Arbitrary Skepticism in live-action TV.
- Despite the characters in Alphas living in a world where people with super-powers of almost every kind are reasonably common... everyone, even the people with complete knowledge of The Masquerade, seems to have trouble believing that Stanton Parish is about 200 years old, and are always making snarky comments about the unlikeliness of it.
- In the Supergirl/The Flash crossover episode, Barry is amazed at seeing Kara fly, pointing out that he's supposed to be the impossible one. Thing is, he's already seen so many different metahumans with powers, including those that could fly (e.g. Firestorm), that his surprise seems a little strange. Kara herself finds it hard to believe Barry is from another dimension, commenting that him being from another planet like she is would make more sense.
- This also happens in The Flash (2014) pilot, where, after Barry discovers that he can move superhumanly fast, this exchange happens.Harrison Wells: A dimensional barrier ruptured, unleashing unknown energies into our world. Anti-matter, dark energy, X-elements.
Barry Allen: Those are all theoretical.
Harrison Wells: And how theoretical are you?
- Legends of Tomorrow: Amaya is the latest in a long line of magical female guardians, who worked with a team consisting of a sentient force of darkness, a wizard, and at least one super soldier. When she joins the Legends and they travel to feudal Japan, she scoffs at the idea of ninjas. In her defense, she's from the 1930's, long before the American ninja craze.Amaya: You think there's a secret brotherhood of men trained in the art of assassination?
Sara: I hate to break it to you, Amaya, but I'm basically a ninja.
- Arrow: In the Elseworlds (2018) crossover, we find out that Batman does exist in this 'verse (though he disappeared three years before the crossover), but Oliver insists that he's just a myth made up by Gotham PD to scare criminals. It's clear that he's just jealous that there was already a Badass Normal vigilante cleaning up a Wretched Hive when he started.Oliver: [as Barry and Kara laugh] I was the original vigilante!
- An episode of Beastmaster has Dar's sidekick explain that the hostile panther they're chasing is the Familiar of a guy who has come Back from the Dead. Dar dismisses this as nonsense. His sidekick retorts, "You can talk to animals!" but Dar refuses to believe until later.
- George, Being Human (UK)'s neurotic werewolf, thinks that the idea of wizards is "ridiculous".
- Big Wolf on Campus:
- Tommy Dawkins occasionally expresses disbelief that certain supernatural beings, such as vampires, actually exist. The fact that Tommy should be more open-minded given that he is a werewolf is something his companion often point out.Tommy: There's no such thing as vampires.
Merton: Oh yeah, that means a lot coming from a werewolf!
- Even more irritatingly, in the second season MERTON states he doesn't believe in ghosts, even though he has already fought ghosts before.
- Tommy Dawkins occasionally expresses disbelief that certain supernatural beings, such as vampires, actually exist. The fact that Tommy should be more open-minded given that he is a werewolf is something his companion often point out.
- On Blindspot, a drug can reliably erase all memories and a brain scanner can be a perfect lie detector, but a guest character who warns about a "mind disruptor" weapon is obviously a lunatic.
- Non-supernatural example: On Bones, Zack once expresses a disbelief in pirates of the historical sort, and is taunted for it. This, from a character who has assisted in both criminal investigations and archeological research, hence ought to know that criminality is neither rare, nor restricted to the present day.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Leprechauns are clearly absurd, right? Yeah. By the end, leprechauns were the only thing that didn't exist in their world.
- In one meta-incident, a preview for an episode seems to indicate they'd be hunting an alien. Turns out it was just a summoned demon who manifested really high in the sky.Xander: I still don't get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster.
Giles: Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space! ...I did not say that.
- Lampshaded in "Inca Mummy Girl".Xander: [sarcastically] Hey, maybe he awakened the mummy.
Willow: Right, and it rose from its tomb.
Buffy: And attacked him.
[they start to laugh, then remember where they're living]
Buffy: One day I'm going to live in a town where evil curses are just generally ruled out, without even saying.
- Charmed, to a ridiculous extent at some points. Such as when they acted as though situations they had been in before were impossible.
- In one episode, Phoebe is on the jury for a murder trial and is sure that the suspect is guilty—he led the police right to the body, but claimed that he knew its location from a supernatural vision. The thing is, Phoebe has visions Once per Episode, and in this case, has one that shows the guy's innocence (forcing her to become a Rogue Juror). One of her sisters Lampshades that Phoebe of all people should have at least considered that he was telling the truth.
- In the pilot webisode of Danger 5, the Colonel scoffs at the idea that Hitler has bulletproof Bodyguard Babes. The Colonel himself is a man with an eagle's head, fighting World War II in The '60s.
- Doctor Who:
- The Tenth Doctor, a man who travels through time and space in a dimensionally-transcendental police box, and who has come back from the dead or near-death by rewriting his biological structure ten times, regularly pronounces things impossible.
- Hell, the Tenth Doctor is very mild compared to the First Doctor in the very first seasons, who was regularly denouncing most anything his companions told him as ridiculous fantastickery.
- The Doctor is a bit of a different case, though, given that, between his schooling and travels, he has enough knowledge to deduce the planet of origin of aliens based off a handful of disjointed observations, and can provide the technobabble for any given event that occurs. While his knowledge of the universe is not absolute, it's fair to say that he knows enough to say that witches and vampires are fair game, while cold stars aren't.
- Ian Chesterton does this to a degree as well, although he stops short of flat-earth atheism most of the time.
- In "The Time Meddler", new companion Steven (who has been rescued by a group of Dalek-tailed time travellers from spherical, apparently sentient robots with flamethrowers, and then stowed away in a huge spaceship that looks like a tiny Police Box on the outside) point-blank refuses to believe that the TARDIS can travel through time, even though everyone around them dresses and acts like it's 1066, and constantly announces to the Doctor that time travel is obviously impossible and that the joke is over, which the Doctor finds extremely annoying. He later sees a monk wearing a wristwatch, which he takes as confirmation of his hypothesis, but which tips off Vicki that something is badly wrong. Turns out that the monk is also a time traveller
- Ben, who has seen his friend possessed into building war robots by an intelligent computer, been taken in a bigger-on-the-inside time machine back to 17th-century Cornwall, and battled cyborgs from Earth's identical twin planet, absolutely refuses to accept that the Doctor is still the Doctor after his first regeneration, suggesting, even though he saw him transform in front of his very eyes, that someone else snuck into the TARDIS, murdered the Doctor, and took his place. Of course, this isn't helped by the fact that the Doctor isn't quite sure that he's the Doctor yet either. Possibly justified as it was the first-ever regeneration on the show, and Ben's skepticism functions both as a channel for audience feelings about the change as well as his own feelings of betrayal by the First Doctor's death. The novelization of "The Power of the Daleks" also has the Doctor Lampshade it:"Like common sense. The Doctor falls down in agony and then you get up dolled up in new togs and everything. Do me a favour!"
The little man gnawed at his lower lip. "I don't understand your brand of common sense, Ben," he said. "Does it grasp the principles of time travel?" He raised an eyebrow inquisitively.
"Well," Ben blustered, "I don't know all of the ins and outs, of course, but"
"But you do know it's possible?"
