Created By: neoYTPism on May 16, 2011 Last Edited By: DAN004 on July 31, 2014
Troped

Thought Aversion Failure

Telling someone not to think about X will lead to thinking about X.

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

Crowner!


Arthur: Okay, here's me planting an idea into your head. I say "don't think about elephants." What are you thinking about?
Saito: Elephants.
Arthur: Right, but it's not your idea, because you know I gave it to you.

"You just lost The Game!"

This is about a phenomenon of your very thought process: telling someone not to think about something will inevitably and involuntarily lead to them thinking about it. Telling yourself not to think about something may be even more futile, as by thinking about not thinking about it, you are thinking about it.

(And now, not only are you thinking about it, but you have a headache.)

The suggestion that you should not be thinking about something is, in itself, sufficient to induce thinking about that thing. No other provocation is required—you don't have to be surrounded by elephants for the old schtick to work. For instances when people can't stop thinking about some aspect of a person because it is so very noticeable, even if they don't want to mention it due to politeness, see Ignore the Disability. When thinking about a particular action makes it more difficult than performing the action unthinkingly, you are faced with the Centipede's Dilemma. Telling someone not to do something in hopes that they will decide to go and do it is plain ol' Reverse Psychology, or one of its Sub Tropes.

If you live in a universe with Thought Crime, or one where Your Mind Makes It Real, this sort of thing can be particularly dangerous.

This phenomenon is actually a direct result of how the human brain is wired. Neurons that are used to interpret words like "elephant" have synaptic connections to the neurons used to picture and think about the concepts those words represent; if they weren't, verbal language itself probably couldn't function.

See also Forbidden Fruit, Don't Look Down, Streisand Effect and Suspiciously Specific Denial.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 

    Film 
  • Ghostbusters. The gang is on the roof facing off with Gozer, she tells them to choose her form, Venkman figures it out and tells the rest of the group to keep their minds a blank. Cue Stantz thinking about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Gozer then becomes a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and terrorizes the city.
  • In The Good Witch's Garden, a little girl is cured of nightmares by being told that she must not, under any circumstances, dream about bunnies. Three guesses what she dreams about, and the first two don't count.
  • The "don't think about elephants" bit comes up in Six Degrees Of Separation.

    Jokes 
  • A guy has an impotence problem. One day, late at night, He's sitting in a bar, very drunk and complains about his problem. Then some sleazy guy appears and tells him: "I have some special medicine for you! It costs 1000 bucks, but it'll cure you forever! Just swallow it and wait for five minutes - but remember one thing: You mustn't think of a rhinoceros during that time, or it won't work!" Guess how it turns out.

     Literature 
  • Discworld
    • Subverted in one of the novels featuring Tiffany Aching, where Granny Weatherwax proudly proclaims that she is "perfectly capable" of not thinking about a pink rhinoceros. Tiffany eventually twigs that this is because Granny doesn't know what a rhinoceros is.
    • In the novel Sourcery, travelling inside a magic lamp being held by one of the people travelling, which is moving to its destination because the person holding it is, is possible as long as nobody thinks about the fact it really isn't. One of the characters compares it to "not thinking about purple rhinoceroses".
    • In The Light Fantastic, Rincewind and Twoflower hitch a ride on a huge rock which a young druid is flying to an under-construction stone circle. Informed that the rock stays up because the druids have persuaded it to fly, and will fall if anyone's thoughts remind it that rocks can't do that, Rincewind struggles to think of rocks swooping and soaring around rather than sitting on the ground. He's miserably aware that he's not very good at it.
  • There is a Russian book called The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin (the lejendary Nasreddin is a mullah, but here he is described as a mischievous vagabond). In one chapter, he tells the usurer Jafar that he is a powerful (and expensive) healer, but his healing won't work if Jafar or anyone in his family thinks of the red monkey (and he describes it in excruciating detail). His clan spent much of the following night arguing about who was the first to think the forbidden thought.
  • In The Dresden Files novel Ghost Story, Harry's ghost is told that he can avoid sinking through any surface he "sits" on by not thinking about it too much. Which causes him to immediately fall through the bottom of the car. He does get better at not-thinking later on.
  • Near the beginning of the Lensman novel Gray Lensman, this is used to show how well-disciplined Kinnison's mind is — he is able to not think about something he saw in Helmuth's base until he's back on board the flagship. (It was a thought-triggered bomb, so if he hadn't had that mental discipline it would have ended the series early.)
  • In The Eyre Affair Thursday's time travellng father shows up and tells her to tell her mother not to paint the bedroom mauve, because she does so in the future and he hates it. Thursday dutifully tells her mother, only to discover that her mother had no plans to paint it at all, let alone mauve; but after Thursday tells her not to she does.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the secret of flight is "throwing yourself at the ground and missing"—in other words, you have to fall and then completely forget about the fact that you're falling before you hit the ground. Then, of course, you can only keep flying as long as you keep forgetting that you should be falling. The books note how difficult this is to pull off in practice. The first time Arthur Dent flies, he's only airborne for less than a minute.

