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Surprisingly Realistic Outcome

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Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Try to dodge bullets, and you'll end up like me.
Say you're watching your favorite action movie. Bob is in a car chase and the bad guys are right behind him. He sees a sharp turn up ahead next to a brick wall. Thinking ahead, Bob decides to drift at the last second so he can cause his pursuers to crash and escape. However, Bob is not an experienced drifter, so instead of drifting, the car flips, barrel rolls and smashes into the wall, letting the bad guys catch up with him.

This is what is probably going through your mind: "Huh? Wait! What? Did that just happen? I mean… that is how it would happen in Real Life, but…" A Surprisingly Realistic Outcome happens when a work subverts narrative conventions by deriving an outcome from realistic principles, temporarily removing otherwise fictional logic. We can often anticipate results based on the story's narrative pattern; this trope subverts those expectations by momentarily employing more realism than its norm.

This trope isn't merely a Plot Twist. To minimize stress on editors, make sure your example is Surprising, Realistic, and an Outcome:

A Surprisingly Realistic Outcome differs from Deconstruction in several ways:

  • Expectations: Once we've identified a work as a deconstruction, we should be able to anticipate how it handles certain tropes, differing from how this trope must be surprising. While a deconstruction will sometimes lead with a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, the consequences down the line won't surprise us anymore.
  • Timing: Because a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome is a subversion and is often jarring, it's supposed to be a momentary trope. Deconstructions typically weave themselves into the fabric of a story, creating something lasting for at least a significant portion of the work.
  • Realism: A Surprisingly Realistic Outcome subverts expectations by refusing to have things work how one would expect from fiction, meaning it excludes all Applied Phlebotinum. A deconstruction discusses or plays with assumptions underpinning a trope or theme. Deconstructions don't necessarily involve objective realism, as they can include examining a Logical Weakness or a subversion of Required Secondary Powers. While we can deconstruct the workings of Applied Phlebotinum, we can't make it realistic.

Video game examples overlap with Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay. Anti-Climax might run in parallel but doesn't require realism. Fridge Logic is when the realistic outcome exists only in the audience's mind. Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems is about mundane problems still existing in fictional settings. Puff of Logic is when an unrealistic outcome abruptly becomes realistic after someone mentions the unrealism. An Unbuilt Trope deals with situations where the Expected Unrealistic Outcome didn't exist at the time and veers more towards this trope.

No Real Life Examples, Please!, as this trope is about differing expectations between reality and fiction. For cases of fiction making you expect the wrong things in real life, see Reality Is Unrealistic and Television Is Trying to Kill Us.

