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I Reject Your Reality

Some people just don't get it.

The character who lives up to this trope this is a relative of the Cloud Cuckoo Lander but with much more sinister overtones. They seem to live in a world of their own, they may live by the mantra of Screw The Rules when the "rules" are hard facts. They will stubbornly insist "their" reality is the true reality in the face of evidence to the contrary, much to the frustration of others and sometimes danger to companions, underlings, peers or themselves. If anything manages to pierce their iron-bound conviction, a breakdown, villainous or otherwise, is likely to ensue.

On a broader scale, any person can have moments or periods like these or full on blind spots when it comes to some hot-button issue, a la Selective Obliviousness. It might be a running gag Played for Laughs, or the disabusing of their delusion may be a dramatic plot point.

The poster child for many other tropes: Belief Makes You Stupid, the Inspector Javert, the Knight Templar, the Lawful Stupid. Not to be confused with the The Spark of Genius or the Reality Warper (who literally can reject and replace reality) although it is possible to combine this trope with either of the others; A God Am I is usually the result. Also, if the reality is fake to begin with, rejecting it may be a right and necessary step to awaken.

A Sister Trope to Implausible Deniability. When applied to a series, this is Fanon Discontinuity.

Compare Gravity Is Only a Theory, Windmill Political. Contrast Mr. Imagination and the Cloud Cuckoo Lander, who have the more peaceful philosophy that they can "substitute their own reality" without this kind of fighting against everyone else's reality which they have rejected.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga  

  • All of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann because this is how spiral power works. Kamina invokes this.
    Kamina: Go Beyond the Impossible, and kick reason to the curb! That's how Team Gurren rolls!
  • Idiot Hero Luffy from the anime and manga One Piece pulls this often.
    Luffy: I refuse!
    Sanji: What do you mean you refuse?
    Luffy: I refuse your refusal!
    • An even more ridiculous example from the same series is Zeo, a bad guy from the Fishman Island arc; this Trope is his main Personality trait, from rejecting the fact that he was ignored by claiming he was speaking quietly(he was yelling), to rejecting the fact he got stabbed and instead insisting he was trying to break off the offending sword's tip with his own body. One of the best ones is that he even rejected the fact that someone stepped on his face, insisting that he's headbutting the person's foot. The last and very best one is when Zeo and the rest of the bad guys have been aged into old men due to the Energy Steroids they took, really an age-accelerating substance. Note that absolutely none of them knew this would happen...
  • This trope is something of an engine for Neon Genesis Evangelion. The show mostly dances atop the pretense of a fight - led by Gendo Ikari - to avert the Apocalypse, which would cause the final genocide of mankind. However, Gendo actually plans to initiate the Apocalypse, but under the terms of an absence of all enemy angels and unity with his dead wife's soul. He fails, and so disqualifies himself from Reality Warper status. His son Shinji also desires to change the reality around him, though his intent is incredibly subtle, and is in fact only out-right acknowledged during the End of Evangelion; Shinji being the Audience Surrogate, Anno allows him to change reality in End of, but he is no happier for it. The show, then, becomes an accusation that the audience has this trope as their motivation for watching it, and a condemnation of that motivation - as well as their attitude towards reality; the show encourages viewers not to change the reality of their lives, but to change their perspective on that reality, so as to achieve the real satisfaction that they are too scared to claim.
  • Pokemon 3 focuses on a delusional little girl whose connection with a bunch of reality-bending psychic types allows her to bend reality. But even when confronted with things she can't change, she still insists her version is the correct one. Most likely because she's eight or so and because her father is presumed dead leaving her all alone since her mother left her father some years ago. As Linkara put it, the movie is basically Silent Hill for children.
  • The titular character of Suzumiya Haruhi strays into this at times, such as acknowledging the speed of light and then arbitrarily ignoring it, and as a Reality Warper she can make her beliefs true! Fortunately for the sake of the universe, this is usually held in check by her inner skeptic. On the few occasions when she lets her imagination run wild, the consequences are not pretty.
  • A Certain Magical Index has Esper powers involving something called a 'Personal Reality' which suggests that something along the lines of this trope is in play.
    • Esper powers are essentially low grade reality warping powers. Part of the training involved in increasing the level of an Esper's power is by teaching and strengthening their personal reality and making the triggers for them to unleash it easier.
      • Interestingly enough, this means Touma's power is to reject other people's rejections of reality.
  • Seto Kaiba, from Yu-Gi-Oh! vehemently denies the existence of any sort of magic throughout the English dub, despite evidence to the contrary. The dub itself eventually started making fun of this.
    Dartz: Is that Your Answer to Everything, Kaiba? You really need a new catchphrase.
    • Made funnier, is the fact that Kaiba's past self was an actual sorcerer/priest who could cast magic.
  • A straight variant and a lighter, less visible variant of this is seen between counterparts Mikage and Utena in Revolutionary Girl Utena. For Mikage, he doggedly draws in young students, during a time when they feel down and out, and manipulates them to duel for him - and it seems that he's been keeping this up for years and years, possibly being Dead All Along, seeking an "eternity" where he and his old lover Tokiko and her brother Mamiya can flourish. When Utena begins to break through it, he breaks down and vanishes. So, what makes Utena his counterpart? She rejects the hardships that her fellow classmates go through, rejects the feelings that she gets for Akio because of the need to become "princely," and consistently rejects the notion that the seemingly pure and doormat-like Anthy is manipulative of everyone else and is afraid to step outside of her boundaries - the outside world - from being the Rose Bride. Whereas the other duelists manage to cope with their problems, Utena remains childish in behavior and ideals, and if the stabs of a million swords at the Rose Gate are anything to go by, doing that bit her in the ass pretty hard.
  • The jutsu Izanagi from Naruto allows someone to literally reject reality so that they can survive a lethal hit or revise a mistake. However, it can only be used by those with a Sharingan and the casting eye is permanently closed afterwards. Danzo gets around this limitation by implanting a dozen Sharingans on his arm, having harvested the eyes of dead Uchiha clansmen. It also has a counterpart, the Izanami, which traps the victim in a mental time loop until they admit they can't reject reality and some things just have to accepted.
    • This is Obito's ultimate goal. He rejects reality period and wants to make a new one.
  • This is how Orihime's powers in Bleach work. Her "healing" is nothing of the sort: she "rejects" reality so that the damage never happened. This makes her the only 'healer' in the story capable of replacing limbs or raising the dead.

     Comic Books  

  • Doctor Thirteen in the DCU has this as his superpower. He's a crazy skeptic who doesn't believe in the supernatural despite living in a world where wizards and aliens are public celebrities. Because of his innate, unknown powers, the supernatural literally doesn't exist for him (but does for his beleaguered wife and his witch daughter).
    • This is taken to the extreme in the Vertigo Visions one-shot, where Doctor Thirteen is so stubbornly refusing to believe in anything that might be supernatural or out of the ordinary he considers himself to be the sanest man in the world. He thinks his wife is needlessly exaggerating their problems even though he uses her money to fund his research without getting paid while constantly insulting her, and labels everything unusual he sees as a hoax or a scam. For example, when presented with TV footage of characters from old shows somehow popping up in other programs, everyone but Thirteen consented that there was something wrong. Thirteen just called everyone else crazy and stormed out of the room.
  • Brief squib in a Chick Tract, where one pagan character declares, "Well, I'm a Buddhist, so you don't exist!"
  • Doctor Doom lives in a world in which he is the hero and Reed Richards is responsible for nearly everything bad in his life, starting with his scarred face. It was Doom's own fault that the machine exploded scarring his face, but admitting that would mean admitting that Reed (who tried to warn him about the calculation errors) is smarter than him. Doom's ego is too huge to ever allow that, so he came up with the delusion that Reed "sabotaged" his machine.

     Fan Fiction  

    Film 

  • John Doe, the serial killer in Se7en. He imposes his own private view of the world by first inflicting gruesome punishments on "sinners", and finally forcing Mills to kill him, his own punishment for himself for the "sin" of envy.
  • Harald the Christian in Erik the Viking denies the reality of Viking gods, and therefore can't be harmed by them during the film's climax.
  • Baron Münchhausen sometimes was used as an embodiment of this trope in a comedy variant. The character invokes the trope in the Terry Gilliam film of the story.
    The Baron: Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I am delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!
  • The Dungeonmaster is the Trope Namer.

    Literature 

  • Lady Schrapnell of To Say Nothing of the Dog, has as one of her mantras that "rules are meant to be broken". This includes the laws of time travel and physics. Time lag? No such thing, you're trying to shirk work with a lame excuse. Bring artifacts back from the past? Well, they find a loophole in the end but who cares if it can't be done? Too dangerous to send the black grad student back to do the work? Nonsense, it's only an air raid, how bad can it be?
  • Harry Potter
    • Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is in utter denial about the return of Voldemort - by Order Of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic is outright denying the comeback until the battle in the Ministry itself forces the issue. On the other hand, Voldemort is specifically lying low to accommodate this, so...
    • This is taken Up to Eleven in A Very Potter Musical, with Fudge denying Voldemort's return not only after seeing Voldemort's latest Flootube post, but even while Voldemort's standing right in front of him. Killing him. "A heart attack! It's got to be!"
  • The Chronicles of Narnia.
    • A group of Dwarves in The Last Battle decided that Aslan wasn't real so they couldn't see that they were in Aslan's Country, thinking they were in a small dark shack. When they were given wonderful food they ate it but thought it tasted like shit, because they expected food passed around in a dingy stable to taste like shit.
    • In The Magician's Nephew, there is a similar scene where the titular magician sees Aslan as just a lion that goes around growling at people.
    • Oddly enough, The Silver Chair has Puddleglum, who uses this in a positive manner, since "his own reality" is reality. When the Big Bad tries to use mind control to convince the heroes that "her world," a series of caves under Narnia, is the only real world, Puddleglum lets loose a huge Shut Up, Hannibal! that amounts to "I reject your reality and substitute my own. I believe that the surface world does exist." And, of course, it does.
      • Actually, the gist of Puddleglum's argument is "Ok, so maybe we did make up the surface world out of our heads. So what? Our invented world is still better than your real one, and I'm going to behave as if the surface world is real whether or not it actually is." Which is either even more heroic or much worse, but I'm not sure which.
  • 1984 is this on a society-wide scale.
  • Atlas Shrugged: Among the book's themes is that the governments and the failed businesses are denying reality (in the form of what amounts to Objectivism: reality is objective, morality is not subjective, and all the capitalist and "man qua man" philosophy attached to it) and should be left to suffer the consequences. Let's not get into the debate about its merits here, as if there are dissenters who might theoretically just list the book here as a Take That gesture.
  • Discworld's Lord Rust owns this trope, with his mind refusing to accept various conversations, but on one occasion an entire person. This seems to have some effect on reality as well; he is perhaps the worst general in fiction, but events always conspire to keep him from ever losing. Arrows will curve in their paths to miss him and hit the man behind him. He believes that just being an Ankh-Morpork aristocrat makes him unbeatable.
  • Discussed in British statesman Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son: "Doctor Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, a very worthy, ingenious, and learned man, has written a book, to prove that there is no such thing as matter, and that nothing exists but in idea: that you and I only fancy ourselves eating, drinking, and sleeping; you at Leipsig, and I at London: that we think we have flesh and blood, legs, arms, etc., but that we are only spirit. His arguments are, strictly speaking, unanswerable; but yet I am so far from being convinced by them, that I am determined to go on to eat and drink, and walk and ride, in order to keep that MATTER, which I so mistakenly imagine my body at present to consist of, in as good plight as possible." (letter 52)

     Live Action TV  
  • Andrew from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was very prone to twist facts, particularly concerning his time as a supervillain, in order to make a more interesting story, and on some level seemed to believe his outrageous claims, even when they contradicted the outrageous claims he made two minutes earlier.
  • While the page quote from Mythbusters is a scene that Adam will never live down since Memetic Mutation got hold of it, and is a valid example of the "momentary lapse" version, much of the time the show is devoted to debunking people of this mindset - free energy, moon landing hoax and so on. Adam may also have been quoting the old 80s movie The Dungeonmaster.
  • In Kamen Rider Gaim, DJ Sagara tells Kota that since power can only be used to destroy, if he wants to protect people, he should reject and destroy the rule of reality that hope can only be won with sacrifice.

