The A-Team: From driving a garbage truck through the wall of a Mob-boss' club and dumping the contents on the floor ("The Out-of-Towners"), to turning a forklift into a tank that shoots lumber, to fashioning a hot-air balloon out of a vacuum-cleaner and trash-bags to break out of prison, all of the A-Team's plans go like this. As explained in-universe in "West Coast Turnaround", "Hannibal's plans never work like they're supposed to. They just work."
In Auction Kings, one lady brings in a seemingly normal piece of furniture and insists it's worth $80,000. When Paul finds out it's worth at most a couple hundred, she sells it anyway.
Babylon 5: Londo extricates Na'Toth from the dungeon of the Centauri palace by covering her in a Centauri lady's outfit (complete with veil), parading her through the halls as if she's his date for the evening, and acting like a loud obnoxious in-your-face drunk so that everyone they encounter pointedly ignores the embarrassing spectacle.
The crew of the Liberator in Blake's 7 repeatedly escaped sticky situations in space by flying straight though them. (Examples include pursuit ships, a gravitational vortex and a black hole.)
Boston Legal: Most episodes feature the audacious antics of Alan Shore and Denny Crane. The latter of the two has come very close to having his name taken off the door because of his hi-jinx, despite being a founding partner, while the former wins most of his (usually unconventional) cases by "pulling a rabbit out of a hat" (Denny's "life advice"). As explained in-universe by Mr. Shore, "the conventional ones won't have me".
Walter White uses this trope as part of his cover. A milquetoast high school chemistry teacher with a DEA Agent as his brother-in-law secretly being a drug kingpin? One moment is when Hank, said DEA brother-in-law, is helping him move some stuff. One of the bags is extremely heavy, and Hank asks why. Walt says it's filled with half a million in cash, which it is. Hank laughs it off and moves onto another topic.
Jesse Pinkman acts extremely rude to the Juarez Cartel superlab when they hire him to reveal Heisenberg's formula.
Jesse: Tell this asshole if he wants to learn how to make my product, he's got to do it my way, the right way. Chemist: I speak English. Jesse: So you understand what asshole means. Now, go get me my phenylacetic acid, asshole.
A lot of auditioners for Britain's Got Talent, America's Got Talent, and so on try for this... some succeed. Memorably:
In Burn Notice Michael, Sam, and Fiona get what they want through the audacity of Plan B note which is usually some variation of blow it up, smash it or imitate some variation of a military plan with 3-4 people and some on the fly DIY, as Plan A never pans out.
Also whenever one of Team Weston gets caught in a lie note Which happens more than one might think for experienced espionage agents They get out of it by playing their role harder, Michael often even tells the bad guy his entire plan or the exact situation they're in and then laughs it off, which almost always works note only people who also have experience in espionage ever catch him, often with the person apologizing to him for being paranoid or ridiculous.
One particularly memorable situation involved a crook who the Crew were Gaslighting into paranoia, while Michael poses as a security consultant for the crook. The crook demands to know who could be behind this, and Michael immediately describes himself, and then states that the person responsible (who he just described) could be "standing right in front of you." It speaks to the fragile state of mind of the crook that this only makes him more paranoid and trusting of Michael.
Another case involved breaking into a high tech lab to steal something. Michael and Fiona set up several weak explosives to trip as many alarms as possible as they do so.
Michael: Set off one alarm and your enemy knows exactly where you are and what you're doing. Set off a hundred alarms and no one has any idea what's going on.
Community: Invoked by Vice Dean Laybourne when he kidnaps Troy to convince him to become an air conditioning repairman — he has an astronaut making paninis and a black guy dressed up as Hitler in the room so that nobody will believe the kidnapped students if they try to tell anyone what happened.
In the Bottle Episode, the study group decide that Annie's pen was stolen by a ghost, since the alternative is believing that one of them is untrustworthy, which they conclude is less likely.
The Doctor tends to rely on the fact that most people, when presented with a large blue police box incongruously parked in the middle of a major tourist attraction or thoroughfare, will simply ignore it.
"The Deadly Assassin": The Fourth Doctor used his own trial to declare his candidacy as President of Gallifrey.
"Silver Nemesis": The Doctor heads straight to the Cybermen and cheerfully asks them, point blank:
The Doctor: Hello, I'm the Doctor! I believe you want to kill me?
"The Curse of Fenric": The Doctor pulls a Bavarian Fire Drill to gain access to a naval base. While speaking with a scientist on the base, he borrows some pen and paper and begins writing. When some soldiers realize what the Doctor pulled and confront him, he uses that very paper he wrote out in front of the scientist and presents it as proof of his right to be there.
"The Pandorica Opens": The Doctor is confronted by a fleet of countless enemies of his closing in, with no plan or method of stopping them. His solution is to walk out in front of them all and "admit" he has no plan whatsoever, and then daring them to attack him, reminding them all of what happened last time. Ultimately subverted when it turns out they're all allied together to trap him, but the fact that the Doctor even tried this, much less that it seemingly worked, qualifies.
