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Innocent Bystander: Superman--don't just sit there! Stop that thing before it wrecks Metropolis!

Superman (smiling): That's just what I'm waiting for it to do!
—Cover of The Amazing Adventures of Superman #246

For the Trope Namer website Superdickery.Com, go here.

Super Dickery is a widespread tactic in serial fiction. Show a teaser portraying the normally upright hero acting in an evil and despicable manner, causing the audience to wonder "Shock! How could this be‽" and then, hopefully, to read/watch/listen to the thing you're advertising.

You look at the cover to the newest issue of your favorite comic, and what do you see? The Superhero, apparently killing his Sidekick and his love interest! Or, "On the Next..." episode of the new prime-time TV series, the main character goes bad, selling her team out to the Big Bad and shooting the Plucky Comic Relief in the face!

So, you buy it, or watch it, and as the plot unfolds... it turns out, of course, that the good guy wasn't a bad guy after all. They were a Reverse Mole, a Secret Test of Character, or Not Themselves, or really not themselves, or were just playacting, or had learned that if Jimmy had gotten what he wanted for Christmas, it would have resulted in the destruction of every possible universe. It is also entirely possible that it was an "imaginary story" or otherwise All Just a Dream. Sometimes, the story flat-out ignores elements on the cover. You should have known that Covers Always Lie and you can Never Trust a Trailer, but you were pulled in... by Super Dickery.

Warning: Silver Age comics did have a tendency to induce Comedic Sociopathy in characters, alongside the strange plot devices and twists. This means that even if Superman wasn't as evil as the cover made him sound, the reader might still have to say "what a dick!" at the end of the story.

Doesn't really work with Anti Heroes.

The reason for this trope, however, isn't the writer's intent. During the Silver Age, the covers were designed first, and the writers had to work around that cover that had been drawn without a story.

See also the Trope Namer website, featuring whole galleries of delightful examples of questionable behaviour by Superman and other superheroes. But be careful: the site (, not has been known to contain a great many viruses. If you would like a virus free mirror the superdickery section has been mirrored on tumblr and expanded. The links below in the example still lead to the original website so be careful!

Examples of Super Dickery include:

Comic Books

  • Way, way, way overdone in the Silver Age Superman comics, to the point where Supes seemed more like some kind of sadist for putting his friends through these situations, even if they were fake. If you look at enough of them, you start to realize that, for many of them, there is no possible situation that could explain what you're seeing. Other than utter lunacy, of course, because this is the SILVER AGE!
    • Arguably, the first instance of Superdickery was in Superman's first issue. The cover of his Action Comics debut shows him smashing a car to pieces for no apparent reason as the car's occupants flee in terror. You have to read the comic itself to learn that it's a criminal's getaway car he's destroying.
    • It's not just Superman who had this happen to him, either. There were plenty of covers involving Jimmy Olsen or Batman giving away the secret identity of/imprisoning/refusing to help/killing Superman.
    • One peculiar but common thread through these comics is that Superman spends most of his time ensuring that nobody else has powers like his. If a reason is even given for this, it's because The World Is Not Ready. Superman has clearly decided he is the only arbiter of truth, justice, and various national ways.
    • Lois Lane is being blackmailed, and what's Supes' response? Impersonate her blackmailer because he simply must know her terrible secret. This leads to a bit of actual story-within-a-story Super Dickery, as "her" secret actually turned out to be footage of Superman killing a bunch of people... whom further footage reveals to be evil aliens in disguise, for that "What Measure Is a Non-Human?" bit of okay-but-you're-still-kind-of-a-dick.
    • All too often, though, the torment of another character by Superman (often someone he's supposed to be friends or loved ones with) really does occur, and for no apparent constructive reason at all. In one silver age comic, Superman puts Lois Lane (You know? The love of his life?) through an embarrassing and gut-wrenching physical transformation without her permission, allegedly to keep a crook from recognizing her. Of course, even supposing that reason held any water at all, that still doesn't excuse how Superman pretends not to recognize Lois immediately after the transformation, and even out-and-out insults her on her appearance.
    • It should be noted that while many Silver Age stories had Superman being a dick, many had his friends being dicks to him- Lois Lane (and Lana Lang, when he was Superboy) constantly tried to prove that Clark was Superman, on the assumption that he would have to marry her once she did! He also had to constantly save them from danger that they put themselves in recklessly. The latter was also a problem with Jimmy Olsen. So it was really a mutual thing. About the only regular character who wasn't a dick was Perry White, despite his gruff behavior.
      • Of course, he'd never marry either of them, for this reason. And, of course, is totally a dick in explaining it.
      • Bizarrely, the whole prove-his-identity-to-get-him-to-marry-me bit seems to have been valid for Superman. A comic in which he went back in time to get away from Lois and Lana had him meet another girl who — surprise — came to the same conclusion and tried to get his secret identity. She never tells Superman that this is her plan, but when he gets back to the present and finds out that she's become fat, he expresses relief that he didn't end up having to marry her. Perhaps Superman is subject to the True Name effect?
    • In Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #76, Perry forces the other members of the Daily Planet to go on a death march.
    • Of course, the covers do tend to exaggerate the apparent dickery. For example, on the cover of Action Comics #258, the Man of Steel banishes Supergirl off the planet, his rationale being, "I'm sorry to end your career, but you're a failure as Supergirl! I must exile you to another world!" In the actual story, it's far more petty — he just exiles her to an asteroid for just one year only because she revealed her existence to Krypto the Superdog. Yeah, that'll end her career. [1]
      • Exaggerate? Some of the covers flat-out lied. "The Miracle of Thirsty Thursday"'s cover shows Metropolis citizens dying of thirst whilst Superman stands before a gushing fire hydrant and explicitly denies water to everyone. Of course, a thoughtful reader may assume that the clarifying context is that the water is in some way contaminated and that Superman is protecting them. In this case, however, the "context" is that the cover is a lie: in the actual story, citizens of Metropolis are affected by a serum that creates an aversion to water, and Superman has to come up with a means to make them drink.
    • Another aspect of comic books during that age was that the audience was primarily children 6-12, and many of the stories would feature incidents that would speak to them - such as being punished via spanking. To an adult's eyes, it would seem... bizarre (and kinky in some cases), but to a child, it would be a real threat, as would being made fat, losing a parental figure, and so on.
      • Perhaps even more important, many of these covers were made by people not otherwise involved in writing the books, after which the point the writers would make up a story attempting to justify it (or blantantly ignoring it!) as best they could.
    • Used in All-Star Superman, which is a 2000s continuation of the Silver Age comics. Issue four is called "The Superman/Olsen War!", and its cover depicts Superman trying to kill his best pal. He's under the influence of Black Kryptonite.
  • One Astro City story, "Shining Armor," was a Deconstruction of Lois Lane's own brand of dickery. An Expy Lois Lane (Irene Merriweather) tries to prove herself worthy of an Expy Superman (Atomicus) by exposing his secret identity, but when she finally succeeds, he just gets pissed and leaves Earth forever. It turns out he never wanted to play that game with her but was too afraid to admit it. But just to reiterate so that the gravity of the situation can sink in: Irene was so insane about discovering Atomicus' secret identity that he, the greatest hero of the Atomic age, left the freaking planet forever. To wander aimlessly through space. Forever. That is how insufferable she was.
    • What's more? In her initial inquiries into his identity, word started spreading and Adam Peterson's house was blown up by the local mafia. Afterwards, she kept trying to prove he was Atomicus.
    • There was also a brief mention in another story of a situation that would seem rather familiar; Supersonic, after an adventure that temporarily gave him 16 exact doubles, took his Lois-type girlfriend Caroleen to a dance as Supersonic and had one of his doubles come as his secret identity of Dale Enright. He did this just to mess with Caroleen for no reason.
  • A cliffhanger ending in one issue of the City of Heroes comic book (yes, a comic book based on an MMORPG based on comic books), the Badass Normal of the super-team depicted in the book was shown killing the team's leader in the last panel. The catch? He planned to have the man returned to life as soon as possible and only killed him to appease the one person who could restore the powers of the rest of the team.
  • Can be done on-panel: In the "Torn" Story Arc of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, a depowered Cyclops was casually gunning down villains and talking about it as if completely unconcerned. (This after the previous issue's Wham! Episode ending of him shooting Emma Frost.) Turns out he's not crazy: he's the only one who's figured out that they're psychic projections created by a villain to move her Evil Plan along.
  • Another on-panel version - the original introduction of the Skrulls had the Fantastic Four doing criminal acts, from the minor to the not very minor (like knocking over an oil rig). Soon after, it's - surprise - really the Skrulls causing trouble.
  • The various incarnations of the Legion of Super-Heroes, particularly in their secret character tests for Superboy, and in their periodic tryouts for new members.
    • The Legion actually started with Superdickery before moving on to actual heroics. It was several years before stories about the Legion fighting villains and being heroes outnumbered the stories of them being jerks to Superboy.
    • The latest round of Legion stories had a handful of people they rejected from the team being so devastated they turn homicidal and take over the Earth. Oops. Of course, it also explained that the real reason they were rejected was for being dangerously unstable.
  • This trope was frequently used the other way around in the British comic The Beano with Dennis the Menace shockingly becoming good. Of course, it didn't last.
  • Inverted in Wolverine #70. The cover shows him fighting with his Rogues Gallery and losing but in the comic he handles them quite easily, because they are his friends and he was fooled by Mysterio.
  • Speaking of Wolverine, one issue of X-Men featured Wolvie standing over an eviscerated Kitty Pryde. Wolverine was actually Mystique in disguise, and Kitty was an android; Mystique was just practicing.
  • Another one from the X-books: One has Professor X piloting a "Psi-ber Sentinel," gleefully laughing as he tries to mow down the X-Men. In the actual story, it's revealed to be even more Blatant Lies than most of these scenes. Nothing of the sort happens; not a clone, not brainwashing. In fact, the prof was a prisoner, and his psychic energy was being drained to run the robot, which had been sent by actual bad guys. (And you'd think that if they really wanted people to buy the comic, they'd have simply mentioned on the cover that Deadpool was in the issue, a fact that was actually not advertised.)
  • Spider-Man had at least one run-in with this when a comic opened with him robbing a bank. He was actually taking a bomb meant to destroy the safe out of it.
    • Done again in Ultimate Spider-Man, where one issue starts with Spider-Man bursting into a bank with an unconscious cop in one hand and declaring that the bank is being robbed by none other than Spider-Man. It's quickly revealed that this is not Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but an impostor copying his motif.
    • Done yet again in the Playstation One Spider-Man video game, which opens to Spidey stealing some technology, and it is not subverted by the fact that the person he's stealing from is Doctor Octopus, reformed or not. Later revealed, of course, to be Mysterio, stealing the tech for none other than Doctor Octopus himself.
      • More of an in-universe example, though, since the cinematic also shows Peter Parker taking pictures there.
      • Complete with him saying to himself "Wait a minute, I thought I was Spider-Man."
      • And later it's revealed that Mysterio worked for Octopus, who planned the whole thing in order to frame Spidey to accomplish his Evil Plan without being disturbed.
  • In issue #11 of The Simpsons comic book, Ned Flanders gets lost during a camping trip, and when he comes back, he acts like a criminal, doing such things as robbing a bank and using a slingshot to knock Bart off his skateboard on the cover. It's not really him - it's a clone manufactured by Kang, Kodos, and Sideshow Bob.
  • The cover to issue #28 of Sonic the Hedgehog depicts Sonic having just beaten up the other Freedom Fighters and being commanded by Robotnik to finish them off. However, the apparent dickery here is kind of made not that suspenseful by the fact that this was printing the second half of a two-part, and therefore if you read the previous issue, then you know that Sonic is just suffering amnesia and thinks he's on Robotnik's side.
    • The more recent #203, has Bunnie pinning Sonic under her foot and preparing to blast him with her arm cannon, complete with the caption "Bunnie Gone Bad?!". Actually reading it reveals the Iron Queen, being a techno-mage, has taken control of her cybernetic limbs and is forcing her to fight the others. They did the same thing next issue with Monkey Khan, though, like the above example, it's not at all suspenseful if you've read the previous issue. It has almost the same explanation as Bunnie's.
      • That doesn't stop Antoine (Bunnie's husband) from attacking Khan meaningfully, since apparently Khan knew of the Iron Queen's abilities--and specifically, his own liability towards her powers--beforehand, and never told anybody else so they could prepare for it. Then again, coming close to becoming a widower would do that to any respectable husband, and Antoine is long removed from his days as a Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey at that point.
    • Issue #217 inverts this - on the cover, we see Sonic drowning in oil, and Bunnie rushing to help him. Not only does this never happen in the story, but on the first page, Bunnie and Sonic are in the middle of an all-out battle in the middle of an oil refinery; the issue-long flashback that shows how they got to this point reveals that neither one was being forced, and they're fighting over largely ideological differences.
    • Issue #59 is another inversion. Earlier in the series, Sonic visited an odd dimension where two men named Horizont-al and Verti-cal lived and comically harassed Sonic. The cover of the issue in question shows them wrestling over a Sega Saturn controller while Sonic and Tails watch from behind the monitor, suggesting another light-hearted romp in their wacky world. The actual story is much more tragic, as Robotnik's doings back in the Endgame arc caused a mutation of their zone, twisting them into nightmarish mechanical monsters who only live to fight (so while the cover is not deceiving you, the events of the story are far more disturbing). While Sonic and Tails are in their zone, they claim them as pawns and put their own unending battle on hold to let Sonic and Tails battle each other on their behalf. At the end of the story Sonic and Tails free themselves from Horizont-al and Verti-cal's control but are unable to convince the two to stop their feuding, leaving them alone in their zone to fight forever more.
  • Bill Willingham makes a point in Elementals about how the silver-age Superman spent all his time saving Jimmy Olsen from dropping packages and preventing Perry from tripping over his shoelaces, while on the other side of the world thousands died of famine and poverty.
  • A recent issue of Batman and Robin shows Robin preparing to decapitate Batman with a giant sword. The issue is even called "Batman vs. Robin." And it does happen! In one panel. Then Robin has a pre-emptive My God, What Have I Done? and freaks out.
    • Actually, he's fighting off the mind control that his mother implanted into his spine after he was injured
  • This trope in Silver Age Superman covers is given an amusing nod in Masterpiece Comics, a parody book that has famous literary works in the style of comic strips and comic books. The retelling of The Stranger has Superman standing in for Mersault, and the novel is told through a series of what look like Silver Age Covers. Thus, the dickish things Mersault does in the book are a close (if exagerated) parallel to the kind of things Superman would be shown doing on the cover.
  • Sleepwalker did this in-story at the end of one issue. A mob of bizarre alien "mindspawn" who all strongly resemble Sleepwalker are invading New York City and killing the innocent bystanders. The issue ends with Sleepwalker seemingly destroying and absorbing Rick Sheridan's mind, with the final caption asking if Sleepwalker is a Super Villain. It's later revealed that Sleepwalker actually absorbed Rick's mind in a special weapon to protect him from being killed by the mindspawn, who really were going to kill him. Sleepwalker knew that if he tried to fight the mindspawn, Rick could have gotten hurt in the crossfire. This way, he could both keep Rick's mind safe and ingratiate himself with the mindspawn, which allows him to free their human prisoners.


  • A minor, but rather amusing example occurs in Spider-Man 2. In the opening scene, we see Peter Parker trying to make a pizza delivery while navigating through heavy traffic. Realising he won't make it in time, he decides to change into Spider-Man in order to move faster. However, a bystander sees the partial change (that is, Peter entering into an alley and coming out as Spider-Man with the pizzas) and he deduces that...
  • Superman III. Arguably the best part of the film was Superman being affected by synthetic Kryptonite, and turning into a nasty, alcoholic, smirking creep, doing evil petty things like blowing out the Olympic torch or straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

 Superman: I hope you don't expect me to save you, because I don't do that anymore.

Lorelei: I'm long past saving.

  • One of the first trailers in the 199 Hero movie of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger depicts the Rangers fighting against the previous Sentai teams, highlighted by the fact that even the narration declares confusion over what's going on. The battle did make it into the movie, but the heroes were actually fighting against puppets animated by the Big Bad from the Gokaigers' Ranger Keys.
    • Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen features two separate Legions of Doom, a reformed Dai Shocker and the all-new Dai Zangyack. Both are staffed by villains from both franchises...and headed by two *heroes*, Tsukasa and Captain Marv. Okay, Tsukasa used to be a villain, but promo material says he only reformed Dai Shocker after Marvelous invaded the Rider reality. Seriously, what the hell?


  • At the start of Persuader, Jack Reacher, our hero appears to shoot a cop, steal a car and kidnap a child. After you're completely hooked, it turns out there's a good explanation.

Live Action TV

  • Done a few times with Angel, with the additional attraction that there was no guarantee he wouldn't do the awful things hinted at, thanks to his "bad side" Angelus.
    • Played straight in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Angelus allies himself with Faith to lure Buffy into a trap. When Faith has Buffy completely at her mercy, it turns out that...

 Faith: What can I say? I'm the world's best actor.

Angel: Second best.

  • Painkiller Jane has done this at least twice. Once, it was a Shape Shifter's con, the other time it turned out to be All Just a Dream.
  • Given the massive amounts of mind-altering powers and chemicals that showed up in early Smallville, this trope quickly wore itself thin, with Lana kissing Clark, Jon going nuts, etc. However, even once that wore out, they continued to claim that the next episode would have Lex finally turn to evil. The scenes they showed were antihero actions out of context, or else Lex under, you guessed it, mind-altering powers and/or chemicals.
  • Season 3 of Heroes features many instances of dickery by the heroes. However, other than Hiro stabbing Ando (which turned out to be an elaborate hoax by the two of them to fool the bad guys), most of it was actually real.
    • This is mainly because Season 3 started out with the Volume "Villains", which attempted to reboot the show (which was slipping in the ratings after the last season) by claiming any of the heroes could become a villain by the end of the season. Ironically, the end result was a number of pointless heel face turns and unnecessary deaths that actually made it less popular than last season.
  • Done at least once in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Dress the friendly neighborhood Terminator up in a way to evoke memories of the T-1000 and stick that sucker in the trailer, and your fanbase starts wondering if she hasn't gone bonkers.
  • Supernatural has used this multiple times. The first and most shocking being when the teaser featured a woman being tied up and tortured by a sadistic captor, the police storm the place only to reveal... it's Dean! Turns out it wasn't, they were tracking a shapeshifter who assumed Dean's form.
    • Of course, when the same series has characters using their superpowers as a cruel joke this way (such as constantly beaming gay porn into a bully's head), the shocks have to get stranger.
  • Subverted (rather brilliantly) in Season 7 of 24. The preview trailers suggested that Tony Almeida was the culprit of the terrorist attacks: and at first it is revealed that Tony is working a deep cover agent, but later it turns out he is one of the bad guys. And then he has his own agenda in the end, which was just, though his means were well over the deep end.
  • An episode of Stargate Atlantis which featured Teyla impersonating a Wraith queen came with commercials trying very hard to imply she'd gone off the reservation and wanted to wipe out the Atlantis crew. The episode itself contains not even the hint that this is a possibility, and her "Destroy that ship!" lines from the commercials were directed at another Wraith hive.
  • Can any Merlin fan forget Merlin's brutal assassination attempts on Arthur? And his somewhat aroused expression just before, after, and heck during these attempts?
    • The (more than usual, at least) UST is easily explained — if Merlin is contemplating killing Arthur, his eyes will be naturally drawn to his heart... and who can blame him if he gets distracted by that chest?
  • An episode of Sanctuary opened with Will killing Magnus by cutting off the air to her compartment of the sub. He actually does kill her, then the episode goes back in time to explain why, including his debating with her about it. He then works very hard to bring her back after the bug infecting her has left.
    • Happens again in the teaser of "Veritas" with Will finding out that Helen apparently killed the Big Guy turns out it was all a Batman Gambit to flush out a bad guy.
  • There's at least one Doctor Who cliff hanger that uses this technique. In "The Invasion of Time" the Doctor returns to Gallifrey to claim his post as the Lord President. He starts acting out of character and becomes abrasive, moody and power mad. At the end of one episode in the story he's seen laughing evilly as he helps a group of evil aliens take over Gallifrey. Of course it was all part of an elaborate plan to defeat said aliens, but he can't tell anyone that because the aliens can monitor his thoughts. None of this stops the Doctor from obviously enjoying a chance to freak out people he dislikes by playing The Caligula.

 Castellan: Is there anything else I can get you, sir?

The Doctor: Yes. A jelly baby. My right-hand pocket.

Castellan: What color would you prefer, sir?

The Doctor: Orange.

Castellan: (nervously) There doesn't appear to be an orange one.

The Doctor: (suddenly grabbing the Castellan's arm) One grows tired of jelly babies, Castellan.

Castellan: Indeed one does, sir.

The Doctor: One grows tired of almost everything, Castellan.

Castellan: Indeed, sir.

The Doctor: Except power.

    • This trope was also used in another Fourth Doctor serial, The Deadly Assassin. In Part 1, the Doctor experiences a vision of the Time Lord president being assassinated. Arriving on Gallifrey, he determines to prevent this from happening. He heads to the balcony overlooking the room where the murder is to take place so that he will be able to see what's going on, and finds a gun lying there. The Doctor picks up the gun, sights along it, and fires. The president falls over, dead! Cut to credits! In Part 2, as is standard in Doctor Who, we see the last minute or so of the previous episode over again — only this time an extra shot is inserted that wasn't there before: that of a person in the crowd below holding a gun. It all becomes clear: the Doctor was trying to shoot at the assassin below, but his gun had been tampered with so that he would be unable to hit the assassin. The fact that he figures that out and convinces the investigating officer goes a long way towards clearing his name.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series did this with the episode called "The Enterprise Incident". Kirk, seemingly against Starfleet orders, invades Romulan space and gets the Enterprise captured. Spock then betrays the ship by siding with the Romulans, and testifies that Kirk has gone insane from the pressures of command, before killing Kirk in self defense. This all turns out to be a plan set up by Starfleet to allow Kirk and Spock to steal a Romulan cloaking device, while providing Starfleet with plausible deniability should the deal go south.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Tuvok enters the mess hall and, driven just an inch too far by Neelix's relentless good cheer, strangles him to death. It turns out to be a holodeck simulation; Tuvok was having difficulty controlling his emotions after mind melding with a psychopathic member of the crew, and he'd hoped the simulation would let him work out his emotional imbalance.
    • In the Voyager episode "Worst Case Scenario", the Maquis stage a mutiny and Torres joins them, but it turns out to be a holodeck simulation; Tuvok set up the simulation to counter a possible rebellion from the Maquis crew that had joined Voyager's crew, but the two crews integrated so well that he decided not to finish the simulation.
    • In "Living Witness", the episode starts with Janeway declaring that "violence is the Starfleet way", and Voyager participating in an alien civil war, oppressively putting down a rebel faction. This turns out to be a simulation created by a museum curator many years in the future, painting Voyager's crew in a negative light. When a back-up of the holographic Doctor is discovered, the Doctor helps the curator sort out what really happened.
  • This is sort of a version of this trope: The House MD season 6 finale begins with House sitting in a bathroom, opening a bottle of vicodin, and we're all, "WHAT, WHY DAT VICODIN?!". The narration then goes back to the beginning of the day. In the very end of the episode, the situation is pretty much what it looked like in the opening of the episode, but Cuddy shows up, having broken up with Lucas, and wants to try a relationship with House, just preventing him from taking the pill.
  • The Wild Wild West: In "The Night of the Turncoat," a mysterious villain sets Jim up in various situations that are meant to make him look bad (like hiring a man to play a priest claiming Jim attacked him). Jim’s dickish response to his confused boss and partner make things worse until he’s finally fired by Richmond and punches out Artemus. However, after the first commercial break, we learn that all the good guys had the villain’s plan (to alienate Jim from the Secret Service so the agent would work for him) figured out from the beginning and staged Jim’s break-up from the government and Artemus so he can be a Fake Defector and see what he's up to. Similarly "The Night of the Skulls" which opens with Jim shooting Artemus dead. After the credits, we find out it was all staged to find the person who's recently been kidnapping murderers.
  • The episode "Bad Blood" of The X-Files opened in a forest at night with a terrified chubby guy being pursued and ultimately killed by a tall man in a dark suit... who is then revealed to be Mulder, with Scully running behind trying to stop him. Cue one of the funniest How We Got Here, Rashomon Style plots ever filmed.
  • One "On the Next..." segment for CSI: Miami made it look like Walter was about to be shot by another member of the team. IIRC, the shooter was actually firing at a booby trap set by the perp, to destroy it before it could kill Walter.

Video Games

  • Used in trailers for Devil May Cry 4, in which Dante, usually a wiseguy at worst, was seen bursting in on some sort of church-esque place and shooting a prominent priest-like person in the forehead. Turns out the shootee, Sanctus, was the Big Bad. It also has Nero, the protagonist for most of the game, uttering the line, "I know the reason I was given this arm ... it was to send demons like you to hell!" apparently directed at Dante, but actually, in the game itself, to Sanctus.
  • In Modern Warfare 2, Shepherd tries to get Price to back off raiding the nuclear submarine, saying that he's too far off the deep end and wanting a plan of revenge. You go through with the mission, believing Price will stop the missile. He doesn't. Cue about five minutes of 'HINT IT'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO HIT NORTH AMERICA', complete with nuclear blast seen from two points of view - but he was just utilizing the EMP blast to give the Americans a fighting chance, not wipe it off the map.
  • This is the plot hook for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (a.k.a. Tales of Symphonia: Knight of Ratatosk), with the star of the previous game Lloyd Irving apparently having headed the murder of an entire town of people and prompting the quest of the new hero, Emil. It wasn't Lloyd, just some creepy stalker dressed as him. Duh.
  • Used in Splinter Cell: Conviction. The game opens in flash forward in which Sam meets Anna Grímsdóttir, his closest ally, in the White House while it is under attack. She proceeds to shoot him in the shoulder, appearing to betray him. The scene is revisited throughout the game, revealing more each time, including dialogue that suggest she really has turned. At the end of the game, it's revealed it was only a ploy to get Sam close to the Big Bad without immediately endangering the hostage president.
  • The opening sequence of case 5 of Ace Attorney Investigations is arranged to strongly imply that Kay will set fire to a building. She doesn't.
    • In the first Ace Attorney game, at the start of 1-4, a similar sequence plays out, making it seem as though Edgeworth was the murderer. He was actually framed.
  • Chrono Cross starts with a dream sequence in which we see the protagonist, Serge, killing one of his friends. Later in the game, we get to actually see the scene come true, but it turns out that one of the villains had managed to switch bodies with Serge.
  • Kirby's Adventure (NES) has King Dedede stealing the Star Rod and breaking it into seven pieces to hide all over Dreamland. Kirby goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, only to learn that Dedede stole the Rod to keep it from the Nightmare that corrupted the Fountain of Dreams and to protect Dreamland. But he decides not to tell Kirby about it.
  • Promo material for Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable includes a frame of Homura slapping Madoka. It's a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! moment from the bizarro-comedy-bonus-route, and Homura follows it up by telling Madoka how clumsy, slow and adorable she is.
  • One of the Fire Emblem Fates trailers features Azura supposedly being attacked by the player character's dragon form, leading some to guess she would be the antagonist of at least one route. She wasn't. It was an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight moment following the player's descent into a feral rage upon their mother Taking the Bullet for them.

Western Animation

  • The Batman the Animated Series pulled one off and made it absolutely terrifying, in which Commissioner Gordon goes into all out war against Batman for the death of Barbara Gordon. It's all Barbara's nightmare, but the ep is still stunning proof that not all tropes are bad.
    • An episode of the related webseries Gotham Girls ended with Batgirl kicking (an admittedly dickish) Commisioner Gordon off a roof and into the Bat-Signal. Turns out it was a robot Gordon and she knew it.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Runaway" opens with Katara apparently turning Toph in to the authorities, self-righteously claiming that "You brought this on yourself". Then the episode flashes back a few days to show the two characters at odds, with Katara becoming increasingly annoyed with Toph's use of scams and con tricks to make money... until ultimately Katara decides to take part in a scam herself in an attempt to prove that she isn't purely a goody-goody, and pretends to turn Toph in — as we saw — for the reward.
    • There's also the Grand Finale, where Zuko suddenly attacks Aang because he thought the rest of the group was wasting time hanging around on the beach when the comet was coming in a couple days.
  • Not to break with tradition, for the Grand Finale of Superman: The Animated Series, the opening shows the conquest of an alien planet by Superman, in the name of Darkseid.
  • Supergirl herself demonstrates supreme Super Dickery in the cold open for "Fearful Symmetry" on Justice League Unlimited, gleefully destroying everything in her path, and proving that Evil Is Cool, in her pursuit of a terrified civilian. It's actually a dream triggered by psychic echoes of memories of her Evil Twin clone Galatea. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • There's also the opening where Superman kills Lex Luthor, who is the president of the United States, and proclaims he doesn't want to be a hero anymore. It was the Jumping Off the Slippery Slope moment of an Alternate Universe Superman who became a tyrant as a consequence.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Opening Night" has a particularly bizarre "usually Reasonable Authority Figure-to-hero" example: The opening shows Norman Osborn, Captain Stacy, and J. Jonah Jameson locking Spidey in a high-security jail-cell. The very first scene of the actual episode shows... he's there willingly, and this is just to test the security as a favor. (Of course, Jonah's still a dick about it.)
  • The Ben 10 Alien Force episode "Above and Beyond" features the Plumbers' Helpers, who need to go to a space station to save Max, who's being attacked by Ben. The entire thing turns out to just be a test to see if they qualify for Plumbers Academy.
  • The Gargoyles episode "Revelations begins with what looks like Matt Bluestone having betrayed Goliath. However, it was all just a plan to expose the Illuminati.
    • Elisa gets it when she suddenly starts acting more irritable and violent, until she quits the force to join the mob. Of course, she's really undercover the whole time.
  • In the pilot for Young Justice, Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash find Superboy imprisoned in a stasis pod and they opt to free him. Once they do, he beats them all unconsious immediately. Kid Flash calls him out for this Super Dickery later on but we're told that Superboy had been mind controlled to take them out.
    • Probably doesn't fit this trope, though; this was literally the first thing Superboy ever does, after all. He was a clone of Superman created by villains, so if you just focus on this series without all the comic continuity there isn't necessarily any reason to believe he wouldn't just be an Evil Twin who willingly works for the Light.
    • The episode Image opens with Batman, Green Arrow and Black Canary watching a recording of Black Canary and Superboy sparring and starting to kiss passionately. After the title credits it turns out it's actually Miss Martian taking on Black Canary's image.
  • The season 3 opener of Batman the Brave And The Bold, "Clash of the Superheroes!", is essentially a half-hour Shout-Out to the Super Dickery website. Superman, affected by Red Kryptonite, re-enacts many of the classic covers (including the page image), while references are made to Lois' endless attempts to trick Supes into marriage and Jimmy's attempts to learn his identity. At one point, Jimmy even says "Superman's turned into such a di-" before Lois butts in with "-different person".
    • Batman himself has his own Super Dickery case in "Death Race to Oblivion!" When various heroes and villains are gathered by Mongul to race against his champion, and any of them getting heart's desire if they win, Batman coldly attempts to beat everyone in the race even sacrificing his own fellow heroes. Turns out he and Green Arrow are secretly working together to take Mongul out with Green Arrow intentionally losing the race.
  • In the Beast Wars episode "Double Jeopardy," Rattrap apparently betrays the Maximals to save his own skin. It turns out to be an act set up between him and Optimus to figure out how the Predacons were always aware of their plans. Part of the plan was for Optimus and Rattrap to "argue" about Rattrap's loyalty.
  1. The real purpose of the exile, by the way, is a Secret Test of Character concerning her Secret Identity security.