"Well, yes," Ben had to concede.
Turning to Polly, the stranger said: "And you, Polly. You can, of course, explain how the TARDIS has the shape of a small police box outside and yet is far, far bigger once you step through the doors?"
"No," Polly admitted. "No, I can't explain it."
"Yet both of you accept the two things." The man spread his hands and looked at them expectantly.
Ben was confused and angry. "Well, we know that they happen!" was the best he could manage.
"Exactly," the maybe-Doctor replied. "Then accept what has happened to me even if you don't understand it."
- In "The War Games", the alien War Lords have been kidnapping human soldiers from various periods, using time machines. But when the Doctor and his companions (who are among some human soldiers) say they're time travellers, the War Lord who's questioning them is skeptical, questioning their sanity. (Another War Lord, though, thinks to himself, "Time travellers I wonder." A subversion?)
- In "The Dæmons", the Third Doctor goes to great pains to explain that something that looks and functions exactly like magic is not, in fact, magic. His argument seems to amount to "Because I don't want to call it magic." Also something about Clarke's Third Law.
- Dr. Grace Holloway refuses to believe that the Doctor is an alien, but is fully prepared to theorize that he's some kind of "weird genetics experiment". Plus, when reality as we know it starts melting down, she starts off acting like the Doctor is crazy for pointing out this actual thing that is clearly happening. Later on, the Doctor himself remarks that he doesn't believe in ghosts, although he does believe in somehow reversing the flow of time to bring dead people back to life.
- "Dalek": Adam Mitchell works in a billionaire's secret underground bunker cataloguing alien artifacts. He thinks people who claim to have been on alien spaceships are "nutters".
- "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" offers a subversion of sorts: Nancy, a teenager in Blitz-era London being pursued by gas mask-wearing zombies led by her son, who was killed a month ago scoffs at the idea that Rose is a time-traveller from the future. It's not the time travel bit that she doesn't buy, though, it's the idea that there's any kind of future to travel from.
- "The Girl in the Fireplace": Mickey asks what a horse is doing on a spaceship (not the TARDIS).The Doctor: Mickey, what's pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective!
- The Doctor lampshades his own Arbitrary Skepticism in "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit", saying that he would have no problem believing that "the devil" came from outside of the universe, but he can't accept that he's from before the universe.
- The Tenth Doctor's skepticism is particularly arbitrary when you consider that the Seventh Doctor's explanation for Fenric in "The Curse of Fenric" is ... he's a force of evil from before the universe. Then again, just because the Seventh Doctor believed that doesn't mean the Tenth Doctor has to.
- A Lampshade of sorts is hung on this with the introduction of Donna Noble in "The Runaway Bride". She appears to have this, but she actually managed to miss all of the very public incidents involving aliens over the previous few years.
- "Smith and Jones": The first time Martha meets the Doctor, she hears that he has two heartbeats and instantly accepts that the hospital has been transported to the Moon and that the Judoon are aliens, but refuses to believe the Doctor is an alien until a Judoon scanner confirms it.
- "The Shakespeare Code": The Doctor scoffs at the existence of witchcraft, to which Martha responds by pointing out that she only recently learned that time travel is real.
- "The Lazarus Experiment": During their final confrontation, Lazarus tells the Doctor about experiencing the Blitz as a child, to which the Doctor responds by noting that he was there too. Lazarus says that the Doctor looks far too young to have been there, and the Doctor retorts that, thanks to the de-aging technology Lazarus tested on himself, "So do you." At this, Lazarus chuckles.
- "The Stolen Earth": The Shadow Architect, leader of the Shadow Proclamation, is adamant that Time Lords are merely the stuff of legends, and can't exist. While talking to one. The Doctor is in too much of a hurry to attempt to persuade her otherwise.
- "The Eleventh Hour":
- Dr. Ramsden, despite having seen the coma patients talking, disbelieves that Rory could have seen them walking around outside and refuses to look at the pictures on his phone.
- In the first "Meanwhile on the TARDIS", Amy can't accept the evidence of her eyes when the Doctor opens the doors to outer space, saying it must be a hallucination or special effect. The Doctor just laughs and shoves her out the door to demonstrate.
- The Doctor, especially the Eleventh, likes playing with this trope, saying something is impossible as he is doing it. From "Flesh and Stone":The Doctor: There's no power, it's impossible to open.
River: How impossible?
The Doctor: Two minutes. [begins working to open the door]
- "Amy's Choice": After some consideration the Eleventh Doctor decides that a star that burns cold, and cools down nearby objects, is a ridiculous concept. But for the Doctor Who universe, that's fairly plausible. To give him his due, in that scenario they're faced with two dangers, one of them imaginary and actually, they both are. While he declares it ridiculous, he doesn't assume it isn't real.
- "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship":
- John Riddell has no problem with a spaceship full of dinosaurs (it's established that he has had adventures with the Doctor prior to this episode so we must assume he has seen some strange things), but declares the Silurians, and the idea that the ship is some sort of dinosaur ark, to be "tommy-rot". Nefertiti, who came along on this adventure as well, prefers to take things at face value, admonishing Riddell; "Only an idiot denies the evidence of their own eyes!"
- Sarcastically averted in that same episode by Rory's father: "I mean, we're on a spaceship with dinosaurs. Why wouldn't there be a teleport?"
- "Robot of Sherwood": The Twelfth Doctor refuses to believe that Robin Hood is real until Robin tries to rob him of his TARDIS. Even after meeting him, the Doctor still spends a majority of the episode trying to prove that Robin and the Merry Men are androids rather than real humans. Later, Robin himself is upset that he won't be remembered as a person but as merely a legend that may or may not have been real.
- Discussed in "Last Christmas". The Doctor points out that it's going to be incredibly hard to differentiate between what's a dream and what's reality because he travels in a spaceship disguised as a telephone kiosk, so reality is also ridiculous.
- "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": Companion-to-be Graham briefly insists there's no such thing as aliens, prompting the Doctor to shoot him an incredulous look. One wonders where he's been for the past several years.
- The Tenth Doctor, a man who travels through time and space in a dimensionally-transcendental police box, and who has come back from the dead or near-death by rewriting his biological structure ten times, regularly pronounces things impossible.
- Jack Carter, of Eureka, doesn't care how weird the town gets, nor that he just discovered a giant, stereotypical crop circle, there's one thing he knows, and "that's that there are no aliens". He is right (at least that time). He also gets the other end of the Arbitrary Skepticism stick all the goddamn time. Something weird happens, he's the only one who knows about it so far, and everyone dismisses him as crazy despite the fact that every time that's happened in the past and he's been right and all the much much weirder things that have happened. Lampshaded slightly in one episode where Carter asks Henry if the anomaly of the week is scientifically possible, and when told that it isn't follows up by asking if its "Eureka-possible", to which Henry answers yes.
- Firefly: In the episode "Objects In Space", Wash says that River being psychic sounds like "something out of science fiction". His wife points out that they live on a spaceship, to which he glibly replies, "So?" In the commentary for the episode, Joss Whedon points out that he meant for River's supposed merging with Serenity to seem plausible until it was revealed that she was merely hiding, since they wanted the audience to think that maybe Firefly wasn't as "hard" SF as it looked — that there might be magic at work there too, which would have opened up a new playing field.