"The Impossible Astronaut": When landing said blue box in the middle of the Oval Office, and then while having a small army of Secret Service agents train their guns on him, what does the Doctor do? Sits in the President's chair and start barking orders like he owns the place. And demand a fez.
River Song's immortal line in Nazi Germany, right outside the headquarters of the Third Reich and surrounded by some Nazis:
River: Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy Bar-Mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought, "Gosh! The Third Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Führer." Who's with me?
Some people wearing fancy clothes are having a nice lunch when suddenly, River bursts into the room, guns ablaze, and demands that they take off their clothes. There was a good fifty people in there, some of them wearing Nazi uniforms, but River's entrance was just so crazy that they all just complied and then ran out into the street in their underwear.
Clara Oswald proves to be a master (no pun intended) at this:
In "Death in Heaven", she outright claims to be the Doctor when faced with a group of Cybermen, and piles on the lie by providing facts about the Doctor that the Cybermen could actually verify.
The Twelfth Doctor faces a dilemma in "The Witch's Familiar": he's a prisoner in the heart of the Dalek Empire. What's his escape plan? Tipping Davros out of his wheelchair offscreen, hijacking it, rolling up to the Daleks' central chamber with a stolen gun and waiting for them to let "Davros" in. He then gets surrounded by Daleks, mocks them to their faces, gets shot about twenty times then reveals Davros made his chair immune to Dalek fire. Then he starts making demands.And it works. Oh, and this is an episode after the time he brought a tank and electric guitar to an axe fight. In the middle ages.
Twelve promised to stay on Earth, guarding the Vault, and orders Nardole to keep him to his word. When Nardole actually tries to stop him leaving, though, he deflects the criticism by flipping between pointing out that he's the one who gave the order in the first place, and criticizing Nardole's attempts at enforcing it.
An episode of The Drew Carey Show has Mimi making Drew late for work by getting a cowboy to tie him up. Just as planned, Drew's boss doesn't believe his excuse. It's only when Mimi imitates the cowboy's "Ma'am" that he finds the real truth.
In Fargo, The Spook Malvo kidnaps an assassination target from his workplace by the simple expedient of walking in and dragging him out by his necktie, trusting Bystander Syndrome to prevent anyone else in the office from stopping him or even getting a good description of his face. In a later scene he walks into a building from a crowded street openly carrying an automatic rifle and shoots up the place room by room. The cops watching the building don't notice until he's left, and a security camera showing him walking right past them gets them demoted.
"PK Tech Girl" D'Argo is able to bluff some hostile aliens into backing off long enough to get a forcefield up and running, simply because the aliens refuse to believe a Luxan warrior isn't armed to the teeth. At the end the alien captain salutes his efforts. "You had nothing, but you used it well."
Another example is when Crichton is being abducted at gunpoint by Scorpius' right hand Lt. Braca. After listening to Scorpius wax poetic by radio about how "unique" Crichton's knowledge is, Crichton proceeds to escape by daring Braca to hurt him: "I don't think so, you know? I don't think Scorpy's gonna give you your badge of commendation if you shoot 'unique.'" Crichton proceeds to grab Braca's gun hand, hold it to his own head, and shout at Braca to pull the trigger. He generally acts like a madman until Braca drops his guard and Crichton clobbers him.
As D'Argo himself once put it to a flabbergasted—and deeply suspicious—guest alien of the week: "This plan is so bad, it has to be ours!"
Taken to its logical end in the three-part series finale, when Crichton and company gate-crash the peace summit of two alien empires—both of whom have previously mind-raped him and would like to try again—offering to sell his wormhole knowledge to create a galaxy-dominating superweapon. His insurance? A homemade nuclear bomb strapped to his hip on a couple dozen deadman switches. Even the Scarran emperor is kind of impressed.
It's actually even more audacious than that. See, that whole thing about auctioning off wormhole tech with a nuclear bomb as their insurance? That was all a bluff. The REAL plan was to break Scorpius out of the base so his knowledge wouldn't fall into Scarran hands (they didn't know what, or how much Scorpius knew about wormholes but they couldn't take chances). The entire plan, from start to finish, was a massive fakeout. Except the bomb strapped to Crichton's hip. That was actually real.
Father Ted has the episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse". Due to a bet Father Ted has to do exactly that, and eventually Dougal suggests this plan: Kick him, then pretend nothing happened, because the bishop would never believe he would dare do it. The bishop spends the next several hours in a state of near catatonic shock before realizing what happened and storming out of the Vatican and back to Craggy Island, at which point Ted still manages to convince him that he must have imagined it until he sees the giant photograph of Ted doing it that he had drunkenly commissioned.
Fawlty Towers is often like this — Basil Fawlty, a hotel owner, gets away with a lot of what he says/does to his guests because he is so offensive that he either a) cows people into not complaining or b) they don't quite believe what they just heard
Major: No, niggers are the West Indians. These people are the WOGS!
"Basil the Rat" uses this trope in the literal sense. The rat they've been trying to hide from the health inspector all episode long gets into a box of biscuits and is offered to the inspector as an after-meal snack. Basil very calmly asks the inspector "would you care for rat?" This seems to work, as the inspector doesn't respond, and Basil acts as though he'd simply declined a biscuit, and the inspector goes into a Deer in the Headlights BSOD. We don't quite know if it worked, because the series ended.
