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Failed A Spot Check / Western Animation

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Neglecting to use basic powers of perception in western animation.


  • Used very often in young children's programming, usually to teach the kids.
    • A better example would be Blue's Clues, where the host does it, but gives off the impression that he does know it's there and is just doing it to teach the viewers.
    • A worse example would be Dora the Explorer and Diego, who seem to legitimately not see the mountain on the horizon and come off as kind of stupid for it.

  • Parodied in the American Dad! episode "Faking Bad": Steve becomes a fake ID kingpin and Stan is tasked with tracking him down. Despite forming a profile that describes Steve to a T, creating a list of the kingpin's personal traits that form the acronym S.T.E.V.E. and angrily throwing his coffee mug against a board, only to have it form the shape of Steve's face, he doesn't conclude that Steve is involved. This is taken a step further when he opens the van that Steve had been using as a base of operations and doesn't notice the huge pile of counterfeiting equipment just slightly to his right. Steve explains later he used the power of misdirection (by conspicuously waving his arms around, which is only seen in the flashback).
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  • On Bunnicula, none of the human characters ever notice the supernatural goings-on.
  • Cellbound has a prisoner digging a tunnel in his cell, while leaving a colossal mound of dirt right outside his window. Nobody ever notices.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Maternal Instincts" while trying to escape Vlad's mansion Maddie completely ignores two Hummers, two ATV's and a freaking Helicopter while trying to find a phone.
  • Happens to Darkwing Duck a lot. The best example is from "Just Us Justice Ducks"; Darkwing, searching the crime scene for clues to the location of Negaduck's hideout, is totally oblivious to the building in the background currently raising the giant flag with Negaduck's face on it, but easily spots a tiny bread crumb on the ground which he analyzes under a microscope and determines the hideout's location from that alone. Negaduck even planted the crumb there on purpose because he knew damn well DW wouldn't see the flag.
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  • While not on screen, this trope has to be in effect during this exchange on Ed, Edd n Eddy.
    Ed: Hello, can Eddy come out to play?
    Eddy: I'm right beside you, Ed.
  • Happens often on Family Guy. A notable example occurs in season 2 episode "I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar" when Lois and Peter go to a timeshare presentation for a boat. The presenter failed to notice that over half his slides showing an ogre terrorizing the island's occupants until it he heard the crowds' response. After which point he tries to hurriedly proceed through all the slides showing the ogre ripping people in half and chasing them across the island, finally getting to a normal slide and following up with a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
    Timeshare Presenter: ...No city noise. No Flesh-Eating Ogres. No pollution.
  • Happens in the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", as Bender is talking smack about their new boss Morgan; Leela and Fry are making shushing motions, and he says, "Uh oh, is she behind me?" Morgan replies with, "No, I'm in front of you!" and Bender squeaks like a mouse.
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  • On an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes where Jimmy is stuck flying a plane, Heloise tells him over the radio not to press the big pink button. It's right in front of him, and bigger than he is, yet he comments that he missed it.
  • Happens often on Johnny Bravo.
    • One time, Johnny became a reporter and wandered the streets trying to find a story, somehow not noticing a fire, a UFO, a goofy old man dancing, and a cow wearing a dress.
    • He was once challenged to find a rhinoceros in a room. He failed to notice it sitting on the sofa even after he lifted it to look under it. The rhino then beat him up and left. Johnny called out to it, asking where the rhino was, indicating he didn't know what a rhino looked like in the first place.
  • Justice League: In "Wild Cards", the Joker informs the people that he has planted bombs all around the Vegas Strip and challenges the Justice League to find and disarm them while fighting off the Royal Flush Gang. Everyone in the area evacuates, except for an old woman who continues to play at a slot machine. The Joker even asks her why she is not running away, and she says the slot machine is bound to pay off sometime. She is repeatedly shown playing the slot machine and not noticing the battles going on around her.
  • The Kids From Room 402: Vinnie tries to enter a science fair with a project his brother Tony had previously entered in a previous fair and, unlike other times he tried to pass Tony's previous works as his own, he checked if Ms. Graves was Tony's teacher back then. As Vinnie learns when Ms. Graves reveals it, she was a judge at the previous fair and wrote "Good work, Tony" on the back of the project.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable repeatedly fails romantic spot checks in relation to himself, with Tara the cheerleader and Yori the ninja Action Girl. He failed to recognize their interest despite being kissed by them, Yori twice in one episode.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Dark Cupid", Adrien gushes about a masked superheroine's "hair dark as night" and "bluebell eyes", yet never considers that his classmate, mild-mannered Marinette has exactly the same traits and a habit of disappearing whenever an akuma attacks. The show milks this for all the comedy it's worth.
    Adrien: Eyes as blue as...
    [Marinette cranes around to look at him]
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Call of the Cutie", Apple Bloom is apparently distressed enough about being the last girl in her class to get a cutie mark that she briefly fails to notice that she's in the middle of a giant party.
