Oblivious to His Own Description

"What's a raccoon?"
Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy

Character comes across some kind of definition that the audience, or other characters, know to be right about him. The character is the only one who is unaware of that.

Usually Played for Laughs. May come in a variety of ways:

  • Someone tells something about an unspecified someone. The character asks, "Who would that be?" The reply is, "That would be you."
  • The character hears a word or expression for the first time and asks out loud what it means. Perhaps it is beyond the character's vocabulary, perhaps it comes from a Fictionary. Irony is, the character is a walking example of the word.
  • There is a picture, drawing or wanted sign of the character. He fails to see himself in it.
  • The character chews out other characters for behaving or acting in a specific manner while remaining oblivious to the fact that they are much the same.

An embarrassed or hypocritical character might act like this, while keeping quiet about knowing the description is accurate ("I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about"). A disguised character might pretend to be oblivious but compliment himself while at it.

Compare Failed a Spot Check, I Resemble That Remark!, Calling Me a Logarithm and "Where? Where?".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens in Lovely Complex when Koizumi describes Otani as her perfect guy and he does not get it despite it being a perfect description of him. He finally gets it when she tells him her perfect guy is right there when they are the only two in the room.
  • In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, during its field test the Dreamlands defense mecha Banshin develops an obsessive crush for Mahiro and starts striking Kamen Rider poses. Nyarko angrily asks if its brain is short-circuiting...and Mahiro quietly points out that it's acting exactly like her, the AI being an exact copy of Nyarko's own brain patterns. At which point she starts praising it.
  • In a flashback scene from Detective Conan, Shinichi rejects the love of his football club's manager because he already has a girl he likes —a childhood friend whom he describes as "strong, stubborn, but gentle and sensitive" — obviously referring to Ran. When Sonoko tries to point this out, Ran wonders if there is such a girl.
  • In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Nozaki asks Sakura if there's anybody she likes and she describes her unsuccessful confession to Nozaki himself without mentioning his name. His response? "What's so good about a guy like that?"
  • In Assassination Classroom, the viewpoint character clinically remarks on the bloodlust and 'killing intent' of his enemies- often as if he didn't also possess those traits.
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: In the OVA, Komachi describes her ideal man (and the traits that would make him unable to cheat on her), and her brother doesn't seem to realize that she just described him perfectly. Yea...
  • In New Game!, The first character Aoba designs is based on Aoba herself: the latter's most distinguishing feature is her bright-coloured Girlish Pigtails, and is earnest but slightly ditzy. All of Aoba's coworkers recognizes that character is based on her, but Aoba herself doesn't realize that until Kou tells her after she submits the design.
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten: Nanako Yamamoto knows that her younger sister Mayumi is completely oblivious to Hanamaru-sensei's crush on her...but is completely unaware that she's in exactly the same situation with her fellow teacher Tsuchida. And of course, Mayumi is the same way in reverse, knowing about Tsuchida's crush on Nanako. One episode even has a dinner scene where the two sisters both think "I feel sorry for him for having to put up with someone as clueless as my sister!" to themselves.
  • In chapter 71 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Kaguya describes herself while talking about the kind of girl that would go after Shirogane (completely hopeless, uses every dirty trick in the book, and oblivious to her own feelings). Hayasaka's response is predictable.
    Hayasaka: I agree with you from the bottom of my heart.
  • In Girls und Panzer, there is an OVA where the girls try to guess the subject of an impersonation. Hana gets everyone right.... but has no clue who they are trying to mimic when they do hers.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: While reading the outline for one of Fafnir's doujinshi, Lucoa comments that the woman in it is horrible for trying to molest a young boy, which suggests that either this trope is in play or her intentions with Shouta are more innocent than they appear.

    Comic Books 
  • Groo the Wanderer, on numerous occasions, specially with synonyms of "stupid".
    Groo: What did he mean, "slow of mind"?
  • This was the downfall of Jimmy Natale, mob clean-up man and one of the Vulture's knockoffs in Spider-Man. Having found a way to create a new Vulture, he pitched the idea to his bosses as a way to discourage further screw-ups. Unfortunately, he didn't notice that he had all the qualities he recommended (ruthlessness, efficiency, etc.).

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: The seventh habit of highly defective people is thinking the people in the comic aren't you.
    Pointy-Haired Boss: Hehe, look at that stupid hair.