Mal in "The Train Job": When Mal gets questioned about what he was doing on the train, he lies and says he was going there looking for work, saying that he heard a man in town had an opening. The questioning sheriff seems incredulous, as Mal didn't seem to know the situation on the ground. Specifically, that he didn't know the man he claimed had a job for him had killed himself several months back. Mal pauses for a second before asking "So... would his job be open?"
"Ariel": Simon is, at the time, a wanted fugitive engaged in the act of massively robbing the hospital he's walking through, but stops long enough to save a dying patient, then chew out the incompetent doctor to the point that he's begging Simon not file a report.
River in "Objects In Space". So, you've got a Bounty Hunter sneaking onto the ship and threatening your crew. You do the last thing anyone expects: you use your Psychic Powers to merge with the ship, read the bounty hunter's mind and screw with his head and flip over everyone's perceptions regarding reality. Then, just when he starts to realize that maybe you're feeding him a line of bullshit , you let slip a single word that makes him realize that you hijacked his ship right out from under him. The sheer audacity of the repeated mindscrews and flipping the tables on the hijacker is enough to turn him from a confident predator to a nervous wreck, but the real kicker comes afterward, when, despite being in total control, River surrenders, and the desperate bounty hunter is so off-guard that he takes this sudden swerve by the crazy psychic ninja-girl at face value, which leads him right into an ambush.
Frasier: At the end of season 10, Roz quits KACL. In the first episode of season 11, she changes her mind and wants to go back. Her solution? Just walk back into KACL and act like she never left in the first place. Since she's dealing with Kenny, it works.
Sansa seems to be taking it more and more as she spends time in King's Landing, such as when she pointedly reminds Joffrey of the time he had his ass handed to him by Arya and cried like the Dirty Coward he is afterwards.
Sansa calls Ramsay a bastard to his face. When he protests that King Tommen made him a true-born, Sansa coldly rebuffs it by calling Tommen another bastard.
When Tywin expresses his doubts about Arya's tale that she was taught to read by her lowborn stonemason father, Arya's response is: "Do you know many stone masons?"
Stannis sentences Davos to death, and Davos accepts it. However, Davos reminds Stannis that he is still his Hand, and as such he counsels Stannis against killing him.
Lyanna Mormont. As contrary as it may seem, her honesty and bluntness are actually even more effective coming from the mouth of a ten-year-old girl than they might be from an adult.
His confession to the court and most of the times he saves his own life by talking his way out of danger. He even notes that he's always been lucky.
This is how he seemingly gets away with all but openly insulting Joffrey to his face; he even threatened to kill a Kingsguard if he spoke again, in court, in front of the King himself!
During "The Old Gods And The New", he not only gets away with calling Joffrey an idiot to his face, he then slaps him again (while he's king) and then waves his hand in front of Joffrey, saying "And now I've struck a king! Did my hand fall from my wrist?"
In "Second Sons", after threatening to castrate Joffrey in front of everyone, he pretends to be more drunk than he really is in order to defuse the situation, which works due to some unexpected help from Tywin to smooth things over.
When Joffrey starts demanding that Tyrion join the humiliating dwarf joust in "The Lion and the Rose", Tyrion retaliates by challenging Joffrey to join instead. Not only does he sarcastically claim that the show so far has been a poor imitation of the King's bravery in the field of battle, but he also warns Joffrey that one of the dwarf performers specifically the one playing the part of Joffrey himself might just try and rape him.
He neatly flips Daenerys's probing "prove your worth" question back onto her, asking if she is worthy of his service. Unlike the other times he attempts the trope, this appears to quite impress her.
Invoked by Euron. If his murder of Balon in all but broad daylight and subsequent boldfaced admission of it during the Kingsmoot are anything to go by, audacity is how Euron gets along in life. How did he do it? Claimed it was "paying the Iron Price". His alliance proposition to Cersei is full of it and he seems more amused at Robert Strong than afraid. He states an intent to persuade Danaerys into allying with him with his "big cock", even though such an offer presented to her would almost certainly result in him being barbecued on the spot by a dragon. When that one falls through, he offers the same deal to Cersei. He then repeatedly taunts Jaime and asks him how she likes it in bed. One wonders if he realises that getting punched out by a guy with a solid gold hand is probably going to hurt a lot.
Gentleman Jack: This, and a boatload of confidence and charisma, is how Anne Lister gets away with, well... everything. How does polite Regency-era society deal with a woman who is obviously gay, utterly ignores expected gender roles, takes on "men's" work such as collecting rent and mining for coal, dresses in a masculine way, and refuses to hide or be ashamed of any of this? Simple: they don't. Anne's so utterly blatant in her disregard of what's expected of her that no one really knows what to do about her, so they just leave her alone for the most part.
