[[quoteright:200:[[Webcomic/{{xkcd}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/xkcd_293_-_RTFM_7270.png]]]]

->''"I think I know from where your problems stem.\\
Would you, could you, RTFM?"''
-->-- ''The Internet Oracle''

Simply, it's a "Tale From Customer Service": When assisting people with technological items, only about 1 out of 5 read the instructions for the item they've purchased. Fewer still read more than a page or two. Note that the trope title is a [[{{Bowdlerise}} more polite]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTFM version of the]] [[PrecisionFStrike real phrase]]. Other versions are "Read the Friendly Manual", "Read the Foul Manual", "Read the Full Manual", and "Read the Fine Manual".

It's one that you've Seen A Million Times, especially in {{Sit Com}}s: "I'm [[BlatantLies great with tools]]; I don't need to read the instructions." Or the manual is in an entirely different language, [[BlindIdiotTranslation or it was written in English by someone who can barely say "I doesn't knows speaking English"]].

In video games, and sometimes other software, the manual may be of no help. For most games, the manual only tells you how to ''play'' the game, not how to ''beat'' it. (For that, see GuideDangIt.) It won't tell you how to solve any puzzles unless it's some form of CopyProtection. Even worse, the manual might have been written for a pre-release version of the game, [[ManualMisprint with details such as the control scheme differing subtly from the released version]]. Similarly, in the tech field, the manuals may be written by different people than those who designed the product, leading to a ManualMisprint. It's also worth noting that printed manuals for video games are increasing rarity these days. If you're lucky, you might be able to find it online, or as something accessible within the game itself.

Be ''very'' careful when using this response in RealLife. Even if you mean it as an innocent suggestion, it carries an implied insult. There are also people who are asking questions when the answers are in manual not because they're stupid, but because they don't ''have'' the manual. If they bought the product used or were given it as a hand-me-down, the manual was probably lost ''ages'' ago. Some products have even shipped without a manual, or with different manuals for different releases, some of which are incomplete. A good manufacturer will post the manual for download on its website, with any updates and errata already applied, but not all manufacturers are good. Moreover, depending on the age of the item, the manufacturer may not even ''exist'' anymore. This is often ''why'' they're asking in the first place. And many items these days, particular computer-related ones, are shipped deliberately without the manual -which is to be downloaded from the company's site.

This can also lead to ScapegoatCreator, where people forget to read the credits of a work, or don't even look at the staff.

Compare AllThereInTheManual, when details to understand the plot of a work or even the whole plot, are told in the manual or in other material.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'', Amuro Ray finds the [[HumongousMecha Gundam]]'s manual and literally has it open in his lap when he [[FallingIntoTheCockpit falls into the cockpit]].
* In the oddest usage of this trope, we turn to ''Anime/SmilePrettyCure''. An accident turns Cure Happy into a SuperRobot and, to get her to fight, one of the other Cures has to pilot her. The one to do so? Cure Beauty, who isn't even familiar with the ''concept'' of GiantMecha and is only able to pilot and effectively win the day because resident Mecha-fangirl Yayoi handed her the manual earlier on.
* Mako from ''Anime/GirlsUndPanzer'' claims that her [[BadassDriver driving skills]] came [[InstantExpert just from reading the tank's operating manual]]. She tries to instruct some of the drivers for Oarai's other tanks, but they [[LampshadeHanging point out how ridiculous it is]] and aren't able to drive the tanks without extensive practice.
* Haseo in ''[[Franchise/DotHack .hack//Roots]]'' stubbornly ''refuses'' to read the manual for ''The World: R2'' for no real reason at all. Phyllo, (after politely suggesting multiple times that read it) eventually gets fed up, and recites this line almost word-for-word right in his face.
* Intentionally invoked in ''Manga/AhMyGoddess''. During the "Lord Of Terror" arc, GadgeteerGenius Skuld releases EldritchAbomination Midgard the Serpent to stop [[HellHound Fenrir]] from destroying the world, but then Midgard goes berserk. When the others confront her about it, she proudly states that she ''never'' reads the manual. Said manual anticipates everything that had happened in the fight up to that point ''and'' gave specific instructions for how to stop the Ultimate Destruction Program.
* At one point in ''Manga/ExcelSaga'', Excel and Hyatt take a job in an electronics store. Eventually, Excel is put on tech support, whereupon taking her first call she slowly comes to realize the caller did ''not'' read the f-ing manual. From that point on, she answers every single call with "Read the manual!" and then immediately hangs up.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In an issue of ''[[ComicBook/GIJoeARealAmericanHeroMarvel G.I. Joe: Special Missions]]'', Slipstream attempts to pilot a Russian transport plane he has never flown before. He does attempt to read the manual, only to find it is Russian and Farsi; neither of which he can read. Fortunately the illustrations were clear.
* [[ComicBook/PaperinikNewAdventures Paperinik]] [[SubvertedTrope makes a point of reading the manual of his gadgets]] (as shown in the first series issue "Trauma", where his inner monologue mentions that the [[CoolCar PKar]] runs on [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomethylhydrazine monomethylhydrazine]])... [[DoubleSubverted But he will forget about the less-used features]] as [[RealityEnsues there's no continual use to keep the memory fresh]] (as shown in a second series' story where he has to search on the manual for what the [=PKar=] runs on, something he never had to deal with before as One took care of it). At least he's GenreSavvy enough to keep it just in case...
** Apparently played straight in the classic (non-''Paperinik New Adventures'') stories, as the gadgets are simple enough they don't ''need'' a manual... [[SubvertedTrope Except they may need it for continuous use, and Paperinik read it off-screen]] (shown when the Beagle Boys managed to steal some of his gear and found out the worst way that his fearsome paralizing gun is single shot and needs cartridges they didn't have with them). Also played completely straight in one story, [[JustifiedTrope because as the manuals Gyro wrote for the latest and more complex gadgets were enormous and he just didn't have the time]] (in the end Gyro puts together a miniature computer that will tell Paperinik what he needs to do... Complete with its own DoorStopper-sized manual).

