One character delivers a confession that should have a big reaction attached to it, but for whatever reason their audience doesn't take it seriously or outright ignores it.
is when the confession was never meant to be taken seriously. If the character is ignored because of their youth, it's Not Now, Kiddo
. If the character is ignored because he and his story sound absolutely crazy, it's You Have to Believe Me
. If it's for no reason at all, see Ignored Expert
and The Cassandra
. Compare and contrast In Vino Veritas
, Refuge in Audacity
, Cassandra Truth
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- Johnny the Homicidal Maniac regularly tells people that he is, indeed, a Serial Killer. For whatever reason, no one believes him. He actually gets a bit annoyed with it after a while; if he ever tries to get himself arrested or just plain kill himself (he's crazy, he doesn't need a good reason for it) some contrived coincidence protects him. Usually.
- The Punisher 2099. Kerry thinks Jake Gallows is the new Punisher, going so far as to try to snoop around his house/underground prison/torture chamber/execution chamber. Gallows finally sits her down and shouts that he's the Punisher, going through every single action up to that point. Kerry leaves thinking the Punisher case is driving Gallows nuts.
- Preacher has Hoover spend an entire page confessing his love for Featherstone right in front of her, spilling out his heart. When he stops, she looks up from a file, with Starr's picture, and tells him she had completely tuned out and has no idea what he just said.
- In one issue of Gotham Adventures, Bruce Wayne is called for jury duty, for the trial of a man that he captured as Batman. When asked if there's a reason why he shouldn't be on the jury, he, under oath, says "I'm Batman." Cut to him explaining to Robin that they told him not to joke around in court and that he had to serve anyways.
Films — Animated
- In Treasure Planet, this exchange occurs when the captain is trying to keep herself together.note
Captain Amelia: Gentlemen...we must—stay together, and...and...
And what? What? (Glasses Pull) We must stay together and what?
Captain Amelia: (dreamily) Doctor, you have...wonderful eyes...
Dr. Doppler: She's lost her MIND!
Films — Live-Action
- Catch Me If You Can
Frank: "I'm not a doctor, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not an airline pilot. I'm nothing, really, just a kid who's in love with your daughter."
- School of Rock
Dewey: "I'm not a teacher!"
- Rat Race
Owen: "I'm not a bus driver!"
- In Multiple Sarcasms, the main character confesses his love to a long time friend, after his marriage is on the rocks. She thinks he's drunk until this confession shows up in a play her wrote.
- American Psycho: After a string of grisly murders and running from the cops Patrick Bateman calls his lawyer and confesses to the whole thing. When he later confronts his lawyer, he insists that he wasn't joking, but he is rebuffed, and the lawyer is actually irritated to the point that he tells Bateman the joke isn't funny anymore. This is compounded by the fact that Bateman might not be a serial killer, and may just be delusional and psychotic, but it is ambiguous. Throughout the film he confesses in absurd ways, and people either don't hear him properly, or ignore him, a commentary on the egotistical feelings of all around him.
- In the French film I've Loved You So Long, the protagonist has recently been released after serving time in prison for murder and has been living with her younger sister as she acclimates to life on the outside. At a dinner party, one of her sister's friends gets drunk and begins to tease her about her mysterious past, eventually making a game of it, until the protagonist finally snaps and admits that she was in prison... and everyone laughs, and the drunk friend tells her that if she's just going to make stuff up he's not going to play any more. Whilst it's played straight for the most part, her Love Interest offers a subversion, in that he's actually worked with prisoners and realizes that she's telling the truth.
- Hilarious example from Galaxy Quest when Brandon, a teenaged "questerian" (parody of a "trekkie") is actually helping a real space ship land. We get this exchange with him and his mother:
Brandon's Mom: Where are you going with those fireworks?
Brandon: Well, the Protector got super-accelerated coming out of the black hole and just, like, nailed the atmosphere at Mach 15, which you guys know is pretty unstable, obviously, so we're gonna help Laredo guide it on the vox ultra-frequency carrier and use Roman candles for visual confirmation.
Brandon's Mom: Uh, all right– dinner's at seven. (Brandon leaves) Well, at least he's outside.
