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Achievements in Ignorance
aka: Achievement In Ignorance

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"In the course of my life, I have more than once been too ignorant to know that something was impossible before I did it anyway."
Antillar Maximus, Codex Alera

In a world bound by laws of physics, some things are just impossible. Even when magic is involved, there are often limits.

Despite this, somehow there's someone who can do things thought impossible, simply because they do not realize that they should be incapable of the achievement. Any of the characters might occasionally be And You Thought It Was a Game, but it can be a recurring trait for a Genius Ditz or a Bungling Inventor. This trope focuses on the times the character in question achieved what they did largely because they had absolutely no idea that it was supposed to be impossible.

In contrast to many cartoons, which consistently (and inconsistently) apply and dismiss physics for the Rule of Funny, this trope is typically meant to occur when the act in question goes against whatever physics are firmly established within The 'Verse. Generally, the best way to tell the difference is whether or not the Achievement in Ignorance can be lampshaded or not.


This can be played either seriously or for laughs. If for comedy, it is often The Ditz who does the undoable deed. If for drama, the character in question may be a genius or prodigy in their particular field.

This happens in Real Life, usually with things like math or physics equations and occasionally with feats of daring that the accidental daredevil hasn't been told are life-threatening. On the more mundane side of things are people learning or successfully trying things their more learned peers were taught couldn't be done.

Compare with these tropes:

  1. Accidental Discovery - to which the adage "not knowing it was impossible, he went and did it" is usually applied
  2. Accidentally Real Fake Address - a fake address (or similar) that a person makes up ends up being real after all.
  3. Autopilot Artistry - someone succeeds at something they normally fail at when they aren't thinking about it.
  4. Beginner's Luck - being new to this business, and really, really good at it.
  5. Beyond the Impossible - for impossible events or people trying to break the rules
  6. Centipede's Dilemma - someone is able to do something but stops being able to once they start thinking about it
  7. Clap Your Hands If You Believe - devices powered by believing they'll work
  8. Crazy Enough to Work - the craziest plans always work
  9. Determinator - the person knows it's impossible, but tries anyway
  10. How Did You Know? I Didn't
  11. I Thought Everyone Could Do That - thinking that their Achievement is a feat anyone could do
  12. Magic Feather - an object gives people confidence to do things they only think are impossible for themselves
  13. Power Born of Madness - person does the impossible deeds because he no longer cares they're supposed to be impossible
  14. Reminder of Impossibility - if they can't do it anymore once it's pointed out that they shouldn't be able to it
  15. Right for the Wrong Reasons - the plan happened to work because of circumstances they were unaware of at the time
  16. Runs on Ignorance - devices that work only if you don't know how they work
  17. Screw the Rules, They're Not Real! - breaking the rules because you just don't care about them
  18. Strategy, Schmategy
  19. Too Dumb to Fool - a fool immediately sees through a lie or other treachery

May lead to a How Unscientific! moment. A Snipe Hunt may occasionally end this way. See also Magic A Is Magic A, which the perpetrators of this trope tend to violate. This trope may be the reason for the idea that Idiots Can Not Catch Colds.

Please note that this trope is not just doing something despite not knowing how, or doing something by accident / blind luck. It is specifically doing something thought to be impossible because you don't know it is "impossible".


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    Audio Plays 

    Card Games 
  • Star Wars Customizable Card Game has the following flavor text on Han's Modified Heavy Blaster: "In theory, you can't modify a DL-44 Heavy Blaster. No one told Han that."

  • From a Sarah Silverman routine: "Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. I think it's a mistake. Not because they can't, but because it never would have occurred to them that they couldn't."

    Comic Books 
  • In an Archie Comics story, the klutzy Archie loses his memory following an athletic mishap. Reggie toys with him by telling him he's the school's champion athlete, expecting that Archie will humiliate himself, only to be astonished when Archie proceeds to accomplish incredible athletic feats, such as a record-breaking pole vault without using a pole. When Archie throws a javelin beyond school property, accidentally puncturing a guy's tire, he gets a memory-restoring punch in the head and reverts to his usual clumsiness.
  • Atomic Robo:
    • Why can giant ants exist despite the Square-Cube Law? Because they don't know there's a square-cube law.
    • At one point, one character thwarts an invasion of vampires from another dimension by using a plan that depended on the use of a Xenon laser. When he explains this, Robo informs him that the laser he used was not, in fact, a Xenon laser, and he doesn't think their facility even has one, leaving the guy baffled about how his plan worked.
    • Taken to its extremes by Dr. Dinosaur, whose inventions just plain don't make sense even within the context of a comic that once used the Large Hadron Collider as a proton cannon. This causes extreme frustration in Robo, who gets to watch the laws of reality bend into pretzel shapes because of a delusional dromaeosaurid inverting gravity with a spanner, a light bulb, two car batteries, and a broken calculator.
  • Batman:
    • When The Joker met Batman-expy Midnighter, Midnighter, whose Stock Phrase is "I've fought this fight X thousand times in the supercomputer in my head so you've already lost" can only stare at the Joker with utterly no idea what to do next.
    • Batgirl (2000): When Cassandra Cain was fighting the Joker, Cassandra was initially losing. Cassandra is able to analyze her opponent's fighting style to predict their next move, but the Joker has no fighting style - even he doesn't know his next move.
  • Excalibur: Tweedledope is a member of a group of villains called the Crazy Gang who can somehow create Applied Phlebotinum by just tinkering with junk. No doubt the most miraculous piece of machinery he created this way was the sapient portal-creating robot Widget. It should be noted that Widget's sapience derived from the amnesiac and temporally displaced mind of Kate Pryde, the Days of Future Past version of Kitty Pryde (it takes a very long time for Widget, let alone else, to figure this out), and later examination suggested that there's a mystical element involved.
  • In Fantastic Four, this has been used as an explanation for why Reality Warper Franklin Richards is so much more powerful as a young child than various adult versions of him (introduced via Time Travel) have been: he doesn't realize that all of the things he's doing are impossible. An adult Franklin who actually understands the laws of physics needs to think of ways to work around them, even though based on the way his powers work that's only a psychological limitation.
  • In one Carl Barks Disney Ducks Comic Universe comic, the Beagle Boys trick Super Goof into ingesting a formula that makes him so hungry he eats everything in sight, gaining a huge amount of weight. When he finally gets his act together and goes after them, he's so fat he can barely stay airborne. But he still apprehends the villains when he falls on them.
  • Green Lantern Simon Baz can ignore the limitations on his ring's capabilities because no one told him about them.
  • Alfred E. Neuman of MAD fame displays this on various classic covers — sitting on a swing hanging from a branch he is holding, painting a white stripe down the middle of a road by painting a white road black and not painting the middle, etc..
  • The Sandman (1989): Dream and Death meet Hob Gadling, a 14th-century peon who believes that people only die because they accept death as inevitable. By choosing to reject death, he believes he can live forever. Now, Hob's premise is completely, horribly wrong, but Death is so amused by his ignorance that she grants his wish. In a roundabout sort of way, this also makes him completely correct, just not for the reason he thinks. Hob ended up becoming one of Dream's few friends.
  • Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: El Kabong can swing around until someone points out there's nothing holding the rope.
  • In Seven Psychopaths, this is the in-story rationale for recruiting a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to assassinate Hitler—all the sane people in the military have long since dismissed the notion of assassinating Hitler as impossible, so the only ones who stand a chance of succeeding are those who are too crazy to realize it's impossible.
  • Taskmaster was on the receiving end of this in his fight with Deadpool. Taskmaster has the ability to analyze and duplicate any physical action, so he can instantly master any combat style just by observing it. Deadpool starts acting completely at random and kicks his ass.
  • In a comic book story based on Wacky Races, Dick Dastardly believes the other racers can cross the painted tunnels he makes because they don't know it's not real.
  • Discussed in Young Justice:
    Wonder Girl: But he sure can't keep it up!
    Superboy: You know Bart, Wondy. If we don't tell him he can't, he may forget that he can't and go in circles forever.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one Sunday strip, Calvin was daydreaming in class that he was Spaceman Spiff, being attacked by an enemy craft. He dreamed that his ship was hit, and he started plummeting towards a planet's surface. "This spells disaster!" screams Calvin/Spiff. Then Miss Wormwood yells at Calvin to pay attention, and he quickly says, "Uhm, 'disaster', D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R." Fortunately, that was exactly the word Miss Wormwood had just asked him to spell.
    • The same thing happened when Spiff was doing a countdown and hit 7 right when Miss Wormwood asks Calvin what 10 minus 3 is.
    • And again when Spiff had just fired on some aliens ('Krakow! Krakow! Two direct hits!') when Suzie asks Calvin about the name of Poland's former capital.
  • Dilbert:
    • Parodied when a CEO with no experience is hired because "someone who doesn't know anything doesn't know what can't be done." When he goes to shake hands with the Pointy-Haired Boss (who is right-handed), he extends his left...
    • This happened in Dilbert again with Ratbert, who was told he was so stupid that he had telekinetic power.
      Ratbert: I have the power to watch television!
    • In another series of strips, Ratbert decides to fly simply by flapping his arms. Dilbert insists it can't be done. Bob the Dinosaur gives Ratbert some advice that turns out to work, resulting in him flying near an annoyed Dilbert and remarking "This must be so embarrassing for you."
    • One time Dilbert tells someone from Marketing that he reprogrammed his DNA into that of a weasel's. The poor dope is so gullible that he actually starts changing!
  • FoxTrot:
    • A Sunday strip has Paige nodding off in class, dreaming she's being romanced by the handsome, dashing Pierre. She repeats "Oh, Pierre" in reply to everything he says, until she wakes up, discovering she just answered her teacher's question - "What is the capital of South Dakota?" - correctly.
    • There's also the time when Roger somehow made the charcoals for the grill burn upside down because he put them in that way. Jason even says that he'd deem it impossible if anyone other than Roger did it.
  • Garfield:
    • Odie chases Garfield up a tree, resulting in both of them sitting on a high branch. Jon immediately tells Odie that "dogs can't climb trees". Garfield's response? "It's amazing what one can accomplish when one doesn't know what one can't do."
    • In fact, in one of the early comics, this is how Garfield himself learned to walk on his hind legs. Until it stuck, he'd promptly face-plant when Jon reminded him it's not possible.
    • One strip shows Odie sleeping on the underside of a hammock, and Garfield notes that he doesn't even understand the laws of gravity.
  • Peanuts:
    • Schroeder can play extremely difficult piano pieces on a toy piano where the black keys are simply painted on (or are they...).
    • Similar to the above-example in Garfield, there was one week-long series where Snoopy and Linus climbed a very large tree to investigate a "strange creature" in Woodstock's nest which turned out to be an egg. Eventually, Lucy came along, and Charlie Brown explained what was going on. Lucy shouted to them that dogs can't climb trees; Snoopy replied, "You're right!" before falling out with a crash.
    • In early strips where Linus was still shown as an infant, he often displayed this trope. Examples included stacking blocks off-center well past the point they should fall over, and blowing up balloons cube-shaped. While Charlie Brown kept trying to figure out how he did it, Lucy was just embarrassed that her brother didn't know how to do things right.
  • In one story from Wally Wood's Sally Forth, the characters are riding in a battle-scarred helicopter — until one of them points out that it should not be able to fly, causing it to fall immediately.

