Follow TV Tropes


Upside-Down Blueprints

Go To
"What does 'dn ǝpᴉs sᴉɥʇ' mean?"
Where Just Following Orders gets too extreme. When a construction worker unknowingly is looking at a blueprint the wrong way, instead of figuring out what's wrong with it, he ends up building his project accordingly to the misread plans. It's only after construction is finished that the worker realizes his error, only for it to be too late. Expect yells of You Fool! or the worker experiencing a Dope Slap for his idiocy.

Alternatively, the worker might be confused about the plans and mentions his doubts about the project to his boss who, unaware that the plans are upside down, invokes I Don't Pay You to Think and orders him to follow the plans exactly.

Subtrope of Bizarrchitecture, which has to be at work in order for the project to be standing after the builder is finished. Also relies a lot on Rule of Funny. See also Had the Silly Thing in Reverse. May result in Achievements in Ignorance. Not to be confused with Construction Zone Calamity, which is another disaster altogether.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The French comic Les Bidochons had a variation where the builders build the house backwards (that is, they start with the chimney dangling from a crane) because the builder learned to read in Arabic and read the instructions right-to-left as well. Thus the first step according to the builder is ".place in chimney the put finally And".

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side:
    • One cartoon has an angry-looking devil, a "999" on the door, and the painter going "I must have been holding the dang work order upside down!".
    • In a variation, one is captioned "Suddenly, a heated argument took place between the king and the moat contractor", we see the workers diligently digging a moat... inside the castle.

    Films — Animation 
  • At the beginning of Minions, after the newly constructed pyramid crushes the Egyptians flat, Norbert realizes that he had the blueprints upside down, earning himself a Dope Slap.

  • Discworld: Bergholt Stuttley "Bloody Stupid" Johnson is infamous for the negative genius he applied to his creations, to the point where one of his other nicknames is "Look, The Plans Were The Right Way Round When I Drew Them". We don't see what resulted in that particular epithet, but he's built things like salt-and-pepper shakers big enough to be used as family housing, a shower that dispenses acid rain, a mail-sorting machine that breaks the laws of physics by rounding down pi to 3, and a trout lake an inch wide.
  • The Temp: When the titular character is a personal assistant to a very senior director, the director casually asks her, in front of a massive TV crew, what she thinks of the blue-prints of a floating oil-rig. She says she does not understand why the rig does not turn upside down, if the top is heavier than the bottom. The director has a massive Oh, Crap! moment when he realises she is right.
  • Wayside School is a 30-story building (albeit lacking a nineteenth story). It was supposed to be a 1 story building with 30 classrooms in a row, but the builder was holding the plans sideways. He said he was very sorry.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bassie & Adriaan: In one of the shorts, Bassie goes camping for the first time, but when setting up his tent he holds the instructions upside down and sets up his tent accordingly. He doesn't even realize his mistake until Adriaan points it out to him.
  • The Goes Wrong Show: In the episode "90 Degrees", a miscommunication with the set crew caused the study set to be built sideways, complete with all the furniture. To compensate for this, the camera is placed on its side, though the actors are still visibly struggling to get through the scene without breaking the illusion that gravity is working normally. Later this trope is played more literally when the actors discover that the bedroom set is completely upside down. This forces one of the actors, playing a dying patient, to cling to the sides of the bed for dear life.

  • Invoked by Mr. Lamb in one episode of The Men from the Ministry. After transport people return the plans for a potential flyover wanting instead an underpass, Lamb orders Mildred to send the plans back turned upside down.

    Video Games 
  • Downplayed in Deadly Rooms of Death. For level fourteen of Journey to Rooted Hold, The Mud Coordinators tried to build a replica of the eighth level of King Dugan's dungeon, but they had the map upside-down. Instead of up and down being inverted, it's just the four cardinal directions (north, south, east and west) being mixed up with their respective opposites. Though it was apparently still a big enough mistake that the Tar Technicians mock them for it.

    Web Animation 
  • The Happy Tree Friends TV episode "Home Is Where the Hurt Is" has a variation of this trope, where Lumpy messes up with the blueprints and the new house built for Giggles is an amalgam of upside-down rooms, doors leading to nowhere, deadly pits and hazards, and twisted halls that lead to the deaths of the many careless characters wandering within.

