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Well, This Is Not That Trope

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Greenslade: Into this complex world of crime, of move and counter move, stepped a man of great ingenuity, daring, resource and brains.
Eccles: Ain't me, folks.

You know how when someone describes something they actually tell you about the thing itself? Well, this is not that trope.

Subversion distilled to its purest essence: you directly build up the audience's expectations with an elaborate description of something, then tell them that you're actually talking about something else — often the exact opposite of everything you've just said.

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Closely related to Dissimile, where the simile is broken down by successively removing all the crucial elements.

Most often a Comedy Trope, but can be Played for Drama if done correctly. Compare Analogy Backfire, Bait-and-Switch Comparison, Distinction Without a Difference. Related to Bait-and-Switch Credits.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
     Anime and Manga 
  • Seraph of the End: Guren and Mahiru fell in love with each other at a young age, yet got violently separated for their unmatching social status - she's from the prestigious Hiiragi family while he's just a member of the branch family Ichinose. Eight years later, they accidentally meet again in the same school, only to have Shinya entered the picture as Mahiru's fiancee, and he does try to earn Mahiru's love, but it's useless because she only loves Guren. You probably expect the guys to fight over her, but well... Mahiru is later on revealed to be involved with the Hyakuya Sect with some rather disturbing actions to harm the world. Guren and Shinya join forces with some others to stop her, and as they do so, Shinya slowly finds himself gradually disliking Mahiru and falling for... Guren. Yeah, he takes interest on the very same guy whom his supposed fiancee loves. As for Guren, although he turns into a Celibate Hero after Mahiru dies and becomes a demon, he doesn't seem too bothered by Shinya's teasing and flirting with him, and in fact, even though he doesn't say it out loud, Shinya is very important to him whether platonic or not.
  • Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru starts with an opening monologue about the Touken Danshi, their purpose, and how they need to protect history from demons...until the narrator is interrupted before they can finish, panning over to the peaceful roof of the citadel to establish how Lighter and Softer it is in comparison to the game.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen:
    Moloch: You know the kind of cancer you ultimately get better from? ...That ain't the kind I got.
  • In a non-canon story of Ultimate Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis comments that occasionally you encounter a story so important, so moving it HAS to be told. THIS... is not one of those stories.
  • In Supergirl Vol. 5 issue #22, Supergirl sees the Legion of Super-Heroes again. Lightning Lad asks whether she remembers how she thought they all were a dream before acknowledging they were real. She nods and he tells her this time she is in fact dreaming.
    Lightning Lad: Hey, Kara, remember when you first showed up here, telling us all we were figments of your imagination?
    Supergirl: Yeah. Sorry about that.
    Lightning Lad: Well, now you really are dreaming.
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    Fan Works 
  • From chapter 8 of Rob Haynie's Ranma ½ fic, Girl Days:
    The walk back was uneventful.
    No, sorry, that was a different walk back. THIS walk back was something other than uneventful.
  • Miraculous: Tales of Honeybee and Red Fox, uses this trope as the Establishing Character Moment of Felicite, a very self-deprecating person. The fic opens by describing the Hidden Depths of Emma Agreste, Broken Ace and Paris' golden girl. Then the narrator explains that she is Felicite, Emma's best friend, and that this story is actually about both of them.
  • Brilliant Lights Will Cease To Burn references the opening chapters of My Hero Academia before assuring the reader that none of this happens in this story.
    Midoriya Izuku is born Quirkless. This is a fact that he hates, detests, abhors for the majority of his adolescence. Kacchan certainly doesn’t help, and neither do the rest of his classmates. Luckily, Izuku accepts his Quirklessness rather elegantly. He doesn’t give up his goal of becoming a hero, mind you, but he does throw himself into his hero research with a newfound vigor.

    In another universe, Izuku begins his collection of hero notebooks, running to whatever villain fight he can. In another universe, Izuku stands on the sidelines and lives his life, quietly nursing his ambition. In another universe, Izuku unknowingly sets himself on the path that crosses with All Might’s.

    In this universe, that’s not exactly how it goes.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Done twice in Piers Anthony's book Under A Velvet Cloak. First he describes the story of King Arthur and follows it up with "This is not that story." Then he describes the story of a girl who would be an ancestor to many Incarnations and says "This is not that story either."
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place...