Glee: Sue Sylvester and her "Sue's Corner" news segments, where she advocates positions such as supporting littering and wanting to re-legalize caning. The fact that Strawman Has a Point is in full effect makes for some of the most surreal dialog ever to grace Public Television. Case in point:
Sue: You know, there's a question I get asked a lot. Whether I'm accepting an honorary doctorate or performing a citizen's arrest, people ask me, "Sue, what's your secret?" Well, I'll tell you my secret, western Ohio. Sue Sylvester's not afraid to shake things up. You know, I'm tired of hearing people complain, "I'm riddled with this disease!" or "I was in that tsunami!" To them, I say "Shake it up a bit! Get out of your box! Even if that box happens to be where you're living." I'll often yell at homeless people. "Hey, how's that homelessness working out for ya? Give not being homeless a try, huh?" You know something, Ohio? It's not easy breaking out of your comfort zone. People will tear you down, tell you you shouldn't have bothered in the first place, but let me tell you something. There's not much of a difference between a stadium full of cheering fans and an angry crowd screaming abuse at you. They're both just making a lot of noise. How you take it is up to you. Convince yourself they're cheering for you. You do that, and someday, they will!
The Greatest American HeroEvery Man Ralph Hinkley has a bright, garish super suit that he doesn't know how to operate, so when he tries to fly he often smashes through windows or walls and ends up in rooms full of surprised people. To prevent this from looking strange he acts over-the-top; spinning and flourishing his cape in front of a crowd and shouts "Ta-Da!" and they all applaud. Another time he crashes into a hotel lobby and stands up and starts shouting "Call for Mr.Henderson, paging Mr.Henderson!" as he walks through the crowded lobby and out the front door.
The Haven 1st Season episode "The Trial of Audrey Parker", in which Audrey and Duke, unarmed, defeat two armed men, one of whom could read minds, by having Duke do outrageous things—such as stripping to his underwear and lamenting that he'd never done the Electric Boogaloo—all directed behind the scenes by Audrey. The poor psychic finally went crazy trying to predict what Duke was going to do next, and Duke and Audrey defeated them easily.
Freeformhas been trying to break away from ABCFamily's family-friendly image ever since the network handoff, but inherited the latter's contractual obligation to broadcast The 700 Club and other CBN productions. Thus, Moral Guardians' objections to Halloween and many other things broadcast on the network have likely never been far from top of mind at headquarters, but they basically flipped them off in 2019, when broadcasting a Pop-Up Trivia version of Hocus Pocus which at one point note when the witches are incinerated in the high school kiln and their ashes appear in the sky suggests that the witches have elected a new pope.
"Hello, sick people and their loved ones! In the interest of saving time and avoiding a lot of boring chitchat later, I'm Doctor Gregory House; you can call me "Greg". I'm one of three doctors staffing this clinic this morning. This ray of sunshine is Doctor Lisa Cuddy. Doctor Cuddy runs this whole hospital, so unfortunately she's much too busy to deal with you. I am a board certified diagnostician with a double specialty in infectious disease and nephrology. I am also the only doctor currently employed at this clinic who is forced to be here against his will. But not to worry, because for most of you, this job could be done by a monkey with a bottle of Motrin. Speaking of which, if you're particularly annoying, you may see me reach for this: this is Vicodin. It's mine. You can't have any. No, I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem. But who knows? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm too stoned to tell. So, who wants me? And who would rather wait for one of the other two guys?"
Then there was the time he shot a corpse.
House: I shot him! He's dead!
Early on in the series House wants to continue a diagnosis that everybody else ruled out. He was on the bad side of every main character at the time (more so than usual), and each and every one of them vehemently objected to continuing the diagnosis testing. After Cuddy makes it clear to the entire staff that they are not to let House perform tests on the patient, he takes a unauthorized sample anyway and proceeds to walk over and ask a lab staffer to run those exact tests on that same sample. House saying nothing of the sample's origins; the staff member just assumes that the unmarked sample can't possibly be the patient's (it's early in the series), and performs the tests anyway. House later has the sample reports on a clip board, so it's assumed the staff member reported back to him afterwards, and is to this day still oblivious.
How do you stop a surgery that's going to cause irreparable (probably fatal) damage to the patient? Simple. Spit on the surgeon.
The How I Met Your Mother episode 'Matchmaker' features Barney attempting to get Ted to join a Relationship Matchmaking agency to hook up with desperate women. Ted objects to the plan. But the next day, whilst Ted is relaxing in his apartment, Barney storms in:
Barney: Ted! Hurry you've gotta help me, my boat is sinking! Ted: What?! Barney: My boat is sinking! Ted: You have a boat?! Barney: Yes, I bought a boat last year at the police auction. I just got a call from a guy down at the marina and it's leaning to starboard at a 45 degree angle and if I don't get there right now it's gonna capsize NOW, C'MON!!! [both exit] [Cut to them at the agency] Ted: Your boat is sinking? That was good.
Barney's Playbook is full of these. This trope explains pretty much his entire success with women (though it helps that he often "targets" the dumbest hotties he can find).
Scores of the cons on Hustle center around the team pulling off cons that should never work because of how insane and wild they are...yet somehow, always find a sucker.
The first season finale opens with them selling some major piece of property to a man, claiming the owner is trying to unload some money-losing pit. After he hands over the cash, the guy looks out the window at what he thinks he's just bought: The London Eye ferris wheel. The scene after the opening credits is a news broadcast on the guy being arrested when he showed up to claim his "property" and the newscasters chuckling at anyone believing they bought a London landmark from a pair of strangers.
