A common soap opera scenario: young couple Alice and Bob
are very happy. But Vamp
Dorothy, who wants Bob herself, "casually" mentions to Alice that Bob spent the night with her (when in fact they were simply both stranded in a blizzard with thirty other people).
Given a choice between believing her beloved, who has never lied but always been faithful and true, or believing the scheming bitch
with a history of deceit
and an obvious agenda, naturally our dumb heroine immediately accepts the worst of the story, and totally rejects her true love without even asking his side of it
. When he pathetically asks why she's upset
, she only says, "You know what you did!" with a side of Death Glare
, thus cementing what should be a Discredited Trope
, but, sadly, is not.
At times the woman will
ask the man some transparent question, such as, "Did you spend the night with Dorothy?" Unfortunately, the man doesn't actually get why
she's asking, and in responding with detail-free answers - or answers with the wrong
details ("Why, yes - we got a lot of exercise that
night. Good thing, 'cuz I was getting pretty cold.") - merely confirms the woman's fears. The woman, of course, never asks clarifying questions
that would resolve the matter, and the man never picks up on the fact that he needs
to clarify because he does not speak nonverbal
- in fact, sometimes he'll believe that the woman knows exactly what's going on to begin with, hence the lack of necessary detail.
And of course, the woman never wonders why, if he was cheating on her, he'd just casually admit to it like that, being that he hasn't displayed Jerkass
traits before. The worst part is, the accuser expects a confession, but she's only making the situation far
A form of Genre Blindness
, with a giant, gooey Idiot Ball
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- This is one of the problems in Akane Tendo's relationship with Ranma Saotome, of Ranma ½. She is willing to see the worst of anything slightly suspicious that Ranma does, something Ranma has actually lampshaded in the anime, jump to perverse conclusions about Ranma's goals/intentions/motivations, has been shown to consciously ignore elements of Ranma's own attempts at self-defense to prove her point and selectively remember events to further back up her opinions (manga version of Hinako's introduction), and believe the lies of people like Shampoo and Ukyo... who, by the way, are her devout rivals for Ranma's hand.
- She isn't the only person in Ranma ½ who does this, though... unusually, however, the other people who do so tend to be Ranma's male rivals, using this trope in relation to their particular love interest being upset and them blaming that fact on Ranma (and using it as an excuse to try and beat the hell out of him). A good example would be Ryoga and Kuno attacking Ranma after he "kissed" Akane during the first Nekoken story, an event that Ranma doesn't remember due to "Kitty Ranma" being a kind of split personality.
- Never mind that fact that it was Kuno who awakened "Kitty Ranma" in by exposing him to his fear of cats, but is too proud and stupid to take responsibility for the incident.
- Fushigi Boshi No Futago Hime, ep 24 has bird people being teed off at the Windmill Kingdom and setting up barricades, and all one particular messenger will say is: "Why did we take such actions? King Randa (of the Windmill Kingdom) should know the reason." Naturally, King Randa is quite clueless. Al1701 says in his review: "What adult would accuse another adult of doing something, then refuse to say what they did?" Turns out King Randa is planning to build an amusement park in their area, or at least that's what the henchmen of the Moon Kingdom are saying. Al1701 says, of the bird people simply believing them over the King, "This is a horse pill of a plot contrivance this episode's asking me to swallow."
- Tokyo Tribe 2 has this with the reason why Mera wants to kill Kai. For the first several episodes, we don't know what it is, with Mera and Skunk hitting Kai with these lines early on, in flashback and in present time. As it turns out in episode 12, what Kai did was actually a lie Skunk told Mera to break up his and Kai's friendship. The lie? That Kai pushed Fujio, Mera's girlfriend, in front of an incoming train. The truth? She committed suicide for unknown reasons, and Kai thought that she was accidentally pushed out of the crowd onto the tracks.
- The third movie of Rebuild of Evangelion deconstructs this in a brutal fashion — Asuka, Misato and Ritsuko are treating Shinji like crap and won't explain why, so Shinji has no idea for most of the movie that he, by complete accident, nearly destroyed the world. When he finds out what he did, he's desperate to fix it... but the animosity between Shinji and Asuka prevents them from finding out that if Shinji tries to undo the Near Third Impact, he'll actually finish the job.
- It goes about as badly as possible in BOTH ways. By being kept out of the loop initially Shinji doesn't find out NERV is the enemy and the Rei calling him is not the one he knew and he defects as a result. He's later actually told but hearing the full truth only causes his guilt to spiral out of control until he can't be talked out of it at all and he inadvertently follows Gendo's plan again.
- In The Muppet Show Comic Book, Miss Piggy believes Kermit is seeing someone else, based on a cryptic and entirely fraudulent prophecy.
Piggy: If you don't know why I'm mad, there's no point in me telling you, is there?
Kermit: That doesn't make any kind of sense!
- A nonromantic variant gets played with in one issue of Catwoman. The Trickster phones in a tip to the media that gives away her identity as mayoral candidate Selina Kyle, and she flies into a rage at him for outing her—and then it turns out that it was meant as a generic political smear campaign and the identification was a coincidence. And then he legitimately figures it out.
Catwoman: How did you know?!
Trickster: Er... know what?
Catwoman: Don't play games with me!
Trickster: Please, God, oh please, help me figure out what she's talking about...
Catwoman: You... you just... made it all up...?
Trickster: Can I get a category here? It would really help me defend myself if I knew what it was that you were going nuclear over...
Film — Live Action
- Subverted in the movie 13 Going on 30. The Alpha Bitch character tells Jennifer Garner's love interest played by Mark Ruffalo a nasty lie about her to get rid of him. Later we find out that while he has indeed been avoiding her, it's been for other reasons. ("It doesn't matter what Lucy said. I stopped trusting her after she stole my poprocks in the third grade.").
- Subverted nicely in the Will Smith film Hitch, where the object of his affections took the word of a known Smug Snake, with every reason to lie, and proceeded to break up with Hitch without explanation, then trash him in her gossip column, before confronting him at a restaurant one night. Hitch, after pausing for shock, calls her out on this and corrects her loudly in front of everyone, leaving her looking quite the fool.
- Then the film follows up with having her apologize and him not accept it, thus making the true climax him publicly apologizing for not accepting her apology, and begging her to come back to him.
- White Christmas. A busybody hears part of a story that makes her think the male leads are planning to exploit their old friend. She tells everyone, including the female romantic interests, who almost leave the men over it.
Live Action TV
- Used in a stand-up comedy bit by Adam Ferrara. "You know what you did," his girlfriend says. "No, seriously, what's-" "Well, if you don't know, know, then I'm not going to tell you!" The retort? "FINE! Then don't be surprised when this shit happens again!"
- Drew Carey cites this as the reason a world ruled by women would not be peaceful at all, and talks about a situation in which one country suddenly invades another in such a world. The leader of the invaded country calls the leader of the invading one, and asks why they're attacking. The answer? "Oh, I think you know why!"
- This goes as far back as William Shakespeare. In Othello, Iago's plan only succeeds because Othello decides to believe the jealous subordinate over his beloved Desdemona, and he never tells anyone what he's angry about, only that he's angry. The rest of the cast never even thinks of asking someone other than Iago about what's going on. In King Lear, Gloucester decides to believe his embittered bastard son's claim that his legitimate son is a traitor, without thinking about motives or checking with anybody else.
- In Othello, it's not that simple. Iago is known by all the characters as "honest Iago" because he has a reputation for always telling the truth, being seen as incapable of doing anything other than tell it like it is. Add in that Iago and Othello have fought in battles many times before to the extent that Othello has built up an absolute trust in Iago, who was always with him in the heat of battle. Though Othello does not ask Desdemona about this, Iago has a hand in this, saying first that Desdemona would just deny it and then that Desdemona deceived her father to marry Othello, when Othello questions why Desdemona would betray him when she has such a loyal character.
- Also done in the play Much Ado About Nothing, but with the genders switched round. Hero and Claudio are to be married the next morning- but the evil Don John convinces the court that Hero has been sleeping around. The entire court (except for the heroes) immediately believe the deceitful Prince that previously tried to overthrow the court. Of course, in fairness, they thought they'd actually seen Hero in the act...
- Subverted in a subplot of the webcomic Dominic Deegan. Manipulative Bastard Neilen Everstar tries to convince the protagonist and his girlfriend, respectively, that the other is discontent with the state of their otherwise happy relationship. Dominic being a seer invalidates the first half, but given Luna's propensity toward self-loathing, one would almost expect his ploy with her to be preordained to succeed. However, this isn't the case.
- A purely accidental version occurs in Sequential Art, where Kat slumps face-first into Art's crotch while the two are sleeping on the couch, and accuses Art of being a pervert when she wakes up to find herself in said compromising position, leaving Art confused by her outburst since he was asleep when it happened. However, she learns this little detail from Pip soon after and apologizes to a still-confused Art.
- Codename: Kids Next Door "Operation Dogfight" doesn't actually use the phrase, but it's a YKWYD plot anyway, and one that works to boot: some kid who has shot down Numbuh 2 several times walks in with a chili dog into a hobby shop where 2 is shopping and gives 2 a Death Glare. At first go, one is led to conclude that he's being all "Hey, I'M the new king of the sky now, so stay out!" However, when they both shoot each other down, the kid is all "At least I stopped you from bombing the chili dog factory," and it becomes obvious that the kid was actually giving him a "You know what you're doing" glare from having heard from the shop owner that 2 was planning to do just that. With both of their planes wrecked and out of the way, the shop owner goes off to bomb the chili dog factory himself, angry at how customers always spill chili sauce on his counter.
- Said in one episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends but quickly subverted as the character who said it was joking around.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Beezy being haunted by a ghost. When he tries to figure out why, the ghost simply replies "You know what you did."
- In an episode of Doug, the title character manages to destroy a condemned house with a single rock to impress Patti. However, this causes her to hate him for the duration of the episode because it was her old house back when her mother was still alive. The episode is exacerbated because Patti (and later Bebe, who asks her about it on Doug's request) refuse to pass that information onto Doug. His best friend Skeeter thought he knew about it, since everyone in town knows it, forgetting that he just recently moved to town. At the end, Patti apologized for being angry at him.
- Parodied in Drawn Together. A housemate will make a disparaging remark about Tori Spelling, to which another housemate will ask "why you dissing on Tori?" The response is "she knows what she did" followed by dramatic background music.
- In that cartoon where an attempt to turn The Thing of the Fantastic Four back into human turned him into a teenage boy, he attended school and there was one episode where the bullies framed him and, when he asked the teacher why she'd want to talk to him, she said something among the lines of "As if you don't know."
- An episode of Horseland had one of the girls incorrectly blamed for spreading gossip when she was overheard talking about a celebrity with the same name as one of her friends. The rest of her friends began to snub her while she herself had no idea what was going on until episode's end. Once she knows the situation, she immediately clears everything up.
- Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls episode "A Very Special Blossom." She steals a set of golf clubs to give the Professor for Father's Day. When the heat's on (read: the Professor, seen with the clubs, is arrested for theft), she ambushes Mojo Jojo, trusses him up and tries to frame him for the theft. Buttercup and Bubbles don't believe her for a second, and a beatdown among the three takes place until Blossom confesses.
- In "Curses", the girls unwittingly pick up swearing after they overheard the Professor doing it. When they curse in school, Miss Keane washes their mouths out. When they asked what they did to deserve it, she tells them "You know perfectly well what you did."
- When Activision fired two Infinity Ward employees for insubordination, they said something to this effect.
- Pretty much everyone alive has a story of being confronted by a friend or loved one only to be given this stock line when asking what they did wrong.
- Similarly, children are also subjected to this trope by their parents or teachers when they do something wrong, even if they honestly don't know what they had done wrong.
- Defied by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution for the reason that some nations did this (and some still do):
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;...
- A good response to this trope is admit that no, I don't know what I did. If the accuser believes you are playing dumb, say something like "Well, maybe I am dumb. Humor me, what did I do?" If at this point, the accuser still refuses to tell you, then he or she most likely has a reason (he or she may just be trying to get you to admit to something you didn't actually do, or feels whatever you did was so heinous, so absolutely vile, that he or she is shocked that you don't remember).
- If a company lets you go (as opposed to firing you), it's not uncommon for them to not be willing to explain why. This is logical, since it invariably deals with company information, and you're not part of the company anymore, but this doesn't make it any less frustrating.
- Basically, this happens all the time, reasons ranging from genuine to petty. That snippy kid who just wants a reason to be mad, the girlfriend who insists that her boyfriend has to have mind-reading powers, those who don't want to hear excuses, or even people who just want to watch their victims squirm at their mercy.