This is when someone, usually The Ditz
or the Cloudcuckoolander
, is ignorant, confused, or ill-informed enough to lump "things that are well known to be real" in with "things that are made up." This is often applied to ethnic groups, but can also include historical characters, countries and animals.
Essentially, Arbitrary Skepticism
applied to real
things, likely by someone who Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality
, an in-universe occurrence of Aluminum Christmas Trees
. A Sister Trope
to Global Ignorance
. Tangentially related to Flat Earth Atheist
If fantastic creatures don't believe in mundane ones, then that's Faeries Don't Believe in Humans Either
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Anime and Manga
- In Azumanga Daioh, Tomo believed reindeer didn't exist. This can be Truth in Television as in the Santa Claus mythos, Santa's sleigh is powered by flying reindeer. Meanwhile, outside the countries they live in, "real" reindeer are not commonly featured in non-Christmas media, or in zoos, etc. When they are, they tend to be called by their other name: caribou. From this, many Santa-believing children assume that "reindeer" means a magical deer that can fly, so belief in them eventually goes out the same window as belief in Santa. (Flying caribou, we regret to say, almost certainly are fantasy.) It also doesn't help that until fairly recently, Santa's "reindeer" were depicted as flying roe deer or white-tailed deer, rather than caribou. These depictions, in some cases themselves due to the Aluminum Christmas Trees phenomenon, are semi-examples of Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit".
- Naturally, this is the way Tomo's disbelief in reindeer came up; the girls had just been discussing Santa. Kagura then asks if reindeer are real, and Tomo proceeds to laugh at her and say they don't exist.
- In Stan Freberg's Christmas Dragnet a man named Grudge doesn't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Columbus, or Cincinnati, and "ain't made up [his] mind yet about Toledo." At the end he's shown the error of his ways in regards Santa, the Easter Bunny, Columbus, and Cincinnati, but he still ain't made up his mind about Toledo.
Film - Animated
Film - Live Action
- The Film Crew: Kevin Murphy believes in many different fantasy lands, but claims that Spain is a myth.
- The Muppets: "I think that's just an internet rumour. Like that there's a country called Turkey."
- Somewhat averted in Look Who's Talking Too. Baby Mikey is sitting awake at night scared. He lists various things he's worried about, and that they aren't real. This includes monsters, ghosts, witches, and dinosaurs. He knows that one of them used to be real, but can't remember which. Justified, since he is a baby.
- In Daniel Handler's A Series of Unfortunate Events, when Count Olaf meets Dewey Denouement in Book the Twelfth, he is surprised he isn't just a legendary figure like unicorns or Giuseppe Verdi.
- In more than one Daniel Pinkwater novel, as a throwaway joke, a character claims that Los Angeles does not exist.
- In the book The Enormous Egg (wherein a kid in rural New Hampshire finds one of his family's chickens laid a dinosaur egg), one of Nate's friends says that dinosaurs never existed - some guys found some big bones and made up stories about them.
- In the Piers Anthony story "Possible To Rue", a young boy's pleas for a pet pegasus leads his father to look the animal up in the encyclopedia and show that they're mythical. So are unicorns. To the father's astonishment, so are zebras, mules, and even horses, which he distinctly remembers placing bets on. It's implied that, by denying zebras are real to avoid having to buy one, the father has inadvertently begun erasing these creatures from the universe.
- In Pamela Dean's The Secret Country, five children have made up a fairytale world where magic is real. They argue as to whether it's proper to have a Secret Country villain who doesn't believe in magic. Patrick, a materialist, says that would be as foolish as someone in the real world not believing in the law of gravity. His smartass sister Ellen promptly declares that she doesn't believe in the law of gravity. The real villain in fact does not believe in magic, he thinks it's all tricks and illusions.
Live Action TV
- In Get Fuzzy, Bucky tries to tell Satchel that Hawaii is a myth perpetrated by the Liberal Media. When Rob informed him otherwise, he reacted with genuine surprise, "It is?? Then why the %*(# DON'T WE LIVE THERE?"
- There's also the time after Satchel's game show, where Bucky states how he believes the Harry Potter books to be lies. When Rob questions whether he is "breaking the story that magic doesn't exist," Bucky responds with "What? No, magic exists, I saw a thing on TV. But trains?... Owls?... ENGLAND? Nice try, I'm not buyin' it." Cue two-hour argument between Rob and Bucky over the existence of England (Canada and Greece, too).
- Invoked in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, when Rosencrantz claims not to believe in England, meaning he has no mental picture of what's going to happen once they get there, and Guildenstern sarcastically replies "Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?" Later they have the same exchange in reverse.
- In Team Fortress 2, the Soldier may taunt the Demoman by saying "Scotland is not a real country! You are an Englishman in a dress!"
- Red vs. Blue Episode 2:
Grif: No, like a puma. It's a big cat, like a lion.
Sarge: You're making that up.
Sarge: (pointing at the front of the Warthog) Look, see these two two hooks? They look like tusks, and what kind of animal has tusks?
Grif: A walrus.
Sarge: Didn't I just tell you to stop making up animals?!
- Homer does it in The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror IV":
Homer: Lisa, vampires are make-believe, just like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.
"I'd like to visit that Long Island Place, if only it were real."
- In The Venture Bros., "Ghosts Of The Sargasso" Hank speculates that if pirates are real, Santa and the Tooth Fairy could be real. Brock points out that no one said pirates weren't real.
Hank: So you agree with me that this is impossible!
- A possible example is when Dr. Venture denies the Monarch's claim that if he dumped them in a river, fish called candiru would crawl up their pee-holes. It's not entirely clear if Venture is saying candiru themselves don't exist (they do), or just saying the idea of them crawling into a human's bodily orifice is a myth (which it is).
- From the Garfield and Friends episode "It Must Be True":
Garfield: There's no such place as Wyoming. Think about it. Have you ever met anyone from Wyoming?
- In Invader Zim, after Dib proves that "Chickenfoot" is a fraud.
I bet this means Bigfoot
is a fraud too!
- Likewise Bill, a paranormal investigator who believes that cereal mascots are real, nevertheless insists that dinosaurs are a fraud.
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Carl and Sheen are positive that ancient Egyptian curses are a myth, just like the Loch Ness Monster and North Dakota.
- In one episode of The Fairly OddParents, a giant squid is treated as a mythical creature... until one actually shows up.
- Possibly a reference to the fact that the giant squid used to be considered a cryptid, and scientific evidence only started emerging in the past century or so. A giant squid was not photographed alive until 2004.
- In the Live Action A Fairly Odd Christmas, Crocker doesn't believe in the North pole, or polar bears. Till he ends up in the North Pole and chased by a polar bear.
- In American Dad!, when Stan tries searching for Oliver North's gold, Francine tells him it's just a myth, "Like unicorns or speed reading."
- While he doesn't actually believe this, Mr. Krabs of Spongebob Squarepants at one point cracks in front of the police while trying to keep them out of his freezer, leading to this quote.
There's no ice! There's never been any ice! Ice is just a myth!
- Metalocalypse - the guys don't like that Toki has befriended Dr. Rockso the Rock and Roll Clown and has him over - Nathan angrily exclaims "There's no such things as clowns!!!"
- When Murderface seeks for meaning through religion, Skwissgar declares that "Religion isn't real." Nathan then points to a Bible, which makes Skwissgar decide to reconsider a lot of things.
- In Detentionaire, Cam doesn't believe in hypnotism, claiming it is "movie and comic book stuff."
- On Adventure Time Flambo, a catlike creature made out of fire, insists that ninjas "ain't real for nothing no-how."
- My Little Pony G3 Rainbow Dash did not believe in pegasi.
- The Looney Tunes Show: in "Double Date" Lola, while crushing on Daffy for...complicated reasons, insists that Tina is a made-up name like Crabthar. Later, she poses as a waiter and introduces herself as Crabthar.
- In Big Top Scooby-Doo!, Shaggy does not believe in Sweden, stating that is a made-up place like Fairyland. Or Australia.
- On Phineas and Ferb, Buford insists that cowboys are fake, and asks the other characters if they've ever seen one. They all get looks of amazement on their face as they realize that they haven't—even though, in point of fact, they had been cowboys in one episode. It was All Just a Dream instead of a Series Continuity Error, though.
- On King of the Hill, Dale once used a pirate radio station to ask viewers if they had ever seen any proof that Hawaii was real.
- South Park episode "The Tooth Fairy's Tats 2000": The American Dental Association laugh when Dr Foley tries to convince them of exactly what’s happening to the teeth, favouring their own chicken-squirrel hybrid theory. They further ridicule Foley when he says that he says that he has seen it before in Montreal, derisively asking “And where, pray, is this Montreal?”.
- As the Trope Namer indicates, there are people out there who don't believe that the Eskimos (a.k.a. the Inuit people of North America) exist.
- Some people don't believe that American Indians in general still exist (despite there still being Indian reservations).
- Surprisingly there's people out there that don't realize reindeer are real animals. Though obviously they don't really fly or have red noses, they can be and have been trained to pull sleds.
- Most artists have no idea what reindeer look like, so they draw Rudolph to look like Bambi. Actual reindeer have gray or muted brown fur, flat and wide muzzles and an entirely white short tail.
- Strangely enough, people should know about the real species of deer because they go by another name in North America: The Caribou. (They feature prominently on the Canadian quarter). Most people don't know that they're the same animal.
- Similarly, many people don't know that St Nicholas really existed and Lapland is a real place. Of course, the story of Santa has very little to do with the real thing as it was reworked by Dutch and American traditions - the real santa was Lycian (part of modern day Turkey, but Greek-speaking at the time).
- Some people are unaware that a wolverine is a real animal, and not just an X-Men character.
- Many people are shocked to learn that narwhals are real and not some type of mythical creature on par with unicorns. Just check the comments on this clip or this hilarous blog post.
- There are also people who believe that Tigons and Ligers are fictitious, and that photographs of them are actually fake.
- Snipes are real. Well, there is a type of bird called a snipe. The thing you're sent hunting for might or might not be it, if it's anything at all.
- Some people don't realize Tasmanian devils exist until they look it up.
- The Tokyo neighborhood Nerima does exist. However, because Ranma doesn't, some people think the neighborhood itself doesn't exist either.
- Similarly some people don't believe Scranton exists because of the American version of The Office (US).
- The Italian town of Narni is also known as Narnia, the same name as CS Lewis' enchanted country; he was possibly inspired by the real town for the name.
- There is a humorous notion about in Germany that the town of Bielefeld does not actually exist, but is simply a conspiracy.
- Brazilians also joke about the non-existance of the state of Acre, a small and distant part of The Amazon annexed after a war with Bolivia (or according to Bolivian president Evo Morales, traded in exchange for a horse).
- You'd be surprised how many people believe that Romani people—that is, 'gypsies'—are either entirely fanciful and fictional, like swarthy, fortune-telling leprechauns, or no longer exist. (This is particularly the case in America; in many places in Europe active antiziganism, or prejudice against Romani people, is still going strong and they're seen as quite real, just subhuman social pests.)
- The public reaction to the media coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster revealed that a disturbing number of people apparently believed that James Cameron made up the whole story from scratch.
- In fact, there are two Italian cartoon mockbusters of James Cameron's Titanic, both of which are presented as being new takes on a fanciful story, instead of telling about a real tragedy.
- In the same vein, the Costa Concordia disaster which took place in early 2012 was described by several news outlets such as Entertainment Tonight as being like a "Real Life Titanic".
- Some people apparently believe that dinosaurs were made up by Steven Spielberg, and/or claim that they "grew up" and stopped believing in them, conflating them with dragons.
- Some young Earth creationists don't believe in dinosaurs either, for religious reasons.
- Although most try to invoke the Rule of Cool of a pre-Deluge world where humans and dinosaurs live together.
- Whataburger is thought to be a fictional fast food chain by many who have never been to Texas because of its appearance in King of the Hill.
- Similar to the Tasmanian devil example above, some people are unaware that roadrunners are real birds, and not just a fictional character created by Looney Tunes. This belief is especially strange when held by people in the southwestern US, since many of them would just have to take a nature walk outside to find out they exist. Granted, real roadrunners have little in common with their cartoon counterpart.
- The former president of Mongolia, Nambaryn Enkhbayar recounted how he was detained by an immigration official when visiting England as a young man. The immigration official apparently thought that Mongolia was a fictional country, until finding it in an atlas.
- This also often applies to many historical figures who have attained an almost mythological status in popular culture, such as captain Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach), Attila the Hun, Jack the Ripper, and (Grigori Yefimovich) Rasputin.
- Jan Rogozinski's "Pirates" lists "Blackbeard" as a fictional character *separate* from Edward Teach on the grounds that he's been mythologised beyond recognition... but also lists Grace O'Malley as straight-up fictional. (She's been mythologised too, but she did exist.)
- Not only people, but the occasional place as well. Timbuktu has been used as shorthand for "far away" for so long some people assume it's merely made up instead of a real town in Africa (Mali to be precise.) Kathmandu, Kalamazoo and Uryupinsk, Volgograd Oblast fare a little better.
- If Plutarch is to be believed, many Romans believed Britain wasn't real until Julius Caesar invaded it.
- Many ancient Europeans believed that Asia and Africa were fictional places.
- Some people believe that Greenland and Iceland are fairytale places, like Mordor.
- Pirates, ninjas, samurai, were all real occupations just a few hundred years ago.
- Pirates still are.
- There's some evidence that Japanese intelligence during the Imperialist period (from the Meiji Restoration till the end of World War II) was partly set up by former members of the O-Niwa Banshu, the Tokugawa shogun's bodyguard-spies. At least some O-Niwa Banshu methods were inherited from the ninja of Koga and Iga. That's well under 200 years ago.
- A man in Alaska is reported to have stated in public that Aragon never existed. (Hint: It's a country that is now part of Spain)
- There is a Darwin Awards Honorable Mention for a British soldier in Canada, who lept over a fence clearly signposted with instructions to keep out because of the bison, despite the begging from everyone else there not to do it, because he was convinced that buffalo (a common, but inaccurate, word for bisonnote ) don't exist. It ended extremely badly for him, although non-fatally.