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  • The Comedy of Errors: One character has been searching for his long-lost twin, and comes to a town where said twin actually lives, causing him to be recognized by everyone and confused with his twin. Mistakes abound, and Hilarity Ensues.
    You'd Expect: That he'd come to the obvious conclusion that his search is over — his twin lives in this town, and the character's just being mistaken for him.
    Instead: He grows progressively more and more confused about everything that happens and ultimately concludes that the entire town's full of witches who are tricking him. Nobody figures it out until the twins come face-to-face.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac, an Impoverished Patrician Starving Artist, unknown yet talented playwright, is offered the Patronage of Cardenal Richelieu, The most powerful man in all France and known playwright, who will only ''edit one or two verses'' of Cyrano’s unproduced play, "Agrippine".
    You’d Expect: A serious, talented Starving Artist who has never been represented in scene will recognize this as a golden opportunity and be tolerant of a powerful Mecenas with a lot of money who really has experience with playwriting and whom really could improve "Agrippine".
    Instead: Cyrano arrogantly invokes Protection from Editors and nastily rejects the patronage. To put things in perspective, rejecting Cardenal Richelieu’s patronage in The Cavalier Years Paris it’s like someone in Marvel Universe rejecting Doctor Doom’s patronage, or someone in DC Universe rejecting Lex Luthor’s patronage when he was President Evil of the United States.
  • In the 2007 version of Hairspray, Tracy wants to join the Negro Day Dancers to march against segregation in "The Corny Collins Show" in order for blacks to be allowed to dance on television.
    You'd Expect: Tracy would listen to her mother about why it won't be a good idea for her to join the march, since she can be jailed for doing so.
    Instead: Tracy joins the march, assaults a policeman with her sign, and nearly gets herself arrested.
  • Shakespeare is not immune to this. At the end of Act 3, Scene 3, Hamlet has just received confirmation that his uncle Claudius did, in fact, kill Hamlet's father. Claudius is in a confessional, alone, praying desperately to God for repentance and mercy. He does not see Hamlet enter, dagger unsheathed, seeing the time ripe to avenge his father's death. Minor hindrance: as a man in prayer, if killed at that instance, Claudius would go to heaven. However, Claudius' prayer is insincere; he cannot feel remorse for his brother's murder.
    You'd expect: Hamlet, like the son of a king, would alert Claudius out of his prayer and provoke him to a fight. When Claudius is enraged, swearing, and other damnable things, Hamlet skewers him. Since Hamlet would be King himself if he killed Claudius, it doesn't matter in the least what anyone else thinks, so why doesn't he do it?
    Instead: Hamlet reasons that killing Claudius and sending him to heaven is not fair for Claudius killing King Hamlet and sending him to hell. He sits there for a while explaining this out to himself, and then, a Momma's Boy to the very end, he decides he shouldn't keep Queen Gertrude waiting and goes out to meet her. This results directly in Polonius's death, Ophelia's suicide, and, well, you know the rest.
  • Little Shop of Horrors
    • Dr. Orin Scrivello is a Jerkass dentist who enjoys torturing his patients and his girlfriend, Audrey. When seeing a walk-in patient, one of them pulls a gun on him. This happens to be Seymour, who is attempting to murder him. Dr. Scrivello easily knocks him down and puts him in a dentist chair, because Seymour doesn't have it in him to fire.
      You'd Expect: That the dentist would call the police, especially since he isn't high on gas at the moment and has no excuse. He has a patient trying to murder him.
      Instead: Dr. Scrivello assumes Seymour has the gun because he's nervous about his walk-in. He then gloats to Seymour about what he's going to do to the poor man's teeth and then gets some nitrous oxide before drilling a tooth out. Then when the doctor finds the gas mask stuck on his face, and he starts to asphyxiate, Seymour refuses to help him, so that the dentist dies from the lack of oxygen.
    • Seymour then feeds the dentist to the plant. This leaves a lot of evidence lying around, namely blood and Dr. Scrivello's uniform.
      You'd Expect: Seymour would gather the bloody dentist's uniform and some bleach to dispose of the evidence.
      Instead: He leaves the uniform and blood; his boss Mushnik finds it a week later and wants to go to the police, so that Seymour can give a statement and clear himself of the obvious evidence. The plant Audrey II, aka Twoey, convinces Seymour to feed Mushnik to the plant.
    • Seymour braces himself to kill more people so that the man-eating Twoey will lure in more contacts and money, and so that Audrey will love Seymour. She then reveals that she's always loved him, and doesn't care if he's rich or poor. Seymour decides that he will kill the plant because he can't live with the guilt; this can be easily done by not feeding Twoey and leaving the plant to wither in the shop.