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* This almost used by name on two separate occasions in "Super Calvin", an episode of ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'':
--> "He/I should have read the manul [sic]."
** This also sets up a Brick Joke: after Calvin stops making the machine that sets up the plot, Dr. Brainstorm barges in:
--> "Alright, Calvin! I've gone over that manul [sic], and now I'm all ready for you and your precious little powers! GIVE ME YOUR WORST!"
* In ''FanFic/OffTheLine'', Cait Sith implies that Cloud should have looked at his character's equipment customization when he finds out that equipment becomes skimpy as a side-effect of being a Viera.
* In ''FanFic/SoulsArtOnline'', the players have to make a manual for themselves because the game doesn't come with one. However, they are strongly recommend reading it because when someone doesn't then they make a mistake of challenging [[TemptingFate Kingseeker]], who is more than willing to respond.
* This is [[StarWars Palpatine]]'s downfall in the aptly named ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7953106/1/Shoulda-Kept-the-Manual Shoulda Kept the Manual]]'': having thrown away the manual containing all the Contingency Orders for the Grand Army of the Republic, Palpatine had nothing to check when he forgot what was the one to kill the Jedi and ended up issuing Order 65. Knowing the order[[note]]In the event of either (i) a majority in the Senate declaring the Supreme Commander (Chancellor) to be unfit to issue orders, or (ii) the Security Council declaring him to be unfit to issue orders, and an authenticated order being received by the GAR, commanders shall be authorized to detain the Supreme Commander, with lethal force if necessary, and command of the GAR shall fall to the acting Chancellor until a successor is appointed or alternative authority identified as outlined in Section 6 (iv).[[/note]], you can imagine how it ended when the (very confused) 501st Legion decided to execute it even if hadn't been issued by the proper authority.

* ''Film/DieAnotherDay''. When Q gives Film/JamesBond the {{doorstopper}} manual for his latest [[CoolCar gadget car]], Bond tosses it in front of the vehicle's automatic shotguns which promptly blast the manual to shreds. This doesn't affect Bond's ability to use the car later on (though given his photographic memory he probably read the manual while the car was being developed).
-->'''Q:''' "Here's the manual, should be able to shoot through that in a couple of hours."\\
'''Bond:''' "[[BondOneLiner Just took a few seconds]], Q."
* In ''Film/{{Commando}}'', Cindy successfully uses a rocket launcher (to hit the wheel of a moving truck no less) despite having absolutely no military training. When Matrix asks how she did it she just says she read the instructions. This in spite of initially [[HadTheSillyThingInReverse holding the rocket launcher backwards]].
* The Maitlands in ''Film/{{Beetlejuice}}'' are given a "Handbook for the Recently Deceased" when they die. Adam tries to read through it but can't comprehend it. Every time they run into trouble they're admonished that the Handbook contains everything they need to know. Other ghosts scoff at them for their inexperienced mistakes.
* Larry from ''Film/NightAtTheMuseum'' tries to read the directions, but they're quickly destroyed and there's no other copies. Luckily, studying the various exhibits teaches him enough to get by.
* ''Film/TheFifthElement''
** There is a scene with a bunch of AlwaysChaoticEvil mooks "trading" for a crate of super smart guns with dozens of different modes. They don't think to ask what all the modes in question are, and decide to find out by just randomly pressing buttons. If they'd RTFM they'd have discovered that one of the little red buttons was in fact the self-destruct...
** This is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d later on in the movie. When the good guys are trying to figure out how to get the weapon against the Ultimate Evil to work, Korben says "Every weapon comes with a manual. This one must, too." The "manual", in this case, turns out to be somewhat unhelpful hints from Leeloo.
* ''Film/{{Gravity}}''. The female protagonist consults a manual when trying to work out how to operate the Soyuz capsule. Fortunately the Russian manual has an English translation, as it's part of the International Space Station. Later she boards another space station, but the buttons are all labelled in Chinese characters. OhCrap.
* The climactic sequence of ''Film/XXx'' has Xander Cage driving a gadget-laden muscle car in pursuit of a submersible filled with deadly nerve gas, while his BondGirl {{Expy}} searches through the car's handwritten, barely legible instruction manual for something they can use against it.

* In the ''Film/MenInBlack'' novel ''The Green Saliva Blues'', "Jay" refuses to RTFM. ''Any'' FM, whether it be on the customs and etiquette of the species they plan to contact or a weapons manual. "Elle", who ''has'' read the freaking manual, shows him how to use the [[LawOfInverseRecoil Noisy]] [[HandCannon Cricket]] without the recoil. A probable parody, as it is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d that she ''only'' knew this information from the manual, the manual was [[LostInTranslation written in an alien language]], and [[IdiotBall it would have shattered her wrist and probably shoulder]] had she been at all wrong.
* ''Literature/TheWarAgainstTheChtorr''. The protagonist references this trope when teaching himself how to shoot a [[LaserSight laser-sighted]] [[FlechetteStorm flechette rifle]]. It's just as well he does too, as the people who issued him the rifle are [[TheUriahGambit setting him up to be killed]], thinking [[EnsignNewbie he won't know how to use it properly]]. In later books, the protagonist has become an expert on Chtorrans, and so gets annoyed if the [[SurroundedByIdiots people he's saddled with haven't read the briefing books]].
* A short story in the ''Literature/{{Bolo}}'' universe, "Operation Desert Fox" by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, details the posting of a "Desert Fox" history buff assigned to crew a Bolo called Rommel, who is similarly obsessed. After going on drills and such in their sleepy backwater planet, it is attacked by squads of AI-controlled mecha which Rommel manages to take control of. One problem -- they can't control enough of the squads to win without sacrificing the tank's personality. The commander goes digging into the tank's manual, finding an untested "full backup" function. [[spoiler:After they win and the commander gives the "restore" command, he falls asleep from exhaustion. He is woken by the tank calling his attention to the jubilant villagers outside,then asking how he managed to save the tank:]]
-->[[spoiler:He held up the manual, laughing, and cried out the famous quote:]]\\
[[spoiler: [[Film/{{Patton}} "Rommel, you magnificent bastard, ]]''[[Film/{{Patton}} I read your book!]]''"]]
* Creator/IsaacAsimov wrote a short story where two guys are testing a DeflectorShields equipped ship on a test flight which takes them on a fly-by [[ThePowerOfTheSun right next to the Sun]]. The shields work so well they almost freeze to death. They come to their boss, intent on beating him up for sending them on that trip... only to be informed that the manuals (which [[WhatAnIdiot they naturally threw away without reading]]) contained instructions on adjusting the shield intensity so that a controlled amount of solar heat could reach the ship.
* In ''Literature/{{Otherland}}'' Jongleur is annoyed at having to [[AsYouKnow explain their own]] EvilPlan to one of his co-conspirators due to his chronic failure to do this, and when the man expresses concerns that their [[spoiler: scheme to become immortal via BrainUploading will fail because they can't upload the soul]], he curtly tells him he should have been spending his money on something else if that's a concern to him. Indeed, ''after'' investing billions of dollars in illegal research and development it's a bit late to be questioning the fundamental mechanism everything else was based on.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In ''Series/TheAmazingRace'', many teams have been eliminated because they misread a clue, or didn't notice that all they needed to know was right there. Frequently overlaps with FailedASpotCheck.
* In ''Series/MarriedWithChildren,'' Al spent an entire episode trying to construct a carpentry workbench, but proves ridiculously inept at it as a result of his apparent inability to follow the the instructions in the manual provided. In a ThrowTheDogABone moment, his daughter Kelly (who had been {{flanderiz|ation}}ed over time to be the resident [[TooDumbToLive moron]]) not only fixes the bench and makes it look exactly like it should, she does so in seconds.
* The main character of ''Series/TheGreatestAmericanHero'' loses the manual for the [[ClothesMakeTheSuperman super suit]] and has to learn by trial and error. HilarityEnsues. (At the start of the third season, he is given another copy of the manual, and immediately loses that one, too.)
* In one episode of ''Series/NewsRadio'', Mr. James tests his new shredder by shredding the instructions. ("Talk about your mind-blowing irony!") He then wonders how to change the speed settings.
* In the Swedish comedy series ''En ängels tålamod'', one of the characters is a devil living on Earth with a mission to cause sin and misery. [[TakeThat His mortal day job is writing instruction manuals, making them as obtuse as possible...]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Doctor threw the TARDIS manual in a supernova because he disagreed with it. This must have taken some time, as the Eighth Doctor claimed there was a volume 21...to the quickstart guide.
** In the original series, in one episode, the Fourth Doctor sees Romana reading it, and when she suggests a control that she notices to be essential in operating the TARDIS (and one that The Doctor has heretofore never used), he says "Hmm... Interesting," and then proceeds to rip the page out of the manual and throw it away.
** Turns out that refusing to read the manual is part of the reason why TARDIS makes the iconic Vworp noise when it dematerialises. The Doctor forgets to turn the ''brakes'' off, so when this is pointed out to him, he claims that it's actually because he refuses to do so, as he [[MostWonderfulSound loves the noise]].
** In the midst of one of his sulks, the Sixth Doctor said that he ''tried'' reading the manual once. He obviously didn't get very far.
** [[spoiler:Clara Oswald]]'s TARDIS still has its manual, which helps explain how she can fly the thing without centuries of experience. Still can't fix a glitchy chameleon circuit, though.
* In ''Series/TheYoungOnes'' episode Nasty, Vyvyan and Mike are trying to set up their new VHS player and after a discussion about why it isn't working, It turns out that Vyvyan has been reading the manual for a toaster by mistake and (despite making some toast with the VHS player) it still fails to work.
--> '''Mike:''' Maybe you shouldn't have poured all of that washing―up liquid in it.\\
'''Vyvyan:''' But it says here, Michael look, ‘Ensure machine is clean, and free from dust’!\\
'''Mike:''' Yeah, but it don’t say, ‘Ensure the machine is full of washing―up liquid.’\\
'''Vyvyan:''' Yeah, but it don’t say, ‘Ensure the machine ''isn’t'' full of washing―up liquid.’\\
'''Mike:''' Of course not, I mean, it doesn’t say, ‘Ensure you don’t chop up your video machine with an axe, put all the bits in a plastic bag, and bung ‘em down the lavatory’!\\
'''Vyvyan:''' Doesn’t it? Well maybe that’s where we’re going wrong!
** The problem:
--> '''Neil:''' [[spoiler: Well it’s not plugged―in [to any power source].]]

