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Right For The Wrong Reasons / Live-Action TV

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Characters being Right for the Wrong Reasons on live-action TV.

  • On the Game Show 1 vs. 100, a contestant was give the question, "How many US states do not touch any other state? One, two, or three?" Thinking out loud, the contestant said that Hawaii is in the ocean, and one of the Great Lakes states is completely surrounded by lakes, so the answer must be two. The answer is two, but it's because the two states in question are Hawaii (which is indeed surrounded by ocean) and Alaska (which borders northwestern Canada).
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  • During Day 6 of 24, a character attacks Kal Penn's character, assuming he's linked to terrorists. He is, though the guy has no way of knowing that (he's just a bigoted jerk).
  • Crops up often enough on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?:
    • One woman was asked "True or False: The female seahorse carries her baby in a pouch". Although seahorses are quite famous for the males doing this, her answer was no, because she'd never seen a pouch on a seahorse. (Which raises the question as to how many seahorses she's seen!)
    • On a celebrity edition, Kellie Pickler was given a question regarding which of the Founding Fathers went on to be a president. Of the choices given, she reasoned it had to be Franklin Pierce because... all the letters in his last name were in HER last name! How that was supposed to be relevant, we'll never know. The most common theory is that Pickler a lot smarter than she seems and has gone the Jessica Simpson route of playing dumber than she is because it gets people talking about her and is good for business.
  • Breaking Bad: After Brock gets poisoned, Jesse assumes that Walter stole the ricin cigarette that Jesse was holding and used that to poison him. Walter convinces him that he was poisoned by Gus Fring, instead. What really happened was Walter did poison Brock, but stealing the ricin cigarette from Jesse was a ruse and he used a different means to poison him.
    • After Hank gets badly injured in a gunfight with two members of the cartel that targeted him, his wife Marie starts blaming DEA agents Merket and Gomez, along with Walter, for the shooting. Her reasoning, being steeped mostly in grief, hysterics, and anger, is increasingly spurious on each front, especially the connection to Walt: as far as she knows, the only connection Walt has to any of this is that he (probably) once bought marijuana from a guy Hank assaulted without a warrant, leading to his gun being confiscated before the attack. Unbeknownst to her, though, Walt is almost entirely responsible; he was involved in the death that the cartel members were avenging, and they only changed targets because Walt (as a meth cooker) was too valuable to the local mob, and the guy Hank assaulted was Walt's partner, and Hank was only involved in any of this because he was investigating crimes committed by Walt. It's evident on Walt's face that he realizes all of this.
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  • In an episode of Castle, a late-night talk show host tells Castle that someone wants him dead and winds up dead the next day... of a heart attack. Based on the man's suspicions, Castle presses Beckett to investigate, and it turns out he was murdered. It comes out that the studio had been trying to force him out, with a threatening-sounding mention of his bad heart. The studio had nothing to do with it it was actually a friend, who killed the victim for firing him from the show... in order to please the studio. Thus the victim was right about his upcoming death for the wrong reason, causing Castle to be right about murder for the wrong reason.
  • In an episode of Cheers, Diane picks the winners of football games using specious logic. ("A bear against a dolphin? That's hardly a fair fight!") Of course, she beats the pants off everyone else this way. Exasperated, Sam tries to duplicate her thought process, hoping to get the same result.
  • Happens a few times on Cold Case. The detectives reopen a case based on newly-discovered evidence that points to a particular suspect. The evidence turns out to be a Red Herring, but the suspect in question turns out to be guilty nonetheless.
  • Covert Affairs once sent Annie back to the CIA academy to find a mole. (Episode "Bang and Blame".) During a firearms exercise, the other participants each grab a gun and shoot their way out of a maze. Annie, on the other hand, uses the gun she picks up to smash open a glass box and use the map inside to navigate the maze. The instructor says this was the right course of action since she didn't give away her position with gunfire. However, this wasn't the reason Annie eschewed the gun. It turns out she was sick the day they had firearms practice.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In "A Higher Power", the detective who called the team in started investigating the spike in suicides because he didn't believe that his relative would have committed suicide. Turns out the unsub was faking the suicides but didn't have a trophy from the detective's relative... suggesting it really was a suicide that time.
    • The unsub of "Taboo" thought it was OK to lust after his older sister since he was adopted — they're not blood siblings so it should be fine, right? Actually no, since while they aren't siblings they are mother and child.
  • CSI:
    • A woman who'd made a living as a psychic was murdered after she'd been hired to contact another murder victim's spirit. The killer believed that she'd succeeded in this, and had learned that he'd hidden the body on his property in the Las Vegas neighborhood of Summerlin. In fact, she hadn't divined any such thing; rather, she'd said that the victim's spirit was in Summerland, a New Age-style counterpart to Heaven.
    • Used in another episode where a man suspects that his neighbor kidnapped and killed his daughter plants an already-dead body in the man's chimney to focus police attention on him. Turns out the dad was right and the neighbor not only killed his daughter, but her body was actually in the same chimney hidden behind a brick extension and is uncovered by the CSI team during their investigation of the planted body.
    • In another episode the team investigates the murder of several monks in a Buddhist temple, all shot between the eyes. They determine that they were all on their knees and didn't try to flee, but were praying for their aggressor, and hypothesize that the murderer frequented the temple and is a Buddhist himself because the place between the eyes is the sixth chakra in the Buddhist religion. They correctly pin the murders on the East Asian janitor, but when they ask him why he shot them in their sixth chakra, he shrugs and says "I shot them between the eyes".
  • Daredevil (2015): In the first episode of season 2, Matt Murdock accosts crooked arms dealer Turk Barrett and tries to interrogate him for information on recent massacres of the Kitchen Irish and Dogs of Hell. Turk says there are rumors that there's a new crew in town with military precision. However, it turns out that the rumors are wrong, as the shootings are all solely the work of Frank Castle. But then, near the end of the season, it turns out that there is a new crew in town with military precision shooters: the Blacksmith, who is actually Frank Castle's former commanding officer Colonel Schoonover, and many of his men are the former soldiers who served under him. Meaning that the rumors were true, just not in the way that the rumors were going.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Myth Makers": Vicki and Steven assume the Doctor will be inside the Trojan Horse because he's going to want to be sure he can get access to the TARDIS (currently inside Troy). The Doctor is in the Horse, but only because Odysseus forced him to be inside.
    • "Midnight": The hostess suggests throwing the possessed Sky out of the shuttle bus into the deadly sunlight for pragmatic reasons (and by Word of God, this was the only practical option for dealing with the thing). The other passengers, scared out of their wits, seize on the idea out of panic instead of reason, which leads to things getting worse before they even begin to get better.
  • In the fourth season of Downton Abbey, the new nanny for the children gets short with butler Thomas. Thomas, not caring much for her attitude, engages in a scheme to get Nanny West fired, throwing something of a Hail Mary by fabricating a story to Cora that he suspected she was neglecting the children. Upon telling Cora, she walks by the nursery one night... where she hears Nanny West verbally abusing baby Sybbie, calling her a "chauffeur's daughter" and a "wicked little cross-breed" (her mother was English, her father Irish). Nanny West is gone the next morning.
  • In the first season of Galavant, King Richard's older, crueler, no nonsense brother Kingsley returns from a lifetime of conquest and pillaging to usurp Richard's place. Kingsley is Wrong Genre Savvy and believes he's in a serious tale of political intrigue with a Deadly Decadent Court rather than a musical which is an Affectionate Parody of your standard medievalish fantasy, so he expects Richard will inevitably try to kill him for power. Instead Richard spends the day moping, feeling sorry for himself and not even considering trying to do anything to Kingsley... until Galavant finds Richard, the two get astoundingly drunk together, and Galavant convinces Richard to kill Kingsley for entirely different reasons. The two men, who are still drunk out of their mind, make the least stealthy assassination attempt ever, and are promptly apprehended by Kingsley and his guards.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Viserys Targaryen, knowing almost nothing about Westeros, arrogantly assumes he can retake the entire continent with a horde of Dothraki (who are deadly in the field, but utterly useless at siege warfare). He justifies this belief by claiming that the current king is an impatient Blood Knight who would leave his castle to face his foe in open combat. It turns out that Robert considers this exact strategy, not because he's an idiot who is blind to tactics and strategy, but because he also considers broader political implications.