The gang manage to steal the Star of Africa Diamond in a big heist. They arrange for it to be found by a cleaning lady who gets a big reward. The team's real goal is to sell four perfect replicas of the Diamond to four different buyers. Each one is told the "recovered" Diamond is a fake to soothe the public and they're purchasing the real thing. Each one of them buys the story, allowing the gang to make a fortune.
The guys of Impractical Jokers get away with most of their antics in this way. One such example is when the guys are challenged to cut the Broadway ticket line, attempts being made with pretending to know someone up front doesn't work, trying to insinuate into a group doesn't work, but walking past and saying "I don't do lines" miraculously does. Another is when they're made to "sell" an increasingly bizarre book to a pair of producers, which consists of nonsense like "top three hottest Disney princesses" and listing "the girl lion from The Lion King" as number 3: the book is so outlandishly surreal and over-the-top that both publishers are indeed interested in it.
In the iZombie episode "Brainless in Seattle Part 2", Blaine eats the brain of a man who compulsively shared details of his own life, and tells a customer that he runs a criminal enterprise and is about to commit a murder. The customer thinks Blaine is joking, so Blaine simply laughs along with him.
The premise of the show is that Liv gets visions from the brains she eats to solve crimes. She convinces cop Clive that she's actually psychic which is a lot easier for him to believe than her being a zombie.
In "Sightings", the villains' plot: Run an illegal drug refining operation at an abandoned American military base in Texas, knowing that the authorities expect to find any such facilities in Mexico or Central America, and use a flashy attention-getting setup to make locals confuse it for a UFO sighting, in turn making the authorities dismiss it out of hand.
In "Iron Coffin" Mac, while on a US sub, must convince a Russian submarine captain the super-new missile they are about to test fire is faulty and will come back to hit them. However, she cannot use the fact US sonar technology is so good they can hear the conversations of the Russian crew and translate it. So instead she claims that the US has had agents in their shipyards planting listening bugs in their vessels for decades. The US sub captain is impressed because now the Russians will spend a lot of money and time looking for something that isn't there.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Once the lawsuit with Bob Murray was officially over with, John capped off his segment on SLAPP suits with an elaborate song and dance number featuring multiple singers and dancers telling Bob to eat shit. All while accusing Bob of various outrageous things, such as assassinating Archduke Ferdinand, masturbating to Schindler's List, and blaming his farts on Malala Yousafzai. All while proudly noting that, since all of the allegations are clearly jokes, they can't be sued. At one point, they're even interrupted by an actor playing HBO's lawyer, who tells everyone to stop so that he can have a verse. A verse that has him detail an NSFW account of Murray at the M&M store with people in judicial robes doing the can-can in the background. Mr. Nutterbutter (the squirrel mascot from the segment that started the whole thing, who's inspired by Bob claiming that a squirrel told him to start his company) also gets a verse. Him... and his barbershop quartet, who proceed to claim that Murray has sex with squirrels. And the whole thing ends with John and a small army of dancers dancing and singing in Times Square.
Law & Order. A mother confessed to murdering her infant daughter. The legal aid attorney assigned to her, his first murder case, starts pulling the most audacious stunts ever pulled by someone who isn't Jack. His opening statement: "My client didn't do it, it was God." In chambers, he then changes the plea to not guilty by reason of mental defect, then protests his own ignorance when told that such a plea requires 60 days notice. Then he tells the judge that, if this change isn't allowed, that his client will have grounds to appeal based on incompetent counsel, saying he'll write up an affidavit enumerating the 12 grievous errors he's already committed.
Jack: Legal incompetence as a defense at trial. You're kidding. Judge Stein: Either you are a brilliant strategist, Mr. Feinman, or you are the biggest jackass ever to set foot in my courtroom.
Executive Assistant District Attorney Micheal Cutter forces the Governor of the State of New York to resign by threatening him with a blank sheet of paper.
Alex Cabot acknowledged violating someone's constitutional rights with an illegal search and seizure, but still got the evidence admitted because she didn't violate the defendant's rights. One of the less successful examples on this page: even though that stunt secured a conviction, she got a thirty day suspension on her license and it became something of a Never Live It Down moment any time she had to deal with that judge.
One of Casey Novak's crusades culminated in her sending a subpoena to the United States Secretary of Defense. Arthur Branch was horrified.
In Legend of the Seeker, Cara is forced to impersonate a princess in the episode "Princess." The court she's visiting has a strict rule that any woman addressing the Margrave speak in rhyming couplets. Further, she's in a competition with another woman to win the Margrave's charms. About half way through she stops trying to win on the Margrave's terms, and plays by her own, starting by composing a poem about torturing a slave to death, then following up by shooting a man-eating beast in the face and eating its raw liver while wearing a pink, frilly dress. Naturally, it works.
Alec Hardison on Leverage any time he has to improvise in character—throwing himself a birthday party to distract everyone in the office building in "The Mile High Job" and convincing the police that bank robbers want 25 large pizzas and the equipment to hold a tail-gate party in "The Bank Shot Job", to name but a few examples.