    Fan Works 
  • The Lunar Guardsman: Raegdan shares the story of Ulysses. He is completely oblivious to the parallel of a man trying to get back home and failing for years, even when called on it.
  • Frequently used for drama in Maleficent fanfic with a Maleficent/Diaval pairing: Maleficent doesn't believe in love, and even less believes that someone could love her, so if she overhears Diaval telling someone that he is in love with a woman, she'll think the object of his admiration is someone else. Often justified by his describing her in a way very different from how she views herself.
  • In How I Became Yours, as Sokka is entering the Spirit World to save Azula, he begins describing the girl he fell in love with, and she doesn't seem aware that she's the person he's talking about. Justified in that there's no point at which he says "I'm talking about you," and as a result of being in the Spirit World, Azula is gradually losing her memory.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: Arial does such things as chewing Kokoa out for her Hair-Trigger Temper, chewing Ran out for chasing after Ahakon romantically when he's already dating Yukari and doesn't love her like that, and telling Sun that she has to accept that Gin has moved on to Kokoa and move on... when, as shown throughout this act and the previous one, a Hair-Trigger Temper and issues with her loved ones choosing other girls to be with instead of her are two of the traits that define Arial most as a person. Anyone who tries to point this out to her runs the risk of setting off her Berserk Button and getting physically attacked.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers, Tony Stark starts painting Loki in a not very flattering light, not realizing until the very end that he's describing himself as well, in the process.
    Tony Stark: Divide and conquer is great, but he knows he has to take us out to win, right? That's what he wants. He wants to beat us, he wants to be seen doing it. He wants an audience. [...] Yeah. That's just previews, this is... this is opening night. And Loki, he's a full-tail diva. He wants flowers, he wants parades, he wants a monument built to the skies with his name plastered... [he suddenly realizes that his own name is written in huge letters on the Stark Tower, and thus realizes that Loki intends to use it for his Evil Plan] ...son of a bitch.