      Robert: Let's say that Viserys lands with 40,000 Dothraki screamers at his back. We hole up in our castles. Wise move. Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field. They leave us in our castles. They go from town to town, looting and burning, killing every man who can't hide behind a stone wall, stealing all our crops and livestock, enslaving all our women and children. How long do the people of the Seven Kingdoms stand behind their absentee king, their cowardly king hiding behind his high walls? When do the people decide that Viserys Targaryen is the rightful monarch after all?
    • Poor Jon Snow just can't catch a break from this.
      • Alliser Thorne immediately takes a dislike to Jon, both because he's too uppity for a bastard, and because his family led the rebellion that deposed Thorne's king. He genuinely does his best to break Jon, and recommends that he get assigned to be a steward, instead of a ranger (which his fighting skills qualified him for). Why does Commander Mormont let him get away with it? Because, despite Jon's skills and intelligence, he genuinely needs to be broken of his sense of superiority before he'll be accepted by his less privileged compatriots. They bond under common hardship and a shared loathing of their trainer, which turns them into True Companions who will fight and die together. As for assigning him to be a steward, Sam points out that the position he gets is the perfect path for someone being groomed for leadership.
      • He broke a few oaths of the Night's Watch but when he leads the Wildlings to live south of the Wall, it's the final straw for a group of his Watch brothers, who view Jon as betraying the Watch and execute him in a mutiny — except Jon actually allowed the Wildlings to go through the Wall so they won't come back as part of the growing undead army, not to malign the Watch.
      • The Season 6 finale reveals that this is his entire existence in a nutshell. All his life he was told that he is the illegitimate child of a highborn northerner, hence the surname "Snow". While that is true, his northerner parent is not the one who he thinks. Ned telling Jon, "You might not have my name, but you have my blood," in Season 1 perfectly sums this up.
    • In Season 7, when Jaime kills Lady Olenna Tyrell by offering her poisoned wine as an alternative to a painful and degrading public execution, her last words are a confession that she was the one who murdered King Joffrey. When Jaime relays this fact to Cersei, she doesn't believe him at first. He explains that timid Tommen would have been much easier for her granddaughter Margaery to control, and through Margaery, Olenna would have become the most powerful person in Westeros. This convinces Cersei and she's obviously pissed, but the truth is much less complicated: Olenna killed Joffrey to protect Margaery, nothing more nothing less.
    • Joff actually gets this about once a season.
      • In Season 1, he mentions that Westeros should have a standing, professional army loyal only to the crown, noting the feudal system of each lord having their own private army is barbaric. This is actually a rather progressive stance, but his way of going about it is completely impractical.
      • In Season 2, he deduces that after the Greyjoys take the North, it's the perfect time to strike against Robb Stark. Normally he'd be right and it would in fact be the perfect time to try to hammer the Stark forces and remove them from the war, but he's completely overlooking the more pressing threat of Stannis bearing down on the capital.
      • In Season 3, he declares in "Mhysa" that "My father won the real war", referring to Robert killing Rhaegar. Robert, of course, is not actually his father, but he did win the war when he crushed the Targaryen forces at the trident and killed Rhaegar. Additionally, it it was his real father, Jaime, who actually ended the war when he assassinated Aerys.
      • In Season 3, Joffrey complains that Tywin is not sufficiently concerned that Daenerys Targaryen and her three dragons are the primary threat to Westeros. He isn't wrong, but it comes off as him simply finding the dragons more interesting than people. Here, the situation is similar to the one mentioned in Season 2; he's ignoring the more pressing threat of Robb Stark and other forces that oppose him in Westeros while cowering in fear over something that, from his perspective, is nothing more than a rumor half the world away. It makes an interesting contrast with Robert, whose fixation on the threat Dany posed was firmly a case of Jerkass Has a Point.
  • On Glee, before Kurt and Blaine started dating, Blaine was briefly attracted to Rachel and questioned whether or not he might be bi. While Kurt was correct that they have incompatible orientations, he also claims that bisexuality doesn't exist at all and is nothing but a coping mechanism for closeted gays. And since no one ever calls him out on such an ignorant statement or the fact that he was acting out of jealousy the whole time, he is vindicated at the end when Blaine realizes he's gay after all.
