troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Sarcasm-Blind
aka: Does Not Understand Sarcasm
Agent Wolf is also Facepalm-Blind.

Leonard: For God's sake, Sheldon, do I have to hold up a sarcasm sign every time I open my mouth?
Sheldon: You have a sarcasm sign?

A common trait among characters who have No Social Skills due to an offbeat background, also The Spock, and those who are just that Comically Serious. These characters do not understand sarcasm. A lot of times, that can be annoying to the sarcastic ones in question. Although characters like this are also often Literal-Minded, some aren't. Sarcasm is tricky for someone to understand, because while "That's great," sometimes does mean that something is great, other times it doesn't. Everything depends on tone and gestures.

A Washington Post contest once dubbed this 'gap' between a sarcastic speaker and the person who misses it the "Sarchasm."

For the intermittent effect, see Sarcasm Failure.

Compare Poe's Law, Crying Wolf, Do Not Do This Cool Thing, Schmuck Bait, No Sense of Humor, Cannot Convey Sarcasm, Sarcasm Mode, Blunt Metaphors Trauma.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Sōsuke in Full Metal Panic!, to no-one's surprise. Very late in the series, Sōsuke acquires enough of a sense of sarcasm to actually (attempt to) employ Sarcasm Mode, suggesting that he and Tessa should forget the whole deal with Amalgam and saving Kaname, sell off the Tuatha de Danann, and head off to Guam to party. Tessa does not find Sōsuke's very first joke at all amusing — or even realize he's telling one until the part about Guam.
  • Osaka from Azumanga Daioh, especially with the following exchange:
    Osaka: (eyes start wandering around)
    Kaorin: Hey, Osaka, what are you doing?
    Osaka: Well, you know those little tiny spots you sometimes catch in your eyes? Well, I'm trackin' them down.
    Kaorin: I see... well, good luck with that.
    Osaka: Mmm, thank you.

    Comedy 
  • Nick Swardson talks about this after one joke. His cat had diarrhea, and when the doctor asked what he was feeding the cat, he said "diarrhea". He said that an audience member actually stood up and was offended by that, and his rebuttal was that there's no way that that joke could be true.
  • Dave Barry writes about "humor-impaired" people who have this problem. He tries to remedy this issue by sprinkling the column with cues as to what's funny and what isn't, as humor-impaired people don't understand what is and isn't supposed to be a joke. He finishes the explanation with "Trust me, these people exist. They write to me all of the time."
    • His proposed method, which he claimed was pioneered by Richard Nixon, was electrified undershorts, remote-operated by Secret Service agents whenever a joke was made so the President would know when to laugh.
      "Sometimes, if the guests were unusually witty, the chief executive wound up twitching like a freshly-caught mackerel as dangerous voltage levels were reached in his boxers."
    • He then notes that if your reactions were laughter or outrage, you do not have Humor Impairment Syndrome, since you got that is was supposed to be funny, the HIS people would be writing in to say they'd use hand signals or asking where they could buy those shorts.
  • In one of Emo Philips 's routines about playing at/intentionally ruining a construction site as a boy, he tells of getting caught in wet cement and being stuck for days. One of those days, his friend Jimmy Petersen walks by and asks if Emo got himself stuck in the cement, to which Emo responds: "No; last night I didn't finish my broccoli so my mom cut my head off and threw it here." Jimmy runs away screaming, and the next morning, still stuck, Emo reflects on there being a time and a place for sarcasm. This trope in other people was also listed in an interview with Emo in Time Out as one of the worst things about being a comedian.

    Comic Books 
  • In Battle Hymn, the King of the Sea doesn't understand ideas like figurative speech or metaphor; from what he says, they don't seem to have these underwater.
  • In Dylan Dog, Scotland Yard's agent Jenkins. Can't get humor, either.
  • In Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, when Gideon sarcastically says that Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers clearly have no problems with their relationship, a random guy points out that they were having a fight.
    Gideon: You two are adorable. I can see that your relationship is really working.
    Random Guy #1: Really? Cause, I mean, it seems like they're fighting.
  • Ultimate Moon Knight:
    Spider-Man: Don't mind me, I'm just here for the chicken wings.
    Moon Knight: (confused) There... There are no chicken wings.
  • Cat Curio and Vlad in Hack Slash both have a really hard time with any kind of sarcasm or figurative speech. Cat has Asperger Syndrome, and Vlad had an extremely sheltered upbringing wherein speaking to someone besides his not-fluent-in-English foster father was a ridiculous notion.
  • Scootaloo and Spike in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW).
  • Futurama: One B-Plot involved Hermes, Amy and Zoidberg being forced into the sub-sewers, where they find an idyllic society of handsome and beautiful humans. They keep offering the group things such as new clothes and prestigious positions within their society, and only at the end, when they believe they are about to be made rulers, do they discover why these people live underneath the sewer mutants; they are supremely arrogant and haughty, to the point they now can only communicate in biting sarcasm, meaning they were actually being mocked since the second they arrived.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert The Pointy-Haired Boss. He's managed to recognize it maybe five times in 20 years. "This could be that 'sarcasm' thing I keep hearing about." Played with in a strip where Dilbert described his accomplishments, rattling off every management buzzword and ending with "I give you — Dilbert — the perfect employee."
    Boss: Was that sarcasm?
    Dilbert: To be honest, I don't even know.
  • Dagwood of Blondie. Apparently even sarcasm can't penetrate "that thick skull of his". Made even funnier by the fact that his boss took some time to find this out.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin can be a very sarcastic child, but it often takes him a while to recognize sarcasm from Hobbes. Sometimes a very long while.