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  • A British NHS advert from the late 2000s featured a crowd of people watching in awe as a Batman-esque superhero scaled a building scaffold dramatically and acrobatically to retrieve a lost balloon. When the hero reached the top, he slipped off the pole on which he was precariously balanced and fell down the building. The audience then sees an unpleasant shot of the ordinary man twitching blankly on the concrete floor. "Too much alcohol makes you feel invincible when you're most vulnerable," says the narrator. It was an effective advert.
  • One Cartoon Network ad has a police officer chasing a thief into an alley. When he goes into the alley, he finds the thief now dressed in drag and trying to flirt with the officer. The officer isn't fooled and immediately arrests him. A caption then appears saying, "You are not Bugs Bunny.''note 
  • A commercial for Big M (an Australian brand of flavored milk) has a man walking along with a carton in his hand. He sees a piano roll out of a moving van and down the street, heading directly towards an old lady struggling to walk her dog. The man puts down his chocolate Big M and runs after it, jumping onto a passing garbage truck and then a motorbike to get between the woman and the piano. But when he turns and puts his arms out to stop the piano - it doesn't stop, taking him, the woman, and the dog (pulled by its lead) with it. Cue the slogan: "Think Big! But not too big."
  • A Dr. Pepper TV ad had two men moving a pinball machine down the stairs. A snapping noise, and one of the guys is in pain. A doctor with a can of Dr. Pepper comes near the guy, complete with a Dubstep song. The guy seems happy until he resumes being hurt and is about to let go of the machine, which would make the machine crash into the wall.
  • A series of New Zealand safety PSAs presented several people acting like they're in standard commercials by talking to the camera while walking or working. In doing so, they don't see where they're going, so they trip, slip and fall. HARD. They are not comical pratfalls; the impact makes it clear they have broken bones at the very least.
  • Sprite's "Obey Your Thirst" campaign in The '90s was a series of commercials about subverting and mocking advertising tropes.
    • One of the most famous was the "Grant Hill Drinks Sprite" series of ads, which parodied Cereal-Induced Superpowers. In one of them, a kid spots NBA player Grant Hill drinking Sprite, and thinks Sprite will make him a basketball player. He quickly disproves himself by drinking Sprite and then failing a slam dunk, falling on his ass.
      Announcer: If you want to make it to the NBA... practice. If you want a refreshing drink, obey your thirst. Sprite.
    • Similarly, another has a bunch of young guys driving around in a convertible in slow motion, bouncing the car on its wheels to look cool. The car stops, and one guy leaps out of the car and starts dramatically chugging back his Sprite. When he turns the cap, the bottle explodes and covers him in soft drink — because all that bouncing shook it up. He does not look good while shrieking and dripping wet.
  • In adverts for Hostess Fruit Pies, the products advertised usually successfully serve as a Delicious Distraction long enough for the hero to complete their task. In this one, The Joker throws some of the pies at some police officers who want to arrest him...and immediately gets arrested the moment he tries to sneak out.
  • The an M&M's commercial that introduces a Chocolate bar character that flirts with Tia Carrere, The character melts in a lounge chare while sunbathing when Red and Yellow aren't effected because of their candy shells and even if they were effected the shells would keep their chocolate inside unless they get cracked open.
  • Played for laughs in this Limu Emu and Doug commercial for Liberty Mutual Insurance, which is also a tie-in commercial for the film, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Doug believes if he gets bitten by a spider, he will gain the same powers as Spider-Man, which he believes will make him better at selling insurance. Instead, an ambulence rushes him to the hospital while his skin breaks out from the spider's venom.
    Doug: Did it work?
    • The short version of the ad ends with Doug giving a thumbs-up and saying he's okay as paramedics load him into the ambulance.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Blood Blockade Battlefront: Chain easily wins a drinking contest seen with several empty shot glasses after her victory. The Stinger of that episode shows how the drinking contest left her hunched over her toilet at dawn, violently vomiting.
  • Case Closed: Trapped in a 6-year-old body and assuming the alias "Conan", teenage detective Shinichi Kudo knocks out someone physically older than him and uses them as a decoy to deliver Exposition and solve cases. When they wake up, Shinichi then gives credit to that decoy by lying them in the face that they were solving the case the whole time. This has worked with Kogoro (a Clueless Detective) and Sonoko (a Brainless Beauty), who never seems to question Shinichi's explanation. In "Holmes Freak Murder", Shinichi does the same with Heiji Hattori, a fellow teenage dectective who doesn't know Conan is Shinichi. Unlike his predecessors, Heiji Hattori does not believe Conan's obvious lies at all and eventually forces him to confess he's Shinichi. Case Closed usually excuses Shinichi's stunts so that the stories can be told, so it comes as a surprise that someone in-universe called out Shinichi's lies for once.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Proud Beauty Lucy Heartfilia gets oggled by Spear Carriers or Mooks from time to time. When this happens, Lucy sends them flying in Pervert Revenge Mode. However, at one point, main protagonist Natsu walks in on Lucy in the shower. Lucy goes into Pervert Revenge Mode again and tries to hit Natsu with a flying kick. Natsu — a powerful fighter many times physically stronger than Lucy — just blocks the kick, causing Lucy to fall flat on her face in the bathroom. Lucy lays on the floor in shock while Natsu says that Lucy's combat technique needs work.
    • When the crew goes off on an S-Ranked mission to save an island from a curse that turns people into demons, they find that there is a demon on the island that was sealed away in ice, and the villains are trying to thaw it out. The villains manage to get the ice melted, only to find to their horror that the demon inside was already dead. Turns out being frozen in ice for several years is fatal, even to demons. The villains end up in a mix of shock and grief that their victory was instantly rendered worthless.
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, after the title character gets rejected from the teacher position, he gives up and travels to Akita to train as a truck driver. Then he receives a phone call, telling him he's been accepted after all, but must make it to the school within three hours to get the job—a trip that usually would take eight hours. Onizuka hijacks the truck and rushes towards the school, ignoring all road rules. You'd expect him to dramatically arrive Just in Time... but no: by the time he arrives, he's already several hours too late. No matter how great his resolve is, he can't bend time and space to travel faster than he possibly could. (He gets accepted anyway.)
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: When the White Base gets attacked over the Atlantic Ocean, circumstances force Kai to sortie in the Gunperry hastily rearmed with missiles rather than his Guncannon. He takes the civilian/Zeon spy Miharu as his co-pilot. A hit the Gunperry takes during the battle knocks out some of the circuitry needed to fire those missiles from the cockpit. Miharu heads to the back to manually launch them, but as she doesn't know to avoid backblast, she's thrown out of the Gunperry and falls to her death.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team: Shiro attempts an Alpha Strike at Norris while sliding down a building and misses every shot because his movement ruins his accuracy.
    • Gundam Build Fighters Try: Adou Saga twice resorts to the old anime cliche of slugging a wall to vent your frustration. Once against a thick glass pane after being denied the chance to fight Meijin Kawaguchi, and once against the Semi-Final Randomizer out of irritation to get Yuuma and Minato to stop arguing, both times with the same hand. This abuse of his hand caused fractures, leading to him going to the hospital for treatment after the events of the final battle.
  • Interspecies Reviewers:
    • When copy-cat reviewers show up, rather than being antagonists, they are treated as a slight annoyance after initial outrage. The titular reviewers live in a world without the internet, so finding all their competitors to make them stop would be impossible. Furthermore, Zel points out that the concept of posting reviews on businesses is not something that the reviewers could claim as intellectual property — you can't copyright an idea, after all. This leaves the heroes with no legal means to stop anyone else from playing Follow the Leader in-universe.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Partway through the series, Ishigami, who has been a slacker with his grades consistently near the bottom of the class, decides he's going to make a serious attempt at self-improvement on the mid-terms and get into the top 50. Kaguya (ranked #2) agrees to tutor him and a big montage of studying ensues. In the end, Ishigami's grades do improve... but it's only a modest amount over how he did before, and he's nowhere near the top 50. No matter how hard he studied, going from rock-bottom to the top 50 in the space of only a couple of weeks just isn't plausible.
  • Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru: The sequel Karate Shoukoushi Monogatari takes a shot at martial arts masters humiliating and expelling unworthy students. The Reinan High Judo Club captain had the club harass a member into quitting because he didn't think he had potential. Unlike most works where such actions are accepted, the student immediately filed a complaint to the Student Council, forcing the captain to transfer away.
  • In Kengan Asura, Kiryu Setsuna, on the ropes and incredibly desperate, creates a brand new martial arts move in the midst of a fight. His opponent, Kuroki Gensai, proceeds to block the move easily and defeat him, simply declaring "I cannot be defeated by improvisations." As it turns out, attempting a move that you have never trained or tested before, in live combat against a skilled opponent, is a terrible idea.
  • KonoSuba: At one point, Aqua tries to get back at Kazuma by refusing to let him back in the mansion. When Kazuma realizes he can't get in, he calls the cops on her since he owns the house.
  • In Let's Make a Mug Too, the main character prepares to enter a ceramic art contest, over the course of several episodes. An entire episode revolves around her finding an original idea for her art piece: a ceramic zabuton seat—a concept she's very proud of, despite the skepticism of those around her. Surely her determination and originality will win her first place! ...except not; in the end, she doesn't win first place, or indeed any place, instead just getting a participation prize. For all her effort, she is a beginner competing against many more experienced artists. As for the ceramic zabuton, turns out it's completely impractical, and it shatters into pieces the moment someone heavier sits on it. That said, this being a feel-good slice-of-life series, the moral is that the participation and having fun with your friends is more important than being stunningly successful.
  • Lupin III: Part II: In one episode, Lupin steals a 200-year-old bottle of wine commissioned by Napoleon. When the gang opens it and has a sip, they find it's turned to vinegar. Despite what fiction would have you believe, over 90% of wine should be drunk within five years of bottling, and all wine should be drunk within fifty.
  • Naruto: In the epilogue, we see Tenten open the weapon store she had mentioned wanting to. She's promptly miserable because opening a weapon store during an age of peace will mean business isn't exactly booming.
  • One Piece: After the Straw Hat Pirates get the Going Merry as their ship, it takes all kinds of damage, including going through some Toon Physics. How it could keep sailing is always handwaved away as Usopp fixing the ship, as shown by the visible repairs that the Merry goes through. But Usopp is a gunner, not a shipwright; his repairs were patchwork at best. At the beginning of the Enies Lobby arc, real shipwrights say that the Going Merry has taken far too much abuse to keep going. This damage includes a busted keel, which is the spine of a ship; with that broken, the Merry is a total loss and not seaworthy. As such, it's best to just scrap her for a new ship. Usopp, having grown very attached to the Going Merry, still tries to fix her anyways, and is told repeatedly by the shipwright Franky that there's nothing he can do. Despite being determined as he is to fix the Going Merry, all of Usopp's attempts end in failure, to the point that he has to call it quits. Sure enough, several chapters and one final trip later, the Going Merry snaps in two under her own weight, and all anyone can do at that point is give her a proper send-off.
  • In the Samurai Champloo episode Baseball Blues, detective Manzo “the Saw” plans on sneaking aboard an American warship by disguising himself as an American sailor. Not only does he get spotted immediately by the sentries, but when pressed all he can say, in a poor attempt to pass off as one of them is “I’m an American, Yankee Doodle.” Needless the say the guards open fire on him and chase him away.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Ryoko and Ayeka's emerging rivalry wrecks an old-fashioned hot springs resort for a silly gag. Five episodes later, the gang returns to the resort to find it's still a complete disaster. The elderly owner forces the others (sans Sasami and Washu) to fix the mess, as only a few months have passed since then.
  • Transformers Victory: As Hellbat (and Deathcobra) learn the hard way; if you shoot blindly at something, don't be surprised if you hit something (or someone) you really didn't mean to.
  • In World Trigger, Osamu is aware that he is the weakest link on his team, so he spends a week improving his combat skills with some of Border's best agents and banks on the results of his intensive training to help his team win the next match. Instead of being treated to the payoff that usually follows a shonen training arc, his misplaced confidence makes him less cautious to his surroundings, resulting in him and his team being defeated horribly. Osamu learns the hard way that hard work takes years to bear fruit and rival characters also train hard, so catching up to their level in the time frame he is gunning for (roughly a month) is impossible for someone with no talent like him. He is told that focusing on developing strategies and learning support skills instead would be a more reasonable and practical goal to strive for at the moment.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the KC Grand Prix anime filler arc, the Arc Villain Siegfried unleashes a devastating virus on Kaibacorp's servers. Yugi manages to stop the virus, but Siegfried is content that his virus has already destroyed most of Kaibacorp's data. Kaiba promptly reveals how he just restored the destroyed data from a backup server.
    • In Battle City, Jounouchi is set to duel Rishid on the Kaibacorp blimp. Uniquely, this fight is the only time the series realistically shows the weather at such altitudes. Because they're at least several thousand feet in the air and high winds are frequent, Jounouchi can barely keep his balance at first and almost loses his cards.
    • The franchise generally plays The Magic Poker Equation straight as an arrow, which makes it genuinely surprising in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds when redeemed villain Aporia ends up in a situation where he has to draw one specific card with a one in thirty-four chance of doing so or lose the game, announces that he has complete faith in himself and trusts his deck, and... doesn't draw that card.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, various characters duel against Z-ARC, with others taking the place of previous fallen members. At the beginning of the duel, Z-ARC activates two cards that increase his Life Points by damage he would otherwise receive. One of Jack's monsters launches an attack on Z-ARC... and that happens. Jack wasn't there when it happened, so there's no way he would have known, unlike other duels in the franchise where characters who arrive late are somehow able to figure out what's going on. Lampshaded by Z-ARC in the English dub.
      Z-ARC: Maybe if you showed up for class on time, you would've known that my Supreme King Gate Zero's Pendulum ability protects me from any damage. In fact, my Supreme King Gate Infinity converts all that damage into Life Points for me. Too bad all your buddies didn't fill you in!
  • Yuri!!! on Ice:
    • Despite being able to mimic Victor's impressive programs, Yuri is hampered by his tendency to comfort eat. In most sports anime, that would be a cute quirk... but Yuri isn't a rookie teenager, he's a professional athlete and his food preferences count against him, even though it's fairly mundane rather than obviously unhealthy.
    • Yurio is set up as Yuri's big Rival in the first episode. He even has all of the hallmarks of a typical sports anime rival: a Teen Genius, the best skater in the junior division, a connection to the main cast, and even a bit of a temper problem. You think that the story would be about them fighting neck-and-neck against each other... but after Episode 3, they don't meet in competition again until the Rostelecom Cup. Both Yuris have very different paths to follow in their competition season, meaning that they don't see each other often, and Yuri doesn't really see Yurio as a rival at all. Until Episode 8, the most one hears about the other is from the news.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Saki died due to her reckless riding, which is mentioned early on and shown in a flashback in Episode 9. Even if you are a badass biker gang captain, riding too fast is dangerous.