  • In Season 3 of Grimm, when the Royals are tracing Adalind's flight from Europe, they notice it passed over Oregon, and conclude that she's decided to go home. Actually, she ended up in Portland because Nick's mother thought Nick could protect her, and if Kelly had realised who Adalind was, and that she came from Portland originally, she probably wouldn't have made that decision (for all sorts of reasons). Appropriately enough, the episode is called "Synchronicity".
  • Hotel Beau Séjour: Kristel's ex-husband Luc tells her that he can see the ghost of their daughter Kato and convinces her that Kato wants them to go out together. Kristel's current husband Marcus naturally accuses Luc of lying about seeing Kato in order to manipulate Kristel into getting back together with him. In fact, Luc actually can see Kato's ghost, but he was lying about it to manipulate Kristel into getting back together with him, because the real Kato doesn't care about him and has more important things on her mind.
  • House: Dr. House came up with an effective treatment for a soap opera actor's quinine allergy while convinced that the patient had something else. Cuddy was called out by an inspector for giving him as much leeway as she did. Which included, um, kidnapping the patient. This is because the treatment for all kinds of allergies is essentially the same thing, but more important is stopping exposure to the allergen, which is how House figured out he was wrong.
  • I Love Lucy: Ricky thinks Lucy is making money through the stock market, so when he sees the words "Can All Pet" on a notepad, he assumes it's a stock tip for a company called Canadian Allied Petroleum and buys shares. "Can All Pet" was actually an item on Lucy's grocery list, but it turns out Ricky was right about the stock and made money.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • An episode has Mac and Charlie invent Fight Milk, a special drink "by bodyguards, for bodyguards!", believing that it will become popular with fighters because it will imbue them with the fighting strength of a crow (being an alcoholic mix of crow eggs and milk). Later on, an episode reveals it's very popular among UFC athletes... because it's so disgusting that it's basically a laxative, causing them to violently expel fluids and lose lots of weight quickly.
    • At one point, Charlie starts plotting against the waitress's fiancee Brad, claiming he's bad news. Charlie is obviously just being jealous because he's the waitress's Stalker with a Crush, but at the end of the episode, Brad explains to Charlie that he actually intends to jilt her to crush her spirit because she turned him down in high school.
  • On iZombie, Blaine tells Liv he's cut ties with all the shady characters from his previous life, so when she sees him talking to a pair of shady characters she figures he's full of it and decides not to supply him with brains. Actually, the shady characters are trying to kidnap him, because he has cut ties with them... in order to run a zombification/extortion scheme on his own. Liv is totally right not to trust him.
  • Law & Order: ADA Southerlyn was fired not because she was a lesbian, but for becoming convinced a defendant was innocent essentially due to white guilt, and spending most of the episode playing for the other team. In fact, her boss is very noticeably surprised when she asks if she's being fired because she's gay — he'd honestly had no idea.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: "Bombshell" has a former supermodel and reality TV star poisoned. The detectives suspect her sister is responsible for her murder, reasoning that the sister was envious of all the fame her sexy sibling received (which, ironically, is pretty disingenuous thinking because by that point the bombshell was an overweight alcoholic and drug addict and viewed with scorn by much of the public); they're right, but they were incorrect about the motive. It turns out that the sister committed the murder because the bombshell had recently given birth to a baby girl, and the sister believed her to be a bad mother and wanted to raise the child herself, resorting to murder in order to gain custody. For added irony, the detectives' suspicion of the sister also caused them to suspect that she also killed her nephew at the start of the episode (again by poisoning), whereas for most of the episode they had believed that his stepfather was responsible for the deed, and it turned out they were right in the first place.
  • When Professor Bobo fall into a wormhole in Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pearl forces the others to go into the wormhole after him. When asked why, she points out he could be sent back in time and cause a Butterfly of Doom... which could retgone slot machines, her favorite hobby, In the next episode, when she starts to lose interest, Brain Guy has to explain it back to her and she gets back on it... to save Chicken in a Biscuit crackers.