    This is not her story.
    • Even this subversion is subverted a few books later, in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. It opens up the same way as Hitchhiker's Guide, then says, "This is her story." Although the readers never do learn what she figured out, which was presumably the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
    • There's also a sequence where Arthur asks Ford about how the universe was born, and Ford goes off on a tangent about buying a bathtub, filling it with sand, then watching all the sand drain down while filming it, and then playing the film back in reverse. Which, he adds, is nothing like how the universe was born.
  • "Maybe once in a lifetime, there comes a book with such extraordinary characters, thrilling plot twists, and uncanny insight, that it comes to embody its time. Atlanta Nights is a book." — Adam-Troy Castro
  • The winner of the 2007 Lyttle Lytton Contest freeform challenge:
    "Scaling Everest was, by far, the most amazing and transformative experience of my life. Unfortunately, this is a thesis on context-free grammars."
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio opens with one: "Centuries ago, there lived... 'a king!' my little readers will say immediately. No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood."
  • Used at the start of Stephen Leacock's short story Gertrude the Governess:
    It was a wild and stormy night on the West Coast of Scotland. This, however, is immaterial to the present story, as the scene is not laid in the West of Scotland. For the matter of that the weather was just as bad on the East Coast of Ireland.
    But the scene of this narrative is laid in the South of England...
  • Played for Drama in the final stanza of "Casey at the Bat":
    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
    But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.
  • In Sourcery, when Carding is bitten by the sourcerer's staff and Spelter asks him what it felt like
    Carding: Have you ever been bitten by a viper?
    Spelter: No.
    Carding: In that case you'll understand exactly what it felt like.
    Spelter: Hmmm?
    Carding: It wasn't like a snake bite at all.
  • The opening paragraphs of Terra says that some couples get along perfectly and are always in agreement, but the Bradburys weren't like that. It then says that there are also couples who argue, and make up, and it ultimately brings them closer together, and even when they're arguing you know they love each other beneath it. And the Bradburys aren't like that either.
  • Older Than Steam: The opening of The Canterbury Tales is so well-known today that it's easy to miss its use of this trope. The first eleven lines describe the start of spring in faintly erotically-charged terms, with flowers being "engendered" and the west wind blowing with its "sweet breath" and little birds being "pricked" to "make melody" all night, before upending the reader's expectations with "Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages."
  • In Relativity, when Ravenswood is telling Melody the story about how he met Michael, he starts with a lengthy description of the accounting class he took in college. Then he reveals that the class has nothing to do with the story, as he met Michael several years later.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue spin-off books:
    • In Stovold's Mornington Crescent Almanac, Humphrey Lyttelton recalls visiting New Orleans when he was young, and meeting a variety of musicians with Parody Names before concluding:
      It seems so long ago and far away, but that night jazz was born. And just three streets away from where we were.
    • The Little Book of Mornington Crescent, in its section on the Offside Rule, opens by saying the rule is easily misunderstood but is quite simple, then has half a page of dense, jargon-filled Crescentbabble, then concludes that the above should not be confused with the Offside Rule.
  • Just So Stories: "The Butterfly That Stamped" opens with "There are three hundred and fifty-five stories about Suleiman-bin-Daoud; but this is not one of them."