    Live Action Television 
  • My Name Is Earl. While Earl is in prison he takes a creative writing class, but can't think of anything to write about. His cellmate Sonny is taking the same class and tells him about his story, which involves beating up a gymnast. Earl tries to go into his imagination, but it's a White Void Room with nothing in it but him...and a gymnast. The gymnast offers to be in his story, but Earl declines because "that's Sonny's thing." Earl then spends the next 4 1/2 hours in the room, and the only thing he sees is the gymnast from Sonny's story.
  • The Mentalist. Jane will often tell a suspect something like "Don't think about where you put the gun" and then watch where the suspect's eyes go, which tells him where the gun is. Although likely as not it'll be a misdirection, telling Alice this while Bob (the real killer) is in the room, so Bob will look while he thinks Jane is paying attention to Alice.
  • Also invoked in Coupling as the basis to Jeff's "Giggle Loop":
    Jeff: Basically, it's like a feedback loop. You're somewhere quiet. There's people. It's a, it's a solemn occasion. A wedding. No, i—it's a minute's silence for someone who's died. Minute's silence, ticking away. *tick, tock, tick, tock* The giggle loop begins. Suddenly, out of nowhere this thought comes into your head: "The worst thing I could possibly do during a minute's silence... is laugh. And as soon as you think that you almost DO laugh. Automatic reaction! But you don't, you control yourself, you're fine. *exhales* ...but then you think about how terrible it would've been if you had laughed out loud in the middle of a minute's silence. And so you nearly do it again, only this time, it's a BIGGER laugh. And then you think how AWFUL this BIGGER laugh would've been, and so you NEARLY laugh again, only this time it's a VERY big laugh. It's an ENORMOUS laugh. Let THIS bastard out, and you get whiplash! And suddenly, you're in the middle of this completely silent room, and your shoulders are going like you're drilling the road! And what do you think of this situation? Oh, dear Christ, you think it's FUNNY!
  • In the Cyberax arc of Bugs, one of the good guys asks Ros not to think about elephants, to bait her away from Cyberax's tought-activated mental bomb.
  • In Babylon 5, Trakis is "warned" not to think about irrelevant facts such as Adira Tyree's current whereabouts while attending a telepath-monitored negotiation. Of course, that information then appears in Trakis' surface thoughts, where Talia can perceive it without deliberately probing (that being the limit of how far she was willing to bend PsiCorps rules).
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Germans" episode Basil tells himself (and others) to not mention the the war. He fails miserably, to the point of making one of them cry, after that he does a Silly Walk Hitler impression.
    Basil Fawlty:Polly, is these German too?
    Polly:oh yes, but I cou
    Basil Fawlty:Right! Right! Here's the plan, I'll stand there and ask them if they want something to drink before the war...Before their lunch! Before their lunch! Do not mention the war!

    Basil Fawlty: Ah, wonderful! WUNDERBAR! Ahh! Please allow me to introduce myself, I am the owner of Fawlty Towers. And may I welcome your war... your war... you wall... you all... you all, and hope that your stay will be a happy one. Now, would you like to eat first, or would you like a drink before the war... AHH! Er... trespassers will be tied up with piano wire... SORRY, SORRY!
  • Misfits: Nathan has trouble hiding his attraction to Kelly from her Mind Reading powers.
    Nathan's Inner Thoughts: Don't think about shagging her. Don't think about shagging her. You're thinking about shagging her. You're an idiot.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one The Far Side strip, a man visiting a hospital patient in a plaster cast says, "You're not itching anywhere are you? Because you can't scratch you know. Don't even think about itching, it'll drive you nuts".

    Video Games 
  • In Portal 2, Cave Johnson describes some sort of reaction that would cause the frontal lobe of your brain to become vitrified. Of course, he points out that picturing the reaction causes it, so don't think about it.

    Webcomics 
  • In Freefall, Sam gets the robots to think up a devious master plan for him this way:
    Sawtooth: All we have to do is not think of a devious master plan for Sam.
    Qwerty: DOH!
    Dvorak: You didn't.
    Qwerty: Oh, come on! It's like being told not to think of a rhinoceros with a teacup.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Time travel technology only works if you don't think about it. Time travel veterans make a point of distracting first-timers so the trip goes smoothly.
    Commander Badass: Yeah, time travel's been super stable ever since scientists figured out that th' less ya think about it th' more solid and seamless everything hooks up. S'like they say, "A watched cheetah never bevels."
    Jones: That is not a thing people say. What does that even mean? Literally no person has ever said that befo—
    [Suddenly, they're both in the future.]
    Commander: 'S way more efficient than saying "Don't think about time travel."

    Web Original 
  • Tales of Mere Existence. AgentXPQ aka Lev does entire video where he does this with his ex called "I'm Not Going To Think About Her".
  • "The Game". note 
  • ASDF Movie:
Guy A: Quick, don't think about cats!
Guy B: [Starts barfing cats]

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in a first season episode of Men in Black The Animated Series. K had been infiltrating an psychic alien conspiracy trying to invade earth for years by disguising himself as one of their own (who had willing let him do so because he had gone native). After explaining everything to J this happens:
    K: Oh. And whatever you do, don't think about what I just told you.
    J: That's the last thing you tell someone when you don't want them to think about something!

    They are then immediately caught.
  • In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny, inside of a dream, is on a date. After learning from the real world that anything he thinks of will happen in the dream world, his date randomly tells him to not think of her as a monster. Naturally, he has to then picture her as one, which turns her into one.
  • In one episode of Darkwing Duck, there's an invention that give normal people assorted Psychic Powers. However, the targeted person isn't supposed to be thinking at all while the invention is used on them, or else their head will explode.


Community Feedback Replies: 170
  • May 16, 2011
    Rolf
    Often played with in various medias.

    "Hello! He's here, but don't say anything about (something that may be offensive, like baldness, bad eye, scar etc here) to front of him!" Funny ensures. :P
  • May 16, 2011
    TonyG
    Also related to Sammys Glass Eye and Dont Look Down.

    • In The Lion King, Scar makes Simba promise to not go into the Elephant Graveyard in the northen border, because "only the bravest lions go there." This, of course, is what Scar wants Simba to do.
  • May 16, 2011
    Duncan
    ^ I think that's just Shmuck Bait, or at least Reverse Psychology.
  • May 16, 2011
    Riddlewizard
    That's reverse psychology at its simplest. Tell someone not to do something, and they will.
  • May 16, 2011
    neoYTPism
    I guess the question becomes how narrowed down this trope should be. This operates on the same basis as Reverse Psychology, and when done on purpose, is the same thing.
  • May 16, 2011
    jaytee
    I'm thinking this is Reverse Psychology But More Specific.
  • May 16, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ... if even too close to Reverse Psychology at all, this is LESS specific. This involves what one explicitly says being ineffective because attention has been drawn to a subject, not telling someone to do one thing causing them to do the exact opposite. I do not think it is too close, though.
  • May 16, 2011
    jaytee
    Ok, I rethought that out and maybe I agree. The way it's written and the only examples we have fall pretty close to Reverse Psychology though.
  • May 16, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In The Eyre Affair Thursday's time travellng father shows up and tells her to tell her mother not to paint the bedroom mauve, because she does so in the future and he hates it. Thursday dutifully tells her mother, only to discover that her mother had no plans to paint it at all, let alone mauve; but after Thursday tells her not to she does.
  • May 18, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^^ Any ideas for how to reword it to avoid confusion, then? @ jaytee
  • May 18, 2011
    jaytee
    Make the focus not on the fact that mentioning something causes people to do the opposite, but rather on the fact that merely mentioning a topic can plant en idea in one's head.
  • May 19, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Wording adjusted slightly, still not sure how to describe this generally enough.