    • And in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Twilight is too busy gloating about how right she is to see the four hundred-foot-long hydra necks that are right next to her.
    • In the historical pageant from "Hearth's Warming Eve", the three rulers of the pony races all get through speeches claiming the future land of Equestria as their new home... before realizing the other two are nearby. Which is kind of a subversion when you consider scale. One is on the side of a mountain, another in the valley, and the third is on top of a cloud. Justified by it being a dramatic recreation for a play.
    • In "Secret of My Excess" Zecora and Twilight are so immersed in a discussion of Spike's recent kleptomania problem that they fail to notice him stealing literally everything from Zecora's shack.
    • Twilight is pretty bad about this. In "It's About Time", she tries to break into the Star Swirl the Bearded wing of the castle. At one point, she despairs over how to find it, while pacing around right in front of it, before Pinkie Pie suggests that they ask someone in the Star Swirl the Bearded wing.
      Twilight Sparkle: Huh, how did I miss that?
      • The same episode has a parody of it with the library guards; they spotted her instantly but didn't say anything because she's allowed to be there and they're playing along. One of them ends up letting them into the above wing when they see her trying to get in.
    • "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" gives "Sonic Rainboom" a justified example with Billy and Hoops: they said there was no such thing as a sonic rainboom despite having been in a race that produced one. However, seeing as at the moment it happened one was spinning out of control and the other painfully ensconced in a pillar, they would have needed Critical Success on their spot checks to notice it.
  • The Powerpuff Girls fail to notice they're being followed by a tank, a bunch of Wacky Racer-esque cars, and Professor Utonium while they're searching for the MacGuffin of "The Powerpuff Girls Rule".
  • Ready Jet Go!: Carrot when he removes the spigot valve from the lemonade machine in "Astronaut Ellen Ochoa". Lemonade ends up flowing everywhere, but luckily, Sunspot serves lemonade to the neighborhood cats.
  • Rick and Morty: An utterly depressing variant happens in "Auto Erotic Assimilation"; while Rick languishes unconscious in the garage after attempting suicide, not a single person comes to check on him, even though he's in there for a full day. The sheer isolation of that is bad enough, but it only gets worse when Jerry is literally out there in front of the garage, but is too absorbed in weed whacking to even turn around and see.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" Homer asks the director of the Shelbyville Orphanage where his long-lost brother lives.
      Director: Your brother could be anywhere. Even... Detroit.
      Homer: I know he could be anywhere, that's why I want you to narrow it down! Please!
      Director: You know, Mr. Simpson, if you ask me, the city of brotherly love isn't Philadelphia, it's ... Detroit.
      Homer: Well, if you asked me, changing the subject makes you the most worthless, heartless excuse for a human being I ever...
      Director: Read between the lines, Mr. Simpson!
      Homer: Oh, I get it! Okay. Here's twenty bucks. Now will you tell me where my brother lives?
      Director: Mr. Simpson, I don't want your—
      Homer: Just take it and tell me!
      Director: Detroit. He lives in Detroit.
      Homer: Fine! Thank you!
    • The episode "'Round Springfield" has a double-whammy of this. Lisa is talking to her mentor Bleeding Gums Murphy in the hospital while Dr. Hibbert is taking his blood pressure. Sadly, neither of them get the hint. (And Murphy passes away later the same episode.)
      Murphy: I don't really have a family... All I had was a younger brother who grew up to be a doctor. He used to laugh at the most inappropriate times.
      Hibbert: Ah, heh, heh, heh! You know, I have an older brother I'll never see again... He's a... jazz musician or something...
    • Another example is Moe, who can never recognize Bart's voice when he actually sees him, despite the headaches he has gotten from all of Bart's crank calls. He came close in one early episode, and the point was driven home with this exchange, and Moe still didn't get it:
      Moe: [lightheartedly] Bet you've been gettin' on a lot of trouble, eh?
      Bart: Well... I've made a few crank calls...
    • In "Children of a Lesser Clod", Ned Flanders has Homer babysit his sons so he can go to a "Christian rock concert". A close-up shot of his ticket shows that he's actually going to a Chris Rock concert. Even when he gets home he's clueless; as he tells Homer, "You know, it's strange, I've never heard a minister use the M-F word so much..."
  • South Park:
    • In "The Coon", Cartman poses as a superhero. When he reports his findings to the police, he "disappears" while talking to them, only to reveal that he is now on the other side of the room. They lose track of him again moments later when he moves back to his original position. Seconds after that, they once again can't find him, until he announces that he's about one foot to the left of where he had been.
    • In the season 3 episode "Succubus", there's a Running Gag of Chef's parents telling stories of the Loch Ness Monster's increasingly ridiculous attempts to get them to give him tree-fiddy note . One such story involves the monster dressing up as a Girl Scout selling cookies. Chef's parents don't recognize him... at first.
      Chef's Dad: Well it was about that time that I noticed this "Girl Scout" was about eight stories tall and was a crustacean from the Paleozoic Era.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: The police and citizens somehow mistake Morbius for Spider-Man, even though they look nothing alike. As a result, Spider-Man gets blamed for Morbius' attacks.
  • Played for laughs in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Home Sweet Pineapple" where SpongeBob, having lost his home to pineapple-eating nematodes, tries to stay with Squidward for the night, and the latter takes at least half a minute to notice that SpongeBob's in his house. Justified in that it was the middle of the night, Squid was half-asleep and he must have thought he was dreaming the whole thing.
  • Star Wars Resistance: Early in "Signal from Sector Six", a half-asleep Kaz goes to the caf machine and presses a button several times, assuming it must be broken again when it won't pour. Tam walks over, shoves him aside, and presses the correct button before stealing his mug.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Nightmare Hospital": Nobody at the hospital notices that a pair of "car accident victims" are moaning inhuman organless abominations consisting entirely of malformed gargantuan hands in the vague shape of a human body rather than, well, car accident victims until they get out of their hospital beds and start acting like zombies. Not even when trying, and failing, to find a heartbeat in the clearly-moving body.
    • During the Zoo arc, where the Crystal Gems travel to space to rescue a kidnapped Greg, the being in charge of the institution fails to notice that Pearl and Amethyst are wearing unusual outfits for characters supposedly working for Blue Diamond.
    • "Legs From Here to Homeworld":
      • Centipeetle is so happy to see Steven and the Chaaaaps he brought her to eat that she initially doesn't notice Blue and Yellow Diamond standing in front of her. Only when Steven talks to the Diamonds does Centi notice them, causing her to do a Jaw Drop.
      • When Steven takes everyone to Rose's dump in the desert in search of Pink Diamond's spaceship, he goes on about they'll have to split up and search around the two pink "pyramids" to find it. As he does so, everyone stares blankly at the "pyramids", which are clearly Pink's spaceship, specifically its knees as it's shaped like a pair of legs.
  • In the "Ballad of Scary Mary" episode of Sym-Bionic Titan, Mary fails to notice the girls laughing at her as the popular guy asks her out, then fails to notice the guy doing the same moments later. Justified, because unpopular Mary was clearly having the typical I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me reaction.
  • The Transformers:
    • While it is somewhat forgivable given the nature of the show involving robots in disguise, a number of characters in the course of the show manage to fail an astounding number of spot checks. One instance which is so ludicrous as to be hilarious involves Soundwave, already a notoriously sneaky Decepticon infiltration expert and intelligence officer... managing to hide inside Ironhide while the Autobot is in vehicle mode. Soundwave spends a good amount of time next to Blaster, his Autobot counterpart, who is also in tape player mode. Neither Autobot notices Soundwave until he decides to eject Ravage... and even then, Soundwave manages to sneak away. This astounding lack of perception carries over to the commercials as well, where in an amusing inversion of the norm (with people unwittingly carrying Soundwave into a secure location), Rumble struts back into Decepticon HQ carrying a radio he found. Soundwave, being wise to his own brand of tricks, immediately deduces the nature of the radio. Rumble... is a little slower on the uptake.
      Rumble: Hey, look at this radio I found!
      Soundwave: Autobot intruder!
      Rumble: Where?
      Blaster: [transforms on Rumble's shoulder, and kicks him aside] Here!
    • The human characters aren't much better. In the infamously dumb episode "B.O.T.", the teen protagonists don't seem to notice that the building they're standing nearby is engulfed in flames and surrounded by a fire brigade until they hear a scream.
  • Transformers Animated: the Cybertron Elite Guard completely fail to notice a pair of hulking Decepticons bypass their ship's force field by digging a very short tunnel under it (both openings of which are clearly visible from the ship itself) and then ripping off their tachyon transmitter. Even though there's still a pair of gaping holes right by the ship, they have no idea that they've been robbed until several episodes later when they try to use the transmitter and realize it's gone.
  • In the eighth episode of the second season of Winx Club, a monster sent to attack Red fountain is meant as a distraction while the Trix search for the codex. Realizing this, Saladin and Cordatorta bring several guards to the codex room in case the Trix find it. If any of them had looked behind them, they would've seen that Icy was following them.
  • In the very first episode of X-Men, Jubilee fails to notice the Sentinel hiding behind two very small trees. Because you know how easily purple and red blend in with the green of nature.
  • DuckTales (2017) has a darkly humorous version of this in the episode "Whatever Happened to Della Duck?!" Della is utterly exasperated by the realization that in the ten years she's spent trapped on the surface of the moon, she had never previously encountered either the moon civilization that resides there, nor the ridiculous amounts of gold that they own (which is necessary for her ship to function). Even though she dedicated four of those year specifically to exploring the dusty rock for anything that could help her get back home.


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