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores And Boomsticks (Pokémon & RWBY): After defecting from Aether Foundation, Faba boasts to Salem that his virus will have completely wiped their database and they won't be capable of conducting any more wormhole experiments as he now has the only copy of their experimental data. The scene cuts away to Wicke learning that the database has indeed been wiped beyond recovery, with the IT worker having no idea what program Faba used to do it. However, he's already uploading from their offsite backups and will be finished in a couple hours with only the last few hours of data missing. Wicke ponders how Faba failed to realize they'd have backup databases in case anything happened.
  • Exodus (Big Hero 6 & Worm): Although Taylor surviving two point-blank headshots to the back of her skull is nothing short of a miracle, her brain gets so messed up that she can't recognize basic human interactions, much less words and language. Similarly, spending the majority of her time recovering from the experience leaves her so physically weak she has to go through six months of physical therapy.
  • The Reaping of Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid & The World Ends with You): When Ritsu attempts a Punch Catch against Momo during Day 6 of the last game, the narration describes a crack coming out of his arm, and he later shows pain when he has to use that hand while defending.
  • Revelation (Helluva Boss/Hazbin Hotel): The end of chapter 6 has Octavia shot in the leg while escaping the Guard and her injury averts Just a Flesh Wound. Her wound is severe enough that she would've bled out or died of an infection had Moxxie not managed to get her to a hospital for treatment.
  • Shadows Over Hell (Hazbin Hotel & Helluva Boss): While the body armor I.M.P. wear during their attack on the cult does save their lives on multiple occasions, the blunt trauma by feel from the impact of the bullets, leaves their bodies battered and bruised.
  • Cursed Blood: In the first chapter, Izuku tries to act as a Bullet Proof Human Shield, only for the bullets to go right through him and into the girl he was protecting.
  • My Hero Academia Marvel-verse: Izuku tries to channel his inner Solid Snake and sneak past an Inner Demon using a cardboard box. He is promptly captured and held hostage.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index/Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover Walpurgisnaught, Touma picks up one of Homura's guns and uses it. Since he had never handled a gun before, the noise hurts his ears, and the recoil hurts his arm.

