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  • Doctor Who: "Hell Bent" opens with the Doctor telling Clara about his adventures with her. She doesn't appear to remember any of it (in fact, she doesn't even appear to remember her own name), but at the end, it turns out that it's the Doctor who doesn't remember. Specifically, he remembers his adventures with Clara, but not what she looks or sounds like. Clara is playing along with the Doctor by pretending not to know who he's talking about; this is because she was revived via Tricked Out Time and after seeing what the Doctor did, went and forced him to move on by having him forget her appearance and voice, all while she travels in a diner-shaped TARDIS traveling through time and space until she reached the point she is supposed to die.
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  • Frasier once had an In-Universe example. While Niles and Maris are going through a rough patch, Frasier finds their mother's journals which seemingly depict her observations of their development as children. The observations aren't very flattering of Niles. Deciding to go against this, Niles files for divorce from Maris. Frasier continues reading the journals. It turns out their mother was observing the behavior of her lab rats who she also named Frasier and Niles. She named her sons after them.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • In the episode "Three Days of Snow", Future!Ted tells three stories at the same time: (1) Robin taking Marshall to welcome Lily at the airport, (2) Ted and Barney taking care of the bar, and (3) Lily trying to get some beers to give to Marshall when he welcomes her in the airport. But just when Lily and Marshall get to the airport, Future!Ted reveals that the three stories are taking place on three different days, so Marshall did not meet Lily on day one, he mourned at Ted and Barney's "bar" on day two, and seemingly nobody was in the airport to welcome Lily on day three. But then Marshall surprises Lily by bringing an entire band to greet her.)
      • This is particularly effective as it's a fake Actor Allusion to Alyson Hannigan. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hannigan's character had been involved in a similar plot, only in that case it was actually the same day and she couldn't see her friends because of an accidental use of magic.
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    • Also, the series finale, where it turns out that the mother died six years ago, as both the narrator and his kids hearing the story knew all along; the story was never about her, it was future Ted reminiscing about Robin in an attempt to move on.
    • The episode "Symphony of Illumination" begins, as a change of formula, with Robin telling her children about how she told their father that she was pregnant. However, the episode is actually about her discovering that she can't have children, and she's actually talking to herself as she tries to come to terms with the news.
  • One plot thread of The League of Gentlemen comes to an unexpected conclusion when it is revealed that Iris and Mrs. Levison are really mother and daughter. The stage show ups the ante by revealing that they're really father and son.
  • Lost did this often:
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    • The episode "Walkabout" hinges on the revelation at its end that Locke was in a wheelchair before the plane crash. In all flashbacks he is sitting at a desk or table, or lying in bed, to conceal this.
    • Sawyer's first Day in the Limelight had such a twist as well when it turned out the letter written to him was actually a letter he wrote to the original Sawyer.
    • The season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass", features a series of seemingly traditional flashbacks for Jack, one of the main characters... until he meets Kate at the end of the episode, revealing that all the "flashback" scenes in this episode were actually flash-forwards.
    • The season 4 episode "Ji Yeon" appears to feature flash-forwards for Jin and Sun, who apparently both left the island... until it turns out that Jin's scenes are actually flashbacks, and he never left the island but is considered dead by his wife Sun.
  • The second season of Mr. Robot shows Elliott after the hacking job that brought down E-Corp. He tries to go on with his life, makes friends with a pair of men with criminal backgrounds, starts attending a church group, and runs afoul of a gang of white supremacists. It isn't until episode seven that it's revealed this all happens while he's in prison.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The second season premiere "Broken" appears to follow the same episode format as the first season, with the point of view switching between the Enchanted Forest in the past and a parallel story in Storybrook in the present. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that the Enchanted Forest segments do not take place in the past. They are actually taking place in the present (actually after the Storybrook segments).
    • The fourth season episode "Fall" does something similar. Previous scenes set in Arendelle were established as taking place before David the shepherd boy became Prince Charming or Belle met Rumpelstiltskin; the previous episode said it was 1985 in our world. When Anna and Kristoff defrost in the first Arendelle scene of the episode, we assume that this happened when the Snow Queen left the realm, shortly after they were frozen. It's not until the reveal that Blackbeard now captains the Jolly Roger that we realise they've been Human Popsicles for thirty years.
  • The Prisoner (2009): Those flashbacks to Six's life before The Village? They aren't flashbacks, they're happening simultaneously.
  • In the Scrubs episode "My Screwup" we find out at the end of the episode that Ben is actually the patient that died and Dr. Cox has just been seeing Ben in his head.
    • There is one hint for eagle-eyed viewers that at first appears to be a continuity error - the man implied to have died through the whole episode appears in the background of one scene.
    • Another hint pops up throughout the episode, but it's so subtle that the viewer is unlikely to pick up on it until the second watch - The only person who directly interacts with Ben from the time he dies until the end of the episode is Dr. Cox. Everyone else talks directly to Cox while Ben offers him advice on how to respond.
    • And of course, Ben's line that he'll carry his camera "until the day I die", and that he doesn't have his camera for the latter part of the episode.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In "Double Jeopardy", the audience is led to believe that it is the normal version of SG-1 that arrives on Juna...until Darien kills Daniel with a staff weapon and his head comes off, revealing that he is a robot. In the next scene, Harlan contacts the SGC, confirming that they are the robot duplicates from "Tin Man".
    • "Heroes" has a big one. Some off-world scenes are shown, and Jack O'Neill is shown getting shot. The episode is from the point of view of a reporter in the SGC. For the rest of the episode, the entire team is very obviously in distress because someone has died. The entire episode leads you to believe Jack died, but the ending reveals he was wearing an experimental new energy-absorbing vest and survived. It was actually the doctor, Janet Frazier, who was killed. The characters obviously knew this the entire time, but it was concealed from the audience until the end.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: "Doctor's Orders" has Phlox and T'Pol the only people awake on the ship as the rest of the crew has to be put into a comatose state to pass through a radiation cloud. It's revealed at the end that T'Pol had been asleep too; Phlox was hallucinating her to help with his isolation. Like the Scrubs example above, T'Pol never physically interacts with anything.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look:
    • One Sketch appears to show a ridiculously drawn-out quiz show. Turns out they are on a space ship and the "contestants" are being held captive by the "host", a terminally ill billionaire who, refusing to die alone, is flying the space ship into the sun and is making every last second count.
    • Another sketch starts out as a parody of a relaxation DVD. At the end, it is revealed that robots who have taken over the world made the DVD so the human resistance fighters wouldn't have the energy to fight them.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Third from the Sun", the Sturkas and Ridens steal an experimental ship and travel to another planet 11 million miles away in order to escape a nuclear war that is likely to begin within 48 hours. Having picked up radio signals from the planet, Jerry Riden learns that the natives call it "Earth."
    • In "Eye of the Beholder", Janet Tyler, a woman with a horribly misshapen face, is undergoing her eleventh reconstructive surgery to make her appear normal. When her bandages are removed, the doctors discover that the surgery was unsuccessful. It is revealed that, from the audience's perspective, Janet is a beautiful woman and the doctors and nurses are hideously ugly. Saturday Night Live parodied this episode by subverting the trope: All the hideous, pig-like people, as well as the narrator, think the "disfigured" woman is totally hot. Except for one nurse, who's the Only Insane Woman.
    • In "The Invaders", an aging farm woman is attacked by tiny creatures from another planet in her cabin. The woman discovers the supposed aliens' spacecraft on her roof. Its markings read "U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1." It is revealed that the woman belongs to a race of giants and the "aliens" are astronauts from Earth.
    • In "Probe 7, Over and Out", an astronaut named Colonel Cook crashlands on a planet 4.3 lightyears from his home system. After contacting his planet, he learns that a nuclear war has begun and a rescue ship will therefore not be sent for him. Shortly afterwards, Cook meets an alien woman. Although they do not speak each other's languages, the woman manages to communicate to him that her name is Norda and that she is the Sole Survivor of her planet, which left its orbit. Cook tells her that his first name is Adam and learns that hers is Eve. They settle in a beautiful garden containing fruit that Eve calls "seppla." Eve decides to call the planet "Earth."
  • The Twilight Zone (2002): In "Upgrade", after moving into a new house, Anne MacIntosh discovers that her dog Zonka has changed breeds and she is the only one who realizes it. She soon finds that her previously obnoxious family, consisting of her husband Philip and two children Sean and Tess, has been similarly replaced. Their physical appearances are entirely different and their personalities have become essentially perfect. Anne can't get anyone to believe her and she is eventually replaced herself. The final scene reveals that Anne and her family are characters in a little girl named Lizzie's The Sims-esque people simulator Video Game.
  • Jason from The Good Place talks about someone named “Donkey Doug” from pretty much the beginning of the show. He makes it seem like he’s a buddy of his that comes along for the ride on his misadventures in Florida. It’s not until season 3 that Jason reveals that Donkey Doug is actually his dad.


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