  • "Notorious", a short story by João Guimarães Rosa (of The Devil to Pay in the Backlands fame). The narrator, a doctor, is surprised to get a visit from a feared outlaw. It happens a newly arrived guy from the government called him "notorious", and the furious outlaw travels miles... to ask the doctor, one of the few educated men in the backlands, what the word means. Fearing the worst, the narrator answers it means "important", and the outlaw leaves happy.
  • Hit and Run by Lawrence Block: Hitman with a Heart Keller is watching TV in his hotel room and sees a story on CNN about the assassination of the governor of Ohio. They show a picture of the assassin, and he takes a moment to realize that it's a picture of him.
  • To the Ends of the Earth: The narrator overhears two people discussing someone with a very out-of-date worldview, but who is nonetheless fairly likable and not completely stupid. He does not realize that they are probably referring to him (it is never explicitly confirmed that they are, but it seems very likely).
  • In Jingo, Lord Vetinari recruits Fred and Nobby to accompany him and Leonard of Quirm on a secret mission, due to their "special qualities". Later, as Fred is dozing off he hears Leonard ask "Why them?" and the Patrician replies "They do what they're told, they tend to believe the last thing they heard, they're not bright enough to ask questions, and they have that certain unshakable loyalty available to those unencumbered by too much intelligence." Fred then goes to sleep, content that he's not like those poor bastards, because he's a man with special qualities.
  • Ivan Krylov has a fable where a monkey sees itself in the mirror and says "My, what an ugly and misbehaving creature. Good thing I look nothing like that, or I would have died of shame. It does look a bit like some of my friends though."
  • In The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero recalls seeing The Talented Mr. Ripley and realizing how chillingly similar it was to the relationship between him and Tommy Wiseau. When he later watches the movie with Tommy, he is worried that the latter will realize the same thing... but Wiseau instead remains utterly oblivious and is instead inspired to create his infamous "magnum opus".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers: After Lt. Spiers becomes the new CO of Easy Company, Lipton tells him that the men don't care about the rumors about him, they're just happy to have a real leader for the first time since Winters was promoted. Spiers tells Lipton that they did have one. This leader made sure the men were ready and in fighting shape, helped raise moral and discouraged anything that would hinder it. Lipton is confused and Spiers has to outright tell Lipton he is talking about him.
  • Best Friends Whenever: In the episode "When Shelby Met Cyd", Naldo doesn't realize that Shelby is describing him as Cyd's fourth grade crush, including wearing hats and Cyd punching him in the arm to shush him.
  • Breaking Bad: In "Cat's in the Bag...", Skyler looks at Jesse's website, and sees "MILFs" listed among his "general interests".
    Skyler: MILFs? What the hell is a MILF?''
  • In an episode of The Office (US), one of the workers is flashed by a pervert. Pam is asked to draw up a description of the man in order to make wanted posters. Pam, not taking the situation seriously, ends up drawing Dwight with a moustache instead and asks him to put the posters up. Dwight does so, even mentioning happily that he wants the "pervert" to be caught.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In episode "The Eleventh Hour", the newly-regenerated Eleventh Doctor witnesses the Monster of the Week transform into a perfect likeness of himself, and remarks, "That's rubbish, who's that supposed to be?" Justified, as he doesn't know what he looks like at that point.
    • In the fifth season's finale he tells us of the legend of the being trapped inside the Pandorica: "A goblin. Or a trickster, or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. Nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it — one day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world." The Doctor doesn't seem to realize that sounds exactly what his enemies would describe him as...
    • A similar example to the above happens in "The God Complex", although it's Played With as at the end of the description, the Doctor pauses and realizes what happened and then adds "I wasn't talking about myself." (Or, the Minotaur clarifies that it wasn't talking about itself, and the Doctor only realises when he translates that bit.)
    • In the season 8 opening "Deep Breath" the Doctor describes Clara as a self-centred Egomaniac. She thinks he's describing himself.
    • In "Twice Upon a Time", the First Doctor explains that one thing that factored into his leaving Gallifrey was to try and answer why good always prevailed over evil when, objectively, evil should typically win because Being Good Sucks. Bill Potts suggests the idea that it could be because of a single bloke running around, helping where he can and maintaining good in the universe as a result. The Doctor dismisses this as a fairy tale.
  • In The Andy Griffith Show, Barney overhears Andy and Aunt Bea talking about a particularly irritating Know-Nothing Know-It-All. They look horrified when Barney walks into the room, only for him to agree that people like that are annoying.
  • On Arrested Development, Tobias does this constantly with innuendos.
  • In 'Allo 'Allo!, very camp Camp Gay Lieutenant Gruber reads out the resistance's leaflet mocking the members of the German military staff. Present company includes Colonel von Strohm who is well-fed.
    Lieutenant Gruber: "We will show that fat pig colonel, and that queer lieutenant..." — whoever can that be?
  • In The Wire, it's subverted when detective Jimmy McNulty is at the FBI getting a profile on the "serial murderer" that he faked all the evidence for that basically describes McNulty himself to perfection. He's visibly unnerved by the accuracy of the description, but makes an effort to hide it.
  • In Sherlock there's a variation in that the description is of what effect his actions had:
    Mycroft: The terrorist cells have been informed that we know about the bomb. We can't fool them now. We've lost everything. One fragment of one e-mail, and months and years of planning... finished.
    Sherlock: [to self] Your MOD man.
    Mycroft: That's all it takes. One lonely, naïve man, desperate to show off. And a woman clever enough to make him feel special.
    Sherlock: You should screen your defence people more carefully.
    Mycroft: I'm not talking about the MOD man, Sherlock, I'm talking about you!
  • In Friends, Rachel starts dating a guy named Russ, who is an exact duplicate of Ross. Not only does Ross not see the resemblance, he starts going on about all his annoying habits, not realizing that they apply to him too.
    Ross: Plus, it takes the guy, what, I don't know, uh, like, a week to get a sentence out?
    Chandler: Yeah, it's annoying, huh?
    Ross: [after hesitating for a long while] ...Yeah!
  • In Game of Thrones, a protester claims the King is being manipulated by a "twisted demon monkey". The crowd laughs, and Tyrion is amused by the protester's imagination, until Bronn points out that Tyrion is the monkey.
  • In Full House, Stephanie gripes about having to work with the class Jerk Ass on a project and DJ tells her that sometimes people can seem annoying at first, but once you get to know them you discover their other, better sides. She's clearly referring to Kimmy, but Kimmy demands to know if DJ has any other friends she's not telling her about.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Mac and Dennis are trying to gently kick Charlie off their team. Charlie describes himself as the team wildcard, and they point out that a wildcard isn't really a good thing, and that their team really doesn't need a third member who just gets in the way and makes random decisions. Carlie enthusiastically agrees that they should kick that guy off the team, whoever he is.
  • The Good Place: In a long group conversation with Michael, Eleanor describes herself, Chidi, Tahani and Jason as, respectively, "an Arizona dirtbag, a human turtleneck, a narcissistic monster, and literally the dumbest person I've ever met." Jason then looks around expectantly and asks "...And who am I? Describe me now!"
  • In the Blackadder II episode "Beer", after Lord Percy has made several inept attempts at conversation with Lord and Lady Whiteadder (including "A vow of silence, now, that's quite an interesting thing. Tell me about it.") Lord Whiteadder complements Edmund on his jester. Percy looks round in confusion for the jester.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible has an instance of this with respect to David. After his Uriah Gambit is successful and Uriah is slain by the Ammonites, God becomes angry at David and sends a message to Nathan the Prophet. Nathan tells David about a rich man that had numerous herds and other possessions. His neighbor was a poor man with one little ewe lamb that he loved dearly. When the rich man wanted to entertain a guest, he was reluctant to kill one of his many lambs. Instead, he killed the poor man's lamb and cooked it for his guest. Upon hearing the story, David becomes furious and declares that the man will surely die and that he will pay fourfold for the lamb because he did this thing and had no pity. Nathan does not pull any punches and tells him "You are the man!"