      You'd Expect: That given how clever and hypnotic Twoey is that Seymour would keep his mouth shut and simply leave with Audrey on an impulse trip. The plant is then none the wiser.
      Instead: Seymour starts rambling about it, to a confused Audrey, who leaves in a stressed mood, and Twoey gets wind of the scheme. Twoey then takes advantage of a sleep-deprived Audrey entering the shop to find Seymour, and feeds on her blood. She dies from the blood loss, and Seymour reluctantly feeds her body to the plant. This means that when Seymour tries to destroy Twoey, he's overwhelmed easily and makes a suicidal charge into the plant's maw. Cue the plant apocalypse.
  • Love Never Dies: Meg Giry loves the Phantom, who loves Christine Daae even more. In the climax, she snaps and abducts The Phantom and Christine's son Gustave and threatens to drown him. The Phantom talks her out of harming the boy but must now talk her out of shooting herself.
    You'd expect: The Phantom would kindly talk her into handing him the gun. Since this is an emotionally-damaged young woman, the Phantom would do so by emphasizing with her feelings of abandonment and assure her everything'll be all right.
    Instead: The Phantom does so until he tells her "Beauty sometimes goes unseen/We can't all be like Christine.'' This sets Meg off once again and leads her to accidentally shoot and kill Christine.
  • Madame Butterfly: A young woman named Cio-cio-san aka Butterfly marries an American man named Pinkerton, against the opinion of pretty much everyone in their surroundings. It's also stated that Pinkerton married Butterfly just temporarily, and has no intention to actually stay by her side for more than a month. Pinkerton then leaves to the USA almost immediately after the marriage, and Butterfly is all alone for two/three years — while her maid Suzuki, the USA consul Sharpless and even the matchmaker who got her hitched to Pinkerton, Gorou, have told her "You Have Waited Long Enough" several times.
    You'd Expect: Butterfly to consider her difficult situation (she has a young child fathered by Pinkerton, her family save for Suzuki has disowned her for converting to Christianity, they barely have money to scrap by, etc.) and decide that nope, she cannot just stay there waiting endlessly. Even if she still loves Pinkerton, which is very understandable since he's her First Love and Butterfly herself is merely in her late teens, it's best to be pragmatic and think of her own well-being — and specially, her kid's own well-being, as the poor boy is already being looked down on for "not having a father". Furthermore, Gorou tells her that he can get her a new and much better husband, meaning that she might be able to rebuild her life more or less well if she says yes.
    Instead: She keeps waiting for Pinkerton, blindly believing that as soon as he returns, he will stand by her and everything will be okay. She not only refuses Gorou's offer, but also rebuffs the warnings from Suzuki and the pleas from Sharpless. Predictably, when Pinkerton does show up, he brings his American wife Kate and intends to take their kid to the USA, leaving Butterfly alone in Japan. It goes as well as one might expect.
    • This is also a big-ass opera of idiocy for Pinkerton. When he comments to Sharpless in the First Act that he doesn't really intend to stay married to Butterfly, Sharpless immediately tells him not to be an asshole and that Butterfly, despite being aware of how easy divorce is in Japan, considers herself as his full-blooded wife and will not relinquish that.
      You'd expect: For Pinkerton to at least be considerate enough to keep an eye on this girl who, according to Sharpless, completely trusts Pinkerton's good will and love. Even if he cannot take her to the USA or stay in Japan, you know, not being an ass to Butterfly is at least in minimal good taste. As the American consul in Nagasaki, Sharpless has quite the knowledge of Japanese society as a whole, so his word shouldn't be taken lightly.
      Instead: Not only Pinkerton doesn't give a crap about Butterfly's feelings and stays away for three years without apparently contacting her, but he brings his American wife Kate with him to Japan. As said above, Butterfly does NOT take it well.
  • Peer Gynt: Ingrid, the sole daughter of the Hægstad farm, has been sweet on Peer for obvious reasons. His mother knew this.
    • You`d expect: Mother Åse to vouch for Peer long ago (before the play really started), securing Peer the biggest farm in the area, and a secure economy for herself. You`d also expect that Peer would be smart enough to go for that solution.
    • Instead: Peer crashes the wedding of Ingrid and another guy, to be rejected by a newcomer girl, then hijacking Ingrid, and then making himself an outlaw, losing every property right to his father`s farm, and in the end also indirectly causing Ingrid`s farm to go to pieces. What an Idiot!.