* In ''Series/ManStrokeWoman'' a recurring sketch is of a man who refuses to read instructions his wife offers him. This always ends in something quite bizarre happening, such as their dog exploding because he was given the wrong food.
* In one episode of ''Series/HomeImprovement'', Tim doesn't think he needs to read the instructions for his new entertainment system because "this is just the manufacturer's opinion of how to put this together." HilarityEnsues.
** Tim could be the posterboy for Did Not Read the Manual.
* CatchPhrase of ''Series/CanadasWorstHandyman''.
* ''Series/{{Warehouse13}}'' has Myka saying this to Pete often enough. The series finale can't help but make you sympathize with him--the manual is an ''entire library'' of books.
* In the ''Series/BabylonFive'' episode "Eyes", Garibaldi has the parts to a Kawasaki Ninja ZX motorcycle and is trying to put them together. Good news, Garibaldi has a manual for it. Better news, he's actually trying to read it. Bad news...it's in Japanese, which Garibaldi doesn't understand.
** Considering Garibaldi eventually learns ''Narn'' in order to read the Book of G'Quan (all Narn holy texts must be reproduced exactly; no translations are allowed), he shouldn't have as much trouble with a human language. Then again, what we see of the Narn alphabet suggests it might actually be ''closer'' to the English alphabet, in that it's based off letters rather than logographic characters, which might have worked in Garibaldi's favor there.
* ''Series/KamenRiderOOO''[='s=] [[SixthRanger Second Rider]], Akira Date, didn't bother reading the manual for the Kamen Rider Birth suit because he has a "learn through experience" attitude (and is a debatable {{Expy}} of [[Film/IronMan MCU!Tony Stark]]. His protegee Shintaro Gotou, who eventually becomes the second Birth, ''did'' read the manual and thus knows about suit functions that Date never used...as well as the SelfDestructMechanism its inventor installed, which Gotou had the foresight to remove after said inventor [[FaceHeelTurn turned evil]].

[[folder: Mythology and Religion]]
* Literature/TheBible: King Uzziah seemed to be a good man, he really wanted to give thanks to God but he did so in a way that brought God's wrath. The priests tried to tell him he should read the instructions because he was in the wrong but he refused, and got an infectious skin disease for it. It's telling that the Kings of Judah were not only required to read the Torah, but to make their own personal copy, making this more a case of [[{{Pride}} Ignored The Freaking Manual]].

[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]
* In a ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' strip, Dogbert is working tech support and receives a call from a guy asking how to make a pie chart. Dogbert orders the guy to hack the computer into tiny pieces, mix them with flour and water and bake the mix in the oven. Dogbert then suggested that while the caller waited, he could read "the novel included with [his] software. It is the story of a Spaniard named 'Manual'." The caller then remarks how the book "[[LostInTranslation lost a lot in the translation]]."
** In another strip, he tells a caller, "Take all the parts and arrange them in neat piles. Now stand on your chair so you can see above your cubicle wall... Now shout, 'Does anybody know how to read a manual?'" That was popular with tech support workers.
** From another perspective, someone talks about the manual and says that "You must ''really'' hate your customers", describing how poorly-written the manual was.
* In ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', there's a strip where the two try to put together a model airplane. They (or, at least Calvin) ignore the instructions completely, and end up with the newspaper glued to the floor, and a wrecked airplane.
** In a Sunday strip, said airplane was, "hit by anti-aircraft guns," to which Hobbes replies, "Your planes seem to encounter a lot of those."
** However, there is another strip where Hobbes is surprised because the instructions apparently start in English, but then go into Spanish and French.
* In ''JanesWorld'', she says she can't live in a dumpy rental trailer with her friend, explaining that it says so in the Gay and Lesbian Handbook, which she has in the Jeep she bought (it was tucked under the owner's manual). Her friends, a couple of straight guys, leaf through it, muttering "so that's how that's done...wow..." before she peevishly pulls it away.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}''.
** A standard joke in the game is for players to receive a highly-advanced weapon that is dangerous or unusable without proper training, but the user's manual that comes with it is either heavily redacted or completely above the characters' security clearance, making it a crime to read it.
** Played with in a meta sense as well: the game manual expressly forbids players from reading the actual ''rules'' section, but also admits that it would be entirely in the spirit of the game for players to read the rules and then deny it. By the same token, the GM can accuse and punish players of doing so without proof.
* In one Technical Readout for ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'', the Black Knight Battlemech is noted in-universe as a failure by its manufacturer to leave well enough alone to the point that it's a RunningGag with mechwarriors that in order to figure out what version of the mech you've got, you need to check the manual.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Magic: the Gathering}}'' has an equivalent saying: "Read the Freaking Card", and the more professional translation "Reading the card explains the card"

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* In a general sense, this trope is probably the reason why most modern games don't even ''come with'' a manual (or at least a physical one), and instead have an in-game tutorial explaining how to play; because the company knows that barely anyone is going to ever read the damn thing, so why bother? This is also probably why many of these tutorials are [[ForcedTutorial unskippable]], because anyone who refuses to read a manual will probably ''also'' refuse to play a tutorial. Especially if they are a SmallNameBigEgo who considers themselves "too good" to need to be taught how to play, and would subsequently get their ass handed to them, [[NeverMyFault blame the game instead of their own hubris]], and return it to the store and/or dissuade others from buying it.
* In ''VideoGame/HotelMario'', [[OffModel Fat Mario]] and [[LadyMondegreen Gay Luigi]] specifically tell you to "check out the enclosed instruction book" if you need any help (and even pauses itself mid-cutscene to allow the player time to go and locate it). You probably do, because the CD-I is [[SomeDexterityRequired mind-numbingly hard to control.]]
* Chris Bores, WebVideo/TheIrateGamer, was in such a rush to play ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}'' that he refused to read the instruction manual for the storyline, so he believes the game takes place in a straight modern war setting in the likes of ''Film/{{Rambo}}''. He is then caught by surprise once the aliens start showing up later in the game.
* Creator/JamesRolfe, WebVideo/TheAngryVideoGameNerd, declared the uselessness the speed and altitude readings in his review of ''VideoGame/TopGun'' for the NES. Naturally, he couldn't figure out how to land later on, even though the game '''lists the desired speed and altitude for landing RIGHT THERE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SCREEN.''' Rather, he tried to land purely based on prompts like "Speed up!!" "Speed down!!" and "left left!!"
** He later did a follow-up video explaining his mistake. To be fair, a lot of other gamers had the same problem, as the "left left!!" commands really grab your attention.
** It's also justified that he probably did not have the manual as he buys a lot of his games second-hand, and with buying older cartridge based games, you're lucky if they do come with a manual.
** In his review of ''[[{{VideoGame/ETTheExtraTerrestrial}} E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial]]'', he points this trope, saying that while the game is bad, it's not as bad as people say, and much of the hate it gets is from people picking up the game and expecting they can just play it instantly like other Atari 2600 games, and never finding out how to play the game, see the quote page.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'', one of the most common brushstrokes (the Power Slash) is a simple straight line, which can be hard to pull off with a control stick or the Wiimote. It can be simply and easily overcome by pressing another button, which allows you to paint straight lines. This is mentioned multiple times in both manuals, but some people have played the game numerous times without ever knowing this. All the techniques are also described down to the smallest detail in a section on the pause menu.
* ''VideoGame/{{Okamiden}}'' prevents this issue. In a more positive example of ViewersAreMorons, whenever you get a new brush technique you are taken to the pause menu to read up on it. This is vital for the [[SelectiveMagnetism Magnetism]] technique, as there are two ways to draw it that do slightly different things (one attracts, the other repels), and the obligatory tutorial was extremely vague on how the effects were different. Understanding these differences is vital.
* People who went to Website/{{GameFAQs}} for the transfer codes for ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' discovered that every FAQ covered this subject with "Read The Freaking Manual, because we're not copying it". Many were looking because they had lost the manual, or bought it used (since used game stores usually sell just the cartridge). Moral of the story? Some people don't ''have'' the manual. That's why they're asking you in the first place.
* ''VideoGame/MechCommander'' features the ability to target specific points for massive damage on enemies, possibly the most useful ability in the game. It's not mentioned anywhere in game, and only mentioned on one page of the manual. Most Website/{{GameFAQs}} assumed that people without the manual were playing pirated versions of the game and refused to relist the command, saying RTFM!
* Related to the above lists on Website/{{GameFAQs}}, if you had gone to the boards before the questions section was put up, chances are you've seen threads asking stuff about the games, only for the FAQ writers and other members to say read the bloody FAQ. This even happened if the FAQ wasn't a very good one (like, say, it was based off of a Prima or Bradygames strategy guide that's half-completed or omits details) or lists information that is incorrect in the games. Especially if there was a difference between regions, or, in the case of some PC games, was not updated for a patch.
* On a similar note, the most commonly asked questions about ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' Valentine's Day missions is "How do I destroy the Cauldron/Girdle?", despite the fact that the contact specifically tells you that you must [[EnemyMine get someone from the opposite side]] to do it for you.
** The mission briefings are just ONE example of RTFM. There is a reason [[http://wiki.cohtitan.com/wiki/Main_Page Paragon Wiki]] and the [[http://boards.cityofheroes.com/forumdisplay.php?f=565 Official CoH Announcements Forum]] exist. If you play ''[=CoH=]'' at all, you should have both of them bookmarked.
* Also the endless questions in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' about how to do a quest when the quest description clearly states exactly what they need to do. Incredibly common in the Death Knight starting quests. Though occasionally, the quest text won't be of any help, such as in the infamous quest to find Mankrik's wife in the Barrens.
** This will also happen quite often in cities, with people asking where certain [=NPCs=] and services are. You can find all of that info by asking a guard in the city, of which there are several dozen.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', either Ashley or Kaidan can drop the line "Always a good idea to RTFM, ma'am," in a moment of snark during the Noveria mission after Liara says [[CaptainObvious it would be a good idea to look for directions before touching anything]].
* The ''VideoGame/OneMustFall2097'' manual thanks those who have decided to read it before installing/playing the game and chastises those who have not.
* In ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R.]]'' the character Norton Mapes, a computer worker you have to rescue, has a belt buckle that reads "RTFM".
* ''Series/HomeImprovement: Power Tool Pursuit!'' provides perhaps the ultimate aversion possible: In true Tim Taylor fashion, it's "manual" is just a single folded sheet that opens up to show a huge sign covering up most of the text, declaring that "[[CatchPhrase REAL MEN DON'T NEED INSTRUCTIONS]]".
* In ''VideoGame/NetHack'', this is yet another thing [[DevelopersForesight the Dev Team thought of]]. From their Windows binary download page:
-->'''Step 0: Promise to read Step 2 before telling us the game will not start.'''\\
Thank you.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' has a fan site called UESP, and they tell you that if you have the manual for ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Daggerfall]]'', to flat out ignore it because it was based off of an alpha version and incorrectly describes the game.
* ''[[VideoGame/PennyArcadeAdventures The third installment of Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness]]'' references and parodies this with an attack that Tycho can learn that is titled "RTFM", in which he basically throws a book at an enemy. This is later upgraded to "RTMFM" which doesn't cost MP to cast, and both of these attacks share the same sprite as Tycho's ultimate attack, the 4MP "Master's Thesis".
* ''VideoGame/DynastyWarriorsOnline'' suffers from this. Most people assume it's just like normal dynasty warriors (though they're not too far off), and will blaze through the first tutorial. Doing this prevents people from going through the flasking tutorial, which teaches players how to upgrade stats in battle. It doesn't help that [[WhatTheHellPlayer everyone insists on recreating your character until you S rank the first mission]].
* The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpoQke6VHbQ General Owner Intro]] for ''VideoGame/PennAndTellersSmokeAndMirrors'' stresses that the game's how-to modes are not a substitute for the [[http://www.pennfans.net/files/Smoke-and-Mirrors/Smoke%20&%20Mirrors%20-%20Manual.pdf instruction manual]].
* The manual for ''VideoGame/ResonanceOfFate'' is accurate, but poorly organized. It's not a problem for the most part, the in-game tutorials and control references pick up the slack. Except for telling you to use the right stick to move the gun base around on the attachments menu, that is. This is critical to getting all your attachments right, but isn't even alluded to in-game, and only referenced once in the manual, as a single-sentence afterthought at the end of a paragraph.
* The ''VideoGame/MightAndMagic VI'' manual contains several letters written by the king to his wife, one of which tells them where the "Third Eye" is located. However there's nothing in game to tell the player where this item is located. So if you don't read the manual you can't complete the game without searching everywhere after getting the quest to find the "Third Eye" (this item doesn't appear before this quest is triggered).
* ''VideoGame/Warhammer40000SpaceMarine'' has a background scene where Guardsmen are trying to fix their Basilisk, and one tells the other to pass him the manual.
--> We're stuck on a bloody [[EternalEngine Forge World,]] and not a [[LampshadeHanging Tech-Priest in sight!]]
* In ''VideoGame/CompanyOfHeroes'' gives us this hilarious inversion.
--> I '''KNOW''' it's technically impossible to shoot a Panzerschreck from an enclosed position. '''DON'T READ THE FUCKING MANUAL NEXT TIME, and you wouldn't care so much!'''
* At the beginning of ''Zoda's Revenge'', the main character directly asks the player if you remember his Uncle and the general events from the previous game in the series, ''Startropics''. If you reply no, Mike says "Oh... well maybe you should read the instructions."
* ''Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes'' is an entire game based around this trope. The game involves one person having to go through a highly technical and complicated manual (with [[http://www.bombmanual.com its own website]], even) and having to give directions to the person in-game, who is attempting to disarm complicated bombs. The difficulty relies on the fact that it's up to the reader to make sense of the manual, understand the various components and give clear directions to the defuser within the 5-minute time limit.
* pannenkoek2012's {{memetic|mutation}} ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' video of [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpk2tdsPh0A collecting Watch for Rolling Rocks in 0.5 A presses]] opens with an explanation of what exactly "half" a button press means[[note]]Short version: it's the ''second'' half.[[/note]], somewhat exasperatedly pointing out that he always gets comments about that, despite having a full explanation of the concept in the description of every video that relies on it.
* ''VideoGame/TIS100'' is a game about [[ProgrammingGame writing in mock assembly language]], and has an extensive manual in the style of a hand-me-down user guide explaining how the language works. You ''will'' need to have this on hand if you want to progress, since there's no proper tutorial or explanation in the game at all. Having to read the maual is even listed as a selling point.
** ''Shenzen I/O'' is much the same, using a similar faux-assembly to ''[=TIS-100=]''. It also has an extensive manual explaining the language, and the circuits you'll be writing the code onto, that you are expected to keep on hand and encouraged to print out and stick in a binder. One of your co-workers even sends you an e-mail before you can do your first assignment simply telling you that you should be reading that manual. Although there is some slight guidance given in-game, like the first assignment having some lines of code written by the last person that was in your position, who got fired for refusing to read said manual.
* Aside from a few GuideDangIt moments, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' goes out of its way to explain everything to you from what your skill does to what a status effect does. Despite the game holding your hand, there's a high number of players that, despite reaching the level cap, still have no idea what some of their skills do that they learned at low levels or how players can easily die if they are not cured of poison or the like simply because they never read what was given to them. This frustrates experienced players to no end.

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'':
** Elf initially appears to be a savant at the fabber, but it turns out that, while still incredibly advanced and far beyond the level one would expect from a grunt who hadn't completed high school... she'd been using the fabber's manual and assist options, which Kevyn calls cheating.
** Sergeant Schlock (then a corporal) discovers in mid fall that he doesn't know the exact difference between a plasma rocket and a plasma cannon. Solution -- start reading the freaking manual: [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20010118.html "No problem we're in no hurry down here"]].
* As shown above, ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' has covered this topic.
* ''Truck Bearing Kibble'' points out [[http://truckbearingkibble.com/comic/2007/11/30/flame-retarded/ how]] certain ''Literature/{{Fahrenheit 451}}'' characters may experience problems of this sort.
* ''Webcomic/UserFriendly'': The techs hate people who don't do this.
* The Whiteboard gives us two. In an early strip a customer comes in and tells Doc that he can't get the paintball gun to work no matter what buttons he tries pressing. Doc's response is to duct tape the owner's manual to the guy's face. A much later one occurs during a Christmas strip; Pirta is surprised to see Doc reading the instructions since that is a violation of man rules. Doc agrees that this is normally the case but he tends to be more careful whenever he is building anything involving explosives and rocket fuel.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', spellcasters (including the magical members of the main cast) are given spellbooks when they earn their first spell which are bound to them and which update automatically with new information every time they earn a new spell. Apparently no one (except Nanase) reads them regularly, so they're always surprised when they instinctively pull out their new spells in danger. It says something that these books are such a slog that kids won't read them to learn about their awesome new magical powers.
-->'''Elliot:''' I swear this thing makes up words to pad its own length.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Excessively snarky news aggregator [[Website/{{fark}} fark.com]] frequently features comments that are derived from the famous RTFM acronym: posters will advertise when posting that they DNRTFA ("Did Not Read The Farking Article") they are commenting on, or be told to RTFA ("Read The..." [[FigureItOutYourself Eh, you can guess the rest.]]) when making a comment that is obviously addressed by the article in question.
* A common saying on sites like Website/YouTube is "Read the freaking [video] description!" yet no one seems to bother anyways. Some users don't write a description at all for this reason.
* ''Website/GaiaOnline'' has a whole forum dedicated to being able to ask questions about the site and get answers from other users. That forum would be utterly dead if people would just read stickied threads or the information in the Help Center.
** Also afflicted is their MMORPG, ''[=zOMG!=]'' The forum for said MMO is filled with threads by users asking how to sell their rings... even though the ''item description'' for said rings ends with a note that "all rings are soulbound and cannot be traded or sold, with certain grandfathered exceptions[[note]]rings acquired before the binding mechanic was implemented[[/note]]". Those who did read the freaking manual then [[TooDumbToLive spam the forum asking how to grandfather their rings so they can sell them]].
* [[Wiki/SCPFoundation Step-1- Read -all- the steps before continuing.]] [[WhatAnIdiot Seriously.]]
* Used in the WebVideo/JoueurDuGrenier's review of the game based on ''Series/{{Airwolf}}'', at the end of his "guide on how to get angry at your computer" skit:
-->'''[=JdG=]:''' But if you want to avoid all that, just read the [[PrecisionFStrike fucking]] manual!
* In ''WebVideo/GameGrumps'', it's common for [[Creator/EgoRaptor Arin]] and [[Creator/JonTron Jon]]/[[Music/NinjaSexParty Danny]] to ignore tutorials (sometimes intentionally) and then complain about not knowing what to do.
** The most infamous moment of this was during their playthrough of [[VideoGame/KirbySuperStar Milky Way Wishes]], where they skip the tutorial and fail to learn the core gameplay mechanic. This leads to them insulting the game for the better part of a half hour and calling it many synonyms for shitty, only discovering the main gameplay mechanic by accident.
** The second most egregious example was when playing ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006''. After defeating Egg Genesis as Sonic, you are automatically warped to a lake. The entrance to Tropical Jungle is in the middle of the lake, and a Hint Mark reminds you of an underused gameplay mechanic that would let you cross it. The Grumps completely ignore the hint mark, walk away from the level entrance, and proceed to wander around the (at the time unnecessary) ruins for about twenty minutes, only realizing their mistake once they decide to [[SubvertedTrope read the strategy guide]].
** Later, the Grumps spent the entire first ''VideoGame/NaughtyBear'' video complaining about not knowing what to do because they talked over the narration telling them to burn the present. They addressed it in the 2nd video.
** ''WebVideo/SteamTrain'' has this problem as well, with the ''Doctor Who'' episode in particular drawing comparisons to [[Creator/TheKingOfHate DarkSydePhil]].
*** This has cropped up again in the Steam Train playthrough of They Bleed Pixels. Even worse, they spend a lot of time complaining about the game forcing a tutorial and control instructions on them (which are written on the game's walls throughout the first level), [[WhatAnIdiot only to then forget certain actions that they can perform]], most notably completely forgetting they can duck to avoid enemy attacks, and Ross completely ignoring the instructions written on the walls on how to open certain doors.
* ''WebVideo/UltraFastPony'':
-->'''Twilight:''' Nothing's illegal if it's {{for science}}!\\
'''Spike:''' Isn't that what you said when you tried to clone that burrito?\\
'''Twilight:''' How was I supposed to know they'd turn into super-intelligent evil mutants that haunt us to this very day?\\
'''Spike:''' Because that's what it said in the instruction book.\\
'''Twilight:''' Shut up, Spike.
* It is strongly advised that new players read the OP before posting in the ''Roleplay/EnterTheArenaAsYourAvatar'', and possibly tell the other players and the moderator that the new player has read it.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Homer attempts to build a barbecue grill, but he drops the English-language instructions into the pool of cement he had started, and is forced to follow the French instructions ("''Le grille?!'' WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!") After a few minutes of frustration, he gives up and tries to do it by himself, predictably leaving behind a jumbled mess (which, incidentally, becomes a [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible critically-acclaimed piece of modern art among the Springfield art community]]).
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' had the use of the computer delayed by over 150 years because no one would read the manual (or anything else). Timmy hid the deed to a town in the old computer manual, where it remained undiscovered until he came to pick it up.
-->'''Doug Dimmadome:''' It was in an old computer manual? Dag nabbit, [[RunningGag no one ever reads the manual!]]
* When WesternAnimation/{{W|owWowWubbzy}}ubbzy gets a pet Fleegle, he throws away the manual because he thinks he won't need it. If he'd read the manual, he would have known that feeding a Fleegle candy causes it to [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever grow exponentially.]]
** Or that feeding it a sandwich causes it to multiply.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Madagascar}}: Escape 2 Africa'', the penguins wonder about a warning light in the plane they're flying. Skipper asks for the manual...[[BaitAndSwitch and smashes the light bulb with it]]. "Problemo solved."
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' begins with Dr. Drakken stealing a WeatherControlMachine for his latest evil plan, only to discover that he has no idea how to operate it. His sidekick Shego eventually convinces him to go back and steal the manual as well.
* Averted in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', by manly-man (but TheSmartGuy) Sokka: when attempting to sabotage an enemy siege weapon, the very first thing he tries to find is a schematic diagram.
* In the [[TheMovie TV movie]] ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerbTheMovieAcrossThe2ndDimension'', after [[TheReveal Perry's cover is blown]] and the boys find out their pet platypus is actually a secret agent, he gives them a pamphlet which an upset Phineas immediately throws away. Had he read it, he would have found out that Perry kept his identity a secret because he would have to leave them otherwise. [[spoiler:It says a lot that Phineas and Ferb forgave and fought alongside Perry even without knowing]].
* ''WesternAnimation/GoofTroop'' uses both the unwilling and unable variations of this trope. If [[CloudCuckoolander Goofy]] is involved, you can bet he will read the manual wrong, which usually but not always brings along a "How To" {{Narrator}} who will berate Goofy for making mistakes. Sometimes we get to see the results of his manual-reading gone wrong. On the other hand, if ''[[OnlySaneMan PJ]]'' is involved, whoever he's talking to (Max or Pete) will dismiss his sound advice to read the manuals (or similar things like gauges) which invariably leads to disaster.
* A ''WesternAnimation/PrivateSnafu'' cartoon, "Snafuperman," as this as AnAesop with Snafu becoming a SuperHero, only to be the world's dumbest one because he won't read his military field manuals like he is supposed to.
* In "Nanou to the Rescue" from ''Bali''[[note]]A somewhat obscure French/Canadian cartoon that was aired for a while on PBS in the U.S.[[/note]], Bali's father is having trouble fixing up a bookshelf in Bali's room. Bali notices a piece of paper in the trashcan, which happens to have the instructions depicted on it, suggesting "Maybe you need this to show you how to fix it properly?" His father, however, says, "No thanks, Bali. Instruction manuals confuse me." Bali heads off for a day in the park, but at the end of the story, the bookshelf is assembled. However, the placement of a single book causes it to fall apart. Bali runs back over to the trashcan with the instructions, suggesting that maybe his dad really does need them. He agrees and they decide to both put the bookshelf together with each other the next day.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' episode "Overdrive" Cyborg gets a new microchip to enhance his cybernetic parts. While he had checked to see if the chip was compatible with his systems, if he had read the manual, he would have learned shutting down said systems to boost the chip's power would nearly cause an overload. However, he got impatient.
-->'''Cyborg:''' Just take a second to read the instructions...and this warning, a few disclaimers, another warning, something in German-Oh, man! I don't have time for this!

[[folder: Real Life]]
* Computer hardware manufacturer MSI announced the addition of an RTFM-chip to their products designed to analyze what the user did after a problem, then send the information back to MSI, with the intention of reducing the number of tech support queries and RMA's over problems detailed in the manual.
* Some tests are actually tests to see if you read and follow all instructions completely:
** [[http://www.brainbashers.com/follow.asp A common example]] used in school. A worksheet will read "Read all instructions before completing," and start off with relatively benign instructions. Later on, instructions start becoming bizarre with commands like "Cluck like a chicken," or whatever. If you read to the bottom, the last instruction will tell you to disregard all the other instructions, revealing to the rest of the class who actually read the entire sheet before completing it.
** A similar example is a long step-by-step computation with the legend, "read completely before attempting", for which the very last computation is "× 0". [[note]]Of course, this trick works best if multiplication is the highest order of operations in the term. While exponents don't matter that much if they are written as powers, brackets can make it a bit complicated[[/note]]
** This type of test is also used to measure a how good a soldier can follow orders. They are told to read through the entire sheet before they start to answer the questions. Because of a time limit many will start to panic and start filling in the answers. Those that don't panic will finally read that they don't need to answer any questions at all.
* There is a manual for Photoshop [=CS5=] that actually is called "The missing manual: The book that should have been in the box" specifically ''because'' the manual written by the people at Adobe was of almost ''no'' help. It's part of an [[http://missingmanuals.com/ entire series]] of books that serve as manuals for programs that either didn't come with one, or came with a really crappy manual.
* Reading the Freaking Manual can even help computers! See [[http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/language-from-games-0712.html this]] news story about how an MIT AI research group's machine-learning system actually read the manual for ''VideoGame/FreeCiv'' (a ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} II'' clone) and used it to improve its victory rate from 46% up to 79%.
* RTFM is commonly used by engineering lecturers/advisers when asked a particularly stupid question. Also common is ATFQ, used in longer reports.
* Ask anyone in the tech field - especially tech support or customer service. A lot of people are guilty of this. Not only do the customers not read the manual, but oftentimes, ''the staff doesn't either''. Many people assume that because they already know how to use it that they don't need to read the manual.
* Often inverted nowadays. Most complex technical devices (which now includes TV sets) come with manuals that are thick only because they contain 30 languages, some of which you've never heard of before. The actual content is usually trivial. Without internet fora and similar user-driven information sources, you're sunk trying to even remotely exploit, for example, a smartphone's capabilities.
* In some internet discussions groups, posters go overboard telling people who are asking any question to RTFM (anything Unix-related for example), even if the manuals comprise 1000 pages or more just for the overview. Regardless of being helpful or smug, it often translates as 'I don't know either'.
* During the WarOnTerror, American artillerymen assigned to train Afghan soldiers in the effective use of artillery found that the Afghans were using Russian artillery pieces which the Americans were not familiar with. Fortunately, the Afghan soldiers had the manuals that went with the artillery... except that the manuals were, of course, written in Russian.
* Amazon customer review pages are loaded with angry 1-star reviews from customers complaining that a bought product didn't work as expected, even though the very thing they're complaining about is ''already'' addressed in the Amazon item's description!
* Many software companies have stopped including manuals at all in the interests of 'going green' (read: an excuse to save money on printing costs). Physical copies of video games and computer software will often be packaged with nothing more than a 2-page leaflet telling you that the manual is either located on the software disc itself or downloadable from the company's website. This substantially lowers the rate of the people who RTFM.
* A Hoops and Yoyo Administrative Professionals Day e-card has this line when you ask Hoops about fixing the copier:
--> "Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Manual. Read him. Love him. Fix it, you got that? Chop chop!"
[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Now just shut up, sit down and]] [[OverlyLongGag Read]] [[SelfDemonstratingArticle the]] [[TitleDrop Freaking Manual!]]