"The D.B. Cooper Job" posits the theory that D.B. Cooper got away with it by joining the FBI and participating in the hunt for him!
Life on Mars: Gene asks his DS Ray Carling to arrest the landlord of a bar so they can use the bar for a stakeout, telling Ray to 'make something up'.
Gene: In a bizarre twist of fate the landlord was arrested this afternoon... on suspicion of cattle rustling.
Ray gets a round of applause from the whole of CID.
Lost Girl - in episode The Girl Who Fae'd With Fire Kenzi, pretending to be Hale's girlfriend, is introduced by the Master of Ceremonies as she makes an entrance at a fancy party held by the fae aristocracy.
M.C.: Emmett Northcote— Of Family Northcote, Clan Fin Arvin. Tamsin Borgia— Of Family Akif, Clan Bukharin. Kenzi— Hale's bitchin' girlfriend of family "what up?!" Clan, "hey now!"
The Mentalist - Patrick Jane's twisted methods include interrupting a funeral to check a casket for a 'second' dead body; convincing about two hundred people, including Lisbon, that they are all going to die in a few hours, and to say their goodbyes and their prayers; getting a suspect thrown in jail by inciting him over the phone to bash up a police officer, so that he can question him because Jane himself is also in jail for illegal eavesdropping; and then breaking out of said jail using only a mouse, a pen, a Bible and a cranberry muffin.
Merlin gets away with the majority of his hijinks because of this. For example:
[Merlin is very obviously searching through all the keys to the castle right next to Arthur's bed. Arthur wakes up and stares straight at him.] Arthur: What on earth are you doing? Melin: [beat] Looking for woodworm?
In "The Crystal Cave", Arthur has just woken up and they're about to head out.
Merlin: Let's go. Arthur: Don't you remember? I give the orders. Merlin: [nods] Yeah. You ready? Let's go. [walks off and Arthur follows]
The first episode, in which Gibbs steals Air Force One, and then later steals evidence (including the body of the victim!) in order to have his department head the investigation. They didn't think to inspect the body when Gibbs handed it over, because no one expected him to lie about who he was handing over.
In the season three episode "Jeopardy" The Team must rescue Director Shepard who has been kidnapped by a drug dealer demanding the return of his brother, who NCIS is supposed to have in custody. Unfortunately, the brother was inadvertently killed by Ziva earlier on. Their solution? Dress the corpse, slap a pair of sunglasses on him, and tape his hands so he appears to be driving while Tony hides and drives with his hands.
In Eleanor Bishop's debut episode, she assists Gibbs in an interrogation by pretending to be the lawyer that a suspect requested...sort of. Actually providing the suspect with a fake lawyer to induce a confession would be highly illegal and render the confession inadmissible. But Bishop never does anything to actually identify herself as a defense attorney or a lawyer of any kind (which she's not), she just put on some glasses, walked into the interrogation room and handed him her card, in hopes that the suspect would assume she was his lawyer. The card she handed him specifically identified her as an NSA analyst, and if he's bothered to look at the card the whole ruse would've fallen apart.
In the Our Miss Brooks episode "Bobbsey Twins in Stir", a con artist tricks Mrs. Davis into selling phony tickets to the policeman's ball. Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton, Mr. Conklin and Mr. Stone are also unwittingly entangled in the scheme.
In the show Police Story, one of the officers was putting up with a guy who kept talking about how he was the deputy mayor's golf partner. After a few minutes, the officer gets a jar of peanut butter out of his cruiser, spread some on his (the then old style paper only) driver's licence, then ate it, and dared the guy to tell the deputy mayor that. At the end of the episode, their sergeant tells them about a bizarre call he just got from the deputy mayor.
The Practice: One of the attorneys has a client who was arrested after allegedly walking up to a random cop and admitting he's carrying a lot of drugs. The client denies this and the lawyer thinks it's a ridiculous story the cop is making up. The judge ends up throwing the case out because of how unlikely it really is. Afterward, the client ends up telling his attorney that the cop is telling the truth. He knew he was likely to get caught and figured that no one would actually believe he would just walk up to a cop and ask to be arrested. The attorney is outraged, but the cop is actually kind of amused by the criminal's cleverness.
Psych: Shawn Spencer does this often. From naming his "psychic" detective agency Psych and defrauding the police department, to haunting Gus's boss's house to keep the team together, to arming a bomb, in the middle of a police cordon, to find out who designed it.
In Scrubs, The Janitor loses his job. He then appears working again, having dressed up as a doctor and told the replacement janitor that he was fired. He then continues working in the hospital, despite not being employed, under the philosophy of "everything will work out for me", and when the paychecks are handed out, he asks where his paycheck is, and the woman apologizes to him and goes off to get him one. When he does get it, he says that he was normally paid twice that amount, which evokes another apology.
Downplayed in Seinfeld where Jerry, George and Elaine are waiting for a table in a Chinese restaurant. Jerry dares Elaine to go to one of the tables and snatch somebody's eggroll with no explanation. She goes, but chickens out, maintaining a ventriloquist's grin for Jerry's benefit while trying to talk the diner into selling her the eggroll.
