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Tropes 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.

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.

Compare Correspondence Course, its brother in self-education. Also compare Snowclone and The Joy of X, which lead to similar titling conventions.


Fan Fiction

  • 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 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 was 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.

Live-Action TV
  • In It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Daniel is given the book Performing Miracles for Dummies.
  • 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).
  • JD 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".

Newspaper Comics
  • 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."

Tabletop RPG
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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 had a bookshelf which, along with a couple more serious-sounding books, sported a copy of Cellular Molecular Biology for Dummies, Volume 1.


Web Original
  • 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 was 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".

Western Animation
Tomes of Prophecy and FateBookish TropesUseful Book
Force-Field DoorImageSource/OtherVanity License Plate
Tintin Shout OutStock ParodiesTuxedo and Martini

alternative title(s): For Dummies
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