Created By: arbo on September 17, 2011 Last Edited By: arbo on November 4, 2011
Troped

Oblivious To His Own Description

Failing to recognize a definition that fits you precisely.

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Trope
Character comes across some kind of definition that the audience, or other characters, know to be right about him. The character is the only one who is unaware of that.

Usually Played for Laughs. May come in a variety of ways:

  • Someone tells something about an unspecified someone. The character asks, "Who would be that?" The reply is, "That would be you."
  • The character hears a word or expression for the first time and asks out loud what it means. Perhaps it is beyond the character's vocabulary, perhaps it comes from a Fictionary. Irony is, the character is a walking example of the word.
  • There is a picture, drawing or wanted sign of the character. He fails to see himself in it.

An embarrassed or hypocrite character might act like this, while keeping quiet about knowing the description is accurate.

Compare Failed a Spot Check.

Examples:

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka fails to recognize when Suki is talking about him.
    Suki: I lost someone I care about. He didn't die. He just went away. I only had a few days to get to know him, but he was smart, and brave and funny.
    Sokka: Who is this guy? Is he taller than me?
    Suki: No. He's about your height.
    Sokka: Is he better looking?
    Suki: It is you, stupid!
  • Breaking Bad, episode "Cat's In The Bag..." Hot Mom Skyler inadvertently enters a "certain" website.
    MIL Fs? What the hell is a MILF?
  • In an episode of the American The Office, one of the workers is flashed by a pervert. Pam is asked to draw up a description of the man in order to make wanted posters. Pam ends up drawing Dwight with a moustache and asks him to put the posters up. Dwight does so, even mentioning happily that he wants the "pervert" to be caught.
  • Harry Potter: Vernon Dursley is outraged and reacts as he's being insulted when he's addressed as a "Muggle".
  • In Something*Positive, Davan tells Peejee he used to have a crush on a girl, but she didn't return the sentiment. They became really good friends and it ended up being for the best. Peejee insults the girl for not realizing Davan's great, he replies that, no, she's one of his favorite people. He walks away. Peejee catches on and blushes.
  • Doctor Who: The newly-regenerated Eleventh Doctor witnesses the Monster of the Week transform into a perfect likeness of himself, and remarks, "That's rubbish, who's that supposed to be?" Justified, as he didn't know what he looked like at that point.
  • Animal Mechanicals. Certain situations will elicit a conversation like this:
    Team: If only we had someone who could stretch that far... (everyone turns to Sasquatch, who is The Big Guy and resident Rubber Man)
    Sasquatch: Yeah... but who could that possibly be? (beat) I know! The Mighty Sasquatch can stretch that far!
  • Groo the Wanderer, on numerous occasions, specially with synonyms of "stupid".
    What did he mean, "slow of mind"?
  • Happens in Lovely Complex when Koizumi describes Otani as her perfect guy and he does not get it despite it being a perfect description of him.
  • "Notorious", a short story by Joćo Guimarćes Rosa (of The Devil to Pay in the Backlands fame). The narrator, a doctor, is surprised to get a visit from a feared outlaw. It happens a newly arrived guy from the government called him "notorious", and the furious outlaw travels miles... to ask the doctor, one of the few educated men in the backlands, what the word means. Fearing the worst, the narrator answers it means "important", and the outlaw leaves happy.

Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • September 18, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Trope in a title is a no-no. Name reads like dialogue, which we don't allow anymore. That said, Needs A Better Title.
  • September 18, 2011
    Dacilriel
    In Avatar The Last Airbender Sokka fails to recognize when Suki is talking about him.

    Suki: I lost someone I care about. He didn't die. He just went away. I only had a few days to get to know him, but he was smart, and brave and funny.

    Sokka: Who is this guy? Is he taller than me?

    Suki: No. He's about your height.

    Sokka: Is he better looking?

    Suki: It is *you*, stupid!
  • September 19, 2011
    Falco
    Happens in Lovely Complex when Koizumi describes Otani as her perfect guy and he does not get it despite it being a perfect description of him.
  • September 22, 2011
    AP
    • In an episode of the American The Office, one of the workers is flashed by a pervert. Pam is asked to draw up a description of the man in order to make wanted posters. Pam ends up drawing Dwight with a moustache and asked Dwight to put them up. Dwight did so and happily mentioned that he wanted the "pervert" to be caught.
  • September 22, 2011
    surgoshan
    • In Something Positive, Davan tells Peejee he used to have a crush on a girl, but she didn't return the sentiment. They became really good friends and it ended up being for the best. Peejee insults the girl for not realizing Davan's great, he replies that, no, she's one of his favorite people. He walks away. Peejee catches on and blushes.
  • September 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Conservapedia: Their page on "conservative values" mentions that one of these values is "emphasizing humility and open-mindedness instead of arrogant certainty about one's own views." This on the very same page that declares "Conservatives are happier than liberals."
  • September 27, 2011
    arbo
    @randomsurfer The trope applies when the description is correct about the character, even if he doesn't realize it. In the case of Conservapedia, it can be argued neither of those affirmations is accurate. The example could belong in the Hypocrisy page, though. Too bad they have a No Real Life Examples Please sign there ;-)
  • September 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I was thinking of the "arrogant certainty about one's own views" portion. (Also for the record I cribbed that example from the Conservapedia YMMV page; it's listed as the Crowning Moment Of Funny.)
  • October 14, 2011
    Generality
  • October 14, 2011
    Premonition45
    I'd been working on a YKTTW called Who Are We Talking About Again, which is similar to this.
  • October 14, 2011
    arbo
    @Premonition45

    Indeed similar. Gonna add when both pages are launched:

    "Can overlap with Who Are We Talking About Again if the character is talking about someone else and ends up describing himself without realizing it."

  • October 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I think the wanted sign one is something different than the other two. That one has to do with looks entirely, the other two are usually more about behavior, actions or personality. Should split.
  • October 15, 2011
    TonyG
    On Friends, Ross is being critical of Rachel's new boyfriend, Russ, unaware (as the others are) of the uncanny resemblance between the two.
    Ross: Plus, it takes the guy, what... I don't know, uh... like, a week to get a sentence out?
    Chandler: Yeah. It's annoying, huh?
    Russ: [long, halting pause] ...Yeah!
  • October 15, 2011
    arbo
    @Noir Grimoir

    Actually all three are somewhat different. Could split them like this:

    I was trying to focus on the "obliviousness to a self-reference" aspect of the trope, with less regard to the actual type of reference itself. Naturally, if We Already Have This One for some of them, examples probably should be moved to the proper page and it would earn a "Compare" or "Sister" wick from this one.
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