Zig-zagged in another episode. George hits a pothole in Jerry's car, which starts making a clanking noise. Elaine makes up an elaborate story about how she and George narrowly missed an attack by thrill-seeking teenagers, and then mentions the pothole as an afterthought. At first, Jerry acts like he believes the story, but he scares a confession out of George later.
Sherlock: When campy, psychotic Big Bad Moriarty manages to bring down the security systems of the Tower of London, Bank of England, and Pentonville Prison (within a few seconds of each other), where do the cops find him? Sitting pretty on the throne in the Tower, wearing the Crown Jewels with a priceless grin on his face.
In Sons of Anarchy, when one of the Sons is accused of stealing a brick of cocaine, he sarcastically confesses: "Yeah, I walked in here, shoved a brick of coke in my pants and walked out. Douchebag". He did exactly that.
Jax responds to a character's threat to tell the authorities about the events of the second half of season 3 in Ireland by (among other things) telling them they'd sound crazy if they claimed any of it was true. Given the Sons' history, particularly that of Chibs and Clay, it actually isn't all that far fetched. Maybe not provable, but hardly a paranoid delusion.
Stargate SG-1: Whenever someone asks Jack O'Neill what he's working on for the government.
Jack O'Neill does this so often to people he doesn't like (and often enough to people he does) than when this isn't his go-to answer you know things aren't going well.
The "Corbomite Maneuver"—getting an enemy to stand down by claiming that Enterprise is carrying a substance that would reflect any attack on the ship back at the attacker—from the eponymous episode was so effective that he even used it again in The Deadly Years. Actually done twice in the original episode; the fearsome alien captain that looks like a cheap special effect turns out to be a literal hand puppet the real Human Alien pilot turned to to hide the fact he looks like a young child.
In The Enterprise Incident, Kirk is assigned to recover a Romulan cloaking device so that Starfleet can study it. How does Kirk go about it? By convincing everyone that he's lost his mind, taking the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone so that he can get captured by a Romulan ship, steal theirs, and get it and himself back onboard Enterprise.
In Star Trek: The Next Generation: There is an upcoming social with a boring senior officer who is infamous for his small talk, but everyone in the senior bridge crew feel obliged to bite their tongues and prepare to endure him. Suddenly, Worf outright asks to be excused, and Captain Picard gives him permission. La Forge, seeing that The Captain apparently doesn't mind people asking, immediately starts to request permission himself, but Picard cuts him off, saying "Mr. La Forge, I cannot excuse my entire senior staff." Then, with an amused expression, he adds, "Mr. Worf beat you to it." At that, Worf adopts a slight, smug smile.
Played straight in "Emissary" when Kira claimed the station was heavily armed to scare away a Cardassian attack force. It worked, and the station turned out to be armed with sensor-deceiving illusions. Later inverted in "The Way of the Warrior" when a Klingon attack force is given the exact same warning, and the commanders assume that it's an attempt to intimidate them into leaving backed by more illusions. Unfortunately, they forgot that Sisko knows enough about Klingons to know you can't bluff one with a mere threat of violence. He's not bluffing. It goes POORLY for the Klingons.
They elaborated on this in the novelisation with the revelation that the Klingons' earlier attack on Garak had been based on them trying to hack his computer and get information about the station's defences; Garak fed them outdated information so that the Klingons would believe that the station was less well-defended than it was.
In the same episode, Worf has been charged with investigating the Klingon Empire's recent aggressive behavior. At one point, he decides that he needs to speak with General Martok, who probably wouldn't have been inclined to meet with him. How does he decide to get Martok's attention? By beating the crap out of his son in the middle of a crowded bar note And to be fair to Worf, Drex's behavior did warrant an asskicking. Worf scares Drex's buddies away with a Death Glare and a literal growl, takes the unconscious Klingon's dagger, and calmly leaves. A livid Martok later storms into Worf's quarters and demands Worf return his son's dagger, giving Worf his opportunity to speak to the general. Keep in mind, this is Worf's idea of diplomacy. Amusingly, Worf would later be adopted into the House of Martoknote the "Martok" he confronts in this episode turns out to be a changeling duplicate, so this is not how Worf and the real Martok first meet, which must have made for some awkward family meals.
In Apocalypse Rising, Sisko, Worf, Odo and O'Brien have to infiltrate Klingon High Command in order to expose a changeling infiltrator. Disguised as Klingons, they attend a celebration for warriors, and everything's going great... until Martok shows up, who knows them! Now would be a good time to panic, but instead, when Martok walks up to their group, Sisko greets him with a hearty Q'apla! It works. ...at first.
Nog's plan to get the Klingons to abide by Starfleet regulations on DS9: walk right up to Martok and demand that he follow the rules. Note that Martok is a hulking general of a proud warrior race, while Nog is a very green Starfleet officer from a race of very short merchantsnote who are admittedly strong for their size, but still. Not only does it work, it earns Martok's respect, and he makes sure to greet Nog first when he goes to Ops for the rest of the series!