    Fan Works 
  • Goku in Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Z Abridged series is a prime example of this.
    Raditz: Now, disregarding the Namekian...
    Goku: Nu-uh, the Yoshi.
    Piccolo: I'm not a goddamn Yoshi!
    Goku: But you said you were?
    Piccolo: It's called Sarcasm!!
    Goku: What's that taste like?
    Piccolo: DAMMIT GOKU!!!
  • Death Note fanfic Xanatos gives us Lindanote , who, while not totally ignorant of it, at least needs to be told when someone is being facetious. Naturally, she interacts a lot with Matt.
  • Princess Zelda sometimes shows signs of this in Paper Mario X. Example from chapter 41:
    Koopatrol: Oh, would you like to be in the quiz?!
    Zelda: OH... a quiz? It's a good test for my wisdom—
    Koopatrol: I WAS SARCASTIC! We only need one person!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics:
    • Cloud Kicker in Ace Combat The Equestrian War acts like that at times.
    • Prince Blueblood in The Vinyl Scratch Tapes:
      Octavia: Still as good at detecting sarcasm as you ever were...
      Blueblood: Oh... Well, thank you for the compliment.
      Octavia: No, I was being... Ugh, you know what, never mind.
    • Anthropology: Lyra does not understand sarcasm, and actually has to be informed when someone is being sarcastic with her. Example from chapter 23:
      Lyra: I was reading that history book you gave me and it said that America had been in wars. A lot of them, actually.
      Paul: News flash. I've never heard that before.
      Lyra: So... It wasn't true? I mean, if there had really been so many, you would have heard—
      Paul: That was sarcasm, Lyra.
  • In Gypsy Caravan Barty Crouch Jr. commented on how hard he'd been trying to stay out of Voldemort's way when he was busy, prompting Snape to offer to bring a book next time he was called and Crouch to reply that that would be lovely and sincerely thank him. Snape's final thought as he departed was that sarcasm was wasted on the insane.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lampy in The Brave Little Toaster. He has his moments, though.
    Lampy: I think he was laughing at us.
    AC: You know something, you're a real bright little lamp.
    Lampy: Oh thanks! (beat) Heeeeeyy....
  • Pumbaa from The Lion King trilogy:
    Timon: Well, that worked like a dream.
    Pumbaa: It did?
    Timon: Sarcasm is a foreign language to you, isn't it?
  • Home on the Range:
    Maggie: I got it! Why don't we go nab that Alameda Slim and use the reward money to save the farm?
    Mrs. Calloway: Oh, that is a sensible idea.
    Maggie: I knew you'd love it!
    Mrs. Calloway: Don't they have sarcasm where you come from?
  • From Rise of the Guardians, Santa.
    Santa: I hope the Yetis treated you well.
    Jack Frost: Yeah. I love being shoved in a bag and tossed through a magical portal.
    Santa: Oh, good! That was my idea!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A sketch in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life has an Army drill sergeant barking at his men that they're going to spend the day "marching up and down the square... that is, unless any of you got anything better to do." When the soldiers begin mentioning such things (being at home with the wife and kids, reading a book, practicing the piano), the nonplussed sergeant dismisses them.
  • Demolition Man
    • In the distant future of 2032, sarcasm apparently is a lost art. Spartan was trying to figure out a way to stop Simon Phoenix.
      Police Chief: We have figured out a plan. We are going to wait for another MurderDeathKill and then we will pounce on him.
      Spartan: Good plan.
      Police Chief: Thank you.
    • Phoenix is even good enough to point this out, in an exchange with cops sent to apprehend him:
      Phoenix: Look at you, in your nice shiny uniforms... oooh, I'm SO scared... what, you people don't have sarcasm anymore?
      Squad leader: Maniac has responded with a scornful remark.
  • In Roxanne, the title character accidentally locked herself out of the house, wearing only a bathrobe that got caught in the door. She goes to the fire department for help, and hides in the bushes. C.D. asks her if she'd like a coat, and she sarcastically remarks, "No, I'd really like to stand naked in this bush in the freezing cold." He goes to get his tools, and she's surprised when he returns without anything for her.
    Roxanne: Nobody had a coat?
    C.D.: I thought you said you didn't want a coat.
    Roxanne: Why would I not want a coat?
    C.D.: You said you didn't want a coat.
    Roxanne: I was being ironic.
    C.D.: Oh! Irony! Oh, no, no, we don't get that here. See, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony's not really a high priority. We haven't had any irony here since about '83 when I was the only practitioner of it, and I stopped 'cause I was tired of being stared at.
  • C3PO from Star Wars is programmed with over 6 million forms of communication, but doesn't quite understand Han's sarcasm.
    C-3PO: Captain Solo, it would appear that this asteroid is not entirely stable.
    Han: "Not entirely stable"? I'm glad you're here to tell us these things!
    C-3PO: Sometimes I just don't understand human behaviors. After all, I'm only doing my job!
  • Calamity Jane: Calamity does this once or twice, due to ignorance.
    Calamity: Why don't you send for her?
    Henry: Sure. Why don't I send for the Queen of Sheba?
    Bill: Yeah.
    Calamity: ...No good. They want Adelaide!
  • Happens during at least one conversation in Far And Away, when Shannon suggests Joseph be her servant boy while they travel to America and he angrily (as well as sarcastically) rejects the idea.
    Joseph: Oh, I see... I see. I could- I could polish your boots for ya.
    Shannon: They will need a polish now and then.

    Literature 
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Ford Prefect doesn't understand sarcasm because he's an alien and they don't have it on his planet. Leading to a moment in Mostly Harmless, when he responds to a huge rant about the Guide from Arthur ("I can hardly wait to find out which are the most interesting spaceports to get bored hanging around in!") with a genuinely perplexed "This is that thing you call sarcasm, isn't it?" Character Development in And Another Thing...:
    Arthur: I don't suppose you have a bomb-proof towel.
    Ford: Sure, I have a bomb-proof towel and an antimatter pillowcase.
    Arthur: Hey, sarcasm. Well done, mate, you're learning.
  • Discworld
    • Carrot Ironfoundersson, due to his upbringing by the Literal-Minded dwarves. He gets better at recognizing it, even if he still doesn't really understand it. Though some wonder, in-story, if Carrot isn't as oblivious as he seems.
    • Interestingly, though Carrot has No Social Skills because he grew up at the bottom of a dwarven mine, most of the dwarfs seen in the books are a lot more savvy than himself. This is mainly because most of them are from Ankh-Morpork. Mountain dwarfs fall more definitely into this trope, which is justified by the fact that sarcasm (along with metaphor, and other forms of non-literal communication) are useless and potentially unsafe in a mine.
    • Sergeant Colon as well, who thinks "irony" means "sort of like iron." When he's made Captain in The Fifth Elephant, Vetinari's barbed comments just bounce straight off, no matter how blatant he tries to make them.
    • Cohen the Barbarian does understand sarcasm, in a vague sense, but he has a little more trouble with metaphor and hyperbole. Several Agatean nobles commit suicide in Interesting Times by telling him they'd rather die than see him on the throne.
  • In the X-Wing Series, Runt is like this at first, being a non-human new to serving in the New Republic. He learns.
  • The Eighth Doctor, in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures books. He's more of a genuine Cloudcuckoolander than the Doctor usually is. Why he has one or two Deadpan Snarkers traveling with him basically at all times is something of a mystery.
    "Well. They could've been muggers, I suppose."
    "I'm so, so sorry."
    "Why, did you put them up to it?"
    The Doctor looked at her strangely. "Of course not!"
  • Hephaestus in The Heroes of Olympus. As the god of the forge, he's not too smart dealing with organic life forms.
    Hephaestus: That was sarcasm, wasn't it? Machines don't have sarcasm, usually.
  • Bill Bryson notes this is a problem when conversing with some of his friends and neighbors, in an article in Notes From a Big Country:
    Bill: (sees his neighbor's car covered in tree branches the morning after a storm) Morning George! Camouflaging your car, I see!
    George: ... No, the storm blew these branches onto my car last night and I need to clear them away.
  • In the Animorphs books, Ax the Andalite at first didn't understand sarcasm, though he was a quick learner. He occasionally played dumb, though.
  • The Dresden Files: Faeries with little experience with humans, such as Toot-toot.
  • In Rob Grant's Backwards, Ace takes as genuine that Rimmer has telepathic powers, before admonishing him when Rimmer reveals the sarcasm.
  • Mortal Instruments: Alec Lightwood. Occasionally.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Rosenberg. "Cibo Matto can clog dance!?"
  • Saturday Night Live
    • On a sketch hosted by Kevin Spacey he played the "inventor" of sarcasm. He said things like "I love this party" meaning he hated it, but no-one got it because no-one else knew of sarcasm. Until they all understood he was being ironic, became extremely hurt, and burned him at the stake.
    • Another SNL skit had Matthew Perry as a teacher in a class for Sarcasm101.
      "Is this Sarcasm 101?"
      "No this is embroidery. Sarcasm 101 is down the hall."
      "Ah. Thanks!"
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper.
    • Leonard even made a sarcasm sign in an early episode. And Sheldon keeps track of how many times he correctly understands sarcasm.
    • Once, when Howard made a sarcastic comment, Sheldon asked "Was that sarcasm?", and Howard sarcastically replied "No!" — which, of course, Sheldon failed to recognize the sarcasm of.
    • In at least one episode, this is inverted: Sheldon takes something as sarcastic when it isn't. I suppose this can be Truth in Television to some extent if you can't recognize sarcasm and you're used to looking for it everywhere.
    • Over the course of several seasons, Sheldon has eventually learned to recognise sarcasm.
  • Supernatural
    • Castiel. Though as he hangs out with Dean more, he might get a handle on it.
      Castiel: [God] isn't in Heaven. He has to be somewhere.
      Dean: Try New Mexico! I hear he's on a tortilla.
      Castiel: (after seriously considering this) No, He's not on any flat bread.
    • Also:
      Jo: Hey, ever heard of door handles?
      Castiel: (after teleporting himself out of the car) Of course I have.
    • Lately, he's become more sarcastic himself.
      Castiel: You're right. Pardon me for highlighting their crippling and dangerous empathetic response with "sarcasm."
  • A Mr. Show sketch has a man who expresses constant, venomous sarcasm... through letter writing. Given the obvious lack of cues towards his sarcasm as a result, everyone tends to take him at face value (including one poor woman who receives a "love" letter from him).
  • Dr. Temperance Brennan, title protagonist of Bones, often fails to understand sarcasm at first (if at all) and usually must use logical deduction (out loud) to detect it. Much to the bemusement of her partner.
  • Bennett Halverson, the programmer played by Summer Glau on Dollhouse, shows signs of this as part of a general Rainman vibe, as evidenced by an exchange with Adelle.
    Bennett: You used the company jet to abduct the programmer of a rival house?
    Adelle: I'm certain I'll be kicking myself come holiday bonus time.
    Bennett: I'm sure you'll be dead by then.
  • Virtually everyone in Blackadder except the title character takes turns at failing to understand his sarcasm, especially in the fourth series. This is lampshaded once in the third series.
    Blackadder: Baldrick, do you have any idea what irony is?
    Baldrick: Yeah. It's like goldey and bronzey, only it's made of iron.
  • The Brittas Empire: Mr. Gordon Brittas not only fails to understand sarcasm, but anything at all that's subtler than coming out and speaking your mind. Cue Cringe Comedy.
    Laura: You see, we were all standing outside the ambulance waving goodbye to Mr. Petrov, and Mr. Brittas was saying "Where are we going to find an internationally famous pianist in the next half hour?" and I said, "Hey kids, why don't we do the show ourselves?"
    Helen: Oh, you didn't...
    Laura: I just never thought.
  • Seinfeld: Cosmo Kramer
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr Pither in the episode "The Cycling Tour":
    Cafe Proprietor: 35 p please.
    Mr Pither: Ah... oh, I have only a fifty. You have change?