    Fan Works 
  • My Immortal: At one point Draco Malfoy walks out of the flying car while it is still in the air. He is perfectly fine afterwards.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Sherman and Penny are in Leonardo da Vinci's workshop and find his flying machine, and Penny urges Sherman to take it for a joy ride. With her "Just do it!" encouragement, Sherman gets it airborne and is actually piloting it with skill until Mr. Peabody sees them and reminds Sherman that he doesn't know how to fly. The instant Sherman hears this, he freaks out, loses control and crashes it.
  • Toy Story: While he's completely oblivious to the fact he's a toy who can't actually fly, Buzz manages to actually "fly" around Andy's room with his eyes closed by bouncing on a ball, riding the loop-de-loop and getting his wings hooked on a toy airplane.
  • In Wakko's Wish, Buttons runs straight up a tree to save Mindy, only to fall when she tells him "Puppies can't climb trees."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Joe Patroni in Airport is a skilled mechanic qualified to taxi planes but not fly them. When a 707 is stuck on a snowy runway and has to be moved off at any cost to allow another plane's emergency landing, he takes the cockpit and pushes the aircraft past its limits until he manages to get it moving just ahead of the plows coming to (destructively) give it a push, thereby saving the aircraft. Arguably Patroni is overqualified for this trope, because he knows the plane inside and out and exactly how much abuse it can take. What drives it home is when he's told afterward that the manual says what he just did is impossible—to which he replies the beauty of the 707 is "she can do everything but read." It's an achievement in ignorance for the plane.
  • In Being There, this is a possible explanation for the final shot in which Chance walks on water. It's also the reason he gets as far as he does in the film with the people around him - he doesn't actually realize what he's doing most of the time.
  • During the Spinning Paper montage that ends Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Road & Track reports that Death managed to win the Indy 500 on foot. His response? "I didn't know I could run that fast."
  • In the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mike Teavee sees Willy Wonka's Television Chocolate setup as this on Mr. Wonka's part — Mr. Wonka was merely looking for a new way to get his chocolate to market and wound up creating a teleporter without realizing the true significance/potential of such an invention.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Invoked. Bruce comments on his safe being supposedly uncrackable. Selina Kyle, who has just cracked it, quips that she didn't know it was uncrackable.
  • Edge of Tomorrow is centered around William Cage, an inexperienced soldier who becomes trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop after being splattered in alien blood. But how did he get that in the first place? Well, he ran out of ammo, saw a soldier strapping a Claymore to his armor and pulled it towards the alien, not knowing said mine is guaranteed to kill anything within a few feet of it (the soldier was clearly aiming for a suicide attack), meaning the Claymore killed them both, but Cage was splattered with the blood that enables him to revive by looping. In short, he became The Only One capable of defeating the aliens because of being literally Too Dumb to Live!
  • The premise of Forrest Gump is built on this trope. Forrest is so dense that he routinely attempts things other people wouldn't even consider, and so single-minded that he puts his maximum effort into everything he does. As a result, he meets spectacular success while the skeptics are left scratching their heads.
  • Galaxy Quest:
    • The Thermians construct a fully functional, space-worthy Starship, complete with powerful weapons, Warp Drive, and Teleportation, based on the design of a ship seen in "Historical Documents" intercepted from space. Unbeknownst to them, these "Historical Documents" were actually episodes from the TV Series Galaxy Quest, broadcast from Earth by humans not remotely capable of producing these technologies. It's important to note that this also included the Omega-13, an alien device that was not part of the original ship schematics and that nobody even knew what function it had, only educated (and conflicting) guesses.
    • Nesmith actually manages to defeat the Big Bad in the first act of the film, while he still believes that he's on a television show. Wanting to end the "show" as quickly as possible because of his hangover, he orders an immediate attack that takes the villain completely by surprise. Unfortunately, he promptly leaves, allowing the villain to recover and come back later.
  • Jem and the Holograms (2015); the protagonist becomes famous after she takes a video of herself singing which gets uploaded to YouTube by her little sister after Jem herself assumes it's going to bomb, then suddenly goes viral with millions of hits, overnight. (Clearly, her music is better in-fiction than out of it.)
  • Molly's Game: 'Bad' Brad accidentally bluffs his way into winning a huge hand (his first-ever win at the table) because he is too bad at poker to realize that he should have folded. His reckless betting spooks Harlan into thinking he has a much stronger hand and he folds.
  • This is the plot of Pay It Forward as described by the mother:
    "You don't know my son, you tell him he can do something and he's going to believe you."
  • In Pippi on the Run, the final Pippi Longstocking movie with Inger Nilsson as the eponymous character, this trope becomes a Running Gag. Over the course of the movie, Pippi does several completely impossible things, and then afterward claims that the reason why she could do them was that she forgot they were impossible. The entire thing is subverted at the very end of the movie when Pippi rides a broomstick around Tommy and Annika's house, and when Annika once again claims that this is impossible, Pippi cheerfully yells back that it's not impossible to her."
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home:
    • Despite having no training whatsoever in the magic arts, Ned is able to figure out how to use Doctor Strange's sling ring to make portals, though he's unable to close them, or lead him to the right Peter Parker. This is explained as him being told by his lola that they have magic in their ancestry.
    • Unspoken, but this is also present with the Green Goblin. Since he's from a world where Captain America doesn't exist, recreating the super-soldier formula was not Norman Osborn's intention. Creating an evil split personality notwithstanding, Osborn's performance enhancer is the most successful attempt at copying it, if not better given Goblin's strength feats from the two films, like holding up a gondola with no physical difficulty apparent, go beyond Cap or even other attempts. It also does not give him physical alterations like Hulk or Abomination had. The fact that Peter could only hurt him after he stopped holding back means that at best Hulk and Thor would have been the best likely to outdo him in strength.
  • Star Wars:
    • This was probably the original intention behind Han Solo's retort to C-3PO in The Empire Strikes Back: "Never Tell Me the Odds!!" Han does not want to know how unlikely his various insane flight maneuvers are to work precisely because that might deter him from trying them, and those insane maneuvers were their only chance of escape. Han does not want to know what is impossible, or so unlikely as to be effectively impossible.
    • Played with in the same film when Luke tries and fails to use the Force to lift his X-wing out of the swamp. He fails, and then, when Yoda is able to do it, he says that he cannot believe it, only for Yoda to tell him that that was why he failed. He failed, that is, because he did not believe that it was possible, whereas Yoda knew that it was.
    • Han continues to use the trope as his standard operating procedure in The Force Awakens, allowing for him to pull such insane stunts as jumping to hyperspace from inside a hangar. When Rey incredulously asks if that's even possible, Han replies, "I never ask that question 'til after I've done it."
  • In Superman III:
    • Gus writes a program in his computer class, then shows it to the instructor after hearing the instructor explain to another student that what the program does is impossible.
    • Later on while working for Ross Webster, Gus is told to synthesize kryptonite to kill Superman. Gus manages to get part of the way there... but there's a catch: there's an element of kryptonite that isn't found on Earth and therefore can't be used. Gus fills in the blank by adding tar after reading his pack of cigarettes, figuring that since tar is unhealthy for humans, it's probably unsafe for Kryptonians. The result? While the synthesized kryptonite doesn't kill Superman, it causes just as much trouble by causing Superman to spiral into Superdickery for a time.
  • Synchronic: A doctor who was just trying to create designer drugs ends up accidentally creating the titular Synchronic; a time-travel drug.
  • In Tremors 2: Aftershocks, the subterranean, wormlike Graboids move into a new biological phase: three-foot tall, bipedal, raptor-like beings nicknamed "Shriekers". When the Shriekers disable a car on the road out of town, (blocking the road) and disable communications by taking down the radio tower, the heroes nearly panic at the implications, especially after having previously seen how clever the Graboids could be. Then they discover that the Shriekers have visions based on seeing heat and are simply attacking anything hot in their way, such as a car engine or a radio tower, and have managed to disable their human opponents purely by chance. As one stunned character says when they find this out "You mean they're acting so smart...because they're so stupid?!"