- In the second episode of First Wave, Cade meets a Conspiracy Theorist/Playful Hacker Crazy Eddie. He believes in pretty much every conspiracy theory out there... except those involving aliens. That's right, Lincoln being stabbed instead of shot, perfectly plausible. Aliens infiltrating Earth in preparation for an invasion... nah. Even when they are attacked by an alien and chop off her arm, which then melts away into nothingness right before their eyes, and the alien walks off with barely an annoyed glance (and no blood gushing from the stump), Eddie still claims that it's some secret government project. He accepts the truth by the end of the episode, though.
- Nick on Forever Knight has expressed skepticism about the existence of ghosts, despite being a vampire himself. He justifies this by pointing out that he's never seen one, despite having survived for centuries and witnessed many, many deaths.
- Peter and Olivia both seem to be pretty dismissive of the idea that God could exist or that any religion has any truth to it, despite the fact that in addition to all the bizarre creatures they've seen and the existence of a parallel universe, they've also witnessed that life after death is clearly possible.
- Walter himself, notably, seems to be more open minded, once arguing against a priest that possessions are some kind of real phenomenon, while the priest said they were just superstition. He also believes in God to some degree, which was a major element of "White Tulip".
- Also, in one episode, Walter refused to believe that a phenomenon could be caused by ghosts (granted, he turned out to be right, but still). Lampshaded by Peter.
- Game of Thrones:
- Janos Slynt insists there is no such thing as giants rather than face the fact two of them are currently battering at his gates.
- Daenerys is not above that either. She was the first one in hundreds of years to hatch three dragons and boasts about achieving this when it was thought to have been not possible, but when in the same conversation Jon Snow tells her about White Walkers and the Night's King who weren't seen in hundreds of years coming from the North, she deems it nonsense. Although in all fairness, according to Tyrion, its very likely she doesn't want to admit its true because of how much it inconveniences her goals since she has invested too much suffering and time to come to Westeros only to be told that there's another bigger war North of them, and that her current conflict, which she has dedicated her entire life to, i.e. taking Westeros back and winning the Iron Throne, is meaningless. As the series progresses, she is a Skeptic No Longer after being summoned to save the Wight Hunt expedition from the undead.
- Grimm: With all the weird stuff that is happening in Portland (from man-like beasts to Hexenbiest magic to ancient Mesoamerican rituals), you'd think the main character would stop being surprised by all things Wesen-related. And yet, an ancient stick that appears to grant people a Healing Factor is instantly suspect.
- In "301", Wesley Toomey dramatically declares that the Troubles are nonsense and that everything is being caused by aliens. To their credit, the heroes admit that with all the crazy stuff they've seen, aliens might exist, but they know the Troubles exist and can see that Wesley is a total loony. Alien phenomena does show up, but only because Wesley has a Reality Warper Trouble. Wesley refuses to admit this even though the alien phenomena changes to fit his words and imagination.
- Refreshingly, the main characters typically avert this. They know that Audrey isn't affected by the Troubles, and so when she claims that a Trouble has altered/is affecting the entire town ("Groundhog Day" Loop, people being Ret Goned, altered by time travel, etc.) they quickly believe her. This is especially helpful on the "Groundhog Day" Loop one, where they learn a little more with each loop, and then she quickly catches them up on the next one.
- Heroes often shows people extremely skeptical about Hiro's powers, even if they have powers themselves.
- The most obvious example is Nathan Petrelli, who flies under his own power to escape a kidnapping — and then treats Hiro like a complete nutcase just minutes later.
- Matt (a psychic) is equally skeptical in the dystopian future of "Five Years Gone":Mohinder: Hiro Nakamura can stop time. Teleport by folding space. Theoretically, he can fold time as well.
Matt: So you're saying he's a time traveler.
Mohinder: Is that any stranger than being able to read someone's mind?
Matt: Yeah. It is.
- Early in the series this is partially justified by Hiro's uneven English. Even to those who should know better, somebody who has trouble expressing themselves properly is likely to be more easily judged crazy. It doesn't help that he acts highly irrational and perceives his life and the world around him as if he were in a comic book. He doesn't even try to act at all subtle.
- Happens on multiple occasions in Highlander. At various times, MacLeod has scoffed at the concept of Methos ("the world's oldest Immortal? He's a legend"), the idea of a Dark Quickening (absorbing the essence of an endless number of evil Immortals would eventually make you evil as well), and the Methuselah Stone (an artifact that makes normal folks immortal, and makes Immortals immune even to beheading). He's eventually proven wrong each and every time he makes such a pronouncement, usually in a fairly dramatic way. These reactions would be a little more believable if MacLeod himself wasn't over four hundred years old and incapable of being killed by anything other than decapitation. He also tends not to listen to those who offer him alternate viewpoints on such matters, despite them being (a) the aforementioned world's oldest living man, with over five thousand years of research and exploration under his belt, and (b) a friendly member of an organization that has been studying such phenomena since before the invention of the written word. This is subverted in an episode where it looks like people are being killed by a vampire, an idea that MacLeod scoffs at. Turns out he's right, it was just a regular Immortal pretending to be a vampire. On the other hand, living four hundred years and not encountering any real sign of the supernatural besides immortality (prior to the events of the series) might make a man very skeptical.
- A Halloween episode of ''Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" centers around using and subverting this. A lot of weird things (even for this show) have been happening, and near the climax, the younger son says bluntly to his father, "Mom is vomiting pins. [Sis] is spouting Latin." He names various other such phenomena. "The logical, rational, scientific conclusion is: We've been cursed." He and his father then use logic and reason to deduce who cursed them and what to do about it.
- In the iZombie episode "Chivalry is Dead", the discovery of a dead man dressed as a knight sparks Ravi's imagination. Clive, not so much.Ravi: Time travel murder! Perhaps the impaled knight stepped out of the TARDIS seconds before his death.
Clive: I was hoping for an answer based more in reality.
Ravi: Well, I'm sure you'll find one... once the zombie medical examiner eats the victim's brain.
- In the failed Justice League of America pilot, The Atom says that the idea of a villain controlling the weather is physically impossible. This is despite the fact that he's saying this to a man who can run at superhuman speeds and another man who has a ring that can conjure up anything he can imagine, or that he himself can shrink down to subatomic levels.
- Kids Incorporated: In the season 5 episode "Constellation Connie", Connie tries to build a time machine, and accidentally summons an alien instead. The kids don't believe her, and tease her over it. Admittedly, this was the only episode of the season with a fantastic plot, but still, at this point in the series, two of the older kids have already traveled in time, and one of them has already met an alien.
- In Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Peter would scoff whenever Kwai Chang judges that there is a supernatural element to the case, even after they face real magicians, bad guys who could turn into and/or control animals like snakes and spiders, etc.
- The Librarian:
- The 3rd film in the series features a nice example, in which the protagonist acts like vampires are too ridiculous/impossible to believe in, despite having personally played with Pandora's Box, Excalibur, the Philosopher's Stone and a variety of other artifacts that can conquer the world/raise the dead/etc.
