mask fitted with glass eyepieces and a beak filled with aromatic herbs to filter the air. People were convinced back then plague spread itself through contaminated air. As plague spread from rats to humans via fleas, the primitive gas mask of the beak was useless in this respect - but the all-enveloping thick clothing still kept fleas away from the body and the mask kept them away from the face, increasing slightly the chances for the plague doctor to escape unharmed. On the other hand, this costume was rarely cleaned so its voluptuous layers of cloth ensured that the doctors carried bodily fluids and other filth from wherever they had visited on their robes, making them inadvertently spread the plague wherever they went. The widespread superstition at the time that the visit of a doctor was a sign of impending death wasn't far off the mark.
    • Similarly, Nostradamus was a famous plague doctor, recommending what he called "the rose pill." Made from rose hips, it was rich in Vitamin C and, while it likely helped some (as C is an immune booster), it was his ideas about hygiene, fresh air, and removal of plague corpses that really helped.
  • Victorians believed malaria was caused by bad (mal) air. Missionaries in Africa wrote home about the primitive superstitions of the natives, who foolishly believed malaria was caused by evil swamp spirits. Both groups were wrong, but closing your windows at night and staying out of the swamp is a very effective way to avoid mosquitoes, which are the real vector of the disease. In a way, mosquitoes can be seen as evil swamp spirits, especially if there are many of them attacking you.
    • More than one ancient city mitigated their malaria problems by filling in their local wetlands. This wasn't because they knew what caused malaria, but that the seasonal nature of it and the fact that a high number of mosquitoes tended to presage outbreaks of it was not lost on them.
    • The bad air (or miasma) theory of disease led to attempts to stave off illness by burning incense. This proved very effective in protecting against mosquitoes, a major disease vector. The main concept of miasma theory (that disease is caused by unpleasant smells generated by corpses) is also one big example of this trope — the smell itself is not the cause of disease, but rather a byproduct of the bacteria attracted to the decaying tissue.
    • Florence Nightingale did a lot to improve sanitary conditions in hospitals. Although her work was based on miasma theory, better sanitation is better sanitation and death rates fell.
    • London's current sewer system was built because of cholera epidemics throughout the city in 1858. The logic was based off the flawed miasma theory, but the sewer system improved sanitation by discharging the sewage downstream of the city, effectively ending mass cholera epidemics in the city. Indeed, one final cholera epidemic in 1866, prior to the full completion of the sewer system, proved the real reason for the cholera outbreaks (cholera is a water-borne illness), but also validated the building of the sewer (the outbreak was limited to a portion of the city that hadn't yet been connected to the sewer).
  • Conservapedia founder Andrew Schlafly has started the "Conservative Bible Project", an attempt to remove what he perceives as "liberal bias" from the Bible (it is exactly as blasphemous as it sounds). One of the stories he has removed from his version is the adulteress story, on the grounds that it could be used as a justification to sleep around. Amusingly enough, he's actually right this time. This passage is currently believed by scholars not to have been in the original documents (albeit not for the same reasons Schlafly thinks)note .
  • Mongols believed that boiling water would appease the water spirits and keep them from cursing them with sickness. An amusing thought occurs that driving off germs wouldn't sound any less odd to people used to thinking about spirits but who never thought of germs. Sort of like Playing With Arbitrary Skepticism.
  • For hundreds if not thousands of years, popular wisdom dictated the person who happens to be in the path of a brown bear should lie down motionless and play dead, supposedly because bears avoid eating corpses. This is wrong: bears can and will eat carrion if hungry enough (and may actually prefer decaying meat) and can easily tell the difference between living and dead. What's actually happening is that the bear tries to examine the human and decide if they are dangerous and should be killed or not. The one who lies down, does not move, and does not fight back is usually left alone. Certain Native American tribes got closer to what's actually going on with the same technique that includes an apology to the bear often to the effect of "I did not mean to disturb you brother/sister."
  • Union General Sickles at Gettysburg, in a completely unsound tactical maneuver, scooted his unit forward after the first day of battle, leaving a gap in the Union line and leaving his force unsupported. Predictably, it was completely ravaged by the Confederate assault and quickly ceased to be an effective fighting force. However, its unexpected positioning out in the front of the main defense line threw off the (already problematic) timing of the CSA advance as several units took a much wider path to get around Sickles, or else used up time going through him.