    Video Games 
  • In Sonic Colors, one of Eggman's PA messages has him informing the "owner" of "a white hovercar shaped like an egg" that said car was broken into. He only realizes what happened once he repeats the message. For extra hilarity, judging by another of his messages, his own robots go around looting the guests' cars, meaning they might be responsible.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, when you've solved almost all of Riddler's puzzles, he has a Freak Out! and laments that it's like he's crossed into some Alternate Universe where Batman is the smart one and he's nothing more than a lunatic with an over-inflated ego.
  • One of the side characters in Grand Theft Auto V, Mary-Ann, tries to explain to Trevor why they wouldn't be a good couple and falls hard into this trope:
    Mary-Ann: You are thin. You're irrationally angry. Nothing you say makes any sense. You are... completely have no control over your emotions. We have nothing in common!
  • This trope helped cause the downfall of MJ-12 in Deus Ex: they had created the AI Daedalus to crackdown on terrorist groups that could challenge their rule and utterly failed to realize that MJ-12 itself fit their stated definition of a terrorist group, which caused Daedalus to go rogue and team up with JC Denton.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY Chibi:
    • In Episode 10, after witnessing the Love Triangle between Pyrrha, Jaune, and Weiss, Ren remarks that they can't see what's right in front of them... while Nora, who's crazy about him, is waving a sign reading "Notice Me!" surrounded by pink hearts.
    • In Season 2 Episode 1, after the opening sequence goes pear-shaped, Ozpin states that he'd have to be a pretty incompetent leader if he didn't notice sabotage happening right under his nose. This is almost immediately after Mercury and Emerald respectively conked Ruby on the head with a boom mike and dropped a stage light dangerously close to Yang, complete with false apologies. Following this, Ozpin gets flattened by the rose symbol when Cinder pushes it over... and still believes that it fell on him by accident.
    • In "Super Besties," after Ruby has used Bedtime Brainwashing to force Weiss to spend the entire day with her against her will, and to force Yang to hand over spending money and let her use her motorcycle, Blake tells Yang point blank that she and Weiss "have weak minds and are easily manipulated"... while she herself is wearing a "back-up bestie" T-shirt, courtesy of Ruby.