    Really, I think this is more GENERAL than Reverse Psychology, not more specific. If anything, this might be the supertrope to both Reverse Psychology and Suspiciously Specific Denial. (Not to mention Forbidden Fruit and Dont Look Down.)
  • May 22, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    Would the scene from Ghost Busters count? The gang is on the roof facing off with Gozer, she tells them to choose her form, Venkman figures it out and tells the rest of the group to keep their minds a blank. Cue Stantz thinking about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. You know what happens next.
  • May 22, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Uh, no, no I don't. I've heard the Ghost Busters song, but have not watched the movie.
  • May 22, 2011
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Blasphemy. Go see it ASAP.
  • May 24, 2011
    neoYTPism
    That is none of your concern, ginsengaddict. In any case, the relevant point is that examples should be worded to be clear to everyone, not just those familiar with the works being referred to.
  • May 24, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • May 26, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Thanks @ randomsurfer.
  • July 15, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    Bump. I think you could possibly call it Dont Think About Elephants, since that's the most common example people use in explaining the phenomonon.
  • July 15, 2011
    eljonno
    "Don't Think About Elephants" would be quite a good title for this trope, actually.
  • July 15, 2011
    LoopyChew
    Does The Game count?
  • July 15, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Most common? What do you base that on? @ Papercut Chainsaw
  • July 15, 2011
    Aielyn
    I disagree, regarding "Dont Think About Elephants" - not only does the "most common example" vary by region, but also by intent.

    The more concise and general form, Dont Think About This, would work well. I would suggest Dont Think About It, but that has an unfortunate second interpretation of "you really don't want to follow that thought through to the end".
  • July 15, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Yeah, I switched to Dont Think About This for now.
  • July 15, 2011
    LoopyChew
    How about Dont Think About This Paradox (punctuated: "Don't Think About This" Paradox), to indicate it's a concept and not a dialogue line?
  • July 15, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    This is a supertrope for the Centipedes Dilemma.
  • July 15, 2011
    Xtifr
    • Subverted in one of the Discworld novels featuring Tiffany Aching, where Granny Weatherwax proudly proclaims that she is "perfectly capable" of not thinking about a pink rhinoceros. Tiffany eventually twigs that this is because Granny doesn't know what a rhinoceros is.
  • July 15, 2011
    Andygal
    Slender Man only exists if you think about him, now try not to think about him.
  • July 16, 2011
    randomsurfer
    My Name Is Earl: While Earl is in prison he takes a creative writing class, but can't think of anything to write about. His cellmate Sonny is taking the same class and tells him about his story, which involves beating up a gymnast. Earl tries to go into his imagination, but it's a White Void Room with nothing in it but him...and a gymnast. The gymnast offers to be in his story, but Earl declines because "that's Sonny's thing." Earl then spends the next 4 1/2 hours in the room, and the only thing he sees is the gymnast from Sonny's story.
  • July 16, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Dont Think About This wouldn't work, partly for resembling dialogue and partly because it reminds me of Bellisarios Maxim.
  • July 16, 2011
    Speedball
  • July 16, 2011
    Shnakepup
    @Speedball - From reading Centipedes Dilemma, it's clear that that trope is when concentrating too much on something makes you fail at it. How is this the same?
  • July 16, 2011
    Generality
    With the current quote, I'd suggest that this be called Elephant In The Mind.
  • July 16, 2011
    Ryusui
    I like just Dont Think About This.
  • July 16, 2011
    Stratadrake
    But it still sounds like a line of dialogue, and those have a bad habit of getting misused. (I Am Not Making This Up.)
  • July 16, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    Happens in a first season episode of Men In Black The Animated Series. K had been infiltrating an Psychic alien conspiracy trying to invade earth for years by disguising himself as one of their own (who had willing let him do so because he had gone native. After explaining everything to J this happens:
    K: Oh. And whatever you do, don't think about what I just told you.
    J: That's the last thing you tell someone when you don't want them to think about something!
    They are then immediately caught.
  • July 19, 2011
    Aielyn
    I'm pretty sure the reason why I Am Not Making This Up was changed is that people were using it as a predefined message, when it wasn't intended as one. It basically turned into a "hey, I'm referring to something slightly unusual, let's pothole it to I Am Not Making This Up". Since Dont Think About This would be inferior to either MST3K Mantra, Bellisarios Maxim, or Fridge Horror, I don't think it's too big an issue, here.
  • July 19, 2011
    Tiiba
    There is a Russian book called The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin. (The lejendary Nasreddin is a mullah, but here he is described as a mischievous vagabond.) In one chapter, he tells the usurer Jafar that he is a powerful (and expensive) healer, but his healing won't work if Jafar or anyone in his family thinks of the red monkey (and he describes it in excruciating detail). His clan spent much of the following night arguing about who was the first to think the forbidden thought.
  • July 19, 2011
    bwburke94
    There's a reason The Game is redlinked. (You just lost it.)
  • July 20, 2011
    Koveras
    In Ghost Story, Harry's ghost is told that he can avoid sinking through any surface he "sits" on by not thinking about it too much. Which causes him to immediately fall through the bottom of the car. He does get better at not-thinking later on.
  • August 3, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Mentalist: Jane will often tell a suspect something like "Don't think about where you put the gun" and then watch where the suspect's eyes go, which tells him where the gun is. Although likely as not it'll be a misdirection, telling Alice this while Bob (the real killer) is in the room, so Bob will look while he thinks Jane is paying attention to Alice.
  • August 4, 2011
    h0m3r
    Fawlty Towers: "Don't mention the war!"
  • August 4, 2011
    TBTabby
    In Freefall, Sam gets the robots to think up a devious master plan for him this way:

    Sawtooth: All we have to do is not think of a devious master plan for Sam.
    Qwerty: DOH!
    Dvorak: You didn't.
    Qwerty: Oh, come on! It's like being told not to think of a rhinoceros with a teacup.
  • August 5, 2011
    DorianMode
    The "Don'tThinkAboutElephants" bit comes up in Six Degrees Of Separation.
  • August 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • August 31, 2011
    LoopyChew
    • Also invoked in Coupling as the basis to Jeff's "Giggle Loop":
      Jeff: Basically, it's like a feedback loop. You're somewhere quiet. There's people. It's a, it's a solemn occasion. A wedding. No, i--it's a minute's silence for someone who's died. Minute's silence, ticking away. *tick, tock, tick, tock* The giggle loop begins. Suddenly, out of nowhere this thought comes into your head: "The worst thing I could possibly do during a minute's silence... is laugh. And as soon as you think that you almost DO laugh. Automatic reaction! But you don't, you control yourself, you're fine. *exhales* ...but then you think about how terrible it would've been if you had laughed out loud in the middle of a minute's silence. And so you nearly do it again, only this time, it's a BIGGER laugh. And then you think how AWFUL this BIGGER laugh would've been, and so you NEARLY laugh again, only this time it's a VERY big laugh. It's an ENORMOUS laugh. Let THIS bastard out, and you get whiplash! And suddenly, you're in the middle of this completely silent room, and your shoulders are going like you're drilling the road! And what do you think of this situation? Oh, dear Christ, you think it's FUNNY!
  • August 31, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    The elephants example, and the others in the same format is known as a "Negative Suggestion." And yes, it is related to Reverse Psychology.

    One of the reasons it works is because the sentence "Don't X" contains the sentence "X" ("[Do] X").
  • August 31, 2011
    CommanderPanda
  • August 31, 2011
    unclerupee
    I fondly remember the 90s British scifi show Bugs, and one episode features a nasty A.I. Big Bad that masquerades as a new Healthcare system. But when you're hooked up to it, there's a trap: if you know anything about the system's workings, you instantly get suicidal. It doesn't help that the A.I. hooks people up then literally talks them to death with technobabble. There's a scene where one of the good guys tries to keep someone alive by setting them distracting brain-teasers whilst the A.I. on the intercom just DOESN'T SHUT UP. The distraction doesn't work.

    (EDIT because I remembered it wrong)
  • August 31, 2011
    ladyofprocrastination
    In The Good Witches Garden, a little girl is cured of nightmares by being told that shhe must not, under any circumstances, dream about bunnies. Three guesses what she dreams about, and the first two don't count. Also, The Game.
  • August 31, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    While this troper certainly don't want any acknowledgement to "The Game", it may be better to list it than to let it show up in droves in comments.
  • September 15, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    Bump.
  • September 15, 2011
    Otakukun
  • September 15, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ That's a Trope Namer of Inception.
  • September 16, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^Not really. The "don't think about elephants" thing has been around much longer than that.
  • September 16, 2011
    Medinoc
    In the Cyberax arc of Bugs, one of the good guys asks Ros not to thing about elephants, to bait her away from Cyberax's tought-activated mental bomb.
  • September 16, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Might as well call this Dont Think About White Elephants (or sometimes it's pink). That is an extremely frequently used example of this trope.
  • September 17, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ Maybe as a redirect? YMMV, but I prefer broad spectrum names to example names. Negative Suggestion is my preferred name for this. Current name is close to workable; but reads awkward. Probably a result of trying too hard to skirt the dialogue rule. Maybe Dont Think About It Paradox? I'm neither quick nor Ed-like, but I don't think that sounds too much like dialogue despite starting with a command.
  • September 17, 2011
    MoG2
    A joke (from pre-Viagra times): A guy has an impotence problem. One day, late at night, He's sitting in a bar, very drunk and complains about his problem. Then some sleazy guy appears and tells him: "I have some special medicine for you! It costs 1000 bucks, but it'll cure you forever! Just swallow it and wait for five minutes - but remember one thing: You mustn't think of a rhinoceros during that time, or it won't work!" Guess how it turns out.

    And yeah, generally it's a bad idea to tell people things like "Don't look behind you!" Unless you want to use Reverse Psychology.
  • March 4, 2012
    CrystalBlue
    Bump. Also seconding Negative Suggestion as an alternate trope title. :)
  • March 5, 2012
    Belfagor
    Dont Think About Elephants would be a good title.
  • March 5, 2012
    69BookWorM69
  • March 5, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In Portal 2, Cave Johnson describes some sort of reaction that would cause the frontal lobe of your brain to become vitrified. Of course, he points out that picturing the reaction causes it, so don't think about it.

    (If a Portal fan wants to look up the exact quote, go ahead, I'm not 100% sure I have it right)
  • March 5, 2012
    DaibhidC
    • In the Discworld novel Sourcery, travelling inside a magic lamp being held by one of the people travelling, which is moving to its destination because the person holding it is, is possible as long as nobody thinks about the fact it really isn't. One of the characters compares it to "not thinking about purple rhinoceroses".
  • March 5, 2012
    JonnyB
    • Ghostbusters (since nobody's going to fill subby in with it, I will.)
      Gozer: Sub-creatures! Gozer the Gozerian, Gozer the Destructor, Volguus Zildrohar, the Traveller has come! Choose and perish!
      Ray Stantz: What do you mean, choose? We don't understand!
      Gozer: Choose! Choose the form of the Destructor!
      Peter Venkman: Oh, I get it. Real cute! [to the others] Whatever we think of - if we think of J. Edgar Hoover, J. Edgar Hoover will appear and destroy us, okay? So empty your heads, don't think of anything. We've only got one shot at this.
      Gozer: The choice is made!
      Venkman: Whoa! Hold on!
      Gozer: The Traveller has come!
      Venkman: Nobody chose anything! [turns to Egon] Did you choose anything?
      Egon Spengler: No.
      Venkman: [to Winston] Did you?
      Winston Zeddemore: My mind is totally blank.
      Venkman: I didn't choose anything.
      [All three slowly turn to look at Ray]
      Ray: I couldn't help it. It just popped in there.
      Venkman: [sternly] What? What "just popped in there?"
      Ray: I- I- I tried to think...
      Egon: Look!
      [They all look over one side of the roof]
      Ray: No! It can't be!
      Venkman: What is it?
      Ray: It can't be!
      Venkman: What did you do, Ray?!
      Winston: Oh, shit!
      [They all see a giant cubic white head topped with a sailor hat]
      Ray: [sighs, resigned] It's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
      Ray: I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!
      Venkman: Nice thinkin', Ray.
  • March 5, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    Would this count?