  • The common explanation for not quoting the horsepower of Top Fuel and Funny Cars dragster engines is "they are too powerful for a dynamometer". In practice, there are marine dynamometers able to measure tens of thousands of horsepower. But a Top Fuel engine lacks a cooling system and other features can't run at maximum horsepower for more than 10 seconds, so it can't perform a full multi-minute dyno run, whatever dynamometer is used. So it's much more accurate to say they are "too powerful to last long enough for a dynamometer", which doesn't imply that the power ratings are off the scale, but sounds much less impressive.
  • The Titius-Bode Law was based on the distances of the known planets from the sun, though there was a gap between Mars and Jupiter. The discovery at Uranus at about the right distance was considered proof that the law was correct, and astronomers assumed there had to be something between Mars and Jupiter; so certain were they that the hypothetical planet was even given the name Phaeton and the astronomical community began searching in earnest. In 1801, Ceres was discovered at the predicted distance. In the next few decades, plenty more was found at that distance, and the whole thing was dubbed the Asteroid Belt. As for the Titius-Bode Law, it was thrown into doubt by the 1846 discovery of Neptune (which is nowhere near where it "should" be), confounded by the discovery of Pluto (which is where the law states Neptune should be), and pretty much discredited by the Kuiper Belt.
    • As for Pluto, it was discovered while searching for Planet X, which was considered to be causing disturbances in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. It was later determined that Neptune and Uranus's orbits weren't being disturbed at all — but the existence of Pluto was an established fact all the same.
    • Speaking of Pluto, an old theory of its origins that was discredited years before the Kuiper Belt was discovered was that it was a moon of Neptune that somehow escaped. This idea was based on the many similarities that Pluto shares with Triton, Neptune's largest moon. The reasoning was that the similarities between Pluto and Triton mean that the two share similar origins. And they do, but in reverse of the original theory: Triton was once an independent(or maybe part of a binary like Pluto and Charon) dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt before it was captured by Neptune.
  • Joseph McCarthy and his career reads almost like a deconstruction of the trope. He came to historical infamy by violently lashing out at "Communist Infiltration". He claimed to possess a list of "proven" infiltrators, and championed a drive to crush them. Most if not all his "evidence" was based on Blatant Lies and motivated by cynical political posturing (and maybe a sliver of good intentions). As it turned out, the Soviet Union did indeed control a vast network of spies throughout the West that did include local Communist Parties that were internally totalitarian and downright treasonous, and they combined did vast amounts of damage. Indeed, most rational people knew that the Soviets would've been idiots not to build such a network. The problem was that McCarthy jumped from the rational supposition that the Soviets were spying on the United States to the insane conclusion that everybody was a Soviet spy (especially anyone who tried to call him out on his claims and arguments). The resulting witch hunts basically broke the prestige and cohesion of those networks and probably gained the US the upper hand for the first decade or so of the Cold War. The kicker is that in doing so, they also inflamed hysteria and harmed many, many innocent people while McCarthy himself did not catch a single Communist agent and continued a series of hysterical accusations until he committed electoral suicide by taking on the US military in the shadow of the Second World War, the Korean War, the Elbe River Crisis, *and* the Berlin Airlift. Both Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower made similar, sarcastic jibes that McCarthy's hysterical methods made him "the best agent the Kremlin ever had" because of the way he made his cause look irrational. The Manchurian Candidate has an expy of McCarthy who really is a Soviet agent with exactly this mission to help the Communists obtain control of the US.
    • Documents smuggled out of Russia after the Cold War and officially released records indicate the Soviet Intelligence community shared the opinion of Truman and Eisenhower when it came to McCarthy.
  • Josef Stalin and the Soviet government during WWII had kept track of Hitler's visits near the front lines and had some good opportunities to assassinate him. Their reluctance to do so had been explained as Hitler was so incompetent that he was running his empire into the ground and they couldn't afford the risk to get him replaced by a better leader. This is not accurate, as even in the unlikely case he was truly incompetent, an empire and a military spanning 3 continents are not run by a single man, the Generals and government dignitaries were not going to die with him. Actually Stalin was extraordinary paranoid and distrusted literally every other nation leader - so he expected a different man running the Reich might, just might, draw a truce if not a full peace with Western Allies. As long as the Reich was led by their sworn enemy, Stalin could be safe the Allies were with him to the end.
  • Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model said in front of his staff officers "I sincerely believe that I have served a criminal. I led my soldiers in good conscience... but for a criminal government" just before shooting himself on April 21, 1945. While most people share the same opinion post-1945, the Generalfeldmarschall was actually talking of Germany's defeat and debacle as the last weeks of World War II unfolded - saw Hitler as a criminal for his people, not enemies.
  • Economist Adam Smith noted that sometimes merchants may end up benefiting the public good without ever actually intending to, simply by making the most efficient market decisions, therefore benefiting society in the long run. Smith did believe that often merchants would be fully aware of how their decisions benefit society, but his point was that even when they were unaware, and doing it only for the immediate money, it still ultimately benefited society to see market forces running efficiently.
  • The discovery of the Bystander Syndrome in psychology after the murder of Kitty Genovese. The popular story that people still know goes that thirty-eight people watched by and did nothing, not even call the police, as she was stabbed to death for half an hour in their yard. This prompted research into the psychological phenomena that could cause people to behave like that, which are still recognised as real. However, in this case, the story as it was was apparently nothing but lousy newspaper reporting, and the witnesses had in fact a) not been able to see what was really happening and b) called the police anyway.
  • Christopher Columbus wasn't the first person to realize that Earth was round; that's been known since 200 BC. He merely miscalculated its radius, and by dumb luck happened to get the circumference wrong by about the width of the Pacific Ocean, so when he ran into the Americas at about the "right" distance, he assumed he was in Asia. The actual reason that Columbus had difficulty getting funding for his expedition was that European intellectuals were aware of Earth's correct radius but weren't aware of the American continents, thus believing there was a single vast ocean that ships of the era couldn't possibly carry enough food and fresh water to reach.
    • Aristotle also argued that the Earth was round in On the Heavens (350 BC), a century and a half before Eratosthenes first calculated the Earth's radius. His reasoning was that there were elephants in Libya (i.e. North Africa west of Egypt) and also in India; and since there were no elephants in the Middle East, Africa and India ought to be connected on the other side. He was thus not just unaware that Africa is not connected to Asia by the West, but also that African and Asian elephants are different species, possibly that there were elephants in Africa south of the Sahara (or maybe, like other Greeks of his time, he believed that Ethiopia, the only part of Subsaharan Africa Greece had some vague knowledge about, was part of, or laid close to India), and that (Asian) elephants had actually lived once in the Middle East, but had been driven to local extinction around 500 BC. He was also presumably unaware that Africa and India were at one point connected in the east... when they were both part of the supercontinent Gondwana, which broke up 100 million years ago.
  • In the 17th century, there was a practice of publishing new discoveries with the letters scrambled, giving the writer time to get confirmation and the possibility establish priority in case of someone getting it in the meantime. Galileo sent two such letters to Johannes Kepler (one announcing his discovery that Saturn had ringsnote  and the other that Venus had phases like the moon). Kepler tried to decode these and came up with totally different sentences, one claiming that Mars had two moons, and the other claiming that Jupiter had a moving red spot. Both of those claims were absolutely right, but there was no way to know that for at least another century.
  • Science and medicine operate on the assumption that it reasons from ever incomplete premises, and newly discovered facts can prove it wrong in principle even when right in practice.
    • Some view Chiropractic and things such as Acupuncture and Acupressure to be this. They have been found to be nice pain relief methods of therapy, but not for the reasons their founder(s) and early practitioners thought.
  • After Europeans mapped Africa south of the Sahara and found North and South America, it became common wisdom that there was a sixth, unknown continent, that was dubbed "Terra Australis" or Land of the South. The reasoning was that the Earth needed to be balanced, so just like South America balanced North America and Africa balanced Europe, there had to be a southern continent the size of Asia to balance it. As we know today, there was indeed a sixth continental mass, Australia (whose name is in fact derived from Terra Australis), but even if we combine its surface with the rest of Oceania and the seventh continent, Antarctica, the result is still only half of Asia's landmass.
  • Anyone who believes horses are native to the Americas because the plains tribes had them. Domestic horses were introduced by Europeans and then adopted by the Native Americans. The domestic horse's wild ancestor, however, did evolve in North America and colonized Eurasia from there, but became extinct in North America at the end of the Pleistocene and was never domesticated in America as a result.
  • A commonly-heard slur against toy dogs in general, and Chihuahuas in particular, is the claim that they're more like rats than dogs. Take a close look at a Chihuahua and a rat side by side, and it's hard to spot a single characteristic they have in common that's not universal for all mammals. However, the way some Chihuahua-owners stereotypically handle their dogs, carrying them in handbags or held against their own bodies, is exactly how well-socialized pet rats, which crave close contact with their humans and enjoy the enclosed feeling of riding in a bag, prefer to be handled.
    The other oft-heard slur is that Chihuahuas are a modern mutant breed created by genetic experimentation to satisfy modern consumerism. While factually wrong, as the breed evolved independently of Old World breeds over centuries, they were selectively bred. This was the primitive way to achieve the needed genetic traits (in all domestic breeds of pets and farm animals).