    Live Action TV 
  • On Malcolm in the Middle, Lois tells Reese, "Some people have book smarts; some people have street smarts. You have neither."
  • When Mike ends his deal with somebody in Breaking Bad, he says, "You know how they say 'it's been a pleasure'? It hasn't."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • One of the sketches featured a narrator who would introduce various on-screen characters in detail, only to remark that they were not going to be the protagonist and move on to someone else they run into. This happens several times.
    • Subversion: The "Science Fiction Sketch" begins by introducing Mr. and Mrs. Brainsample as a "perfectly ordinary couple" and promptly disregards them as being too ordinary to be of interest. Then they reappear at the sketch's climax to help resolve the plot.
    • "Mount Everest. Aloof, terrifying, the highest mountain in the world. (Camera pulls away from a poster of Everest to show a travel agency's office) No, we don't fly there."
    • "In 1943 a group of British Army officers, working deep inside enemy lines, carried off one of the most dangerous and heroic raids in the history of warfare. [Beat] But that's as may be. And now..." (segue to the Army Protection Racket sketch)
    • "...And he's come into the studio tonight to talk about Tchaikovsky, which is a bit of a pity as this is 'Farming Club'." (Subverted in that they end up doing a sketch about Tchaikovsky anyway)
    • "Mr. Bent is in our Durham studios, which is rather unfortunate as we're all down here in London."
  • In the Wonder Showzen Season 1 DVD, we have this:
    Know that famous Street where all the sunshiney happy kids go to watch quality TV and learn stuff? THIS AIN’T IT!!!
  • In the Charmed episode "The Wedding from Hell":
    Allison Michaels: I love that show.
  • On Roseanne: "Mark, remember all those times you screwed up? This ain't one of them!"
  • In one episode of Hogan's Heroes, an American prisoner is brought to camp, and Hogan notices he's got a black thimble lens. When he looks into it, Klink asks him what he's seeing:
    Hogan: You know that famous picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware?
    Klink: Yes, I'm familiar with it.
    Hogan (grinning): This ain't it.
  • The Doctor (especially the 11th) does this a few times, using an analogy then saying immediately after (or after a convoluted explanation that goes nowhere) that the analogy is actually completely wrong.
    River: A needle in a haystack.
    Doctor: A needle that looks like hay. A haylike needle of death. A haylike needle of death in a haystack of... statues. No, yours is fine.
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Used in the pilot.
      "And if you took the time to really get to know me, find out what kind of person I really am instead of just stereotyping me because of the way I look... well, you'd be wasting your time. 'Cause I'm exactly who you think I am. Hell, I'll pretty much steal anything that's not nailed down."
    • Once again used in "Buried Treasure", in the last intro sequence with the librarian.
      "You know the kind of girl who looks like a simple librarian, but when she pulls the pencil out of her hair it all falls down and she looks all wild and sexy? (sighs) I wish that was me."
  • An episode of The Mary Whitehouse Experience had the following Radio Times listing:
    Each winter the bald-headed eagle comes to roost in the Highlands of Scotland. Tony Sopernote  is there with his binoculars. Unfortunately he hasn't got a television series. We have. Sorry Tony.
  • In the Musical Episode of Scrubs while they're preparing a patient for a brain scan:
    "Sometimes you're better off not knowing... but this isn't one of those times!"
  • A Running Gag in the final episode of Blackadder II was Master of Disguise Prince Ludwig describing a friend or associate of a character in great detail, and when they said "You mean...?" replying "Yes! I was [someone else who was there at the same time]!"
  • In This Is Us, Randall hopes that his sheer desire to impress his children at Career Day would make him an Instant Expert at singing and playing piano. Unfortunately for all, he comes up embarrassingly short.
    Randall: You know how in movies, somebody’s bad at something but they don’t wanna be. And so they set their mind to it. And then we see this montage where they are practicing and practicing. And then comes the big moment, and they’re amazing, and everybody cheers.
    William: I think I’ve seen a few movies like that, yeah.
    Randall: I think I skipped the montage.
  • An early episode of The Muppet Show has one of these in Kermit's opening monologue.
    Kermit: How would you like to see 4,000 woodpeckers performing an aerial ballet while 87 gorillas and two dozen elephants do the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"? Well, forget it! Because, instead, we've got Joel Grey as a guest star. Which, in a way, is like having all the excitement of everything I already mentioned without having to clean up afterwards.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, after Rip Hunter forms the Time Bureau, his version of the Couch Gag opening monologue goes like this:
    Rip: Time travel is real, and so are its consequences. When a terrible time paradox put all of history in peril, an elite team was formed. Their job, to protect history and repair these so-called anachronisms. Unfortunately, this is not that elite team. And yet, this team of misfits and outcasts is determined to fix the history which they have broken. Not because they are heroes, but because they are legends.
  • Life After People speculates on "what would happen if every human being on Earth disappeared" — how long it would take for the power to go out, buildings to collapse, civilizations to disappear, etc. The one thing the series doesn't speculate about is what happened to the human race to cause it all, which is why this might be the only show whose Opening Narration describes what you are not watching: "This isn't the story of how we might vanish — it is the story of what happens to the world we leave behind."
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    Music 
  • The Tenacious D song Tribute is about an encounter between Tenacious D and a Demon, who threatened to take their souls if they did not perform the Greatest Song In The World for him. After singing about it for the entire song, they reveal that the song you have been listening to sounds nothing like that song, as "this is a Tribute" to that song. note 
  • "It ain't me, babe" by Bob Dylan (and famously recorded by Johnny Cash):
    You say you’re lookin’ for someone
    Never weak but always strong
    To protect you and defend you
    Whether you are right or wrong
    Someone to open each and every door
    But it ain’t me, babe
    No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
    It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for. babe.
  • Fred Astaire by San Cisco starts off live a typical sappy pop love song, with the singer mentioning how much he misses his girl and has been thinking of her. The rest of the song is devoted to explaining how she'd be better off with...Fred Astaire?

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Beau Peep strip, Peep asks Lethal Chef Egon what the soup of the day is. Egon replies "Have you ever heard of minestrone? A delicate blend of Italian herbs and spices. But it takes ages, this is turnip water."

    Radio 
  • Often done with the introductions on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. "People come to this theatre from far and wide to watch the greatest performers of the age. Other times, they come to see our teams..."
    • Celebrating the 30th Anniversary Special:
      Humph: For a show such as this to have lasted thirty years might be thought achievement enough in itself. But to have brought joy and laughter to thousands of listeners ... might at least have been worth a try.
    • "It would be a colossal waste to have Phil Jupitus on the show and not have a round that showcases his talents. Still, there you go."
    • After Tim has sung The Goodies theme to the tune of "Feelings":
      Jack: Sometimes when you do that to a song you realise for the first time how good the lyrics are. That wasn't one of those times, but it can happen.
  • The Audio Adaptation of Good Omens:
    Shadwell: Ye can take the field telephone. Ye ken those wee modern smartphones?
    Pulsifer: Yes.
    Shadwell: Well, this isnae one.
    FX: THUMP!
    Pulsifer: Gosh, they knew how to build them in the eighties.
  • In a 2008 episode of The Now Show introducing the guest stand-up slot, Steve Punt explained that part of the ethos of the show was providing a place for new, young comedians, before adding that, unfortunately, they all had their own stuff going on.
    Steve: So instead, let me welcome the man who first showed Lord Reith where the photocopier was, Barry Cryer!
  • The introduction of The Unbelievable Truth, series 20, episode 2:
    David Mitchell: As for the panel, well, we've never had a Pulitzer Prize winning author on the show before, and that's not going to change tonight.

    Video Games 
  • From the beginning of The Several Journeys of Reemus
    "Many moons ago in the Kingdom of Fredericus, there lived a champion dragon slayer. Beloved by the people, feared by outlaws, hated by dragons.

    He brought justice and peace to the land, saving villages and maidens wherever he traveled.

    This story is about his brother..."
  • The Flash game Robot Wants Puppy starts with an Opening Scroll, describing a Star Wars-like scenario, before concluding "Meanwhile, in a completely different galaxy, thousands of light years away, robot wants puppy".

    Web Comics 
  • This piece of narration (and current page quote) from Roommates plays with this trope:
    Somewhere, there is a place where all stories are real and all dreams are truth.
    This is not that place.click for the continuation 
    • Later played straight and for drama:
    Jareth: Do you know how some families fight and shout and curse each other, but at the end of the day they're still your family and you're with them to the end of the world because you love them and they love you? ... My family isn't like that.
  • Dungeon Crawl Inc has the original author's description of the comic:
    Once in a great while there comes a story that capture the imagination of all who read it. This is not that story. But we do have lots of violence and scantily clad women!
  • Schlock Mercenary: When some alien frat boys decide to engage in some Bullying a Dragon, the narration takes a step into this trope.
    Nick: Are you pickin' a fight wif' me?
    Narrator: Anyone with half a brain would know that this question, asked in this tone of voice, by a man of this size, has exactly one correct answer.
    Enireth Frat Boy G: Yes I am. What are you going to do about it?
    Narrator: That was not it.

    Web Original 
  • FreakAngels kicks off with variation of this trope: "23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at the exact same moment. Six years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next."
  • The Discworld Emporium page for the Fools' Guild Stamp says: "Ankh-Morpork boasts some of the most highly regarded and illustrious guilds on the Discworld. Incidentally, it's also home the Guild of Fools and Joculators and College of Clowns."
  • SCP-055 is a "self-keeping secret", utterly unobservable and indescribable. The only way to define it in any way is by determining what it is not, e.g. "it is not a sphere".
  • The opening of The Tough Pigs review of the Don Knotts episode of The Muppet Show:
    Y’know how there are some episodes of The Muppet Show where it ends and you’re just screaming for more? Sometimes it’s the sketches and songs that are just hitting on every level, blowing you away with every segment. Or the backstage plot is so well done and the core cast are perfectly encapsulating what you love about the show. Or there are one-off characters that are bringing the world of the Muppets to life. Or it’s that the guest star is so amazing and works so well with the Muppets that you want to see them come back next week for more fun.

    Well, buckle up because … this is not one of those episodes. Like, at all.
  • Semi-inverted in this review for the Japanese N64 game Getter Love!!
    In most dating simulation games, the gameplay involves little more than being in the right places at the right times and being nice only to the girl you want. Sometimes you also need to build up the proper statistics of your character that correspond with the personality of the particular lady you want to end up with. Is this the case in Getter Love? If you're expecting a "no!", well, you're not getting one! It's the right answer, though. Getter Love isn't as shallow as most dating sims.