    • Then there is Solveig, poor girl. Peer meets her at the aforementioned wedding party, and he asks her to dance with him.
    • You`d expect: That she follows custom and at least tries to be nice to him by trying a round of dancing. After all, that was all he asked for.
    • Instead: She rejects his request because she has heard of him and his antics, and because she is rather prudent. From this rejection comes Peer`s fatal crush on her, his eloping with the bride, his meeting with the trolls, and the whole mess finally making him an outlaw. Solveig admittedly sought Peer out to set things straight, and thus she lived in his cottage the rest of her life. So, Solveig, denying Peer Gynt one single dance turned into a lot of problems for both of you.
  • The Phantom of the Opera has this with the new managers Andre and Firmin. When the curtain crashes in the beginning and scares away Carlotta, Mdme. Giry presents a note from "The Opera Ghost" that demands 20,000 Francs among other things.
    You'd expect: that the managers contact the police to find the Phantom, since they've only just taken over the opera house and aren't influenced by the actors' superstition.
    Instead: they ignore his demands, which leads to Christine being kidnapped (twice), two men being murdered, the chandelier being destroyed, and the company going out of business.
    • They do this again later in the show. When Christine is first kidnapped, the managers, Raoul, Carlotta, and Mdme. Giry receive notes from the Phantom listing various demands. The note from Giry has demands for everyone present, which boils down to "In your new production of Il Muto, you will therefore cast Carlotta as the page boy [mute part], and put Christine in the role of Countess. If you don't, bad things will happen."
      You'd expect: that Andre and Firmin would contact the police. If not, then they'd just cast Christine anyway, considering that her previous performance was very well-received with critics and the audience.
      Instead: they ignore his demands and cast Carlotta as the female lead, which leads to the Phantom being pissed. He drugs Carlotta's spray so that she loses her voice. Christine becomes the female lead anyway, Joseph Buquet dies by the Punjab lasso, and the chandelier crashes down to the stage, nearly killing more people and costing who knows how much to replace.
    • Earlier, when Christine wakes up in the Phantom's lair after a rather stressful night, she realises her 'Angel of Music' is in fact a mortal, masked man who happens to be absorbed in playing the organ.
      You'd expect: that she would either look desperately for a way out, since hey, she's been brought down here by said strange masked man for who knows what nefarious purposes, or ask him - from a safe distance - what the heck is going on. All while not so much as even thinking of touching the mask, since if a man keeps only half of his face covered, he's probably doing it for a very good reason.
      Instead: She sneaks over to him without revealing her presence, whips the mask off and reveals the deformity underneath - and then is surprised that the Phantom is furious with her.
    • When Raoul is being guided down to the Phantom's lair by Madame Giry during the climax, she keeps reminding him to hold his hand at the level of his eyes, so that the Phantom can't nab him with the Punjab lasso. When Raoul finally reaches the lair and demands to see Christine, the Phantom sarcastically says 'Be my guest, sir,' and raises the portcullis so Raoul can duck inside.
      You'd expect: that Raoul would be rightly suspicious at the Phantom suddenly being so obliging - especially since the first time they met face to face the guy tried to kill him with fire - and would be on his guard for any lethal tricks he might pull instead of just racing over to hug Christine.
      Instead: Raoul naturally fails to do what Madame Giry reminded him of several times, and consequently the Phantom is able to noose him and hold him hostage in order to force Christine to submit to his whim. Nice rescue there, Raoul.
      • The 2004 film version takes the idiocy even further: at one point the Phantom and Raoul have a sword fight in the cemetery, which Raoul eventually wins, leaving the Phantom with a sword at his throat and at Raoul's mercy. Just as Raoul's about to kill him Christine pipes up, pleading with him not to - or at least, "Not like this."
        You'd expect: that Raoul, while bowing to the wishes of his beloved fiancee, would also point out that that this version of the Phantom has already killed two people that they know of (one when he hadn't even hit puberty!) has proven himself to be deceitful and manipulative to the max, and is hardly going to leave them alone just because they spared his life. You would then expect him to find some way of restraining the Phantom, whether by tying him up or knocking him out, and then deliver him to the authorities to face justice.
        Instead: ...they just get on the horse and leave him there, furious and swearing revenge on them both.
        To make matters worse: In the very next scene, Raoul is discussing with the managers how to capture the Phantom - even though he's already had him at his mercy and could have dealt with him then and there!!! (To be fair, though, this is more the script's fault than Raoul's; in the stage version he hatches his plan to capture the Phantom well before the confrontation in the graveyard, and didn't try to kill or capture the Phantom then because he knew there'd be a better opportunity in the future.)
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:
    • Anthony Hope has made a plan to elope with Johanna in order to get her away from Judge Turpin, who seeks to marry her despite the fact that he's raised her as a daughter, and is making his way to Sweeney's barber shop in order to inform him of the plan. Unknown to Anthony, Turpin is paying Sweeney a visit for a shave so that he can seduce Johanna, and Sweeney has murder on his mind for Turpin.
      You'd Expect: Anthony would contact Mrs. Lovett and ask if Sweeney had a customer before barging in, or at least take a moment to look through the goddamn window of the shop before busting in.
      Instead: He busts right into the barber shop, with Judge Turpin right there in the room, in order to inform Sweeney that he's found Johanna and that she has agreed to the plan. Because Judge Turpin is in the room, this means that he has now been informed about it as well, which not only blows Anthony's plan to elope with her straight to hell, but also Sweeney's plan to kill Turpin — and to make matters even worse for them, Judge Turpin then returns home and has poor Johanna sent to Fogg's Asylum for seeking to defy him. And to make things even worse, Sweeney goes from Anti-Hero to full on Villain Protagonist as a result of being denied his shot at vengeance. Way to break it, Anthony.
    • In the setup for that scene, Mrs. Lovett tells Sweeney to be patient as he plots his revenge. "Soon, love, soon/Hush, love, hush" and all that.
      You'd Expect: Sweeney would understand that she's advising patience in waiting for Turpin to fall into his grasp.
      Instead: When Turpin does fall into his grasp that very day, he takes her advice to heart and spends a few minutes giving the guy a proper shave and singing about pretty women, leading to the scene above. "You told me to wait!" he snarls in the next song. Um, yes, Sweeney, she told you to wait for Turpin to come to you, not to waste time once his throat was finally under your blade! He should have been dead and packed away in the crate long before Anthony arrived!
    • And just to put the icing on the above cake, in the film version Anthony proceeds to barge into the shop again and disrupts another incredibly important moment. Finally, finally, Sweeney and Mrs Lovett are actually talking about themselves! The audience are mere seconds away from hearing them clarify, in front of one another, the exact nature of their relationship. And then Anthony decides he wants to talk to Sweeney.
      You'd Expect: Anthony to look into the shop, see two characters of opposite genders talking and employ basic politeness and sensitivity, besides remembering the consequences of the last time he interrupted Sweeney. (In case any tropers have forgotten, these include Sweeney screaming "GET OUT! GET OUT!" while brandishing a straight razor).
      Instead: ... He goes in like a bull in a china shop.
    • Mrs Lovett is also a major idiot. The Beadle's coming to ask questions, and she's got a kid on her hands who knows far too much? What ''is'' she going to do with him?
      You'd Expect: Her to put him somewhere that won't make the situation any worse than it already is.
      Instead: She locks him in the basement: the one place where he's absolutely guaranteed to gather even more incriminating evidence than he has already.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In the backstory of The Trachiniae, Deianira is nearly raped by a centaur called Nessus. Her husband Herakles shoots him with arrows poisoned by hydra blood. As Nessus is dying, he gives Deianira some drops of blood from said wound and tells her to handle it very carefully -— it's a love potion that will make Herakles' affections return to her should they ever stray.
    You'd Expect: She'd put two and two together. This centaur has bad intentions towards her. This centaur hates her husband. He's not actually going to give her something helpful. He was shot with poisoned arrows. Love potion = deadly poison.
    Instead: At a moment when Herakles has fallen in love with another woman (or seems to have), she tries to save her marriage by using the love potion on him. It kills him brutally, slowly, agonizingly. She commits suicide.
  • Hamilton
    • Alexander Hamilton has been working hard, as Secretary of Treasury. He refuses to go on vacation with his family so that he can work on a federal banking plan that would assume states' debts. A married woman, Maria Reynolds, comes to him asking for help. Her husband, who is a domestic abuser, has left her with no money for her child and she has nothing. He lends her money and walks her home. Then she tries to seduce him.
      You'd Expect: That Alexander would hightail it out of there and not see Maria again. He's married and has several children, plus he's promised his wife Eliza to be faithful to her.
      Instead: Alexander sleeps with her that night, and continues to see her. They carry on a passionate affair for several years.
      The Result: Her husband deliberately sent Maria out to seduce Hamilton so as to blackmail him. Hamilton is furious that he was duped and that he fell for a random woman.
    • George Reynolds demands money to keep his wife's machinations secret, otherwise he'll tell Eliza.
      You'd Expect: Hamilton would call his bluff and confess to Eliza what happened, so that the man has no power over him. In real life, Eliza found out, and she considers their marriage and life together important more than Alexander's legacy. Plus, if a man is blackmailing them, they should bring down the law on his head. They only get more greedy with time.
      Instead: Hamilton pays up the money and continues to see Maria. The amount by modern standards is ridiculous. This goes on until Reynolds is imprisoned on a different charge, and opens his big mouth.
    • Alexander then gets busted by Jefferson, Burr and Madison when Reynolds finks to them, and they accuse him of embezzlement and that he's a corrupt politician. He shows them the receipts, the literal ones, on the blackmail money he's been paying. They don't actually promise to keep it secret since even though Alexander is no longer Secretary of Treasury. Alexander worries that they'll accuse him in public of either the embezzlement or the affair.
      You'd Expect: Alexander would realize that only four or five people know about the affair, and he's the only one with actual written evidence. He just has to lie low, not respond to potential accusations, and live his life; it worked for Thomas Jefferson when he was accused of having an affair with Sally Heming. Also, it would be easier on his wife with the double standards in place.
      Instead: He publishes an expose on his affair with Maria. This has multiple devastating consequences: it ruins his political career, his and Eliza's social standing as well as their romantic relationship, and his children's reputations. Jefferson thus lacks the political opponent that could have won against him. Maria Reynolds in the meantime loses custody of her daughter and has to move states to get her child back. Philip Jr. later dies trying to defend his father's honor, and Hamilton's only valued in the election of 1800.
  • Wicked
    • Doomed by Canon, the "Wicked Witch of the East" aka Nessarose is killed due to the Wizard's second-in-command Madame Morrible dropping a house on her, Dorothy Gale's house. Glinda comforts Dorothy, while creating a trap for the Wizard's guards to capture Elphaba, Nessarose's sister and "The Wicked Witch of the West".
      You'd Expect: Glinda would have left Nessarose's shoes, specially magic one that were made for her, where they were, on the dead witch's feet, or where the feet evaporated. It would be more of a lure for Elphaba if she was able to get one last memento of her sister.
      Instead: Glinda impulsively gives the shoes to Dorothy, and unlike in the original film she had no idea how they would help the poor girl. When Elphaba is understandably upset on realizing what her former friend did, Glinda keeps insisting, "They're just shoes!" They also get into a fight about how Elphaba "stole" Glinda's fiancee and that Glinda is working for the wizard.
      The Result: Elphaba guns for Dorothy almost as soon as she is freed from the trap and realizes that there's no point in trying to be good, and she may as well become the Wicked Witch everyone thinks she is. Note that Dorothy is a child, and Glinda accidentally doomed her. If not for Glinda arriving in the nick of time to talk down Elphaba, right after the latter has captured Dorothy and her friends, Elphaba would have crossed the Moral Event Horizon shortly before learning that Fiyero was alive and she saved him.
  • Tosca. Crapsack World of the Napoleonic Wars notwithstanding, the characters could have survived longer if only they hadn’t played the trope.
    • Cavaradossi meets his fugitive friend Angelotti and decides to hide him at his villa. Tosca, Cavaradossi’s lover, hears him talking to someone and becomes madly suspicious he’s having an affair.
      You’d Expect: Cavaradossi either to trust Tosca and tell her the entire truth (as he ends up doing anyway) or not to trust her and think of some better plan to help Angelotti. Especially since the latter has several ideas already and a disguise at hand.
      Instead: Cavaradossi doesn’t tell her a thing but still goes through with his initial plan of hiding Angelotti, his behavior only feeds her suspicions, and she ends up unknowingly leading the police to their villa.
    • Speaking of which. Scarpia gives Tosca a fan with the Attavanti crest and says it has been lying at the scaffold used for painting.
      You’d Expect: Tosca to at least consider the facts: a) Cavaradossi has never given her any true reason to doubt his fidelity; b) Scarpia’s lying and corrupt nature is an open secret in Rome; c) she hasn’t even seen the fan before, so it might have been planted by Scarpia himself; d) Cavaradossi sympathizes with Napoleon and is likely to get in trouble for that; e) in most productions, Scarpia clearly shows by that moment he’s interested in her. Therefore, revealing the location of her and Cavaradossi’s hiding place is not a good idea, and there’s still no conclusive proof of her lover’s betrayal.
      Instead: Tosca decides it’s a fact that Cavaradossi’s cheating on her with the Marchesa and that they use the villa for their rendezvous. She goes there and thus leads Scarpia’s men to Cavaradossi and Angelotti.