  • The usual explanation for heatstrokes in tropical climates until the early 20th century was that solar rays cook the hapless guy's head - which drove people to invent the broad-brimmed sombreros, Stetson hats, Asian conical hats or pith helmets. In fact, heatstroke from mild to deadly forms can be triggered by any source of heat, from a hot boiler room to the depths of a mine. The protection given by the renowned pith helmet laid in keeping the heat away from the skull by its specific design (with ventilation holes, light weight and insulative material), protecting the face from sunburns due to the broad brim and the eyes from intense sunlight.
  • Nearly every culture that has developed a calendar has also developed some form of astrology. Western astrology sticks to the idea that the planets are responsible for things, and tries to adjust for new astronomical discoveries, while Eastern astrology long ago divorced itself from the concept of literal stars and instead speaks of energies and natural cycles, using stars as merely time-markers and metaphor. Either way, science has determined that birth month has a surprising influence on your prospects for mental and physical health with, for example, April being a peak month for autism while October is a peak month for respiratory illness. Both are predicted in most astrological systems, and science does not quite have a solid theory as to why yet, but odds are it has nothing to do with elemental energy or astronomical bodies without even gravitational influence on Earth.
    • The likely influencing factors are availability of food and sunlight over the preceding 40 weeks.
  • The tendency to refer to apes like gorillas and chimpanzees as monkeys. Because genetic testing has revealed that Old World monkeys like baboons and macaques are more closely related to the apes than they are to new New World monkeys like howlers or capuchins. Due to this, apes are now classified as a subgroup of monkeys and it's therefore scientifically accurate to refer to them as such. This includes humans, so all incidences of somebody being called a monkey are also technically correct.
  • The story goes that, as Stalin's father lay dying, he raved that somebody had to kill his son Joseph, because the kid was the devil incarnate and had to be stopped before he would unleash untold suffering upon the world. Considering that Stalin's father was horrifically abusive, Abusive Parents from religious backgrounds have been known to justify themselves by claiming that their children are literally demonic, and he was really, really drunk, it seems fairly unlikely that he would have had any inkling that his son would go on to become the horrifically-brutal dictator of the fledgling Soviet Union.
  • The famous Thompson submachine gun (Tommy gun) is designed around the Blish principle, a theory that dissimilar metals will form greater resistance until significant pressure is applied. Turns our the Blish principle doesn't really exist, but the gun's "Blish lock" ended up functioning as an excellent rate of fire reducer. This delayed the action enough to make the gun controllable and allows gas to leave the barrel rather than being vented into the shooter's face.
  • In 2015, an attention-getting study was done, showing that a simple, 10-minute conversation with a stranger who turned out to be gay could measurably change people's opinions on gay rights. It made quite a stir, until it was discovered that the grad student running the study apparently made up all the data, and the study was retracted. The same group that discovered this fraud did a study of their own, and found that the original conclusions were actually correct, if somewhat less dramatic than originally claimed, and for a different reason: the stranger didn't have to be gay, they just had to seem open-minded and "help" the interviewee come to the conclusion on their own (i.e. it's not empathy driving the change in opinion, it's people thinking they changed their minds on their own).
  • Ancient Greek doctors believed that ailments were caused by an imbalance in the body's fluids (of which they believed there were four kinds), and thus the best treatment for an abscess was to cut it open and drain the "excess" fluid. The imbalance idea was nonsense, but cutting and draining is still standard treatment for an abscess today.
  • Ancient alchemists associated each planet or heavenly body with a metal. For the most part, those associations proved to have no scientific basis with those bodies as we know them today (e.g. there isn't very much silver on the moon, and good luck trying to mine tin from Jupiter), but they did just so happen to get one metal-and-planet association right: there is an abundance of iron oxide on Mars, giving it its reddish color.
  • The first pseudo-attempt at building a chess-playing machine was a contraption called The Turk. Some people who watched it play concluded that there was a human chess master making moves inside the machine (which there was) because its occasional losses were not consistent with a machine's perfect performance. Due to the incredible complexity of the game, real computers that play chess are not perfect, and can be beaten regularly.
  • In Ancient Rome, the blood of a sacrificed animal would be added to concrete mixture. They believed this made it stronger. As it turns out, they were right. It wasn't due to divine favor, however - the blood aerated the concrete, making it more durable.
  • "A stopped watch is right twice a day." Taken figuratively, it means that even someone who is wrong all the time is bound to be right sometimes. Depending on the context, this can be implied to be either accidental or one is giving credit where it's due.
  • In 2008, a forum user predicted that the A Song of Ice and Fire character Hodor's name came from the phrase "Hold the door", which he repeated until he snapped, leaving "Hodor" the only thing he could say. In 2016, Game of Thrones would prove this theory right, but the origin of the phrase is wrong — the user claimed that it came from him constantly telling someone to hold the door for him, since he's always carrying someone else. The actual reason is far more poignant than that.
  • Leeches were believed to have medicinal use because they removed the bad blood from patients. Turns out they do have medicinal use as a cheap, disposable, painless, and sterile means of getting rid of blood clots and for bloodletting.
  • Andrewsarchus, an extinct Cenozoic mammal known only from a fossil skull, was believed to be part of an extinct group of wolflike ungulates, the mesonychids, which in turn were believed to be the last land ancestors, or close land relatives of whales. It was later found that whales are more related to hippos than mesonychids, and also that Andrewsarchus was not actually a mesonychid. However, it turned out that Andrewsarchus was a relative of hippos, and as a result, a land relative of whales, after all.
  • When studying dinosaur fossils from Mongolia for the first time, palentologists attributed a fossil nest to the most common dinosaur in the area, the vegetarian Protoceratops. Right above the nest there was a theropod skeleton that was interpreted as a nest raider surprised by a sandstorm while feeding on the eggs, and accordingly named Oviraptor ("Egg thief"). Later, it was discovered that similar nests contained embryos of Oviraptor rather than Protoceratops, revealing that the so-called thief was actually a dutiful parent who died while protecting its offspring from the elements. The poor Oviraptor became a posterchild of the unfairness of biological naming systems. But even later, another nest was discovered with both Oviraptor and either immature or embryonic troodontid dinosaurs inside. One possible explanation is that Oviraptor actually raided troodontid nests, bringing their chicks or eggs to its own nests to eat them comfortably there.
  • In the 18th century, the cure for scurvy was discovered in Britain to be lemons. They concluded this was because lemon juice is acidic, and the acid was basically burning the scurvy out. They had no idea that scurvy is actually a deficiency of vitamin C, which is rich in lemons and other fruits but poor in the usual diets on long voyages. This eventually resulted in the cure being "lost" in the 19th century when it was proven that acidic juice wasn't the cure — because the Royal Navy switched to the cheaper limes, which were just as sour but saw expeditions end in scurvy anyway. This was actually because limes are much poorer in vitamin C than lemons, but the change wasn't noticed, as it happened during a period when ship voyages had shortened considerably due to steam power and therefore scurvy cases had become far rarer. It wasn't until vitamins were discovered in the early 20th century that those old remedies were validated.
  • Alfred Wegener coined the theory of continental drift, but was largely laughed out as a crackpot because he claimed it was because of the earth's centrifugal force (and on top of that, he way overshot on how fast it occurred). Geologists of the time correctly surmised that centrifugal force was far, far too weak to push around continents, and nobody at the time had any knowledge of plate tectonics.
  • Ignaz Semmelweiss, a pioneer of antiseptic theories, correctly realized that disinfectant was vital for doctors, and attempted to push for mandatory hand-washing, especially after autopsies. However, his theories were largely rejected because he guessed this was because bodies were covered in "cadaverous material" and that dead bodies were somehow poisonous. Germ theory had yet to be discovered, and so most doctors dismissed his ideas, or even saw them as insulting. This is a case where he didn't so much reach the conclusion through bad methods as he did stumble across it in testing and then had to try to come up with a reason after the fact - he knew he was right, he just didn't know why.
  • The gateway drug theory. Sort of. The original theory posited that the vast majority of hard drug users started with marijuana. It turns out they did, but there are some very obvious reasons for that other than marijuana's nature. Simply put, most hard drug users had also first indulged in alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, because those substances are more readily available and easier to obtain. You can probably see the problem. However, it turns out marijuana really was driving users to try harder drugs, but for very different reasons. First, when potential druggies were told drugs are bad, and then tried marijuana with minimal negative consequences, it gave them the confidence to try harder illegal drugs. Second, being able to get your hands on marijuana usually meant you were interacting with someone in possession of harder drugs (after all, they're both illegal). And finally, drug dealers like to spike marijuana with harder drugs to get people hooked. In effect, marijuana is a gateway drug, but only because it's illegal and unregulated--in part for being a gateway drug.
  • It's believed that this waylaid Samuel Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy. His actual science was complete quackery, but it turned out he was right about them being more effective than the methods of the era. Patients under him tended to survive because it was much better (or at least, less blatantly harmful) to have someone drink lots of water with a few molecules of something poisonous in it and then take a rest, than to stick them with leeches or cut off their limbs. It wasn't so much that he was correct as it was that his methods weren't worse than nothing.