->''"Humor. It is a difficult concept."''
-->--'''Lt. Saavik''', ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan''

For better or for worse, humor is one of the most common communicative tools of the human race, and more than anything else it unites us. It is understandable, then, that alien visitors to Earth might find it difficult to understand our attempts at jokes. In popular media this often translates into extraterrestrials appearing to be SarcasmBlind or to have NoSenseOfHumor. Sometimes these aliens know what humor ''means'', but don't know or understand ''why'' a human joke is considered funny due to cultural differences and the like. An extreme variation makes the alien sense of humor impenetrable to the human mind.

Compare CreativeSterility.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Kyuubey from ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' doesn't understand humor, [[LackOfEmpathy as well as the rest of human emotions]].
* Yuki Nagato from ''[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya]]'' appears to be an EmotionlessGirl with BluntMetaphorsTrauma. (She's actually a human-seeming alien robot who acts like a FishOutOfWater.) As she has severe difficulty ''expressing'' emotions, it's possible she's laughing on the inside when something funny happens, but her rare attempts at humor suggests she really doesn't understand it.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* The Guardians of the Universe from the ''ComicBook/GreenLantern'' comics don't have much of a sense of humor. It's not usually made a point of, but there is the end of "In Blackest Night", a story by Alan Moore from Tales of the Green Lantern Corps:
--> ...and four cycles later, in the recreation complex, Katma Tui realized that for the first time in many years' service, she had heard a Guardian make a joke. She felt vaguely uneasy for the rest of that day.
* The ''ComicBook/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica'' story "The Tornado's Path" is about Red Tornado, an android body animated by an air elemental. His wife says that the way she always knew he wasn't JustAMachine is that he has a sense of humor. It's presented well... but then spoiled when the counter-example given of humorless robots is the ComicBook/MetalMen. Seriously? They're the goofiest bunch of robots in the DCU!


[[folder: Film ]]

* The Thermians in ''Film/GalaxyQuest'' don't seem to have a sense of humor, until the very end. That's not to say they're all sourpusses -- quite the opposite -- but they have difficulty with the concepts of both "deception" and "fiction". Their arch nemesis Sarris, however, has all of the above down pat.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* Andalites in the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' series do not understand humor or its purpose, with a few exceptions - Arbon was constantly joking and wise cracking in The Andalite Chronicles, and Alloran was implied to be a prankster when he was young. Cassie notes that hanging around [[SadClown Marco]] seems to have given Ax a "twisted" sense of humor, while the [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien Ellimist]] considers the human sense of humor one of their pluses over Andalites or Yeerks.
** It is occasionally suggested that the Andalites do have a sense of humor, it's just very different from human humor.
* In ''Literature/MassEffectRetribution'', David Anderson, while having lunch with the Elcor ambassador, Calyn, jokes about attacking Din Korlak (Calyn's office mate, about whom he had been complaining) and "watching the butterball roll out the door". Calyn finds this joke disturbing, and notes that he's unsettled by humanity's sense of humour. FridgeBrilliance: The Elcor are heavyworlders, evolving on a planet where the high gravity means a simple tumble can cause serious injury or death. Naturally, jokes based on the subject of knocking people over or throwing them around hit their DudeNotFunny button -- it's not so much the case that Calyn is a humorless alien so much as Anderson sounds like he thinks [[ComedicSociopathy hurting people is funny]].
* Most of the [=ETs=] in David Brin's ''Literature/{{Uplift}}'' novels have no sense of humor. The Thenannin in particular are famous for this (so much so that the shocking climax to one of the books is a Thennanin laughing). On the other hand, the Tymbrimi have if anything too much of a sense of humor - that's why they like us so much!
* Averted in a classic short story about unintentional FirstContact between a human interstellar mapping ship and their alien counterparts. There's a lot of tension about whether the two species will ever be able to trust each other, but the comm. officer is not worried. He explains that he's pretty sure we'll be able to overcome our differences, because he and his alien counterpart spent the last hour before both ships left swapping dirty jokes that they both found hilarious.
* In a similar tone, averted to the surprise of the humans in one of the Franchise/StarTrekExpandedUniverse WhatIf stories, which tells of a timeline where a terrorist attack by Earth separatists resulted in the meetings that would create TheFederation breaking down. As a result, a highly xenophobic Earth is locked in a SpaceColdWar with the "Interstellar Coalition" and the Original Series ''Enterprise'' is assigned to escort diplomats to one of the first, tentative peace talks. The captain is exchanging pleasantries with one of his Tellarite counterparts when the latter begins relating [[Recap/StarTrekS2E18TheImmunitySyndrome a story involving a giant amoeba]] and wraps up by mentioning that [[ObstructiveBureaucrat his superiors had the whole incident hushed up]]. The captain is glad that his would-be rival is NotSoDifferent and they begin bonding over jokes about their respective politicians and bureaucrats.
* Most tau in ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' supplemental literature are pretty much humorless, even [[GoingNative humans raised around the tau]]. In the ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' novels, however, a few exceptions stand out -- though they're noted as having a particularly dry sense of humor. In particular, the kroot, being CloserToEarth than their tau allies/employers, are more apt to appreciate jokes.
* In ''Literature/AlienInASmallTown,'' Paul has a hard time understanding humor, although he gets better at it with time. Indira describes it to him as being similar to {{Irony}}, which prompts him to reference [[Music/AlanisMorissette Alanis Morissette]].
--> Indira thought back to her school days. "Morissette... Oh! [[Music/JaggedLittlePill Those things aren't ironic, they're just sad."]] ''Which is ironic, which is genius,'' a lit professor's voice droned in her memory.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Averted in ''Series/BabylonFive'', where alien characters occasionally tell each other lightbulb and knock-knock jokes they've probably heard from humans. Also, it's stated that Minbari humor differs from Earth humor in that it is based on failure to attain spiritual enlightenment. Of course, there is the episode where Londo Mollari fails to appreciate [[Creator/PennAndTeller Rebo and Zooty's]] humor, but it is unclear if this is a matter of cultural difference or is simply just Mollari. Likewise, Sheridan completely fails to understand a Minbari joke that cracks Delenn up.
* This trope is referenced many times in-universe in ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' when people call Sheldon an alien, ask what planet he's from, etc.
* On ''Series/MorkAndMindy'', Mork has a hard time with the concept of humor.
-->Oh, humor! HA! HA!
* In ''Series/StargateSG1'', O'Neill is (rightfully) distrustful of the Aschen for precisely this reason. Also, Teal'c tends to miss the point of O'Neill's jokes. Funnily enough, the trope is also inverted in one episode; Teal'c, with prompting, tells a Jaffa joke that obviously amuses him, but falls flat on its face with the rest of SG-1.
* In ''Franchise/StarTrek'':
** Vulcans are ''said'' to have no sense of humor, but are indeed a race filled with [[DeadpanSnarker Deadpan Snarkers]].
** Data from ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', while not ''technically'' an alien, repeatedly attempts to understand humor as part of his quest to become more human. He doesn't succeed until he gets his emotion chip, which is one of the plot threads in the movie ''Film/StarTrekGenerations''. When it's installed, [[BrickJoke he begins cracking up at a joke his friend told him almost a decade ago in an early episodes of the show.]]
** [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Worf]] definitely comes across as this. He's actually something of an anomaly--most Klingons have more of a BoisterousBruiser thing going on. This also has the effect of making him the ComicallySerious in some of the show's weirder situations.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** The turians are seen as "uptight" by most other species in the galaxy. They're basically by-the-book SpaceRomans that take duty and protocol extremely seriously. This was one of the reasons why the turians were one of the worst possible ways for humanity to become introduced to [[TheFederation Citadel Space]]. Since then, however, humans and turians get along better, and because ''Mass Effect'' likes to subvert PlanetOfHats so much, it's been shown time and again that individual turians are more than capable of being funny. Garrus, your token turian teammate, is even a DeadpanSnarker!
---> '''Wrex''': I have to make friends with the one Turian in the galaxy who thinks he's ''funny''.
** In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', Garrus and [[AcePilot Joker]] pass the time by exchanging politically incorrect Human/Turian jokes. Like, "How many humans does it take to [[NoodleIncident activate a mass relay?]]"
** The elcor can also count as an example. Because of their severe monotone, it's hard for non-elcor to tell when they're being funny.
** The geth. They're a MindHive machine race, so it makes sense.
* In ''Franchise/DragonAge'', the Qunari are an entire race of [[TheStoic Stoic]] ScaryDogmaticAliens from another continent in Thedas. Some of Sten and the Arishok's interactions with The Warden and Hawke suggest that they may have a ''very'' understated sense of humour underneath it all.
** Telling Sten that you find his deadpan comments funny will result in a big boost to approval from him, and a curt 'thank you'.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In one US Acres segment on ''WesternAnimation/GarfieldAndFriends'', aliens have come to steal Earths' sense of humor, since humor is a lethal weapon to them.
* In ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', ComicBook/MartianManhunter seems to respond to Flash's attempts at humor with either confusion or disdain.
* Starfire in the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' cartoon has some trouble understanding why, exactly, Beast Boy's jokes are supposed to be funny. When exposed to "Why are ducks so funny? Because they're always quacking jokes!", she said something like, "Oh, I get it! It is humorous because ducks lack the large brains necessary for the telling of jokes!"
** Subverted in that Starfire is pretty far from humorless, she just doesn't get ''Earth'' humor. She occasionally does tell Tamaranian jokes (which the other Titans are polite enough to laugh at).
* Downplayed in ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse''. The Gems are capable of humor, but cultural barriers mean that they often lack understanding of how Earth humor works. Steven doing a slapstick clown routine involving a PieInTheFace gets reactions ranging from confused (Amethyst) to apathetic (Garnet) to [[FauxHorrific disturbed]] (Pearl). The problem also cuts both ways; Pearl's reaction to getting brutally stabbed in the gut by Holo-Pearl is to laugh and cheerfully say "whoopsie-daisy!". Gem "bodies" are just HardLight constructs that form around the stones that make up their real body, so she knew that she wasn't hurt at all. Steven, lacking that context, is absolutely ''horrified'' and briefly thinks that he just saw a family member get stabbed to death.


[[folder: Truth In Television ]]

* This can be TruthInTelevision amongst humans. Lots of jokes are hard to translate across cultural barriers, and even within a culture humor tends to be subjective.