I'm looking for a word or phrase which best describes the idea of making someone think something is about to happen but it doesn't. To put that into context:

Lets say a director essentially wants to copy a scene of a famous movie frame by frame, and that scene ends with a famous quote. You know the phrase is about to be said, but the director intends to let you down, for effect.

It has been bugging me for most of today, and I've looked up in online dictionaries and thesauruses.

Words I have found that I closely resemble the description, but i don't think quite fit:

  1. Irony - "an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected."
  2. Deceive / Mislead - "cause (someone) to have a wrong idea or impression."
  • This overlaps to a considerable degree with bathos: << bathos n. 1. a. An abrupt, presumably unintended juxtaposition of the exalted and the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect. b. An anticlimax. >> {AHD}. And is 'a twist in the tale'. Feb 13, 2018 at 22:58
  • I have never heard of bathos until now, but i think the word i was looking for was in fact "anticlimax". Worth putting your comment as an answer so i can tick it.
    – Nico
    Feb 13, 2018 at 23:05
  • No; I'd say that this is an ELL-level question if you're looking for 'anticlimax'. Feb 13, 2018 at 23:35
  • "The opposite of Chekhov's Gun"? Feb 14, 2018 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


It sounds like a garden path setup.

From Wikipedia:

A garden path sentence is a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out to be a dead end or yields a clearly unintended meaning. "Garden path" refers to the saying "to be led down [or up] the garden path", meaning to be deceived, tricked, or seduced.

  • There might be a Trope for that. Feb 14, 2018 at 0:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.