    Western Animation 
  • Bugs Bunny Builders:
    • In "Goofballs", the Beaver Brothers play with Lola's tablet, messing up the plans for the log cabin that the Looney Builders were building for them. As a result, the directions get flipped over, and the Looney Builders end up building the log cabin upside down.
    • Invoked in "Batty Kathy"; the Looney Builders intentionally build an upside-down radio station for Kathy Bat, and need to find a way to keep it from falling from the ceiling.
  • Darkwing Duck: In the episode "Going Nowhere Fast", after being zapped by a particle accelerator from Negaduck, Darkwing gains Super-Speed and uses this to try and be a better hero. One of the things he does is single handidly build a new skyscraper in a matter of seconds, but since he held the blueprints upside down the whole building ends up being constructed upside down. Darkwing being Darkwing, he fails to realize his error and instead states that the architect should be sued. He breaks it down again later after it's revealed the new super speed comes with Rapid Aging, and he has to run backwards to undo this effect.
  • Goof Troop:
    • In "A Goof Under My Roof", Pete reads a set of boundary plans that seem to show that he owns half the property Goofy's house is on. Taking advantage of it, he knocks down half of Goofy's home and starts acting like an annoying house guest. In the end, Peg shows him he had the blueprints upside down: Goofy actually owned half of Pete's house!
    • In "Nightmare on Goof Street", a couple of con artists pose as house renovators and steal parts of Pete's house. After getting the parts back, Pete and Goofy rush to put the house back together before Pete's family finds out. They succeed, but Pete still gets caught when it's shown that the kitchen is upside down.
      Goofy: I thought those right angles looked wrong.
  • George Jetson of Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons is assigned by his Bad Boss to find a way to thwart competitor Cogswell Cogs from spying on him from Cogswell's newly-built neighboring building. The blueprints are shown, including a property line directly through Cogswell's building! Somehow, the architect never saw this as a Fatal Flaw; Child Prodigy Elroy Jetson, however, did.
  • Inverted in one episode of Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series, where the Saurians have stolen a missile and loaded it into a launch platform pointing downward. Upon looking at the plans, Siege comments that they did it wrong, the missile supposed to be pointed upward, only for Wraith to flip the plans around, showing that the missile is supposed to go downward, their plan being to use it to create a volcano.
  • Inverted in one episode of Peabody's Improbable History, where Sherman is shocked that it appears for once, Mr. Peabody makes a mistake when he designed the Great Pyramid upside down. However, Peabody reveals that he deliberately designed the pyramid upside down as part of a Batman Gambit, knowing that the Pharaoh's bratty nephew would try to destroy it. Instead, the nephew's attempt to blow up the pyramid results in it landing right-side up.
  • A couple episodes of Phineas and Ferb has Ferb show Phineas their blueprints in this way, only for him to reel back in disgust until his stepbrother puts it rightside up.
  • In the Rugrats (1991) "Passover" special, Chuckie builds an upside down pyramid for Angelica, who takes on the role of Pharaoh in Grandpa Boris' story. Angelica is shocked when she sees the upside-down pyramid, and Chuckie tells her that he followed the instructions the way she wanted him to. Angelica then turns the instructions right-side-up, and Chuckie realizes his mistake.
  • TaleSpin had a story about a pyramid that was accidentally built upside down and into the ground to the great embarrassment of the Pharaoh, who put a curse on the foreman to guard the shameful secret as a mummy. They end up correcting the error by lifting the entire thing out of the ground and flipping it over, allowing the mummified foreman to rest in peace.

  • There are a number of urban legends that claim that buildings which show a less-decorated facade to a now-more-important direction were accidentally constructed back to front. For example, the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, which was constructed to face the university campus, meaning that the main entrance from the street is actually the back of the building.
  • A related urban legend tells how some buildings (especially on college campuses) were supposedly built "backwards", with the more elaborate architecture and ornamentation on the less-used side, or where you couldn't admire it from a distance.