  • An adage of unknown origin: "Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently determined fool."
  • Often seen in Polish jokes (more often than not told by Poles themselves). One such joke: Satan locks an American, Russian, and Polish scientist each in their own sealed room in Hell, and gives each one a pair of one-tonne solid steel balls, saying whoever can come up with the most impressive feat after seven years may be permitted to leave and go to Heaven. After seven years he returns to see their progress. The American has made the balls hover in the air and glow, which impresses the Devil. Next he goes to see the Russian, who has made his balls roll around the floor whilst playing Tchaikovsky. But the Pole impresses him the most: he's broken one of the balls in half and lost the other.
  • It's sometimes joked about that before Isaac Newton discovered gravity, people had the ability to fly.

  • In German, an achievement made in ignorance of the inherent dangers is frequently called a "Ritt über den Bodensee" (a ride across Lake Constance). This is based on a folk legend that was turned into a ballad by Gustav Schwab, Der Reiter und der Bodensee (The Rider and Lake Constance): In a cold winter, a rider loses his way in a snowstorm and without realizing it rides across the frozen-over Lake Constance. This is something a sane person would normally not attempt because due to the size of the lakenote  and the Rhine running through it you could not be sure that it would be safe for a rider and horse to cross all the way. It does not end well though — when he is told that he has arrived in a village on the other shore, the shock of realization of the danger he unwittingly had gone through kills him.
  • Alcatraz Series:
    • Smedry Talents often have a subtext of this. Generally, the Smedrys can turn being very bad at one thing (for example, dancing), into being really good at something else (like fighting). Aydee Ecks Smedry's power in particular is being extraordinarily bad at math, so that she can, for example, believe that if you have one each of the three kinds of exploding teddy bear (It Makes Sense in Context), then that's six teddy bears total, making 3 extra appear.
    • Alcatraz was raised in the Hushlands, making Free Kingdomer magic and technology equally arcane to him. Since he is more skeptical about common axioms (technology is defined as something anyone can use and magic is restricted to certain people), he can make connections nobody else can, like Smedry Talents are the same as Lenses.
  • The Belgariad:
    • This is played seriously when Garion tries to resurrect the dead colt and succeeds, something Belgarath (the first and at that point, most powerful human sorcerer) can't do. In this case, it's primarily used to show just how much sorcery depends on the sorcerer believing a feat is possible. Sorcery is pretty much defined by how people think, meaning that each sorcerer can do things that other sorcerers find extremely difficult, because of the way they think - this is just the logical extreme. However, it's implied that the Light Prophecy gave him a bit of help, and serves as Foreshadowing of how ridiculously powerful Garion really is. In particular, the adolescent Garion sees things as simpler than they actually are, which lets him do things that his learned elders think are too complex to be done. Belgarath notes at one point that this also puts Garion at risk, as this sometimes results in Garion attempting things that more experienced sorcerers would know are too dangerous to try. This is also Foreshadowing, as Errand, a complete innocent, convinces the gods to bring Durnik back to life in the last book largely by not comprehending he's dead...largely.
    • Later, Garion does it again, creating "Adara's Rose" for his cousin Adara to make her feel better. It mostly just appears to be a slightly lopsided flower with a pleasant scent. In the sequel series, it turns out to be the panacea, the cure for all ills, with its very smell capable of curing an otherwise incurable poison. The revelation that Garion created it offhand (he mostly just seems a little embarrassed at how wimpy the flowers are) leaves Cyradis dumbstruck for the one and only time in the series.
    • Also subverted in the fifth book, Enchanter's Endgame, by Queen Islena of Cherek when ruling in her husband's stead. Following suggestions of a fellow queen, she orders a priest trying to usurp power to go to the front lines or be sent to the dungeons. Such an ultimatum would be completely unacceptable behavior for the monarch, except Islena isn't well known for her intellect and is assumed to be ignorant of her apparent faux pas. Unable to counter the queen's order, his take-over not yet ready, and with no actual legal grounds to protest, the priest is sent to war. And once the priest is there with the rest of the army, he really can't come up with a compelling reason why he should be sent home again. Especially since members of his radical sect claim to be fearsome warriors who aren't afraid of battle. Her husband King Anheg later admits that he could never have done this because he is expected to know better.
    • Also, in Polgara the Sorceress, Polgara comments on Belgarath's ability to continue at any given task unrelentingly, and supposes he may be able to "store up sleep" during his long periods of rest, something that as the team medic, she knows/believes to be impossible. Just afterward, she decides it might be interesting to test the capacity of a human to do what seems impossible - when one doesn't know it—by convincing Mandorallen to pick himself up by the scruff of his neck.
  • In Mickey Zucker Reichert's Bifrost Guardians series, there is a magical fortress that is so well protected by various traps that, as everyone knows, it is impossible to break into. When the main characters need to do just that, one of them leaps to the challenge, saying that he's been doing "impossible" things all his life and he's not about to stop now. As it turns out, the magic protecting the fortress gets stronger the more you believe in its effectiveness—all you have to do to get in is to believe that you really can do the impossible.
  • In The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, the titular cat Pixel does exactly that because he's too young to know it's impossible.
  • Circle of Magic:
    • The books run on this trope, particularly the four main characters weaving their powers together in the first book. Lampshaded when Niko informs Tris that the magic-seeing spell should have worn off a week after it was placed.
      Niko: There's an advantage to instructing young mages: suggestion counts for so much with you four.
    • At the same time, though, it is noted by various characters that magic (much like science in the real world) has many things still unknown about it. You just don't realize this is so until the so-called impossible happens. This is multiplied by the fact the main characters have natural ambient magic, which comes from an affinity to various crafts or elements, whose rules are more or less adherent as to the individual subject matter, as opposed to the learned university magic which is highly structured by it's schooled rules.
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera:
    • The city folk say that the people on the frontier have such strong magic because they don't know that they shouldn't. More precisely, the frontier-dwellers tend to have "Furies" that are strong, but partially-independent and hard to control; the inhabitants of the central provinces have much better control, most at the cost of raw power (the nobility are the major exception). Achievements in Ignorance is theorized as the reason for this, but it's never definite; it could also be that wild untamed furies on the frontier are naturally stronger, or living on the frontier hones people's skills in ways that soft city life does not.
    • It's also specifically stated that doubt and uncertainty and frustration can inhibit furycrafting. At one point, a character across the ocean from Alera has a minor panic attack on suddenly remembering that theorists have asserted that furycraft is impossible on foreign shores, only to be reassured that another character has just accomplished several feats of furycraft (partly due to being too hard-pressed to remember it was theoretically impossible), and gets ordered to forget the theory.
  • In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, there is this:
    "The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot."
  • David Langford's "Different Kinds of Darkness" is about a group of school children who find a BLIT image on paper and make an endurance game out of staring at it. Later, an actual terrorist strike using a stronger BLIT is stopped when one of the children is able to withstand the BLIT long enough to tear it down and throw it in the trash. The school staff realize that misusing the weaker one had given them a tolerance for BLIT images, something that hadn't been considered possible.
  • Done in Dinoverse with the help of a Sentient Cosmic Force. Bertram builds a machine for the Science Fair which has a simple function—play different randomized videos on screens while hooked up to suction cups on someone's head—but he wants people to think it's showing their dreams, so he builds something massive out of junk salvaged from tech shops. Somehow it turns into a Time Machine. Later it's shown that throughout the multiverse people have been building devices that do the same thing, and Betram must repair a broken one without tools while in the body of a Dilophosaur.
  • This was a theme of Douglas Adams' works. For instance, in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, a major part of the plot revolves around a computer programmer attempting to understand why there is a sofa lodged in his staircase, which was moved up there by a pair of removal men, twisted around in every possible angle, and declared irrevocably stuck. The programmer creates a computer simulation, which determines that it isn't possible for the sofa to have been stuck up there in the first place at all. He assumes his program is wrong but begins to wonder if he may have discovered a whole new branch of physics. This was based on an exaggeration of a real thing that happened to Douglas Adams while he was at university, but the story does have an explanation given later on. Time Travel caused a door to appear in the wall where there wasn't one before, and the people behind it were nice enough to open the door so the mover could get by. When the door vanished, there was no longer any way for it to go back the way it came.
    • For that matter, it's exemplified by the line from Life, the Universe and Everything, "There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
  • Discworld likes this one:
    • Tiffany Aching reading the dictionary cover to cover because nobody ever told her she shouldn't and Susan Sto-Helit successfully teaching seven-year-olds algebra and, when told it's too hard for them, replies that so far they haven't figured that out. It needs to be said that examples of children learning something before adults would think they're ready to learn it are probably Truth in Television. A bright child may be reading books meant for adults by the age of eight or ten, though they probably won't understand everything they read.
    • Bergholt Stuttley "Bloody Stupid" Johnson is such an incompetent architect and inventor that he ends up creating buildings that are Bigger on the Inside, and circles with the value of pi equal to exactly 3. Three of the national projects that he undertook can fit in a normal pocket. The full list is here.
    • In Equal Rites, Esk teleports something without a counterweight and was able to do it because she didn't know it was impossible because she hadn't been formally taught. It does, however, have consequences later. As well as a possible explanation being given: any wizard could do that, but doing so greatly increases the chances of something going very, very wrong in transit, leading to wizards who know better never trying it.
    • Discussed in The Last Hero, when Leonard asks for journeymen craftsmen, rather than masters, because he has no use for "people who have learned the limits of the possible".
    • Death gives this explanation for how he can move through walls and otherwise tell the laws of physics to sit down and shut the hell up. His advice to Mort in his stint as his apprentice is not to think about it too hard and forget that you know that you can't move through walls. Mort is able to do this when he isn't actively thinking about it as he escapes a group of thugs by backing through a wall. Later books implied that this is because of Death's nature as being outside time - even if the wall is there now, there was or will be a time when the wall will not be or wasn't there, so Death instinctively travels through the space the wall occupies at a moment when there wasn't a wall, then reverts to the moment he needed to be in. When time gets imprisoned in Thief of Time, both he and Susan temporarily lose the ability to do this, as the world is frozen in a moment and there is no past or future to travel through.
    • Susan also uses this trope when she travels back through time to ask Death a few questions about her job. The Raven uses this trope as an example of why education is actually a bad thing.
    • An interesting example is Lord Rust, Ankh-Morpork's foremost military leader by dint of heritage; the man is a total incompetent with absolutely no tactical ability or military knowledge whatever and does not seem to comprehend the utter futility of attacking a vastly superior force on their home ground with virtually no provisions. While this has the obvious result of killing almost every man under his command, Rust is completely unharmed, even though he leads every suicidal charge from the front. By all laws of probability, he should be dead long ago. However, Rust has the unusual ability of being able to completely and subconsciously ignore anything that contradicts or is outside his extraordinarily unrealistic worldview, assuming that it simply cannot exist, including physical danger. He has been reported as charging directly at enemy lines surrounded by projectiles without being scratched; arrows have apparently changed direction to avoid him (which then hit his men). On the Discworld, sufficiently powerful belief can alter physical reality, and magic has been described as more or less ignoring the laws of physics.
    • Hodgesaaargh finds the newly-hatched phoenix because nobody told him that nobody had ever found one. A slight subversion in that the other characters think that it is this trope, whereas Hodgesaaargh also succeeds because he thinks of the phoenix first as a bird, then as a magical creature while everyone else thinks of it the other way round.