    Machinima 
  • Red vs. Blue
    • Sarge. Nothing will convince him that he isn't a brilliant mechanic, that the Blue Team is not their diabolical and dastardly enemy, that Grif could ever make Sergeant (to the point where when they reunite and "Sergeant Grif" is introduced, he asks where the invisible Sergeant is). Somehow, he still manages to be a more competent leader than the other Reds, though, and something of a Genius Ditz when it comes to warfare, which is becoming more clear than ever in the opening episodes of Revelation.
    • To a lesser extent, Caboose also fits this, combining it heavily with Cloud Cuckoo Lander: when Church has to go on a Journey To The Center Of His Mind, we see just what sort of "reality" Caboose sees: Church (who can't stand Caboose in reality) is his overprotective best friend, Tucker is even more of an idiot than usual, Caboose himself is smart and erudite, Sarge has a pirate accent, Grif wears yellow and Donut (pink armor!) is a girl.
    • And Sister is Church's yellow-wearing identical twin. And by "identical" I mean identical in all aspects besides armor (up to and including personality), to the real Church (as opposed to Caboose's mental Church).

    Music 

  • Doctor Steel is crazy. And a big believer in visualization and subjective reality. He calls himself a "Doctor of Reality Engineering."
  • Imaginary by Evanescence.
    "Don't say I'm out of touch, with this rampant chaos, your reality.
    I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge:
    The nightmare I built my own world to escape...."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For Better or for Worse: When Luke, Candace's mother's boyfriend, tries to molest Candace, Candace's mother declares that "It never happened," establishing herself with this and crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
    • Actually, this isn't evidence of any malice, many people in similar situations reacting similarly due to the pure horror of considering the alternative. This is a reality denial as a defense mechanism.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes can be quoted thus: "It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept."

     Tabletop Games  

  • Genius The Transgression
    • The game has the Unmada, Mad Scientists who believe they alone understand the truth. Unmada are low level Reality Warpers who unknowingly prove themselves right and censor contradictory facts. Then there are the Baramins of Lemuria, whole organisations of Unmada sharing similar delusions based around a key point where mankind went off in the wrong direction, and they're going to fix it. Any way they can...
    • The most triumphant example would have to be the Phenomenologists: The Baramin for people who believe mankind made a fundamental mistake when it acknowledged the existence of hard facts or any philosophy more consistent than personal whim. They casually reinvent their entire world view to justify whatever they're doing and it is almost impossible to realise when one is lying simply because from their point of view they're always telling the truth.
  • Mage: The Ascension
    • The game featured Marauders, mages who had something strange happen during their Awakening that drove them mad. As a direct result of that, they're more powerful than other mages, as Paradox slides off of them and onto others, meaning they can get away with the most blatant of magic without reality grabbing them by the short hairs. However, they're also locked in their own delusions, and if they get powerful enough, reality rejects them.

      Some of them also literally had the ability to "substitute their own": they would (in a manner totally unconnected to their actual power level as a mage) unconsciously warp the reality around them to conform to their delusion. So a Marauder who believed himself to be a Nature Hero would walk down the street transforming buildings into gigantic old growth trees, cars into elephants or lions, and people into natives...and then they would all change back as soon as he left the area.
    • To a lesser extent, this is how all Awakened magick works: the mage identifies a fact he doesn't like and imposes his will to alter that fact. Of course, if the fact in question is obvious enough, reality tends to impose back, often painfully.
  • The Magic: The Gathering card Deny Reality. 'nuff said.

     Video Games  

  • The Soldier of Team Fortress 2: in his Excuse Plot backstory it's mentioned that he was rejected from the U.S. military but went to fight World War II anyway...by himself. He kept on fighting until he heard that was the war was over... in 1949. And you can bet he was killing more than soldiers.
  • In the video game series Xenosaga, this is revealed to be how the Gnosis alien race thinks, and in fact, what makes them literally exist: The rejection of reality as it is.

     Visual Novels  
  • In the Nasuverse there is a type of magic that is usually reserved for demons, elementals, and VERY powerful vampires: A Reality Marble. In order for someone to have one, something about them- be it their ethics, their mentality, or the way their body and mind work- must be fundamentally different, enough to make the way they see the world completely unique. This allows them- granted they have the magical talent and enough enregy- to over-write Gaia's reality and replace it with their own. Only seven humans have ever done it, and trying to force it usually leaves the magus insane. Because of this, research into Reality Marbles is strictly prohibited by the Magus Association.
  • The objective of the game in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, but some characters grip a little too closely to this. Maria insists on the existence of witches, especially Beatrice; if her reality is chipped away, she can get frightfully unhinged yet more stubbornly assured. Natsuhi dearly clings to the delusion that Kinzo loved and respected her, with no evidence whatsoever.

     Web Comics  

  • An inversion of the trope: A Loonatic's Tale Issue #4: "Talking To Myself," is about Dr. Qubert giving the main characters a mental health interview; Dr. Qubert's own personal philosophy on the treatment of mental disorders is that if he can see reality the way his patient does, he can understand what makes him see it that way and the best way to fix it. So in a very real sense he works by temporarily rejecting his own reality, so that he can see how his patient needs to change their reality to bring it in line with what's medically considered normal.
  • The Order of the Stick's Knight Templar, Miko Miyazaki. Once she gets it into her head that someone is evil, nothing on heaven and earth will change her mind, not even if the gods themselves were to smite her. Literally - she loses her alignment and paladin-hood when she kills her mentor, Lord Shojo, thinking he's a traitor. She dies thinking she did the right thing.
  • 8-Bit Theater. If a character is around long enough they will do this at some point. Highlights include Fighter's belief that he's best friends with Black Mage, and everything involving King Steve or Red Mage. Of course, oftentimes the "crazy" person's version of reality will be right, usually because it's funnier that way.
  • Goblins: The Maze of Many arc had an alternate universe version of Minmax who was a super intelligent Psion. He decided that since the universe is so flawed, he would remove himself (and hundreds of other people who don't share his goal) from reality. While this is itself not an example of the trope - he recognizes that reality isn't what he wants it to be - he slips into this a few times on the way to fulfilling his goal. For example, he claims upon killing someone, that he didn't ask the universe to make death possible, it just works that way, so he's done no wrong. He even accuses others of deluding themselves into thinking they have an Omniscient Morality License, while having that exact delusion.

     Western Animation  

  • One episode of South Park has Jimmy and Cartman (mostly Jimmy) come up with a ridiculously popular joke. Over the course of the episode, we keep seeing Cartman's flashbacks of how they came up with it, each more glorifying Cartman than the last. In the end, Cartman has himself so convinced he SOLELY came up with the joke, that he won't admit otherwise, even when threatened with death, and has himself convinced that Jimmy is the delusional one for remembering accurately.
  • In All Grown Up!, Dil is a Cloud Cuckoolander who believes the world is triangular, among other ridiculous things, and won't be persuaded otherwise.
  • This seems to be Peep's attitude toward Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes. No matter how angrily or violently she rejects his advances, Peep is convinced she just teasing, and that Heloise will love him too. Not helping is the fact that Heloise did date him, but only to make Jimmy jealous.
  • Invader Zim
    • The title character is convinced that he's the greatest Irken Invader ever; completely oblivious to the fact that he's an incompetent, insane dolt who's hated by his entire species.
    • Well he's right, From a Certain Point of View. If his goal was to take over or destroy the Irken Empire, then he would be considered remarkably competent. He has on his resume: killing two Tallests with a monster he created, wiping out the fleet of Operation Impending Doom I, setting most of Irk ablaze in that same incident, destroying an Irken Boot Camp, defeating Irk's most competent soldier, doing so in a dogfight against a superior spacecraft, hijacking the Irken Armada, and the Tallests' attempts to get rid of him tend to backfire horribly, including resulting in Invader Tenn being captured by Meekrobians, Irk's most dangerous enemy.

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