    Web Video 
  • The Dragon Ball Abridged parody of "Bardock: The Father of Goku" begins this way:
    Narrator: Long ago, on a planet long forgotten by time, a young hero was born. A righteous Saiyan warrior who would bring peace to the galaxy. This... is NOT his story...
  • The introduction of "Worms Armageddon - The Worst Shot Ever 2013" does this.
    There are rumours of legendary players
    who possess ruthless efficiency
    a flawless understanding of worms physics
    uncanny observation skills to find powerups
    and unmatched accuracy.
    This is not their story.

    Western Animation 
  • Computer Animation Showcase, a collection of computer-animated shorts, started one of them with this voiceover: "Every once in a great while, a movie comes along that touches everyone's lives. beat Eh, but not this one.
  • Animaniacs: In "Taming Of The Screwy", some very rich investors want to meet all the employees, so Plotz has a big meet-and-greet party organized. After being introduced, and behaving very nicely, the Warner siblings are sent home by Plotz. Dr. Scratch'n'Sniff explains matters and takes them home. As they start climbing back into the water tower and Dr. Scratch'n'Sniff leaves:
    Yakko: Well, I know when we're not wanted. I know when we should just -go home! (beat) Now... is not one of those times.
    (they climb back down)
  • From the first episode of Freakazoid!:
    Narrator: Only one hero can track down Cave Guy. Only one hero has the heart to fight this fiend. That hero is... On another network. Thus, we have no choice but to turn to...
    (zip pan to Dexter Douglas)
    Narrator: This fellow.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode, "Be A-Fred, Be Very A-Fred", Grim goes to inquire about his laxative commercial. The very angry executive points to a chart that shows vast improvement in sales, saying, "This has nothing to do with us!" He then points to the one that does, showing the sales taking a downward spiral with a picture of a toilet at the current, lowest sales rating. (Clearly, a laxative commercial with The Grim Reaper in it was not a good idea.)
  • From the Looney Tunes short "Bewitched Bunny":
    Bugs Bunny: This looks like a job for the Masked Avenger! ...But since he's not around, I guess I'll have to take care of it myself.
    • "Bugs Bunny Rides Again": After tricking Yosemite Sam into falling off a cliff, Bugs puts a mattress below and says "Sometimes me conscience kinda bothers me... but not this time!", and pulls the mattress away just before Sam hits the ground.
  • Steven Universe: In "The Return", as Greg and Steven are trying to evacuate Beach City as Peridot's hand ship is about to arrive with reinforcements from Homeworld.
    Steven: Maybe, when Peridot gets to Earth, she'll see how nice all the people are and she won't want to hurt anyone.
    Greg: Just like your mother.
    Steven: Yeah?
    Greg: Yeah. But these other Gems aren't like your mother. They're not like Garnet, Amethyst or Pearl. They're not gonna start caring about people now. They didn't the first time they...

    Real Life 
  • Some schools of philosophy and theology hold that since certain concepts (such as God) are beyond human understanding, the only way one can describe them is by stating what they aren't. (e.g. "immortal", an attribute commonly given to gods, literally means "not mortal".)
  • Aristotle uses this trope frequently in the Metaphysics. To introduce new concepts, he will begin with an inaccurate-but-simpler version of whatever concept he wants to discuss, and once that is understood, he moves on to more-accurate-but-harder-to-understand iterations.
    • Chemistry and Physics are often taught that way as well. In the first year you learn a simple concept that works for some applications without actually being correct (e.g. atoms as little round balls). The next year (or unit of lectures) begins with: "Well what we previously taught you is not actually how this works. We will now explain how it actually works" (e.g. introducing the concept of electrons), the next step is pointing out how the real world is not that model either. Rinse, repeat. Justified insofar as many things can satisfactorily be explained by a "wrong" theory - Newtonian physics works just fine for human sized objects moving at highway speeds; it doesn't for atoms at near light speed. And some of the "wrong" theories are actually the basis for understanding the more advanced ones which are closer to reality.
  • In American elementary schools children are taught a fairly safe for work version of history. For example: the pilgrims and Native Americans got along. Then in middle or high school they slowly begin teaching them that no, they did not, and that history was full of bloodshed.

Alternative Title(s): Bait And Switch Exposition, This Is Not That Trope, This Is Not That Story

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