"Phew! That could've been a disaster."
"I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed — or worse, expelled."
Despite what logic dictates, people can on occasion have priorities that are a little...off. Usually, this is to underscore how obsessed they are with a particular object or subject, though its also often Played for Laughs
. The most common formula is exemplified by the quote at the top.
Can result in Disproportionate Retribution
or I'm Thinking It Over!
. Compare with Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
. See also Honor Before Reason
and Always Save the Girl
. Compare Bystander Syndrome
, where everyone
has Skewed Priorities. Compare This Is No Time for Knitting
, where someone's apparent
Skewed Priorities turn out to be on the right track after all, as well as Worrying for the Wrong Reason
, where one character expresses some concern about a situation and another corrects them with a new concern. Advertising likes this trope, poking fun at the idea that their product is so awesome you should abandon everything else in favor of it. For when a character thinks social media is more important than safety, see Social Media Before Reason
This trope is a favourite of the Cloud Cuckoo Lander
, though anyone can be prone to it.
Obviously Truth in Television
open/close all folders
- A Bud Lite tv had has a man and a woman driving down an empty road at night, and spotting a hitch-hiker with a six-case of Bud and an axe.
Anime & Manga
- Digimon Adventure had some fun with this one.
Izzy: Hello, mom and dad, the fate of the world, remember? My grades can wait!
- The Wolkenritter in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's sure got their priorities straight. When told that the Arc En Ciel, a weapon that distorts time and space for hundreds of kilometers to disintegrate everything in its range, is going to be used near Uminari City to get rid of the Eldritch Abomination, their only worry is, of course, how it would affect their master Hayate's house.
: I don't really want Hayate-chan's
house to get obliterated either... Chrono
: We're not talking about damage on such a small scale...
- In the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece, Luffy puts recovering the Straw Hats' stolen food on the same level as rescuing Nami and getting his, Zoro and Sanji's shadows back (without which, they will be vaporized by the sunlight). This is in keeping with his personality, as he is at one point unsure whether he wants the legendary One Piece or a Hercules beetle more.
- In earlier episodes, he said a bard was more important to the crew than a medic.
- There's a chapter of the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei manga all about this. For instance, one character who is a hardcore otaku, runs into his burning home to rescue various moe merchandise he owns, but neglects his sister, who is still trapped inside.
- The computer society president in the Haruhi Suzumiya anime shows this briefly when challenging Haruhi to a game to get his computer back:
"I'm even willing to overlook the mental trauma you inflicted upon me when you stole my computer!"
- Completely overlooked is the fact she blackmailed it out of him by threatening to frame him and his clubmates for gang-rape. Though it is possible that he was referring to the entire incident and not just the taking-the-computer part, though he is vague.
- In A Certain Magical Index when Touma gets pissed off at the villain of the Daihasei Festival arc, Oriana Thompson, who is involved in a plot to brainwash the city, it's not the possibility of mass mind control that really upsets him, it's that her actions are interfering with the festival that's going on. This is because Touma tends to care more about the individuals than the long term consequences, but it still comes across as rather bizarre.
- When Ouma Yamisaka blows up the restaurant Touma and Index were eating at, Touma yells at the guy for shredding his homework in the process.
- When Ollerus tries to tell him what he knows about Imagine Breaker, Touma blows him off, saying he needs to finish his shopping before the store closes.
- In Bleach, Hachi and Soi Fon are facing Baraggan, a Nigh Invulnerable Walking Wasteland. Hachi tells Soi Fon that they have to work together and combine their powers, or Baraggan will kill them. Soi Fon coldly declares that she will never work with a comrade of Urahara, whom she hates. She says this while Baraggan is advancing on them. Keep in mind that Baraggan has already disintegrated her arm. In the nick of time, Hachi promises to trap Urahara in a forcefield for a month, and Soi Fon finally agrees.
- In the Thousand Year Blood War arc, a new villain by the name of Ivan invades Ichigo's bedroom. Ichigo promptly kicks him out and then prepares to go after him. Ishida, Orihime and Chad decide it's more important for them to stay behind and eat up the bread that Orihime brought than go out to help him.
- Just before that, Ichigo doesn't really seem to mind the fact that Ivan broke into his house and seems more annoyed that he's standing on his bed.
- After Ichigo effortlessly knocks four female Sternritters through buildings, three of them regroup and marvel at his strength, wondering what they should do. Suddenly, the fourth, Candice Catnipp, goes completely berserk, ranting that Ichigo will die for getting her covered in dust. The other three comment, "That's what you're concerned about?"
- In The Nineties Sailor Moon anime dub, when Serena finds her fellow Sailor Scouts all chained up in a room from the Monster of the Week. Raye Lampshades this by angrily ordering her to help them.
Serena: Hey, Mercury, I thought you were in computer school.
Amy: Class finished early.