    Rumiko Takahashi, author of Ranma One Half, is often asked what happens if Ranma is impregnated as a female and gets a Gender Bender back to being a male. Her response was, "I don't think about that, and neither should you."

    The thing is that she really IS just trying to get people to stop thinking about it.
  • March 5, 2012
    Premonition45
  • March 5, 2012
    thewriter
    Would This be an example?

    • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother Barney runs up to the apartment to tell the gang that his brother James is coming. Ted tells Robin, who has never met James, that Barney's brother is gay, and he doesn't want her to be surprised, nor make a big deal out of it. James enters the apartment and turns out to not only be Gay, (The ''straight'' kind) but black.
  • March 6, 2012
    SteveMB
    If you ever face this problem in Real Life: Think about some other specific thing (doesn't matter what, you just need something to focus on so you won't think about white elephants, pink rhinos or whatever). Even marshmellows are OK.
  • March 6, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    So... are you going to put down any of these examples here? You've got quite a few.
  • March 6, 2012
    SingingRain
  • April 30, 2012
    SteveMB
    • In Ultimate Spiderman, Jean Grey congratulates Peter Parker on being the first man she's met in months who didn't visualize her naked. He immediately does just that. (You'd think a telepath would have a better understanding of how people's minds work.)
    • In Babylon 5, Trakis is "warned" not to think about irrelevant facts such as Adira Tyree's current whereabouts while attending a telepath-monitored negotiation. Of course, that information then appears in Trakis' surface thoughts, where Talia can perceive it without deliberately probing (that being the limit of how far she was willing to bend PsiCorps rules).
  • April 30, 2012
    ScanVisor
    Just seeing the title made me lose the game.
  • May 1, 2012
    SteveMB
    Re the title: IMO, just "Don't Think About This" works.
  • June 18, 2012
    TrustBen
    Bump.

    Examples needed to be added to body of proposed article.
  • August 14, 2012
    SteveMB
    The case of Herostratus, who burned down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesius, may be a subtle example. He committed the crime for the purpose of getting his name into the history books; the Ephesian authorities tries to frustrate that goal by executing him, erasing him from their records, and forbidding anyone to write or speak his name on pain of death. The paradox comes in when one considers the fact that people tryig to obey the law and authorities trying to enforce it had to know which name was the forbidden one.

  • August 14, 2012
    Hello999
  • August 29, 2012
    PapercutChainsaw
  • September 16, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Dragging this off of the salvage list, because it seems like there are a lot of examples that fit this trope better than they fit into Centipedes Dilemma, Sammys Glass Eye, or any of the other related tropes. However, not all the examples listed here actually apply to the original idea of this trope; many are just plain Reverse Psychology. This is clearly about a thought involuntarily popping into one's head, rather than the more general concept of "tell someone not to do a thing and they decide to go do the thing."

    EDIT: Now has examples! And folders! Hooray! The only examples that made it to the body of the article itself are those that I believe are actually this trope, and not just regular Reverse Psychology, Sammys Glass Eye, etc. This was rather hastily coded before breakfast, so please make corrections if I've missed anything.
  • September 16, 2013
    MetaFour
    An example currently listed under Centipedes Dilemma, which might fit better under here.

    • In The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, the secret of flight is "throwing yourself at the ground and missing"—in other words, you have to fall and then completely forget about the fact that you're falling before you hit the ground. Then, of course, you can only keep flying as long as you keep forgetting that you should be falling. The books note how difficult this is to pull off in practice. The first time Arthur Dent flies, he's only airborne for less than a minute.
  • September 16, 2013
    m8e
    • Fawlty Towers: In "The Germans" episode Basil tells himself (and others) to not mention the the war. He fails miserably, to the point of making one of them cry, after that he does a Silly Walk Hitler impression.
      Basil Fawlty:Polly, is these German too?
      Polly:oh yes, but I cou
      Basil Fawlty:Right! Right! Here's the plan, I'll stand there and ask them if they want something to drink before the war...Before their lunch! Before their lunch! Do not mention the war!

      Basil Fawlty: Ah, wonderful! WUNDERBAR! Ahh! Please allow me to introduce myself, I am the owner of Fawlty Towers. And may I welcome your war... your war... you wall... you all... you all, and hope that your stay will be a happy one. Now, would you like to eat first, or would you like a drink before the war... AHH! Er... trespassers will be tied up with piano wire... SORRY, SORRY!
  • September 16, 2013
    Chabal2
    Buck Godot has one at the end of a story where the Prime Mover tells a reporter that if she even thinks about the events that just happened (which would reignite the war they just barely prevented), her head will explode. She nervously jokes that he can't be serious, he suggests a lobotomy.
  • September 16, 2013
    MonaNaito
    ^^I'm not sure if the Fawlty Towers example counts, I need some more information on the context: did people keep accidentally mentioning the war simply because they were told not to, or was there something constantly reminding them of the war that they couldn't acknowledge due to politeness?

    ^^^I'm also conflicted about the Hitchhiker's Guide example. If Alice was flying and Bob yelled "DON'T THINK ABOUT FALLING", and Alice thought about falling and fell, THAT would certainly be this trope. Anybody else have an opinion?
  • September 16, 2013
    BOFH
    Newspaper Comics
    • In one The Far Side strip, a man visiting a hospital patient in a plaster cast says, "You're not itching anywhere are you? Because you can't scratch you know. Don't even think about itching, it'll drive you nuts".
  • September 16, 2013
    BibsDibs
    Web Original
  • September 16, 2013
    TheTitan99
    • In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny, inside of a dream, is on a date. After learning from the real world that anything he thinks of will happen in the dream world, his date randomly tells him to not think of her as a monster. Naturally, he has to then picture her as one, which turns her into one.
  • September 16, 2013
    hevendor717
    I always thought that Dos Equis should have said, "If you tell him to think of a pink elephant, he doesn't. He is the most interesting man in the world."
  • September 17, 2013
    SenseiLeRoof
    I don't think the Ghostbusters example counts. They're not being told not to think of a specific thing; they're trying not to think of anything.
  • September 17, 2013
    m8e
    ^^^^^It's a playing with, Basil keeps on mentioning the war because he constantly remind himself and other people (staff) not to mention the war. One moment he tells Polly not to mention 'the war', the next he's says 'the war' to the Germans. He also tells the Germans to stop mentioning the war, claiming that's the reason he mentioned the war. Nobody else mentions the war.
  • September 17, 2013
    TBTabby
    This trope should be called Ironic Thought Process, because that's the technical term for it.
  • September 17, 2013
    DAN004
    Tiiiiiitle Crooooowneeeeer.
  • September 17, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Crowner here.