    Cafe Proprietor: Well, I'll have a look, but I may have to go to the bank.
    Mr Pither: I'm most awfully sorry.
  • In the House episode "Family Practice", the Patient of the Week is Cuddy's mother, played by Candice Bergen. After going through the usual incorrect diagnoses of what's wrong with her (her hypochondria didn't exactly help things much), House makes a blatantly sarcastic remark about how much he loves a certain famous baseball player, then asks her if he really meant what he just said. Her inability to detect his sarcasm confirms his suspicions, allowing him and his team to proceed finally in the right direction.
  • As of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Data's Day", Data can recognize sarcasm using logic, but can't quite grasp how to use it:
    Riker: (sarcastic) Charming woman.
    Data's voice-over: The tone of Commander Riker's voice makes me suspect that he is not serious about finding Ambassador T'Pel charming. My experience suggests that, in fact, he may mean the exact opposite of what he says. Irony is a form of expression I have not yet been able to master.
  • Boardwalk Empire
    • Deputy Halloran. when he marvels at the existence of a "lady lawyer," she deadpans "What next, horseless carriages?", prompting his response "They already got those." On another occasion, while helping dispose of a body, he asks whose it is and is sarcastically told it's silent film star Mary Pickford, leading to the shocked response "You killed Mary Pickford?!"
    • When Sigrid nags Nelson again about the plumbing, he angrily claims that he got the president of the Roebuck company to personally send a crack team of men to fix the problem. She believes him, forcing to him to state that it was sarcasm and storm out.
  • In Community, Abed's inability to understand being "messed with" drives his and Troy's subplot for an episode. Lampshaded:
    Abed: Troy invented rap music, and he's related to Danny Glover, and President Obama.
    Troy: Hey man, that stuff I said this morning wasn't true, I was just messing with you.
    Abed: You were lying?
    Troy: Yeah, as a joke. You've never had somebody mess with you before?
    Abed: Yes, just kidding, no. Like that?... This isn't a table. (laughs) ... That's funny.
    • Abed uses sarcasm in another episode, but the group fails to recognize it because it wasn't said in a sarcastic tone of voice. Abed then calls himself on that, ending (in a very sarcastic voice), "Sarcasm is soooooo interesting."
  • Leverage's Parker. Too many to count in every episode.
  • Subverted with Chris Trager on Parks and Recreation. Due to his extremely positive, upbeat personality, one would expect that he wouldn't understand sarcasm. He does understand and recognize sarcasm; he just ignores the sarcasm because he believes there is a kernel of truth in sarcasm.
  • The elderly Ernie "Coach" Pantusso, bartender at Cheers, made a lot of dimwit comments after taking sarcasm too literally. His future replacement Woody Boyd, a farmboy from Indiana, was probably even worse at it.
  • In an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike is put on trial for all those planets he blew up by an omnipotent alien judge. The judge offers Mike the chance to choose who he wants as the prosecutor and defense; both times he lists two famous historical figures plus one of the Mads ("Your choices are Thomas Jefferson, Clarence Darrow, and Professor Bobo.") When Mike snarks "Yeah sure, like I'd choose Bobo", the judge takes him seriously.
  • In Father Ted, when Mrs Doyle encounters Father Jessup, "the most sarcastic priest in Ireland";
    Mrs. Doyle: Shall I make the beds in the spare room?
    Father Jessup: No, we'll sleep outside, in a ditch!
    Mrs. Doyle: OK so... would you like a cup of tea?
    Father Jessup: No, We want to die of thirst.
    Mrs. Doyle: (baffled) OK so...
    Father Ted: (quietly) Mrs. Doyle, I think Father Jessup might have been being a bit... sarcastic...
    Mrs. Doyle: Really? Were you being sarcastic, Father Jessup?
    Father Jessup: No, we'd like to die of thirst!
    Father Ted: (quietly) Mrs. Doyle, I know it's a bit confusing, but the trick is to do the opposite of what Father Jessup says.
    Mrs. Doyle: (very uncertain) So, you really... do... want a cup of tea?
    Father Jessup: (exasperated) Yes! (reaches out for the cup)
    Mrs. Doyle: (takes the cup away, looking very pleased with herself)
  • On The Golden Girls, Dorothy is a Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire, while Rose is a ditzy Cloudcuckoolander. Since this is something akin to an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, the writers will usually split the difference and have Rose understand that Dorothy is being sarcastic about half the time. Example: Sophia was telling her friends a friend of hers passed away.
    Rose: How did she die?
    Sophia: She was fighting an oil rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico. She was 88!
    Rose: Well, at least she was able to work right up until the end.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Horatio Hornblower sort of inhabits a World of Snark. The resident Deadpan Snarkers do not exchange sneering comments with each other, but they are paired with poor Sarcasm Blind Horatio, who is a genius at every other thing but irony, jokes and the like usually escape him. However, his close friend Archie's smartass comments are likely to bring about one of his rare and most attractive smiles. An example from "Retribution", involving the hero and a snarky captain at the Lieutenants' trial which investigates a possible mutiny aboard their ship commanded by a crazy Captain.
    Captain Collins: (in sarcasm mode) A happy day for James Sawyer when you four gentlemen came aboard.
    Horatio: (completely honest) Thank you, sir.
    Captain Hammond a.k.a. Hanging Judge: (smirks and laughs out loud)
  • Teen Wolf: While Stiles is usually one of the resident snarkers, he has his moments, usually around the more intimidating werewolves. One example being in "Chaos Rising":
    Stiles: Where do you live?
    Peter Hale: In an underground network of caves hidden deep in the woods.
    Stiles: Whoa, really?
    Peter Hale: No you idiot! I have an apartment downtown.
  • A sort of secondhand example in sketch show The EdgeAlan Ruck's character sarcastically confesses to a brutal murder while on the stand in court. Since the audience are laughing at his sarcastic rant, and he hasn't been heard properly, the judge asks the stenographer to read back the last statement, which she does without the sarcastic tone, as such the confession is taken as genuine.
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted is surprised that Stella expects them to live in New Jersey after they get married, after Ted thought she agreed that they would live in New York. A flashback shows that she made a sarcastic remark about living in New York, which Ted failed to see as sarcasm.
  • The Class had this with Yonk Allen. Richie had all kinds of fun with it.
  • Pretty Little Liars: When you tell Hanna she has the subtlety of a hand grenade, she's actually delighted to hear it!

    Music 
  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's 11-minute epic "Albuquerque," he mentions an incident where he saw a co-worker struggling with a sofa and asked if he wanted help. The co-worker responded "No, I want you to cut off my arms and legs with a chainsaw." So he did. But he's got that really cool nickname now: Torso Boy!

    Podcasts 
  • The Jade Regent Campaign from RPGMP3 features a character called Spivey, a Lyrakien Cleric of Desna. Spivey used to live in a cemetery, until the PCs came by. She then joined their caravan and followed them on their quest, quickly earning the nickname "Death Pixie", since most of her skills were focused on graveyard maintenance, at that point. She's always flitting around, dispensing invaluable moral advice and trying to get the PCs to be nicer to each other.

Spivey: There'sacoupletravellersahead! Weshouldfeedthem.
Harold: Ah, Spivey! How do you fly with that heart of gold?
Spivey: Oh, well... Desna gives me wings!
Misty: Her heart is made out of gold?! How do you know? [Visibly starts to ponder whether she should reach in, pull it out and check]
Harold: Y'know, with the Good Outsiders, I wouldn't be surprised.
Misty: [Grabs Spivey and shakes her] She's not heavy enough to have a heart made of gold?
Koya: Misty, that's not how we usually hug!
Jade Regent, episode 13

    Radio 
  • Cabin Pressure: Arthur has moments of this.
    Arthur: Mr. Birling says I'll never find another girlfriend.
    Carolyn: Oh. Well, Mr Birling, the seventy-something retiree from Sussex, is of course one of the country's foremost relationship experts.
    Arthur: Oh no, is he? I didn't even know that!

    Theater 
  • In 1776, Rutledge sarcastically refers to the "eternal peace and harmony" of the Delaware delegation — two pro-independence members against anti-independence George Read. McKean doesn't get it.
    McKean: What're y'sayin', man? Y'know perfectly well neither Rodney nor I can stand the sight of this little wart!

    Video Games 
  • In My Sims Kingdom, the first time you go to Cowboy Junction, Buddy asks what kind of people they'll find there. Lyndsay says that it's probably inhabited by a race of fishmen, which excites Buddy. She tells him that was sarcasm. He tells her that he's a fishman, prompting a "Really?" from her. He takes that to mean that he fooled her "with a sarcasm."
  • Mical the Disciple in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. When the player character receives a request to meet a shady character, alone, Atton Rand snarks, "Well, at least we know it isn't a trap," to which Mical earnestly replies, "No, Atton, I think it may be a trap!" Since her and Mical are an either/or pair, The Handmaiden fills this role for Male!Exile's party. "What are you talking about? It's obviously a trap."
  • In Touch Detective, when the player first converses with Daisy:
    Mackenzie: Um, I'm Detective Mackenzie.
    Daisy: Oh, how cute. A detective.
    Mackenzie: Thanks...
    Daisy: Don't you understand sarcasm when you hear it?
    Mackenzie: ...
Mackenzie's reaction showed that she didn't like it.
  • Knight-Commander Meredith in Dragon Age II is either totally sarcasm blind or utterly determined to ignore Snarky!Hawke. "Always happy to help in a life-threatening situation." "Good." And so on...
    Meredith: I assume you are ready, Champion?
    Hawke: To slaughter the entire Circle? Oh, sure.
    Meredith: Good.
  • During the climax of Portal 2 as the second core transfer starts. Justified as it's a machine:
    Announcer: Corrupted core, are you ready to start?
    Wheatley: What do you think?
    Announcer: Interpreting vague answer as "yes".
    Wheatley: Nonononononono!! Didn't pick up on my sarcasm...
  • Ward the Jerkass from The Orion Conspiracy does not know sarcasm when he hears it. Devlin says sarcastically at one point, "Thank you for your compassion and understanding." Ward's response goes something like "What?"
  • In The Secret World, Hayden Montag suffers from this. As Headmaster of Innsmouth Academy, one of the most disaster-prone Wizarding Schools in the country, its expected for him to be a bit on the dour and humourless side- especially now that the school and most of the surrounding countryside are under attack by everything from ancient Norse sea-zombies to Native American wendigos. Montag, however, has great difficulty understanding human emotions, catapulting quite a bit of his dialogue into this trope. Example: Montag has just explained how living humans have been Buried Alive inside the walls to act as immortal magical power sources, and how the few that just escaped have to be rounded up and forced back into their tombs:
    Usher: The first time you get bricked in's probably the worst time, eh?
    Montag: From my research, it seems each time begins a claustrophobic eternity anew.
    Usher: You're like the world's revenge on sarcasm, d'you know that?
  • Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare once again features the omni-bigot Conspiracy Theorist and memetic Large Ham Herbert Moon, who blames a broad yet bizarrely specific cabal of groups for the undead plague. John Marston, Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire, piles sarcasm onto Moon for his irrational hate, which Herbert mistakes for support for his righteous cause to single-handedly stop the undead plague and bring down the conspiracy. Herbert Moon is promptly eaten by zombies seconds after he steps out of his store.
  • Video Game/Dishonored features a few guards who make complaints to their commanding officers about terrorizing/executing civilians. When they start reacting to the officers' extremism with sarcastic praise about the murder of the innocent for fun and profit, the officers seem to think THIS IS CONSTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. KILLING PEOPLE IS NOT CONSTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • Maya Fey seems completely oblivious to Phoenix's sarcastic tone, taking his snarky comments seriously. Lampshaded in Case 1-4, when Maya is trying to think of a good replacement for standing under a cold waterfall (the best way for her to train her spiritual powers). When she takes his suggestion to call the fire department and have them hose her down seriously, he notes that "Apparently E.S.P. is no aid in detecting sarcasm".
    • Dual Destinies has Yuri Cosmos, who's so full of himself that insults fly right over his head. During the trial, the prosecutor gets tired of his ramblings about his "great life" and asks him to go tell it to a dog on the street. Cosmos' response? "Of course! The animal world needs to know of my greatness!"
  • Rin Tezuka from Katawa Shoujo actually asks what sarcasm is when the topic is brought up. Hisao doesn't know what to say to this, because, knowing Rin, she's dead serious.

    Web Animation 
  • Caboose from Red vs. Blue. Of course, he doesn't understand reality sometimes, either.
  • Too good to leave off: Shortly after the developer went out of business, Yahtzee did an episode of Zero Punctuation where he "reviewed" Duke Nukem Forever, touting it as the greatest game ever, bar none; he briefly descends into a horrible fantasy where the game was never released because the developer spent twelve years jerking off and rightly got sued into oblivion, but he's so glad we don't live in a world like that! The next week, after his normal review, he posts a "Letter of the Week" which he received from a fan who was so excited that the game had finally come out, he'd been waiting for years, and asks Yahtzee where he got his copy because he can't seem to find it anywhere. (This was, of course, years before DNF's actual release.) And this was despite the video having a note at the end stating the entire review was sarcastic! Sometimes even Captain Obvious has a job to do.
  • RWBY:
    • Ruby Rose, who is very socially awkward and often doesn't realize when Weiss Schnee is making sarcastic remarks.
    • Jaune Arc, who hears Weiss make a sarcastic remark about him being handsome and thinks she was being serious, leading him to hit on her a lot.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick
    • For a while, this applied to Elan in spades. He's getting better, but it's still hit-or-miss.
      Roy: "Gee, thanks for helping me, Roy."
      Elan: No need to thank me, I like helping you learn new things. Also, Roy is your name, not mine.
      Roy: *sigh*
    • Lampshaded in the case of Knight Templar Miko:
      Shojo: Good gods, they can teach you how to detect Evil, but not sarcasm?
    • Qarr completely misses the sarcasm in V's comment about V's spouse (a baker) defeating a dragon by exploiting the fact the dragon has a muffin-shaped hole in its scales.
  • As seen in the picture above, Agent Wolf of El Goonish Shive.
  • Homestuck
    • John, at least sometimes, due to being a bit of an Idiot Hero:
      EB: hey, can you hold on?
      EB: i'm getting trolled again.
      TG: oh man and if weve just concluded anything its that talking to those dbags should be priority number one so yeah go right ahead
      EB: ok, brb.
    • Kanaya as well. Not even John's sarcasm. She finally catches on to Rose's sarcasm, but she still hasn't figured out that the other trolls use it all the time. She seems to be getting better at it, even referring to sarcasm as "An Enjoyable Exercise In Xenocultural Inculcation." When it is pointed out to her that the other trolls do it just as often, she responds, "Thats True But When We Do It Its Usually Just Because We Are Trying To Be Jerks Rather Than By Way Of A Mild Manner Perpetually Dispatching Little Puzzles Of Rhetoric Without Apparent Purpose."
    • Also, Tavros here:
      Vriska: Yes, that's it. Dump them all over the floor a8out ten feet away from me, just like that.
      The sloppier the pile and the further away from me the 8etter. Gr8 jo8, Tavros.
      Tavros: tHANK YOU,
  • Schlock Mercenary
  • A running gag in 8-Bit Theater is that Red Mage never understands Black Mage's sarcasm. Also, applies to Fighter in spades.
  • Death to the Extremist: One displays sarcasm blindness in a comic.
  • This seems to be a common problem for robots in Freefall.
  • Zalanna of Ears for Elves is shown to be this in an exchange.
    Zalanna: Did you get my joke? It is because your mother would never kill you, but I exaggerated the extent of her fury. It was really quite quick on the draw. It was really cleaver [sic] of me!
    Tanna: Yes, Zalanna. You are quite the jester.
    Zalanna: I am? It is a talent I never knew I possessed! How positively exhilarating!
  • Scarlet of Sequential Art tends to be one, along with her sisters, befitting their Bunny-Ears Lawyer manner.

    Web Original 
  • This lady on Not Always Right. This is actually one of the site's main schticks.
  • The website Busy Street believes this to be true of Internet communication in general.
  • SCP-082 from the SCP Foundation, a giant cannibalistic mutant who, among other delusions, doesn't grasp sarcasm, parody, or fiction in general (he has even expressed a desire to meet Hannibal Lecter).
  • This quote from QDB.us:
    Tim333: You sound like a real winner
    rockstar111: is that a good thing
    Tim333: Have you ever heard of "sarcasm" or "irony," rockstar?
    rockstar111: what
    Tim333: Wow. It must be nice to be invulnerable to insult by means of incomprehension.
    rockstar111: what the hell r u talking about
  • For a joke, The Nostalgia Chick took her snarky woobie Sex Bot's sarcastic suggestion to get to Nella through a wormhole in the sink totally seriously. And hey, it worked.
  • Bitch of Worm can't properly interpret social cues as a consequence of her power, which includes sarcasm. Since she can't tell when people are mocking her, she tends to respond to everything with aggression.
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees is this. Jason threatens to kill the Nerd if he says anything bad about the game, so the Nerd gives sarcastic, mocking praise to the game throughout the review.
  • Dino Attack RPG: For years, Ronald E. Army has been living under the assumption that he is a great military general. In actuality he is still a sergeant, but when asking about a promotion, he was met with the response of "yeah, you're going to be a general".

    Western Animation 
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
    • Used hilariously in an episode: Bloo has no idea what sarcasm is, despite the fact that he uses it all the time.
    "Oh, yes, I'm sarcastic all the time."
    "You're doing it right now!"
    • Later in the episode, when a man defends a pretty ludicrous deceit with "I was being sarcastic," Mac and Bloo are able to call him out, and back it up with extensive research.
    • Also gets mixed with Mind Screw in that episode:
    • In a later episode when Bloo has eaten all of the food on a camping trip and has to fish for breakfast:
    Bloo: I said I wanted bacon and eggs!
    Mac: Okay, let me just go back in time and prevent you from eating the ones we brought!
    Bloo: You can do that?
  • Total Drama
    • Lindsay, much to the chagrin of Deadpan Snarkers like Gwen and Noah.
      Noah: Throwing balls, gee, another mentally challenging test.
      Lindsay: I know, right?
    • In the special:
      Izzy: Noah, I'm counting on you for three gallons of diesel fuel.
      Noah: Sure thing. I'll just get my unicorn to deliver it.
      Izzy: Perfect!
  • Daria
    • Much of the cast (aside from Daria and Jane, obviously), to much comic effect. Particularly the stupidest characters (Brittany, Kevin, Sandy/Quinn, Mr. O'Neil...).
    • This ends up being a minor plot point for Jake in "Is It Fall Yet?" along with his inability to tell a joke.
  • South Park
    • Used in the movie "Imaginationland". The military is interrogating Stan and Kyle, trying to find a way into Imaginationland, and a specialist accidentally lets slip that they have a secret portal there. The general shuts him up, sarcastically saying, "Why don't you just tell them everything about Project X?!" The specialist starts describing it until the general cuts him off by pointing out he was being sarcastic.
    • This is the main plot of the episode "Sarcastaball". Randy complains about new rules enforced in junior football to make the sport safer, saying it might as well played with a balloon while all the players wear bras and tinfoil hats, hugging their opponents and giving them compliments. He ends up being team coach after the school board takes him seriously when he says he'd love to coach the new sport.
  • Used hilariously in Justice League. In the episode "Eclipsed", a general is possessed by an evil spirit, which wants to pass itself along to a member of the Justice League. Asking a subordinate how to get the attention of the Justice League, the subordinate replies, "Put on a gaudy costume and threaten to hurt a lot of people." So he does. The costume he puts together is a Shout-Out to one of the more garish of the old school super villains, Eclipso.
  • In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is none to pleased to discover he has received no Christmas cards, so he goes up to Violet, and says:
    Charlie Brown: Thanks for the Christmas card you sent me!
    Violet: I didn't send you a Christmas card, Charlie Brown! (walks off)
    Charlie Brown: Don't you know sarcasm when you hear it?!
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes
    Lucius: Well, I hope you're happy, Two-Shoes.
    Jimmy: Aw, Thanks Lucy. I'm a little bummed about the plane and Jez, but other than that I'm pretty happy!
  • The Simpsons
    • Homer can exhibit this sometimes.
      Chief Wiggum: Just sit down and wait for Detective "Like I Give a Damn."
      Homer: Thank you so much.
      (beat)
      Lisa: Dad?
      Homer: Honey, Daddy's waiting for the detective.
    • Also...
      Lisa: Maybe they're all reverse vampires and they have to get home before dark.
      Kids: AAAAAAHHHHH!!! REVERSE VAMPIRES!!!
    • Barney also shows this in one famous scene:
      Barney: And I say England's greatest Prime Minister was Lord Palmerston!
      Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!
      Barney: LORD PALMERSTON!
      Boggs: PITT! THE! ELDER!
      Barney: Okay, you asked for it, Boggs! (punches out Boggs)
      Moe: Yeah, that's showin' 'im, Barn! "Pitt the Elder"...
      Barney: 'LORD PALMERSTON! (punches out Moe)
    • Bart sees Bonestorm advertised for 99 cents in a store window.
      Bart: I want to buy a copy of Bonestorm. Here's 99 cents.
      Comic Book Guy: Allow me to summarize the proposed transaction: you wish to purchase Bonestorm for 99 cents. Net profit to me, negative $59. Oh, oh please, take my $59. I don't want it. It's yours.
      [Bart reaches for the money]
      Eh, eh, eh — seeing as we are unfamiliar with sarcasm, I shall close the register at this point and state that 99 cents is the rental price.
  • Most characters on Avatar: The Last Airbender are pretty quick on the uptake, but Aang, due to his optimism and shining idealism, demonstrates this characteristic at least once, when he is reluctant to kill the Big Bad, but the rest of the Gang wants him to.
    Aang: Maybe we could make some big pots of glue, and then I could use gluebending to stick his arms and legs together so he can't bend anymore!
    Zuko: Yeah! And then you can show him his baby pictures and all those happy memories will make him good again!
    Aang: Do you really think that would work?
    Zuko: NO!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • From the episode "Winter Wrap Up":
      Spike: Well, you're good at a lot of things. Just not nest making, ice skating, animal waking, snow clearing...
      Twilight Sparkle: Thanks a lot for making me feel so much better.
      Spike: That's what I'm here for, sister.
    • Pinkie Pie seems to be especially prone to this. In "Feeling Pinkie Keen":
      Pinkie Pie: (observing the frog conspicuously clinging to Twilight's head) Uh, Twilight, you got a little something on your face there.
      Twilight Sparkle: Oh? Did your "Pinkie Sense" tell you that too?
      Pinkie Pie: No, I could just see it. (hops off) La la la la laaaa....
    • And again in "Over a Barrel," where it backfires on Rainbow Dash because Pinkie Pie takes her quip about Fluttershy being a tree out of context.
      Rainbow Dash: When we get to Appleoosa, you think we'll have to carry that heavy tree all the way from the train to the orchard?
      Pinkie Pie: What tree? You mean Bloomberg?
      Rainbow Dash: (sarcasm) No. Fluttershy.
      Pinkie Pie: Fluttershy's not a tree, silly.
      Twilight Sparkle: What's going on?
      Pinkie Pie: Rainbow Dash thinks Fluttershy's a tree.
      Rainbow Dash: I do not think she's a tree, I was just...
      Twilight Sparkle: Did you say she was a tree?
      Rainbow Dash: No... well, yes... but... not exactly ...
      Twilight Sparkle: You know she's not a tree, right?
      Pinkie Pie: She's not a tree, Dashie.
      Fluttershy: ...I'd like to be a tree.
    • And once again in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1", after showing off what she had planned for the wedding reception:
      Pinkie Pie: I think this reception is gonna be perfect! Don't you?
      Princess Cadance: Perfect! ...if we were celebrating a six-year-old's birthday party.
      Pinkie Pie: (gasps) Thank you!
    • In ''The Crystal Empire, Part 1":
      Twilight Sparkle: I love research papers!
      Rainbow Dash: Yeah, (nudges Pinkie) who doesn't?
      Pinkie Pie: Oh, oh, oh! Let me guess! Is it Spike? No, no, Fluttershy! Rarity?
  • Beavis from Beavis and Butt-Head. If told "Tell me something I don't know." he'll do exactly that. He thinks "Stick it where the sun doesn't shine." means "Put it under your pillow."
  • In The Legend of Tarzan, Terk gives Tantor a sarcastic compliment. When Tantor acts smug, she follows it up by saying that he's really good at detecting sarcasm, as well. Tantor continues acting smug.
  • Phineas from Phineas and Ferb. Case in point: Candace, his snarky (and proud of it) sister, flat-out informs him that she's being sarcastic, and he's happily shocked and goes off track to compliment her for her believability.
    Phineas: Well, y'know how we do something new every day?
    Candace: (in phony shock) Nooo...
    (Beat)
    Phineas: ...Oh, well, we try to build some big project, or do something—
    Candace: I'm aware of the concept, Phineas, I was just being sarcastic.
    Phineas: ...Really? Hey, that was pretty good. Wow, I totally fell for it. Ferb, I totally fell for it!
  • Doug would occasionally fall into this, usually with his Deadpan Snarker of an older sister. There was even an entire episode where he was worried when Patti invited him over for a dinner party and said they were having his favorite: liver and onions. He actually hated liver and onions and even made a speech in front of the class about how much he hated them. It never dawned on Doug that Patti was only joking until she flat out told him at the end of the episode.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants frequently falls into this due to his naïve and innocent nature, particularly whenever he talks to Squidward.
  • Stan Smith from American Dad! frequently falls into this...
    Francine: If it's so darn important for you to dance with the homecoming queen, why don't you just go with Betty Sue?
    (Stan does that)
    Betty Sue: I hope this isn't awkward.
    Stan: Awkward? Don't be silly, it was Francine's idea.
    Francine: I was being sarcastic! Or don't you get sarcasm, genius?
    Stan: Oh, I think I get sarcasm, and I'm hardly a genius, but still, thank you; that's awfully sweet of you.
  • Omi of Xiaolin Showdown is often slow to catch on to sarcasm, due to his youth and sheltered upbringing.
    Omi: (In a dungeon referred to as a hospitality suite) Oh...perhaps I am misunderstanding the meaning of the word hospitality.
    —>Kimiko: Or the meaning of sarcasm!
  • Inverted with one Running Gag in Family Guy, involving an ambiguously foreign man who has just barely mastered English, and insists on pointing it out and laughing uproariously whenever somebody says something sarcastic, as if he's proud of himself for getting the joke.

    Real Life 
  • The whole point of using (deadpan) sarcasm for humour is that it creates a brief disconnect between the speaker and the listener (who's implicitly assuming the speaker will say what he means). Even someone with the best sarcasm-dar in the world will take a moment to realise that's what's going on, and that tension-and-release is what makes it funny. The problem (and this trope proper) is when that gap is so large that the listener has reacted to the face-meaning of the utterance before they've spotted the sarcasm (if they ever do).
  • Children often take a couple years to recognize sarcasm, hence the prevalence of the "talking to children" tone from adults. Their reaction can vary between simply taking the statement at face value just like this trope, or getting confused at why the speaker's tone and expression doesn't match their words.
  • Some people diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome don't get sarcasm, as they are very Literal-Minded. And even if they do realise you're being sarcastic, it can still make a conversation very complicated very quickly. Interestingly, some people with Asperger's can still be very sarcastic, even if they can't always recognise sarcasm themselves. What's worse is that these people may want to mean serious things but other people recognize that as sarcasm, causing great frustration, Poor Communication Kills and other trouble.
    • It can also be somewhat amusing when Wrong Genre Savvy people, being aware of this, interpret the person with Asperger’s speaking sarcastically as if he were being sincere.
    • The sarcasm recognition problems in case of Aspies are usually based on the fact that recognizable sarcasm involves presenting a more or less ridiculous sentence, and Aspies are relatively probable to disagree with you whether a sentence is ridiculous or not. Interestingly, this even applies to Aspie-to-Aspie conversation, except that the speakers are usually more used to the whole disagreeing concept than an NT person.
  • The use of sarcasm and the recognition of sarcasm from someone else are two different things — this is why even a person who uses a lot of sarcasm might not pick up on it when used against them. The expressions and idioms we use are picked up from interaction with other people, so Sarcasm-Blind people can sometimes use a sarcastic expression without recognizing it as sarcasm.
  • A 2012 study found a link between sarcasm-blindness and some forms of dementia.
  • Sarcasm is literally a foreign language in some countries, where the spoken and written languages of those countries do not use sarcasm... though they're becoming increasingly scarce as time goes by due to the bad influence of others.
  • Due to lacking an ability to demonstrate tone, it's a poor idea to try to be sarcastic on the internet. There are stories of people getting banned from message boards and MMOs for sarcastically stating something that's against the Terms of Use, the most famous incidents involving "I am twelve and what is this?" when you need to be 13 or over to make an account.


Offing The MouthOh Great, a Snark IndexSarcasm Failure
Ping Pong NaïvetéImmaturity TropesSkilled, but Naive
Salt and PepperCharacterization TropesSatellite Character
Phlebotinum BreakdownImageSource/Web ComicsSingle-Target Sexuality
SadistCharacter Flaw IndexSchemer

alternative title(s): Does Not Understand Sarcasm; Oblivious To Sarcasm
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
112686
26