The GeeksverseThe Art Of Misdirection

The Art Of Misdirection
Published on Friday, November 23, 2012 by

In today’s world, and the internet culture, teasers and previews are a fact of life giving away key parts (and surprises) of the stories. But these teasers can still provide surprises if done right.

Misdirection. It’s something that should be used more but isn’t.

How many times have you seen a preview and it reveals what is upcoming? In effect, ruining the surprise. Today’s world of the internet, facebook, twitter it is getting harder and harder to keep things under wraps and it seems like the people are fine with that and almost want it that way. People expect to know the behind the scenes chaos, the upcoming plots before they happen.

They didn't try to hide that he was coming back, or when

One of the big story points in Season 3 of The Walking Dead was the return of Merle Dixon. Prior to the season starting, teaser images and trailers were released. One of the teaser images showed Merle Dixon in an SUV. So we knew he would definately be returning this season and then later we saw the same SUV associated with the Governor. That meant that Merle would be showing up with the Governor. There went that surprise. After the first episode, the preview for the season showed a scene of Merle standing over someone and saying “remember me”. By seeing that image, watching the episode he returned in, I was able to pinpoint the exact scene and moment he would show up. It was ruined for me because of the teasers (it didn’t help that they started that particular episode with “previously on” scenes showcasing Merle, that was a dead giveaway he’d be showing up that night).

That’s an example of teasers and previews ruining a potential big story moment. And that happens more often then not nowadays.

But it’s not that hard to still provide teasers/previews but not spoil the moments. This is accomplished by misdirection, make us think one thing is happening and then do something else.

This scene? Not what the previews led you to think.

A recent Revolution had Charlie and gang show up at a drug lord’s place, needing medical help. The previews made it seem that drug lord was going to want to have sex with Charlie as payment for his help. Showing him pointing at Charlie and saying “I want her”, showing Charlie getting out of a tub and getting into a fancy dress. That all led us to think one thing.

But then in the episode? It wasn’t what we thought.


I recently watched a direct-to-Redbox movie starring Jessica Biel called The Tall Man. The whole movie was a giant twist and wonderfully done misdirection. It started off making you think one thing and then midway through it took a totally different direction. The movie itself was just okay, but the way the misdirection was done? Brilliant.

Misdirection is an art that isn’t used enough.

I understand the need for teasers. It makes sense. They serve the same purpose as previews for movies. But lately it seems like too much is being teased and shown. With a little misdirection, the teasers can still exist but not reveal any important story elements.

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