What Are Examples of Ironic Situations?

One example of an ironic situation is the ending of “Romeo and Juliet,” in which Romeo, believing Juliet to be dead, kills himself. The audience knows that Juliet is actually alive but Romeo does not, which creates the irony of the situation.

The ending of “Romeo and Juliet” is an example of dramatic irony, which hinges on the difference between what the characters know and what the audience knows. Dramatic irony is frequently used in movies, books and television. Many horror films, for example, play with the audience’s expectations based on people's knowledge of the genre’s staples, while the characters in the film remain unaware.

Another ironic situation is the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was struck when a bullet bounced off the bulletproof presidential limousine and struck him in the chest. Thus, a device designed to ensure the president’s safety was actually responsible for his gunshot wound. Reagan’s botched assassination is an example of situational irony, in which the outcome of a situation is a reversal of what is expected. The bulletproof presidential limousine would be expected to protect the president not injure him, leading to the situation’s irony.

Another example of irony would be a root canal patient referring to the procedure as “more fun than a day at the beach.” A root canal is an unpleasant procedure, so the irony- in this case, verbal irony- derives from the difference between what the speaker says and what the speaker actually means.