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->'''Billy:''' Well, I'm intrigued by the rhythmic modulation, yet daunted by the coordinating movements of the appendages.
->'''Zack:''' Say what?
->'''Trini:''' He can't dance.
-->-- ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers''

All the heroes are gearing up for the big sock-hop at the discotheque, but one character wants to stay behind. "What?" his friends ask incredulously. "You can't refuse to go! It's the big dance! It's the event of the season! It's being thrown in your honor!"

The reluctant character then grudgingly admits his Terrible Secret: ''He doesn't know how to dance!'' No worries, though; a [[TrainingMontage single scene]] practicing his two-step and he'll be tripping the light fantastic in no time. ''Usually.''

Watch the wording here: If a character says he ''doesn't'' dance, that usually means [[YouSaidYouCouldntDance he can]] but he [[YouDidntAsk never told you]]. If he says he ''won't'' dance, that means his heart won't let his feet do things that they should do. If he says he ''can't'' dance, however, he can be anything from needlessly modest to legitimately terrible. And, of course, watch out for the ones that don't warn you first at all.

Unlike the character fitting its {{sister trope}}, this character is either painfully aware or near-wholeheartedly convinced that he legitimately SucksAtDancing.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In ''Manga/SoulEater'', Maka usually says she can't dance. When she dances with Soul or her father, she lets them lead.
* In ''LightNovel/LogHorizon'', Shiroe cannot dance. He still gets roped into a dance at a ball for diplomatic reasons, but fortunately his partner Henrietta knows how to dance and leads. Later, he and Akatsuki dance privately... but neither of them really know how, and Akatsuki questions whether what they're doing really qualifies as "dancing".
* In ''Anime/HisCooolSehaGirls'', [[UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis Mega Drive]] is daunted by the task of dancing in ''VideoGame/SpaceChannel5''.
* In ''Manga/VictorianRomanceEmma'', Richard Jones meets his future wife at a ball and she asks him if it is okay to dance when (in her words) she's terrible at it. Thinking she's being overly modest, Richard proceeds, only to get kicked in the shin


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Happens in an Franchise/ArchieComics story; Dilton doesn't know how to dance, so he builds a pair of shoes that dance for him, making him a sensation at the school dance. Then [[LightningCanDoAnything lightning strikes]], the shoes go whack, and things don't end well.


[[folder: Fan Works ]]

* During the Moon Festival in ''Fanfic/TheVow'', Shen ends up bringing Lianne to an ongoing dance while looking for something to distract her from homesickness. Even though Shen's not very experienced with dancing, he participates to save face. Fortunately Lianne catches up on Shen's unease and gives him tips on how to dance.


[[folder: Films -- Animated ]]

* In ''Disney/ThePrincessAndTheFrog'', Tiana says in an early scene that she "has no time for dancing," and later she reveals that she's never danced before. So Naveen quickly teaches her how... which is impressive, given that [[BewitchedAmphibians they were both frogs at the time]].


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

* In ''Film/AKnightsTale'', Will is invited to the champion's ball after his first tournament, but he doesn't want to go because he doesn't know how to dance. He gets training from his blacksmith, [[TheChick the only girl in his entourage]], and ends up inventing his own dance (to the tune of "[[Music/DavidBowie Golden Years]]") later.
* ''Film/MissPettigrewLivesForADay'': Miss Pettigrew is trying to stifle her attraction to the charming and engaged Joe Blomfield, so when he asks her to dance, she gives the excuse, "Alas, I can dance nothing but the waltz." Cue the jazz band playing... a waltz.
* Dante from ''Film/ClerksII''.
* The introduction of BetaCouple Mac and Jessie in ''Film/ShesAllThat'':
-->'''Jessie:''' I can't dance.
-->'''Mac:''' I go to school with 500 chicks.
* ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger''. It's even a plot point. Also what makes Steve so adorably dorky.
* In ''[[Film/AmericanPie American Wedding]]'', Jim admits he can't dance in preparation for his wedding. Stifler teaches him to.
* Luke Davenport in ''Film/FirstKid''. His bodyguard Sammy Sims helps him learn in time for a school dance.
* In ''Film/{{Footloose}}'', when Willard reveals to Ren that he cannot dance, the latter challenges him to a TrainingMontage of HoYay [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8S3OVzof8s dance practice]].
* ''Film/TheManFromUNCLE2015''. When Gaby Teller starts dancing in their hotel room, Illya Kuryakin refuses to play along, stating that it's both because he can't dance and [[TheStoic because he's not going to]]. Gaby then [[BelligerentSexualTension decides to wrestle him instead.]]