    EDIT: In retrospect, I'm thinking the Ghost Story example belongs in Centipedes Dilemma rather than here. Thoughts?
  • September 17, 2013
    DAN004
    By the way... The Scottish Trope would be related I think?
  • September 17, 2013
    Antigone3
    Near the beginning of Gray Lensman, this is used to show how well-disciplined Kinnison's mind is — he is able to not think about something he saw in Helmuth's base until he's back on board the flagship. (It was a thought-triggered bomb, so if he hadn't had that mental discipline it would have ended the series early.)
  • September 17, 2013
    Stratadrake
    First line of the description should be something like "You just lost The Game!" :)

    Also compare Streisand Effect.
  • September 17, 2013
    GoldenDarkness
    Darkwing Duck has something that is close to this trope. In one episode, there's an invention that give normal people assorted Psychic Powers. However, the targeted person isn't supposed to be thinking at all while the invention is used on them, or else their head will explode.
  • September 18, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Crowner options seem to be at a standoff right now, and one of the current leaders could be vulnerable to administrative fiat.

    How about Prompted Thought Paradox?
  • September 19, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ You can always add a title suggestion to the crowner you know. :P
  • September 19, 2013
    SharleeD
    Another one for the Discworld example list:

    • In The Light Fantastic, Rincewind and Twoflower hitch a ride on a huge rock which a young druid is flying to an under-construction stone circle. Informed that the rock stays up because the druids have persuaded it to fly, and will fall if anyone's thoughts remind it that rocks can't do that, Rincewind struggles to think of rocks swooping and soaring around rather than sitting on the ground. He's miserably aware that he's not very good at it.
  • September 28, 2013
    MonaNaito
    We do seem to be at a standoff in terms of alternative titles. Share your opinions!
  • May 12, 2014
    DAN004
    Jokes
  • May 12, 2014
    DAN004
    Lots of titles in the crowner sound like dialogue. Those needs trimming.
  • May 12, 2014
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Springtime For Hitler.
  • May 12, 2014
    SharleeD
    This phenomenon is actually a direct result of how the human brain is wired, FWIW. Neurons that are used to interpret words like "elephant" have synaptic connections to the neurons used to picture and think about the concepts those words represent; if they weren't, verbal language itself probably couldn't function.
  • May 12, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^^^ Zero Context Example, and it links to a disambiguation page anyway.
  • May 12, 2014
    bitemytail
    ^ Indeed. We don't have a page for the game (that you just lost, by the way) that he's talking about.

    It is a good example of this trope though.
  • May 12, 2014
    Scorpion451
    The Game is a perfect example to include. There probably isn't a page for it because it'd get instant membership to the Permanent Red Link Club, but there's an easy fix for the zero-context example part; just include the explanation about what it is from the disambiguation page for the twelve people on the internet who have yet to encounter it:

    A memetically-popular mind game where the goal is not to think about The Game.

    ^^^Also, theres the related phenomenon of priming, where if you have a conversation with someone that subtly references birds- say talking about feathery clouds- and then show them an ink blot, they're much more likely to say it looks like a bird.
  • May 12, 2014
    DAN004
    Can't I really delete options from the crowner?
  • May 12, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^^There used to be a page for The Game but it got cut and restarted as the disambiguation page.
  • May 13, 2014
    Arivne
  • May 13, 2014
    TrustBen
    ^^ I don't think you can delete them, but if they don't get any votes it shouldn't matter.
  • May 13, 2014
    DAN004
    Just mention it as "The Game" and add context. No need to waste time making a page for it.
  • May 13, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Reminder: Naming A Trope has two relevant rules
    • Check for pre-established terms. Some tropes have a long history of usage, and somebody else may have coined a name for it already.
    • ...but don't use just any pre-existing term. Some pre-existing terms are admittedly opaque, require knowledge of a certain Trope Namer, have been forgotten by the public consciousness (or just never caught on in the first place). In cases like these, it may be better to just invent the name ourselves.
    Neither term is very obscure, and Redirects Are Free covers suggestions like "Don't think about Elephants".
  • May 13, 2014
    jamespolk
    greatest name ever
  • May 13, 2014
    JonnyB
    The??
  • May 13, 2014
    DAN004
    May I grab this? I'll also propose a new crowner...
  • May 16, 2014
    MercenX
    I imagine a conversation subverting this to go something like this:

    A: Don't think about elephants. What are you thinking about?
    B: Gerbils.
    A: Wait, you are?
    B: Well, to be fair, I was already thinking about gerbils when you started speaking and I kind of tuned you out. I really like gerbils.
    A: ...great, now you've got me thinking about gerbils.
  • May 17, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    This is Truth In Television, according to psychologists. I think it's been called the "White Bear Effect", after a study done on this involving white bears.
  • May 17, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Check the crowner: I've added outside links to terms that already exist to describe it.
  • May 26, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    The discussed candidate to me has started to look like a Forbidden Fruit applied to thoughts. Invoked by characters to be precise, no need for neurolingustics.