In "Monster Movie" which is an Affectionate Parody of old monster movies, the Shapeshifter does this by turning into various old B-Movie monsters, such as Dracula, The Wolf Man (1941), and a cheesy mummy. The murders are such a Cliché Storm that no one, not even Sam and Dean, can believe that they happened. Going even further, the shapeshifter wants to take on Dracula's identity by picking out a pretty blonde to be his Mina Murray (and calls her that); when Dean comes to the girl's aid, the shapeshifter dubs him "Harker" (Jonathan Harker, Mina's fiance); he calls Sam "Van Helsing" (like the Professor, not the Hugh Jackman character). He also built a giant dungeon out of wood and cardboard in his basement.
In another episode, the boys are in a mental hospital and break into the morgue. When they're caught, Dean drops his pants, throws his hands into the air and jubilantly yells "Pudding!"
On the sixth-season finale of Survivor, Jeff took the votes for the winner, went down to the shore and got on a jet ski. Then he's seen riding the jet ski past a freighter on the open ocean, then riding it up to Manhattan, where the reunion was about to be held. There's no WAY anyone believed he crossed the ocean on a jet ski, but that was the whole point. It was so audacious the audience couldn't help but love it.
The Thick of It: In the first episode, a big announcement is about to be made for new policy, only for the policy to get the shaft while everyone was already on their way. Hugh, Ollie, and Glenn end up making a "there is no big announcement" announcement criticizing the press for only paying attention when there was a big announcement. It worked perfectly: not a single line about it was written. After the speech, the PM then changed his mind on the policy and the press officers had to call the press "in case they hadn't noticed" what the announcement had been about.
During an inquiry into politicians illegally leaking information to the media, Malcolm is called as a witness and uses the opportunity to blatantly leak information to the investigators and the press to score political points.
The Titus episode "Deprogramming Erin". Titus tries to get Erin to love him again despite that his hot rod shop closed down, and comes up with a plot that involves kidnapping. He sends Dave over to distract her. When Erin asks what he wants, Dave deadpans "I'm here to distract you while Titus sneaks up behind you." Erin starts to laugh, until she notices he's not laughing with her. She turns around just in time to see Titus throw a burlap sack over her head.
This was pretty much the bread-and-butter of his father, Ken. One notable instance had him pulled over for speeding.
Ken: 126[mph]? No way! This ol' gal shimmies at 95! Here, I'll show ya—hold my beer. (Hands officer his beer can before speeding off for the State Line, two miles away... and leaving Christopher peeing at the side of the road)
Top Gear (UK): The guys engage in audacious cheating, including in that contest, passing The Stig off as James. It worked because they were losing, so no one really cared. (Strictly speaking The Stig is credited as a Presenter of the show.)
In True Detective, at one point, protagonist Detective Rustin Cohle needs to get some cocaine off the books. So he walks into the state police evidence room, takes a pound of cocaine out of evidence, switches it with a pound of sugar, and walks out.
Wallenberg: A Hero's Story: Wallenberg rented 32 buildings in Budapest, declared them to be auxiliary embassy facilities technically Swedish territory, and therefore off limits to the Hungarians and their German allies and used them as safe houses. He also printed up thousands of "protective passports" identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens, and handed them out to every Hungarian Jew he met even, on one occasion, those locked in the boxcars on a train departing for Auschwitz! At one point, he ran on top of a train carrying Jews to be killed and stuffing papers into the cars that the Jews could use to semi-legally escape. While Nazis shot at him.
The West Wing: Summed up best by Lord John Marbury walking up to the First Lady while exclaiming "Abigail! May I grasp your breasts?" while she's standing next to the President.
Josh's Sassy Secretary Donna got her job by walking into the Bartlet for America campaign office and answering Josh's phone, claiming to be his assistant.
Donna: I'm your new assistant. Josh: Did I have an old assistant? Donna: Maybe not.
In the first half of the series, before he becomes Henry's right hand, Cromwell method of getting the attention of the highborn nobles he meets is to skirt the edge of suicidal insolence, then presenting them with the solution they require before they chop his head off (or do perhaps worse, in the case of Norfolk's threats.)
Henry, in full screaming rage, publicly accuses Cromwell of treasonously attempting to turn him into a Puppet King and is probably inches from ordering his execution. Cromwell crosses his wrists in front of his face, calmly says "God go with you," and walks away. Henry is visibly baffled by the gesture and, at their next meeting, is rather abashed to have lost his temper like that.
The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" used this in the following way. So, you've seen a UFO, and that's semi-believable and then The Men in Black showed up and tried to warn you from telling anyone, and that's stretching believability. Now, the Men In Black knock this over the believability threshold into the area where nobody will believe this by... looking exactly like Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Jesse later had his own show, Conspiracy Theory, with Jesse Ventura, which had him trying to find the truth behind conspiracy theories.
The parody book The Extra-Terrestrial's Guide to the X-Files, written as an instructional manual for aliens newly arrived on Earth, suggested this as a convenient way to discredit witnesses. "No really, after they abducted me and did their tests, the aliens stood together, sang some Broadway showtunes, forced me to drink a bottle of bourbon, and then dumped me on the side of the road beside a strip club!"