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Wrong Genre Savvy / Theater

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  • In Cromwell by Victor Hugo, Rochester, one of the men who conspires against Cromwell, thinks he's in a romance, and that his forbidden love with Cromwell's daughter will prevail. Unfortunately for him, he's in a political drama and she never noticed that he existed.
  • Lampshaded in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods — when the Baker's Wife is being seduced by Cinderella's Prince, she sings, "This is ridiculous, what am I doing here, I'm in the wrong story..."
    • The Narrator suffers from this worse. He thought he was in a classic fairy tale and his job was to tell the story from the safe side of a thick fourth wall.
  • A large fraction of the characters in Little Shop of Horrors are Wrong Genre Savvy. The main character, Seymour, and his employer Mr. Mushnik, think they're in a rags-to-riches story. Seymour's love interest, Audrey, thinks she's in a romance. Orin seems to think that he's a Bastard Boyfriend, or perhaps the player character of a videogame.
  • In the 18th century play Nathan the Wise, Nathan's servant Daya is reasonably savvy of the "Columbine" role in Commedia dell'Arte and thus sees it as her duty to find a mate for Nathan's daughter. However, the young crusader that Daya tries to fix up with the daughter turns out to be the daughter's long-lost brother. In commedia del'arte, this kind of Contrived Coincidence is fairly common, so you could say that the guy would either be the love interest or the long-lost brother, and Daya made the wrong conclusion. There's also an aspect that although Daya knows that Nathan is a nice guy, she has antisemitic prejudices, and thus tends to act like the play she is in is The Merchant of Venice.
  • William Shakespeare:
    • Rodrigo of Othello thinks that he's the Captain character in a Commedia dell'Arte play, who seduces the pretty young wife of an old man. But he's actually more like a Casanova Wannabe-type, who is conned by the conniving servant. Making things worse is that he's in a tragedy, not a comedy, and the conniving servant is Iago.
    • Polonius in Hamlet thinks that he's the Dottore or the Pantalone in a Commedia dell'Arte play, where every problem is caused by unrequited love and can be solved with eavesdropping. Unfortunately for him, he's in a revenge tragedy.
    • Deconstructed with Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, who doesn't realise he's in a romantic comedy, and winds up derailing the plot into a tragedy with his killing of Mercutio.
  • In Don Giovanni by Mozart, Donna Elvira makes two wrong conclusions. When she's in her Love Martyr mode, she thinks she's the heroine of a romance story, destined to redeem the roguish anti-hero with her love. When she's in her Woman Scorned mode, she correctly realizes that she's in a story of an irredeemable rake's divinely-ordaned punishment, but wrongly assumes that she will be the one to punish him. Actually, she's just a tragicomic supporting character, and the real agent of the Don's punishment is a much more imposing figure.