[[folder: Literature ]]

* Joanne Walker of ''Literature/TheWalkerPapers'' insists she can't dance, but when her friends get her to go out clubbing, she has a good time anyway.
* Gerald of the ''Literature/ElephantAndPiggie'' books can't dance, because it's something elephants can't do -- he even has a GreatBigBookOfEverything that says so.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire,'' [[TheChosenOne Harry]] says this after learning that, as Hogwarts co-Champion, he not only has to get a date for the Yule Ball, he's expected to help open it (i.e., dancing in front of the whole school with only the other, older Champions and their dates out on the floor with him). [[SternTeacher Professor McGonagall]] is naturally hearing none of it.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/{{Austin and Ally}}'': Ally is fully aware that she is a bad dancer, but she doesn't care that people don't like her dancing. She even makes a dancing video called "The Ally Way", which ironically becomes very popular.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' was supposed to use this trope, with Mal unable to keep up with Inara during a formal dance, but the final product didn't have the desired effect. Creator/NathanFillion and Morena Baccarin spent so much time rehearsing the scene that Nathan competently learned the entire dance and was not able to reproduce his previous clumsy efforts. Eventually, Creator/JossWhedon decided to insert a line in post-production with Mal saying that this was a dance he actually knew, instead of re-shooting the scene and creating a mishap.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Chuck}}'', where the eponymous character must learn to dance in order to get close to the Terrorist of the Week. It was even titled "Chuck Vs. The Tango."
* In ''Series/LegendOfTheSeeker,'' Cara has to pretend to be a princess to rescue Kahlan. When trying to learn the dance, this trope comes into play. As one recap put it "Cara rather adorably turns what was probably a waltz into krumping."
* The Doctor in ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' reveals in one episode that he literally cannot dance, because it's not in his program. Eventually he has it added to him.
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'':
** In the season 1 episode "She", Angel is at a party Cordelia is hosting. He's trying to fit in, chatting with a girl, when she asks him if he wants to dance. [[ImagineSpot Cut to Angel flailing around wildly, a big grin on his face, while the girl looks on in horror]]. Cut back to a closeup of Angel as he deadpans, "I don't dance." You can see it [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCYlsFagq_k here]].
*** However, he proved quite adept at slow dancing in Sunnydale when on ''Buffy''.
** Wesley can't dance, but appears to be [[SucksAtDancing oblivious of this fact]].
* In an episode of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', Data asks Dr. Crusher to teach him to dance, but neglects to mention that it's for Keiko and O'Brien's wedding, so she starts off teaching him to tap dance (which he of course masters in 2 minutes).
** When Dr. Crusher starts teaching him a dance more suitable for the occasion, he has a much harder time of it at first because he's too close to her to see what her feet are doing (causing him to repeatedly step on them).
* Chef Gordon Ramsay stated this once after being invited to dance by a kid on an episode of ''Series/KitchenNightmares''.
* [[Series/TheDoctorOzShow Dr. Oz]] can't dance. He does try, however, [[SugarWiki/FunnyMoments very enthusiastically]].
* Subverted in the ''Series/{{Sharpe}}'' TV series. A lady at a ball asks Sharpe to dance.
--> '''Sharpe:''' I do not dance.\\
'''Lady:''' "Do not" or "cannot"?\\
'''Sharpe:''' ''Will'' not.
* The ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'' episode "The Little Kicks" shows that Elaine is a ''terrible'' dancer, flailing about and kicking her legs. The thing is, she's completely oblivious to it, and everyone else is too afraid to confront her about it.
* Obviously, when you have a large group of 50+ people, the odds are pretty good that at least a couple won't be able to dance. This becomes something of a problem for the choreographers of beauty contests like Miss America or Miss Universe, since they usually begin with all the ladies doing some type of choreographed opening number. Dance instructors have to both teach most of the girls to dance, and to subtly and politely take the klutzier girls and shove them in the back rows (although at least some of them will be aware of their lack of ability and be a good sport about it.)
* It's a RunningGag on ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' that Clark Kent can't dance. [[IronyAsSheIsCast In reality, his actor, Tom Welling, is quite talented.]]
* Also a RunningGag for a time in ''Series/MurdochMysteries''. Inspector Brackenereid gives Murdoch two tickets to a dance and when Murdoch is initially reluctant to take them, his boss makes a crack about dancing not being against Murdoch's religion. Murdoch takes lessons so he can escort Dr. Ogden, and she attends the same school to improve her own skills. Both of them need the help: Murdoch steps on her feet and has to remind her not to lead. In a later episode, when Higgins says Murdoch will waltz in and have the information for which the constables are wearily searching fingerprint cards, Crabtree retorts that Murdoch doesn't waltz: "Believe me, I've seen him try."
* ''Series/{{Haven}}'' has Nathan Wuornos. He has the excuse that he [[FeelNoPain can't feel his feet]]. He was able to slow dance with Audrey Parker because her AntiMagic allows him to feel her.
* In ''Series/{{Zoey 101}}'' Chase is well aware that he is a terrible dancer. So when Zoey's partner for the PCA Dance Contest gets run over, he has Michael and Logan training him for two days straight. [[spoiler: We never get to see the result, as he oversleeps from exhaustion.]]
* ''Series/{{Good Luck Charlie}}'': Teddy is shown to be a terrible dancer in one episode envolving a {{Talent Contest}}. She makes exploding moves and makes such bad movements that Spencer faked an injury to avoid entering the talent show with Emmett. She dances with Emmett instead and ends up injuring everyone onstage.
* ''Series/{{Glee}}'': Finn is well aware that he can't dance, and considering the show is about show choirs, it becomes an issue, since he can't keep up with choreography. In the episode "Born This Way", the students' assignment is to print out their greatest insecurity on a t-shirt and embrace it. Finn's reads "CAN'T DANCE".
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Parenthood}}'' Max Braverman is attending a middle school dance to appease his mom Kristina, but confesses he isn't sure how to dance, leading Kristina to show him how and them sharing a special moment. It is especially special because Max has Aspergers, so he doesn't usually like to touch people, and his mom is cherishing a very rare moment.


[[folder: Music ]]

* The Music/{{Genesis}} song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtjqxZMqMTA "I Can't Dance"]]. Bonus points for the fact the name of the album from which it came was ''We Can't Dance''.
-->I can't dance! I can't talk,
-->The only thing about me is the way that I walk.
* "Your Mama Don't Dance" by Loggins & Messina.
* Music/MyChemicalRomance: "You can't swim, you can't dance, and you don't know karate. Face it, you're never gonna make it."
* Music/LLCoolJ's "You Can't Dance" is a hilarious TakeThat, making a good case that some people just shouldn't try.
* Music/KateMillerHeidke gave us ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lOvuGNtdZ8 Can't Shake It]]''.
-->Tried movin' my body to the latest hit,
-->Someone called the nurse, thought I was havin' a fit,
-->I execute the moonwalk like I stepped in [[PrecisionFStrike shit]], I can't take it!
* Music/FrankZappa's send up of 70s pickup/disco culture "Dancing Fool"
-->''The beat goes on, and I'm so wrong...''
* "I Can't Dance" by Music/TomTHall (and later Gram Parsons).
* Played with on "I Don't Dance" by Music/LeeBrice:
-->I don't dance, but here I am\\
Spinning you 'round and 'round in circles\\
It ain't my style, but I don't care\\
I'd do anything with you anywhere\\
Guess you got me in the palm of your hand\\
'Cause I don't dance
* The song "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB5sJw_QERo I can't dance ]]" by Bonaparte.
--> I can read, I can write, I can shout, I can fight, I can kiss, I can bite, I can do it if I like, but everyone says I can't dance!
* Franck Crumit's [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOrmxab4rvg "Stumbling all around"]]
--> I can't dance, took a chance, And right then we started
--> Stumbling all around, stumbling all around, Stumbling all around, so funny
--> Stumbling here and there, stumbling everywhere, And I must declare
--> I stepped right on her toes, and when she bumped my nose, I fell, and when I rose, I felt ashamed!


[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]

* {{Subverted| trope}} on Monday Night Raw when United States Champion [[Wrestling/BryanDanielson Daniel Bryan]] finally gave in to Wrestling/EveTorres, Wrestling/GailKim and The Wrestling/BellaTwins, who had been demanding he dance, despite his protests. Outside of an ill advised split, he did pretty well for someone so against it.
* Wrestling/SaraDelRey protested that she couldn't dance when Courtney Rush tried to coax her into a dance off on Wrestling/{{SHIMMER}} Volume 44. Rush would later boast to showing the world that Del Rey could indeed dance, though given Rush herself is not a very rhythmic specimen, the statement should be taken with a grain of salt.


[[folder: Theatre ]]

* Willard's big secret in both the movie and musical version of ''Film/{{Footloose}}'' is that he "can't dance". In the musical, he actually quotes the title verbatim:
-->'''Willard:''' I can't do this! I can't dance!
::Cue the shrieking from Rusty and the other kids. He eventually learns over the course of "Let's Hear It for the Boy".


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Squall in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' protests that he can't dance. So he gets forcibly dragged onto the dance floor, and trips all over himself a lot until Rinoa finally gets him to loosen up, after which he [[YouSaidYouCouldntDance makes a liar of himself]] by nailing the remainder of the waltz perfectly. Later on, Squall admits to Rinoa that [=SeeDs=] are trained in a number of social skills to help with subterfuge, one of which is dancing in case of the need to approach a target or contact at a formal party.
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', Commander Shepard is an epic badass that is FamedInStory, but he/she just sucks at dancing. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMqapcwkK1U&feature=related Watch]]. It became a {{meme}} after the first game and as such got a lot of in-game references and jokes in the sequels.
** During Samara's loyalty quest in ''Mass Effect 2'', Shepard has the option of flirting with a dancing Asari at the club Afterlife. If you do not have a high enough Paragon/Renegade score for the Persuade/Intimidate options, or deliberately chose not to select them, Shepard dances poorly and the Asari rejects your flirtations. If you do select the Persuade/Intimidate options, [[SubvertedTrope Shepard very smoothly pulls off a dance routine and impresses the Asari.]]
** While meeting Garrus atop the presidium in ''Mass Effect 3'', the two engage in friendly banter and bragging:
-->'''Garrus:''' I'm not saying you can't handle a gun, but some of us know how to make it dance.\\
'''Shepard''': There are a few people who've seen me in action, Garrus. They seemed impressed.\\
'''Garrus''': Yeah, but I've actually seen you ''dance'', Shepard. No comment.
** When Shepard tries to get Jack to relax and dance on her shore leave, Jack flat-out states that everybody knows Shepard cannot dance.
** The Citadel DLC, the final DLC released for ''Mass Effect 3'', contains numerous references and conversations regarding Shepard dancing.
*** When Shepard begins dancing with a group of squad mates from the ''Normandy'':
--->'''Garrus''': We should record this and broadcast it to the Reapers. They'll either run away, melt down, or fall in love.
*** Shepard can try to goad Joker into dancing with EDI by saying that if he doesn't, ''you'' will. Joker proceeds to laugh uncontrollably at Shepard for ''[[OverlyLongGag half a minute]]'' before calmly saying, "Seriously, don't go there."
*** Ashley claims Shepard's dancing is related to drunkenness. Shepard takes it as a particularly low blow.
*** The DLC does, however, also contain a instance [[SubvertedTrope of Shepard unexpectedly rocking at dancing]]. If [=FemShep=] is romancing Garrus, he can pull her onto the dance floor for a tango. If the [[ActionCommand interrupts]] are hit in time, the two perform a dramatic and passionate tango that gets applause from the other people present.
* When Elizabeth tries to coax [[ByronicHero Booker]] into dancing with her during ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite,'' he rebuffs her with a gruff "I don't dance." [[spoiler:Subverted with Comstock in "Burial At Sea".]]
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'': The DancePartyEnding reveals a shocking twist: [[spoiler: Johnny Gat can't dance for shit]].
* Being an ex-Templar who had been training with the order since his early teens, Cullen keeps telling people this at the imperial ball in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition''. It doesn't stop them from asking; he's actually somewhat mobbed by interested courtiers. He gets into a little trouble if he's romanced, since he accidentally rejects the question coming from his Inquisitorial ladylove, but he apologizes quickly, explaining that he never learned how to dance. At the end of the quest, he'll ask ''her,'' saying that "For you, I'll try."


[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/EarsForElves'', this and YouSaidYouCouldntDance are played with:
** Tanna protests that she doesn't dance when Luero tries (and succeeds) to drag her into the dancing at the Taurëcuiva Festival, but she's actually rather good.
--->'''Tanna''': ''[[http://www.earsforelves.com/archives/348 Dance]]''''!?'' I don't dance!
--->'''Luero''': I believe you mean you ''won't'' dance. And you're about to be proven wrong.
--->'''Tanna''': [[http://www.earsforelves.com/archives/349 Okay fine]], it's not that I can't dance- I mean of course I learned how. I just haven't danced in a while.
** InvertedTrope: Unlike Luero, even though he told her to follow his lead. A few minutes after her reluctant entry to the dance floor:
--->'''Tanna''': [[http://www.earsforelves.com/archives/351 Oh gods]]! You're terrible!!


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick is a ''hilariously'' bad dancer.
* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' has [[ExtravertedNerd Neptune Vasilias]], for whom this is his shame and why he never invites the girls he [[TheCasanova hits on]] to go dancing. In a later scene he actually is seen dancing [[FunnyBackgroundEvent in the background]]... and it's true, he ''really'' can't dance.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'', the prom is coming up and Buster doesn't know how to dance, so he watches some [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Bugs Bunny cartoons]] to learn how.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/ChalkZone'' revolves around the fact that Rudy can't dance and he's going to be dancing with Penny the next night at the school dance. So he takes lessons in Chalkzone. When he finaly learns, he finds out that Penny has trouble herself!
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'', Fred and Barney decided to take ballroom dance lessons so that they could surprise Wilma and Betty by taking them dancing. In order to keep their wives from finding out, they join the Bedrock Volunteer Fire Department(which is a scam run by the men of Bedrock to allow them to get away from their wives; [[FridgeLogic since all buildings in Bedrock are made of stone, they can't catch fire]]).
* In the ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' Silly Songs with Larry segment "Barbara Manatee", Barbara's boyfriend Bill reveals this after she asks him to take her to the ball. As this is a SoapOpera parody (emphasis on the "opera" part), this is taken as a huge shock and [[RuleOfDrama she plans to leave him over it]].
* A topic of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxeL9bdSu-A a classic 50's Goofy Cartoon.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' had this happen to Lisa when she tried taking tap dancing lessons and turned out to be absolutely terrible (though not through any fault of her own: her lessons consist solely of the words "tappa tappa tappa" which [[RuleOfFunny all of the other students manage to turn into instant dancing ability]]). Knowing that Homer and Marge are hoping to see her in the big recital, Lisa puts on a pair of self-tapping dancing shoes that [[MadScientist Professor Frink]] invented. She does pretty well to start, but when her teacher goes into the big solo, Lisa's shoes force her to follow suit. Then the crowd began applauding, as Lisa's shoes began to go completely haywire and she couldn't stop. Homer finally saves the day by tripping Lisa and knocking her off her feet.
* This was the plot of the pilot episode for ''WesternAnimation/{{Doug}}'', where Roger goes up to Doug before a costume dance the same day and tells him that he (Doug) can't dance.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Twilight Sparkle is a hilariously terrible dancer as seen in "Sweet and Elite". Though oddly, she's a perfectly capable dancer during the Musical Numbers.
** In ''[[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirls Equestria Girls]]'' there's a HighSchoolDance, and [[HumanityEnsues human-form]] Twilight manages to do the same bad dance. The ''exact'' same bad dance. Down to being on all fours.
* In "Franklin and the Firefly Festival" from ''[[Literature/{{Franklin}} Franklin and Friends]]'', Bear didn't want to be a part of the firefly festival because he didn't think he could dance and said as much, but his love his food causes him to do a HappyDance on his own.
* Hilariously subverted in a ''WesternAnimation/GarfieldAndFriends'' TV special when Garfield's owner [[ButtMonkey Jon]] heads out to the dance floor. Jon does an epic dance...but unfortunately he's doing ''disco'' in the mid-1990s and gets ridiculed by everybody else in the club.
-->'''Jon''': Boy, you learn a dance, and then zango! 14 years later they change it!\\
'''Garfield''': Go figure.
* ''WesternAnimation/SofiaTheFirst'' says this flat out in one episode.
* On ''WesternAnimation/SabrinaTheAnimatedSeries,'' Sabrina first laughs off Harvey saying this ("It's middle school! Just bite your lower lip and spaz around!"), until he claims that it's a "health hazard"--he used to take ballet, until he knocked over the wall-sized mirror and his instructor had to get stitches. Since then, he's convinced that he can't dance around anyone else without hurting them.
* One episode of ''Literature/TheBerenstainBears'' cartoon has Brother Bear trying to get out of the annual Bear Country Jamboree by admitting to his parents that he can't dance. Mama Bear helps him learn how to dance by telling to imagine the dance moves as sports moves, since Brother is an excellent athlete.


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* A popular story about Abraham Lincoln is that he met his future wife, Mary Todd, at a dance, and introduced himself with the line "Madame, I am about to give you the worst dance of your life."
* Despite being one of the most dazzling horsemen of his time, Joachim Murat was no ''cavalier'' [[note]]''Cavalier'' means both "horseman" and "dance partner" in French[[/note]]. During balls, he stood on the side, holding his wife's fan and gloves while she danced.