Dramatically Missing the Point

Sometimes people can miss the point of things, due to being dense, stubborn, or lacking context, but the story treats this as a serious thing. The consequences can vary though, from a misunderstanding, to a tragedy, or even a Happy Ending.

One of the most common forms is someone being sad, seemingly due to a small trigger, and another person thinks it's just that trigger instead of the bigger picture.

Although this can be caused by people being stupid or delusional, as with an Irrational Hatred, often they can simply be naive, like people who don't realize that they are being asked out, or confessed to. This also could apply to when the mentor/Parent/Acquaintance leaves some sort of instructions or advice that is tragically misinterpreted. Likewise, ignoring another person's feelings may come to a head with a declaration of "Did You Think I Can't Feel?"

Also, this can happen in Comedies, it's just not meant to be silly ways of missing the point.

A Sister Trope to Comically Missing the Point.

Compare Poor Communication Kills, Could Have Avoided This Plot, Ignored Epiphany, Dramatic Irony, Selective Obliviousness.


In-Universe Examples Only:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime And Manga 
  • Code Geass: In episode 21 of R2, when Lelouch points out that he only wanted to exact vengeance so that good may result, for others' sake, whereas his father committed crimes for his benefit (he would have thrown away his children's lives without hesitation) and only cares that he wins (declaring how people feel as a result of another's actions a worthless delusion), Charles doesn't get it.
    • In fact, it's not just that he would've thrown his children's lives away; he did throw his children's lives away. Lelouch tries to get his parents to understand that it's not right for them to have done that and argue that he had no right to disagree just because the things they'd planned to reunite the dead with the living happened to turn out well, but they refused to understand how evil it was that they would've let their children die (without even knowing whether their plan would succeed or not), and, worse still, self-serving; and, then, Charles continues to blame God when he's been the one responsible for making the world as awful as it is (Lelouch points out that, regardless of the innocent lives that would be lost for Britannia's benefit, even with his children in exile, he was still bent on conquering Japan, and, according to Suzaku in the episode prior, he could've saved Euphy).
  • In Bleach, the New Captain Amagai Arc has a villain whose motivation is that Head Captain Yamamoto killed his father. The only other clue he had is that the father's dying words were "Bakkoto," the MacGuffins and Empathetic Weapons featured in the arc. It turns out that the father's last words were actually "Beware the Bakkoto" and that Yamamoto killed him because he was possessed, making the entire arc a Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story as had he not sworn revenge, the original villain's schemes would have still outed him as a villain and Amagai would still be alive.
  • In Naruto, Sasuke Uchiha has had all the reason in the world to hunt his older brother, Itachi, after the latter genocided their entire clan. And then Sasuke joined Orochimaru and, eventually, Obito to get back at him, leaving his friends and home behind for a steady increase into insanity to exact revenge. And then he finds out Itachi was ordered by Konohagakure's top brass to put down the Uchiha clan for fostering rebellion for their own power and that Itachi couldn't bring himself to kill him and thus only mindfucked him to give Sasuke the drive to get stronger and defend himself. Sasuke's response? Go amorally apeshit and swear revenge against them instead. Even after reuniting with zombie!Itachi for a while he refuses to get the point. If anything, he just hates Konoha even more.
    • However he may have noticed this about himself by now, and refuses to take any further actions in the chaos that's going on with everyone else until he's consulted Hashirama Senju and the other Hokage, almost as if he wants to make sure he's not going off half-cocked.

    Comic Books 
  • A good chunk of suffering and death in the Marvel Universe is due to Thanos madly trying to earn Death's favor by killing people. Death apparently reciprocates those feelings, but she sometimes seems weary of Thanos' "offerings". At one point she bluntly told him that more death is the last thing she needs. This hasn't stopped Thanos' killing spree. He isn't called the "Mad" Titan for nothing.

    Commercials 
  • Commercials for the short-lived food Snack 'Ums would feature a kid trying out said product, then getting hurt doing a sports activity, such as high diving or street hockey. When asked by one of his friends if it hurt, he would reply "Yeah, but I think I liked it" and asks for some more, referring to the snack and not the injury.

    Film 
  • In The King's Speech, Albert criticizes his brother Edward, who is heir to the throne, of acting unbecoming of the King of England. Edward thus accuses his brother of trying to take his place as king, when what Albert was really trying to do was telling Edward to get his act together specifically because Albert didn't want to be king. (Which is especially ironic, because Albert does end up becoming King (as George VI) precisely because of Edward's behavior.)
  • The script for Pretty Woman started out a lot more tragic. One plot point was Edward renting a white fur coat for Vivian to wear during her hired time. When she is sad over their time nearly being up, he thinks it's just because he made her give the fur back.
  • Star Trek:
    • In both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek (2009), the Kobayashi Maru test is a major one for Kirk. In both timelines, Kirk is so determined to beat the training simulation that he actually hacks Starfleet Academy's computers and cheats his way to victory by changing the conditions of the starting scenario. He doesn't realize that the entire point of the Kobayashi Maru simulation is that cadets aren't supposed to beat it; the test is designed to be unbeatable to prepare them for the possibility of a no-win scenario, and to test how they react to defeat. Kirk's refusal to accept this fact provides valuable insight into his pride, which proves to be his Fatal Flaw.
    • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Valeris airs her concerns to Spock about this new Federation-Klingon peace. SF Debris noted Spock doesn't realize how concerned she is at this moment.
  • In White Christmas, Betty is upset at what she thinks is Judy's betrayal at leaving the act to get married and Bob's double-dealing by using the show for publicity. Bob, on the other hand, doesn't understand why she won't sing for him and thinks she's just being difficult.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry didn't realize the way he was treating his son was driving a wedge between them. Indy states this when Calling the Old Man Out.
  • Moulin Rouge!: Christian leaves before the finale of El Tango De Roxanne, depressed at the thought of Satine sleeping with the Duke, in doing so missing the point of the song; the Argentinian was playing the part of The Duke, not Christian, during the song; it was a warning that he (The Duke) was going to do anything, including rape, to be with Satine.
  • Secrets & Lies: Cynthia thinks that Maurice and Monica don't have children because Monica doesn't want any while Maurice does. Going by the way she tries to cut her mother off when she confronts Monica, Roxanne has probably already cottoned on to the real reason.
  • In Frozen when Hans starts to reveal his true colors to Anna.
    Anna: But...you said you did.
    (Hans makes a smug face as if he's thinking "Are you kidding?")

    Literature 
  • Vlad Tepes in Count and Countess, who doesn't understand why it's bad to conscript children into his army, nor why Elizabeth Bathory is so upset when her daughter dies.
  • Everyone in A Song of Ice and Fire who treats the conflict over Westeros as a "game of thrones" and covets the Iron Throne as the ultimate prize. The entire point of the Iron Throne (an extremely uncomfortable and dangerous chair made of swords) is that ruling a realm is a responsibility and a burden, not a prize in a game. So far as we know, only three people in the series really seem to have understood this: Eddard Stark, who had the opportunity to seize the Throne but refused it out of a sense of honor and never regretted it; Robert Baratheon, who never really wanted it in the first place but was forced to claim it; and Aegon the Conqueror, who made the damn thing in the first place. Stannis and Robb get some credit, as both of them dislike what comes with being King. Both of them still aim for the throne, Robb in order to avenge his father and Stannis because it is his by right of inheritance and he's a massive Principles Zealot. Varys at least pays lipservice to the idea, but his true motives are too murky to say for sure; Aegon VI was raised to believe this, but he still seems to have a bit of an entitlement complex about the whole thing.
    • Although in Robb's case, he'd be quite happy to just keep the North & the Trident an independent Kingdom from the rest of the South. His issue is a different way of interpreting this trope, as he is determined to accomplish one of two goals: take heavy reparations from the Southern Kingdom for the damages done to the Riverlands, the deaths of his own men in the conflict thus far, and for the death of his father and his sisters being captives in King's Landing (Arya escaped, but he doesn't know this); or dethrone the illegitimate Joffrey and eventually bring down the Lannisters in revenge and "justice", which if it ends with him claiming the entire Seven Kingdoms as a consequence is one that he (as his father's protege) is willing to pay. In the War Council at the end of the first book, his mother Catelyn attempts to point out the fact that killing the ones responsible for their dead will not bring her husband (or Lord Rickard Karstark's sons) back to life, as much as they might desire it (herself included), and they should be willing to make concessions for the sake of peace (including the retrieval of Robb's sisters). Sadly, thanks in no small part to his advisors, Robb decides to play the game full-tilt. With dire consequences...
  • The Collector. Clegg stalks and abducts Miranda, a young woman he's grown obsessed with. After numerous escape attempts on her part, Miranda becomes severely ill and dies because Clegg refuses to let her out of captivity to see a doctor. The lesson Clegg learns from all of this? Things went badly because he was too lenient a captor, and the book ends with him stalking another girl, eager to put his new knowledge to use.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Aes Sedai are magically bound by the Three Oaths, to "speak no word that is not true," "make no weapon for one man to kill another," and "Never to use the One Power as a weapon except against Darkfriends or Shadowspawn, or in the last extreme defense of her life, the life of her Warder, or another Aes Sedai". In theory, this was to stop them from taking advantage of people, but in practice, they focus on the first one, and use it primarily to gain people's trust while twisting the truth, so they can more easily manipulate them.
    • Also, their name; "Aes Sedai" means "Servant of All" in the Old Tongue, which, in the the Age of Legends would have been taken largely at face value, being a phrase in the language that everyone spoke. This meaning, while still known to those with knowledge of the Old Tongue, is now completely non-indicative, as modern Aes Sedai seem mostly to want to lead the world (at best), or rule over it with an iron fist/destroy it(at worst).
  • One in Warhammer 40,000's backstory is shown in the Horus Heresy novel Betrayer. In the Night of the Wolf, Leman Russ and the Space Wolves confronted Angron about his practice of using forbidden technology to turn the World Eaters into raving berserkers, and the two legions came to blows over it. Angron always said that he won, that he thrashed Leman Russ in close combat until the Wolf had to crawl away. Decades later, Lorgar of the Word Bearers explained that Angron won the duel, but Russ won the battle - Angron's bloodlust led him to be surrounded by Russ' bodyguard while the rest of the World Bearers fought on oblivious, therefore proving Russ' point that Russ' soldiers were greater than Angron's warriors. The only reason Russ spared Angron was in hope that the Primarch learned something.

    Live Action TV 
  • Soap: Burt's doctor calls him in to tell him that he's got a rare disease.
    Burt: OK, then what's the treatment?
    Doctor: Burt, there is no treatment.
    Burt: So, what, it just goes away by itself, huh?
  • Arthur in Merlin is convinced that he's created a golden age of equality and justice where all men are respected. In many ways he has, as he's married a peasant girl who was worthy to be Queen, knighted the commoners who helped him take back his kingdom, and established the Round Table. However, he has remained oblivious to the people that need equality most: the magic-users, who were shunned and persecuted during his father's reign. This comes back to bite him hard when it is what eventually turns Mordred, until then a loyal knight, on him.
    • He's also claimed his strength is in the support of Camelot, and that he is much wiser for accepting the advice of others. The one person he does not accept the advice of? Merlin, who is the most deserving.
  • The X-Files. In "Never Again" Scully complains that she has to share Mulder's desk; this and some Jerk Ass behaviour from her partner causes her to go off and engage in a number of Out of Character behaviors like getting a tattoo and engaging in a one-night stand. At the end of the episode Mulder says, "I don't understand...all this over a desk?" Scully just replies: "Not everything is about you, Mulder." The truth is Scully had just discovered she had cancer.
  • In the seventh season of Psych, Juliet discovers that Shawn has been lying about being a psychic, and this implodes their relationship. He spends the following episode mulling things over and tells her that "If I hadn't given you my jacket, everything would be okay." No, Shawn, it wouldn't, and that's the point.
    • It even seems to be part of his character that he can't stop himself from missing the point. Just before that scene he has a full dream about how to properly handle the situation from completely listening to Juliet's feelings to acknowledging and apologizing for his mistakes...Once he wakes up however and is immediately faced with the same situation he proceeds to do everything in the opposite way leading to the quote above which completely torpedoes the situation.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Towards the end, Weyoun notices that Damar isn't carrying booze for a change, and infers that the new alliance with the Breen has given him new hope that the Dominion will succeed. In actuality, Damar has come to the conclusion that the Dominion is bad news for Cardassia either way, and has begun to orchestrate a rebellion.

    Theatre 
  • Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman ends up killing himself, thinking that he will give his family a lot of money. At his funeral, at least one character points out that Willy could have chosen another path and have been happier for it. One of his sons, Happy, declares that he will succeed where Willy failed. He's blatantly ignoring the fact that Willy was no good at being a salesman and Happy has no reason to assume that he's any better, and that if any lessons were to be learned from events it was that it's more important to find something you're good at which makes you happy and look for success there, rather than follow someone else's idea of success.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Tropes 
  • Many of the more moralistic examples of the Inspector Javert trope stem from this. Sometimes, you'll get a Javert who is simply confused or doesn't have all the facts, but the others persecute people they know are good simply because it's the rules. They're loyal to the letter of the law, but not its spirit.