- This gets a Call-Back in The Librarians, when he's asked if Dracula is real. He says Dracula isn't real... because he killed him.
- Also, one episode has a UFO chaser report strange lights in a small town. Ezekiel immediately suggests aliens, only for Jenkins to stubbornly refuse to believe in their existence. Everyone else is confused how this is possible, given everything he has seen. Naturally, the lights end up being something else. Of course, Jenkins being alive for 1000 has probably convinced him that, if there were aliens, he'd have already seen some evidence of it by that point.
- In an episode of Lois & Clark, Lois appears to have experienced a typical Alien Abduction. When she tells Clark, he is skeptical of the idea. Lois points out that he's an alien, and Krypton can't be the only other planet with intelligent life. The abduction was faked by the bad guy of the week to turn Lois into a Manchurian Agent, so that he can pull off crimes while Superman is busy saving Lois.
- Jack is the usual skeptic, though Sayid also makes dry comments ("We've been walking for two days, following a compass bearing provided by the carvings on a stick!").
- In the Season Four finale, Jack denies that the island was moved, despite the fact that it spontaneously disappeared while he and everyone else were watching. In all fairness he may have assumed they moved rather than the Island, not to mention he seems completely exhausted when he says it. In season 5 and his experiences trying to acclimate to the off island world he loses his skepticism entirely, his Locke-like faith in the Island is the only thing keeping him going during the season as he rejected his past beliefs following his lengthy breakdown.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- Skye suspects a target has ESP; everyone else thinks the idea is ridiculous, despite the other established superpowers and weird technology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Lampshaded by Skye:Skye: Not long ago I would have dumped ESP in the aliens-and-portals-are-for-crazy-people pile, but now...
- In "The Bridge", Coulson once again reaffirms his stance that there is simply no way psychic abilities could possibly be real, even though the plot of the episode involves a Super Serum and a shadowy cadre of villains who clearly have the means to augment the human body.
- A recurring theme on the show is the main characters insisting there are no psychic powers (and being right). The supposed case of telekinesis is actually a portal-hoping Stalker with a Crush. The Clairvoyant does know some incredibly precise and classified information, with makes Coulson realize that he's a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
- Agent Blake also insists there is no such thing as psychic powers, but does believe in astrology. Agent May is quick to call him on it.
- Mack in the Season 3 mid-season finale scoffs at the idea that there might be an ancient alien god on the other side of the portal. Sadly, no one takes the time to remind him of the ancient alien god who's been running around Earth smacking things with a hammer for the past few years.
- Season 4 introduces Ghost Rider as the first explicitly magical character in the MCU, beating Doctor Strange (2016) by a few weeks. No one has any idea how to react to him.Jeffrey: Is he Inhuman?
Coulson: Claims he made a deal with the Devil.
Fitz: Which is nonsense.
Coulson: You know, the rationalist in me wants to agree, but the skull on fire presents a pretty compelling argument for "Hail Satan."
- In Season 5, the villain takes Coulson via matter transmitter to meet an alien, then offers to supercharge the team's telekinetic soldier by fusing her body with "gravitonium". But she turns against him because she doesn't believe in time travel.
- Skye suspects a target has ESP; everyone else thinks the idea is ridiculous, despite the other established superpowers and weird technology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Lampshaded by Skye:
- Daredevil (2015):
- In "In the Blood", James Wesley visits Anatoly and Vladmir to tell them that the issues they're having with the "Man in the Mask" are interrupting Wilson Fisk's entire operation, and this exchange:James Wesley: Madame Gao and Mr. Nobu have expressed their disappointment.
Vladimir Ranskahov: We have not heard of this.
James Wesley: Mmm, that's because we've been talking behind your back about how the Russians can't seem to handle one man running around in a mask. I mean, if he had an iron suit or a magic hammer, maybe that would explain why you keep getting your asses handed to you.
- Subverted in the very scene after that. Karen Page is at a diner talking with Ben Urich, talking about how she was saved from Rance by a man in a black mask. Ben at first is skeptical, but concedes, "Stranger things, huh?" because a masked vigilante is far from the craziest thing someone in New York City could meet. Which makes sense given that he has framed front-page articles in his office about the Harlem Terror and "The Incident".
- Wilson Fisk even justifies the trope by saying, at one point while taking on Matt, "You really think one man in a silly little costume can make a difference?" Fisk can say this because he gained his foothold in Hell's Kitchen in part because of the fallout from the Incident. From Fisk's perspective, the Avengers might save the world, but they haven't done anything about crime, corruption, greed, poverty, and urban decay.
- In Season 2, Matt is extremely skeptical about mysticism, even when directly confronting the Hand and seeing things that should be impossible like resurrection of the dead, even when the world has faced several alien invasions and Norse Gods walk the streets. Even Claire as a medical professional is more willing to point out the weirdness surrounding the Hand. Stick points out that as a Catholic, Matt shouldn't have a problem with believing resurrection can happen, given that his faith is based on one guy doing that.
- In "In the Blood", James Wesley visits Anatoly and Vladmir to tell them that the issues they're having with the "Man in the Mask" are interrupting Wilson Fisk's entire operation, and this exchange:
- Jessica Jones (2015): This trope plays heavily into why people don't believe Kilgrave's abilities are real, even post-Incident.
- Even Luke Cage, a man with unbreakable skin, initially scoffs at the idea that a mind-controller could be real. However, it's pointed out that while super-strength, aliens, and shooting lightning are all physical, very tangible and easily-observed events, mind-control can't really be seen, and the only way to really know its effects are to experience being controlled yourself.
- Played with in "AKA It's Called Whiskey". When calling in to Trish Talk to talk about Hope Schlottman's case, Jeri Hogarth gives the impression that she has a hard time believing in mind-control when weirder things like aliens invading Manhattan have taken place, even while she knowingly works with Jessica Jones. Only for Jeri to later reveal that she does believe Kilgrave's powers are real, but wanted Trish to make the argument for her on the air, so she wouldn't come off as the crazy one. The idea of superpowers is still a hard pill for many in the public to swallow.
- During "AKA You're A Winner", Malcolm assures Jessica that Kilgrave's powers can't be magical in nature, defending his comments with "The same way I know that elves don't exist." Malcolm is clearly unaware of the existence of those elves that attacked London. And, apart from Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson and members of HYDRA, no one is aware of the existence of Dr. Stephen Strange or his magical abilities yet.
- In the season 1 finale "AKA Smile", the fact that district attorney Samantha Reyes still refuses to accept the reality of Kilgrave's powers even in the face of the testimony of dozens of regular people and police officers pushes this trope to the fullest. One can only assume that Reyes is not the same DA who got mind-controlled by Kilgrave into releasing Hope. However, Reyes' behavior makes more sense after Season 2 of Daredevil (2015) reveals that she is corrupt and intent on persecuting the new vigilante types (Daredevil, Frank Castle, and Jessica) to build a platform for her political ambitions.
