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Captain Obvious: Real Life

All examples observed in real life are here!

  • Generally speaking, justified in instructions and labels for products. Unfortunately, there is always that particular person who lacks attentiveness, or common sense, and they can, in turn, sue the company for damages. A lawsuit that a defendant wins can still be draining in time and resources, and thus it is better to avoid one in the first place, if one can.
  • College football commentator Brent Musberger. He has his own drinking game.
  • During testimony she gave to a Congressional committee on smoking, a teenaged Brooke Shields commented, in all seriousness, "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."
  • U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, nicknamed Silent Cal, was one of the best Deadpan Snarkers we've ever had in the Oval Office, had this to say: "When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results."
    Reporter: "What did the preacher have to talk about, Mr. President?"
    Coolidge: "Sin."
    Reporter: "Well, what did he say about it?"
    Coolidge: "He was against it."
    • This anecdote is also told with Mrs. Coolidge asking Mr. Coolidge.
  • The actual Captain Obvious is one of New York's self-proclaimed real-life superheroes, and goes about shouting the obvious through a megaphone. His bio states that he was thrown out of the X-Men for being too obvious. He frequently partners with Squeegeeman
  • Christopher Nolan, in speaking to the press about his third Batman film, attempted to comment on what characters to expect without actually giving away any information. Thus: "We'll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we'll be introducing some new ones." No way.
  • Clark Kellogg: "Your shooting percentage goes down significantly when your shot is challenged."
  • Dr. Phil sometimes comes off as this in his show. Most people know that it's not okay to beat your children hourly or cheat on your wife with her sister and best friend.
    • Considering the people he deals with, apparently some people really think it's all right, and other have a twisted sense of morality. Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
  • Economist Frederic Bastiat was of the opinion that it's his job to state the obvious, since there are so many people — including those with significant political power — who have no economic understanding at all.
  • Brazilian sports narrator Galvão Bueno. "Went to the ground and fell!", "Inverted the ball to the other side!", "There are only three possible results: win, loss or draw"...
  • Comedian Greg Berehndt admitted that his book He's Just Not That Into You makes him come across like this, but explains that some of the people who hit him up for relationship advice really are that dense.
    Woman: Greg, I need help. See, my boyfriend is married, and I—
    Berehndt: Okay, now stop and repeat that back to yourself.
  • Less Wrong user Grognor advocates being Captain Obvious in Real Life here.
  • Dutch soccer coach Johan Cruijff is so famous for this, his way of speaking (dubbed "Cruijffian") has its own Wikipedia page: Some gems:
    "When we've got the ball, they can't score."
    "When you've got the ball, you don't have to defend, 'cause there's only one ball."
    "You've got to shoot, otherwise you can't score."
    "Look, the ball is an essential part of the game."
    "You can't win without the ball."
    • It becomes less absurd if you treat them as tongue-in-cheek arguments against overly defensive play. Which make them even more hilarious.
    • Along similar lines, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
  • Anything that comes out of John Madden's mouth. Like "Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they're bigger than everybody else, and that's what makes them the biggest guys on the field."
    • "If they don't score points, they're not going to win."
    • "If they want to score, they have to go down the field."
    • "Now remember: the blitz can only come from the left, the middle, or the right."
    • An example that Frank Caliendo claims is too stupid to make up: "Here's a guy who, when he puts his contacts in, he can see better!"
  • In 1949 the BBC reporter John Snagge commenting the Boat Race opposing Oxford and Cambridge said : "I can't see who's in the lead but it's either Oxford or Cambridge".
  • John Tesh was allowed to guest commentate during the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, and gave a variety of gems such as: "If I hadn't've seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have seen it.".
  • In 1954 Kurt Vonnegut was hired by the then-new magazine Sports Illustrated, which had hired some novelists in an attempt at greater literary credibility. His first assignment for SI was to write a piece about a racehorse that had jumped over the rail and ran across the infield after the starting pistol at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City. After staring at a blank piece of paper all morning he finally left his office for good having typed one sentence: "The horse jumped over the fucking fence."
  • Larry King once asked Vladimir Putin what happened to Kursk. His answer? "It sunk."
  • Mercenary commander "Mad Mike" Hoare included a short essay on leadership in his book on the Simba rebellion in the Congo. In it he mentions the importance of reacting immediately when the bullets start flying, even if it's an obvious order like "Take cover!", as it makes the commander sound like he's on top of the situation. Having achieved this of course, the commander's next orders had better be more useful.
  • Finnish ski jumping legend Matti Nykänen has become legendary of his nykänisms:
    • "Life is the best time of a human being"
    • "Love is like a ball of yarn. It begins - and it ends".
    • "Every chance is a possibility!"
    • "Tomorrow is always future"
    • "I cannot suggest Antabus to anyone. You get a horrible feeling when you drink with it".
    • "What is left undone cannot be undone"
    • "Lahti is one site of a place!"
  • Los Angeles reporter Ric Romero became a punchline on after reporting on the "new" phenomenon of blogging in October 2005 (almost a year after blogs led the way in the media storm that basically ended Dan Rather's broadcast career). He's an easy "go to" name whenever someone else in the media reports breathlessly on something "new" that is already Common Knowledge.
    • Ric turned this on its ear in 2009 by embracing his "Captain Obvious" image and challenging Farkers (members and regular visitors of to give to a charity campaign he sponsored. He then entered Ascended Meme status when, after thanking Farkers on air for their generous donations, he reported the "breaking news" that "water is wet."
  • Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to get assassinated, had the last words "I am murdered." Yeah, the man with the gun who just shot you was a good clue to that.
    • Even if its obvious, it has a certain big personal relevance that makes uttering this sentence not really a matter of complete superficiality.
  • American Civil War general William Sherman once said "War means fighting, and fighting means killing."
  • All of Yogi Berra's famous "Yogi-isms" that weren't thought-provoking oxymorons were obvious statements raised to the level of Zen Koans.
    • "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."
    • "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    • "The other teams could make trouble for us if they win."
  • Not Always Right has several stories of the Captain Obviouses of the real world. This one is particularly glaring.
  • Allergy warnings.
    Can of sardines: Contains fish.
    Sainsbury's Peanuts: May contain nuts. [I should hope so!]
    Ahum. Peanuts are legumes (related to peas, beans, etc) so people who are allergic to real nuts aren't necessarily allergic to peanuts. However, peanuts are often packaged using the same machinery used to package other nuts as well. So a package of peanuts may contain (traces of) nuts.
    • Wal-Mart brand (Great Value) salmon actually says, on the back of the can, "Allergy Warning: Contains Salmon".
    Jar of peanut butter: Contains peanuts.
    Cheddar: Contains milk products.
    Can of "Pumpkin": Ingredients: Pumpkins. [That's all it says. To be fair, the important factor here is that pumpkins are the only thing on the list, IE the can does not contain anything else (preservatives, water, etc).]
    Bottle of Aspirin: Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin.
    British bottle of milk: May contain milk. [Why do they need to hedge their bets? I'd really like to see the bottle of milk that didn't actually contain milk?]
    • At one point, the Snickers candy bar had it even worse. This is a candy bar whose every advertisement proclaims that it's "packed with peanuts". So what did the label say? "Warning: May Contain Peanuts."
    • Spoofed in Dork Tower, with:
    Nutty Nut Nut Cluster Bar. It's NUT-rageously NUT-ritious! Start your day the NUTTY way! This product may contain nuts.
  • Anteaters eat ants.
  • Any elevator in Brazil will have this warning, which translated says "Warning to the users: Before entering the elevator, ensure that it [the elevator car] is on the current floor". This was added because of old elevators, where one could force open the door, but with new elevators which all have sensors and failsafe switches, it became rather obvious.
  • Bloomingdales' self-descriptive little, medium and big brown bags.
  • A British scientist on Lateline in Australia said that it would have been better if the March 2011 nuclear reactor explosions in Japan had not happened.
  • A CNN news crawl shortly into the US invasion on Afghanistan: "[some US general] on Osama: 'He's either alive or dead in some tunnel'". Still impressive in that they ruled out dead outside of a tunnel.
    • In a similar vein, Donald Rumsfeld at one point declared that he was either in Afghanistan, in some other country, or dead. So... if he was dead, he must have been in international waters?
      • Well, he is NOW.
    • Rumsfeld made a similar statement when asked where the WMD's in Iraq were.
    "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat"
    • It should be noted that Iraq is actually quite a large country. Stating that something is near two big cities of such a country is actually anything but obvious.
  • "Do not attempt to stop blade with hands or genitals" - instructions on a chainsaw in Sweden.
  • During the 2003 NFL season, the CBS broadcaster made this comment about Quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots: "If you give him enough time and open receivers, he's gonna be dangerous." Anyone up to (down to?), and maybe including, Ryan Leaf would be dangerous with those two things.
  • Gmail will occasionally tell you when flagging a message as important that it is "important because of the words in the message". As opposed to the subtext of the message, perhaps.
    • Speaking of Google, their web browser, Google Chrome, has an "Incognito" function, which allows the user to open a separate window that is not recorded in the history. On the new tab page, it warns that it doesn't protect against:
    "...People standing behind you"
  • The guy with the ponytail in this video.
  • In this day of instant news and Twitter, breaking news feed may end up this way thanks to brevity perhaps going a bit too far. For insance, Bloomberg News published an article that read "Americans Not Engaged In Combat Can't Be Killed, Holder Says." Like Shirou's quote in the infamous fansub, context makes it clear what's going on - there was discussion in the days leading up to this about the legality of the CIA targeting American citizens for assassinations if they're not actually firing guns at US soldiers. The day before, US Representative Rand Paul brought up the concern that the President could kill Americans in the US under this policy - Attorney General Eric Holder is just saying that that action is illegal.
  • One of the foundations of mathematics is the law of identity; "that a thing is the same as itself" or, in mathematical notation, "A = A". While it is rather obvious, it's also what allows us to have the concept of 'equality' in the first place, which is needed for a lot of useful mathematics.
    • It also means we get the concept of a mathematics where the law of identity isn't true, which is currently useless - but we've eventually found uses for mathematics which break other obvious rules like commutation (for example, where A multiplied by B doesn't even resemble B multiplied by A), so...
  • On the Toronto news station 680 News, an "expert" on the economy said, "I think the economy's going to stay pretty much the same, and if not it's either going to go up or down." ...Well, that's good to know.
  • The Outback Express lift at Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado has yellow signs on its lift towers that say, "Caution! Lift Tower!" Like you thought it was a power line pole you just ran into.
  • Some roads in the American Southwest bear rather existential signs that say "Gusty Winds May Exist."
  • Some truck weigh stations have large garage-door-type-things with a sign painted on that says "STOP: WAIT UNTIL DOOR IS OPEN." It's hard to imagine who would be oblivious enough to drive through a closed door, yet attentive enough to read a sign telling them not to. Presumably they really mean "completely open," that is, "don't forget that you're driving a 15-foot-tall vehicle," but this isn't much less obvious. There's also the issue that the sign isn't visible when the door is halfway open...
  • Talking to young kids is like this in many respects. "Not now, sweetie, Mommy's talking," is a good example; everyone can see they're talking, but as young kids don't know it's wrong to interrupt, have poor impulse control, or just aren't as observant as adults, they often have to be reminded. Similarly, parents often have to explain what they're doing, why they're doing it, how the logic behind something works, etc., simply because their kids don't yet have the life experience to know for themselves.
  • US Army rocket launchers have the instruction "aim towards the enemy" written on them.
    • The M18 Claymore Mines' infamous "Front Towards Enemy" is noteworthy as well (and the subject of no small amount of Memetic Mutation). And it should be noted that in training recruits STILL point them in the wrong direction. Thankfully, those M18s are dummies, and are completely safe and the only result is a DI chewing you out. But one has to wonder what motivated the military to put "Front Towards Enemy" on the mines in the first place...
      • The claymore, when you look at it, doesn't have an obvious front and back unless you already know how a claymore works and what direction it should be pointing.
      • Equally humorous, the back of later claymore mines have the text "Do not eat: Contents toxic" written on them. One wonders why this was needed.
      • Hypothesis: hungry civilians finding them in the field and mistaking them for military rations.
  • Watching a movie with the commentary for the visually impaired on when you have good eyesight.
    • Likewise, watching a movie with subtitles for the hearing impaired, when you have good hearing.
      • Less obviously, it's a Godsend for watching with friends and/or family who insist on holding conversations during the movie and won't shut the hell up.
      • Actors also have some lines that are very unclear and unintelligible unless read...although occasionally Even the Subtitler Is Stumped.
  • Watching TV or a movie with young children can be fun or irritating, depending on you, as you gain a free play-by-play announcer. "Did you see that?" they ask about the thing you just saw, and then describe the event you just saw no matter how you reply.
  • 11 Most Painfully Obvious Newspaper Articles Ever
  • The 747's used to ferry Space Shuttles between locations when they were not in orbit had helpful instructions on the three large mounting pins where the Shuttles would be bolted on for the journey: "ATTACH SHUTTLE HERE. NOTE: BLACK SIDE DOWN."note 
  • For offices with a Monday through Friday schedule, 40% of sickdays are taken on either a Monday or a Friday.
  • Various sports commentators have been mentioned, but none of them hold a candle to longtime — and now (thankfully) former — Fox baseball analyst Tim McCarver.
  • Day 9 is known to state things like "Oftentimes 14 is more than 9" during poorly balanced Funday Monday matchups.

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