    • Cohen and his Silver Horde slaughter the Agatean ninjas because nobody told them that ninjas were invincible. They have a history of doing stuff like this. As Barbarian Heroes, they regularly do impossible things, kill impossible things, survive impossible things, and, in general, are impossible. There is a reason they have all lived to be very, very, very old and still haven't retired. In fact, that last one counts as the biggest impossibility they regularly pull off: even after they died, they didn't think they were dead and went on like it didn't happen.
    • In Sourcery, the Genie uses this to travel through the sky in the lamp while Nijel is also holding it. The trick is not to draw too much attention to it (by thinking or talking about it) so that physics doesn't catch up with its impossibility.
    • In Going Postal, at the end of the initiation trial that the old postmen run for Moist, they sic several massive dogs upon him, whom he recognizes from their bark as Lipwigzer dogs—which his grandfather raised. He handles the challenge with perfect confidence by using the commands that all purebred Lipwigzers are trained... only to learn afterward that they were not Lipwigzers at all, but Ankh-Morpork junkyard dogs, with no Lipwig training whatsoever. Since he thought he was safe, they couldn't smell fear on him.
    • Raising Steam has the steam train "Iron Girder" essentially fly across a rickety bridge, supported only by mist and fog, because Moist convinces Simnel that it can (which turns out to be a subversion, because Moist has secretly made a temporary living ... or whatever ... bridge out of the Ankh-Morpork golems that the mist and fog prevent anyone from seeing).
    • The Light Fantastic: Exaggerated with the Druids' method of assembling stone circles: convincing the 50-tonne megaliths that they can fly and then riding them to the construction site before they can remember that they are, in fact, giant hunks of rock.
  • Discussed and invoked in The Dresden Files. While setting up a Batman Gambit, Harry compares himself several times to Wile E. Coyote. When things start exploding in his face, he thinks to himself that Wile E.'s big mistake is looking down. If he kept running, he'd make it to the other side of the canyon. While Harry isn't technically ignorant of the dangers around him, he decides to keep going anyway.
  • In Dykstras War, the titular supergenius develops an entirely new branch of physics, and his basic theorems are only successfully challenged and updated by one person. He had seen some data indicating that under certain conditions, there was no theoretical barrier to accelerating to faster-than-light speeds, but Dykstra dismissed that because that simply made no sense and the laws of physics wouldn't allow for it, and the discovery was left to an autistic savant who didn't filter his data like that. It turns out that FTL is indeed possible.
  • In Earth's Children novel The Clan of the Cave Bear, the narration states almost verbatim that Ayla could only come up with her two-stone trick because no one told her it was impossible to rapid-fire two stones from a sling.
  • The entire premise behind the victory over the Buggers in Ender's Game. Ender was lead to believe that the entire war he fought was just a simulation meant to train him for the actual war. This was done to push him past the Moral Event Horizon and force him to use tactics that would otherwise be unthinkable against a real opponent: total xenocide. Once it's revealed what he did, he broke down into hysteria, stating he never would have done it if he knew it was real.
  • Everfound gives us an odd variation combined with Reality Warper. The ruler of the City of Souls is sometimes known as "The Unremembering King" due to his ability to "unremember things". How this works is if the king says he does not remember something, then it ceases to exist. For example, he doesn't remember that Afterlights with red hair aren't parrots, so they sprout red parrot wings. He doesn't remember not being a powerful Mayan king, so he becomes one. As he fell toward the center of the earth, he tried to save himself by not remembering there ever being a direction such as "down"—so he was teleported instantly to the only place where there is, in effect, no "down"—the center of the earth.
  • Played with in the third book of Ewilans Quest, to explain how Matthieu/Akiro could teleport somewhere he had never been, which no one seems to have achieved before and was thus believed to be impossible.
  • Humans in the Expeditionary Force series are at the very bottom of the technological totem pole and are absolutely helpless against the full might of the hostile species inhabiting the galaxy. Despite that, there are two reasons why they still have a distinct advantage over everyone else: 1.) All technology in the galaxy is based on how each species think reversed-engineered Precursor technology is supposed to work while the main character has befriended a Precursor A.I. who is the only one in the galaxy who knows how Precursor technology is actually supposed to work and 2.) Human scientific and technological knowledge is so laughably ignorant in the grand scheme of things that the main character keeps pointing out workable solutions and coming up with plans that succeed because he doesn't have the knowledge to "know" that such feats were supposed to be impossible. The flabbergasted and begrudging A.I. even comments that this trope must be humanity's hat.
  • In the book Fallen Angels, the main character Perry is charged with setting up claymores to provide suppressing fire in a sneak attack on some Vietcong soldiers. Just before the firefight begins, another character sees a Vietnamese soldier sneak out and turn one of the claymores around, but the gunfire starts before he can do anything about it. However, once the fight ends, they realize that none of the claymores fired in their direction. In other words, Perry had set up that particular claymore backward, and the enemy had turned it around again. Especially impressive, given that claymores are labelled This Side Forward.
  • In Glory Road Oscar Gordon, knowing nothing of hypergeometry, somehow manages to feed Igli to himself, thereby killing the unkillable construct.
  • The Blieder Drive of Eric Frank Russell's The Great Explosion was invented in this manner. Blieder was trying to invent a magic trick, but he had no idea what he was doing and ended up launching a penny through the roof of his house at what later turned out to be many times the speed of light.
  • In The Great Train Robbery, the last part of Edward Pierce's plan to get to the gold requires him to climb along the top of a speeding train, and the revelation that he successfully did so causes an uproar in the courtroom. Although he spouts some poorly understood science about a slipstream preventing him from falling off, actual experts dismiss this as nonsense and decide that the only way he got away with it is because he had no idea it should have killed him.
  • In Good Omens, this seems to basically be Newton Pulsifer's superpower. Once, he tried to create a little useless circuit because it was advertised that "If turning the ON switch does nothing, it's working". When Newt turns on the circuit, he's inadvertenly built a radio that picks up Radio Moscow.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Used seriously with the Valdemarans, who not only are able to come up with magical solutions no one has tried before because they aren't familiar with the cultures and traditions surrounding magic, but are also able to analyze it according to logical rules because no one has told them that magic doesn't follow rules, leading to one of the Hawkbrothers' bewildered muttering "But magic doesn't work that way!"
    • Said Hawkbrother eventually buckles in and starts learning Magic A Is Magic A, though he struggles with it. Going from perceiving himself as a master artist with magic to a bridgebuilder with math and calculations isn't easy for him.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy:
    • The key to flying is "throwing yourself at the ground and missing": being interrupted mid-fall and forgetting to hit and then—and this is vital—not thinking very hard about how you should be falling. Otherwise gravity will glance sharply in your direction and demand to know what the hell you think you're doing.
    • This was the method behind the invention of the Infinite Improbability Drive. By way of explanation, the theory behind finite improbability generators was well-understood by that point and largely consisted of ensuring that probability was twisted just right to ensure an otherwise improbable result. For example, ensuring that, at parties, every particle in the hostess' undergarments simultaneously quantum-leaped two feet to the left. The INFINITE Improbability Drive was considered something of a Holy Grail for scientists but after centuries of trying they gave up and declared that it was next to impossible to create one. An underclassman, cleaning up after one of those previously-mentioned parties, realized that if it was ALMOST impossible, there must be some real possibility of it, and decided to find out what would happen if he worked out how improbable such a drive was, fed the result into a finite improbability generator, gave it a really hot cup of tea, and turned it on. Moments later, a fully-functional Infinite Improbability Drive was created. Not long after that, the underclassman was lynched by the now-thoroughly-annoyed scientists.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The Graysons had to work out on their own how to use most Manticoran technology. They ended up making some revolutionary discoveries from this since part of the process included doing things no one already knowledgeable about the technology would have thought to try.
    • Honor herself remarks in The Honor of the Queen that the world's greatest swordsman doesn't fear the second greatest, but rather the worst swordsman because he has no idea what the idiot will do.
    • Graysons also are the known galaxy's experts in nuclear fission power. While everyone else had switched to fusion for safety and environmental reasons, Grayson had a very low-tech base and a lot of heavy metals, including radioactives. After several centuries, this resulted in safe, reliable, cheap, and powerful fission power plants, so effective that the Manticoran navy adopted them for their small combat ships/"fighters".
  • Foxface's death in The Hunger Games occurs thanks to this. One of the more clever tributes, she survives the Games by stealth and caution, stealing food from the other tributes in small amounts that they're not likely to notice. This backfires on her when she steals berries collected by Peeta, who isn't wilderness-savvy enough to realize that they're extremely poisonous. Katniss notes after the fact that a deliberate trap would have never worked, but Foxface had no reason to think twice about eating something that another tribute had collected for his own consumption.
  • In the Nick Polotta book Illegal Aliens, humans are told of a (non-existent) material on their ships called "deflector plating" that is immune to all weapon fire. While the aliens are busy snickering behind their hands at the gullible humans, we go and invent deflector plating.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, there exists a little girl named Elva with perfect precognitive abilitiesnote  and the power to know exactly the right words to completely destroy someone, or to build them back up, without using magic at all. Multiple characters comment that she could probably defeat the main antagonist single-handedly. Sure enough, when they get to him, he uses magic to prevent her from speaking, and then admits to being more frightened of her than any other living being. How did she come into existence? Because of Eragon's bad grammar. He was trying to bless her as a baby, and intended to say '...And may you be shielded from misfortune', but used the wrong tense of 'shield' and instead cast a spell with the wording 'may you be a shield from misfortune'. This gave her the ability to predict misfortune, and how to prevent or - once Eragon removed her compulsion to do the latter - cause it.
  • Joe's World gives us Wolfgang Laebmauntsforscynneweëld and his twin powers of lunacy and amnesia. He's, for instance, crazy enough to cover several weeks' walk by foot in mere days.
  • At the end of Quarterdeck, Kydd earns his place in high society by inviting Thérèse Bernardine-Mongenet to a banquet hosted by Prince Edward. What Kydd doesn't (and the rest of Canada does) know is that his lady is the Prince's mistress, who isn't allowed to be with him at occasions such as the banquet.
  • In The Licanius Trilogy, Davian's initial journey is full of unbelievably lucky coincidences. That's because he managed to the full suite of his Augur powers without knowing that they even exist.
  • In one of the Myst novelizations, The Book of Atrus, Katherine has been secretly learning how to write Ages, and when she shows one of her books to Atrus, he patronizes her by saying something like "Good idea, but it couldn't work in practice." She just tells him to flip to the last page, where a link exists to a fully stable, torus-shaped world with one side always facing the sun and viable life on both sides. Not only does this impress Atrus' socks off, but it fully drives home the fallacy of Gehn's way of thinking: In an infinite universe, anything that can exist, must exist somewhere.
  • Hugh Hoyland, the protagonist of Robert A. Heinlein's Orphans Of The Sky, on learning his people's world is actually a spaceship, decides to teach himself how to pilot the ship. According to all common sense of astrogation, no single person can learn the necessary skills to fly a ship by himself, especially one of the size Hoyland was on. However, because all knowledge of this common sense was never printed in text, he never realized this and thus taught himself all the skills. This was repeated later in the novel when Hoyland, not realizing the difficulty of managing a landing and the sheer danger his life is in, successfully lands his craft on a planet.
  • Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (originally part of The Little White Bird) is somewhere between this and Clap Your Hands If You Believe. As you should know, babies used to be birds. Peter Pan, at one week old, flies away from his home because he doesn't yet realize that little boys can't fly. Upon reaching Kensington Gardens he first begins to doubt whether he will be able to fly again, at which point he loses the ability. He does later get it back with the help of the fairies, though.
  • In Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo is told, in the end, that The Quest he accomplished was, in fact, impossible. This is, in fact, the Aesop of The Phantom Tollbooth: anything is possible, provided you don't know it's impossible.
  • In Riddle of the Seven Realms, the protagonists fly suspended beneath a balloon made out of lead. Astron, a demon to whom the human world's physics is new and fascinating, had simply improvised a substitute when the conveyance's original balloon was punctured by arrows, unaware that a "lead balloon" was considered preposterous by humans.