- Usagi in general (in the anime at least). In the earlier episodes, she cared more about being a normal girl than being the protector of the universe. This led to a Beware the Nice Ones moment with Luna when she threatened to claw Usagi's face when she didn't feel like helping stop the Monster of the Week and looked scary doing it.
- Usagi and Rei argue over which one of them is prettier when they're in the middle of a fight against Jadeite.
- In Dragon Ball, Goku and Piccolo fight in the final match of the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. Piccolo announces that he plans to kill Goku and take over the world, even nearly killing the audience with stray energy blasts. When Goku's friends attempt to assist him, he orders them back, saying that if they help him, he will get disqualified. They incredulously ask, "You're still thinking about the match!?" and try to point out that Piccolo obviously doesn't care about the match (you get disqualified if you kill your opponent), but to no avail.
- In later episodes of the original Dragonball, Goku and Chi-Chi tried to get Annin to set out the fire in the Ox-King's castle, and Annin only cared about her noodles. Goku, understandably, is angry about it, even though it didn't excuse his rude behavior.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Then there's Chi Chi who thinks Gohan's studies are more important than saving the word. Everybody, including Goku and her son, is flabbergasted by this.
- Vegeta in the Buu Saga has this when he only cared about gaining power and being better than Goku than the fate of the universe, by allowing Babidi to turn him into Majin Vegeta and causing Majin Buu to be released.
- Played for laughs in the Namek Saga, where Dr. Briefs considers Goku's rebuilt spaceship unfit for takeoff—because he hasn't found the right spot for the stereo speakers.
- Goku believes that fair fights are more important than saving the world. Because of this, he has let his most powerful enemies transform to their strongest level of power. Also, he gave Cell a senzu bean and tried to get Gohan to fight him, because he felt it wouldn't be "fair" if Gohan beat Cell at his weakest.
- Fairy Tail: In the Fantasia arc, Laxus and his crew turn the girls to stone, and threaten to shatter them unless the guys search the town for and defeat them. Circumstances force the guys to fight each other in order to advance, all desperate to save the girls. Natsu is trapped in a forcefield and struggles to escape, not to save the girls, but because he wants to fight the others and prove that he's the strongest. Makarov angrily calls him out on this, but Natsu explains that Laxus is obviously bluffing about shattering the girls. It turns out that he was correct. Laxus didn't truly have the heart to kill anybody.
- When Issei is mortally wounded in the first episode of High School D×D, his first thoughts are regretting that he's about to die without getting laid and getting a harem. He immediately lampshades how selfish this is. At other times, he'll think about perverted things during serious moments.
- Bookworm Lucy (abbrv.) Yamagami from Servant × Service has a tendency to allocate an absurdly large portion of her salary on books, to the point of practically starving herself. For example, in episode 11, Yutaka saw her eating...bread crust for lunch. This is also a trait that Yutaka exploits a little; he keeps asking her out to eat because he knows she'll say yes because she'll be hungry.
- From Kill la Kill, Mako is very ditzy. In the first episode, she is kidnapped and hung upside down ready for execution, and she's more concerned that everyone can see her panties. When her captors say they will dunk her in boiling oil, she's more concerned that the oil will make her clothes transparent. Her captors comments that she's either very carefree or very stupid.
- Puella Magi Kazumi Magica. Kazumi's Establishing Character Moment is asking for food toward the house owner when she wakes up. Yes, she did punch the owner when she realizes she's naked, but when her stomach growls, it implied that all is forgotten. Even the fact that said owner planned a terrorist attack didn't bother her much than, say, the chance that the food might be poisoned.
- In Mahou Shoujo of the End, when Akuta gets his arm blown off, his only complaint that that it will now be more difficult for him to masturbate.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Apple Bloom is more upset about not getting her cutie mark before she is (presumably) to be killed by Queen Chrysalis. Lampshaded by Scootaloo.
- Everypony is awed, impressed, and somewhat scared when a magically-uber Twilight takes out the side of the castle wall. Rarity is furious that she ruined the curtains made of the finest silk.
- Surprisingly in the second story-arc of, Apple Bloom actually has the sense to point out to Scootaloo that a potential Nightmare invasion may not be the best time to think about their cutie marks, though she does briefly indulge Scootaloo's thought.
- In V for Vendetta, Lewis Prothero ran a concentration camp where people were routinely experimented on, tortured and killed. He never shows the slightest guilt, but is horrified when V threatens to destroy his prized doll collection. V naturally calls him out on this.
- From an article in Marvel Year in Review 1993 (which was entirely a parody) on the Darker and Edgier trend in comics:
- In Code: Pony Evolution, Twilight Sparkle thinks it's more important not to be late than to avoid death. Even though if any of the ponies die on Earth, X.A.N.A wins
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, The Equinus Republic demonstrates this by placing great priority not on the starving population, or the increase in aggressive monster raids, but in the action of banishing all of its political critics to Tartarus, the Pit of Monsters. The Lemony Narrator shows off her own Skewed Priorities by justifying their actions by stating that they couldn't allow the critics to stay, or they would lower national pride. And then what would become of all the money they poured into the Equestrian Games?