Jackie Chan Adventures

Kim Possible

  • At the Centerfold of the Storm:
    • When GJ cracks open Henchco.'s mainframe, the dirty secrets aren't all in one digital bundle. It's a sprawling mass of data, and GJ is swamped trying to process it all.
    • The fic reveals the fate of Team Go's parents: They died, aka, what normally happens when one takes a meteor with enough force to blow up a treehouse.
  • Unacceptable Sitch Series:
    • In "Under the Milky Way Tonight", the hostages at the Space Center are able to exploit a serious weakness in Gemini's agents — his habit of dropping them down trapdoors when things go wrong has left them afraid to act on their own initiative when a plan starts going off the rails.

Love Hina

  • Contract Labor: Without Steel Eardrums like most fiction, one of the mercenaries on Seta's dig becomes temporarily deaf from firing his rifle inside a cave.

Miraculous Ladybug

  • Miraculous Alliance: Shortly after they start dating, Adrien and Marinette try making out in a broom closet like in the movies... Only to find it too cramped and cluttered to do more than deliver each other Amusing Injuries.
    Adrien: This was a bad idea. All those movies lied to me. Broom closets are not good for making out.

My Hero Academia

  • Ignited Spark: Nejire constantly hitting her head in the battle trial results in her getting a concussion.
  • Quirk: Magical Girl Mascot: At I-Island, a group consisting of Tsuyu, Toru, Mina and some Pro Heroes go through the air vents. However, unlike most media, which treat this as a good way to move around sneakily, the noise they make climbing through the vents gives them away.

My Little Pony



  • Later, Traitor: When Pepper finally takes her puppet Sally off her hand in Chapter 31, she isn't able to move it. It turns out that keeping your hand locked in a certain position inside a hunk of wood for a few years isn't exactly healthy for its bone structure.


  • Null: When Yang gets stabbed in the hand, she finds she cannot use it anymore. In other stories, she would be able to power through the injury, but here the tendons have been cut, rendering her hand literally useless.

Star Wars

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

  • Like Father, Like Son: In chapter 2, Draxum flings Leo and he collides into a metal billboard. This leaves him noticeably stunned and the next chapter outright confirms he has a concussion from it.

Tolkien's Legendarium

  • The very first Sue in The Game of the Gods prepares to enter Middle Earth, recites a "spell" that will open a portal there, then takes a running leap towards her television. She ends up simply crashing headfirst through the screen and dies of a massive head wound.

Total Drama

  • She's Not So Famous: After triumphantly reclaiming her camera from Chris, Millie tries to escape back out through the vent like Annie did... but she lacks Annie's height and upper body strength, so she can't jump up there by herself and gets accosted by security.
  • Total Drama Voyage: As Team Heather learns the hard way in "Food Disservice," the cooking skills Mike picked up from Manitoba may be good for wilderness survival, but don't translate well to refined restaurant dining.


  • Being Dead Ain't Easy: Yami Bakura offers Kaiba a Deal with the Devil: he helps Joey in exchange for control of Kaiba's company. Since he held up his end of the bargain, Yami Bakura successfully becomes CEO of KaibaCorp. However, since his host has no idea what's going on and neither of them knows how to run a company, Yami Bakura doesn't enjoy it as much as he thinks he would, and gives it back.


  • The Blood of the Covenant: When Aang takes his new friends to the Southern Air Temple, Kallik faints due to the altitude. Aang is horrified and quickly explains that the monks used to warn him about bringing visitors, as the thinner air can make some people sick.
  • Here Comes The New Boss: In 7.1, an Empire goon tries to turn a glass beer bottle into a weapon by breaking it. While great in theory, the bottle completely shatters and shreds his hand. He's left bleeding out on the floor as a result.
  • My Arms Are Blue!: During a spice-eating contest, Sonic attempts to cool his mouth with water. He learns the hard way that this just makes the pain worse.
  • Oneesama: In a harrowing subversion, Miss Maria treats Shizuru giving a Skinship Grope to Natsuki as severe sexual harassment, and Shizuru risks expulsion.

    Films — Animation 
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie: Goofy, suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome after Max leaves for college, gets distracted at work and causes an accident. While up to this point, Goofy's clumsy antics are usually Played for Laughs, this time, the antics kick off a set of Disaster Dominoes that end up destroying all the equipment. He ultimately gets fired due to the damage he caused.
  • In The Sea Beast, Jacob gets ready to break his spear on his thigh to signify that his days of hunting are over... only for the spear to remain unbroken, while his thigh gets into a much more painful state. It works in the climax, when he has a wooden spear.
  • The Seventh Brother: A lost puppy lives with some rabbits for several months and seems to remain well-fed the whole time. However, it eventually falls ill because dogs can't live on grass and carrots.
  • Smallfoot: After spending some time in the yeti village on the mountain, Percy starts suffering from high altitude sickness due to the lack of oxygen on such a high peak.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Miles tries to get kicked out of Visions Academy by purposely bombing a true-false test. However, Miles does this by intentionally getting every answer wrong. As his teacher states, the only way to get all the answers wrong on a true-false test is to know all the right answers and deliberately fill in the wrong answers. If Miles was truly guessing blind on a true-false test, the law of averages means that he should have gotten at least some of the answers right. The teacher gives Miles a 100% score on the test, and tells him point-blank that trying to purposefully bomb a test isn't going to work.
  • Zootopia: A mild example with former Mayor Lionheart. It's discovered near the end of the film that the main plot was a setup and he's partly been framed by his own assistant, but as he's still guilty of false imprisonment and kidnapping in his efforts to contain the Night Howler problem, he's still in jail and has to serve his sentence. Also, while she broke the Night Howler case, Officer Hopps is also still a Rookie in her first year on the job (now partnered with another rookie). As such, at the end of the film, Judy and Nick are on patrol duty rather than investigating major cases and their assignment for the day is chasing a traffic offender (a street racer).

