[[quoteright:350:[[Webcomic/TheNonAdventuresOfWonderella http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/wonderella_sort_of_saves_the_world_3.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Such bitchy selfishness is wisdom for the ages.]]

->''"Beyond its entertainment values, ''{{Series/Baywatch}}'' has enriched, and in many cases, helped save lives."''
-->-- '''Creator/DavidHasselhoff''', world hero

Any time something is mistaken for deep, intelligent, or artistic, but it's clearly not. This could be for many reasons. Sometimes it's about differing perspectives on the meaning of what is said/done. Sometimes people lack the full context of what they are mistaking. Sometimes there is no reason other than RuleOfFunny.

What happens next can also vary. The mistaken person may never be found out ([[SureLetsGoWithThat and he/she may just go with this]]). Sometimes it causes problems for the mistaken person. Sometimes the mistaken thing is revealed to be what it is almost immediately after being praised (often by a character who is TheDitz, so it's pretending to be DumbassHasAPoint and then subverting it).

A SuperTrope to SeeminglyProfoundFool (when TheFool or TheDitz is constantly mistaken for being profound).

Compare IceCreamKoan, ComicallyMissingThePoint, NotActuallyTheUltimateQuestion.


[[folder: Advertisement ]]

* [[https://vimeo.com/132728629 An Israeli]] UsefulNotes/McDonalds ad where a girl tells her friend she and her boyfriend broke up with a DefenestrateAndBerate moment... then she looks at his face and decides that she overdid it, that she should reconsider it, and calls the boyfriend right away... In reality, the guy's expression is from [[BlazingInfernoHellfireSauce the advertised product]].


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In ''VideoGame/{{Medabots}}'', a man sitting on the street selling chicks (baby chickens) keeps trying to peddle his birds to protagonist Ikki. Ikki always interprets the man's sales pitches as words of wisdom pertaining to whatever problem he currently has. Occasionally, other characters pass him by when they have trouble and treat him and his speeches the same way Ikki does.
* In ''Anime/TigerAndBunny,'' [[BlowYouAway Keith]] is going through an emotional slump when he happens to meet a pretty girl (actually a [[spoiler:malfunctioning RobotGirl]]) in the park. As he explains his problem she continually responds "Why?," which he takes to mean that he needs to look deeper inside himself for answers. He gets over his slump and returns to his [[TheAce usual bombastic self]], ironically by [[spoiler:destroying the robot when she goes berserk]].
* ''Manga/MyHeroAcademia'' makes this a minor RunningGag with Tenya Iida, due to his extremely straightforward and honest personality. When he's first introduced he doesn't like [[TheHero Izuku Midoriya]], thinking that the latter isn't taking [[SuperheroSchool U.A.]]'s entrance exam seriously enough. However, Izuku manages to pass the field test by scoring "rescue points" for saving another student in danger, something the students weren't even told about. Iida jumps to the conclusion that Izuku caught onto the SecretTestOfCharacter and is far cleverer than he realized, apologizing for his earlier rudeness and eventually becoming one of Izuku's best friends. Later on, during the Summer Camp arc, when the teachers tell the students that they'll have to make their own meals, Iida assumes it's another form of training[[note]]since heroes have to be ready to comfort the victims of crimes and disasters, and having delicious food is one way of doing so[[/note]] and gets the other students fired up despite being exhausted from the day's physical exercise. The latter case is lampshaded by Aizawa-sensei thinking to himself "Sometimes Iida's pretty useful to have around."

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* There was an issue of ''Comicbook/GreenLantern'' in which Hal Jordan, while living as a drifter, was working temporarily as a seasonal farmhand. One of the other farmhands was a hippie who told Hal that he mostly "follow[ed] the Dead," which Hal thought was poetic until the man explained that he followed Music/TheGratefulDead on tour.


[[folder: Fan Fiction ]]

* ''Fanfic/MassEffectClashOfCivilizations'': As part of a team exploring a space station built by a never before encountered species ([[Franshise/{{Halo}} the UNSC]]).
-->(...)Liara (...) was utterly intrigued with the architecture. (...)Every now and then she would see words written on hanging signs, above doorways, and on walls in some strange alien language. Perhaps they were words of great wisdom or knowledge.\\
''''Restroom Ahead''''\\
''''Dining to the Left (Kids eat free!)''''\\
''''Do not spit over docking ledge. Thank you''''


[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]

* Brian from ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'', who gained devoted followers that saw anything he said or did as profound, even if they didn't agree on what he meant by them.
* In ''Film/BillAndTedsExcellentAdventure'', Bill and Ted decide to "recruit" Socrates by "philosophiz[ing] with him", quoting the lyrics to "[[{{Music/Kansas}} Dust in the Wind]]" in pantomime. Socrates is stunned, thinking that the boys agree with what he was saying before they showed up, and says "Of course! Like sands in the hourglass, so are the Series/DaysOfOurLives!" He ends up being so amused that B&T are free to gently lead him back to the time machine while he's laughing his head off.
* Spoofed again in ''Film/BillAndTedsBogusJourney'', the boys are able to pass off the lyrics from "[[{{Music/Poison}} Every Rose Has its Thorn]]" as the meaning of life, which earns them access to Heaven.
* In ''Film/FearOfABlackHat'', Tone Def states, "Because when you take the bus, you get there." His fellow musicians think it's gibberish, but the producer is deeply impressed with this sage wisdom.
* ''Film/BeingThere'' revolves around the trope. The main character, a middle-aged gardener named "Chance", who has lived the majority of his life at his employer's estate, has no experience with the outside world aside from what he has seen on television, and who may or may not have some sort of mental deficiency, is ''always'' thought of as a genius. Hell, the ending insinuates that some people want him to become the ''president''. For example, when asked about the economy, he simply talks about the seasons in relation to his gardening experience. This is immediately inferred as some sort of profound understanding of the global economy. The best part is that he has ''no idea'' why any of this is happening. He's just a polite man making small talk.
* Film/ForrestGump runs for years because he felt like running, not for a particular cause. As part of the same sequence he accidentally coins the phrase "shit happens", but he was literally just referring to some dog shit he didn't see and stepped in.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', ''Discworld/WitchesAbroad'' mentions that wisdom from far off appears more profound, which explains why saffron-clad young men tend to pay visits to Ms. Marietta Cosmopolite, an Ankh-Morpork dressmaker. They take the cliches she spouts like "I wasn't born yesterday" and "When it rains, it pours" as koans, and end up inventing a martial art inspired by her that involves shouting at people and hitting them with brooms. ''Discworld/ThiefOfTime'' reveals that Lu-Tze of the Time Monks is a follower of "The Way of Ms. Cosmopolite", but it's unclear whether Lu-Tze actually believes it to be profound or not. He seems to find a certain profundity to them, but unlike the other monks, he also knows what they actually mean (he implies at one point that the sheer practicality is ''why'' he thinks they're profound); the other monks try to parse them as koans, which makes them look silly (not that they really need Lu-Tze's help at that).
** He ''is'' doing the latter on purpose though; he wrote it all down in a book he carries with him so he can introduce the quotes with "Is it not written..."
* In ''Literature/TheWastelands'', Jake Chambers writes his final essay while losing his mind due to a time paradox. The result is an incoherent mess combining bits of memories from a timeline that never happened with bits of prophecy. Fortunately, his teacher is of the, "[[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible If I don't understand it, it must be brilliant]]" mindset, gives Jake an "A", and says she wants to talk to him about publishing it.
* The Creator/IsaacAsimov short story "The Immortal Bard" tells the tale of a scientist who brings Creator/WilliamShakespeare back to life, and enrolls him in a Shakespeare study class taught by a colleague without telling him. [[spoiler: Shakespeare flunks the course, unable to get his head around all the subtext people have extrapolated from the plays he just wrote to pay the bills, calling it "an ocean wrung from a damp sponge."]] It's left up in the air whether or not the scientist, who is drunk at a party, is telling this story just to mess with his friend, but toward the end of the story, the literature professor starts to remember a very odd student...
* Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin's short story "The Silence of the Asonu", part of the ''Literature/ChangingPlanes'' sequence, describes the titular people who, though they have a language, hardly ever speak aloud as adults (and then only to small children). As a result, some people from other cultures have built up a cult around their rare utterances, and read a great deal of mystic significance into them, even though they're as banal as saying "Very good" to a child who has made something.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/{{Cheers}}'': when Woody is running for City Council his simple statements are taken as down home country expressions and powerful political messages by reporters.
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', "Definitions": Ted shows up to the wrong classroom on his first day as an architecture professor, and misinterprets some of his students' attempts to inform him of this as profound reflections on architecture.
-->'''Ted:''' Can anyone here tell me what this class is really all about?\\
'''Student:''' Uh, Economics?\\
''(Class roars with laughter)''\\
'''Ted:''' Don't laugh. He's not - he's not entirely wrong. An architect must be economical in his use of space...
* In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Dawn brings a robot replica of Buffy to a parent-teacher conference rather than reveal that Buffy (her sole legal provider) is dead. The Buffybot naturally makes boneheaded remarks, such as "School is where you learn.", all of which are accompanied by 'yeahs!' and 'you said it!' from the other parents. ("Bargaining Pt. 1")
* In ''Series/BoyMeetsWorld'', Shawn ends up sitting in on a college philosophy class. When in response to the question, "Why are you here?" he responds "just visiting," everyone takes it as an expression of his belief on the transience of life. This leads Shawn to start thinking that he doesn't need to apply himself in his high school classes anymore, since he's apparently having such an easy time in a college environment. Subverted later on when Cory, who shows up to try and bring Shawn back, tells the professor that he's "just passing through" and gets mocked for seemingly thinking he can pass himself off as profound by spouting {{Ice Cream Koan}}s in class. [[RealityEnsues Shawn is crushed at the end of the episode when his term paper is flunked by the professor, who points out that his lack of knowledge of the basics (Like what you learn in high school) means that his grammatically twisted, illogical and contradictory paper cannot properly express his thoughts]].
* In the "Gettysburg" episode of ''[[Series/TheOfficeUS The Office]]'', Kevin complains about the placement of the cookies in the vending machine during a company brainstorming session. Robert California thinks it's a metaphor for a business plan, and winds up congratulating Kevin on his great idea. Everyone else is dumbfounded.
* In a ''Series/TheKidsInTheHall'' skit, Mark, Bruce, and Dave are SittingOnTheRoof sharing a bottle of wine and looking at the moon. Mark tells a story about the moon watching him during a teenage romance, and Bruce spontaneously responds with an angry beat poem about the moon laughing down at violence in the Middle East. Dave gradually goes from appreciative to panicked as he realizes he'll be expected to come up with something too. When his turn comes, he just blurts out, "Gee, I wonder who owns that moon," then cringes as he waits for judgement. Bruce and Mark act as though it's deep and congratulate him. Dave just shrugs and the skit ends.
* In the ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' sketch about the "poet" Ewan [=MacTeagle=], everybody praises his poetry, even though it's nothing more than some letters asking for money.
* In an episode of ''Series/BlackBooks'', Fran finds herself in an office job she has no idea how to do (or even what the company does). When she is asked to give a presentation, she bluffs her way through it by spouting faux-profound business-speak cliches. She manages to impress her boss so much she gets promoted.
* In ''Series/TheGoodPlace'' this is revealed in the fourth episode to be what [[spoiler: Jianyu - real name Jason Mendoza-]] has been doing the whole time. Accidentally put in the [[{{Heaven}} Good Place]], he was offered the perfect cover by being [[spoiler: mistaken for a Buddhist monk who took a vow of silence]], so he just lets everyone else project wisdom on him. If he does say anything the illusion is immediately shattered.
* ''Series/LittleLunch'': In "The Band", everyone else in class thinks Rory is meditating and starts emulating him. He is actually suffering a PottyEmergency and his muttering "Mustn't pee my pants" to himself over and over under his breath.