  • The MythBusters have occasionally come to this conclusion regarding certain movie scenes.
    • The bus turn in Speed could have happened as depicted...but the turn would have been made even if the passengers aboard had not shifted to the inside of the turn.
    • Shooting the milk in Kiss the Girls wouldn't have helped...but the spark from the gun could never have ignited the methane. Both scenes were labeled as "Busted" because the reasoning behind them didn't fit with reality, even if they would have happened as depicted.
    • The same applies to the Crocodile Escape. Running around crazily on land does help you escape crocodiles, but it's because crocodiles are ambush predators that rarely engage in a chase on land in the first place. About all you have to do is stay out of the water and only run if one actually does lunge at you. Which all the crocs were too laid-back to do. The myth was Busted not because the maneuver failed, but because it was unnecessary.
    • In a more general example, while sourcing the hay needed for Needle in a haystack Adam and Jamie visits hay/straw farm where the former points that if someone where to ask him what hay was, he would actually point towards the straw, as it looks much closer to "movie style hay". The thing though is that he isn't exactly wrong. Anyone who has worked with hay know it's not the kind of stuff you would want to fall into or roll around in since it can booth be really sharp and is far from soft. So when something is presented as hay in movies, it's 90% of time actually straw since it's so much more pleasant to work with.
  • In the NCIS episode "Leap of Faith", Tony is convinced that a suicidal naval officer was killed by his wife simply because he always suspects the wife, especially if money's involved. It turns out that Tony's half-right—the wife did kill him, but it was because she was a Syrian Mole and he was a loose end.
  • On the short-lived (October 2000-February 2001) syndicated late night Game Show Sex Wars, the women's teams would sometimes come up with the right answers, but would get there through the most backwards, nonsensical, illogical way.
  • In the second season Smallville episode "Lineage", Rachel Dunleavy appears in Smallville convinced that Clark is her son from an old affair she had with Lionel Luthor, and becomes convinced that the DNA test results claiming otherwise were rigged by Lionel to hide this fact. While she is correct that the DNA test results were faked, this was actually done by the Kents and Pete Ross, who switched samples to prevent anyone learning about Clark's alien heritage.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In an episode, O'Brien's wife thinks some footage of him is fake because he does not drink coffee in the afternoon, which he is doing in the video. The footage is fake, but when he gets back safely, one of the first things he does is ask for a cup of coffee. In the afternoon.
      Keiko: Miles, you never drink coffee this late!
      O'Brien: What? Sure I do.
      Keiko: You do?!
    • When the crew goes back to the early 21st century, Dax has to get her com badge back from one of the residents of a glorified slum. He deduces she is a "good alien" from talking to her. Not because he had any medical knowledge or figured out she was a Fish out of Water, but because he is utterly insane.
  • On Suits the various legal stunts the characters have pulled definitely warrant an SEC investigation into the way they do business. However, the SEC investigator is highly biased and focuses his investigation on things that are completely innocuous and/or taken out of context.
  • Supernatural: In "Nightshifter", a shapeshifter is murdering people during robberies. Ronald Reznick, who worked at the bank, sees the eye flare in security footage and assumes that the robber isn't human, coming to the conclusion that it is a mandroid cyborg. Dean tells him that while it isn't completely human, it ain't a cyborg. Ronald, however, is so relieved to hear that he wasn't going crazy so he laughs.
    Dean: What are you, nuts?
    Ronald: That's just it. I'm not nuts. I mean, I was so scared that I was losing my marbles. But this is real! I mean, I, I, I was right! Except for the Mandroid thing. Thank you.
  • Subverted in Season 2 of The Tudors. At the end of the season, five men — Thomas Wyatt, Henry Norris, Mark Smeaton, George Boleyn and William Brereton — are all arrested and accused of adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII has no real belief in their genuine guilt — he just wants an excuse to get rid of Anne. Unbeknownst to him however, Wyatt genuinely did sleep with Anne and, perversely, is the only one let off.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street," weird things start happening in a suburban neighborhood. All the residents start suspecting the problems have been caused by aliens and start pointing fingers at one another until one of the residents shoots another one. Then, it's revealed that aliens really were causing the strange things, but none of the residents were aliens themselves.


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