  • In Ascendance of a Bookworm the main character transmigrates into what is basically medieval Germany as a sick little peasant girl. She has a lot of miscellaneous knowledge on how to make various things, but unlike the isekai standard of becoming a beloved celebrity overnight for inventing dozens of modern inventions, she finds it nearly impossible to make much of anything for a long time: the tools just don't exist and she doesn't have the resources. It takes a solid year to even create paper and doing so doesn't improve her social position at all. It makes her a bit of money, but that's about it. If anything, she needs to not make it too obvious that she's behind her subsequent Giving Radio to the Romans products until she gets proper protection from the local Supernatural Elite because it might attract the attention of people who see her "inventions" as a threat to their livelihood.
  • The Asterisk War:
    • Kirin's katana, Senbakiri, is a completely mundane metal sword. This means that it has no chance of causing appreciable damage on the robot AR-D, averting Katanas Are Just Better.
    • Ser Veresta is damaged at the climax of the Gryps Final, and Ayato pulls his backup sword lux. His opponent, Team Lancelot leader Ernest Fairclough, promptly drops his own Orga Lux and draws his own backup weapon, hoping for a climactic sword duel with a man he sees as Worthy Opponent. Instead, he snafus his own team's defensive teamwork and all of Ayato's teammates promptly gang up on him, since it's a five-on-five match in which breaking the leader's badge wins it—which Claudia promptly does. Should've just challenged him to a regular duel, Ernie.
  • Chuck Barris's The Big Question: The titular Deadly Game is cancelled two weeks after its premiere in the wake of massive protest. Because, surprise, televised murder is illegal.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days has Greg claim a bicycle some neighbors threw away so he can get to the pool and carry stuff easier. It falls apart in four days, as a bike someone threw out for anybody to take is almost certainly defective.
  • Find Layla: Layla is an aspiring scientist with a poor and neglectful home life. She decides to film the various fungi in her run-down apartment for a biology contest. The video goes viral but forces Child Protective Services to take her and her little brother due to unsafe living conditions.
  • Little House on the Prairie: Pa in Little House on the Prairie illegally settled in Native American territory. He's convinced that as long as they don't argue with the locals, all should be good. That's not what happens; the government in a moment of goodwill forces the settlers off the land to honor the treaties.
    • Eliza Jane Wilder's last class ends in bedlam when the school board walks in, and she tries to defend herself by throwing Laura under the horse carriage, as it were, scapegoating her for the chaos. It doesn't work; the board fires her or she resigns from the disgrace of all the boys rebelling because they made the choice to undermine Ms Wilder's authority. If you can't manage your students, as Laura notes in the next book, then you're not fit to be a teacher. Even though Ma and Pa tell Laura she needs to respect her teacher, they get her side of the story and admit that it wasn't her fault because Nellie decided to cause trouble.
    • Almanzo as a wedding present to Laura buys her a new house with many fancy fixings and supplies for cooking. She appreciates it. Come the next book, they're in heavy debt from all of the purchases. Laura lampshades it as she's calculating their losses. (This also helps to explain why she gets so upset in The Rose Years at Almanzo buying her a new stove.)
  • The Magicians: Quentin gets his head smacked against the stone floor in a fistfight with Penny. After being superficially treated for the bruises, he tries to go about his day but abruptly vomits up his dinner and passes out. It's not a Tap on the Head, and he's suffered a concussion, earning him a stay in the infirmary and a stern talking-to from the Dean.
  • So This Is Ever After:
    • The entire beginning of the novel plays this for laughs by showing the triumph of the hero's party over The Vile One to be much less cinematic than he pictured. He thought he would be able to cleanly behead The Vile One, raise his decapitated head as a trophy, and subsequently, declare his love for Matt and maybe even kiss him. He doesn't get to do any of those things, as beheading someone ends up being a messy and tough affair that soils everyone with blood. He also feels no desire to raise the head because it would be hard since he is bald and it would be really gross to touch a decapitated head as he notices. Matt and Arek are also not in any position to for a romantic declaration, being bloodied, dirty, tired, and sweaty, which makes the entire scene much less picturesque than he wanted.
    • Further, when Arek finds himself thrust into kingship as the last heir from the former ruling dynasty is dead, he and his friends quickly struggle with going from commoners to ruling a kingdom.

  • Fefe Dobson's "Stuttering" music video is about her preparing to confront her cheating boyfriend in a seedy motel after the other woman has stepped out. She even puts on the other woman's jacket while she waits for him to come out of the shower. Turns out it's not her boyfriend, and Fefe immediately leaves, embarrassed. The video goes to some weird places from there, but it's an interesting twist on the usual cliche.
  • Johnny Cash's "One Piece At A Time" has this Played for Laughs. Its protagonist resolves to make himself a Cadillac for free from parts that he stole while working at a General Motors assembly plant. The scheme takes several decades to complete, and at the end of thirty years of work, comes out with a machine that's almost impossible to assemble and looks like an ugly mess of a thing, with a title that weighs sixty pounds. The protagonist still loves it, though.
  • The music video for Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back" features the singer and three friends of hers trashing a diner and causing mayhem... so by the end of the video, the police have been called and all four of them are led away in cuffs.
  • The song "Scalp" by Atmosphere features the narrator describing his night. He goes to the bar and meets his friend Sonny, who offers to pay him for retrieving a package from a tattoo parlor. One expects the protagonist to follow through with his task, possibly finding something surprising in the package along the way, but instead, he is killed in a car crash immediately after leaving the bar. This is what happens when you actually drink $50 worth of alcohol and then drive at night.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In the last case of the first game, when all hope seems lost, Larry shows up and demands to be a witness to the event. Unlike most moments where an immediate, dramatic conclusion happens, the judge calls a recess. Having a witness show up last minute requires the prosecutor team to have time to interview the witness. Also, letting someone talk without context for their evidence is a possible risk.
    • In the final case of Justice for All, Gumshoe calls Phoenix to tell him he's found decisive evidence while driving. He almost immediately gets into a car accident, stopping him from getting to the courthouse.
    • The final case of Investigations takes place in an embassy, so the killer naturally attempts to exploit his extraterritorial rights. This eventually leads to his home country revoking his diplomatic immunity, allowing Edgeworth to take him down.
  • Cinders initially leads the player to assume that Carmosa hid Cinders' father's will because it would reveal Cinders as the true heir. However, if Cinders chooses to search, she quickly finds it, revealing the will left everything to Carmosa. Hiding and lying about such a document is incredibly idiotic, which Carmosa is not. Carmosa hid it because it's a sensitive legal document. Carmosa and Cinders' father had a good relationship, so it makes sense for him to leave everything to his new wife. His daughter wasn't in consideration, considering she's all but stated to have been a minor when he died.
  • In Nightshade:
    • Enju's father and her village are quick to abandon Enju when she is accused of killing Hideyoshi. The idea that one of their own shinobi tried to kill the feudal lord, truthfully or falsely, would cause the country to declare war against their small village, something that would surely eradicate everyone in the village.
    • Tying into that, on certain routes, Enju's friends are ordered to kill her. Despite having conflicting feelings, they still go through with the order as their families' lives are on stake if they failed to complete their mission.
    • Even if Enju successfully defeats all the shinobi hunting her down and/or find out Hideyoshi is actually alive in some routes, she is still unable to return home since she is still officially branded the murderer of Hideyoshi.
  • Piofiore: Fated Memories:
    • Dante and Lili both drink a drugged wine Nicola brings them without realizing it but are not knocked out instantly. They continue their dinner and conversations long before Lili starts feeling drowsy.
    • In Gilbert's Bad Ending, Orlok dies after taking a hit to protect Lili. Unlike most instances where the love interest can keep fighting after sustaining multiple injuries, sometimes it only takes one to cause severe internal bleeding.