- In Batman Forever, Two-Face is about to detonate the bomb in the circus when Bruce Wayne stands up and proclaims that he's Batman in order to stop the murder, but the audience has erupted into a frenzy and nobody notices Wayne's confession.
- Grosse Pointe Blank has a Running Gag in which Martin Blank admits to being an assassin to anyone who asks, but they all assume he's joking and try to riff off of it.
- The Man Who Wasn't There has a confession from a man who's committed a murder-but everyone thinks it's too implausible that such an insignificant man has committed such a crime. They convict him of a different murder, which he hasn't committed.
- Played straight and then averted in Quiz Show, in which Charles Van Doren takes the stand and confesses that he's deceived the public, and the committee members start complimenting him on the wonderful speech he just made, to his evident embarrassment — until one of them says that he doesn't think that Charles should be thanked for just telling the truth. Charles looks almost relieved that he's not being allowed to get away with it anymore.
- Patrick Bateman of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. During a conversation, he throws in lines like "I like to dissect girls" and "I'm utterly insane".
- Even before this, when his fiancée says "He's the boy next door, aren't you honey?" Bateman answers "No, I'm not. I'm a fucking evil psychopath."
- In A Separate Peace, Finny dismisses Gene's confession that he caused Finny's fall from the tree. Gene later takes it back, as well.
- In Proven Guilty, Molly confesses her love to Harry. He openly tells her that he's not going to take it seriously, for two reasons: One, because she's a rebellious teenager and her attraction to him is partly fueled by that; and two, because he's just saved her from a highly traumatic experience and her perception of him is being coloured by that. Years on, Molly admits this was the right thing for him to do, although she is angry that he refused to acknowledge her feelings even after they became more genuine.
Live Action TV
- Merlin confessed to having magic in a room containing both Arthur and the magic hating Uther. Neither of them believed him.
- Used in LOST, episode "He's Our You". Captured by the Dharma Initiative, Sayid is given a Truth Serum drug and interrogated. He says he's from the future, and Radzinsky's reaction is to assume the dose was too high and has rendered him cuckoo.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Killed by Death," Buffy is incapacitated due to a bad flu. She goes patrolling anyway, but collapses. While in the hospital, and under the influence of the meds, she shouts that she needs to kill the vampires. Buffy's mother and the hospital staff naturally assume it's due to her delirious state.
- In an episode of Friends - before Ross and Rachel first started dating - being whacked out on painkillers gives Ross the courage to admit to Rachel that he's in love with her. Her response is basically pat him on the head and say that she loves him too, in the way one would reply to a small child (or someone obviously too under-the-influence to take seriously). Ross quickly becomes frustrated with his inability to convince her that he's serious.
- One episode of Friends features the following dialogue between love-struck Chandler and Joey, about Joey's girlfriend, after Joey asks Chandler to at least pretend to get on with her.
Chandler: I could tell how much I've been thinking about her; that I haven't stopped thinking about her since the moment we met; that I'm so fantastically, over-the-top, wanna-slit-my-own-throat in love with her, that for every minute of every hour of every day, I can't believe my own damn bad luck that you met her first!
Joey: Yeah, well, that's pretty good. But you might want to tone it down a little.
- One episode of Two and a Half Men features Evelyn insisting on knowing why Charlie detests her so much. After some badgering, Charlie finally explains via rant that he feels like she drove his father to an early grave, gave him a cold loveless childhood and messed him and Alan up so badly they can barely function as human beings. Evelyn pats him on the shoulder and says he'll tell her when he's ready.
- In The X-Files, episode "Triangle", Mulder tells Scully he loves her. She blows him off with "Oh brother". (True, he was apparently rather medicated at the time.)
- In one episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Amanda fails to concoct a plausible story to cover her activities, and her mother confronts her with her lies and demands the truth. She tells her mother the truth, that she's working with the CIA, and her mother doesn't believe it and leaves in a huff.
- Arrested Development: Every once in a while, George Michael will learn the aesop that he and his father should be honest with each other. On one occasion, George Michael responds to this by revealing he's in love with his cousin Maebe. Michael thinks he's kidding.
- Frasier: Niles Crane confesses his love for Daphne - more than once - but circumstances contrive for her to completely miss this, or into believing that he's made it up, or is colluding with her to give a misleading impression to outside observers (Moondance).
