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This is a form of heartless Practical Joke in which Alan thinks he has a date with Bonnie, but in reality it's a trick by Bonnie (or even Charlene) and the expected outcome is anything but a romantic interlude.
In the Romantic Comedy genre, this will lead to Alan either temporarily breaking off with Bonnie (to make up later) or meeting Dorothy, who will be the actual romantic interest for the rest of the story.
In other comedies, Hilarity Ensues. In the horror or mystery genres, this will often result in a Deadly Prank, with the poor sap being set up either suffering an unexpectedly lethal fate, finding the prank less than amusing and coming back to take obsessive revenge, or both.
Common Types of the Prank Date:
- 1. The No-Show - Just not showing up, to see how long the poor sap will wait. Not the same thing as Stood Up, where Bonnie intended to show up and was late or otherwise unable (with Doomed Appointment as a special subtrope if Bonnie died before arriving).
- 2. Setup for Humiliation - Here the "date" is a setup for public humiliation by Bonnie and her friends.
- 3. The "Dogfight" - Like number 2 above, but for a group, in which the objective is for each competitor to bring the least desirable date, so that the unlucky chosen can be humiliated both individually and en masse.
- 4. Bait and Switch - The actual date is with someone else than Alan was led to believe, usually someone much less desirable. "Oh, you thought I was asking for me? No, I was asking for my cousin Melvoid." (Compare Bed Trick.)
- 5. Embarrassing Location - The supposed date location is dangerous or embarrassing for Alan, because, for example, Bonnie wants to meet Alan in a Gay Bar, Gay Bar, Gay Bar.
- 6. Malicious Trap - The "date" is actually a way of luring Alan to an isolated location for the purpose of robbery, murder, or rape (this last one is more likely to happen to Alanna than Alan).
- In Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke helps a girl who literally died waiting because her boyfriend wanted to see how long she would wait and then forgot about her.
- Happy Gilmore: Shooter getting Happy (the guy, not the emotion) out on "the ninth green at 9". More of an Embarrassing Location or Malicious Trap, since the point was getting Happy on the green when the sprinklers go off.
- The protagonists do this to Steve Buscemi's character in Ghost World.
- In Casper, a boy asks the main character, Cat, out on a date. It turns out that he only does this to sabotage her Halloween party.
- Happened to Arnold Rimmer in his backstory in one of the Red Dwarf novels. His date was part of a scam escort service and ended up skipping out on dinner after he paid for an expensive dress and gave her extra to pretend they were long-term lovers.
- Happened on Glee as a way of giving Sue a taste of her own medicine. And to Puck--Lauren stood him up to make him want her more.
- In Friends episode "The One With The Blind Dates", Phoebe and Joey scheme to get Rachel and Ross back together by intentionally setting them up on horrible dates so that they will want to get back with each other. However, Joey accidentally sets Ross up with someone who would be perfect for him (but awful to Joey), so he just tells the woman not to come and Ross ends up thinking he was stood up.
- In a series of FoxTrot comics, Paige receives letters from a "secret admirer". The letters are actually from her brother Peter, who leaves her out in the rain for hours while she waits for her nonexistent secret admirer to show up.
- Homestar Runner: In his blog, Strong Sad describes getting "joke invitations to online singles sites (which, of course, I don't discover are 'joke' invitations until after waiting around the proposed meeting location for 4-8 hours. but hey! you never know when one might turn out to be legit!)."
- The Simpsons: Bart does this to his teacher in one episode, as part of his impersonating a possible love interest.
Setup For Humiliation Examples
- In one Batman comic, the Alpha Bitch of Jonathan Crane's school once suckered him in to one of these so that her Jerk Jock boyfriend could ritually humiliate him. Of course, since Jonathan Crane later grew up to be the Scarecrow, this came back to bite them both on the ass very, very badly.
- Peter is set up by Flash and some classmates this way in an issue of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, where they trick him into believing he has a date with Liz Allan. This ends up being subverted where, whilst it was still a prank, when Liz learns she's less than amused and decides to go on a date with Peter anyway.
- Carrie, or so she thought. (The date itself was benign, but the two antagonists made sure it went very wrong. So she responded.)
- The Toxic Avenger.
- Josie's real high school prom in Never Been Kissed. The most popular boy in school asks her to prom - and throws eggs at her from the limo with his friends on the night.
- Backstory for the Serial Killer in National Lampoon's Class Reunion, an ex-Butt Monkey who'd been set up for a masked tryst by his high school class. With his twin sister.
- Terror Train opens with bunch of med schoolers setting a date for one of their own. When the subject of the prank finds out that his "date" is really a corpse, he goes crazy and returns after year or two to exact revenge.
- Tyrion underwent a particularly tragic version of this in A Song of Ice and Fire: when he was young, his big brother paid a whore and two thugs to stage an Attempted Rape that the two of them could foil and the girl could fling herself at Tyrion in gratitude. Tyrion ended up marrying the prostitute in secret, and when his father found out, he had her gang-raped by a barracks full of soldiers and paid in full "for her services".
- Later subverted when Jamie reveals that his father had forced him to lie about the incident: The girl wasn't actually a whore.
- In Carrie, the titular character is asked out by a popular football player named Tommy Ross (whose girlfriend talked him into it as her way of atoning for her part in the shower incident). When Carrie gets to the prom, the ballot box is rigged so that Carrie will be voted prom queen, and her classmates dump pig blood on her. It does not end well...
- This happens to Tris sometime between Shatterglass and Will of the Empress, recounted as she discusses how she's never had a successful relationship. The incident involved luring her out for a date and dumping a jar of honey on her, because she's overweight. Tris being probably the most powerful weather mage alive, this is a case of Bullying a Dragon, and it highlights the self-control Tris has had to build.
- Kyle does this to Kendra in Beastly. She doesn't take it well.
- On Criminal Minds, Reid recounts an incident from his high school years; the prettiest girl in school said she wanted to meet him behind the football stands. Not only was she there, but so was the entire football team and a bunch of other students who just stood and watched as they stripped him, tied him to the goalpost, and taunted him. He got free hours later and made it home, to find that his schizophrenic mother was having an episode and hadn't noticed he was missing.
- Anya on Buffy the Vampire Slayer granted a wish for a girl who had been humiliated this way once. She took it back at the end of the episode though.
- In a rare case of this having a happy ending, on WKRP in Cincinnati, Mr. Carlson learns, years after the fact, that his wife and her friend only accepted their first dates with him and his friend as a joke. Both couples fell in love and married but when Mr. Carlson learned things had started as a joke, he felt humiliated.
- Internet version: An episode of NCIS has as its B-plot the saga of McGee's new online girlfriend--who is actually Tony using a fake screenname. The idea was to get McGee good and attached, then suddenly turn sour and eventually break up with him, so that Tony could have a good laugh at McGee being heartbroken. Only it goes wrong; when Tony turns on the shrew, McGee loves her more than ever, baffling the hell out of Tony. It eventually turned out that McGee wasn't fooled, but figured he could wind Tony up by playing along.
- In the Alcatraz episode "Johnny McKee", one of these provides the motivation for McKee's mass murder attacks.
- In an old Irish song, "The Green Garters", Arthur gives green garters to three different women as a supposed love token, gathers them together in a pub, and says "Here's a health to the lass who wore the green garters." He expects that they, each thinking he's referring to them, will get in a Cat Fight for his affections while he sits back and smirks; but instead they gang up on him and give him a good mauling.
- Used twice in the same episode in Code Lyoko. Ulrich sends a text to Sissi, asking to meet her at the garden shed, where she is instead jumped on and licked by Kiwi (a dog) while Ulrich and Odd taunt her. In revenge, Sissi reports Kiwi to the school authorities. Post-RTTP, having learned not to put Odd's dog in danger, Ulrich, Odd, Jeremie, and Yumi prank-date and humiliate Sissi AND Herb, who is an unlucky enough geek as is. Did we mention these are the heroes of the story doing this?
- In Eight Crazy Nights, the former Alpha Bitch of Whitey’s high school class confesses (in song!) that she told Whitey to meet her at the prom, and he showed up only for her, her real date and all of his classmates to laugh at him, saying they couldn’t believe he thought she was serious. She’s not proud of it.
- This was meant to be a Dogfight and ended up a straight up Setup for Humiliation in an Archie Comics bit in which Veronica went with a rich guy to his estate only to find out that she was the last item on the scavenger hunt list, the thing no one else had managed to get: a "townie." Archie and the gang got back at them for that one.
- The French movie The Dinner Game is centered on this, but without the "date" part.
- The movie Dogfight, in which Hollywood Homely Lily Taylor is the victim.
- Married With Children: Kelly Bundy undergoes this; the criterion is "unintelligent."
- Cold Case: Several fat girls were brought to a fraternity house party, and then publicly weighed and mocked by guys with pig masks. One of them had been friends with a fraternity brother (who felt guilty), but the other brothers beat him up and attempted to rape her. The other girls, enraged, set the house on fire for revenge. The girl who had gone back inside wound up locked in a side room while her friend heard her last wishes before she died.
Bait and Switch Examples
- Used in the Scottish film Gregory's Girl, where Gregory asks out a girl he has been crushing on, only to find himself passed between three other girls instead. However, the last one actually loves him as well, so it all works out.
- Happened to Jacob in Genesis when he works 7 years to marry Rachel, and gets Leah instead, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- In Fool, Pocket sets up dates for Goneril and Regan with Edmund of Gloucester as part of his plot. He substitutes Drool, his developmentally disabled (and exceedingly well-hung) apprentice.
- May also be done for both datees, to push them toward each other. Nick did that to Jerry Steiner and Shelly in Parker Lewis Can't Lose.
- On Malcolm in the Middle a group of girls set Reese up with a date who was a pig as a joke. He became so depressed afterwards that Lois went after the girls...
- The Cat Stevens song "Another Saturday Night" mentions a guy who sets the narrator up with his sister, "who looked so fine/but instead of bein' my deliverance/she had a strange resemblance/ to a cat named Frankenstein"
- In Blaster Nation, Ashley's mother dragged her out to "hang out at the mall" to set her up with Matt.
- Happened to Moist in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog. He and another character had a double date with Bait and Switch. Moist thought he was supposed to be paired up with Bait, but... yeah.
Embarrassing Location Examples
Malicious Trap Examples
- In Hot Gimmick, Hatsumi is invited over to Azusa's apartment. Turns out he and his friends want to gang-rape her. Luckily she's rescued.
- Chloë attempts this with Ray in the movie In Bruges. Doesn't quite go according to plan.
- Lord Barkis Bittern successfully does this once to Emily in the Tim Burton stop-motion musical Corpse Bride, and it is at the very least implied he is also trying to do this to Victoria.
- In Red State, a woman who is a member of an extremely conservative church accepts propositions from horny teenagers via a website for that purpose. When they go to meet her, accomplices capture them, kill one and nearly kill another.
- On Criminal Minds Garcia got the full romantic date treatment before her date brought her back home, almost kissed her, then turned to go... and turned back, said "I've been dreaming of this moment all night," and shot her.
- A CSI episode had a plot that involved luring a boy into a trap of all of the three examples (the bait lured him to a construction site with the prospect of having sex, then her friends proceeded to beat him to death with hammers before taking his wallet and split the money four ways.) The boy had originally been friends with the rest of the teenagers, who were all emo punks, but when he stopped hanging out with them, got a job and started doing better in school, the other teenagers were angry at him for "ditching" them, figuring that he thought he was better than them.
- Well, if they were willing to murder him and then rob him, he probably was better than them.
- Happens to Lex in season 4 of The Wire. He's told to meet a girl in an Abandoned Playground. When he gets there, it's Snoop. Uh-oh.
- Xander has had this happen to him a couple of times.
- Albert is propositioned by a peasant girl at the Carnival in Rome in The Count of Monte Cristo. She turns out to be a young boy working for an infamous bandit who kidnaps him.
- She only traded places with Peppino at the last meeting, she was a she for the entire Carnival leading up to the kidnapping, where they switched her out so she'd not be any danger if Albert proved to be troublesome.
- Nick Cave's "Where the Wild Roses Grow."
- At least one of the Child ballads has this plot.
- This happens to Montblanc from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, who received a letter from Mogumi, a townsgirl. She asked him to go to Materiwood. As he gets there, it was actually Reaker, the leader of Clan Rose who are going to attack him.
- A trio of female bandits try this on a male PC in Oblivion. If the PC is female, they instead lure her out to invite her to join the con. When said female PC turns them down, they try to mug her the same way as they would a male PC.
- In Code Lyoko, this is used as part of a XANA attack. Odd is sent a text from an anonymous girl asking him to meet her in the woods and Odd goes gladly, only to be knocked out and trapped in a sewer thing slowly filling with water.