- Iron Fist (2017):
- In the months prior to the events of the show, a crew of undead ninjas attacked a hospital in Hell's Kitchen, a sociopath with mind-control terrorized the same neighborhood, a man with bulletproof skin became known for his vigilante activity in Harlem, not to mention the full-on extra-terrestrial invasion of a couple years ago. And despite all this evidence, Ward Meachum has trouble believing Danny Rand, presumed deceased 15 years ago in a plane crash, may actually be who he says he is. Harold is more open to the idea of it being Danny, which is understandable considering the Hand brought him back from the dead when he died of terminal cancer 13 years ago. While Jeri Hogarth believes Danny is who he is within a minute by quizzing him about specific details of her office space, since she's seen stranger things like Kilgrave and Jessica Jones up close.
- In the season 1 finale, Harold walks into Rand Enterprises while Jeri Hogarth is talking with Ward. Jeri has trouble believing that Harold actually died and came back to life, despite, again, personally knowing Jessica Jones and having been victimized by Kilgrave. Her first remark is that Harold is committing fraud of the highest level. Possibly justified in that she seems very disturbed by the entire notion, so she's more unnerved than skeptic.
- A swift aversion is in the asylum shrink studying Danny. At first he's properly skeptical of Danny's claimed identity, but with only a small amount of digging realizes it's really him. He also thinks Danny's statements about K'un-Lun and the power of the Iron Fist are fantasy, because he notes a number of people have come forward since the Incident claiming to have superpowers. But he asks Danny to demonstrate his supposed superpowers, and only when he can't (due to the drugs interfering) concludes Danny's invented them to cope with trauma.
- Claire Temple has seen bullet-proof men, ninja, mind-control, and yet even after seeing Danny's Iron Fist in action, and knowing about K'un-L'un, she doesn't believe that he got it from fighting an actual dragon, much less one called "the Undying".
- The Defenders (2017) has Luke and Jessica being utterly baffled by the more mystical things that Danny and Matt deal with as they get involved in the war between The Hand and The Chaste even despite all of the things they've witnessed in their own series (as well as the aforementioned Incident and the world-destroy robot.)
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- In Merlin, Merlin will enter the throne room, and explain whatever weird thing is going on, at which point everyone will scoff and laugh at him. All of them. This goes on for 3 seasons, even though he is always, always, always right. This is in a universe where sorcerers, dragons, and unicorns are known to exist.
- Misfits: Despite having lived for two years in a post-apocalyptic storm world in which people have all kinds of superpowers, tattoos, comic books and graffiti can all have a controlling influence on the real world, teleportation, power over dairy products, freezing time, body-swapping, zombies, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and bogeymen exist, brains can be stored digitally, and Rudy can convince his parents that he is pursuing a successful university career as opposed to being on community service, in the final episode disbelief is still expressed at the possibility of Jess going back in time to avert catastrophe — even though time travel itself has featured prominently in the show in previous episodes.
- In Monk, the genius detective Adrian Monk often holds what appear to be implausible beliefs. A seemingly open-and-shut suicide or accident case may be interpreted as a homicide by Monk, or he may accuse a person who has an airtight alibi. The captain, Randy and his assistant are consistently skeptical, despite that he turns out to be right about 99.9999999%, give or take a bit.
- He actually is partially wrong in one case, "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man", where he accused a nudist of being a murderer because he had a trauma of nude persons because when he was born, he was nude and the doctor slapped him in front of his mother who didn't stop it.
- In "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation", due to another error, he also accuses someone of murdering his wife, at which point the man turns to said wife and says "he's going to tell me how I murdered you." Since it was quite early in the episode, he had time to pull off his normal Holmes gig.
- In "Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy", he is accused by Harold Krenshaw, a member of his support group, of being responsible for the murders of their support group friends and seriously entertains the possibility throughout half the episode.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Critic", the one time Natalie tries to convince Monk that a Straw Critic is a killer, Monk and the others don't believe her because they point out that he had a very airtight alibi for this.
- Natalie has averted this a number of times.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective", she supports Monk's belief that Marty Eels is "cheating" at the case.
- In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show", she isn't skeptical of Monk's belief that the framed delivery boy is an innocent person.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut", she is at first skeptical of Steve Wagner's guilt in the death of his girlfriend until Wagner gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Monk.
- In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", when Monk and Natalie are approached by Kendra Frank, the murder victim's girlfriend, Natalie displays some initial skepticism towards Kendra's suspicions that something is wrong. She still helps Monk pursue the investigation after checking out the body.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend", she appears to be the only person besides Monk to believe that Stottlemeyer's girlfriend is a killer. Monk and Natalie were sent by Stottlemeyer to investigate that murder.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Genius", averted for everyone because of the Whodunnit to Me? structure of the plot.
- Stottlemeyer sometimes averts this, though; in "Mr. Monk and Sharona", he says to Monk "if you're right, and you probably are, because you always are".
- The novels play with it: in Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse, Stottlemeyer and Disher quickly latch on to Monk's theory when he says that Lucas Breen, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, is their suspect, but they have to also deal with the fact that the chief doesn't like them harassing Breen, a member of the police commission. In Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher are skeptical of Monk's claim that a police informant who just got a $250,000 reward is a cop killer. In Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants, Stottlemeyer doesn't believe Monk's allegations that Ian Ludlow, their tag along mystery author helping investigate, is their killer. In Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, when Stottlemeyer is framed for murder, Monk almost believes that Stottlemeyer actually is guilty, but Natalie gets him in line to help find the incriminating evidence.
- In Murdoch Mysteries, Constable Crabtree is generally the Agent Mulder, but in "Loch Ness Murdoch" he is unconvinced about a monster in Lake Ontario. The ocean, yes, but a lake? Inspector Brakenreid calls him on it.Brakenreid: Crabtree, wait a minute. You're telling me that you believe in zombies, werewolves, vampires, Martians, Venusians, curses, voodoo ghosts and, apparently, sea monsters, but a creature in Lake Ontario that both I and Detective Murdoch have witnessed is beyond the scope of your otherwise vivid imagination? You're telling me that?
Crabtree: Sir, I can't attest to what you witnessed. I'm afraid I remain a skeptic.
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation: In "Silver and Gold", Michelangelo reports his encounter with Silver. The other mutants express disbelief that an ape could talk. Michelangelo himself expressed disbelief during said encounter until being reminded by Silver that he's a talking turtle.
- On Once Upon a Time, Emma — the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, although she was raised in the "real" world and didn't learn who her parents were until she was an adult — still has trouble accepting that any character she grew up thinking was fictional may be real. For the second half of the third season, Regina correctly suggests the Wicked Witch of the West is the new villain, and Emma's reaction is, "Seriously? She's real too?" (Hook calls her on it.)
- Snow White actually met the son of deity, Hercules, in her youth. Yet still, she finds the idea that Ursula (daughter of Poseidon, witch/goddess of the sea) being real absurd. Even weirder because Snow White has encountered monsters and magical beings of all kinds.
- The Orville: When Ed and Kelly wake up in a replica of their old apartment, they briefly speculate that they've been sent back in time, then dismiss that thought as crazy. That said, there is very little evidence to suggest time travel and more evidence to suggest something mundane is the cause, such as locked doors preventing them from leaving.
- Power Rangers:
- In the episode "Trakeena's Revenge" of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, the first person a little girl runs to after seeing her mother abducted by a monster tells her, "Don't be silly; there's no such thing as monsters." Where has this lady been living for the past seven years? Especially in this season, where the Power Rangers are operating without a Masquerade and are well-known public celebrities who fight monsters. Especially in this episode, which crosses Lightspeed over with last year's Lost Galaxy team, confirming its place in continuity where Rangers have continually fought off monster attacks. Once. A. Week. For. Seven. Years. Or how about the... what, four or five times so far the planet had been invaded by aliens. Not just aliens, but alien monsters... with magic. It's easier to just write that chick off as an escaped mental patient who thinks those monster-alien-magic people are giant bunnies only she can see. Linkara even went so far as to label her the dumbest person in Power Rangers when reviewing the season for his History of Power Rangers series.
- Or earlier in Power Rangers in Space, where Bulk and Skull find work as assistants to the eccentric crank Professor Phenomenus, who is generally held as crazy because he believes in the existence of ALIENS! And he lives in the same town that's been under siege by Evil Space Aliens for the better part of six years. He IS crazy, so maybe that's just the half-baked excuse he uses for being kicked out of the scientific community. It's worth noting he didn't last particularly long even among the science staff of a gigantic mobile space colony sent to colonize an alien world.
- In the first episode of Power Rangers Ninja Storm, it seems like only one person in the world actually believes the previous Ranger teams are more than an urban legend. It's even implied that the series is in another universe where all previous series are fictional. Later episodes reveal that this is not the case; When Shane's older brother discovers Shane's secret, he actually does realize that being the Red Ranger means that he's the leader. Word of God says that they had never intended to imply the whole alternate universe thing; fans just took Tori's line about comic books in the first episode and ran with it.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, everybody but Chip dismiss the idea of vampires as "silly". That, ignoring the fact that they are all wizards, they see magic on a daily basis (and have magic-based powers), know a comic relief half-goblin-half-troll, and their enemies are, well, monsters. One of their recurring enemies is a vampire, though admittedly this fact was not directly established before this episode, and they've met multiple times by this point. Udonna (their mentor, who, for the record, is a broom-riding witch) quickly points the absurdity of their dismissal, though.
- Power Rangers Operation Overdrive has one of the Rangers denying that dragons exist when told they were using a dragon scale in a piece of special armor. Ignoring all the dragon themed monsters that appeared in earlier seasons, the team had just gotten the tar beat out of them in that very episode by a dragon. Possibly justified, however, as there's a difference between "dragon-themed" and an actual dragon, and the dragon that Overdrive got their scale from was the one in Mystic Force, which was explicitly stated to be the Last of Its Kind.
- In the very first episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers the gang are instantly teleported to the Command Center, greeted by an actual robot (which Billy physically touches) and a giant floating head, who makes the Morphers appear on their belts. Zack assumes it to be a prank, so his friends must have pulled some incredibly elaborate jokes on him in his day.
- In Power Rangers Megaforce, the teens are shocked to learn that aliens exist and are invading earth. This is rather confusing when you consider that Earth suffered a full-scale, worldwide alien invasion back in Power Rangers in Space, and that, by Operation Overdrive, the existence of aliens was an accepted enough fact of life for colleges to offer majors in "Galactic Myth and Legend". They also don't know who or what Power Rangers are, either, even though Rangers have been fighting off those invasions for decades now. And in case you're wondering, yes, it's in the same continuity — there are direct references to prior Rangers. In something of a Lampshade Hanging, Gosei even compliments Gia on her skepticism before assuring her that it's real. To their credit, though, the kids catch on quickly. A few episodes down the line, Troy admits to the others that he's been having weird, possibly prophetic dreams. The others have no problem believing it at this point, and Noah even says there's some acceptance of it in the scientific community.
- Continuing the Power Rangers trend, an example from Power Rangers Time Force: Trip is sent to pick up a pizza, and is attacked by an evil knight on the way home. The other Rangers don't believe him and laugh. To be fair, all the monsters on this show came from a prison, and they may very well have known that none of those was a knight. The knight is in fact completely unrelated to Ransik and has his own origin, but you'd think they would at least consider the idea that a mystical knight could exist.
- In Psych lead character Shawn Spencer makes a living with his friend Gus by acting as a consultant to the police as a psychic detective thanks to his hyper vigilance enabling him to do a creditable job of faking psychic abilities. Plenty of people express disbelief that he is in fact psychic, but they work with him nonetheless. In a season 5 episode the pair get involved in a case which their client believes involves UFOs, and the pair are admitted lovers of UFOs. As a result, Shawn's father (now in charge of hiring consultants for the local police) informs the pair that he cannot hire two people everyone thinks are nuts (and a quick hand poll shows this to be the case) because they believe in UFOs. What? People were fine hiring a guy who [pretends to] thinks he is psychic, but aliens? Nah, can't listen to them, even with the dozens of cases they've helped solve.
- Lampshaded in Pushing Daisies. Ned states firmly that he doesn't believe in ghosts, witches or the like, saying "this may sound strange coming from a guy who can shoot sparks from his finger, but that's what I believe." This is reasonably justified, as Ned has never before encountered anything paranormal other than his own power. Plus, it's possible that having the ability to resurrect people is why Ned doesn't believe in ghosts, as no-one he brings back ever remembers doing anything beyond dying. As native inhabitants of a blindingly colorful and relentlessly quirky existence, all the characters in Pushing Daisies surely have suspension of disbelief on a different scale than the audience.
- Red Dwarf:
- In the early seasons in particular, Arnold Rimmer sneers at the idea of believing in God, yet remains fanatically devoted to the idea of meeting an Sufficiently Advanced Alien species — particularly those consisting of gorgeous multi-breasted women who will be able to construct for him a new body out of nothing — to the extent that he blames every slightly unusual occurrence, such as using up a toilet roll in a day, on aliens despite there being just as much evidence for the existence of either in the Red Dwarf universe (i.e. none, the strange creatures seen on the show are all GELFs — Genetically Engineered Life Forms).
- Kryten laughs at the idea that there's such a thing as heaven for people, but is (up until partway through Series V, at least) a believer in the existence of Silicon Heaven, a belief which he only questions when faced with apparent destruction and supports with the simple question, "where would all the calculators go?" In a deleted scene from "The Inquisitor", Rimmer calls him out on that. In fact, Kryten's arbitrary skepticism is because he, like apparently almost all machines with artifical intelligence, was programmed to believe in Silicon Heaven so he wouldn't turn against his creators.
- On Resurrection, Marty calls out a preacher who claims he can perform faith healing and even influence who comes Back from the Dead — something which, until now, seems to have been a natural phenomenon. Aside from that, Marty and the preacher seem to share dreams and visions. The preacher questions how many miracles Marty will have to see before he starts believing they're possible.