- Breaking Bad: No Mas (Season 3, Episode 1)
Hank: (holding a bag) What've you got in there, cinderblocks?
Walt: Half a million in cash.
(Hank stares at Walt for a moment, then laughs)
Hank: That's the spirit!
- Survivors: In episode two, Abby asks Tom what he did before the pandemic, and he says "I robbed things. Killed a few people." She thinks he's joking, and says it's not funny. Later she finds out that's the truth.
- In Othello Iago continuously tells Othello that he shouldn't listen to him, and that Desdemona and Cassio are probably honest. Of course, this just convinces Othello even more that Iago is trustworthy.
- In The Goat Martin starts off sarcastically and then flat out confesses to his wife that he's been sleeping with the title character. She laughs it off both times.
- A subversion in Catherine: The bartender aptly named "Boss" (although he's only a Sub Boss) confesses that he's surprised the protagonist Vincent has managed to figure out that he's the evil villain behind the nightmares plaguing the city. Vincent only cares that he also saw the girl who Vincent had been cheating with but who no one else remembered... but when the villain calms down and starts feeling secure that his secret is still safe, Vincent reveals he did indeed pay attention to the confession and begins interrogating him about it.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: During one Dark Brotherhood Quest, you are required to commit five murders within a Closed Circle. One of your victims approaches you to ask who you are, and your response can be "I'm an assassin, sent to kill you." Naturally, she will assume it's a joke, laugh it off and praise your sense of humour. It even maxes out her Disposition Rating towards you.
- 'Fry and the Slurm Factory': Professor Farnsworth says that he's not Fry's grandfather, Fry's his uncle! From the year 2000! This goes over about as well as one would expect, allowing everything to stay the same.
- Bender accuses Farnsworth of insanity to get out of a jail sentence in 'A Clockwork Origin' (no relation). Farnsworth, in an attempt to disprove this, states that he got to the planet in a home-built spaceship. If you don't believe him, ask his uncle! ...Who is younger than he is. And, yes, It all Makes Sense In Context.
- In the Hey Arnold! movie, Helga revealed to Arnold that she loved him all along and proceeded to kiss him. In the end, they nervously decided that it was because of the moment and nothing serious had happened.
- On one episode of Daria, Quinn spends an episode convinced that she has to get plastic surgery like her friends or her entire social life will be ruined. After putting up with her antics the entire episode, her sister Daria finally just tells her (in what seems to be a rather difficult confession) that she's so naturally beautiful that she drives other girls (possibly including Daria herself) crazy with envy. Quinn just stares at Daria for a moment and then admonishes her for not taking things seriously.
- One of the Running Gags on Pinky and the Brain is Brain being asked who he is and answering, "Actually, I'm a lab-mouse trying to take over the world." The person who asks either misinterprets it or laughs it off as a joke.
- An episode of Batman: The Animated Series has a villain demanding a password from Alfred. Alfred simply ignores her and starts reciting "The Lion and the Unicorn", from the Wonderland books. Even when drugged up on truth serum, he continues reciting the poem. Unlike most cases of this, she does eventually realize that the password is "The Lion and the Unicorn"... it just takes her a while.
- In the episode "I've Got Batman in My Basement", when the kid's mother asks what they're doing in the basement, the kid's friend answers, "We just saved Batman's life, and now we're hiding him from some bad criminals". The mom's response? "That's good, just don't make a mess."
- In one episode of Batman Beyond, Terry tries to tell his family that he's Batman. They don't believe him.
- In a US Acres cartoon, Orson's brothers steal vegetables dressed up as three pieces of a car and run so fast that a police officer pulls them over and gives them a speeding ticket. In trying to get out of the ticket, they confess to camouflaging themselves as a car in order to commit theft (and further investigation would have proven it to be robbery), but luckily for them, the cop doesn't believe them and fails to see through their Paper-Thin Disguise. Had he believed their confession, they would have been in a lot more trouble and the vegetables would have been returned to Orson's farm but the officer had to carry the Idiot Ball for the plot to continue.
- Sometimes when a person comes out of the closet as gay or transgender, their friends or family unfortunately have this reaction, or brush it off as a "phase" the person will grow out of.