    Web Animation 
  • In Camp Camp, Max and co. manage to successfully hijack the bus and escape from David and Gwen, only to be caught shortly after when they crash the bus because none of them know how to drive.
  • Cyanide and Happiness: In this short, a barbershop quartet attempts to perform surgery, happily singing what they need ("Scallllllpeelllll..."). Their patient suddenly goes into cardiac arrest, and the singers can't do anything—because they're a barbershop quartet. They then lament the fact that they're not doctors, at which point a real surgeon enters the room and stares at the dead body in confusion.
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary:
  • Eddsworld: At the end of the episode "Saloonatics," Edd tries to have an inspirational moment by drinking from his wild west ancestor's cola. Despite the rest of the episode portraying such cola as giving you a harmless sugar rush, it then cuts to him vomiting into a toilet. A baffled Tom asks why he'd drink from a 100-year-old bottle of cola.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The book Where My Hat Is At? ended with Homestar, having found his hat, arriving at the Big Game "just in time to score the winning run." It's left to interpretation whether this means he showed up in time to go up to bat and scored a home run or if he just ran onto the field at home plate and somehow didn't get thrown out for disrupting the game. When the book was remade as a cartoon ten years later, the Brothers Chaps decided to go with the latter, minus the not-getting-thrown-out part:
      Homestar: Safe!
      Umpire: Uhhhhhh, whaddaya doin'?
      Homestar: I found my hat just in time to score the winning run.
      Umpire: Uh, no, actually it's the bottom of the second, your team's down by 94 points, and you just illegally ran onto the field!
      Homestar: Get this, it was between the milk and the Cold Ones!
      Umpire: Yeah, yeah, you need to head back to the dugout before I toss you out of here, buster!
      Homestar: Man, Mr. Umpire, you sure have a funny way of pronouncing... "Homestar Runner's team wins!"
      Umpire: ...Yeah, you're suspended from the league.
    • The Dangeresque: Puppet Squad episode "The Hot-Jones Hijack!" involves the villain attempting to kill the heroes by throwing them in a deathtrap involving a "robotic Santaman"—that is to say, a motorized dancing Santa toy with a pair of knives taped to its hands. Since the Dangeresque films tend to feature (deliberately) awful special effects, you'd expect it to still be treated as a threat... but then a later scene reveals that it met the fate you would expect of such a deadly weapon, which is to say that it lost its balance and fell over to do nothing but spin around uselessly.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School:
    • Rachel carrying her luggage in a trash bag ends badly, as trash bags tend to rip when holding too much weight.
    • Sorry, Brittnay, but being unarmed and having just come out of Force Feeding will not have you Curb-Stomp Battle Team France as you did with The Expendables.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • After a history of the Reds and Blues learning to cope with Caboose's habit of getting team-mates killed while trying to help them, that ends when he's reassigned. He is sentenced to the brig and tied up as soon as his new C.O. realises how Lethally Stupid he is.
    • Washington is an established Made of Iron Determinator, continuously bouncing back from injuries that would leave anyone else a blubbering shell of a person. Indeed, he seems to start recovering from being shot in the throat at the end of Season 15. However, Season 16 reveals severe brain damage due to his brain losing oxygen for one minute, leaving him as a Mood-Swinger with short-term amnesia.
  • RWBY: In Volume 6, Maria dismisses Weiss's concerns when base radios their stolen airship because she knows their lingo. When her bluff fails, Weiss assumes Maria screwed up. However, the operators confirm the lingo was correct while pointing out the ship's assigned pilot isn't an old lady.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: A resident superhero flips over a room full of bad guys shooting at him. The hero ends up dead, riddled with bullets.
  • At the end of Dubious Company, the insane God-Emperor Kreedor is defeated and The Empire is taken over by the noble General Izzor and his lieutenants. In the last few strips it shows them struggling to transition a society that has been engaged in expansionist wars for decades to peace: Izzor notes that because Kreedor funded the military to the exclusion of everything else the country has a bloated military, a crumbling infrastructure and economy in ruins; multiple regions are on the verge of rebellion; when they announce to the soldiers that the war is over and they can go home, the now unemployed troops are furious because now they have no livelihood and don’t know anything else; recently annexed territories are left in chaos when the Empire withdraws leaving no functioning government behind and with some people calling for reparations. It's lampshaded when someone notes that it doesn’t go like that in the stories.
  • Paranatural: Spender briefs the club while facing the window, which makes for a dramatic image with the sun shining on him. There's a short pause after he speaks, and it turns out they can't hear him very well because he's facing away from them.
  • In a Team Fortress 2 comic, Saxton Hale grabs a flying eagle after being dropped out of a plane, announcing his intention to have the eagle fly him to the ground safely. Since Saxton runs on Rule of Cool, you'd expect this to work, so it's a shock when the eagle turns out to be unable to fly while carrying a person.
  • Weak Hero thrives on the underdog heroes never losing and overcoming all injuries and trials to take down their opponents. Alex spends all of Season 3 angsting over his need to power up, removes a Power Limiter he didn't know he had, and acknowledges how to overcome his mental blocks. Expectations of his victory were high when he faced off against Dongha. Dongha mocked him for thinking his willpower would allow him to win and dislocated his arm, the most brutal injury inflicted on a protagonist yet. Alex lost unequivocally, with Gerard needing to come in at the last minute to save him.

    Web Original 
  • A number of Civvie 11 videos featured hints that Civvie was planning to escape the prison that the series was set in and detonate a bomb, with him doing brief asides of talking to contacts or requisitioning weapons. This culminates in his Unreal video, where he finally puts the plan into action... and his handlers inform him that they figured out the plan and defused it some time ago, since he was discussing the details of how he was going to do it in a publicly-available YouTube review show.
  • Critical Role: In Campaign 2, Beauregard tries to invoke And Show It to You in her "How do you want to do this?" on a giant minotaur demon. Because the heart is roughly the size of a beachball and she has no knowledge of the creature's anatomy, this takes a lot of effort and ends up looking a lot less cool than she envisioned.
  • Dream SMP: Immediately after winning the election, Schlatt - already established as being not the most physically fit and somewhat frail - begins downing alcohol by the truckloads and using steroids to compensate for his lack of physical strength. His unhealthy lifestyle and the impact on his health are largely Played for Laughs and fever factors into the main plot, until the first season finale, where he anticlimactically dies of a heart attack while being surrounded by Pogtopia after losing the final battle. As it turns out, his heavy substance abuse posed a genuine threat to his life, and he likely would have died regardless of whether or not he won.
  • Shepard's Mind: When Shepard tries to eat a chocolate bar, he immediately realizes how awful it tastes after he swam through sewage in his adventure.
    Shepard: That was maybe not a good thing to put in my mouth.


Video Example(s):


Lynn Pukes

Lynn eating a bunch of cheese while stalling from going on the roller coaster and riding a cow that tries to shake her off gives her a severe case of indigestion.

How well does it match the trope?

3.77 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / SurprisinglyRealisticOutcome

Media sources: