Meaning of subvert expectations

Subvert expectations mean to purposely behave or act contrary to established assumptions and beliefs to be more interesting.

Geoffrey Mutie
Geoffrey Mutie

The word “subvert” means to overthrow, ruin, destroy, or undermine something’s principles. Subvert expectations mean to purposely behave or act contrary to established assumptions and beliefs to be more interesting. Something that the audience expects the least.

Authors tend to go off from good writing and logic at some point for the sake of shock value. Subsequently, another significant meaning of subverted expectations in the context of fiction works is ‘surprise’!

Origin of subvert

The origin of subvert is believed to be the Latin word subvertere, which means to overthrow or turn.

When reading a book or watching a movie, always have a sharp eye for subversion instances. And, do not be surprised if you find out they are the characters or parts that are the most interesting.

When to use subverted expectations

Subverting expectations is often used in arts to analyze the audience's reaction to a piece of writing or during performances. In other instances, it’s used positively when the results are neither fresh nor exciting.

When subverting expectations, you add out-of-character behaviors and lines to the characters and unnecessary plot twists purposely for shock value and induce drama.

For instance, in TV shows, inconsistent logic and out-of-character actions are used for the sake of unneeded plot twists. Multiple interesting actors in fiction are subversions or tend to display manners of subversions in their personalities.

Subverting expectation examples

  • If you watch Game of Thrones, you notice how they subvert expectations. Jon Snow is transformed into a wolf and makes him eat lady Sansa.
  • You went to school to study law, but finally, you end up with a public health degree. Youre subverting expectations!

Subverted expectations in films:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Iron Man (2008)
EnglishIdioms & expressions

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.


Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.