[[folder: Puppet Shows]]
* Trash Heap from ''Series/FraggleRock'' who gave out random bits of advice that usually worked out this way.

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''Videogame/{{Portal 2}}'' when [=GLaDOS=] finds inspiration in the insane ramblings of Cave Johnson, especially when he makes a rant about how when life gives you lemons, you should burn life's house down.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', Riften's court wizard Wylandriah is preoccupied with a magical conundrum. If you ask her about it, she'll ask for your opinion. As you go through the dialogue tree, you can either tell you her you don't know what she's talking about or offer nonsense. She interprets the nonsense as a fresh perspective on her problem, even if you told her to use "the blue thing."
** Similarly, when impersonating the [[spoiler:Gourmet]], you can instruct the chef Gianna to add ingredients such as vampire dust, a giant's toe and a gold coin to the stew, to which she interpenetrates as creating a distinct flavor.
* In ''VideoGame/Fallout3'', you can encounter Harold, an FEV mutant who's effectively become a [[WiseTree living tree]] and is [[CargoCult worshiped as a god]] by a group of environmentalists. When the [[PlayerCharacter Lone Wanderer]] shows up, Harold is just happy to meet someone who actually listens to what he says instead of interpreting all his words as some kind of existential riddle. Especially since what he's been saying for ages is "[[ICannotSelfTerminate Please kill me]]."

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* [[http://nonadventures.com/2006/09/23/lucy-in-the-sky-with-genocide/ This strip]] of ''Webcomic/TheNonAdventuresOfWonderella''.
* In ''Webcomic/KoanOfTheDay'', this [[http://www.koanoftheday.com/17/ has happened]] in [[http://www.koanoftheday.com/2/ several koans]].
* The audience at Pat's performance in [[http://achewood.com/index.php?date=10062003 this]] strip of ''Webcomic/{{Achewood}}''.
* In ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'', [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/07/12 Gabe's password recovery question]] "What is delicious?" seemingly causes Tycho to through an existential crisis...while Gabe remembers "It's candy. Candy is delicious."


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'', Mayor is running for reelection, spouting his usual, tired lines. Fuzzy Lumpkins gets tired of Mayor's shouting to the crowd interrupting his sleep, so he yells "SHUT UP!", and people act like it's the best campaign slogan ever.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'':
** This happens relatively often, usually only between the least intelligent members of the cast. For example, [[DumbJock Kevin]] and [[DumbBlonde Brittany]] telling each other how smart they are, [[AlphaBitch Sandi]] telling [[LovableAlphaBitch Quinn]] that she's deep, and [[FakeBand Mystic Spiral]] [[IceCreamKoan lyrics]].
** One episode, "Quinn the Brain," centered around most of the school deciding that Quinn was smart and deep, and her trying to act that way as a result (and thus annoying Daria to no end). There was a ResetButton at the end, though ironically Quinn would legitimately go on to [[CharacterDevelopment gain a boost of intelligence]] in later seasons.
** [[TheSnarkKnight Daria]] herself can get this, oddly enough, when she makes a sarcastic comment that people take literally (or as a suggestion for some school activity):
-->'''[[HippieTeacher Mr. O'Neill]]:''' Now, why do you think it is that Tolstoy felt he had to make ''Literature/WarAndPeace'' so darned...unpleasant? Daria?
-->'''Daria:''' [[TorchTheFranchiseAndRun So no one would pester him to do a sequel]]?
-->'''Mr. O'Neill:''' ''(thoughtful)'' Hmm...
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** In the episode "Bart's Inner Child", self-help guru Brad Goodman convinces the entire town of Springfield to copy Bart's mantra of "I do what I feel like".
** Also in "Simpson Tide", where Homer enrolls in the Naval Reserve and his captain takes an immediate shine to him, inviting him to eat at the captain's table.
-->'''Capt. Tenille:''' Tell me, young man, what do you want out of life?\\
'''Homer:''' ''(reaching for a bowl of peas)'' I want peas!\\
'''Capt. Tenille:''' We all want peace! But it's always just out of reach.\\
'''Homer:''' ''(sadly)'' Uh huh...\\
'''Capt. Tenille:''' So, what's the best way to get peace?\\
'''Homer:''' ''(uses his knife to retrieve some peas)'' With a knife!\\
'''Capt. Tenille:''' Exactly! Not with the olive branch, but the bayonet! Ha, ha, Simpson, you're like the son I never had.\\
'''Homer:''' And you're like the father I never visit.
* On ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'', Peggy's father is a senile Montana cowboy whose meaningless ramblings Hank takes as "cowboy wisdom."
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy,'' [[CloudCuckoolander Fred Fredburger]] has to cast the deciding vote about whether [[TheDitz Billy]] or [[EnfantTerrible Mandy]] is [[TheGrimReaper Grim's]] true master. [[MathematiciansAnswer He replies yes]], which the judge takes as profound wisdom about how the two friends shouldn't be forced to split up in the first place.
* The entire premise of the ''WesternAnimation/TazMania'' episode "Ask Taz".
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "The Tale of Scrotie [=McBoogerballs=]", the boys are excited to read ''Literature/TheCatcherInTheRye'' after hearing [[StreisandEffect it used to be banned]], but are left disappointed when they don't find the book very controversial or offensive at all. So they decide to write their ''own'' book, one that ''deserves'' to be banned, intentionally crafted to be the most disgusting and most offensive piece of literature ever written. It's so disgusting that when the adults read it, none of them can make it through a single sentence without [[VomitIndiscretionShot violently puking their guts out]]. However, the adults all have the mindset that EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory, and misinterpret all of the disgusting imagery as extremely profound symbolism (that just so happens to align with their own political views), and the book is regarded as the most ''brilliant'' piece of literature ever written.
* In ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'':
** A bunch of goth kids mistake Doofenschmirtz's line "there's a platypus controlling me" as a metaphor for whatever is keeping you down, when he really means [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin there's a platypus controlling him.]]
** In ''She's the Mayor'', Candace wins the Mayor for a Day contest because the judges assumed "Why My Little Brothers Should Be Busted" was a political metaphor.