- 3rd Rock from the Sun: Really, it's the premise for that show...
- An episode has Dick catch one of his students drawing a doodle of him with antlers and a tail. Dick thought it was brilliant and praised the student for effectively picking up "the essence of my rugged good looks".
- "If they think that women are just going to line up to exploit themselves —" "Yeah, I hate waiting in line..."
- Countless examples in The Addams Family, where all the cast used this for humor. The Addams' odd view is always contrasted with the conventional viewpoint of everyone else.
- In the All in the Family episode "The Games Bunkers Play," Mike asks Gloria who she would save if he and her mother were drowning and she could only save one. Then the following exchange occurs:
Gloria: That is not a fair question!
Mike: Why not?
Gloria: Because I can't swim!
- In the A.N.T. Farm episode, "The ANTagonist", Chyna and Olive are watching Fletcher's cartoon, Antics, where he parodies the students of A.N.T. Farm. Olive doesn't like it because Pimento (who represents her) is the Butt Monkey. Chyna agrees it is bad, but because Asia's voice isn't like hers at all.
- Arrested Development:
- In episode 2x10, Michael Bluth finally tells his brother in-law that he probably should tape-record himself to notice his 'uncommon speech pattern' aka the gay innuendos he unwittingly utters all day. When Tobias listens to the tape he realises "Oh Tobias, you blowhard!".
- Another example is Gob correcting himself after saying to Michael that he performs illusions rather than tricks, and that a trick is "something a whore does for money." After seeing children that heard him say it, he corrects himself by saying "Or cocaine!" note
- In the short-lived American version of As If, Nikki asks Jamie to get her white fur coat from the coat rack. Jamie, who has a crush on her, quickly complies. When she says what kind of fur it is, he thinks it's a term of endearment, and replies by calling her "Honey Bunny".
- Some good examples from Becker:
- When Bob is trying to figure out which woman in his apartment building is a hooker:
Bob: Wait a minute. The answer's been sitting right in front of me the whole time. Anita. You're around the building a lot. Do you know who the hooker is?
Anita: Bob, think about it. I sleep all day, I'm out all night and it's not unusual for me to have two or three dates an evening.
Bob: Okay, okay, I get it. You're too busy to help me, I'll do it alone.
- When Becker tries to get Reggie and Linda to realise they're both dating the same man. After they've gone through several details their boyfriends have in common — appearance, Wall Street Job, drives a BMW — Becker innocently asks Reggie what her boyfriend's name. She answers, "Craig." Neither of them get it, and Linda even suggests that "we should all have dinner together." At this point Becker snaps and breaks it to them.
- The Big Bang Theory:
- In an episode, where Penny dates Leonard's colleague, David Underhill, and he is jealous:
Leonard: You said that you didn't want to go out with me because I was too smart for you! Well, news flash, lady, David Underhill is ten times smarter than me!
Penny: Dave is not smarter than you. He's an idiot.
Leonard: Really? Why would you say that?
Penny: Because a smart guy takes the nude photos of his wife off his cell phone before he tries to take nude photos of his girlfriend.
Leonard: You let him take nude photos of you?
Penny: That's what you took from that?!
- From Penny's POV Leonard is missing her point, but since Leonard is jealous, he's got plenty of reason to focus on Penny's willingness to be photographed naked once he hears about it, rather than on David's stupidity.
- One of Sheldon's ongoing gags is that despite his genius I.Q., he is completely clueless about being social, leading to many missed points.
Leonard: You convinced me. Maybe tonight we should sneak in and shampoo her carpet.
Sheldon: You don't think that crosses the line?
Leonard: Yes... For God's sake, Sheldon, do I have to hold up a sarcasm sign every time I open my mouth?
Sheldon: You have a sarcasm sign?
- On his first date with Emily, a deaf acquaintance of Penny's, Raj is trying to think of things to say, and Howard is translating for him.
Raj: I love music. Do you love music?
Howard: You really wanna ask her that?
Raj: Oh, you're right. Everyone loves music.
- Sheldon with most social interaction, but a notable example that doesn't quite fit into that category:
is not only a mathematical essay, but also a treatise on the social mores of Victorian England
You know, I never considered that! That is going to completely change my visits there
- A hurricane of them in "The Plimpton Situation", when Leonard tries to hint to Howard and Raj that he was up all night with the titular scientist.
- Sheldon considers A Beautiful Mind to be a "wonderful romp" of a movie. One can infer that because John Forbes Nash won the Nobel Prize and revolutionised game theory, Sheldon has utterly overlooked the fact that the film is actually about Nash's struggle with a severe mental illness.
- From "The Large Hadron Collision", in response to Leonard choosing to take Penny to Switzerland on Valentine's Day to see the CERN supercollider instead of Sheldon.
Sheldon: What? That's absurd. Penny has no interest in subatomic particle research.
Leonard: Yes, but it'll be Valentine’s Day. We can go sightseeing and skiing and make love in front of a roaring fire in the shadow of the snowcapped Alps.
Sheldon: But Penny has no interest in subatomic particle research.
- In "The Table Polarization", after Leonard and Penny buy a dining table, Sheldon informs Leonard of the "Furniture Committee", of which Sheldon is the sole member and meets every two years. Leonard replies "A committee that important should meet more often."
- Vila of Blake's 7, frequently.
- Blossom did this once:
- In an episode of Blue Heelers, Kelly is suspicious of a teenager's report of an armed robbery, noting the incredibly detailed description of the robber's outfit.
Kelly: Most armed hold-up victims are so freaked out that all they see is the gun. But George has got these guys down to their "blue on white high-cut joggers.
Joss: Who wears high-cut joggers these days?
Mark: Funnily enough, Joss, that wasn't the point Kelly was making.
- Tess suspects newcomer Evan Jones had filed off the serial number on the car a suspect was drag racing in, and asks if he happened to have a file.
No...but I do have an angle grinder.
- Common on Bones, due to the socially challenged nature of the protagonist.
(about a flayed corpse
) I just can't understand how someone can do this to another human being. Brennan:
Oh, you'd have to have a strong knowledge of anatomy, a well-balanced cutting implement that really holds its edge... a floor drain would be helpful. Angela: That cleared it up, thank you...
- Brass Eye lives off this trope. "CAKE is a made-up drug. It's not made from plants, it's made from chemicals... by sick bastards..." It's made from some of each, with animal secretions thrown in to boot. Wheat flour, sugar and cocoa are all plant products; add animal-derived milk and eggs, plus chemical baking powd-oh, wait...
"This is a scientific fact. There's no evidence for it, but it's still a fact."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Anya does this alot being a vengeance demon, with No Social Skills.
- This wonderful exchange:
Buffy: Chasing a bus naked — that's a dream. An army of vicious vampires — that's a vision.
Principal Wood: A bus to where?
- In "The Wish", when Cordelia first sees Xander and Willow in the Wishverse after being told they were dead, and is given quite a few hints that the two of them are now vampires, gives us:
Cordelia: I wish us into bizarro world and you guys are still together? I cannot win!
- All too often, someone will make a remark and Cordelia will agree in some shallow, appearance-related fashion.
Xander: You're talking about messing with powerful magic, and you're weak.
Willow: I'm okay.
Xander: You don't look okay. (to Cordelia) Does she?
Cordelia: You should listen to him. The hair, it's so flat.
- Campion: A visitor is astonished to learn that Albert Campion never locks his door. (As well as using Obfuscating Stupidity, Campion lives next door to a police station.)
Visitor: Is that wise?
Campion: If I lock my door, people can't get in.
- In Castle, a psychiatrist has been found dead with lots of ranted gibberish scrawled over her.
Looks like a patient lost their patience. Castle:
Also his command of grammar
. "Your" should be "you-apostrophe-r-e" as in "you are", and that's not even a tough one; not like when to use "who" or "whom". Beckett:
Do you really think that's
the take-away here, Castle? Castle:
I'm just saying, whoever killed her also murdered the English language.
- Woody Harrelson's eponymous character is the personification of this trope. This sets up a classic subversion:
I don't get The Far Side
Well, you see, Woody, that's showing how cows act when humans are not around. Woody:
I mean my hometown newspaper doesn't carry The Far Side
! But thanks for making me feel like a one-year-old!
- Kelly was equally so, setting up another:
Kelly: Don't make excuses, Woody. Now I see what's going on. You're busy every night and you won't tell me why, I walk in here and find the two of you kissing in the backroom of a bar. It all adds up! You're in a play and you didn't even tell me!
- Diane (and sometimes Frasier) win the Grand Prize since they're self-proclaimed intellectuals, but still can't see the forest for the trees.
Doctor, there's still one thing you haven't considered... Dr. Simon Finch-Royce:
Ok; Sam, Diane, you two are perfect together. I'm sorry I made a mistake before but you are the most perfectly matched couple ever. But, why am I telling this to you? Let's share it with the rest of the world. (opens window
) Hear this, world. The rest of you can stop getting married. It's been done to perfection. Envy them, sofa, envy them, chair, for you shall never be as cozy as they for their union shall be an epoch-shattering success and I STAKE MY LIFE ON IT
. Wait a moment, let me get this on record — (speaks into his tape recorder
) "I, Dr. Simon Finch-Royce, being of sound mind and body declare that Sam and Diane shall be happy together throughout all eternity and if I am wrong I promise I will take my own life in the most disgusting manner possible." (shoves tape recorder at Diane
) Here, take the tape, NO, take the whole machine. It's my wedding gift to you. THE MOST PERFECT COUPLE SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME!!!!!!!!!!! Diane:
(long pause, then turns to Sam and grins
- In the Chuck episode "Chuck vs. the Mask", Morgan and Ellie are talking about Chuck's secretive behavior:
Morgan: I had an epiphany last night.
Ellie: What’s that?
Morgan: A sudden intuitive realization...
Ellie: I know what an epiphany is, Morgan! I'm asking what epiphany you had.
- The Class: Yonk Allen. A lot. For example, on their first anniversary, Nicole gets him a newspaper from the day of the '75 Sugar Bowl, at which point he exclaims, as though to inform Nicole, "Why, I played in that!"
- On The Colbert Report, there was a report about how a bear made its way into a Sears store, causing customers to panic and run out.
Colbert: That is unbelievable. People still shop at Sears.
- In an episode, the entire group (except Jeff and Abed) have various adventures that teach them about themselves, and at the end of the episode proclaim what they don't like about themselves and start crying and group hugging, and then Pierce cries out "Let's never let Jeff divide us again!". whoosh
- This trope frequently happens throughout the show. Especially with Pierce, who often misinterprets or is oblivious to quotes or references made by other characters, due to the age differences between him and the rest of the crew.
- At the end of the Halloween episode, after everybody has had their minds erased of the incident, Troy listens to a voicemail that not only reveals that Shirley and Senor Chang had sex, but that the school was infested with zombies. His reaction? "Why did they call me?"
- In The Daily Show, a clip from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit asks "Do you think that there was a reason that the killer sodomized your husband with a banana?" to which John responded: "Because the store was out of Papayas?"
- In the Deadwood episode "Reconnoitering the Rim", Brom Garrett goes to Wild Bill Hickok and Charlie Utter for help negotiating with Al Swearengen, who he believes has swindled him. Bill and Charlie refuse to get involved. When Brom persists, Charlie tries to point out that Al is not above murdering those who make trouble for him.
Charlie Utter: [of his immediate predecessor in his hotel room] Fresh stain on the floor when I moved in. He may have checked out short a useful amount of blood.
Brom Garret: Wouldn't surprise me in the least.
Charlie Utter: That would make these accomplices you're talkin' about... dangerous people to deal with.
Brom Garret: Yes, I quite take your point. No honor among thieves. (pause) Well. Thanks for your time: I'll pursue my remedies in some other fashion. (leaves)
Wild Bill Hickok: I don't think he took your point... quite.
Charlie Utter: I think he quite missed it.
- From The Dick Van Dyke Show:
Rob: Laura, I hate to see you cry like this.
Laura (sobbing): It's the only way I know how to cry!
- Doctor Who:
- In the Season 29/Series 3 episode "Smith and Jones", the Doctor has just absorbed a lethal-to-humans dose of radiation and is trying to expel it via his foot into his shoe.
The Doctor: Ow, ow, itchy, itchy, itchy... (shakes foot wildly, hopping around on one foot, before pulling his shoe off and binning it triumphantly)
Martha Jones: You're completely mad.
The Doctor: You're right. I look daft with one shoe. (pulls other shoe off) Barefoot on the moon!
- And a few episodes later, we get this exchange in "Blink".
Sally Sparrow: (on realizing the Doctor was speaking to her through the DVDs) The 17 DVDs, they're all the DVDs I own. The Easter egg was for me.
Larry Nightingale: ...You've only got 17 DVDs?
- Later, while consoling Amy's fiancé in "The Vampires of Venice":
The Doctor: She was frightened, I was frightened... But we survived, and the relief of it and... so, she kissed me.
Rory: And you kissed her back?
The Doctor: No. I kissed her mouth.
- Later that same season, in "The Pandorica Opens", Rory who had been erased from time, but came back as a Nestene copy with all Rory's memories notices that the Doctor Failed a Spot Check.
The Doctor: I'm missing something Rory. Something that is right in front of me.
Nestene Rory: Yeah, I get the feeling.
The Doctor: Don't worry. I'll figure it out in a minute. (which he promptly does)
- Also a bit subtly in The Pandorica Opens when The Doctor relays the myth of The Pandorica; any fan can grasp the implication that it's The Doctor the myth is referring to, especially after he trumps up his countless victories over all the alien races present as just a single unarmed man with no plan.
The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a... trickster. Or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or... reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
- Occurs in Drake & Josh when they suspect their dad of having an affair.
Josh: Well, I caught him sneaking in. He was wearing a suit and when I asked him where he'd been, he says, "I was out buying milk, but I drank it all on the way home".
Drake: Oh, that's bad.
Josh: I know.
Drake: We really needed some milk.
- The Electric Company:
- "Gordon, you drive me up the wall" — an animated skit where a henpecked wife complains about to her husband about his nagging, lazy ways. Gordon has enough, pulls his wife onto his recliner and literally drives her up the wall!
- "We are out of sweet rolls!" — a takeoff of an old vaudeville routine where a customer simply does not get the hint that the restaurant is out of sweet rolls.
- An ER moment when Doctor Greene reminisced about his first job to his teen-aged daughter. He was probably doing it on purpose.
I got $1.25 per hour. Rachel:
That's slave wages. Greene: It was enough to keep me in new records and good weed. Rachel:
What? You know, records. LPs? Vinyls? Those funny big black things that your hip-hop heroes likes to rip off for their songs.
- At the end of the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds," Mal seems to be on the verge of figuring out that Inara kissed him when she found him unconscious, thus causing her to fall prey to Saffron's drugged lipstick, which had knocked out Mal. Inara starts getting very defensive about him realizing that she showed feelings for him until Mal calls her out...on letting Saffron kiss her.
- A series of gifts meant for Niles get sent to Frasier instead. Niles and Martin discover that the gifts are actually to Niles from Maris, and when they break it to Frasier:
Martin: They're from Maris.
Frasier: Maris... is my secret admirer?
- In episode 10, when Mr. Schuester performs a mashup of "Young Girl" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me" to get the point across to Rachel that it's not appropriate for her to have a crush on him and for her to back off. All Rachel has to say at the end when he asks her if she got the message is "Yes. It means I'm very young and it's hard for you to stand close to me." Emma was also there and knew the point, but still missed it because she was so smitten with Will.
- Kurt complained that Blaine was hogging the spotlight with him getting all the warblers solos. Blaine conceded to this and offered rependance by changing one of his solos to a duet between Kurt... and him!
- In one episode of Happy Days, Chachi starts earning money from giving dancing lessons, but is too embarrassed to tell anyone and instead claims that he has written and sold a song. When asked to sing the song, he claims that for copyright reasons, he can't sing the whole song, but can only sing bits of it out of order. He then begins to sing random drivel. After he leaves:
Fonz: He's lying badly.
Marion: You mean, he didn't write that?
- Happy Endings: This happens a lot, like this example from Season 3, episode 1-Sabado Freegante.
Max: Hey Brad, I uh I think I threw you into Max World ™® a little too quickly and I wanted to say I'm sorry that you were embarrassed in front of Paul.
Brad: Yeah. You know what? He's going into the office on a Saturday. Guy has kids and never even sees em.
Max: Yeah. Paul is living the dream.
Max: Oh you-you mean that not seeing your kids is-is a bad thing.
- In The Honeymooners, this is one of Cloudcuckoolander Ed Norton's many traits. Example: when his wife Trixie complains to Ed that when she went to the butcher and asked the butcher's son, who works there, how much chopped meat is, he had replied...
Trixie: "Fifty-eight cents a pound... sweetie pie."
Ed: Boy, I don't blame you for being mad. You're never going in that butcher shop again. What a nerve, 58 cents a pound for chopped meat.
Trixie: Ed, I was referring to him calling me "sweetie pie"!
Ed: Well, what do you want him to call you, "lover lips"? He hardly knows you!
- Barney from How I Met Your Mother makes hot, sweaty monkey love to this trope.
- In the Pilot episode:
Ted: So these guys think I chickened out. What do you think?
Barney: I... can't believe you're still not wearing a suit!
- Episode 2x03 "Brunch": When Barney shows a picture he took of Ted's dad having an affair with Wendy the Waitress, Ted is naturally mortified. Barney assumes this Angst is because Ted's dad violated his duties, not as a husband, but as Barney's wingman. He called dibs on Wendy first, dammit!
- Episode 3x11 "The Platinum Rule": Barney becomes convinced that an ex-girlfriend is trying to kill him.
Barney: I dump her, and she says, "no hard feelings." She's a psycho, what other explanation is there?!
- Episode 4x06 "Happily Ever After": Robin recounts her childhood in Canada, in which her father ignored her gender and tried to instill masculinity in his "son". (Her full name is Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr.) This culminates with Scherbatsky Sr. witnessing Robin kiss a hockey teammate at age 14; he has an utterly pompous Heroic BSOD ("Oh my god ... I have no son.") This kind of thing really screwed up Robin's life. After the story is finished ...
Barney: You poor thing. You had to grow up in Canada. With America RIGHT THERE.
- Episode 4x13 "Three Days of Snow": Barney explains how he plays a game called "Party School Bingo" where he takes a list of the Top 25 party schools in the country, arranges them on a bingo card, and fills in a space every time he sleeps with a girl from that school.
Ted: So how many people are in on this Party School Bingo thing?
Barney: Oh, it's just me.
Ted: Then what's the point, then?
Barney: The point is to get five in a row.
Ted: And what do you get when you get five in a row?
Barney: I get Bingo.
- Episode 4x15 "The Stinsons": When Barney watches movies, well ...
- The same episode has him revealing that he roots for Hans Gruber in Die Hard (believing him to be the title character), Principal Vernon in The Breakfast Club (the only one who wears a suit) and The Terminator (and proceeds to start crying over his death scene, saying "And she doesn't even help him!"). That explains the life-size Imperial Stormtrooper armor in his living room.
- Incredible Crew has the "Cola Thief" sketch, where a teacher keeps her entire class in detention because someone stole and drank all the sodas in her cabinet. One student points out that a boy named Wyatt, who's clearly going out of his mind with a sugar rush, might have done it. The teacher just says they don't accuse anyone without proof. After Wyatt confesses to stealing the sodas, the teacher says that somebody else stole over 300 pieces of gum and wants to know who did that. All of the students in the classroom look at a girl who's obviously chewing a huge wad of gum.
Teacher: I can wait ALL DAY.
- An episode of iPartment has a (drunk) Meijia attempting to lean on a statue, which continually jerks away from her. When said statue opens his mouth to explain that he's a real person being paid to pose there, Meijia jumps to the conclusion he must be a talking statue. Invoked again in the same conversation, where she begins to get sick, and the posing man directs her toward the washroom. She asserts that she has the money to cover whatever it costs to clean up were she to throw up on the spot, forcing the posing man to explain that it's not about the money, it's about dignity.
- On The King of Queens, Spencer and his new girlfriend Denise have dinner with his mom. To break the ice, she tells a story about how Spencer slipped on ice and how red his butt was afterwards. His mom completely missed the point and asks him why she's seen him naked, telling him he was supposed to "save himself". Denise then says the she didn't actually see it, but Spencer told her on the phone while she was in church. His mom then exclaims, "You were on the phone in church?!"
- This is Parker's specialty, as she quite likely has Asperger's and is generally messed up with No Social Skills. In the pilot when their original employer tries to kill them:
Eliot: He tried to kill us!
Parker: More importantly, he didn't pay us.
Eliot: How is that more important!
Parker: I take that personally.
Eliot: There is something wrong with you.\\
- She also does this frequently with regard to Hardison.
- In the season 5 premiere of Leverage, the team has to move to a new location: the back of a microbrewery/gastropub; Hardison says he purchased the whole building, as a front. Elliot says it's the dumbest idea he's ever heard... as a chef: pairing food with beer is hard. Sophie lampshades it: "That's what you're upset about?"
- DC Christopher Skelton from Life on Mars and its spinoff Ashes to Ashes. He borders on The Ditz sometimes. Case in point as he and Jim Keats (from Discipline & Complaints) are looking at old police files:
Jim Keats: Oh, strewth! Take a look at that signature.
Chris: Surprise, surprise. It's CillaBlack.
Jim Keats: Unbelievable.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, why would she get involved in a blag? She's wadded. Mind you, she is a Scouser.
- The season five opener of Little Mosque on the Prairie has a local woman chide Reverend Thorne for angrily calling Mercy, Saskatchewan a one-horse town filled with morons and imbeciles; she'd pointed out that there were seven horses and one of them was due to foal soon.
- On LOST, Hurley's parents throw a surprise tropical island-themed birthday party for him... after he's spent 100 days stranded on a tropical island.
Sayid: Interesting choice of theme.
Hurley: Yeah, Mom really doesn't get it, dude.
- In an episode of McGee and Me, Nick is constantly bossing his sister to get him things for his cereal:
Nick: You forgot my spoon.
Sarah: I'm not your maid!
Nick: Does that mean you're not getting my spoon?
- The Mentalist has Lisbon missing the point of her own comment when Van Pelt tells her that Jane, Rigsby, and Cho signed out for not feeling well, having a hot date, and having tickets Kings tickets, respectively. Lisbon realizes the guys lied to Van Pelt and this exchange occurs:
Lisbon: Jane doesn't get sick, Rigsby's not on a date because he's in love with you, and the Kings aren't playing tonight.
Van Pelt: You know about that?
Lisbon: Yeah, they're on the East Coast road trip. They're playing the Knicks tomorrow night.
- The BBC series Merlin does this quite often, particularly with Merlin himself.
Arthur: You can't leave him here [on the floor]! We have to get him onto the bed.
Merlin: Why? He's asleep. He's not going to know.
Merlin: Alright, I'll get him a pillow.
Arthur: He's the king!
Merlin: You're right....two pillows!
- Alisha gives us this gem:
Maybe he's on crystal meth — that stuff makes you crazy! My friend Chloe did it one time and she nearly shagged her brother
! And he's really
- And later on, when Kelly is upset about accidentally having sex with a monkey, Nathan genuinely seems to believe he's being helpful by reminding her that technically, it was a gorilla.
- An episode of That Mitchell and Webb Look features David Mitchell complaining about the Tear Jerker ending of Blackadder Goes Forth, saying that he didn't get the joke of just a few people running over a field and getting shot; judging from the audience reaction, it obviously fell flat in the studio.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the End, Part I", Monk has been poisoned:
You're gonna feel normal for a while. And then there's gonna be some vomiting, followed by death. Monk:
- The Nanny: Maxwell wonders why Fran dating another guy bothers him so much as he bites into an apple. Niles suddenly says that he wants the apple. "It was right in front of me the whole time, but I never knew I wanted it until someone bit their teeth into it and now I'm left with this aching hunger." Maxwell tells him to try a pear instead before leaving. Then Fran comes in, Niles tries the same metaphor, to which she replies "You snooze, you lose." Niles should know better. When it comes to that subject, those two are morons. He's lived there for years and he makes this same mistake over and over. He's not as smart as he seems, obviously.
- Done on New Tricks to emphasize the fundamental weirdness of newcomer Dan: a cold case is reinvestigated after 16 years because an offshore Account with £40,000 in the victim's name has been found. Dan is outraged — because the fund earned only 0.4% in interest, as he immediately computed in his head...
- Michael Scott, from the US version of The Office, is made of this trope. In "Beach Games," Dwight attempts to tell "The Aristocrats" in order to succeed Michael as the office's regional manager. The problem is that he completely misunderstands what it is that makes the joke funny.
- Night Court relies on this trope as a staple, especially with Bull.
Mack, why are you wearing a dead fish around your neck? Bull:
Aw, come on, Harry. (Beat
.) A live fish would flop around too much.
- Only Fools and Horses:
- In "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle", Uncle Albert laments that his place of birth (a marina where ships from all over the world used to dock) which, when he was young, was filled with rough but good people has since been utterly cleared away so as to build luxury flats, Del states that is in fact terrific as the flats happen to be worth a lot of money.
- Del also never quite seems to catch on to the fact that "Yuppie" is an insult.
- Parks and Recreation loves this trope.
- "The Camel", in which the Parks Department is trying to create a mural design. Initially, every worker (plus Ann) makes their own design, but after everyone votes for their own design, leading to a tie, Leslie suggests merging all of the ideas. The end result is predictably awful.
Leslie: It's like if you got Michelangelo and Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock and Jim Davis from Garfield to do one painting. Imagine how good that painting would be!
- Hunting Trip has another from Leslie. When Ron gets shot in the back of the head, we get this exchange.
Tom: Maybe Ron shot himself.
Leslie: He has seemed really depressed lately.
Mark: He was shot in the back of the head.
Leslie: You're right. Ron loves the back of his head, he'd never shoot himself there.
- In the episode "Sweetums", April tells Tom she'd rather watch a sex tape of her grandparents than help him move. Andy says that he thinks it's really sweet that her grandparents still make love.
- Power Rangers:
- On an episode of The Price Is Right, not long after Drew Carey took over hosting duties from Bob Barker, Drew pointed out that the pricing game "Barker's Bargain Bar" was named after "Ezekiel Barker". The fandom took this joke and ran with it usually by jokingly referring to Bob as "Ezekiel" themselves.
- Psych: After Juliet finds out Shawn's been lying about being a psychic, Shawn the spends the following episode obsessively replaying the events of the prior evening and comes to the conclusion that if he just hadn't given Juliet his jacket (she found a piece of paper in the pocket which set off her suspicions), everything would be fine. He completely ignores the fact that lying to Juliet is a big deal (it's her Berserk Button); she can't brush it off so easily.
- Red Dwarf:
- Robin of Sherwood: after a group of Templars attack and soundly thrash the outlaws (abducting Much), Tuck refers to them as "Poor* Knights of the Temple of Solomon". Will replies, "Poor? I'd hate to see the good ones!"
- From Sabrina the Teenage Witch after she accidentally costs the Quizmaster his job at a party:
Zelda: Hi honey, how was your tea?
Sabrina: Oh, pretty average, you know. There was music, little sandwiches, tea, of course, oh and I got my Quizmaster fired!
Salem: What kind of sandwiches?
- This was the whole schtick of Gilda Radner's classic Saturday Night Live character Emily Litella... Oh, you mean it wasn't? It was based on Mondegreens instead? um... never mind.
- Carla, who is from the Dominican Republic, has a dream that involves her friends conspiring to kill her. What disturbs her? That the dream isn't in Spanish.
- Another example in Season 5 when Carla loses a patient and has the Janitor help her look. He mentions that he didn't find his head, then goes on about how he once found a head and, since it was a weekend, left it in his locker and decided to take care of it later. On the next work day, he's forgotten about it and discovers a dismembered head in his locker now filled with rats. He punts the head off the roof, but sees that it'll land directly on Dr. Kelso. He then claims that a hawk swooped by and snatched the head in midair and carried it off. When he tries to explain why he thinks a hawk is near a hospital, Carla goes "...I can't believe you get a locker and I don't." This could be because the Janitor is known to be a pathological liar and the fact he has a locker maybe is the only sensible part in the whole story.
- The Janitor plays with this trope in his own absurd tale. After telling this absolutely preposterous story, he says, "I know what you're thinking. We're in the middle of a city, what's a hawk doing there?" Assuredly, no-one was thinking this.
- When J.D. is at a low point in season five, Elliot tells him a story intended to illustrate that everyone struggles sometimes:
Elliot: In high school I had this amazing teacher, Mr. Higgins, and he was funny and inspiring; I mean, he was like a second father to me. And then one day I found out that he was sleeping with his students, and I was crushed. I mean — why not me? (growing teary) You know, and it wasn't my lazy eye because that was fixed by prom!
- When Elliot is denying help from her friends, Carla has an exchange with J.D. and Turk about whether Turk would save J.D. if he were drowning, but asked Turk not to help him. Turk suggests that maybe J.D. wants a woman at the pool to save him, and since there are always women at the pool, Carla changes the story so that J.D. is drowning in a pond, only for J.D. to point out that ponds are infamous for serpents. Turk says that swimming is men-only at the Y on Tuesdays, and J.D. writes that off as disgusting. Frustrated, Carla changes it so that Turk is drowning, to which Turk indignantly replies:
- In one episode of Seinfeld ("The Secretary"), while in a women's clothing store, Kramer agrees to sell Bania his suit (which he is currently wearing). Kramer starts to go into one of the dressing rooms to take it off, and Bania protests:
Bania: Hey that's the women's dressing room.
Kramer: There's nothing in there that I haven't seen before.
- In "Never Block Cookies", Henry does exactly that-a cute barista at the coffee shop in the office building offers him a cookie for free, and he turns it down, not wanting the cookie, saying she's going to screw up her inventory, and totally missing that she's interested in him. It takes a few days later for Eliza to point it out to him for him to get it.
- In "Even Hell Has Two Bars", Henry celebrates in front of Terrence and Charlie about being invited to Saperstein's house because as he puts it "he only invites upper level executives who are in line for a promotion to hob nob there."
Charlie: Woah! Hob-nob.
Henry: No, promotion. That's the exciting word in that sentence.
- Sex and the City: Samantha Jones, a character who had exclusively been with men up until that point, announces that she's dating an artist named Maria. Carrie's shocked response: "You're in a relationship?!"
- Stargate Atlantis: Rodney McKay gets an excellent opportunity to show off his people skills when he tries to convince his equally brilliant but actually human sister to leave her husband and daughter for a month in order to help him with a experiment:
Jeannie: (explaining why she can't go) Madison's ballet recital is next week.
Dr. Rodney McKay: She's four! How good could she possibly be?
- In the Stargate Universe episode "Twin Destinies", a version of Dr. Nicholas Rush from the future convinces Col. Young of his identity by saying Something Only They Would Say:
- On Star Trek: The Next Generation, this trope is a cornerstone of Commander Data's character. Being an android, he often has trouble grasping human idioms.
O'Brien: ...We'll all be burning the midnight oil on this one.
(Data overhears this as he walks through the frame, but doesn't break stride)
Data: That would be inadvisable.
O'Brien: Excuse me?
Data: (walks back into frame) If you attempt to ignite a petroleum product on this ship at zero-hundred hours, you will activate the fire suppression system, which would seal off this entire compartment.
- Which is a little strange, given that he's a walking database, which means he could download a whole dictionary of idioms and look them up instantly. An Expanded Universe novel reveals that he does this deliberately in order to keep people from fearing him. Which was already introduced in ST:TNG when Lore showed up. Lore was TOO similar to a human and feared for that, and its creator thus "dumbed down" on Data a bit.
- O'Brien himself skirted this in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with "I TORE MY PANTS!" ...after washing up on an uninhabitable desert planet. The absurdity hits once the whole crew starts laughing.
O'Brien: I guess I'm really in trouble now!
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, London and her book club review Pride and Prejudice, and identify with Caroline Bingley and lambaste Mr. Bingley for "marrying beneath him."
- That '70s Show:
- In an episode, Hyde shows Fez a shirt with "Funland University" on one side and "F.U." on the other. The joke is lost on Fez (who thinks it has to do with it saying Fu).
- In another episode, shortly after Jackie starts dating with Hyde, she sees her previous boyfriend Kelso kissing with his new girlfriend, and — in the presence of Hyde — screams: "GET OFF MY BOYFRIEND!" Fez, who had his hand on Hyde's shoulder, says: "I don't know why she's so upset. I was barely touching you." A multiple-edged example here, as it could be argued either that Jackie, Fez, or anyone trying to make a case either way lost the plot on this one.
- Top Gear:
- James May, about rally-driver Kenny Block: "The man is completely useless, he can't drive in a straight line."
- Earlier, Jeremy Clarkson was being teased by the other presenters about his... rather enthusiastic interview with Will Young, culminating in Hammond singing "Jeremy's in looooove" and all he got out of it was "Are you suggesting Will Young is gay?"
- From a Series 9 episode:
Jeremy: I have passion for the Ferrari, and I respect [the Porsche 911] ...it's like David Attenborough. I respect David Attenborough, just infinite respect, in the same way as I respect that car, but I have no passion for it, I don't want to make love to it.
Richard: Yeah, but I have respect and passion for the 911.
Jeremy: There you are. You've just admitted on television you want to make love to David Attenborough.
Richard: Your logic, sometimes, mate, is the most warped thing...
- In True Blood, Jason confesses to Hoyt that he had sex with Jessica, who was Hoyt's girlfriend at the time. Hoyt asks Jason how, meaning how he could do this to his best friend, and Jason starts listing off the positions they tried, resulting in Hoyt punching him.
- Dimwitted Kandi on Two and a Half Men is a living, breathing example of this trope.
- In episode 3.16, she pays Alan a surprise visit while he's eating dinner with his family:
Alan: K-Kandi? What are you doing here?
Kandi: (in loud voice) I thought I'd surprise you with a BOOTY CALL!
Alan: Shhh! Lower your voice!
Kandi: (deeper voice) BOOOTY CAAAALLL!
- After overhearing the exchange, Alan's son Jake wants to know what a "booty call" means. Alan responds by concocting an elaborate, G-rated etiological story. The ruse appears to have worked, until....
Kandi: Wow. Alan, you really make history fun.
Alan: Well, thank you.
Kandi: So when did it start meaning "casual sex"?
- On another occasion, Kandi greets Alan's ex-wife at the door dressed in a string bikini. Alan's ex asks her to put on more clothes, explaining that her outfit "isn't appropriate for Jake". Kandi replies, "I agree — he would look ridiculous in this!"
- The West Wing: The Leadership Breakfast. Following a series of snafus, the President is being asked to speak to a reporter. He wants to know why, and focuses on the most politically esoteric of the bunch.
Bartlet: Donna wants me to call Karen Cahill and make it clear she wasn't hitting on her when she gave her her underwear.
Leo: Yeah, that's because I made fun of her shoes and Sam said there were nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan and Donna went to clear up the mix-up and accidentally left her underwear.
Bartlet: There can't possibly be nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan.
Leo: Mr. President, please don't wade hip-deep into this story.
- Many games on Whose Line Is It Anyway? which involve someone trying to guess someone else's identity. A lot of times the guess will be nowhere close.
- Subverted in one game, where the panelist guesses that the other person's just a complete and utter git, which the host readily agrees is correct. The other person is, naturally, pretending to be the first panelist.
- A Running Gag in the game "Greatest Hits". Ryan would sometimes try to drop a hint about the next style of music. Often, Colin would take the hint and run with it... in the wrong direction.
What comes to mind when I say "Ricky Ricardo" and "great cigars"? Colin:
Really. Why is that? Colin:
Wasn't that his big hit? "TAPIOOOOOOCA! TAPIOOOCA!" Ryan:
(trying not to laugh
) Oh, no no. I'm talking about Cu— (bursts out laughing
) I'm talking about Cuba, Col— [loses it again]
- In The Wire, after Stringer's henchmen bungle another attempt to assassinate Omar, he gives them a long speech comparing them to "40-degree days", which are not hot enough to be pleasant but not cold enough to be uncomfortable; in other words, their efforts were completely unremarkable. Then he gives them a new assignment, to which one underling replies "We on that shit like a 40-degree day!"
- Workaholics: In one episode, a realtor asks the gang not to be out drinking on their roof while she's giving an open house. Blake agrees promptly, saying "Weed only!"
- In one episode of Will and Grace Karen tries to calm a nervous Grace who is worried an important job for her business will be given to a more high profile interior designer by taking her to a taco place where the famous, chique designer is stuffing her face with fast food. Karen uses this to teach Grace not be intimidated because the deisgner while famous is just a person like she is.....Grace instead tries to use the fact that the chique designer eats fast food to prove she is undeserving of the job she wants. It doesn't work.
- In Young Blades, when King Louis XIV is told that his Italian advisor Cardinal Mazarin may be a traitor:
You do realize what this means, don’t you? Louis:
I’m afraid I do. (beat
) No more Thursday ravioli nights!
- In the episode "Boring" of The Young Ones we get this exchange when Vyvyan decides to enter a cereal box contest where you write down ten words to describe your feelings about cornflakes:
Vyvyan: My entry is: Cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes, cornflakes.
: You'll nevuh
win the contest with that Vyvyan!
Vyvyan: Thanks Rick! (writing down) Cornflakes!
- On the Israeli sitcom Zanzuri, the eponymous character’s son tells his father, "Dad, your daughter's a harlot!"note Zanzuri seems very disturbed, asking, "What's that? What's that?" in a menacing voice... then asks, "What's a harlot?" He is, however, very upset when his son tells him.