- Loose Change then points out that if the money on the games was wasted, it might as well been used for some stupid, like feeding the starving population.
- It seems like this trope seems to fit the Equinus Republic in general, as they spent weeks debating the simple creation of a road before throwing out the case all together, while approving the abolishment of penalties for homicidal evisceration in less than an hour.
- In the Haruhi Suzumiya fanfic Kyon Big Damn Hero, the Computer Society President finds strange that Haruhi's biggest priority on Kyon's first "encounter" with Yamane (which ended with an attempt to kill Tsuruya followed by Kyon dangling Yamane outside a window in the third floor) is Kyon's record, and preventing it getting back to Kyon's mother.
- In X-Men fanfic Mutatis Mutandis by Artemis's Liege,teenagers Rogue, Anole, and Northstar are trapped on the edge of a battlefield during the Marvel Civil War, facing an armed Punisher. Rather than help explain the misunderstanding, Jean-Paul begins texting on his cell phone, not for help, but for entertainment, as a gun is held to his face.
- Invoked in Shades of Twilight, the sequel to the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Mass Effect crossover, Mass Effect The Equestrian Equation, when everyone who is involved in leading The Herd dismisses Rarity's insistence that they need to set up Equestrian tailoring as more of her fashonista frippery. Rarity eventually takes matters into her own hooves by pointing out, as part of a live broadcast interview, that non-Equestrians don't have the social training they do, and so any pony who insists on going "furclad" is giving anyone behind her (or him) a real eyeful of their most private parts whenever they move their tail. When Twilight Sparkle privately tries to point out that they weren't embarrassed by this when they didn't know it, Rarity points out it's better they be embarrassed and take steps to rectify it now, then ignore it and end up getting a reputation as primitive beasts who can't even understand modesty later.
- As if to hammer the point home, an Equestrian worker suffers only minor injuries despite being caught in a fuel pipe explosion that should have charred him to ashes because he was wearing one of Rarity's work uniforms, thanks to the combination of her fashion designer wizardry and space age materials.
- In Nothing but Trouble, Naruto correctly predicts that his fiance Anko would be more freaked out that he's been married before than the fact that he's really the Kyuubi and Naruto's been dead for years. Though her reasoning does make an odd bit of sense: she barely knew Naruto but she's fully aware that she's rather crazy and is worried that Naruto/Kyuubi will divorce her if he wasn't willing to work things out with his previous wives (Naruto/Kyuubi quickly reassures her that he did work things out with them; he just outlived them).
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
- In Act III chapter 13, when it's discovered that the ghoul inside Tsukune had infected Kokoa with its essence, which caused her to rape Tsukune against her will, Felucia is more concerned over where having Kokoa rape Tsukune fits in with the ghoul's Evil Plan than anything else. Ahakon even asks her why that's the only detail she can focus on; in Felucia's defense, however, she does admit that it was a stupid question.
- In Act V chapter 23, with Yokai Academy's festival ruined and several students dead as a result of Tsukune's bloodlust-fuelled rampage, Rin's primary concern is that the fireworks show has been cancelled.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
Witchita: You're risking our lives for a twinkie?
Columbus: Just humor him.
- In The Producers remake, Max cries "Oh no!" after stepping out of the way instead of catching a little old lady, who hurtles away; however, it turns out he is upset because she forget to sign the check.
- Early on in Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan chews Anakin out for losing his lightsaber. Later on, when Anakin is trapped inside a wild droid factory with No OSHA Compliance, his lightsaber is destroyed and his response is "Not again. Obi-Wan's gonna kill me."
- Played with in Lord of War: Andre Baptiste Sr., a dictator, shoots one of his own men with a gun that Yuri, an Arms Dealer, is showing to him. Yuri shouts "Why'd you do that!?", then follows up by explaining that Baptiste will now have to buy the gun since he can't sell it used. It's not a straight example because Yuri doesn't actually feel that way - he genuinely reacted to the man's death, then realized doing so was a mistake and made it into a joke to keep on Baptiste's good side.
- Played for Drama in Titanic to show off what an asshole Cal is. After hearing that half the people on the ship are going to die, what's he concerned about? "You know, it's a pity I didn't keep that drawing. It'll be worth a lot more by morning."
- And by Rose's mother, when she asks a crewman as everyone is piling into the few remaining lifeboats if the seating will be divided by class.
- And another woman who asks, "Can you hold the boat for a moment? I have to go back to my room for just—" She gets cut off as a fed up crewman bodily picks her up and dumps her into the boat.
- Apocalypse Now:
- Colonel Kilgore is annoyed with Charlie (who don't surf) because the VC are occupying a terrific beach that should be used for surfing. He orders a series of air-strikes just to clear the zone so he can exercise his hobby, the military importance is not the issue. In fact Kilgore never would have escorted Willard and his crew there if he hadn't gotten word of a nice beach being there alongside Willard's destination.
- Near the very end of the film, we get this gem:
Kurtz: "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!"
- Cabin Fever. People all around are dying of a deadly flesh eating disease. Suddenly, the caring hero finds himself laying underneath a woman who just wants to have sex. In most discussions about this scene in forums, ect., viewers agree that the woman's priorities are severely messed-up, though a lot of guys add that if they were sitting beside the woman themselves, they'd be more then happy to let her do her thing.
- Same girl, later on. She decides to have a bath and shave her legs while everybody else is either dying, searching for survivors, or trying to escape from homicidal rednecks.
- In Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, Wendy Wu is told that she is The Chosen One and must save the world, but she at first thinks that becoming Homecoming Queen is more important. She eventually gets her act together and saves the world.
- In The Hangover, this is a defining trait of Alan Garner.
- In Part I, when everybody is berating Alan about him putting roofies in their drinks, Alan gets shocked at Stu cursing at him.
- In Part II, everybody is held at gunpoint and Alan is more concerned about a monkey.
- In Part III, everybody is freaking out about a man getting murdered before their eyes and Alan is more concerned about almost losing his phone.
- InThe Godfather Part III, a helicopter surprises and begins to massacre a large meeting of Mafia bosses. One boss refuses to leave the room without his lucky coat and is mowed down before he can even take the coat off the rack.
- In Legally Blonde, Brooke has an airtight alibi for her husband's murder (she was getting liposuction) but refuses to use it in her defense because she made a fortune on her fitness empire and doesn't want to hurt her reputation. Apparently the idea of saying she was having surgery or in a doctor's appointment, but not specifying what kind never occurred to her.
- In the climax of Outrageous Fortune, the two heroines are being pursued by both Michael and the FBI on a dangerous mountain Lauren holding the dangerous biochemical weapon he stole; Sandy eventually slugs one of the agents... Then looks at her hands and says, "Aw, nuts!" (Clearly, she's upset at having broke a nail.)
- Hermione Granger in the first Harry Potter book and film, who was typically more concerned with expulsion over death.
Hermione: Oh, right. Perspective"
- After Harry discovers that Voldemort has found out the Trio is hunting down his Horcruxes (aka the objects that keep him immortal and which he kept secret from everyone) through the connection between their minds, Hermione's concern is Harry not using Occlumency to block the connection.
- A frequent stock gag in Discworld novels.
- Debated among a few characters in The Pale King as the IRS deals with drastic changes brought on by the Spackman Initiative. Focus on ideal output and civil service is shifted toward a free-market approach that attempts to maximize profits.
- In Death: Some characters have demonstrated these. For instance, in New York To Dallas, when Isaac McQueen escaped and murdered a nurse in the process, the prison staff reacted by trying to cover it up. They showed no real concern about the escape of a murderous pedophile, and about the murder of one of their own employees.
- The Ferengi in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, all the time. In The Left Hand of Destiny, Pharh is horrified to have stood up to Klingon warriors - he reflects that he could have been seriously injured, or even robbed. Then there's Zek:
Gaila: It's why he’s destroying your legacy at the same time as he’s ruining your retirement.
Zek: How dare he! Nobody ruins my retirement and gets away with it!.
- Played with in one of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers stories; a character trying to violate his world's laws and contact the Federation for help is chased down, and the police plead with him to surrender so they don't have to shoot - which might damage the building he's in. The character actually feels pride and hope that they consider the building's health more important than his, reflecting that "perhaps there's hope for my people after all".
- In Can't Get There From Here, a nameless woman is more concerned about getting a group of homeless kids to give up the dog they rescued to her rather than doing anything about helping the kids themselves.
- Older Than Feudalism: One of Aesop's Fables details a boy who swam too far into the river and was about to drown. A nearby man decides to stand there and scold him for being an idiot instead of, you know, rescuing him.
- In Twilight, when Bella gets involved in a traffic accident, she is more concerned with the embarassment of having to wear a neck brace when the ambulance people take her to the hospital than with anyone being hurt. In the hospital she is more concerned that a person who was also involved in the accident is annoying her with his apologies for almost killing her, than that he is traumatized and feels guilty about almost killing a class mate.
- Quite frankly, the whole quadrilogy exists solely because of Bella's skewed priorities. To name the most obvious: falling in love with a guy who wants to drink her blood because he's just too gorgeous. Apparently, having an uber-hot boyfriend is more important than survival. Or the fact that he's stalking her. And that's just in the first part of book 1. As for the rest of the books...
- In The Tome of Bill, when Tom is Brainwashed and Crazy, is it a threat to his girlfriend that snaps him out of it? A threat to his best friend since grade school? No. It's a threat to his action figure collection that does the trick.
- A serious example comes from the prologue of the Perri O'Shaugnessy novel, Breach of Promise. The narrator is reading a news story about a man was mugged on his way home from the movies, shot and killed the mugger, and later died of the stab wounds that the mugger had given him. This was all over sixy dollars.
"So two fools died for sixty dollars, and two fools killed for it....That's not even enough to buy a decent meal in a restaurant these days. Not enough to pay rent on a cardboard box. Not enough to die for."
- In Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Holly is attempting to flee Paradizo Manor, and is relying on Foaly to provide covering fire with a stun gun. Foaly stuns one of the mooks, then quickly uses the stun gun's heat setting to evaporate the cup of coffee he was carrying. He points out that coffee stains would have been murder to get out of the Tunisian carpets, causing Holly to doubt if he has his priorities right for the situation.
Live Action TV
- The Adventures of Superman: : In "The Bully of Dry Gulch", Lois calls Clark for help after Jimmy gets in trouble with the local gunslinger. Clark appears unconcerned. Then Lois mentions that the villain has also been "making eyes" at her.
Clark: He's what?!
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- From the episode "The Prom":
Buffy: You guys are going to have a prom. The kind of prom that everyone should have. I'm going to give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it.
- In the first two seasons, this was Cordelia's main character note: no matter what danger anyone was in, she would always bring up some completely irrelevant detail (usually of the self-centered variety) that she deemed far more important. She got better.
- Pike cuts off Amilyn's arm, and his main concern is his ruined jacket.
- Used three times in Community episode "Epidemiology". First, right before zombies swarm the study room, Jeff asks if anyone managed to turn off the Dean's ABBA playlist. The second time is with the Cat Scare, where they abandon their plans of escape to resolve the cat issue. Then, when Jeff is about to be zombified, all he's scared of is Rich stretching his suit jacket.
- Doctor Who
- In "The Girl In the Fireplace," the Doctor discovers that the "spatio-temporal hyperlinks" actually link to France. Also, he brought back a horse.
Mickey: What's a horse doing on a spaceship?
The Doctor: Mickey, what's pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective!
- "The Big Bang": all of reality has been uncreated, except the Earth, which is staring to fade out as well, and the Doctor just saved River Song from the exploding TARDIS;
River: Right then! I have questions. But number one is this: What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?
- In "Asylum of the Daleks", the Doctor, Amy and Rory are trapped on a planet full of Daleks. Not just Daleks, but battle-scarred psychotic-even-by-Dalek-standards Daleks. Plus Amy absorbed a cloud of nano-techs that is slowly turning her into a Dalek puppet. So what's one of the Doctor's priorities? "In no particular order, we need to neutralize all the Daleks in this Asylum, rescue Oswin from the wreckage, escape from this planet, and fix Amy and Rory's marriage." Sadly he was not able to save Oswin.
- The Doctor is also constantly trying to figure out how Oswin gets the ingredients needed for her baking, even in situations when they have more immediate concerns about survival. It turns out to be a vital clue.
- From the comedy special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot:
Davison: Oh, get your priorities right, Sylvester! This is not some flash in the pan $500 million picture! This is important!
- Firefly: Simon lampshades his parents' skewed priorities.
- A particularly disturbing example from Season 4 of Glee: Newcomer Marley Rose ends up with a case of bulimia and takes to starving herself. The following remark ensues:
Marley: "I'm so hungry, but at least I'll fit into my Sectionals dress."
- Horatio Hornblower: Colonel Moncoutant is very disgruntled to leave off executing half the village when Hornblower insists that he should maybe do something about the attacking Republican forces.
- On How I Met Your Mother Marshall lists what he thinks the five worst things that could ever possibly happen would be.
Number one, supervolcano. Number two, an asteroid hits the earth. Number three, all footage of Evel Knievel
is lost. Number four, Ted calls Karen. Number five, Lily gets eaten by a shark. Lily:
I'm Lily and I approve the order of that list
- In another episode Lily says that, if Ted ever killed her and dumped her body in New Jersey, she'd come back as a ghost and haunt him. Not because he killed her ("I'm sure you had your reasons") but because, as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she just hates New Jersey that much.
- Barney once promised Marshall ten-thousand dollars if he'd let Barney welch on a bet; Marshall refused. Barney then offered to let Marshall slap him in the face instead; this Marshall found difficult to pass up.
- JAG: In "Brig Break", the group of right-wing militiamen seeking to overthrow the government learn that one of their co-conspirators is a black man, and their leader proceed to demand that the tall blonde female US military officer (Meg) whose government they are fighting against is protected from him.
- The central character of Keeping Up Appearances, Hyacinth Bucket, queen of Cloud Cuckoolanders, lives and breathes Skewed Priorities. Perhaps one of the most egregious examples from her is how she keeps convincing her sister Violet to not divorce Bruce — despite the fact that the couple doesn't seem to be able to share air without fighting fiercely and that Violet is obviously miserable. Her reasoning? Bruce is rich and well-connected. Apparently Hyacinth couldn't keep bragging about "Violet's" Mercedes, sauna, and room-for-a-pony if Violet did divorce him.
- In Malcolm in the Middle Lois's own Skewed Priorities help expose a Sadist Teacher. When Malcolm writes Reese's homework for him and gets failed, Lois is initially furious that Malcolm helped Reese cheat but then says to the teacher "you gave something [Malcolm] wrote a D!" realising he is out to get Reese.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies," when it's assumed Natalie's daughter is in danger after two other women with her name are killed, the police go to considerable lengths to protect her. Though when Natalie goes up to Julie's room and finds her not taking the risk seriously enough, Julie seems more ticked off at the fact that she might have to have her driver's license test postponed.
Natalie: Two dead women named Julie Teeger and all she cares about is her driver's test.
- Howie Mandel portrayed a cult leader in one episode who claimed to have perfect health due to his "divine powers". He was accused of murdering a former member and could easily establish an alibi - with his doctor. He initially refused. Mind you, he would have (eventually) gone to jail for fraud (which he did - it was shown in a later episode), but his stint in jail would have been a lot less.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look has a sketch about Scott's Antarctic expedition in which Scott insists on only eating holiday foods on their appropriate holidays — thus, even though they're out of other food, they can't eat the Christmas pudding, because it's only August.
Bowers: Sir, we are starving to death!
Scott: And we are doing so with due deference to the English celebrational calendar.
- A sketch on Not the Nine O'Clock News about Question Time being recorded as the Soviets are launching nuclear missiles at the UK—besides one Only Sane Man panellist, they spend the programme bickering about which party's period in government to blame for the crisis.
- On Parks and Recreation, Leslie's priorities are a bit out of whack.
Leslie: We need to remember what's important in life. Friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter. But work is third.
- In Psych, Shawn and Gus are about to eat nachos, but realize they can't leave as a bomb has just been activated and will go off if they move. Once they're safe, they rush to eat the nachos.
- Not only that, they tried to direct the bomb squad's robot to give them the nachos before it defused the bomb.
- One more than one occasion, Shawn and/or Gus have been seen eating food from a murder victim's home when they're supposed to be searching for clues.
- On another occasion, they were wearing hazmat suits while investigating a potential biological weapon. Before putting on the suit, however, Gus had borrowed Shawn's sweatshirt, and Shawn had left his corn nuts in the pocket. Gus was left with the choice of staying in the suit with the smell of the corn nuts or removing it and potentially exposing himself to a deadly virus. He made the right choice, but he had to consider the matter for a while.
- In Red Dwarf, it's a running gag that the Cat cares more about clothing than about his safety. For example, when he and Lister are captured by Nazis, Lister suggests stealing a guard's uniform to escape execution, and his reaction is: "Are you insane? Wear grey out of season? I'd rather hang!"
- In another episode he was more worried that a simulant holding him at gunpoint would notice he was wearing the same outfit from the last time they met than being killed.
- In Sabrina the Teenage Witch Sabrina's Evil Twin causes a bit of drama that Sabrina gets blamed for. Morgan says she'll forgive her for kissing her boyfriend but it'll take a long time to forgive what was said about her outfit.
- Parodied in Scrubs when JD imagines life as a Sitcom. When one patient finds out he has terminal lung cancer, he says "at least I don't have to eat my wife's cooking any more"
- On Seinfeld, George notices that the model that he's dating runs to the bathroom after they finish having dinner and is very upset at the prospect that she might be making herself throw up. Not because she might be bulimic, but because, "I'm paying for those meals!"
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the episode "Body Parts," Quark is diagnosed with a terminal illness. He and his brother, Rom, are planning the funeral when Dr. Bashir delivers a message that the diagnosis was incorrect.
Quark: Do you know what this means, Rom?
Rom: It means you're gonna live!
Quark: It means I get to sue Dr. Orpax for malpractice! And I'm gonna live.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: In the notorious "A Night in Sickbay", Archer is so worked up about the illness his dog has contracted on an alien planet that he's willing to risk dooming his entire ship to a long and agonising trip back to Earth at impulse, rather than apologise to those aliens for taking a dog to visit a stand of sacred trees.
- Deliberately invoked by Mr Moseby in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when he finds out the twins have been climbing through the air vents. "They could have damaged the vents!"
- In Two and a Half Men, Evelyn's new husband is found dead before the wedding reception is even over. The first thing she does is pull out her phone and call her travel agent to exchange their honeymoon flight tickets. This comes back to bite her during the subsequent police investigation.
- Fairly common on The Young Ones, as when a late-night visitor triggers an explosive device Vyvyan had connected to the doorbell, and Rick complains about the visitor's bad manners in coming around so late.
Non-narrative TV entertainment
- One Top Gear challenge involved driving trucks at their top (limited) speeds through some obstacles and then braking. The prize for the shortest braking distance would win a year's supply of pies.
Hammond: What do they mean by "obstacle"?
Clarkson: Doesn't say.
May: What sort of pies?
- Then, in the same challenge:
Clarkson: Exactly! You'll win! You'll be killed, but you'll win!