    Web Comics 
  • In Something*Positive, Davan tells Peejee he used to have a crush on a girl, but she didn't return the sentiment. They became really good friends and it ended up being for the best. Peejee insults the girl for not realizing Davan's great, he replies that, no, she's one of his favorite people. He walks away. Peejee catches on and blushes.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Captain Tagon comments on the emblem with his side-face (and conveniently stands so you can see his side-view and see how accurate it is).
    • Petey says that he is making a retirement offer to Tagon's Toughs because he's trying to take a band of career sociopaths out of circulation. Schlock asks him whom he should shoot.
  • Girl Genius, after seeing Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!) do something impressive to get a doohickey for Agatha's lightning stick:
    Tarvek: I keep forgetting he's a Spark.
    Violetta: Really. So you've completely missed that he's overbearing, self-aggrandizing, and certain death to be around?
    Tarvek: Well, no, but... what's your point?
  • Shortpacked!:
    • Ethan and Robin are discussing Transformers Prime.
      Robin: Miko's the best part of that show! There's just something about her that speaks to me. The lack of boundaries for her over-the-top behavior is the catalyst for half of everything that happens on that show. Thank god she never learns anything and the rest of the cast is so forgiving.
      Ethan: Something about that speaks to you, huh?
      Robin: Yeah, maybe she reminds me of Rainbow Dash.
    • Played more seriously when Robin seduced Leslie to stop Malaya flirting with her, even though she and Leslie were broken up at the time and Leslie wanted to sort through her feelings rationally.
      Robin: Just think, you were this close to bangin' some control freak self-absorbed chick who won't consider your feelings.
      Leslie: [head in her hands] Closer than you think.
  • The Order of the Stick: After Durkon is turned into a vampire, Roy argues that he can still be part of the team (with supervision). Belkar, the Token Evil Teammate known to kill people because he can, is quick to point the ways this could go wrong.
    Belkar: I just don't trust the idea of us using a horrible bloodthirsty savage to fulfil our goals while we — oh, I get it.
    Roy: Yeah, we already made the parallel.
  • Katamari: Ace gives The Prince a nasty speech about trying to steal all the glory for himself, blissfully unaware that the lecture he's giving him would be better directed at him.
    Ace: So what do you think, Prince? Are you willing to admit your arrogance, set aside your vanity for once, and ask me for help?
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Sabin loses Locke and Celes's wedding rings. Upon hearing this, Edgar coyly suggests that a thief stole them from Sabin. Locke gets angry, saying they'll need to search all the guests, before suddenly realizing Edgar meant himself: Locke is something of a kleptomaniac (which is roughly canon) and Edgar explains that his kleptomania goes into overdrive when he's nervous. Indeed, Locke pickpocketed his own wedding rings from Sabin and either forgot or didn't realize that he had done so.

    Web Original 
  • In this video, "Sherlock Can't Solve Elementary," Sherlock describes the protagonist of Elementary to John, while totally oblivious to the fact that he's basically describing himself.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka fails to recognize when Suki is talking about him.
    Suki: I lost someone I care about. He didn't die. He just went away. I only had a few days to get to know him, but he was smart, and brave and funny.
    Sokka: Who is this guy? Is he taller than me?
    Suki: No. He's about your height.
    Sokka: Is he better looking?
    Suki: It is you, stupid!
  • Animal Mechanicals. Certain situations will elicit a conversation like this:
    Team: If only we had someone who could stretch that far... [everyone turns to Sasquatch, who is The Big Guy and resident Rubber Man]
    Sasquatch: Yeah... but who could that possibly be? [beat] I know! The Mighty Sasquatch can stretch that far!
  • In the first episode of South Park, Cartman is watching a news report on Crop Circles and the camera pulls back to show that the circles form an exact portrait of himself.
    Cartman: Hey! That looks like... Tom Selleck.
  • On Metalocalypse, the band hires body doubles for security reasons. They resemble the actual band members to varying degrees, but Murderface's double is a dead ringer.
    Murderface: Hold on, this guy doesn't look like me! He's hideous, he's grotesque, look at 'im!
    Ofdensen: Actually, Murderface, he—
    Murderface: Look at that head, that disgusting forehead, that stupid-shaped hair, beady eyes, like, stupid flat nose, wide hammer-ass, chicken-plucked legs idiot! (addressing Ofdensen) You need to get your eyes checked, you piece of shit! This guy doesn't look like me!
    Murderface: (about to cry) Oh God, he looks just like me.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island:
    Simone: I've had enough of that meddling dog!
    Scooby-Doo: Dog? Where?
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! has Helga doing stand-up impersonations of everyone at school. Mr. Simmons is the only one who doesn't recognize Helga's parody of him, including not noticing his own Catchphrase.
    Helga: Okay class, we're all going to do something very special, that's all going to show how all of you are special in your own special way.
    Mr. Simmons: Who is that? Is that Mr. Packadam? Who is she doing?
    Mr. Simmons: [to Helga] Are you going to do that "special guy" again? You know, the one who says "special" all the time? Who is that?
  • One episode of The Lion Guard has the leaders of different animals in the Pridelands gathering and arguing a bit. During that, this exchange happens.
    Big Baboon: I was having a perfectly nice time when suddenly this... this hippo with a horn bumps into me.
    Mbeya: Who are you calling a hippo? I'm a rhino, you baboon!
    Big Baboon: Who are you calling a baboon?!
    Bunga: [deadpan] You are a baboon.
    Big Baboon: Oh. Right.

Alternative Title(s): Oblivious To Her Own Description, Oblivious To Their Own Description