Harmony: I'm not gonna make the same mistakes you did. I've been doing my homework, reading books and stuff.
Spike: What, Evil for Dummies?The For Dummies series of books is a popular way of learning just about anything, from C++ programming to Divorce Law to African-American History, achieved by simple explanations. They also provide a very useful quick reference for those already familiar with the subject. As a result of their popularity, these books are often parodied, and fictional entries to the series are often conjured into existence. This is often done to show that a character knows next to nothing about a subject but is now trying to find out. They will occasionally be ludicrously specific to the task the character is attempting at the time. Works created before the "For Dummies" series was started will use titles like "How to Do Tropes in N Easy Steps" or "You, Too, Can Trope!" or "Hey, You're not a Genius. Who Cares? Read This and You Won't Suck at X" or "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tropes But Were Afraid to Ask." Often, titles may also parody the "Complete Idiot's Guide to _______" series as well. Sister Trope to Correspondence Course and Specific Situation Books. Also compare Snowclone and The Joy of X, which lead to similar titling conventions. If it's bad enough that only a dummy would fail to realize that how useless it is, it's a Faux to Guide.
— Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Real Me"
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- Roger in Foxtrot tries to buy an actual For Dummies book, but can't bring himself to pronounce the name and admit himself a "dummy", instead asking for a book for "college-educated professionals who majored in the humanities before computers existed."
- In Dilbert, when the company produces a product that doesn't work and its instruction manual is complete fiction. The Pointy-Headed Boss's reply: "Ship it and hope someone publishes a 'For Dummies' guide."
- What's New? with Phil and Dixie has Gothic Romance for Dummies.
- In The Trouble with Timelines, Haruhi Suzumiya goes searching for a missing jigsaw puzzle using techniques taken from a Dowsing for Dummies.
- In The Master's Gambit a recently-freed Dobby steals Lucius Malfoy's library and one of the few books left behind is Spell-Creation for Dummies.
- In It Only Takes a Drop of Blood Harry's searching the Black library for books on transportation and comes across one called Magical Transportation for Trolls.
- In Harry Potter and the Pack of Shadows Hermione sends Harry Occlumency for Dummies as a birthday gift.
- In Whence Magic Draco Malfoy leaves Harry a dark book disguised as Simple Spells for the Spectacularly Stupid.
- In Coach Granger Harry gives Draco Malfoy Snappy Put-Downs for Dummies.
- In It's OK Not to Be OK (But I Promise I'm Trying) McGonagall picks out some instructional guides on Potions for Harry, one of which is Potion Making for Dummies.
- In Living My Life: Harry's Beginning Harry comes across Bondings and Rituals for Dummies.
- In The Son of Prongs and the Snitch and Stone Harry receives Dueling for Dummies for Christmas.
- In Rising Phoenix Scrimgeour throws Harry in jail and Hermione has Harry's phoenix bring him Beginning and Intermediate Sex for Witch and Wizard Dummies to keep him busy.
- In Black and White Hermione reads a copy of Broom Flying for Nimrods before their first flying lesson.
- In Sealed with Lies a newly-turned Harry wonders if there's a book like Becoming a Vampire for Dummies.
- In The Ilvermorny Champion Lily Potter asks Ted Tonks to translate the Triwizard Tournament rulebook into non-jargon and he comments that he assumes she's looking for the equivalent of Triwizard Tournaments for Dummies.
Films — Animation
- Kirk, from Hoodwinked, doesn't even know which part of an ax goes toward the wood. Fortunately, he finds a copy of Chopping for Actors.
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers has Goofy reading a Complete Idiot's Guide.
- Shrek the Halls with Christmas for Village Idiots.
- Planes: Chug briefly reads Air Racing for Dummies at the beginning.
Films — Live-Action
- Evan Almighty: God presents Evan with Ark Building for Dummies.
- The Waterboy used the rival learning series Complete Idiot's Guide with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Football being read by the incompetent football coach, who is then mocked when the rival competent coach is seen reading the exact same book and laughing.
- Bride of Chucky has Tiffany resurrecting Chucky from the dead through knowledge from a Voodoo for Dummies book.
- The Master of Disguise features The Master of Disguise for dummies.◊
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action has Bugs Bunny fighting Marvin the Martian with lightsabers while Bugs reads The Force for Dummies.
- Inspector Gadget 2 had Quantum Physics for Dimwits.
- An Ur-Example could be the 1968 British comedy film The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom. The main character's lover — who lives secretly in her attic — uses a series of dubious Do-It-Yourself manuals to build all sorts of items there, including a room-size mainframe computer.
- One full book-length parody of both series is called Compleet Idoit's Guide for Dumies — misspellings theirs, and presumably intentional.
- In Wintersmith, one village of anti-witchcraft fanatics get their information from the Magavenatio Obtusis, which a footnote helpfully translates as Witch-Hunting for Dumb People.
- Soul Music has Blert Wheedown's Guitar Primer: Play Your Way to Success in Three Easy Lessons and Eighteen Hard Lessons.
- Eric of Boy Meets World defeats the witches who want to sacrifice the Hunters with the help of Witchcraft for Dumb-dumbs.
- In Cory in the House, Cory procures a copy of Horses for Numb-Nuts (but with the stylized cover identical to the Dummies series).
- J.D. in Scrubs reads The Iraq War for Dummies.
- In Charmed season 6 episode "The Courtship of Wyatt's Father". Elder Gideon presents a page in a book titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Portals But Were Afraid to Ask.
- The Investigation Discovery channel has a commercial for their week of specials about Black Widows that has a woman at the register with normal Thanksgiving stuff, but the last thing the cashier scans is a book called Killing Your Husband for Dummies.
- Dungeons & Dragons worlds bless dummies with more literature:
- Forgotten Realms has something close — canonically, Volo's Guides are an awful mix of brilliant investigations and silly hearsay. The most infamous was "Volo's Guide to All Things Magical", the "second edition" of which claimed that v 1.0 contained a lot of recipes how to kill oneself in a funny way — and so much of sensitive information that Volo hesitated to introduce himself in a hearing range of other wizards ever after, and Elminster had to personally hunt down and destroy every last copy.
- Cover art of d20 Modern Arcana SRDnote from Infinite Dreamers has a horned greenish lad reading 13 Easy Steps to Overthrow Your Demonic Master, with a readable annotation traditional for this sort of literature on its back cover.
- GURPS Bio-Tech includes several quotes from Nanovirus for Dummies by possible Mad Scientist Dr Lucien Locke. One excerpt has Dr Locke assuring the reader that a Grey Goo scenario can't possibly happen unless you intend it to. And if you do intend it to, here's what you do...
- The somewhat free MMO Roblox once had a hat for sale with the title Quantum Thermodynamics for Dummies. It was, indeed, a "For Dummies"-style book that could be worn as a hat (just a mesh, though, so you couldn't read it or anything...).
- The Binding of Isaac features the "Telepathy For Dummies" power-up, granting homing tears for a single room upon use.
- Unraveling God has a bookshelf which, along with a couple more serious-sounding books, sports a copy of Cellular Molecular Biology for Dummies, Volume 1.
- A bookshelf in a private home in Dink Smallwood mod Terrania has a copy of Etiquette for Dummies.
- The introduction to Magic Life shows a student making a potion while reading Alchemy for Dummies.
- In Cartographer one of the books on Reuben's desk at the inn he runs is Managing Inns for Dummies: Version 3.2.
- Data Structures for Assholes, which parodies many of the elements associated with programming manuals that bill themselves as accessible to the novice: lengthy explanations of simple topics, clip art, diagrams...
- Rose also mentions getting Knitting for Assholes after getting her yarn and knitting needles from John as a birthday gift.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Vaarsuvius is looking for a way to regain spellcasting power without sleeping, due to a recurring nightmare. The rules of this D&D-based universe says a spellcaster needs to rest rather than sleep to regain spells, so Vaarsuvius needs something not mentally taxing that would still help his/her ongoing research into finding Haley. Finding Plot Holes for Dummies does the trick.
- Also, Xykon's line from Start of Darkness: "This magic is in my bones, not cribbed off of Magic for Dummies."
- 8-Bit Theater has Necromantic Arts for Dummies.
- Slackerz has a great example. One of the characters attempted to program his own game called Matt's Kickass Game for Winners (a reference to Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People) However, he knows absolutely nothing about programming. So he consults a regular programming book, a For Dummies book, and a book called Grover's Magical C++ Garden. (He even denounces that as too difficult.)
- User Friendly — Evil Geniuses for Dummies. Evil Geniuses in a Nutshell later became the title of the second print collection.
- Girl Genius presents: Advanced Mechanics for the Mad.
- El Goonish Shive once had Grace reading Untying Knots for Squirrels as a gag in a storyline cover.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has Dimension Doors for Dummies.
- DOS For Complete and Utter Morons, Like You, Fuckhead
- Bug has The Complete Idiot's Guide to Musical Belching.
- In Kevin & Kell when Ralph started programming he tried For Dummies, The Complete Idiot's Guide, and finally For Ralph Dewclaw. Surprisingly he proved rather competent.
- Roommates' in-world books series is Wiki's _____ for Beginners, for example ''Wiki's Astronomy for Beginners.'
- Bruno the Bandit has Sorcery for Fatheads.
- The Emperor's New Clones, the second Star Wars parody from Backyard Productions, features Vader reading The Dark Side for Dummies, and Han Solo's father checking The Star Wars Guide to Techno-Babble.
- One of the naughty-scene-re-enactors in The Nostalgia Chick's review of Showgirls is reading Opera for Dummies throughout the whole thing.
- Fredrik K.T.Andersson, the author of Pawn, in his equally NSFW gallery on Elfwood presents: Censoring for Dummies.
- In Suburban Knights, Ma-Ti showed up with a book to help 8-Bit Mickey's problem. It's Goatf*cking for Dummies.
- In one episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock lends "Mummies for Dummies" from the library to learn how to escape a mummy's curse.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: "Berry Scary" has a whole bookstore shelf full of "...for Blockheads" books, including the one Bloo and Mac are looking for, "World Records for Blockheads".
- On The Simpsons:
- Moby-Dick for Dummies. Fridge Brilliance: For Dummies and Cliffs Notes have the same publisher.
Bart: "Call me Ishmael, Dummy!"
- One episode has Homer going to a book fair, with an entire library of Books for Dummies where he is quite at home.
- When the Simpsons go to Brazil, Bart learns Spanish on the flight there, which is Español para Dummies with Bumblebee Man as the instructor. Marge is quick to point out that Brazilians speak Portuguese, causing Bart to fly off in an angry rant in Spanish.
- Moby-Dick for Dummies. Fridge Brilliance: For Dummies and Cliffs Notes have the same publisher.
- Megas XLR with The Complete Moron's Guide to Picking Up Space Chicks.
- Astrophysics for Morons from the "Shelf Life" episode of The Fairly OddParents!
- SpongeBob SquarePants, in episode "Rodeo Daze", has a book titled How to Open Things. SpongeBob can't open Sandy's door, but Patrick brings out the book. It conveniently has a whole page about Sandy's door. Also, SpongeBob claims to have seen The Film of the Book of How to Open Things.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Look Before You Sleep", Twilight Sparkle hosts a slumber party, but has no idea how, so she relies on a book titled Slumber 101: All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties (But Were Afraid to Ask).
- Danny Phantom: When Valerie takes interest in hunting ghosts, she checks out a library book titled Ghost Killing for Dimwits.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot: One episode had a scene where kids are checking out books from a bookmobile, a dopey looking boy with a hillbilly accent asks the librarian for The Dunderheads Guide to Idiocy.
- ISIS recruits are often so ignorant about Islam that they have (or are ordered) to buy Islam for Dummies.