- Clarkson, of course, feels that having an argument is more urgent than seeing the paramedics after he crashes through his obstacle.
- Many singing show contestants are more concerned with being famous and/or making money than learning to sing. Some have abandoned or put on hold "real life" matters such as employment or their family (bonus points for single parents) in order to chase a dream of becoming a singer — regardless of their actual ability. Some bad singers also blame the judges, rather than themselves.
- In Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's video for "Telephone", Gaga is killing her boyfriend while Beyonce watches him die. After that, Beyonce's acting all upset about using the word "motherfucker", which was beeped out while she's putting her finger on her lips.
- Jim Steinman's monologue "Love and Death and an American Guitar", released on the Meat Loaf album Back Into Hell as "Wasted Youth": the narrator beats people to death with his guitar, and is about to do the same to his parents "when my father woke up screaming 'Stop! Wait a minute! Stop it, boy! That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!'"
- The Weird Al song "Why Does This Always Happen To Me?" is all about the narrator encountering horrific situations, only to be frustrated by the minor inconveniences they cause them, e.g. news coverage of an earthquake leaving tens of thousands of people dead leaves the narrator frustrated that they interrupted an episode of The Simpsons to talk about it.
- South Park: At the end of "Death Camp of Tolerance," the boys are pulled from the Tolerance Camp after a huge misunderstanding. "You have no idea how much we've suffered!" said Sheila Broflovski to the emaciated Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Butters, in full Heroic BSOD mode.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, Dr. Nick was called in to advise when an old man froze himself alive inside the Kwik-E-Mart's freezer.
Dr. Nick: Well, we better leave him in there. Moving him now could kill him. And tire us out.
- In "Lisa's Date with Density" Homer runs a telemarketing scam that promises to give people eternal happiness if they send him one dollar. When the exceedingly wealthy Mr. Burns gets this message, he responds:
"One dollar for eternal happiness? ...I'd be happier with the dollar."
- This is common for Homer. In "Dial Z For Zombies" of "Treehouse of Horror III":
Lisa: Dad, we did something very bad!
Homer: Did you wreck the car?
Homer: Did you raise the dead?
Homer: But the car's okay?
Homer: All right then.
- In "Deep Space Homer" after Homer broke the handle off the hatch, he grabs a support rod to hit one of the other astronauts. The rod catches in the door and when it is pointed out that could allow them to return safely, he tries to remove the rod so he can continue the attack.
- In "Burns' Heir" he noted that Bart being abusive to the family is one thing, but he would not stand idly by and watch him feed a hungry dog.
- "Joy of Sect"
Jane: Would you rather have beer, or complete and utter contentment?
Homer: ...What kind of beer?
- Since this questioner turns out to be working for a cult, this is a sterling case of Homer being Too Dumb to Fool.
- In "Treehouse of Horror XVI" he is possessed by the devil but is unconcerned about that because that means he doesn't have to go to work.
- In the Hansel and Gretel spoof, when Marge's character finds out Homer left the children in the forest (because they couldn't afford to feed them) she is enraged. They could have sold them.
- In Marge vs the Monorail, Marge and Sebastian Cobb arrive back in Springfield too late to stop the unsafe monorail from making its maiden voyage. Cobb then apologises, saying they might have been able to stop it if he hadn't stopped to get a haircut on the way.
- On Futurama:
- When a member of Zoidberg's species has sex they die immediately afterward. When Fry learns that Zoidberg has to choose between a life without sex or a gruesome death, he says, "Tough call."
- From "Crimes of the Hot", when they discover that Halley's comet is out of ice:
Bender: This could mean the end of the banana daiquiri as we know it. (Everybody looks at him.) Also, life.
- Similarly, in "Benderama":
Professor: In a matter of hours, there won't be no more fresh water on Earth! (Dramatic musical sting)
Bender: Oh no! What will I mix with my scotch?
- In "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Hermes sings about how he first showed the makings of a bureaucrat:
When I was four there was a hurricane in Kingston Town
With a foot-and-a-half of water
Everyone was all right, but I cried all night;
It blew my alphabet blocks out of order
- In "Brannigan, Begin Again":
: Leela, save me! And yourself, I guess! And my banjo! [Beat
] ...And Fry.
- In one infamous episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, Thomas loses control and crashes into the station master's house. The station master's wife seems far more annoyed that Thomas ruined their breakfast and that she'll have to cook it again than she does at the fact that a steam engine just plowed through the wall of her house.
- Similarly, a barber (whose shop is nearly destroyed by a runaway engine) is more mad at the fact that the engine frightened his customers.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses this for the occasional gag:
- Exaggerated in "The Return of Harmony", Pinkie doesn't care about eternal chaos, as long as she gets chocolate milk rain and Rarity wants the box the Elements of Harmony are in, instead of the Elements themselves. Keep in mind that this is before they're brainwashed by Discord.
- Continued in "Keep Calm and Flutter On", when she instead criticizes Discord for making chocolate milk rain... because he didn't also provide whipped cream.
- In "Dragonshy", Rarity foregoes on a protective helmet and picks a chic hat instead, because the helmet didn't look as good.Also, her skewed priorities is put on full display when she is shown to be more concerned about getting some of the dragon's stash of jewels than she is about getting rid of the dragon itself.
- Rarity is pretty much the queen of this trope. In "Lesson Zero", she forgot to bring plates to a picnic, but she certainly didn't forget her fainting couch to lament that fact afterwards.
- In the same episode Twilight Sparkle is looking for someone with a problem she can solve so she can write her usual letter to Princess Celestia about it. Seeking out the timid Fluttershy as a likely source she witnesses her beat down and Neck Snap a bear (actually part of a massage) and her response is to lament that she doesn't have any friendship problems, and walk off without a second thought.
- In "Ponyville Confidential", the Cutie Mark Crusaders lament that, after having made themselves pariah throughout town and alienated everypony (including their own families and Rainbow Dash), they still didn't get their cutie marks. This is standard behavior most other times too—no matter how convoluted their plan, disastrous their failure, or devastating the outcome, the possible appearance of a cutie mark takes priority.
- During "A Canterlot Wedding", after the changelings reveal themselves, Rarity, once again , is more focused on catching the dresses the others threw off than going to get the Elements of Harmony. The rest of the group lampshades this by yelling "Rarity" in unison.
- Pinkie's priorities are clearly off during the first part of "Princess Twilight", when she becomes more focused on thinking about cake frosting than reassuring Twilight about their friendship, and again when she gets more focused on coloring than helping find out what's happening in the Everfree Forest.
- In Jackie Chan Adventures, Uncle often accuses Jackie of having skewed priorities, but in reality this is because Uncle tends to look at the big picture and he does not give a crap about Jackie's personal problems. For example, in one episode, when Jade's horseplay breaks a statue Jackie and Uncle were examining:
Jackie: When the museum finds out about this, my career will go down the drain!
: (Dope Slaps Jackie
) Your career's not important! The statue had inscriptions on it! Knowledge
has been lost forever
- Lampshaded in Dragons: Riders of Berk, when Hiccup gets distracted from pursuing an agent of the Outcasts who has stolen the Book of Dragons, by Astrid's technique for speeding up Stormfly:
Hiccup: Was that...chicken? Is that what you've been-
Astrid: Really? You wanna talk about that now?!
- In Winx Club, Stella considers shopping and fashion to be more important, and saving the world from evil as a minor subject. While on a mission, she opted to go to a mall first before their actual mission.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Maria Hill is determined to force the Avengers to join SHIELD directly instead of being independent. Even when HYDRA and AIM are busy blowing up half of New York and fighting over a device which could rewrite reality, she is busy siccing SHIELD jet troopers to attack Iron Man and Wasp. Yes, she is called out on this by Iron Man and Wasp.
- In the episode "Daylight Savings" of The Powerpuff Girls, after the girls get caught sleeping in class and the Professor has a meeting with Ms. Keane, she lampshades that education is more important than saving Townsville.
- In The Fairly OddParents episode "Vicky Gets Fired", Timmy's parents couldn't care less about the video evidence of Vicky torturing their son, but when they see she erased the video they were using to tape their reality show, they're horrified and immediately fire her. Mr. Turner even admits that they consider the tape the most important thing in their lives, as opposed to their only child.
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: Averted. A teacher wasn't gonna let Randy get his backpack during a drill. Even if he's standing very close to it.
- Played straight in "Randy Cunningham: 13th Century Ninja", out of fear McFist was implementing another evil plan, Randy and Howard decided to sneak away from the tour at McFist Industries. When a student reported them to Principal Slimovitz, Slimovitz ignored them and had the other students do the same and keep their eyes on the "tattle-tale" because he hates tattle-tales more than he hates troublemakers. Not knowing it'd somehow result in the Sorcerer being free does not excuse him.
- In one episode of Hey Arnold!, Big Bob suffers a heart attack (actually only gas) and the last thing he says before passing out is "I won't catch the Wheel of Fortune".
- In Not Without My Handbag, Auntie seems to think that it's worse to leave her handbag at home than to die or go to hell.
- Many, many Darwin Awards are subject to this trope.
- This Cracked list links to a number of real-life cases of Skewed Priorities. Of particularly terrifying note is the mother who locked her infant son in her car on a hot day. When rescue workers arrived, she refused to let them break a window to get him out, even as he started to show signs of heat stroke. Thankfully they just waited until she left to get her spare key and broke him out anyway.
- A security consultant was brought in because a former worker had come to the workplace with a gun demanding reimbursement for some expenses he had incurred while working. The consultant asked why they had not paid him. Answer: because he had not filled out the form correctly.
- Some anecdotes from Not Always Right feature people who believe saving a few cents, getting their coffee, or finishing a golf game are more important than the livelihoods or lives of others.