  • In Rogue Sorcerer, Aiden manages to kill six master Sorcerers as well as unintentionally put a death curse on every other Sorcerer in existence in a gambit which he had been certain would end in his failure and death.
  • In The Saint short story "The Newdick Helicopter", a Con Man sells a mark plans for a "helicopter" (actually a gyrocopter). When the mark assembles the helicopter, he discovers it cannot take off vertically as he expected it to. Assuming he had put it together wrong, he starts tinkering with it and ends up inventing a fully-functioning helicopter. (Note that this story was published in 1933, several years before the first fully-functioning helicopter was built.)
  • In David Weber and Steven White's Starfire series, the war with the Bugs results in this happening when the newest members of the Grand Alliance, just getting introduced to the more advanced tech now available to them, innocently ask why the man-portable kinetic weapons that fire projectiles at 10% light speed, carried by infantry and ground vehicles for a century and a half, haven't been adapted to allow for bombardment from orbit, giving the equivalent of tactical nuclear strikes without the radiation and fallout. Alliance military researchers promptly smack themselves on the forehead and begin producing the weapon system from off-the-shelf equipment.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Q Continuum trilogy, the evil omnipotent being is more powerful than Q because he's insane and can ignore/doesn't know the limits of omnipotence. It does help that he (it?) is also from a universe/dimension/existence that even the Q have no idea exists.
  • Pretty much everything Richard does with his magic in The Sword of Truth. He routinely pulls off stunts that much older, learned, and experienced wizards and sorceresses believe are impossible. And in fact, Richard himself struggles with even the most basic of magic when he actively thinks about using his power. It turns out that Richard is a particular type of wizard called a War Wizard, who utilize their power purely on instinct and intuition rather than formal study. That's right, it's an entire school of wizardry that runs on this trope.
  • "A Tall Tail" by Charles Stross tells the story of how American intelligence officials and engineers dreamed up the most ridiculously dangerous and impossible rocket system imaginablenote  and fed it to foreign agents (minus the "top secret component" that wasn't carefully leaked) in the hopes they'd actually try and build it, resulting in disastrous accidents that would affect their rocket/missile programs. The Soviets make it work... Briefly.
  • The Tamuli has a god do this: the explanation given for why the trollish method of invisibility (involving hacking up time into smaller fragments) allows you to see and hear doesn't make sense. This is realized (or noted, for people who had already heard it before) by most people discussing it, but the troll god responsible doesn't, so it still works.
  • In Uprooted, Agnieszka's accomplishments pretty much run on this. She uses a healing spell that her teacher has written off as useless, goes for whatever incantation and rhythm feels right rather than the carefully studied formulae that he follows, and rescues her best friend from the malevolent Wood because she didn't know completely what it would entail. Her active suggestions also rely on this, like using an incredibly dangerous text to cleanse her friend of The Corruption. (That said, she does also practice and study, just from books written by other intuitive mages like her.) Her teacher eventually gives up shouting How Unscientific! at her.
  • Lightsong from Warbreaker is the grand master of an extremely complicated game he doesn't actually know the rules of. At one point someone remarks on how innovative his tactics are and how they would never have thought to use that ball for that throw; Lightsong does not mention that he picked it because it was the same color as his drink and threw it onto the field completely at random.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Nynaeve instinctively reinvents a form of Healing that uses all Powers instead of just Air, Water, and Spirit. The Aes Sedai of the Third Age are all adamant that this is dangerous and are shocked it even works, never mind that it actually works better. This is a running theme in regards to the Aes Sedai, that much of what they can and can't do is limited largely by tradition. That and a massive lack of initiative and imagination. The veil of general secrecy inherent within the White Tower is to blame for much of what was lost, with certain Aes Sedai not finding students they could trust to pass their skills onto and consequently taking their knowledge with them.
    • In tel'aran'rhiod, Perrin blocks a beam of the supposedly irresistible force of balefire with the palm of his hand as if it were nothing, leaving Egwene aghast, telling him what he's just done should be impossible. Perrin, who didn't even know what balefire was a moment before, merely shrugs. It's likely that if she'd tried to do the same thing, it would have been impossible because Your Mind Makes It Real and she's used to dealing with balefire in the waking world where it really is impossible to withstand. In Dream Land, though, it's no different than anything else and can be made or unmade on a whim... as long as you believe it can.
  • Xanth makes this an actual magical power. Princess Ida's power of "idea" makes any idea suggested to her come true if it's thought up by someone who's not aware that this is her power. Several plot points are solved by Ida or someone else who knows how her power works purposefully leading an unwitting third party into coming up with a possible solution, which Ida's power can then make real. Ida herself did not know about her talent for quite some time, with the result that every idea she had coming true until she learned the nature of her power. Even the fact that Ida is a long-lost princess (and an identical twin to the previously-established Princess Ivy) was suggested by someone who simply thought that it was the sort of thing that usually happens in these stories, thus possibly making the whole thing something that her powers retconned into being.
    • In Ogre Ogre, Smash Ogre gains genius-level intelligencenote  from holding an Eye Queue vine. We learn later that the vine's effects are normally both temporary and illusory (a person thinks they're smart). Smash's intelligence lasts until he's told this, where he lapses back into ogreish stupidity. He then realizes that the vine let him subconsciously tap into his human side (Smash is half-human, via his mother). Once he realizes this, not only can he call on said intelligence at will, he can transform fully human.note 
  • This is the explanation given for why younger wizards in Diane Duane's Young Wizards series have more power than older, more experienced wizards — they don't know or necessarily care about what qualifies as 'impossible'. Lack of experience also makes them less predictable, and empowering wizards is part of a very long metagame. (Younger wizards are given access to more power with less oversight because they're likely to do more surprising things with it and enough of those surprises benefit reality to be worth the gamble. This is not all good — from the flip perspective younger wizards lack the experience to do all the necessary day-to-day maintenance work of wizardry and thus are typically empowered to make far worse mistakes and attract greater hostile attention — which not infrequently results in their deaths.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in Arrested Development when Rita walks across a pool after suggesting that Michael visit her in England by walking across the ocean, "if it's not too deep". As it turns out, it's one of Gob's magic tricks illusions.
  • Blackadder:
    • In the episode of Blackadder II themed around Elizabethan-era exploration, Blackadder launches an exploration mission to improve his standing in court. His actual plan is just to channel-hop to France, relax for a while, and come back with made-up tales of adventure. The captain he hires, however, is almost completely insane and no-one else on board knows how to navigate or operate a ship. As revealed at the end of the episode, they somehow made it to Australia and back within two years.
    • At the end of the final episode of Blackadder the Third, Prince George announces he's alive because the bullet hit the cigarillo box in his pocket. As soon as he realizes the cigarillo box is in his other jacket, he dies.
  • In one episode of Corner Gas, Oscar offers to help destroy a barn and says he's more than qualified for the job. Cue a montage of him accidentally destroying various things, with the last thing being a bowl of salad, which spontaneously explodes in his face for absolutely no reason.
    Hank: How do you blow up a salad?
    Oscar: Happens more than you think!
  • In one episode of Dara O Briain's Go 8 Bit, all four contestants were playing Pac-Man, with the rules being that the one to survive the longest won. Sam Pamphilon, one of the series regulars known as a "Gaming Muggle", was the one who managed to survive the longest, despite believing himself to have already run out of lives.
  • Eureka:
    • Basically the premise of the series. In a town full of the world's top geniuses, the average-intelligence-having sheriff often saves the day by not knowing enough about science.
    • Which is sometimes invoked after a while, especially by Sheriff Carter's friend Henry Deacon, since he has seen how many Eureka Moments have come from it. Henry is one of the few that doesn't immediately dismiss Carter's intelligence and treats his "dumb" questions more as teaching moments.
  • Gilligan's Island: Gilligan once flew by attaching a pair of artificial wings to his arms and flapping them until the Skipper told him it was impossible.
  • The Goodies: In "The Lost Tribe", Graeme builds a canvas television that works perfectly. Then he is told that a canvas television is a scientific impossibility so he throws it away.
  • A gag in The Good Place reveals that every religion and theologian's idea of the afterlife was pretty inaccurate, with most of them getting only about 5-10% right - except for an Erudite Stoner named Doug Forcett from Calgary, who got really high in the '70s and started rambling about life after death. Somehow, by pure chance, he got over 90% of it right. He's something of a revered figure in the afterlife as a result.
  • Married... with Children: Kelly will do this on occasion. One episode had Bud distracting her by giving her a Where's Waldo? book. She runs all over town trying to find Waldo and, at the end of the episode, he's sitting next to Kelly at the dinner table.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has the Upper-Class Twit of the Year Show, in which Oliver Sinjin-Mollusk (whose father was a cabinet minister and his mother won the derby) manages to not run over the old woman, but instead runs over himself with a car.
  • Discussed in an episode of My Favorite Martian, when Uncle Martin explains to Tim why he's so concerned about their landlady's new private detective hobby:
    Uncle Martin: An amateur is infinitely more dangerous than a professional. If Alexander Graham Bell had been a professional electrician, he would never have invented the telephone — he would have known it was impossible!
  • NewsRadio: A Flowers for Algernon Syndrome episode features Matthew, a very stupid person, drinking what he thinks is an intelligence-boosting formula and, because he is so stupid and gullible, he believes it works and therefore it actually does. Until he became smart enough to realize it was only a placebo and immediately reverted back to his old stupid self.
  • In an episode of Power Rangers Zeo, Bulk and Skull are able to defeat a group of Cogs, foot soldier robots of King Mondo. The Cogs usually analyze fighting style and predict movement but because Bulk and Skull are not trained in combat, their "style" is erratic, so the Cogs cannot defeat them.
  • Quantum Leap. Children under five can see Al and the real Sam. So can animals. This was probably a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, since a director couldn't tell small children or animals to pretend that Dean Stockwell wasn't there.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Rimmer is advised to invoke this trope in the episode "Cassandra", being told that if he doesn't know enough to know that he doesn't know enough, there's no fear holding him back.
      Kochanski: He's got the power of ignorance.
      Kryten: And with the ignorance he's got, that makes him one of the most powerful men who ever lived!
    • At the beginning of that season, Rimmer mentioned that anyone who couldn't fix the drive plate had to have a brain the size of a newt's testicle. Apparently, it's really, really hard to botch the job.
  • On Scrubs, the Todd once revived a flatlined patient... with a high-five.
    Dr. Cox: Great moment, there, dumbass. It starts out with a profound misunderstanding of how the human body works, and winds up with you shattering some old man's hand.
  • In the Smart Guy episode "TJ Versus the Machine", TJ beats the unbeatable chess computer Socrates by taking a lead from Marcus. Marcus doesn't have a clue what he's doing, and TJ realizes that a computer designed to compete against expert players won't be able to formulate a strategy against random, unpredictable play.
  • Stargate Atlantis has the Rookie Red Ranger John Sheppard, who's only just begun to learn about the Stargate and the Lost City. In the first episode, he happens to sit in a chair...and turns out to have the genetic mix from the Ancients necessary to operate the technology. He had pretty much no clue what was going on.
  • In the Stick Stickly TV special Stuck, Stick becomes a natural at ice-skating completely by accident when he slips and tries to right himself.
  • In the sketch "Poker Face" by Studio C, Matt somehow got to the final four of a poker tournament despite having no clue how to play the game. Or what "call" even means.
  • Played with in the Supergirl (2015) episode "Far From the Tree". Supergirl pretends this. She claimed she took a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque, accidentally ending up on Mars.
  • Sweet Genius:
    • Some winners have been primarily self-taught and have won largely because they didn't cook by the same rules the trained professionals did, resulting in unusually creative desserts.
    • One chef in the infamous bone marrow challenge decorated her plate with the bone the marrow came in, not realizing Chef Ron has a thing about inedible decorations. However, the way she used it was creative enough to actually earn his praise, and she won the episode.
  • WandaVision: The Hex only comes into existence because of Wanda's emotional outburst right outside her would-be home in Westview. When Agatha Harkness questions how she managed to create something so big and intricate without any training, Wanda flat-out admits that she doesn't know how she did it.

See the Real Life section for out-of-universe examples.
  • This is the topic of the Collin Raye song "What They Don't Know", where the narrator sees boys fishing in a tiny puddle and decides not to tell them they're not going to catch anything.
  • This is apparently part of the premise of Blue Man Group's act: the eponymous Blue Men have re-created alt-rock and contemporary pop music by tapping PVC pipes and beating up pianos without realizing they shouldn't be able to create those sounds without synthesizers and digital studio equipment.
  • Kids Praise: This happened in-universe in one of the albums: Psalty tried to invent a machine that stretches time, and instead invented a machine that travels through time... and did this by accident!
  • Lee Murdock wrote the song "Just Five Minutes" about a man who fell overboard from a vessel on the Great Lakes and successfully swam to shore; he commented in the liner notes that the guy was young and didn't know that you can only survive five minutes in the ice-cold waters of the lakes.

  • This happens a lot as a result of the McElroy Brothers (and their dad, Clint) having a tenuous grasp on the rules of Dungeons & Dragons in The Adventure Zone: Balance. Merle consistently casts spells above his spell slots because his player, Clint, has no idea how they work. Zone of Truth, instead of forcing the target to not lie, instead inexplicably causes people to spout their secrets. Taako uses Phantom Steed, a spell that summons a ghostly horse, to summon a bicorn named Garyl. Most egregious is the moment dubbed "Arms Outstretched", from the arc The Suffering Game: Magnus has his soul knocked out of his body, and Taako, in an effort to save him, uses Blink to travel to the Ethereal Plane, where Magnus' soul is. Merle then casts Planar Ally to summon a being from a different plane - namely, Taako and Magnus' soul. Needless to say, that's not how any of those spells work, but Griffin allows it because of Rule of Cool. It's acknowledged by Griffin in The The Adventure Zone Zone, who states that they're basically playing Calvinball with the standard D&D rules. At live shows, he insists that the audience not call him and his family out on not knowing the rules.
  • After Welcome to Night Vale's former mayor Pamela Winchell retires, she takes up several hobbies which go horribly wrong. Her attempt at birdwatching somehow causes massive fires, tropical fishing results in a flash flood, and her coin collecting crashes the economy, just to name a few. Even Cecil and the other locals find all this both astonishing and alarming.

  • In a story from "X Minus One" entitled "Project Trojan" a British intelligence agency enlists the help of a science fiction writer to come up with plans for a fictional "Death Ray" that they will feed to Nazi Germany in order to pull top-level German scientists to try to finish the Ray before the British do. Unfortunately even though the Ray was considered impossible to build, the Germans managed to complete it anyway, resulting in an entire mountain being blown apart. This was the writer's plan the whole time. The Ray was impossible because it would always eventually backfire, and when it did, it took out the entire German base, along with dozens of their top scientists, making this more of a subversion of this trope.

  • A roleplaying website had an event that featured an organization based around a large number of superhumans. Two of them explicitly manifested this as a superpower; the second one became an Omnidisciplinary Scientist who could play around and break virtually any field of science over her knee because she believed she was a supergenius without peer who could just figure things out no one else could. The first one, on the other hand, was a butler to the group's ruling council, because in trying to figure out what his powers were and how they worked, they made his powers stop working.
  • The title character's player in The Ballad of Edgardo arguably deserves Pantheon status for this trope. When the story's narrator is building his character, he instinctively picks the coolest-sounding options without consulting anyone else for advice, and only learns too late from the other players that the abilities he's chosen are considered by the other players to be pathetically underpowered and strategically useless. He'd made an unarmed brawler, but fists do zero damage against any kind of armor. He'd set up his stats to give himself a Spirit Cap of five (not terrible, but not great either), then picked the Perk "Overflowing Spirit" to remove the cap, not realizing it also locked him out of using elemental attacks, which would at least let his fists do some damage. He was stuck using the Non-Elemental "Raw Spirit", which does far less damage, but cannot be resisted by anything. Those same players learn too late that Edgardo's supposedly useless stat build, thanks to brilliant exploitation of a limited field effect, is actually the most overpowered Game-Breaker in the entire setting. The city of Haven is home to the Spirit Well. While in Haven, your Spirit automatically and instantly recharges "up to the cap." With no cap, Edgardo has literally infinite Spirit to spend on every action, and thus can use Raw Spirit to deal infinite irresistible damage with every punch.
  • Dino Attack RPG plays this for laughs constantly with Enter and Return. Where to begin, they firmly believe that sharks, trees, and umbrellas are appropriate equipment for surgery, successfully used a shark to revive a patient after conventional CPR and a defibrillator already failed, and in one instance after being sent on a Snipe Hunt, they managed to leave a hospital, buy a fishing pole, go to the harbor, catch a shark and get back in roughly 30 seconds.
  • Happens in the Firefly game of Cool Kids Table. Thanks to Josh's great piloting roll, his character Mickey is able to dock a shuttle while passed out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin: This is exaggerated with the ibathenes, which have the ability to keep fighting for a number of rounds after they're killed because they're genuinely too stupid to realize that they're supposed to be dead.
  • Don't Rest Your Head: It's implied that not only do the normal people ignore anything related to Mad City (for example, when they stole an entire district, they thought it was destroyed in a fire), they can literally No-Sell anything the Nightmares do. Most of the time.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Shadow Conjuration spells summon things that function as real if the defender fails to disbelieve in them. Normally, they are used offensively, but when used defensively, the recipient has to choose to ignore knowing that he knows it's not real in order for it to be real enough to give him or her the full benefit.
    • With the right Prestige Class combination, disbelieving makes it more than 100% real.
    • Psionics in 3.X had a rather bizarre meta example based on how people played them. Since Psionic Characters used a pool of points rather than Vancian Spell Slots, their powers were enhanced by pumping a power with more points, either by raising the parameters in the power (Eg: 1 point per 1d6 extra damage with Energy Ray) or by powering their metamagics. A common phenomenon in the game was known as "Going Nova" where a Psionic character would hoard their power points until the big boss and then pump them all into a single power to deal absurd amounts of damage and end the fight quickly. This gave rise to a false reputation of Psionic Classes being overpowered and many people issued house rules to "Cap" their power... except there was already a Balancing Factor to this built into the game: Psionic characters could not spend more points on a power than their current manifester level. In other words, it was mistakenly labeled as overpowered because players didn't read the rules carefully enough. This phenomenon was so widespread that a popular house rule was implementing the limits that they already had. In fact, when Dreamscarred Press released their Psionics Books, they made sure to label this limit "The Golden Rule of Psionics" and repeat in several times throughout the book just to make sure people actually read it this time.
  • Genius: The Transgression:
    • The premise is implied to be this. Since the Inspired put the "mad" in "Mad Scientist", they have a tendency to veer into Insane Troll Logic. They're still able to make inventions using that logic, however, often achieving impossible feats.
    • Indeed, one of the defining conflicts of the game is between "normal" Geniuses (who know it isn't possible and do it anyway) and Unmada: Geniuses who truly believe science works according to their paradigm. Around an Unmada, it does...
  • Zig-zagged in cosmic religious horror game KULT. It has a similar feature to Don't Rest Your Head. Briefly, Humans Are Cthulhu and the cosmic horror angels broke their arm punching us. These angelic horrors pale before humanity's real power. However, individually, humans are usually torn apart in places these beings come from. These otherworldly, nightmarish parallel dimensions are just about the last place you want to go. Individual player characters who are in a positive mental state are shielded by our own ignorance — but also trapped in a false reality that imprisons us. To see the real reality — the one so lethal to player characters but where humanity can become nigh-omnipotent again, they have to shed their ignorance. One way is to be a saint. The other way — the easier way — is to be so thoroughly traumatized the illusion crashes down about you in an fit of madness. So safety - being able to almost No-Sell the cosmic horror — is an achievement in ignorance, but as a player character, you are all but guaranteed to have that veil of ignorance torn away to confront beings that are terrified of our nascent godhood but basically godlike compared to most of us.
  • Pathfinder: Cayden Cailean managed to ascend to godhood by attempting the Test of the Starstone on a bet... while completely blackout drunk during a three-day bender. Even he has no idea how he pulled it off.
  • Toon:
    • Steve Jackson Games' role-playing system, which takes place in a cartoon universe, gives appropriately cartoony reasons for being able to do this sort of thing. If a character wants to walk off a cliff and on thin air or breathe underwater or whatever, he can roll to intentionally try to fail an intelligence roll. If he fails, it's considered that he's too dumb to realize it's impossible. This is a reference to all the times cartoon characters do just that. It's actually considered a law of Toon Physics that gravity does not affect a character until they realize it's supposed to. This is demonstrated in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures.
    • The "Star Toon" setting in the Tooniversal Tour Guide sourcebook features the Bozonians, an alien race so monumentally stupid they can build outlandish architectural wonders and incredible scientific devices because they're too dumb to realize the things they build should be impossible. Visitors to their home planet of Bozok are strictly forbidden because all it would take is one smart-ass telling the locals "That's impossible!" to bring down a civilization.
  • Warhammer: Daddallo was inspired to create the wingsuits used by the Birdmen of Catrazza when he discovered a set of documents and schematics on the subject written by Leonardo da Miragliano. These later turned out to be forgeries, but Daddallo built working wings anyway.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • This is how a lot of humanity's technology operates in the dark days of the 41st millennium. After thousands of years of scientific regression, the Adeptus Mechanicus not only has a monopoly on mankind's Lost Technology, they worship it and wrap all but the simplest of mechanical tasks into a religious ritual. So activating an ancient plasma reactor or whatnot involves a great deal of chanting, incense, the application of sanctified engine oil, and some specific taps with a wrench that just so happen to hit the "on" switch. Depending on the Writer this is all a scheme to keep the common people from learning how to maintain their own devices, while other sources have the AdMech genuinely clueless of the scientific principles behind their shiny toys. In yet others, much of it is real, the Machine Spirits the worship is meant to appease exist, and advanced Tech Priests are essentially wizards.
    • The Orks are an even more pronounced example. Greenskins don't have scientists that we'd recognize, but "Meks" and "Doks" with mechanical and medical knowledge hard-wired into their DNA. They can put together an engine block or perform an organ transplant purely on instinct, but wouldn't be able to explain how they did it. For the Orks' weirder, physics-defying inventions, the devices function to some extent because the Orks expect them to — Orks are latent psykers, but aren't conscious of this fact. This is why captured Greenskin technology is so temperamental or nonfunctional when used by a non-Ork, and why when it comes to Orky vehicles, the Red Ones Go Faster.
    • An even more extreme example are the Jokaero. Similar to the Orks, these orangutan-like aliens are capable of creating technology on an instinctual level. Unlike the Greenskins, though, these aren't piles of junk randomly slapped together and brought to life through sheer willpower. The Jokaero can make some of the most advanced, highly miniaturized technology in the galaxy, utilizing advanced techniques and seemingly natural phenomena that the best minds in the Imperium can't wrap their heads around, which they can do with pretty much any bits of junk that happen to lie around. A Jokaero can sit on a pile of technological scrap and assemble a spacecraft that is more advanced than almost anything any other race can put together. Another difference from the Orks is that anyone can use Jokaero tech. In spite of this, there is great debate if Jokaero are sentient, as they don't appear to have any discernible language or culture, with everything they do motivated only by their will to survive. The evident lack of sentience, their innate technological prowess and the non-exclusivity of their tech means that the Imperium is willing to make them an exception to their policy regarding Xenos, and Jokaero technology is highly sought after by both Rogue Traders and Inquisitors. That said, their creative process appears to be entirely random. Handing a Jokaero a bolt pistol could result in it having enough firepower to vaporize a tank in one shot, or an otherwise normal bolt pistol with some high-tech but ultimately useless flourish, with no way to discern which you are going to get.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Mage: The Ascension: This is a very real thing at a collective level — because reality is strongly defined by what people think it is, a sufficient portion of humanity not knowing or believing that something is impossible or has certain consequences can very much alter reality to make this belief correct.
      • The ignorant and blind Sleepers — that is, all of non-mage humanity — constantly keep the terrible demons, gods, monsters, etc at bay, and away from our tasty souls, day in and day out. This is done through the amazing, awe-inspiring power... of disbelieving and desperately ignoring that these things could possibly exist.
      • Clever mages can get around disbelief by convincing sleepers that there is a logical explanation and it's not magic they're seeing. A true mage posing as a stage magician could get away with separating their lovely assistant in half for real so long as the audience stays convinced that there's a hidden trick for them to try guessing, or giving scientific-sounding technobabble for an impossible device.
      • It works even better to play on the staggering ignorance of the general population. Things that should only work in action movies are a great way to disguise magic that static reality would otherwise reject, mainly because most people aren't bright enough to know it isn't possible. A can of hairspray and a lighter is enough to make basic fire effects coincidental, even if the resultant stream of fire outclasses any actual flamethrower in power. It's suggested that the unrealistic aspects of popular fiction are deliberate attempts to subvert the dominant paradigm.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade: Creating new vampiric powers is supposed to be something only very old and powerful vampires can manage. However, the weak 14th- and 15th-generation vampires seem to be able to do it with ease. They grew up on stories that said, for example, that vampires could fly; therefore, they managed to find the magic that let them do it, simply because they were too unimportant for elder vampires to explain to them that it was impossible.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Chapter 4 of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Forgetful Jones Monotaro suddenly becomes a whiz with computers... because he forgot that he was bad with computers. Of course, he eventually forgets that he forgot and goes back to being a computer-illiterate dumbass.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Shirou was told that Projection magic was useless, so he stopped pursuing it as his primary magic and simply uses it as a warmup before he tries other types of magic. This is roughly equivalent to performing surgery on someone as a warmup to fixing a radio: painful, dangerous, has little to do with what you're gearing up to do, and something that a non-expert should never do. And no one is an expert in Projection because it's seen as incredibly difficult and incredibly useless. However, Shirou doesn't know this, so he basically creates matter from nothing, which is supposed to be an impossible feat even in this universe. At best, most people can only keep their projections around for a few minutes and they're of shoddy quality, but Shirou shows the ability to replicate items that never seem to disappear as well as legendary weapons. And he doesn't even realize this is amazing.
    • To his credit, this isn't entirely an achievement in ignorance so much as it is no one realizing how Shirou's magic actually works or recognizing that he's doing something other than what it looks like. He has internalized a Reality Marble — basically a cheat in otherwise consistent natural law — that specializes in the knowledge and tracing of swords and sword-like weapons, though he can't properly utilize it due to his poor magecraft skills. Archer calls it Unlimited Blade Works. That said, he didn't only practice Projection with swords—because it's more like he's drawing the blade from inside himself, it could be said that his "Projecting" swords is almost a different form of magic entirely.
  • Okabe Rintarou of Steins;Gate somehow managed to turn a microwave into a freaking time-machine by fiddling with it enough in an attempt to get it to operate remotely. Subverted when he eventually realizes this and reacts just as one might expect.

    Web Animation 
  • In Camp Camp, the Flower Scouts spend their A Day in the Limelight episode setting up and running a powerful drug cartel without even realizing it. It all started when their leader told them that the crystal meth she had possession of was "Mexican sugar cane", and it all escalated from there.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • This may explain the title character's use of the "telekinetic powers/invisible arms" that the fans are still debating over. Homestar may not realize that he should be unable to manipulate objects or coat sleeves or stay airborne between two shackles in Trogdor's Dungeon in 8-Bit Is Enough. However, suggesting the same of Marzipan might be pushing it.
    • Quite a few characters have Invisible Anatomy. It could be that the characters grew up with it and so don't think it's unusual (or impossible).
    • According to the Strong Bad Email "4 branches", Strong Bad has classified a whole list of "So Stupid It's Smart-ities" Homestar has accomplished, like accidentally reciting Coulomb's Law when asked, "What's two plus two?"
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: Ridiculously Epic Fail is somehow able to turn Ridiculously Epic's "Evil Mobile", the one that he insists is not an armadillo, into an actual armadillo when he drives it, only because he actually thinks it is an armadillo.
  • In Red vs. Blue, when Church enters Caboose's mind, he finds that everything inside there is based on how Caboose understands the world around him. At one point, he needs to use Tucker's sword — the sword can't be used by anybody but Tucker, but Caboose is too dumb to understand this, so the sword works for Church inside Caboose's mind.
  • RWBY: According to Pyrrha, the friendships she has made in Beacon are this for Jaune. He approached her knowing nothing of her Famed In-Story status and combat prowess, completely sidestepping one of the main reasons of her Lonely at the Top woes. In turn, her interactions with the Butt-Monkey made Pyrrha look more approachable to other people, which helped to partially subvert her Attractiveness Isolation.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Achievement Hunter Minecraft Series: In episode 159, the crew is playing with a mod that adds dinosaurs. Ryan and Geoff are looking at a machine that creates eggs and embryos from DNA, and Ryan's wondering why it doesn't seem to be working. Geoff puts a chicken egg in the machine as a joke, and it turns out that eggs are the "fuel" for the machine.
    • Alfredo has been given the nickname "Mr. Magoo" due to the fact that he has bumbled across the Minecraft server, somehow avoided monsters and death traps that have taken out other Hunters numerous times and discovered places that the others failed to by complete accident. This is how he ends up winning the second "Ya Dead Ya Dead" series.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd has a Commodore 64 computer in his game room and among the games he has played on it include Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures among a few other PC fan games, and an SNES Emulator to play Hong Kong '97.
  • In Code MENT, Lelouche is able to corner Clovis in his G1 base and has absolutely no idea how he managed it (which he tells Clovis when asked).
  • Dashie Games: Towards the end of Dashie's playthrough of Life Is Strange Episode 2: Out Of Time, he gets to the part where Max tries to convince Kate not to commit suicide. The point is, he has no prior knowledge of this. The decisions he chooses is "Things will get better," "It was in silent mode," "I'm gathering proof," "Be strong," "Your mother," and finally, because Dashie knows someone named Matthew and that it was 11:30 at this point, "Matthew 11:28." After all of these decisions due to having no prior knowledge and no walkthrough to guide him as a result, in the end, Dashie ultimately ends up saving Kate. Due to his success in this, Life Is Strange became one of his requested games and it racked up a lot of likes.
  • Double Life SMP: On Day 4, Martyn and Joel end up accidentally killing the "Ranchers' Revenge" Warden with fall damage while playing around with fishing rods.note 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Goku is able to obtain a blueberry muffin during a space voyage because of his deluded belief that there's a button which makes muffins onboard the spaceship (despite being repeatedly told earlier there wasn't one). In the 21st episode, the power of the muffin button allows him to read minds. It's implied later that the Muffin Button may have actually been real, since Goku finds a muffin button on Freeza's ship when Namek is exploding. The Muffin Button in Goku's pod was a leftover bit of technology from when it was one of Freeza's.
    • Dr. Gero apparently has no idea how he put his brain inside his android body which he immediately questions himself when 18 asks this.
      17: Wait a sec, are you an android? Holy shit, you're an android! How did you even do that?
      Gero: I took my brain out and put it inside this body.
      18: How!?
      Gero: I... huh, how did I do that?
  • Game Grumps and Steam Train:
    • When engaging in a Games Grumps Vs. match, Jon often does better going in blind, which frustrates Arin to no end.
    • When the guys played Trine 2 on Steam Train, Ross attempted to solve any and all problems by conjuring boxes, and in so doing actually bypassed several puzzles that would otherwise have required actual problem solving. In response, the developers sent him some swag, including a certificate of excellence in the art of boxing from Amadeus the wizard.
    • On Jon's own channel, JonTron, this happens quite a lot, by way of managing to play games inserting them into the wrong consoles. Or the wrong machines entirely. And playing episodes of Goosebumps by inserting the books into a console. In his Titenic (sic) video he plugs the correct cartridges into the correct console, but then submerges the console in a fish tank before playing it. He also somehow manages to recut a total disaster of an episode into something actually good in post-editing, apparently just by pushing a couple of buttons on his FitBit.
    • For half of the playthrough of Punch-Out!! for the Wii, Danny did not know that he could duck or regain health. Instead, he developed ridiculous timing skills that allowed him to exploit brief moments of vulnerability before his opponents could hit him with moves he thought were unblockable.
    • During their playthrough of Besiege Ross keeps building utterly ludicrous kill machines like a "tank" that literally just drives around spinning a big arm in an attempt to kill enemy soldiers. The soldiers effortlessly overwhelm it, smash the arm off rendering it helpless, and proceed to bust it to shreds... which hurls it into a mine, blows it apart, and ignites all the scattered pieces which in turn kill enough of the soldiers to complete the level. Naturally, Ross is completely blown away by this.
      Ross: Wait, woah! T-they all died! Wait-wait-wait-wait-wait! WAIT!!! That counted?! THAT FUCKING COUNTED?!
      Danny: Congratulations, Ross!
  • On The Guild, it turns out that Kwan is a champion-level competitive gamer in Korea. The guildees probably wouldn't stand a chance against him, but Mr. Wiggly defeats him by using spells an experienced player would never use. Kwan didn't bother defending against them.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, it's impossible to kill Rainbow Dash because she's so stupid she doesn't know how to die.
  • In Vision of Escaflowne Abridged, when Van is first magically transported to earth, he furiously asks where he is and how he got there. Later, he seems perfectly confident in how to get home.
    Van: Now, to return home the way I got here.
    Hitomi: I thought you didn't know how you got here?
    Van: Right, that way.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Achievement By Ignorance, Achievement In Ignorance


Homer Saves the Day

When Homer's sector is experiencing a meltdown, Homer is forced to pick a button at random in order to stop it. He ends up being the luckiest person there is.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / AchievementsInIgnorance

Media sources: