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"Gangs of old ladies attacking fit, defenseless young men."

A lot of comedy comes from switching around expectations. This trope is about a specific kind, where roles are reversed. But unlike Freaky Friday Flip, Prince and Pauper, and Swapped Roles, no explanation or justification is given, and it's as though this situation was always this way. The comedy is more about the absurdity of it all, than what happens to the characters.

Let's say hypothetically, a Princess, wearing with Pimped-Out Dress, tiara and ermine cape, walks down a hallway one way, while her servant, in a French maid outfit, walks the other way, carrying some food. The princess bumps into the maid, causing the food to fall on the maid. The princess begs for forgiveness and tries to wipe off the maid's dress, while the maid hysterically snaps at the princess for being clumsy, and complains about how much her dress cost.

Occasionally used for drama, where the situation is meant to be thought-provoking instead of funny.

Named for You Can't Do That on Television, which would use that line as a Catch Phrase to start a series of such sketches.

Compare Opposite Day, Persecution Flip.

Super-Trope of Gender Flip.

Examples of Just the Introduction to The Opposites include:

Comic Books


  • Little Man Tate contrasts the titular Tate, a very mature child, with his childlike, immature mother.
  • The film ~White Man's Burden~ is a dramatic example; it takes place in a world where the majority/minority status of white and black people are reversed.
  • The film The Wrong Man had a subplot of a greedy, ruthless farmer threatening the meek, struggling-to-get-by banker with closing his business down.
  • The Jerk starts with the character explaining he was born "a poor black child," only to discover his white roots when he first hears swing music on the radio.


  • One scene in Moving Pictures parodies King Kong; a giant woman[1] holds a normal-sized ape (the Librarian) in one hand while climbing a tall building.
  • "Disobedience", by ~A. A. Milne~, is about a three-year-old boy whose mother wanders away from his supervision and gets lost.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, there is a poem about five Golgafrincham princes who, amongst other things, 'rescue beautiful monsters from ravening princesses'.

Live Action Television

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • The sketch 'Northern Playwright' featuring father behaving like a stereotypical worker and his no less stereotypical yuppie son. It turns out that father is in fact a famous playwright and the son is a ordinary coal miner. Just watch it here.
    • "Hell's Grannies" sketch.
    • The Pythons did this a lot. They had one sketch where a woman let an encyclopedia salesman into her home because he said that he was a burglar.
      • Though that could have also been a Take That toward door-to-door salesmen: "I'd rather be robbed than suffer through your spiel!"
    • As well as one sketch about a world where everyone is Superman, but one of them is secretly... THE BICYCLE REPAIRMAN!
    • Also, "the Baby Snatchers"... gangs of men dressed up as babies who kidnap adults.
  • You Can't Do That on Television
  • Pretty much the point of Absolutely Fabulous, where the daughter is the one telling the adults to turn the boom box down and to stop drinking so much.
    • The show grew out of a sketch on French & Saunders called Modern Mother and Daughter, which presented this as being somewhat Truth in Television.
  • In an episode of Grace Under Fire, a middle-aged dad was staying at his son's house, they have a fight, and the dad storms into his room and starts blasting swing music. The son pounds on the door and tells him to turn it down.
  • The weekly murder mystery Castle has the mystery-writer main character (played by Nathan Fillion) dealing with his party-girl cougar of a mother and his sage, sensible teenaged daughter, who also acts as his Watson.
  • Rutland Weekend Television:

 Presenter: Hello. Are people difficult bastards or not? To clear this up, I have with me in the studio one really difficult bastard...

Difficult Bastard: Hello, good evening.

Presenter: ...And the bishop of Summerset.

Pope: Get lost.

Presenter: Can I turn to you first, bishop?

Pope: Shut up.

  • A sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look where a husband and wife are arguing because he's just returned from a business trip and she finds a bra in his suitcase. She asks, mildly annoyed, if she's cheating on him, which he cops to absentmindedly. The fight escalates as she brings in other "minor" issues such as her desire to have a baby and secret gambling addiction, until she suddenly bursts into tears and he figures out what this is really about -- that time he left the fridge door open and a whole quiche and some milk went bad.
  • Done as a Take That on A Bit of Fry and Laurie, when Laurie's character walks into a convenience store and requests EIGHT PACKETS OF CONDOMS, PLEASE, loudly specifying brands and styles, and furtively asking for Jason Donovan's latest single in between.
  • An episode of Scrubs had Elliot's boyfriend Keith upset with her because he wanted a committed stable relationship, and Elliot just wanted him for sex. Dr. Kelso treats their argument like an entertaining TV program: "It's like he's the chick and you're the dude!"


  • Against Me!'s video for "Thrash Unreal" features a group of well-dressed, respectable looking adults going to a party... which immediately devolves into a mosh pit when they get hammered off the wine.


  • In Acropolis Now, set in Ancient Greece, homosexuality is the norm and sex with girls is something only done for reproductive purposes. Straight characters are seen as a bit weird.
  • Used on the Martin Molloy radio show. After a news story about two pensioners who were arrested after an argument over a poker machine turned into a violent punch up, Mick Molloy launched into a spiel about how old people today had no respect for authority and how teenagers were sitting at home at night, too scared to go out because of the gangs of old people roaming the streets, and how what old people needed was another dose of national service.

Stand Up Comedy

  • Stewart Lee "Later on I'll be explaining how my tragic and ultimately fatal heroin addiction helped me overcome my previous dependence on Born Again Christianity."
  • Towards the end of his one-man show, Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding, Christopher Titus imagines what would've happened if his mother's mental institution had had an open mike night:

 My mom would be up here, and you'd be reading about me as her crack-addicted son. A man can dream, can't he?

Video Games

  • This occurs between two minor NPCs in Final Fantasy XIII. The player first meets the father who complains that he lost his son and his son told him that he should always stay in one place if they get separated, while the son is nearby complaining about his father getting lost. When father and son meet up the son chastises the father for not staying in one place as he was told. Considering the tiny number of NPCs and otherwise standard NPC dialogue in the game it's rather odd that they would bother to add this bit of characterization in an area where many gamers will miss it (one must explicitly intentionally backtrack to hear the final conversation between father and son).

Web Comics

Web Original

  • This video from The Onion News Network portrays AA as a life-destroying addiction which can only be countered by consumption of alcohol.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons had an episode where Grandpa is staying at their place and borrowing their car for dates, annoying Homer to the point where he grounds Grandpa, who storms up to his room and starts blasting big band music. Complete with Lampshade Hanging:

 Homer: He has to learn! Just like my father taught me!

Marge: He is your father!

Homer: (Beat) Cosmic.

 Homer: Oh sure, when he's in trouble he's my father!


  1. actually a Dungeon Dimensions creature in disguise
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