- Sanctuary: In "Fata Morgana", the team finds three woman named Danu, Tatha and Caird comatose in a tomb. They claim to be from the Middle Ages, and have supernatural abilities. Will, however, is convinced that they are suffering from the same delusion and refuses to believe them due to the fact that they speak modern English. This is strange considering that his boss is a 162-year-old scientist from Victorian England, his friend Henry is a werewolf, and he deals with creatures that are supposed impossible every day. In the end Will was wrong, and the woman turn out to be the Morrígan from Celtic mythology.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures:
- Sarah Jane does not believe in ghosts or magic. Hey, remember when alien star gods from the previous universe used astrology to take over the world?
- "The Eternity Trap" has Sarah Jane scoffing at the idea of ghosts, while simultaneously encouraging a ghost hunter to have a more open mind. Because searching for ghosts is inherently more close-minded than searching for aliens. Although she was actually implied to have been wrong about the ghosts.
- On Seinfeld, Kramer and George have the following exchange: "But what if the Pigman has a two-seater?" "C'mon on George, let's be realistic here." Kramer even gives Jerry a look as if to say "what is up with him?" It should also be pointed out that Kramer was the first person to even mention the idea of a Pigman.
- For the first few seasons of Smallville, Clark Kent ironically believed the ability to fly was impossible. Also, at the end of an episode where Clark battles a Wicked Witch and her cohorts, when Clark has to explain why the house is trashed, his parents scoff at the idea of magic, even though they've already faced people with superpowers that seem to defy the laws of physics.
- In Special Unit 2, everything from gargoyles to werewolves are actually real, except for vampires. "Never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life."
- Occurs on Stargate SG-1 from time to time despite all the weirdness they usually had to deal with:
- Lampshaded in the episode "Fragile Balance". Jack O'Neill appears to have gone from 45 to 15 years old overnight.
- Also parodied/referenced in another episode, where Jackson expects this to happen when telling General Hammond about a prophetic dream he had. Instead, Hammond believes him right off the bat, explaining, "The things I've heard sitting in this chair ..." The guy is actually really good at subverting this particular trope. When the team comes back from another world and Jonas Quinn tells him that there's a flying bug monster in the room that only he can see, Hammond locks the base down immediately. One imagines the orientation manual for any future base commanders would include something along the lines of, "Don't dismiss anything your teams say out of hand, no matter how weird it sounds." He plays this straight once (or many many times if you count each time loop) in "Window of Opportunity", where it becomes a minor plot point.
- In "Avalon", General Landry invokes a version of this trope quite early on in his career, when Daniel suggests that there might be a hidden cavern of treasure built by the Ancients underneath Glastonbury Tor in Britain.Landry: Well two years ago, I wouldn't have believed we would find a Ancient outpost under a mile of ice in Antarctica!
- A straight up example from "The Quest" has the team hearing that according to legend, the Sangraal is protected by a dragon. They immediately dismiss the possibility of dragons existing, saying that it is infinitely more likely to be a hologram or machine of some sort. Considering all the weird aliens and creatures they've met, it's surprising that they are so willing to dismiss the possibility that an alien planet might have a flying, fire breathing reptilian creature (a biologically implausible creature, certainly, but so are the Goa'uld). It turns out they are right, and the dragon is a simulation created by advanced technology, but still.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- One episode saw Doctor Crusher insisting that there were "no such things as ghosts!" This, in spite of the fact that the Star Trek universe contains many, many instances of humanoids having their consciousnesses de-coporealized and surviving in the absence of their bodies. Most of these have hand-wavey Technobabble explanations, but still...
- Occasionally subverted: In "Realm of Fear", when Barclay (a hypochondriac loon) tells Captain Picard that there's something living in the transporter beam, and that he'll stake his career on it, Picard gives him a long look... then tells LaForge to start stripping down the transporter until they find something.
- In "Devil's Due", the crew encounters an alien woman claiming to be the Devil of several cultures, including the Klingon devil and the one of the planet they are in, which according to legend made a deal with her 1000 years ago to give her control of the planet in exchange for 1000 years of peace and she has now come to collect. The crew theorizes she might be a member of the Q continuum or even Q himself but they quickly come to the conclusion that the Q wouldn't be interested in economic forecasts (like she requested), that Q himself would never bother with contracts, and that the tricks she showed thus far could be easily done with contemporary technology, thus she must be a con artist.
- This feels especially jarring when you hear Picard and other members of Starfleet ramble on about how gods are myths and religion is primitive and foolish. This is after they've met beings like Q who are literal reality warpers that are more than capable of performing every single miracle described in the Bible with nothing more than a thought. While they may not be actual gods, it's very easy to see why a developing culture could come to see them as such.
- Star Trek: Voyager: Defied due to the experience that Starfleet has built up by then from previous missions. If things start to get weird, Janeway will first try to rule out clones, time travel, mirror-universe entities, holographic replicas, and all the strange stuff they've previously encountered, as a matter of course. "Weird is part of the job."
- Probably the worst offenders in Star Trek are the Vulcans of Star Trek: Enterprise. They repeatedly quote the Vulcan Science Directorate's determination that time travel is impossible despite all the evidence to the contrary, such as Daniels' equipment which shows designs of Vulcan ship that haven't been built yet or two different scanners indicating that a component is from the future.
- In the show Strange, the title character explains at length the presence of demons on earth, but flatly denies the possibility of ghosts.
- Stranger Things: When Lucas explains the events of season 1 to newcomer Max, she initially refuses to believe him, despite already having seen Dart the baby Demogorgon at this point. Granted, the boys discovering a new species doesn't necessarily mean it came from an evil shadow dimension and Mike's old girlfriend had psychic powers and there's a government conspiracy to cover it all up, but what finally convinces her he's telling the truth? ...Seeing Dart again.
Bobby: They're not like the Loch Ness monster, Dean; dragons aren't real.
- Despite making a career out of hunting supernatural menaces and retaining enough experience to fill an aircraft carrier, Sam and Dean Winchester almost inevitably have an argument over whether or not the Monster of the Week could be the real thing or not. Most of this is justified, because presumably the brothers get a lot of dud cases where it's nothing supernatural at all. We never see those cases because an episode consisting of Sam and Dean rolling into town, poking around for a while, concluding "Oh, some guy just got spooked by a barking dog," and rolling out again would be really boring. It's therefore always a legitimate question whether there's actually anything weird going on. Another arbitrary element of this is that the role of the hard-line skeptic switches every time between Sam and Dean.
- Subverted in a first-season episode where the MOTW turns out to be only an ordinary human serial killer.
- One memorable scene in "Houses of the Holy" has Dean explaining to Sam why he doesn't believe in angels (their mother said that angels were watching over them, but she was murdered by a demon), despite hunting demons straight out of Hell on a regular basis. When Sam points out that there's more folklore on angels than any other creature they've fought, Dean says that there's a lot of folklore on unicorns as well. Sam's response? "Wait, there's no such thing as unicorns?" In this same scene, Dean says that there's no God. This is an odd belief given that in this series the name of God and holy water are harmful to demons, and Christian exorcism rituals are effective. (According to the series creator, he just sees the rituals as another example of the hoodoo they regularly run across.) By the end of the episode, Dean is less certain that no higher power is at work. Worse, his atheism has been shaken by the events of the episode despite the fact that the "angel" in that episode turned out NOT to be an angel.
- The episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas" featured a series of Christmas-related disappearances (including somebody getting dragged up the chimney). The brothers start to wonder if the monster is some sort of "Anti Claus". They end up doing some research on the concept, investigate Santa's village and try to apprehend the guy playing Father Christmas (who matches the profile of the Anti Claus, but turns out to just be a drunk). After that failure, they consult Bobby who tells them that there is no such thing and that Sam and Dean are idiots.
- Then comes another episode, "Tall Tales", where all sort of weird things are happening in a single university campus. The only one that throws Bobby is an alien abduction. However, he doesn't act like it's impossible, he just says that even if aliens do exist, he's never come across any evidence of them. It turns out they were all being caused by a trickster demi-god.
- "Clap Your Hands if You Believe" revolves around supposed alien abductions. Dean eventually begins to talk about how they have to "change their entire worldview" after one such abduction. It's actually a leprechaun, posing as an alien expert, and working with the rest of The Fair Folk, who fakes the "abductions" as part of a Deal with the Devil he has with various people.
- Despite there being hundreds of years of lore and mythology relating to dragons that predates their inclusion in fantasy fiction and video games, in "Like a Virgin", both Sam and Dean believe that they cannot exist because they only exist in fiction and video games.
- Since season one, the most consistent mantra has been that "everything's real but Sasquatch". (Dean explicitly says in one episode that "every hunter worth their salt knows Sasquatch isn't real"). It's actually exactly that. By season 4, angels and God are confirmed. Aliens have been confirmed by angels and Death stating there's other planets and life forms they could be dealing with. Still no sign of Sasquatch.
- When Castiel's vessel, Jimmy Novak, first started receiving messages notifying him of his destiny (shown in "The Rapture"), his wife was understandably confused and worried. Hearing voices isn't good, after all. But then Jimmy sticks his hand in a pot of boiling water and is perfectly fine, and she still thinks he's crazy.
- The first time the boys run into vampires, Dean thinks the idea of hunting vampires is hilarious, despite the fact that their dad is telling him that he learned from one of the best Vampire Hunters to ever live, Daniel Elkins. Justified, however, because vampires were thought to be extinct (and nearly were, due mostly to Elkins' work) and have been for years, and therefore the remaining ones do their best to keep a low profile.
- In the episode "Bedtime Stories", Dean briefly dismisses Sam's "fairy tales coming to life" theory as "a little crazy." Sam counters thusly:Sam: What, crazier than every day of our lives?Dean: Touché.
- Teen Wolf:
- Scott has difficulty at first believing that the Big Bad who's behind the sacrifices in season 3 is a druid, even through, as Stiles points out, Scott himself is a werewolf.
- Subverted in the episode "Motel California": when Lydia starts hearing voices, Allison automatically believes her because of everything else they have seen.
- Particularly ridiculous is the episode "Meat", in which Gwen's fiancé refuses to believe that her job is "catching aliens", despite having seen one himself not two hours earlier. Although, to be fair, he probably thought that was just a regular giant mutant land whale. His response is an incredulous "Aliens? In Cardiff?". London has been invaded, publicly, by various aliens constantly over the last few years. But Cardiff? No f'in way.
- While Gwen freaked out at first and was in mild denial, she accepted aliens pretty quickly. Fairies, on the other hand, she scoffed continually at, until some showed up and started killing people.
- And again in the second episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day: the entire world may be immortal at the moment, but Rex still doesn't believe Jack that he used to be.
- True Blood:
- When Jason learns of the various supernatural beings, he excitedly asks if Bigfoot and Santa Claus are real, and is flatly told no.
- Arlene assumes Terry is off his medication because he claims he's been marked for death by a fire demon. Lampshaded by Holly, who reminds her that they live in a world of vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters and were haunted by a ghost not long ago. Lafayette, who can actually channel the dead, doesn't even believe it until the dead woman who summoned the demon starts talking to him.
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Stefan manages to say with a straight face, while wearing a magic ring given to him by a witch that protects him from dying, "That's impossible" to the idea that Alaric has a magical ring that protects him from dying. Alright, so his protects him from burning up in sunlight while Alaric's resurrected him when he was stabbed in the chest, but still.
- Stefan may learn his lesson from this, since in the next season it's his brother Damon who finds the possible existence of werewolves ridiculous. To be fair, he explicitly points out that he would have expected to run into some before in his century-and-a-half wandering the Earth.
- Warehouse 13:
- From the episode "Endless Wonder", where an artifact is making people taller.
- Myka has this habit. It's most explicitly pointed out in "Time Will Tell" when Myka has the nerve to proclaim that there's no such thing as cavorite note while she and Pete are stuck to the ceiling due to a gadget made by H.G. Wells.Myka: Cavorite was an anti-gravity metal that H.G. Wells wrote about, but cavorite doesn't exist... I mean, there's no such thing.
Pete: Myka, in this job there's no such thing as "no such thing." We just met the female H.G. Wells, for crying out loud.
- She also does it in "Beyond Our Control":Artie: Somehow, light and matter coalesced, and a 3D-projected Sherman tank became solid enough to shell the crowd.
Myka: How is that even possible?
Pete: You're still asking that question?
Myka: I'm still hoping for an answer.
- Pete does this in "3...2...1", laughing at the idea that H.G. Wells could have made a rocket in the 1800s. She immediately points out that he's used a time-machine she made in the 1800s. He hates her at the time, so he disregards everything she says.
- Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Helping Hand":Mother: You're not making an antenna to talk to Martians again, are you?
Max: We're wizards. Why does everyone think it's crazy that there's Martians?
- Xena: Warrior Princess: In "Old Ares Had A Farm", Xena and Gabriel speculate about the presence of ghosts, Ares mocks them and humans in general for inventing weird supernatural creatures just to explain any unknown phenomena, ya know, like, gods. It's even more ridiculous when you consider that Ares himself was face-to-face with ghosts in the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "The Vanishing Dead".
- The X-Files:
- Scully. Her ability to deny phenomena outside her "present scientific knowledge has all the answers, and if something's outside that set, it doesn't exist" worldview becomes increasingly illogical the longer she's dealing with aliens, vampires, etc. In one great scene, Mulder calls her out on it, notes that his theories are right a healthy majority of the time and demands a little credit. It was even funnier when she was presented with things that are physically impossible. She just doesn't believe in aliens, but admits they could exist in theory. It was later revealed that Scully's sudden credulity was only because she was trying to fill the void left by Mulder and that there was little real conviction behind it.
- Mulder believes in any paranormal activity except those related to the religion; Scully has a deep Catholic faith, apparently with no problems regarding her skepticism otherwise, while Mulder appears to be perhaps a Hollywood Atheist, saying angrily that he refuses to believe in a God that would let his sister die, despite plenty of cases where supernatural Christian (and specifically Catholic) phenomena is shown to be true.
- Doggett. Doggett simply proclaims things impossible and refuses to discuss it further.
- It was eventually revealed that the reason Scully and Doggett are such hardcore skeptics is that they're afraid of accepting the existence of the paranormal due to their own personal reasons.