    I don't think inventing new (weak attempt of a) catchiness is needed. "Forbidden Thought", on the other hand, would be too synthetic, too detached from the fruit one. So I'd go with "Forbidden Fruit - Thoughts" or the like. Naturally, it is a subtrope of Forbidden Fruit, and it is remarkable for its being invoked for stuff like making you think about white monkeys and pink elephants, including the speeches of neurolingustic programming proponents.

    edit/upd.: a third thought, it could've been needing a label like Imitated, rather than just Invoked, but the candidate description itself steered towards repercussions being a possibility, totally falling into forbidden fruit territory
  • May 26, 2014
    lakingsif
    You could point out that in Real Life, the brain processes the order before the amendments, so saying "Don't look at that" has the brain recognise the order "Look at that" and then move onto the "don't" (or for "Run quickly", 'Run' then 'quickly'). People who act fast enough will literally miss the "don't", even when they hear and comprehend it.

    Also, when actors act, some have to work hard to act normal when they can typically act normal when not under the pressure to do so. Being told to act normal, though, makes it hard because the mind will question everything "do I normally look at lamp posts?"

    I'd agree that there are two parts to this: the part where being told you can't makes you want to do something, and the part where you can't help it because it's been brought up now (Forbidden Fruit and Dont Look Down, respectively).
  • May 26, 2014
    DAN004
    Gonna take this over, if nobody objects
  • May 26, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^ if you must, there's an example up there which is about 10 lines of quote. Rework it into a paragraph, would you?
  • May 26, 2014
    MetaFour
    • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Time travel technology only works if you don't think about it. Time travel veterans make a point of distracting first-timers so the trip goes smoothly.
      Commander Badass: Yeah, time travel's been super stable ever since scientists figured out that th' less ya think about it th' more solid and seamless everything hooks up. S'like they say, "A watched cheetah never bevels."
      Jones: That is not a thing people say. What does that even mean? Literally no person has ever said that befo—
      [Suddenly, they're both in the future.]
      Commander: 'S way more efficient than saying "Don't think about time travel."
  • May 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Bump for now...
  • June 1, 2014
    Mozgwsloiku
    I think the name should be "not thinking of elephants".
    • The trope occured in one Star Trek episode - after an experiment with the engine, Enterprise was flung to the end of the universe where laws of reality were a bit lax, inflicting Your Mind Makes It Real on the entire crew.
  • June 3, 2014
    Scorpion451
    ^There's a title crowner

    @Dan004 just since it seems to be getting buried a bit far back at this point, might want to put a link that at the top of the page
  • June 3, 2014
    DAN004
    I disagree with the crowner; there are a lot of dialog sounding titles there.
  • June 4, 2014
    jormis29
    • Misfits: Nathan has trouble hiding his attraction to Kelly from her Mind Reading powers.
      Nathan's Inner Thoughts: Don't think about shagging her. Don't think about shagging her. You're thinking about shagging her. You're an idiot.
  • June 4, 2014
    TrustBen
    Edited to add the Misfits example. This does seem like it should launch.
  • June 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Are we settled on the name yet?
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Gonna launch, if nobody objects
  • June 16, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Removed misuse of Genre Savvy. Name is still weak,active crowner has a line-of-dialogue title winning, and preexisting terms are being ignored.
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ that's why I'm thinking of restarting the crowner...
  • June 16, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ If / when you do that make sure to remove all the dialogue titles. We can't use them anyway so there's no point in having them in the crowner.
  • June 16, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Dont Think About X would be perfect, calling that a dialogue title would be missing the point of the rule.

    Inception also includes the "If I say 'Don't think about an elephant.' What did you just think about?" example.
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I don't think we allow This Trope Is X kind of tropes anymore.
  • June 16, 2014
    DAN004
  • June 17, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    This paragraph: "This phenomenon is actually a direct result of how the human brain is wired. Neurons that are used to interpret words like "elephant" have synaptic connections to the neurons used to picture and think about the concepts those words represent; if they weren't, verbal language itself probably couldn't function." — is a huuuge stretch. There's no such anywhere near prominent theory on brain functioning.
    I think there's also a linguistic side to this. The conflict in target individual is easy to recognize when there's a gradually narrated order with easily interpreted semantics as-they-come. "Do. Not. Think. This." After you process the part denoted by word "This", you're liable to think you're thinking the prohibited stuff (but not guaranteed to, really).

    But when the natural order of words in a language has semantics flow in a different order as the whole sentence unfolds and gets part-after-part interpreted and re-interpreted by the one it is adressed to, this trope candidate loses credibility.

    If you slowly say "Of this. ... The thinking. Done be should not", a different trope it is, bad play. Idea of this trope candidate would simply not occur naturally in environment with that dispelling sort of syntax being a norm. In other words, something about Language Barrier will likely keep Anime and Manga examples here to an absolute minimum.
  • June 18, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ That's a non-issue. Rarely this is combined with people with different languages talking to each other...
  • June 18, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^^ that paragraph, I think, is trying to define the connection between the way that when a word is processed you picture it's subject, if not abstract, most of the time. To understand the word "elephant", you need to be able to picture an elephant (not having seen one, because a blind person can have one described to them, like in that Bible story). With other languages, though, when learning one the student is more likely to relate the foreign word with the word in their mother tongue before they become proficient. Also, the action "think of elephants" is processed before any additional directions, like quickly, slowly, tomorrow, or "do not"; but more so in men (the difference in processing times is shorter in women, beginning at the same time, not because they begin to process later).

    Now, I know of no language in which that is a viable sentence structure. I do know of several in which you can place the subject before the action if you really want, and maybe two where you must. They do this in different ways. In languages where you can but don't need to place the subject first, they just don't. In languages where you must, they would say, instead, "think, do not. X (think of)" as two sentences or "think, do not, of X" where the passive voice is used and 'think' is made the subject (yeah, just go with it).
  • June 18, 2014
    TomWalpertac2
  • June 18, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^^^ Wrong point.

    ^^ Google says there's a book by the name of "Shirokuma no koto dake wa kangaeruna! Jinsei ga kyuni omoshirokunaru shinrijutsu" (approx. "Just don't you go thinking of polar bears! Psychology tricks for life to suddenly become interesting"). It obviously refers one way or the other to the thing discussed here. But "polar bears" is the first word in the title, and with the amount of context-dependant particles there, you can't avoid processing the word properly before you get the general idea of what the directive is. In English you technically can, with sufficient discipline and dedication, you can even no-sell the surprise effect and refuse to process the word anywhere near properly (He said not to think of something starting with "elephan" (sic), hmm — let us think profoundly of heat transfer issues in сontinuous stirred-tank reactors then). There's also the problem of what it means to think about something in general. I'm thinking of bulky african animals with trunks and big flappy ears. What's an "elephant" you've been talking about? I'm not thinking of any "elephants"? Forgone/handwaved, I know.

    The arguably fluid surprise attack in natural English syntax could be viewed as adding to the impact helping promote the pattern, but it turns into "Ex post facto law" in natural Japanese and there the impact is nullified. Trying to get the surprise across will dash the natural aspect. So it's better not focus on such things much.

    The more I think about it, the more trope candidate looks pretty absurd and/or avoidable anyway, and I'd say it belongs to Stupidity Tropes. One can only hope that most creators have got more or less savvy of how minds might work — that would explain why there's so little examples of straight "Don't think about X... A-ha!". (the kind of dumbed down rendition compared to what most examples follow, maybe to the point of examples contradicting the trope candidate description).

  • June 18, 2014
    DAN004
    Maybe some of those can be put in Analysis?
  • June 20, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    ^ If appeasing me is not the goal, then sure it can.

    The biggest issue with all the proposed names is they're ignoring the dualism of intentions. It's supposed to encompass examples when one party would actually like the thought to come back even if it's shooed away at first. It's explained in this way in description, too.

    "Negative Suggestion" and the like are on the contrary out-of-place when someone earnestly tries to break away from a thought, which keeps on haunting them in this trope...

    One way or the other you send it away, it comes right back to you. Like, it's a "Boomerang Thought".
  • June 20, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ sounds to me like Thought Aversion Bait.
  • June 20, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Negative Suggestion

    In this experiment, Derren Brown was talking about negative suggestions and how it affects our minds in decision making. When are told not to do something, we are prone to do it more often than not to, especially in children. A group of children are giving the tasks of guarding the box and not to open it. However, the more they concentrate on not to open the box, the harder it is to resist the urge of opening it. And this childhood trait is believed to carry to adult life and influences their choices when face negative suggestions.
  • June 20, 2014
    WaterBlap
    I removed a hat because the title is admitted to be a work in progress, clearly showing that this thing is not ready to launch.

    That said, three hats just disappeared...
  • June 20, 2014
    DAN004
    So what, would Negative Suggestion Blunder make a good title?
  • June 20, 2014
    WaterBlap
    ^You mean from the crowner's Negative Suggestion title?
  • June 20, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Aye.

    Cuz, when I think about it, I'm not sure whether it's "telling someone not to think of something will make them think about it", or "telling someone not to do something will make them do it".
  • June 21, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Thinking is the doing discussed. "Don't do X" makes people think about doing X. "Don't do thinking about elephants" makes people think about elephants.
  • June 21, 2014
    Scorpion451
    ^^Thats what I think makes Negative Suggestion a bad name for the trope, its very non-intuitive- what I jump to is what a Sour Supporter, Deadpan Snarker or The Heckler do: make sarcastic, pessimistic, and generally negative "suggestions" and comments.
  • June 21, 2014
    DAN004
    Besides, "telling someone not to do something making him do that something" is Reverse Psychology... I think?
  • June 22, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^ that's deliberate, but this is about thinking, anyway. Negative Suggestion is the actual term. The only deliberate examples of this I can think of would be Inception and probably Derren Brown.

    However, seeing Negative Suggestion as a title draws many other assumptions of its content to the mind before this, despite my seeing this and thinking the name. And The Game. Which you just lost.
  • June 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Aesop of the day: Even widely-accepted terms sometimes can confuse a layman, so we don't always use them for trope titles.

    Suggestion Of Not Thinking?
  • June 22, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^ yeah, that's what I meant: even knowing it I still thing of a mean-spirited acquaintance suggesting "oh, you wanna fetch your kite from the river? Jump off the bridge, yeah, it'll be fine."

    Screwed By Automatic Thought Process? Or something...
  • June 26, 2014
    DAN004
    pmub
  • June 29, 2014
    acrobox
    From The Other Wiki this is officially called Ironic Process Theory

    We could also call it Dont Think Of A Pink Elephant from the famous George Lakoff quote.

    Or Dont Think About Elephants from the now more famous Inception truncation (it's also the name of one of the bonus songs on the sound track!) and already the page quote

    I'm going to add these to the crowner
  • June 30, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ please don't. No New Stock Phrases, remember?
  • June 30, 2014
    acrobox
    It's not a stock phrase. It's a truncation of a the definition
  • June 30, 2014
    Statzkeen
    "did people keep accidentally mentioning the war simply because they were told not to"

    Basil did, because he told everyone else not to. So in essence he did this trope to himself.
  • June 30, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Nope, No New Stock Phrases covers also dialogue titles, which both Dont Think Of A Pink Elephant and Dont Think About Elephants (as well as all the other titles in the crowner that begin with a "don't") are.

    These kind of titles are absolutely forbidden, so putting them in the crowner is just a waste of time; even if they got a hundred votes, they are still forbidden, and any draft launched with a name like that will soon un-launch itself.
  • July 3, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Basically the powers that be have decided that anything which anyone could possible think would be a line of dialogue can't be used as a trope name even when it's the best concise explanation. Which is too bad in this case because Dont Think About X is less screwy than Thought Aversion Failure.
  • July 3, 2014
    ZuTheSkunk
    Guy A: Quick, don't think about cats!
    Guy B: [Starts barfing cats]
  • July 3, 2014
    DAN004
    Indeed, phrase-sounding titles sometimes just sounds simpler. That's part of the NNSP hurdle...
  • July 8, 2014
    DAN004
    Participate in the crowner plz.
  • July 23, 2014
    DAN004
    Hats plz.
  • July 31, 2014
    DAN004
    Final bump
  • July 31, 2014
    zarpaulus
    • A The Whitest Kids U Know sketch shows cute animals and a voiceover stating that if you think of various oddly colored animals it will die, then a second later an explosion. Until:
      ''"And this man will die if you think of a cheaper, more efficient way for our nation to use its national resources."
      *Nothing happens*
      "Or naked women."
      *BOOM*''

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=y29l8mzs0bboeo5ff0lo01mk