Situational Irony Definition with Interesting Examples

What is situational irony? Irony is something which is regularly used in the English language, whether that is in conversation or in a literary form such as song, script or book. There are different types of irony which can be used, and one of these types is situational irony. In this article, We are going to look at what situational irony is and how it can be used. We will take a look at some examples in both conversation and written form in order to further understand how situational irony can be used.

Situational Irony

Situational Irony Definition

What is situational irony?

When used as a literary device, situational irony is something which refers to a situation regarding what is expected to happen and what actually happens. The irony lies with the expectation of the outcome of a situation when in reality, something completely different occurs.

When situational irony occurs, you can expect to see drastic contrasts and contradictions between the proposed outcome and the realistic outcome. In other words, they will be the exact opposite of one another.

The concept of situational irony is to allow the reader or listener to make a comparison between how something may appear and how it actually is in reality.

Situational Irony Examples

Examples of Situational Irony in Everyday Life

There are many times in our everyday lives that we may see an example of situational irony. These situations do not use words to convey the meaning but rather the situation itself is ironic Here are some examples of times when situational irony applies.

  • The local fire station has burnt to the ground-this is situational irony since this is the place which should be most safe from fire.
  • A therapist who specialises in marriage gets divorced-in this situation, the therapist is expected to know how to keep a marriage working, yet theirs has failed.
  • A police station is broken into and burgled-the police station should be free of crime since this is the place that is supposed to prevent crime.
  • A YouTube video which talks about how awful YouTube is-this is situational irony since the video is uploaded onto the platform which it is bad-mouthing.
  • A traffic warden receives a parking fine-this job entails giving out fines for parking in a no-park zone, therefore the warden should know better and should not receive a fine themselves.
  • If a group who were against technology set up an email list to send out their message, this would be situational irony because the group were using what they are campaigning against in order to campaign.
  • Two people get a divorce but after spending all that time, money and energy they decide that they are still in love and reunite. This is situational irony because they ended up doing the complete opposite of what they set out to do.
  • A police officer who is wearing a bulletproof vest gets injured by a bullet which pings off his vest and into his leg. The vest was intended to prevent injury from a bullet and in fact, caused a bullet injury.
  • The Titanic was a ship which claimed to be unsinkable, yet it sunk on it’s the very first journey. This is situational irony because the outcome was completely opposite to what was expected
  • If a man were laughing that his co-worker just got fired due to downsizing of the company, yet he did not realise that he was next in line to lose his job, this would be situational irony.

Examples of Situational Irony in Literature

Many times, writers will use situational irony in a piece of written work in order to make a comparison between the expected outcome of a situation and the actual outcome of it. Here are some examples of times when authors have used situational irony in their work. Using situational irony in a story, for example, is a great way to add a twist to the plot which keeps the reader guessing until the end of the story.

  • In the Harry Potter series of books, the readers are led to believe that the protagonist, Harry can kill the antagonist, Voldemort but in the end, it is revealed that in order to do so, Harry must kill himself.
  • In the story of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy travels on an arduous journey to visit a wizard who she believes can send her home, only to realise in the end that she could have sent herself home the entire time.
  • In the play Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare, Juliet takes a potion to fake her own death in order to be with her love, Romeo. Only Romeo discovers her and believes she is dead and so kills himself. This is situational irony because Juliet’s actions were intended to have the opposite effect that they ended up having.
  • In the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, we see situational irony used as a character who is a fireman spends his time lighting books on fire.
  • In the story, The gift of the magi by O Henry, we see a wife cutting off her hair to sell in order that she might buy a watch chain for her husband. The husband is, at the same time selling his watch in order to buy his wife an accessory for her hair. Both parties have effectively cancelled out the use for each of the gifts and have ended up with something useless.
  • In Kate Chopin’s Story of an hour, we see situational irony used when a wife is so happy that her husband is thought to be dead, that she can now live a free life. But when he arrives home, alive and well, she dies from the shock.


In this article, we have learned that situational irony is used to show a difference between what a situation is expected to be rather than what it actually is. If a situation is something that is completely unexpected, it could be situational irony. There are many times during our everyday lives that we might see this type of irony and writers often use it within pieces of written work such as stories, songs and poems.

Situational Irony | Infographic

Situational Irony Definition with Interesting Examples

Situational Irony Definition with Interesting Examples