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Russian Reversal

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Русская инверсия для чайников!

"In America, there's plenty of light beer and you can always find a party!
In Russia, the Party always finds you."
Yakov Smirnoff, Miller Lite Commercial, 1985

In Soviet Russia, Russian Reversal Describes You.

The Russian Reversal, more technically called an antimetabole, is a type of joke popularized by Ukrainian comedian Yakov Smirnoff. It is based on taking a statement about capitalist United States and inverting it to describe the then-communist Russia as a dystopian hellhole. Smirnoff later added the prefix "Soviet" to indicate the jokes were meant to target the past regime, as opposed to The New Russia. For instance:

"In America, you watch Television.
"In Soviet Russia, television watches YOU!!"

The political undertone of Smirnoff's original jokes tends to be conspicuously missing from the imitations, leaving the joke as just "it's funny when things are opposite".

At its most basic, the Russian Reversal takes a situation where a noun normally does something to another noun, and flips it in dialogue to where the second noun acts on the first. For instance, a murder mystery that had a butler as the Body of the Week could be described in a Quip to Black as "It Did the Butler" or the equivalent instead of "The Butler Did It."

This trope may also have a linguistic basis, as Russian uses Object-Verb-Subject word order for unusual situations.

Can cause an Inverted Trope rather easily, if the starting trope can be described as "X verbs Y." If in this instance, "Y verbs X," it is both this trope and an inversion of the other trope.

It's also the source of many trope names:

    Russian Reversals with a Trope Name 
See also Glorious Mother Russia for the Hollywood Atlas version of Soviet Russia that inspired the jokes, and Spoonerism for the same thing done on a smaller scale with syllables within a single word. Not to be confused with The Backwards Я. Compare Just the Introduction to the Opposites, when the context remains the same even when roles are swapped.

In Soviet Russia, in-universe examples list you!

    open/close all folders 
    Advertising advertises you! 
  • A while back there was an anti-smoking ad campaign proclaiming "Tobacco smokes you!"
  • A "No Talking or Phones" Warning was based on the idea of not interrupting the movie because "movies don't interrupt you," and showing people whose lives were being interrupted by movie characters.
  • A vodka ad stated that for years Russia had only one Party. "Now there's one every night."
  • A 1995 advert for the candy Daim bar, made from crunchy almond caramel covered in milk chocolate that is "smooth on the outside, crunchy on the inside", had a character state he preferred to eat armadillos as they are "crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside".
  • The Most Interesting Man in the World has several "facts" about him using this trope.
    Sharks have a week dedicated to him.
    When he went to Rome, the Romans did as he did.
    His mother has a tattoo that says "Son".

    Anime & Manga animates you! 
  • In Fairy Tail, when Elfman grows tired of Natsu's ever-lasting motion sickness.
    Elfman: Vehicles shouldn't make a man sick. A man should make vehicles sick.
  • Haré+Guu: According to Haré, some RPG are so linear that it feels as if not you're playing the character, but the character is playing you.
  • One of Team Rocket's motto openings, from the Pokémon the Series: XY: Kalos Quest episode "A Not-So-Flying Start!":
    Ash: I know that balloon!
    Jessie: Prepare for trouble, the balloon knows you!
    James: And make it double, it's silly but true!
  • Farnese nearly becomes the victim of a horrific variant in Berserk when she orders the horse Guts kidnapped her on to let her mount it so she can escape, only to find out that it's been possessed by one of the demons after Guts and intends to "mount" HER instead. She is only saved when Guts flashbacks to a certain horrific moment from the Eclipse, goes berserk and kills the horse.
  • In Jujutsu Kaisen, Geto uses this in a question to his former best friend:
    "Are you the strongest because you're Satoru Gojo? Or are you Satoru Gojo because you're the strongest?"
  • In the Osomatsu-san episode "An Anecdote with Horses", one of the segments has five of the sextuplets use a Horse of a Different Color to compete in a race, with Choromatsu shooting their attempts down. Trying to be clever, Osomatsu shows up with an actual horse... er, "riding" him, as it were.

    Comedy laughs at you! 
  • The Trope Namer is Yakov Smirnoff, who made jokes about how the U.S.S.R. had a Big Brother Is Watching regime. It's also a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty!; his most famous line was simply "In Russia...", not "In Soviet Russia..."note  He shifted his comedy after starting his theater in Branson back in 1992 (where he is still playing), which means he quit using this joke long before it became an internet meme.
  • In Soviet Russia, the war begins you!
  • In Port Coquitlam, pork eats you!
  • Subverted by writer Emil Vrabie: "Don't you know the difference between the two economic systems? Under capitalism man exploits man. But, under communism, it's just the other way around."
  • Several stricter or looser, but genuinely Soviet cases occur in Radio Yerevan routines, for example:
    Listener: Why do you never speak critically of socialism?
    Radio Yerevan: Because we prefer white bread by the Black Sea to black bread by the White Sea.note 
  • During his stand-up comedy days, Woody Allen used to tell a joke about his carrying a bullet in his breast pocket; once someone threw a Bible at him and the bullet saved his life.
  • In a federal society, it's your vote that counts. In a feudal society, it's your Count that votes.
  • An old one liner from a stand up routine: Our house is so messy, the cockroaches tried to have us exterminated.
  • With all the "Soviet Russia" jokes, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would reciprocate with a "Capitalist America" joke:
    "In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In capitalist America, bank robs you."
    "In Soviet Russia, government controls corporations. In capitalist America, corporations control government."
  • Ralphie May argues against the border wall between Mexico and the United States by saying that the Mexicans who were around when the US won Mexico's territory were never quite given notice that they didn't belong there anymore - in other words, they were already there when the northernmost regions of Mexico became the US. As a result, they didn't cross the border - "the border crossed them."
  • What's the difference between Mick Jagger and a Scottish shepherd? Jagger says: "Hey you, get off of my cloud!" The shepherd says: "Hey MacLeod, get off of my ewe!"
  • Any number of jokes about supporting the right to arm bears (as opposed to the right to bear arms). [1]
  • A king got overthrown because his subjects didn't like his laws on hunting. The reign was cancelled on account of game.
  • Jerry Seinfeld has a bit on the effectiveness of wearing a helmet while skydiving:
    If you jump out of a plane at ten thousand feet and your parachute doesn't open, the helmet is now wearing you for protection.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't get vaccinated for COVID. COVID gets vaccinated for Chuck Norris.

    Comic Books punches you! 
  • This is Bizarro's entire shtick - he does the opposite of what Superman does, due to belief in Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad.
  • Deadpool is not alone in the multiverse, there are several others, of all types and kinds. Lady Deadpool, Dogpool, Kidpool, Iron Pool, Captain Poolmerica, whatever. And one of them is... PANDAPOOL! The species that endangers YOU!
  • In Marvel Adventures: The Avengers, Storm, Bruce Banner and Wolverine infiltrate a weapon-manufacting plant controlled by Ultron. Storm tells the other to leave while she'll destroy all the equipment in the room. An Ultron drone quips to her that "Your last statement is factually inverse".
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has the Scavengers, a group of ex-Decepticons summed up thusly:
    Crankcase: We have adventures! We do stuff!
    Krok: No, Crankcase. Stuff does us.
  • From Watchmen, a Played for Drama example when Rorshach dumps a pot of bubbling-hot fry fat over a fellow inmate's head when the man tries to pick a fight with him in the chow line, mortally wounding his would-be attacker:
    Rorshach: None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with ME.

    Comic Strips punches you! 
  • Alice from Dilbert gives us, "He's so slimy, slugs pour salt on HIM!"

    Fan Works made you! 
  • The Stargate SG-1 fanfiction "Hero of the Soviet Union" spends several pages detailing the operation of a Soviet-run SGC, all to set up the punchline when a KGB major mocks a captured Goa'uld: "In Soviet Russia, Gods bow to you!"
  • From the Hetalia: Axis Powers fic "It's a small world after all": the characters get kidnapped by fangirls. Russia responds "In Russia, fangirls don't kidnap chibis, chibis kidnap them, da?"
  • ''Ambition,'' a short Harry Potter fic by Rorschach's Blot, references the Watchmen line above. The speaker, in this case, is Harry himself. A pack of Ravenclaws lived to regret it.
  • In Reality Is Fluid Benjamin Sisko mildly chides Eleya for her derisive attitude towards the Bajoran prophecies.*
    Sisko: You may not put much stock in the prophecies but the prophecies put stock in you.
  • The Wrong Reflection has a chapter titled "Storm Before the Calm" rather than "Calm Before the Storm".
  • In Keibatsu by brown phantom, the Suna ninjas' attitude towards Gaara is described by the following Russian Reversal:
    [...] in Suna you don't go looking for Gaara. Gaara goes looking for you. And if he does, you just pray he finds someone else first.
  • Top Dog:
    Harry Johnson: [N]o plan ever survives contact with the enemy, as the saying goes. Well, no enemy is going to survive contact with this plan.
  • The War of the Masters: One incident had an upper-class Earth woman (an admiral's wife) be introduced to a Denali officer. The Denali mentions God while greeting her, and the woman comments, "We don't believe in God on Earth in the 25th century." The Denali cheerfully replies, "That's okay, He believes in you."
  • From Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series episode 52, Kaiba is dueling the villain Lecter, who's just completed a plan to render most of Kaiba's deck useless. He gloats to Kaiba (the Trope Namer for Screw the Rules, I Have Money!) that "it looks like the rules just screwed you!", to which Kaiba mutters that the taunt doesn't really work.
  • In this video spoofing the The Most Interesting Man in the World ad campaign with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash is described in the following way: "Her childhood fantasies dreamt about being her when they grow up".
  • When the Big Bad of Loved and Lost is eaten alive by the Changelings, the narration states that they "had a meal fit for a king, or a king fit for a meal".
  • The first Knud in Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark described his tendency to have monks raise his (illegitimate) offspring by saying 'I send all my problems to the church'. A few generations later, Marguerite Knytling calls The Inquisition in and remarks that she's sending the church at her problems.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: In Alola, Trainers and Pokemon will perform their Z-Move with the trainer holding the Z-Ring and Z-Crystal and the Pokemon holding a Z-Crystal and performing the Z-Move. In her rematch against Tapu Koko, Yang has her Combusken Lux and her Hakamo-o Sabra holding the Z-Ring and Z-Crystal, while the Huntress uses the Z-Move Inferno Overdrive.
  • In Harry and the Shipgirls, The Boogeyman, having previously attempted to eat Harry Potter, decides to try his luck with his adopted little sister...who happens to be Hoppou, the Northern Ocean Princess. Hoppou's response is to eat the Boogeyman instead.
  • Anything for Family: While the Twinkling Flowers are in the dangerous woods, Cure Bloom comments that here, you don't eat your vegetables; the vegetables eat you.
  • Jace Beleren Must Die: Rhode's sister Triska, despite Rhode's efforts, gets increasingly drawn into the plot as she encounters both the player characters and the shady conspirators embedded in the Senate. This includes getting attacked by each group, which only makes her more convinced something is happening. When she confronts Rhode, she tells her that she's been following the leads, "and sometimes the leads follow me".
  • Daylight Burning: When a character named Cinnamon Oatmeal questions the sanity of a plan proposed by another character, Pinkie cracks a joke about how "In Soviet Equestria, Oatmeal asks if you're crazy." Another character, not getting the joke, asks her in surprise if she's ever been to Stalliongrad.
  • The comments in Great Grand-Uncle Schimmelhorn's Toolbox joke that Taylor caused Queen Administrator to Trigger when she taught QA how to look Beneath with a device she made and gifted to Queen Administrator.
    So... one being (Taylor) looked into the brain of a different being (Queen Administrator) and determined that said being was going through a sufficient crisis (not knowing how to look Beneath and also it’s entire existence) that she should use powers her friend couldn’t understand to implant something beyond its comprehension in said brain, thereby giving it new, strange powers, a crisis of faith, and a paradigm shift, to the point where someone who knew Queen Administrator before this (Scion) might think it was being mentally manipulated. In other words, Taylor made her power trigger.
  • Honestly, Headmaster: "While the food was eating the Death Eaters..."

    Films — Animation watches and animates you! 
  • In The Boss Baby, the Boss Baby tells Tim that "Either you run the day, or the day runs you."
  • Shrek has a serious example, when Donkey asks Shrek what his problem with the whole world is, and Shrek says "Look, I'm not the one with the problem, okay? It's the world that seems to have a problem with me!"
  • In The Lion King (1994), the hyenas comment on Simba being a king fit for a meal.
  • The Transformers: The Movie: When the Decepticons attack Autobot City, Kupp and Hotrod get caught outside. Kupp says that the Deceptions are in their way, but Hotrod contradicts him by saying that the Decepticons are their way in and drives through a hole that the Insecticons have made in Autobot City's outer wall.

    Films — Live-Action watches you! 
  • Congo used as its Tag Line "where you are the endangered species" courtesy of an ancient Killer Gorilla tribe.
  • One of the first examples, and a contemporary with Yakov Smirnoff's standup comedy, comes from the movie Spaceballs, when the henchman of galactic gangster "Pizza the Hutt" warns Lone Starr about what will happen if he and Barf don't pay a million spacebucks:
    "...or else Pizza is gonna send out for you!"
  • Heist (2001) has this particular gem:
    Jimmy: So, is he going to be cool?
    Pinky: My motherfucker is so cool, when he goes to bed, sheep count him.
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jay imagines a Planet of the Apes-style dystopian world where "we will not spank the monkey; the monkey will spank us!"
  • In Van Helsing, Igor says this, when the hot female ally and the Q of the hero try to force Igor into giving them the Werewolf antidote:
    "You try to get Igor. Igor get you!"
  • The Big Lebowski: "Sometimes you eat the b'ar and sometimes the b'ar, well, he eats you."
  • The 4th theme of the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol soundtrack is named "In Russia, phone dials you".
  • In Tropic Thunder:
    Kirk Lazarus: I don't read the script. The script reads me.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park has this exchange:
    Nick: Hammond's cheque cleared or I wouldn't be going on this wild goose chase.
    Ian: Ah, where you're going is the only place in the world where the geese chase you!
  • Malcolm X has the memetic line, "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock! Plymouth Rock landed on us!'''
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights spoofs Malcolm X with the line: "We didn't land in Sherwood Forest! Sherwood Forest landed on us!"
  • Something to Talk About:
    Emma Rae King: I got to see a horse about a man.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has the following exchange after Quatermain and Sawyer capture Mr. Hyde:
    Skinner: Hullo, Dorian. The great white hunter's bagged his prize.
    (One of Captain Nemo's redshirts goes flying across the corridor in front of them.)
    Dorian: Or the prize bagged him.
  • Played with in the The Crow (1994)
    Cop: (pointing gun at title character) You move and you're dead!
    Crow: I am dead, and yet I move!
  • This Bond One-Liner from Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill (borrowed from the novel Live and Let Die), after feeding Felix Leiter to a shark:
    "He disagreed with something that ate him."
  • Arc Words from V for Vendetta: "People shouldn't be afraid of their government, governments should be afraid of their people."
  • Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): "You want him, you have to go through us! Or more accurately, we go through you!"
  • Machete: "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us!"
  • This example, from Love at First Bite:
    Renfield: You have 30 seconds to tell me where Miss Sondheim is, or...
    (Opens his lunch pail)
    Cindy's Modeling Agent: Or what? You'll eat your lunch in my office?
    Renfield: No, my lunch will eat you.
    (Snake comes out)
  • Mr. Nobody: One timeline has Nemo seeing a fish outside the window while he's Trapped in a Sinking Car and musing: "I always liked fish. I never thought that one day they would like me too".
  • Older than You Think: In the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup, Rufus T. Firefly tells dancer Vera Marquette, "Why, I could dance with you 'til the cows come home! On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows 'til you come home!"
  • Land of the Blind: Joe acidly remarks to Thorne: "Under the old regime, man exploited man, but since the revolution it's the other way around."
  • Star Trek Beyond: Actually a plot point: Uhura's Cunning Linguist ears are able to recognize the similarity in Krall's line to a recording of USS Franklin's missing CO, Captain Balthazar Edison, cluing her in that they're the same person.
    Krall: The Federation has pushed the frontier for centuries. But no longer. This is where it begins, Lieutenant [Uhura]. This is where the frontier pushes back.
  • Deadpool: Ajax turns it into a threat.
    Ajax/Francis: I hear you grow back body parts now, Wade... when I'm finished, parts will have to grow back you!
    Deadpool: Good one. (beat, then faces audience) Yep, that's a good one.
  • Mystery Men: Mr. Furious tries to point out to his team that The Sphinx's "wisdom" consists entirely of doing this (e.g. "learn to hide your strikes from your opponent, and you will more easily strike his hide.").
    The Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage...
    Mr. Furious: ...your rage will become your master? That's what you were going to say. Right?
    The Sphinx: Not necessarily.
  • Too Big to Fail: When discussing the various big banks and their CEOs, Treasury Secretary Paulson quips
    ”Vikram Pandit is the head of Citigroup. We don’t know if he is running Citi, or if Citi is running him.”

    Literature writes you! 
  • Friedrich Nietzsche: "If you gaze for long enough into the abyss, the abyss gazes back [into you]."
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, we get "One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship." from O'Brein.
  • From Ye Gods! by Tom Holt:
    When Jason opened his eyes, all he could see was a perfectly ordinary Underground carriage, and Virgil sitting on one of the seats, meditatively stirring a large pile of ash and charred bones. Jason winced.
    "Let me guess," he said, "this is a No Smoking carriage."
    "On the contrary," Virgil replied. "Only here, the train smokes the people."
  • MAD:
    • In an 1962 issue: "Russian politics can best be understood by comparing them with American politics. For instance, in America, politicians have to kiss babies, and if they don't, the mothers can take their offices away from them. In Russia, the system is somewhat different. To get food, mothers have to kiss politicians and if they don't, the politicians can take their babies away from them."
    • "When you're down and out, you wait in line at the clinic. When you're just getting by, you wait in line to see your family doctor. When you're making it, you're put first in line to see your family doctor. When you're on top of the heap, your family doctor waits in line to see you."
  • Subverted in the philosophy book Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, when describing the difference between capitalism and communism.
    Under capitalism, man exploits his fellow man. Under communism, the opposite is true.
    • This is a pretty common joke in the old Eastern Bloc. It's also been used as an East German "Fritzchen" joke, although it's been told as a Russian/Soviet "Vovochka" joke, as well.
    • Mike Myers parodies this on a behind-the-scenes feature on the DVD for The Cat In The Hat, combining it with a running joke. "Under capitalism, man exploits his fellow man. Under communism, it's the complete opposite. *pause* Because of the sand which is there."
  • City of Thieves mentions this:
    "We couldn't feed our pets, so our pets fed us."
  • In Mid-Flinx, Teal warns Aimee about the flower in her hair: "You do not wear the cristif, the cristif wears you." Unfortunately for Aimee, Teal's not making a Yakov Smirnoff reference: The "flower" is an invasive parasite, which sends its tendrils fatally bursting from Aimee's flesh seconds later.
  • In nonfiction text The Steampunk Bible, a troper is quoted about whether the Steampunk movement has jumped the shark:
    Jess Gulbranson: In alternate timeline Czarist Russia, clockwork shark jumps you.
  • In Mark Coggins' novel Candy from Strangers, Private Detective August Riordan is talking to a disdainful police detective.
    Det. Calhoun: Do you have a problem with authority, Mr. Riordan?
    August: Not really. It may be that authority occasionally has a problem with me.
  • In How to Survive a Horror Movie, discussing the Haunted House trope: You don't gut the interior, the interior guts you.
  • Common in Unsong because the viewpoint character likes them. He uses the original "party finds you" one when describing a plan to find the eponymous Secret Police force's hidden base by using a copyrighted name then tailing whoever comes to investigate. He also coins several new ones, such as "In Soviet Russia, drugs get addicted to you." to describe the situation of an Eldritch Abomination that can only possess people while they are high.
  • In R Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse the Skin Eaters' Banter suggests that in Zeüm the beggars give you money.
  • In one of the short stories for the The First Law books, Jolly Yon asks Whirrun of Bligh if he ever sharpens the Father of Swords. Whirrun replies, "It sharpens me."
  • In Piglet to the Rescue, a Winnie the Pooh book from the Disney's Pooh and Friends picture book series, Piglet is upset about being small after being blown away in the wind on his kite. When he's back on the ground, he throws a fit and says that he's so small, he can't even fly a kite. Pooh comments that he was just flying one and he replies "No, the kite was flying me."
  • Older Than They Think: The World Turned Upside Down or The Folly of Man, Exemplified in Twelve Comical Relations Upon Uncommon Subjects is an eighteenth-century chapbook (available online here) that uses non-sequitur reversals to satirize the then-current group of political revolutions. The illustrations show such reversals as children raising parents, chickens roasting people, horses riding people, and fish catching people.
  • In one of his SF essays, Stanisław Lem discussed how to get instant SF ideas by noun reversal (OK, so it's not noun-verb, but that would work either). Protip: It's only that easy if you are Stanislaw Lem.
  • E. Nesbit’s Fairy Tale short story “Melisande” hinges on one of these, in which a princess is cured of a crippling case of supernatural Rapid Hair Growth by a prince who winds her hair around a suspended hook and cuts her down as she hangs from it. When asked why this worked, he responds, “You have always cut the hair off the Princess. I just cut the Princess off the hair.” His Insane Troll Logic comes back to bite him when his solution causes the princess herself to grow as quickly as her hair did until she becomes a giant; when she cuts her hair off her head again, she returns to normal size, but the hair grows at the rate it did before. The problem is finally solved by weighing the princess and her hair equally in a large set of scales and cutting the hair in the middle so that neither side knows which to grow.
  • The Corellian Trilogy: In a scene from Showdown At Centerpoint, Han tells Dracmus that he's tired of waiting. Dracmus responds that "Waiting is not yet tired of you."
  • Discworld
    • In The Truth, the beggars are discussing a plan to rescue some dogs that have been thrown over a bridge by Pin and Tulip, and one of them says he used to mess about in boats. Another, being realistic about the consistency of the river Ankh, replies that they would actually "boat about in mess."
    • In A Hat Full of Sky, Hiver!Tiffany tells her broomstick "I am not going to learn you, you are going to learn me", then says that or else, the next lesson would involve an axe. Its days of aerial acrobatics were over after that.
  • T. S. Eliot's "Choruses" has "Has the Church failed mankind, or has mankind failed the Church?" [2]
  • In The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster!, the Pigeon states that the question is not will he be ready for the roller coaster but rather will it be ready for him.

    Live-Action TV watches you! 
  • The compare-one-country-to-another form is Older Than They Think, first appearing on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In where Arte Johnson's ambiguously Eastern European character Rosmenko simply refers to "Old Country."
    "Here in America, is very good, everyone watch television. In Old Country, television watches you!"
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a Yakov Smirnoff knockoff saying: "In your country, you watch movie The Rock. In my country, we break rock in Gulag!"
  • Used in Grimm. As the Blutbad (werewolf) Monroe explains to Nick, the Grimm, while human children are told stories of all the different monsters who make up the Wesen world who will come to get them if they are bad, Wesen children are told the same kind of stories about the Grimms.
  • The Tom Baker era Doctor Who arc "The Seeds of Doom" featured a plant-monster called a Krynoid. At one point the Doctor observes, "Well, on most planets, the animals eat the vegetation. On planets where the Krynoid gets established, the vegetation eats the animals."
    • A particularly memorable example in Parting of The Ways: "I looked into the TARDIS, and the TARDIS looked into me."
  • Since it was the Cold War, no Soviet reference is made, but the original intro of I Dream of Jeannie ends with "...and there in this house, the girl in the bottle plays spin the astronaut."
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Gamekeeper," SG-1's Planet of the Week has a deserted but apparently well-tended garden, and an overgrown greenhouse in the center of it.
    Daniel: I love what they've done with the place.
    Jack: (seeing several people plugged into chairs in suspended animation) I love what the place has done with them.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, when Leonard and Sheldon argue in the episode "The Staircase Implementation":
    Leonard: Aw, screw the roommate agreement!
    Sheldon: No, you don't screw the roommate agreement, the roommate agreement screws you!
  • In Deadwood, after someone says "Fuck the future," the county commissioner replies, "You can't fuck the future, sir, the future fucks you."
  • In Firefly, when River starts "correcting" the scientific inaccuracies in Book's bible, Book gently tells her, "You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you."
  • "The Van Buren Boys," Seinfeld. "I had a dream last night that a hamburger was eating me!" says Jerry.
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch, "Pothead Theater", had the writers going to a marijuana festival and interviewing the attendees for what kind of cartoons they wanted to see. All of the suggestions were this trope (nature exploiting people, a dog walking a person, ketchup getting people out of a bottle) followed by the cartoon in question and the attendee laughing like they're stoned. The last one suggests television watching people...which looks exactly like people watching television. The attendee doesn't laugh, but just acts confused.
  • The Good Place, "Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent": When Jason says he's gonna order the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity in IHOP of the Neutral zone, Michael warns him that in their realm, IHOP stands for "Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes". You don't really eat these pancakes. It's more like they eat you.
  • The Investigation Discovery show "Murder Chose Me" combines this with a Title Drop in the intro:
    Rod Demery: I didn't choose murder. Murder chose me.
  • On GLOW, Ruth is inspired to create her Zoya the Destroya persona after Gregory the Russian American hotel manager tells her that "In Russia, television watches you."
  • When Arrested Development introduces Rita, she mentions getting back to the school. Michael replies "You teach kids?" She responds "It's more like they teach me." It turns out they do teach her at the school. A later episode reveals she's mentally challenged.
  • The Birthday Episode of Committed has the Clown perform a trick for Marnie at her birthday party.
    Marnie: It's like a clown tradition. They do a trick for you on your birthday. Last year, he pulled a hat out of a rabbit.
    Nathan: Don't you mean...
    Marnie: No, I said that right.
  • Barney Miller: In "Ms. Cop", Yemana, the Japanese detective, tells a joke. Why was the Japanese thermometer factory forced to close? "They found some swordfish in the mercury."
  • Qi: In the N series episode "Nonsense", Sandi Toksvig asks the panelists to provide meaningless statements that sound profound. Alan Davies rattles off a few, pointing out that by making statements that are completely reversible you can sound wise while saying absolute nonsense:
    Alan Davies: You can't jump without landing. Equally, you can't land without jumping.
    Holly Walsh: This is definitely the sort of thing we should be smoking weed to. Honestly, you would be a weed guru with this stuff.
    Alan: You can say things like, a dry man is not swimming.
    Holly That is so messed up, man.
    Alan Also, a swimming man is never dry.
    Phil Jupitus: There's a geezer with a sticker factory in Kettering now, he's writing all this down. "This is gold!"

    Music listens you! 
  • of Montreal has a song titled The Party's Crashing Us.
  • A line in the Muse song "Knights of Cydonia" goes, "Don't waste your time or time will waste you".
  • From Broken Social Scene's "7/4 (Shoreline)": "If you try to steal the beat, the beat will steal you."
  • Queens of the Stone Age's "Someone's In The Wolf" has the line "You don't find your way, the way finds you."
  • Halestorm's "Daughters of Darkness": "We can turn you on / Or we can turn on you"
  • Nightwish's "Storytime" references a "tale that reads you" multiple times (it's one of the lines in the chorus and second verse)
  • From Smash Mouth's Walkin' On The Sun: "Put away the crack before the crack puts you away."
  • George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic's "Funkentelechy": "Mind your wants 'cause there's someone that want your mind."
  • Marilyn Manson’s “I Don’t Like the Drugs But the Drugs Like Me”
  • Mark Lowry's "Mary Did You Know?": "This child that you've delivered / Will soon deliver you"
  • Taylor Swift says in her song "Endgame": "I swear I don't love the drama, it loves me."
    • From her song "Long Story Short": "I tried to pick my battles 'til the battle picked me."
  • Train's "Wonder What You're Doing For The Rest Of Your Life" has the repeated line "That Big Apple took a bite out of me".
  • The Mack David & Duke Ellington song "Don't You Know I Care" both opens and closes with the lines "Don't you know I care / or don't you care to know?" Also somewhere in the middle there are the lines "Will you break my heart / or give my heart a break?"

    Podcasts podcasts you! 
  • Used in the RiffTrax of Spider-Man 3 when Spidey nearly gets hit by a subway car: "In Soviet Russia train misses you!"

    Puppet Shows put a hand in you! 
  • In "Welcome to Woodland Valley, Part 1" from Bear in the Big Blue House, Jack the dog talks about having a dream in which fire hydrants were chasing him.
  • The Muppet Show: During a Misery Poker session with guest start Phyllis Diller, Rowlf says his fleas bought dog collars to keep him away.

    Radio listens to you! 
  • Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me had Yakov Smirnoff himself call in to give the answer in "Bluff the Listener" on the 02/11/17 show, prompting this comment from Peter Sagal:
    "That was, yes, comedian Yakov Smirnoff talking about Soviet jokes. Remember, in Soviet Russia, listener bluffs you."
  • The Stinger to one episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme was "For more information about the BBC website, just listen to BBC radio. We bang on about it constantly." — both a reversal of, and a reference to, continuity announcers always saying "For more information about BBC radio..."

    Tabletop Games plays you! 
  • One collection of epic monsters for Dungeons & Dragons introduces the junkyard golem with the line, "On the world of the Sklavadok, the trash takes you out!"

    Theater plays you! 
  • The title song of Anything Goes (1934), making this trope Older Than Television:
    Times have changed
    And we've often rewound the clock
    Since the Puritans got a shock
    When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
    If today any shock they should try to stem
    'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock
    Plymouth Rock would land on them.
  • In the musical Leave It to Me! (1938), set largely in Soviet Russia, journalist Buck Thomas is handed a telegram by a messenger. He reaches in his pocket for a tip, but the messenger tells him:
    Graustein: No tipping. In Soviet Russia, messenger tips you.
    Thomas: Propaganda.
    Graustein: Correct.
  • In "Monica" from I Love My Wife, the effects the eponymous girl has on people include "Men go ape/Apes go man."
  • The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples even applies to this one: in Richard II the title character, reflecting on his reign, laments that "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."
  • City of Angels has this in the Private Eye Monologue for the scene where Stone returns home after his unsuccessful dame-hunt:
    "The one advantage to living alone was you never had to lie to anyone about what a great day you'd had. Looking for Mallory Kingsley was about as refreshing as a quick dip in a cesspool. And just as rewarding. For now, it was time to hit the sack."
    (After a sudden movement under the bedsheet:)
    "Living in earthquake country, sometimes the sack hits you."
    (He draws his gun, whips the sheet aside to reveal a naked, cheerful Mallory Kingsley)
  • In Wicked, after the Wizard declares Elphaba to be an enemy of Oz, Glinda tells her, "Don't be afraid." Elphaba answers, "I'm not. It's the Wizard who should be afraid of me."
  • When the Marx Brothers were still performing their stage show The Cocoanuts (a precursor to the movie of the same name), Harpo decided to throw brother Groucho a curveball by chasing a screaming chorus girl across the stage in the middle of one of Groucho's scenes, honking his trademark horn the whole way. He had, however, underestimated Groucho, who improvised a one-liner on the spot: "First time I ever saw a taxi hail a passenger."
  • In Le Bossu by Paul Féval'': "If you will not go to Lagardere, Lagardere will come to you!"

    Video Games plays you! 
  • BioShock has this trope between two ghosts the player encounters:
    Ghost 1: Fuck Fontaine!
    Ghost 2: You don't fuck Fontaine. Fontaine fucks you!
  • From Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night:
    Marisa: Move and I'll shoot! ... I messed up. I mean, shoot and I'll move. In a flash.
  • In World of Warcraft, when you attack a monster named Lurk, he says "In Nagrand, food hunt ogre!"
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, as part of the symbolism the game is steeped in there are three agents associated with the Virtuous Mission: Snake, and two spies codenamed Adam and Eve. By Word of God this a Stealth Pun Russian Reversal: it is not Snake who tempts Eve; rather, Eve tempts him.
  • In Mario Gives Up, the Optional Boss is introduced with a screen that states, "In Soviet Russia, key uses you!"
  • The contrast between the two big plot twists of Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Origins is a classic example. In Arkham City, someone else is impersonating the Joker. In Arkham Origins, the Joker is impersonating someone else.
  • The Escapists has a reversal of the Fly in the Soup joke: "There's a meal in my fly!"
  • In City of Heroes' Paragon Chat, trying to enter a nonfunctional door might give you the message: "In Soviet Russia, the door cannot enter YOU."
  • In Overwatch, one of the unlockable voice lines for Zarya the Husky Russkie is: "In Russia, game plays you." And in Heroes of the Storm, she has another one, which happens if she gets poked a lot: "In Mother Russia, this joke is tired of you."
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: Dr. Snoozemore is a researcher of sleep who is also prone to the Senior Sleep-Cycle.
    Dr. Snoozemore: As you may know, I research sleep... Clearly sleep also researches me...
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes: The flavor text for the Imp-Throwing Gargantuar is "Much more successful than the Gargantuar-Throwing Imp." note 
  • In Medieval Cop 8: DeathWish Amber is chased by chickens. The chicken leader, who's accompanied by a bear, complains that the heretic is getting away.
    Soviet Bear: In old country, heretics chase you...
  • League of Legends: One of Evelynn's quotes on activating her invisibility is "They can touch, but they can't look".
  • In the bulk of the Fire Emblem series, the player as a Lord goes around hiring troops by persuading them to join him. In Three Houses, the player as a mercenary is approached by no less than three Lords (well, two Lords and a Lady) from three different factions, all of them trying to hire them. That's right, in God-blessed Fódlan, Lords Hire You!
  • Normally in the Doom universe, demons possess humans. But in Doom Eternal, you gain the ability to possess demons in order to accomplish various objectives.
  • Stinkoman 20X6: Stinkoman chokes on a bone in his chicken soup. Incensed by this, he goes on a journey to find the (still living) chicken the bone belongs to and choke him out. Brody, the chicken in question, is also an example: instead of "choking the chicken" applying to him, he's big and powerful enough to do his own choking.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: During the quest "The Mind of Madness," when talking about Potema Septim, Daedric Prince of Madness Sheogorath mentions he can't remember if she "wielded fear like a cleaver" or "wielded a cleaver and made people afraid".
  • Fate/Grand Order: A Servant can qualify for the Foreigner class if they are a visitor from another world. Voyager - the Anthropomorphic Personification of the famous space probe - also qualifies, because the probe was built on Earth and then launched into space to visit other worlds.
  • A Bite at Freddy's: Five Nights at Freddy's and many of its fangames have Fredbear biting a kid on the head as a key part of their story. In this game, the reason the Fazbear Grill lost its popularity is because a kid bit Fredbear on the head.

    Web Animation watch you! 
  • Weebl's "Russian Dancing Men" has an image of a Whac-a-Mole machine with the caption, "Do not whack Russian, Russian whaks [sic] you."

    Webcomics make you! 

    Web Original make website out of you! 
  • Yakov Smirnoff's "In Soviet Russia" version went memetic long after the fall of communism. The Internet being what it is, these jokes ignored any attempts to make it seem Orwellian in favour of non-sequiturs like "In Soviet Russia, motorcycle rides YOU!!"
  • In the middle of a serious discussion about a guy getting his arms blown off by a bomb, some dipshit drops in with, "In Soviet Russia, bomb disarms you!!" This got a well-deserved Dude, Not Funny! reaction.
  • advertised a T-shirt which mocked the bail-out General Motors received with the text: "In Soviet America, the car drives you... bankrupt."
  • In the second season of Game Dogs they're called "game makes you" when they meet the new Russian owners.
  • DeviantArt:
  • SF Debris:
    • Twice in Chuck's review of the ST:TNG episode "The Naked Now", referring to the Soviet-built ship Tsiolkovsky:
      Chuck (as Picard): You know, number one, in your country, you send ships into space, but in Soviet Russia, ship sends YOU into space!
      Chuck: Well, looks like they're screwed; unable to muck with the tractor beam that can only pull looks like that ship seeking boulder is going to take out the Enterprise and Tsiolkovsky, which won't make them happy back in Soviet Russia. Wait, that's it! In Soviet Russia, tractor beam will PUSH!
    • Chuck explains how they got the idea for RoboCop:
      "Edward Neumeier happened to walk past a poster for Blade Runner and asked what it was about. And his friend told him it was about a cop who catches robots. So, Neumeier had an idea. In Blade Runner, human cop catches robot. But in his movie, robot cop catches human. And Yakov Smirnoff says, 'Hey, that's my routine! You go find your own!'"
  • In Russia you rob bank. In Capitalist America bank robs you.
  • In Soviet Russia, English learns YOU!!
  • In Soviet Russia, sin commits YOU!!
  • This t-shirt. In Soviet Russia, zero divides by you! But it's bad for your health.
  • In Soviet Russia, shirt wears YOU!
  • Seen on the GameFAQs forum here, and then lampshaded by the next poster.
    darkzero16: [A moderator or administrator was deleted at the request of this message]
  • One of the comments on this article about the Soviet-made Buran space shuttle, which had a fully-functional autopilot system:
    Kassad: "In America, you fly shuttles. In Soviet Russia, the shuttles fly you."
  • A post in a "forumites being silly" thread on the Star Trek Online forums:
    centersolace: Post 404: Error not found.
  • In your typical Wizard of Oz logic, you follow the Yellow Brick Road. In this partial screencap from Tumblr, said yellow brick road starts following you.
  • Cracked: From the intro to 5 Soviet Space Programs that Prove Russia Was Insane: "Here are five spectacularly audacious Soviet space programs that prove that in Soviet Russia, space goes into you."
  • Unsong parodies this with: "In America, Mohammed goes to mountain. In Soviet Russia, mountain comes to you."
  • A few Chuck Norris Facts are like this.
    • When Chuck Norris goes swimming, he doesn't get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.
    • My dog house has a sign on it saying "Beware of Chuck".
    • Physics is bound by the laws of Chuck Norris.
    • Chuck Norris doesn't want to be cool. Cool wants to be Chuck Norris.
    • Chuck Norris doesn't get sunburned. The sun gets Chuck Norris-burned.
    • One of them references and inverts the trope with "In Soviet Russia, Chuck Norris still kicks your ass".
    • Chuck Norris was bitten by a werewolf. When the full moon came, the werewolf turned into Chuck Norris.
    • You can't spell Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris spells you.
    • Chuck Norris doesn't get a COVID shot. COVID gets a Chuck Norris shot.
  • 'In a list asking "Can You lick the science?" this was the response listed for Zoology.
  • SCP Foundation SCP-956 is a piñata that breaks you open and makes candy spill out. Well, provided that "you" are a child under 12.
    • SCP-707 is a matryoshka doll that disassembles you.

    Web Videos watches you! 
  • During The Nostalgia Critic and Linkara's joint review of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, the two of them are stunned when Superman talks to some Russian astronauts... while still in the vacuum of space. "In Soviet Russia, physics breaks you!"
  • In his review of The Dark Knight Rises, Chester A. Bum says that Tom Hardy as Bane sounds like a mix between Darth Vader and "every Russian comedian you've ever heard", and then imitates Bane by saying: "In my country, fingerprints search for you!"
  • The Nostalgia Chick: "In Soviet Russia, Chick remembers you!" C'mon, she was reviewing Anastasia, she had to.
  • The internet short paying tribute to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, Tomatoes Eat You.
  • Matthew Santoro:
    • In 20 Valentines Day facts, Matt says that many countries celebrate Valentine's Day, including European and Asian countries, with the exception being Russia: "Because in Russia, Valentine's Day celebrate you."
    • In The 10 WEIRDEST Superstitions in the World!, Matt says, "In Soviet Russia, web gets posted on the cat."
  • One episode of PBS Space Time mentioned the Chelyabinsk meteor. The host couldn't resist quipping "In post-Soviet Russia, space explore you."
  • Dream: In the 3 Hunters Grand Finale explanation video, BadBoyHalo stated that when the Hunters set up the End spawn trap, he was expecting to get a video clip of the Hunters destroying Dream... which would've happened if Dream didn't blow up the place with the TNT first; Dream got a video clip in the main video of him destroying the team of hunters. In short, instead of the Hunters destroying Dream (and recording it), Dream destroys the Hunters (while recording it).
  • TheRunawayGuys: To start of their LP of Wii Party U, Emile does his own take on this while making a pun about the game's title: "In Soviet Russia, Wii Party U." note 
  • StacheBros: In the Mario Sports Mix episode of "Luigi Time!!!", when Mario remembers all the times Luigi asked for the Nintendo 3DS, one of his memories is Luigi saying "In Soviet Russia, Nintendo 3DS want Luigi!".
  • Nash from What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? makes a comment along these lines when reading a story about a Russian bear stealing a hunter's guns.
  • Jack Edwards has a habit of reading books which make him ask "Did I finish this book, or did this book finish me?".

    Western Animation animates you! 
  • Cartoon Network: "City E-Scape", an interstitial short by Mo Willems, had Quick Draw McGraw travelling to the city to fight crime. After Quick Draw wears himself to exhaustion catching bad guys, Baba Looey quips "That Quick Draw! He thinks he can wipe out city crime, but crime has wiped him out!"
  • An episode of Family Guy involved a car with a GPS system, and one of its voice settings was "Yakov Smirnoff".
    GPS: Turn left at the fork in the road. In Soviet Russia, road forks you!
  • Futurama:
    • "That's Lobstertainment!": Zoidberg's brief career as a stand-up comedian consisted solely of this type of joke.
      Zoidberg: Earth! What a planet! On Earth, you enjoy eating a tasty clam. On my planet, clams enjoy eating a tasty you!
      (glass clinking)
    • Used and lampshaded in "Crimes Of The Hot":
      Fry: That ice dispenser is so big, the ice crushes you! *laughs to self* Yakov Smirnoff said that.
      Leela: No he didn't.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Old Man And The Key", there's a revue of stars of The '80s in a song "Ode To Branson". There is the line "So sit back, relax, and watch our revue," and Yakov slides in and says with a homophone pun, "In Soviet Union, revue watches you!" This probably had a hand in revitalizing the meme for the Internet crowd. After Grandpa causes his mischief on stage, Smirnoff subverts this trope by commenting "In Russia, stage is for performers only."
    • "Sorry, Lis - I no longer control the hand. The hand controls me!"
    • In "Step Brother From The Same Planet", Lisa says “I tried to throw throw a party, but the party threw me.”
  • King of the Hill:
    • "The Bluegrass Is Always Greener" guest stars Smirnoff and shows him buying one of these jokes from Bobby, despite the comedian's protestations that he has abandoned this type of material in favor of relationship humor. But give Bobby credit, at least he plays with the trope. "In America, you put 'In God We Trust' on the money. In Russia, we have no money!" Yakov pays for the joke and says keep 'em coming.
    • In "Tankin' It To The Street", Kahn shows off his new gigantic SUV, but it's so big it won't fit in his garage.
      Hank: Where are you gonna keep it, smart guy? It doesn't even fit in your garage.
      Kahn: Uh... Maybe I keep garage in SUV! Hahahaha! Kiss my ass!
    • "SerPunt", has a broader example when Hank and Dale need to catch a runaway snake:
      Dale: I got a hold of [the snake]! It's trying to wrap itself around me, but it didn't count on my strategy of me wrapping around it!
  • Animaniacs had this line in the episode "The Girl with the Googily Goop":
    Dot: You don't need to go to the potty!
    Wakko: Oh, yes, I do!
    Dot: Nah! In these cartoons, the potty comes to you!
  • On Curious George, most mornings, George goes out on the porch to find the paper. In the opening of "Curious George Rides a Bike," the narration states that "the paper found George," when the paperboy accidentally hits him with it.
  • In "The Real Thomas" from Regular Show, the Park crew race to prevent Glorious Mother Russia from starting a war with the US. Since a treaty previents the country from launching missles at the US, they try to deliver a piece of American soil to their missle, which is coincidentally the Park.
  • In "Franklin's Backwards Day" from Franklin and Friends, Rabbit puts a chair on his back, saying that in honor of Backwards Day, he thought that his chair should sit on him.
  • The pirates in the Felix the Cat short "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg" take what they want and want what they take.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In season one episode "The Storm", Sokka claims he has a dream where instead of people eating food, "Food eats people!" (Also, Momo could talk, and said some very unkind things.)
  • Rick and Morty lampshades this in Total Rickall during the scene where Rick kills Mr. Beauregard.
    Rick: I guess I did the butler!
    A ghost in a jar: Oh, I get it. It’s a play on “the butler did it”.
    Rick: Thanks, Ghost in a Jar. You were always great at pointing out intentionally obscure comedy. (shoots him)
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Klopnodian Heritage Festival", Bunny is shown to be an expert at fly-swatting. Afterwards, Squidina tries to attack a single fly. It grabs the swatter instead and hits her multiple times.
  • In "Fallen Stars" from The Dragon Prince, Viren has a terrible fear of heights after having fallen off a mountain and then having to climb that same mountain again to retrieve the staff he lost. Terry states that Viren is legendary, that he shouldn't have a fear of heights, heights should fear him.
  • In "The Four Tasks of Danger Mouse", Count Duckula (in his first appearance) puts on an impromptu magic show where instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, he pulls hats out of rabbits.
    • On the episode "Lost, Found and Spellbound," DM and Penfold are in a jungle looking for Prof. Squawkencluck. Penfold finds himself in an elevator within a tall tree.
    Penfold: 'Cor, I've heard of a trunk going up in a lift but never a lift up in a trunk!
  • "Sometimes you drink the milk, sometimes the milk drinks you." —Mandy from an opening of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): In Soviet Russia Trope Mocks You, Transpositional Pun


Rugrats in Paris

Chucky finally proves his bravery as he storms the doors off Notre Dame to save his dad from marrying the vile Coco LaBouche. While her henchman not only let's slip their plot to kidnap the him and the other Rugrats, but Angelica exposes Coco as a fraud to her boss, Mr. Yamaguichi; only wanting to marry Chaz for the promotion.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / BigDamnHeroes

Media sources: