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No True Scotsman

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No True Scotsman (also referred to as the fallacy of "Victory by Definition" in Robert Allen's "The Propaganda Game") is an intentional logical fallacy which involves the act of setting up standards for a particular scenario, then redefining those same standards in order to exclude a particular outcome.

The Trope Namer and prime example of this sort of behavior is a hypothetical scenario (first told by British philosopher Antony Flew in his 1975 book Thinking About Thinking) in which a Scotsman reads about a horrible crime in the newspaper that takes place in the English town of Brighton and smugly thinks to himself, "No Scotsman would ever do such a thing." Then something much worse happens in nearby Aberdeen and is reported on the next day. Rather than admit that he was wrong, he instead thinks, "No true Scotsman would ever do such a thing." In this case, he is retroactively changing his standards of what a Scotsman is from "someone who lives in Scotland" to "someone who lives in Scotland and meets my standards of acceptable Scottish behavior."

This is very common within subcultures. Works or creators are discredited as not part of the genre due to not living up to arbitrary standards (or just being popular). Often this is followed by examples of what are considered real examples of the genre (see also Pretender Diss). By extension, you aren't considered a real fan of the genre if you don't know of these works. Sometimes, when dealing with a Dead Horse Genre or another sufficiently ghettoized field, the fallacy is used to try and distance a well-liked entry from it. A related tactic is called gatekeeping and refers to when someone claims to be a fan of X and another person challenges them to prove they are a "real" fan of X by reciting a bunch of facts about X.

In real life, it's most commonly found in arguments about politics, race, nationality, or religion, usually when it comes to perceived stereotypes that something negative "can only be done" in a specific region or group of people (especially the opponent's) and not the accuser's own group; while, of course, ignoring the fact that it can.

Essentially a form of Begging the Question, in that, to accept the argument that No True Scotsman would do X, one must accept that the definition of "True Scotsman" includes "would not do X." It's also a good example of Confirmation Bias in action. Related to Moving the Goalposts, where the definition isn't changed, but the standards for accepting a counter-argument are made increasingly more rigorous.

Tropes which rely on, or include this fallacy:

Looks like this fallacy but is not:

  • If the group being referred to has clearly-defined or generally accepted membership standards that exclude the counter-example. For instance: if a statement is made about "Eagle Scouts", and a rebuttal is offered concerning "Boy Scouts", pointing out that "Not all Boy Scouts are Eagle Scouts" is not No True Scotsman.
  • Even if a group doesn't have a formal membership standards system, it can have widely accepted standards what does and doesn't constitute responsible/acceptable actions. For example, it's not fallacious to say that "no responsible gun owner would do that," because someone violating gun safety rules is by definition acting irresponsibly.
  • If the group being referred to has specific and/or objective guidelines/rules of behavior as a member of that group. E.G., "No clean cop would take a bribe" is not fallacious, because a clean cop, by definition, doesn't take bribes.
  • If the action axiomatically note  or logically disqualifies one from inclusion in the group, such as "No true bachelor is married" or "No true triangle has four sides." For example, "No right-handed person predominantly uses their left hand" is not fallacious because right-handed people are defined as those who predominantly use their right hand. Someone who is calling themselves "right-handed" but predominantly uses their left hand either is lying, trying to torture themselves, or doesn't understand the distinction between "right-handed" and "left-handed" people.
  • If the term is redefined because it is susceptible to multiple interpretations and there was legitimate confusion about which was being used. This would be sloppy, but not necessarily fallacious. It could be clarified by observing, "You Keep Using That Word..." Of course, if the term in question is political, what counts as Insistent Terminology and what counts as No True Scotsman will depend on what political views you have.
    • Related, it's not No True Scotsman, but a simple mistake if the definition is simply wrong. For example, stating no right-handed person predominantly uses their left hand. Bob has been right-handed all his life, but he just broke his hand or had a stroke leaving him partially paralyzed...
  • If the term means different things at different times due to time marching on. Led Zeppelin isn't true Heavy Metal based on how the term is defined today, even though the term was used to describe the band in the 1970s.
  • Pointing out that something really is, strictly speaking, not an example of the group. For example, the plant bananas grow on is commonly referred to as a banana tree, and it's fine to point out that, botanically, the banana plant is not really a tree.
  • Drawing a line differentiating the traditional version of something against revisions, adaptations, or derivatives. The traditional version may still be recognized as either the original or the authentic version. This often comes up in matters of ethnic cuisine but also socially such as the terms "geek" or "nerd", the traditional definition as highly intelligent but unattractive males with No Social Skills. In recent decades, both terms were widely adapted by the mainstream and redefined to be a cool thing. However, an individual reserves the right for themselves to favor either the traditional or revisionist form.note 

Not related to Violent Glaswegian, Brave Scot, The Scottish Trope, that Shcottish actor, or Fake Scot.

A form of Selective Obliviousness. Straw Affiliation is a related form of this. Stop Being Stereotypical and "Not So Different" Remark are often invoked when these situations occur. The inverse is Hitler Ate Sugar, when someone tries to argue that all True Scotsmen are evil because of one bad apple, though both tropes can be (and often are) used hand-in-hand to stigmatize and exclude certain people/things/etc.

In regards to Real Life examples, what may be considered as "a true/not a true (whatever)" often relies on personal interpretation which can result in heated arguments, so let's not go there.

It's perhaps also worth mentioning that, among those who wear the kilt, a "True Scotsman" is the humorous term for someone who is confident enough to go commando. So if someone asks "Are you a true Scotsman," it might not be this fallacy — they may just be wondering about your underwear.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In After War Gundam X, secondary villain Seidel Rasso gets over the philosophical hurdle that none of the Newtypes in the series actually agree with his platform of Newtypism (that Newtypes can only be born in space, are the next stage of human evolution, and therefore Spacenoids are entitled to conquer the rest of humanity through any means they see fit to use) by coming up with reasons why each of them doesn't meet his definition of a Newtype, making their objections irrelevant.
  • Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran: The samurai in the 11th episode; the only 'true' samurai in their opinion are samurai that think like them. They talk about honor in one scene, for instance, they refuse to sneak attack and decide on a time and place of neutral favor. Then they attack him three to one, even when he reveals himself to be unarmed. Everyone who doesn't act like this is a "coward" or a "maggot".
  • In Gundam Build Divers this is the major drive of Big Bad Tsukasa Shiba. He hates the Gunpla Battle Nexus Online game because the Gunpla Battlers there don't spend their time, money and energy battling, smashing and rebuilding their Gunpla. He feels that their way of battling is inferior to his because they never experienced his kind of combat. He has this worldview completely shattered when Riku, a player of GBN, ends up coming up on top in a duel.
  • In One Piece, there's a great deal of Fantastic Racism between humanity and Fishmen. Arlong split off from the Sun Pirates and formed his own crew because their leader Jinbe went and became a privateer for the human-ruled World Government to help patch things up, but the worst case are the New Fishman Pirates. Their leaders hate humans to the extent that they'll kill any Fishmen or merfolk who seek peace with humans. Hody Jones, leader of the pirates, is even willing to have all of Fishman Island destroyed than have fishmen and humans understand each other, all out of Irrational Hatred. But the funny thing is, unlike Arlong, who has very good reasons to hate humans, the New Fishman Pirates have never experienced human bigotry and were only taught to hate humans.
  • In Pokémon: The Original Series, Ash Ketchum would often get hit with this whenever he used a Pokémon in a Gym match that had a distinct type disadvantage against the leader he was facing. Ash usually brushed it off, finding it was his team's skills and not their type that mattered. Whether or not he was proven right or wrong often depended on each battle; for example, in Johto, his Chikorita was easily curbstomped by a Flying-type Pokémon (as Grass-types are weak against flying), but his next match saw Chikorita defeat a Bug-type (which is also strong against Grass).

  • George Carlin related this on his album FM/AM:
    I got fired in Las Vegas from the Frontier Hotel for saying "shit." In a town where the big game is called "craps." There seems to be some sort of double standard. I'm sure there was some Texan standing outside the casino saying "Aw, shit, I crapped out!" They fly those guys in for free. They fired me. Shit!

    Comic Books 
  • All-New Ultimates: Scourge told the police in his defense that he doesn't kill kids. And what about kids in gangs or superhero kids? "They made that choice. I enforce the consequence".
  • Superboy Prime doesn't think Conner Kent is the real Superboy in Infinite Crisis due to his lack of confidence in himself and darker personality. In fact, Earth-2 Superman believes the same about the entirety of the concurrent DC Universe, insisting that everything about it is inferior and corrupt, and therefore unworthy of being called the "real" Earth, until he's asked if that's the case with Dick Grayson, and has to admit that no, it isn't.
  • Judge Dredd: The deranged philosophy of the Dark Judges is that all life is a crime. So in order to judge people without hypocrisy they allowed themselves to be transformed into zombies. After their whole planet had been wiped out, their leader Judge Death gathered his followers and purged all but his three closest supporters. His argument was that they were not really Dark Judges since they were "too much like the living".
  • One Pepper Ann comic had P.A. daydreaming of such an approach by geeks if she entered a comic book store.
  • As of The Krakoan Age, Firestar is looked upon by many mutants as something of a traitor, because she was once an Avenger (despite the fact that several prominent members of the X-Men, like Beast and Wolverine, were also Avengers in the past) and because she didn't relocate to Krakoa with the rest of her mutant brothers and sisters (because of her lingering resentment towards Emma, one of Krakoa's leaders), as well as the fact that she's historically had little to do with mutants in general.

    Fan Works 
  • In My Immortal, Ebony and friends are obsessed with which characters are "real goffs" and which are just "tryin 2 be goffik". Hagrid, or rather "Hargrid", is reclassified repeatedly, always for nonsensical, arbitrary reasons. How a person becomes a "real goff" never is explained (among a lot of other things), with the closest anyone can guess is that you're born a goff.
  • Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor: Ayane spitefully tells Kasumi that, given her compassionate nature and reluctance to kill, she could never hope to be a real Ninja.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the narrator thinks she's the only legitimate historical essay writer because she's the only one brave enough to tell the "truth", and dismisses all other works of real historians as false. She even calls herself the one true historian in Equestria at one point.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Torunn Thorsdóttir-Foster is terrified of not being a "true Asgardian" after her father and mother went off with the rest of Asgard's warriors to fight and die in Ragnarok while she was left on Earth for her safety. As such, she forces herself to speak in Ye Olde Butchered English and projects herself as a Proud Warrior Race Guy to hide her deep insecurities.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: In-universe. Harry tries to convince the Sorting Hat that he's not like the other potential dark lords the hat has met:
    Harry: Just what kind of statistical summary do your "feelings" come from, anyway! Do they take into account that I come from an Enlightenment culture, or were these other potential Dark Lords the children of spoiled Dark Age nobility, who didn't know doodly-squat about the historical lessons of how Lenin and Hitler actually turned out, or about the evolutionary psychology of self-delusion, or the value of self-awareness and rationality, or—
    Hat: No, of course they were not in this new reference class which you have just now constructed in such a way as to contain only yourself.
  • Chasing Dragons: Arthur Dayne's cousin Gawen tracks him down in Volantis and demands he duel him for the right to wield Dawn, as he feels that Arthur is no longer honorable enough to be the Sword of Morning, on account of the Targaryen exile court's support of slavery. Arthur, fully assured in how he's kept to his oaths as a Kingsguard, is far from impressed.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: One of the reasons that Gaz doesn't like Viera is because she feels that Viera is too nice to be a real Goth.
  • Create Your Own Fate: While waiting in the lobby as her uncle tries to get her enrolled in a Bajoran temple's high school, Sheri Walford, a Bajoran raised among mostly humans on Moab III, is accosted by a school gang who refer to her by a Fantastic Slur that translates to "bland hasperat"—meaning "Bajoran on the outside only". Crosses over with Category Traitor since the instigators turn out to be Sub Par Supremacists.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: At one point, Bob tells Skoodge that he's "really nice for an Irken", then clarifies that it's not a compliment.

    Films — Animation 
  • The BFG: The other giants essentially disown the BFG for not eating humans, though neither party does anything to patch the ties. The climax of the film makes it clear that they don't even consider him a giant.
    Fleshlumpeater: You is not giant! You is more like...human bean!
    BFG: Human being! Yes! I'd rather be one of them than like you!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, much like the original movies, there's the Ape Shall Never Kill Ape rule, which Koba uses to taunt Caesar at the end. Caesar responded by declaring that he was no ape. Given how Koba already violated that rule by trying to assassinate Caesar and murdering Ash, this trope holds some real weight for once.
  • In My Cousin Vinny, Vinny performs a cross-examination on Mr. Tipton, a witness to the robbery and murder at the Sac-O-Suds store. According to Tipton, he was cooking his breakfast when he witnessed the robbery. Vinny asks what he had for breakfast that day, and he answers that it was eggs and grits. When asked whether it was instant grits, Tipton answers "No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.". Vinny turns this against him, saying that the time it takes to prepare grits, 20 minutes, was much longer than the time the robbery took, 5 minutes, forcing him to admit that his perception of time was mistaken and therefore, he cannot corroborate the prosecution's claims.

  • In Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years, twice Adrian feels compared unfavourably to real males.
    • When he unsuccessfully tries to unblock the sink, Pandora says casually "we'll have to get a proper man in". Adrian then writes that she has disenfranchised him from his gender, and cut his poor, useless balls off.
    • When Adrian's therapist tells him to pretend that an empty chair is his father, Adrian recalls how when he was three years old, his father yanked his dummy out of his mouth, saying "Real boys don't need a dummy". He then angrily beats the chair with a stick.
  • The BFG: The other giants essentially disown the BFG for not eating humans, though neither party does anything to patch the ties. The climax of the film makes it clear that they don't even consider him a giant.
    Fleshlumpeater: You is not giant! You is like... human bean!
    BFG: Human being! Yes! I'd rather be like them, than like you!
  • In The Compleat Angler (1653), the author speaks of turtledoves, showing that the trope is Older Than Steam:
    the survivor scorns ... to outlive his or her mate, and this is taken for a truth; and if the survivor shall ever couple with another, then not only the living but the dead, be it either the he or the she, is denied the name and honour of a true turtle-dove
  • Discworld: The grags of the dwarfs cling tightly to this one, namely that all dwarfs must stay underground, refuse to deal with other species, and kill any troll they find, which starts to really become a problem at the beginning of Thud!, when they start inducing this feeling in all the normally quiet and well-behaved dwarfs around Ankh-Morpork, who feel a desire to assert their 'true' dwarfness out of embarrassment. At the end, another more moderate grag casts scorn on the idea of needing to define one's self by hatred of another.
  • One solution in Encyclopedia Brown involved this with, of all things, Hot Dog toppings. In one case, Bugs Meany was going to smuggle a rare coin out through his hot dog. The way Encyclopedia, as well as you, are "supposed" to know that he is suspicious is because he spread mustard on top of relish. Because "Nobody who likes hot dogs would do that". Admittedly, within the context of The '60s, it does make a bit of sense as squeeze bottles didn't come about until The '80s, so condiments were applied via butterknife and thus spreading mustard on top of Relish would make a mess.
  • Matters of ethnicity are discussed in George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan trilogy of short stories. Author Avatar Dand McNeill discusses the agonies the Gordon Highlanders went through when accepting a draft of soldiers from the Liverpool Scottish — sons and grandsons of Scotsmen who'd settled in Liverpool but who had the accent of Merseyside rather than Clydeside. One of whom was black, played the bagpipes, and applied to join the Regimental Band. The question was "Can a black-skinned Scouser be said to qualify as Scottish?" closely followed by "What's it going to look like?"
    • Dand also describes the Pipe-Sergeant in these terms:
      If he hadn't been such a decent wee man, he'd undoubtedly have been a professional Scotsman of the most offensive type.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire: Wide-Eyed Idealist Sansa believes in the Knight in Shining Armor trope. When Sandor, who hates the institution of knighthood, attempts to shatter her illusions by relating how his knighted brother Gregor abused him as a child, Sansa asserts, "He was no true knight." Of course given how much the series likes to subvert tropes, Sandor ends up being a pretty decent guy despite his appearance and even goes out of his way to help Sansa out, while many of the knights Sansa admires end up mostly being awful and even actively abusive towards her.
  • The Halkans in the Star Trek Novel Verse are total pacifists, who insist that there is no violence of any kind in their hearts. As a result of this, anyone capable of violence cannot be truly Halkan, and will be regarded as a non-person.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is always getting this from various individuals. He's not really a trusted councilor, he's a strange whim of the king's. He's more Italian than English. He's Jewish, his father was Irish, he has no place among gentlemen, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
  • In the Horus Heresy, former Death Guard Captain Garro is called out on making assumptions of this nature when he's blindsided by the betrayal of some White Scars.
    Garro: The Khan's sons are loyal!
    Rubio: Just as every son of Mortarion sided with Horus?!

    Live-Action TV 
  • From the CSI: Miami episode "Spring Break": Alexx is examining the Victim of the Week and tells Horatio, "Sunburn says she's a tourist," suggesting that any actual Miami resident would know how to properly put on sunscreen.
  • CSI: NY: In "She's Not There," Sheldon says it's extremely likely that a deceased man found clad in an "It's the Big Apple!" sweatshirt is not a native New Yorker because a true citizen of the city would never be caught wearing one. He's right.
  • The Daily Show:
    • Excessive use of this in the 2008 US Presidential campaign led to Jon Stewart producing a handy test: "Are You A Real American?"
    • The May 5, 2014 segment showed how Republicans running against other Republicans all declare the opponent to be "not a true conservative" (tying into the Real Life example of RINO) by showcasing all the potential definitions thereof and how they are applied in a South Carolina race.
  • In an episode of Desmond's, Desmond's son is failed on an essay about black British youth, because his teacher thinks it reflects a middle-class background which isn't typical of urban culture. Or as his sister puts it "They're saying he's not black enough!"
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
    • In many episodes, Will often mocks Carlton for not being black enough. For example:
      Carlton: Wait 'till we come downstairs in these tuxes. People may not think we're twins, but I'll bet they'll think we're brothers.
      Will: You know, I don't think you'll have to worry about anybody mistaking you for a brother.
    • Used a bit more seriously in the episode "Blood is Thicker Than Mud", where Will and Carlton try to join an all-black fraternity. Although they're both hazed, Carlton's is more severe than Will's, and even after he endures everything they put him through, the Pledgemaster still refuses to let Carlton join because he thinks he's a "sellout". Will quits in disgust when he finds out, and after they return home and tell Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian what happened, Phil laments: "When are we going to stop doing this to each other?"
  • Game of Thrones: Balon notes that Euron always mocked their customs and traditions. Euron then arrives at the Kingsmoot and states that by killing Balon he was a true Ironborn because he "paid the Iron price" rather than wait his turn in the line of succession.
  • Ghoul: Nida is questioned about serving in the unit, as a Muslim, when many of the prisoners they torture are also Muslims. She states they're not really Muslims in her view, since their acts of terrorism go against Islamic principles, therefore she's got no compunction (initially) with their work.
  • The Mandalorian
    • The Tribe takes the Mandalorian people's tendency to do this even further (see Western Animation below) by requiring an adult to have his or her helmet on at all times in the presence of anyone other than immediate family. The Mandalorian clan seen in the show also views working with the Empire as dishonorable, though that's more likely to do with an off-screen event known as "The Purge of Mandalore".
    • The series later confirms that Mandalorians have far different standards in regards to "The Way," when "our" Mandalorian, Din Djarin, bumps into Bo-Katan, and immediately turns his gratitude for saving him and the Child into fury upon them removing their helmets. As she and her followers believe the "Children of the Watch" (the sect that raised Din) are nothing but religious zealots, they give his criticisms of them not being true Mandalorians no mind.
    • When Din and Boba Fett recruit Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves to rescue Grogu from Moff Gideon, Boba scoffs at Bo-Katan's aspiration to retake Mandalore, causing Bo-Katan to try to invoke this trope. Boba doesn't consider himself to be a Mandalorian anyway, but she still manages to hit his Berserk Button when she says he's a disgrace to his armor, and calls Jango Fett his "donor" instead of his father.
  • Saturday Night Live: In a parody of the "It Gets Better" project, a gay man (played by Bowen Yang) complains about how, even though he doesn't get bullied for his sexuality by straight people anymore, he still gets bullied by other gay people because he has different tastes in music.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • One of the tactics used by Gul Dukat. After the Klingons attacked, the new civilian government pressed for a diplomatic solution. This flew in the face of his pride, so he waged a one-ship war on the Klingons and then forged an alliance with the Dominion. He says the following to Major Kira:
      Dukat: What Cardassians? Don't you see, Major? They're paralyzed. They're beaten and defeated. I am the only Cardassian left, and if no one else will stand against the Klingons, I will.
    • Sirella, Martok's wife, whom Jadzia Dax has to please before she can marry Worf. During the ceremonial reading of The Chronicle, a history of the Martok family's unbroken (until now, ahem) bloodline, Jadzia sprinkles in her own extracurricular research, including: a positive spin on an Oliver Cromwell-type figure in Klingon history, the revelation that Sirella's claim to nobility is false, and that her mother-in-law's ancestor was not the Princess but a concubine who lived out of the royal stables.
      Sirella: You are STRAYING FROM THE SAGA!!
    • Having been raised by The Federation, Worf sometimes gets this from other Klingons, especially when he does something more human than Klingon.
      Dahar Master Kor: Any Klingon who denies himself the Right of Vengeance is no Klingon at all!
    • Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #18: A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all; This is played heavily by Quark and Rom in different ways: Quark's relatively liberal attitude (he doesn't gouge his customers, and he gives his employees vacation time) earns him the ire of Liquidator Brunt for not being ruthless enough. Meanwhile Rom has no talent for or interest in profit whatsoever, and is generally considered to be a loser because of this. (Ironically he later becomes the financial leader of their whole race.)

  • Jazz drummer Art Blakey, in an interview with British journalist Les Tomkins, had some thoughts about the importance of the drummer in a jazz band. (This quote was also included in the liner notes of his album with the Jazz Messengers, Free For All.)
    Art Blakey: No jazz band is any better than its drummer. If the band is better than its drummer, then it's not a jazz band. He puts everything together there and keeps things rolling. This is what I was taught by Chick Webb and by my predecessors, and I think they're proven to be right.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible
    • John 19:12 has the Jewish leaders shouting to Pontius Pilate "If you release this man (Jesus), you are no Friend of Caesar. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." Being governor of Judea, Pilate held the title of Friend of Caesar (a status above ordinary subjects), and the Jewish leaders are implying that if Pilate releases Jesus, he's no "true" Friend of Caesar (which makes this trope Older Than Feudalism).
    • 1 John 2:19 states this about those who left the faith:
      "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

  • In their 100th episode, the hosts of Who Back When note that the most common trend they see when someone sends them hate mail is to ask how they can call themselves Doctor Who fans yet go on to rate episodes as anything less than perfect. Their own view is that the fact that some episodes are genuinely bad does not detract from their love of the series. Indeed, they see Doctor Who as something to be loved, warts and all.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Portia Perez says that if you don't recognize her, then you aren't a real pro wrestling fan. Also, Allison Danger is a diet Canadian.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: One sketch has two men talking about chocolate, with the one played by Finnemore getting increasingly aggravated by the other claiming he's a geek about chocolate, insisting that because he wasn't bullied as a child for being geeky, he doesn't get to call himself one now when he is not sufficiently "geeky".

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Clans get into a lot of arguments about what the "true" way to be a Clanner is. As Asskicking Leads to Leadership, generally the "true" Clan way goes down to whomever is the best at beating up or killing anyone who argues with them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons writer and designer Monte Cook wasn't exactly discreet about how much he liked Wizards and nor was he discreet about how much he hated Sorcerers, sabotaging the class' rules and abilities for years to keep Wizards top-tier. Another designer, Skip Williams, once went on record for openly saying that he despised the Sorcerer class and thought they were just discount Wizards. This despite the two classes playing in a very similar fashion.note 
  • The Orks of Warhammer 40,000 happily use No True Greenskin to stir up conflict when they can't find anyone else to fight. For example, Orks of the Goff clan know that the only proper greenskin is one who disdains fancy uniforms and is serious about busting in heads, the Bad Moons know that Orks ought to strut about in flashy clothes and blast things with snazzed-up shootas, the Snakebites know that the only true Orks fight with simple weapons astride a Squiggoth, while the Evil Suns know that being an Ork is all about racing around on a bike, buggy or trukk. The Blood Axe clan doesn't do this because they think being a true Ork is about turning your enemy's tricks against them, which then becomes one of the reasons they get it from the other clans.

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: In Act IV Scene III, this fallacy is played perfectly straight In-Universe. All the Gascon cadets are sick to death of De Guiche because he is The Dandy wearing an ermine cape, plotting with his uncle Cardinal Richelieu. When captain Carbon tries to defend him, one cadet says that De Guiche is "No True Gascon":
    Carbon: For all that—a Gascon.
    The First Cadet: Ay, false Gascon!... trust him not...
    Gascons should ever be crack-brained...
    Naught more dangerous than a rational Gascon.

    Video Games 
  • In the Borderlands 2 DLC Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, Lilith is incredibly reluctant to let Mr. Torgue join in on their game of Bunkers & Badasses because he is a muscular guy, so she believes he's not a true geek and only wants to play because being geeky is "trendy" now. It's invoked again moments later when Tina asks him "Three Geeky Questions". Torgue gets the first two right, but the third has an Unexpectedly Obscure Answer, and he doesn't know. Therefore, according to Lilith, Torgue isn't really into geek culture. After a great deal of Inelegant Blubbering from Torgue, she reluctantly agrees to let him stay as a sidequest-giver. One wonders what her problem is, since she had no problem with Mordecai playing and he is very clearly not interested in the game or anything else geeky (of course, he doesn't try to pretend he is, either).
  • In Disco Elysium, the Dirty Communists suffer from a bad case of We ARE Struggling Together as a result of this trope. None of the avowed communists can agree on what communism even is and spend more time in self-righteous pissing matches over who is or is not a communist than actually compromising on larger points for the purpose of unifying into a coherent ideology. At the end of the game, you learn that the real killer was The Remnant of the failed communist revolution who's spent the last 50 years in hiding. If Harry is communist himself, he can attempt to sympathize with the man only to be called a liberal pretender and told that real communism died with the party.
  • Rozalin from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories loves her father, Overlord Zenon. Until she actually meets him in person, and discovers he's actually kind of a jerk who seems to care for her only as a decorative object to be 'kept safe' in a castle isolated from the outside world. She immediately deduces that he can't be the real Overlord Zenon and is only a fake. She's actually right, but her reasoning that no true Overlord Zenon is a petty jerk had nothing to do with it — the real Overlord Zenon is much worse. Or at least used to be, until reincarnating as Rozalin.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, Sten believes in both things and people having an essential nature they are born with and you can't change. For example, if you are born to a merchant clan but become a blacksmith, you are never a blacksmith. You are, forever, a merchant trying to be a blacksmith. If your character is female, Sten comments that you seem to be both a woman and a soldier but this is impossible, you must be either a woman or a soldier. His conclusion is that you aren't a woman, even though you clearly look like one. If the PC is male he'll have this conversation with Liliana.
    • This gets weird in Dragon Age II DLC, when you meet Tallis, who is both a woman and a warrior and follows the same religion/philosophy that Sten did. This is because the Qun classifies her (like all official assassins) as a priest rather than a warrior.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition introduces yet another twist. Iron Bull explains that if a person of one gender can best serve society in a role of the other, they're called "Aqun-Athlok", or transgender. So, for example, if a child the tamassrans think is female shows proficiency at fighting, but isn't good enough at lying to be made a spy like Tallis, everyone acknowledges that the midwife made a mistake in saying they were a girl, the child is put in the military, and from then on is expected to look and act exactly like all the other men, because he is a man. Hence Sten's confusion: the female Warden was clearly a warrior and therefore, a man, but looked and acted like a woman. Iron Bull mentions he gets around this issue by mentally slotting them between genders depending on whether they have armor on at the time. He also aggressively shuts down anyone who even suggests his trans second in command Krem is anything but a "real" man, including Krem himself in a moment of self doubt.
    • The name "Qunari" itself is an example. Current and former followers of the Qun consider the term to apply only to members of the religion, but everyone else (including members of the same race) uses it as the name for the race. The same thing comes up with Elves; city elves don't think elves that assimilate into human culture are "real" elves, the wandering nomad tribes don't think city elves are "real" elves, and a remnant population of the original fallen Elf civilization doesn't consider either to be elves. Sera, an elf adopted by humans, hates other elves partially because she got this attitude for having grown up in human culture, so she doesn't think elf culture is worth exalting if it means excluding people based on their circumstances. She however, takes it all the way around by considering herself a human who just happens to have pointy ears ("just people" in her words), but despising elves who actually try to protect elf culture as being "too elfy"- and, implicitly, 'not people'.
  • In the Dwarf Fortress community, experienced players often try to make Difficult, but Awesome solutions to otherwise mundane problems. When asked why they don't use an easier solution, the usual response is, "It's not dwarven enough."
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • This lies at the heart of Skyrim's civil war. The Stormcloaks know that no true son or daughter of Skyrim would follow an empire that bowed to an elven treaty outlawing the worship of the Nords' patron deity Talos, while loyalists argue that no true Nord would abandon their allies in their hour of greatest need or fight against the empire that Talos himself founded before he ascended to godhood.
    • No true dovah would ever flee from a fight, especially against another dovah. When Alduin flees from the Dragonborn after fighting them on the Throat of the World, the rest of the dragons start questioning his right to lead, and his second-in-command Odahviing actually assists you (once you defeat him) because he dislikes serving a Dirty Coward.
    • The Thalmor believe this about any Altmer who do not support them. Any true Altmer should gladly follow a genocidally racist faction hell bent on destroying the world in order to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. The non-Thalmor Altmer's response is generally to say Stop Being Stereotypical while assuring the other races that not all Altmer are Thalmor.
  • In Far Cry 6, Anton Castillo uses a Divide and Conquer strategy by stating that there are Yarans who are loyal to the regime and good workers versus Outcasts who are disloyal as well as parasites. This divides the country between the former who serve as a ruling class and the latter who serve as forced workers.
  • CJ calls out Big Smoke in the finale of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for wearing body armor, implying that a true gangster doesn't need to rely on body armor to stay alive. Gameplay and Story Segregation aside, CJ's claim comes off as very ironic since the player can use body armor to stay alive longer and it's usually encouraged to do so.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time gives you two different control options for Z-Targetting: Switch (which targets something when you press the button, and then deselects when you press it again) and Hold (which requires you to hold down the button and clears your target as soon as it's released). A gossip stone claims that "real Zelda players" use the latter option.
  • In Mass Effect 2, whenever Miranda is confronted with Cerberus's horrific acts (the experiments on Jack, the Thresher Maw attack on Akuze, the experiments you encountered in the first game, etc.), she will insist those weren't "real Cerberus" or rogue cells. She has a small point in the case of Jack, as we learn those scientists were going rogue about something, but otherwise this is treated as her being in denial about the kinds of things Cerberus has done. Part of her Character Development is overcoming this.
  • The Ninja/Gray Fox in Metal Gear Solid proclaims to Solid Snake that a true warrior fights barehanded and only a fool would trust their life to a weapon. Fighting him barehanded will have him fight back in the same way and he becomes a lot easier to battle against. Trying to fight him with a gun will have him deflect your bullets with his sword and he attacks much more aggressively.
  • The game Metal Wolf Chaos features propaganda news reports that define a true American as "anyone who supports the idea of having the families and friends of terrorist sympathisers murdered in the streets" rather than "anyone who is a citizen or long-standing resident of America".
  • In Team Fortress 2, if an Engineer Dominates another Engineer, one possible response is "A real Texan would've dodged that".
  • In World of Warcraft there are five Horde factions: the playable Horde, which includes all Horde races and not just the orcs like the other examples; the Dark Horde, The Remnant of the Warcraft II Horde that is based mostly in Blackrock Mountain and the Burning Steppes; the Fel Horde, the still demon-corrupted remnant of the Warcraft II expansion Horde in Outland, mostly aligned with Illidan; Garrosh Hellscream's True Horde, which is the orc supremacist faction of the Horde civil war that plays out during the fourth expansion; and finally the Iron Horde, the pre-Warcraft Horde hijacked and industrialized by Garrosh after some time traveling shenanigans during the fifth expansion.

    Visual Novels 
  • Nasuverse: The ultimate goal of a Magus is to try to reach the Root. If they cannot reach it in their lifetime, their duty is to pass their teachings to a successor so they can try. Anyone who doesn't strive for this and just uses Magecraft as a useful tool is considered not a real Magus. Magi also tend to shun modern technology and say those who use it are not a real Magus.
    • Fate/Zero: Kiritsugu Emiya doesn't strive for the Root. Instead, he uses his Magecraft as a tool to be a mercenary and supplements it with technology like guns, bombs, night vision goggles, etc. Several characters like Kayneth El-Melloi angrily say he is not a real Magus.
    • Fate/stay night: When Rin Tohsaka learns that Kiritsugu Emiya did not pass his teachings to his son Shirou before dying and that Shirou doesn't even know about the Root, she is insulted and says Kiritsugu was not a real Magus.
    • Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Several people say Waver Velvet is not a real Magus because he tends to use modern detective and forensic techniques instead of his rather weak Magecraft to solve magical mysteries.

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, this is discussed in terms of the nebulous term "real fans."
  • In The Order of the Stick, a cleric of Loki Inverts this when Elan points out that worshiping a trickster god seems at odds with dwarven stereotypes:
    Elan: Worshiping Loki doesn't seem very... I dunno... Dwarf-y.
    Hilgya: That's what everyone says, but I'm a dwarf, so it must be.
    • Interestingly, the reason why dwarves are so obsessed with honor is because what afterlife they go to is determined by if they died honorably rather than if they were good or evil. Loki teaches his followers to live dishonorably and this allows them to get a good afterlife because living a dishonorable life counts as an honorable one as long as it is done in the name of a god. So they are effectively acting like dwarves by not acting like dwarves at all, and regular dwarves seem to be fine with this.


    Web Video 
  • Anita Sarkeesian, of Feminist Frequency fame, has a rather narrower definition of what constitutes "true feminism" in fiction than most critics— more specifically, she insists that works with Action Girl protagonists who use violence don't count as "true feminism" because they play into a masculine standard of what makes a strong character.
  • Linus Tech Tips: In "I Can't Believe Intel is Selling This," Linus says Intel's Arc A370M GPU may be valuable as a video co-processor if you have a "real" GPU alongside it.
  • LegalEagle, mostly jokingly, argues that transactional attorneys aren't proper attorneys, because they only work in an advisory capacity and don't litigate.

    Western Animation 
  • The theme-song of "The Adventures of Ned Flanders", a short at the end of the The Simpsons episode "The Front":
    Singers: ♪Hens love roosters, geese love ganders, everyone else loves Ned Flanders.
    Homer: Not me!
    Singers:Everyone who counts loves Ned Flanders.
  • Ready Jet Go!: In "Mindy's Mystery", Mitchell is very snobbish and insists that Jet, Sean, Sydney, and Mindy aren't real detectives. When they ask him about his detective case, he snorts and says "Everyone knows that a real detective never tells what his case is."
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • Mandalorians live and breathe this trope. There are several different viewpoints on what "Mandalorian" really means — if you don't fit the strict requirements of birth, equipment, and behavior, clearly you're not a real Mandalorian, and you should give up your stolen equipment. In The Clone Wars, the current leadership are actually pacifists; the planet got tired of the constant warfare that being a Proud Warrior Race caused and turned their backs on all of it. The Death Watch sect is a group of radicals seeking to restore the old warrior ways.
    • By Star Wars Rebels, Death Watch has gotten its way, with the warriors on top once more... except the planet has been annexed by the Empire, with the Supercommandos working directly for the government and the rest of the clans paid off. Bo-Katan (one of the members of Death Watch) wants the Darksaber, the old symbol of the leader of Mandalore, in order to unite the clans against the Empire.
    • Prime Minister Almec, the leader during later parts of the Clone Wars, claimed that Jango Fett was just a petty thug who somehow found Mandalorian armor. It should be noted that Almec was corrupt and had ties to the Death Watch, who were the sworn enemies of Fett and the True Mandalorians he fought for. The essential argument between them is that Death Watch supposedly has no honor, while the True Mandalorians have no backbone, both deadly insults. After Disney's continuity reboot, most of this was pushed into the non-canon Star Wars Legends, leaving Almec's word the only canon on it. This actually represents George Lucas's original vision of Boba Fett as simply being a mercenary in Mandalorian armor.
    • The Mandalorian: The title Mandalorian belongs to a traditionalist sect called "the Watch," which has stricter rules on many things. Most famously, they never take off their helmets where anyone else can see; if they do, they are not considered a Mandalorian any more, and can never put it back on. Din is shocked when he encounters Bo-Katan's people and they have no problem taking off their helmets. The Fett controversy is also brought up again, with Bo-Katan dismissing Jango (who is dead at this point) as not a real Mandalorian, and likewise Boba as just another clone. However, when Boba shows Din his chain code, he proves that Jango was a foundling (an orphan adopted by Mandalorians and trained in their ways) and Boba is his son. That's good enough for Din to consider him a real Mandalorian, though we don't get to see Bo-Katan's opinion.
    • It should be pointed out that Boba himself mentions he owes no allegiance to the Mandalorians or whatever code they follow. For example, he tells Din he doesn't follow "the Way" followed by Din's sect the Watch and actively mocks Bo-Katan's obsession with the Darksaber and her stated desire to rebuild Mandalore (a planet he dismisses as a glassed-over wasteland). He does, however, take offense to any suggestion that his father Jango was not a "true" Mandalorian, since Jango (as stated above) was a Mandalorian foundling.
  • Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production: In "Bugs Bunny?", Bugs meets a group of "real" (less anthropomorphic) rabbits who don't believe he's actually a rabbit and put him through a series of challenges to prove he is.


Video Example(s):


The Nite Owls

The Mandalorian encounters the Nite Owls, a separate faction of Mandalorians who differ from The Children of The Watch that he was raised by who follows the tradition of never revealing their faces to others.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoTrueScotsman

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