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Apathy Killed the Cat

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"Apathy is death."
Your entire party, Knights of the Old Republic II

Remember that old saying, "Curiosity killed the cat"? It seems that many fictional characters have taken it so close to heart that it may as well be a pacemaker.

Whenever "normals" from the real world end up discovering they're in a Speculative Fiction and/or Supernatural world, they inevitably run afoul of some Applied Phlebotinum, Negative Space Wedgie or magical phenomenon... and show no curiosity as to how it works, why it's there, or any other thing that people would immediately wonder about.


Of course, in some cases, the characters are afraid of messing with something they don't understand. Most of the time though, they don't even ask the simplest questions that anyone would be dying to know; or, you know, might lead to them not screwing up things further. The plot cannot have that, however.

Specific instances of this outside technology also include alien societies in general, ignoring their discoveries in science, philosophy, art, culture in general, even local flora and fauna unless it's the deadly carnivorous plant variety. This often leads to (or results from) a Planet of Hats treatment. Other possibilities include the discovery of an afterlife (Judeo-Christian or not), the existence of souls and ghosts, the discovery of superpowers, and in general discovering a partial or full answer to one of the deep questions humanity currently wrestles with.


Then again, Curiosity Killed the Cast.

Compare Misapplied Phlebotinum and Forgotten Phlebotinum. See also It's Probably Nothing, and Bystander Syndrome. Contrast Achievements in Ignorance, for when this is necessary.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan, (in which humanity lives behind giant walls to keep out the man-eating Titans) is an Ontological Mystery, and has this trope as the default state of the majority of the humans, with the heroes being different for averting it. Granted, there is a massive Government Conspiracy with the dominant religion to limit interest and knowledge about such things, but even so, the sheep-like indifference of most people (Eren repeatedly uses the word "livestock" to describe them) is rather striking, and unsurprisingly there is a lot of it. Some of the main examples;
    • Eren and Armin's open curiosity about the outside world is regarded as anything from eccentric to heretical, and Hange (though admittedly giving people plenty of other reasons to consider her a Mad Scientist,) is marked as unusual simply because she wants to study the Titans rather than automatically kill them on sight.
    • In contrast to this, even after episode 1 conclusively proves that the walls do not keep people safe and existing methods of Titan-fighting are not sustainable in the long-term, hardly anyone wants to find out more about the Titans or make long-term plans. The Survey Corps are marked as being extraordinary (to the audience) and freakish (to most other people) simply because they acknowledge these facts and are willing to go outside the walls and think outside the box to help them come up with better ideas.
    • The fact that the Titans' existence does not make any sense is well-established in-series; creatures of their size and proportions should not be able to move (and as such they are far lighter than a similarly-sized human would be), they can heal from anything except a cut to the nape of the neck (with nobody knowing where they get the mass from), they have no reproductive organs or digestive system (they apparently gain their energy from the sun), they completely ignore other animals even when there are no humans around to eat, and when humans are available they eat until their stomach is full, at which point they simply regurgitate their prey and go on to eat more. We see that these facts are taught in schools as basic education, but nobody except Hange seems interested in rectifying this lack of knowledge, even in the hopes of finding better ways to fight them. Even Eren, despite burning with curiosity about the outside world, seems surprised by the idea of actually trying to learn more about the Titans, though his all-consuming hatred for them is shown to make him irrational.
    • To be fair, this is all justified in that the citizens of the walls are controlled through brainwashing, and anyone who gets smart enough to realise what's going on gets killed by the government. And once the cast learn the Awful Truth about themselves, the people who live in the walls are much less apathetic.
  • Justified in My Lovely Ghost Kana, where Daikichi doesn't ask all that many questions about the afterlife, but it's pretty clear that Kana herself doesn't really have the answers either.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo never seems to question aspects of his origin, powers, and the other worlds and races, which causes a few people, mostly the villains, to mock him for his constantly being Locked Out of the Loop.
    • After their first clash with Yhwach and his elite fail, Ichigo's group prepares to confront them again. Chad tries to gather information on the enemy powers so they can prepare in advance for a better outcome than their previous clash. However, Riruka interrupts him, telling everyone to shut up because wallowing in the past is boring. The conversation comes to a complete halt with no-one, including the reader, any the wiser about the still-mysterious powers of the Quincy Elite.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Gunha Sogiita is completely uninterested in learning how his powers work and how to properly fight, as he thinks barreling his way through is the way a man should fight. It's worked out for him pretty well in most fights, but it directly leads to his defeat against Ollerus, who chooses not to kill him and notes that if he actually bothered to understand how his power works, Gunha would have been the victor. Also, whenever he rushes into a situation, he never stops to ask what is going on and even brushes off people trying to explain the situation to him.
  • Death Note:
    • Averted by Light. The reason he is able to get away with so much crap and drive the whole plot is because he does ask all the questions. He figures out things that even the Shinigami didn't know, despite having centuries to learn. And, unfortunately, uses this knowledge to kill tens to hundreds of thousands of people. He even asked the afterlife question we all thought he was ignoring all along, they just don't show us until he's dying. Unfortunately, he's a lot less pleased with the thought of The Nothing After Death while bleeding out than he was while plotting world domination in his bedroom.
    • The Shinigami, themselves, are more apathetic as Ryuk notes multiple times that Light has found ways to use the Death Note nobody ever thought of before.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Goku learns several techniques like the strength multiplying Kaioken and Instant Transmission. However, he never teaches anybody else these techniques and none of his friends seem interested in learning them, even though they would be pretty useful.
    • Gohan was able to teach his girlfriend Videl how to control her ki and fly, proving it is possible for ordinary humans to do so (then again, people like Krillin and Yamcha were ordinary humans before learning ki control). Yet the heroes never teach anybody else how to do it. Master Roshi can use his ki, but in the original Dragon Ball, he outright said he thought flying was overrated and never tries to learn it. Yajirobe is too lazy to try to learn how to do either. Goku and Vegeta never taught their wives Chi-Chi and Bulma how to do either, but given the women's personalities, they would likely refuse to learn. Mr. Satan briefly expressed interest in learning, but never asks the heroes to teach him.
  • Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]: Unlike in the Fate route, Shirou Emiya never tries to find out about Saber's identity, powers, or motives for seeking the Holy Grail. Eventually, Archer springs this information on him and calls him a fool for not trying to find out.
  • Zig-Zagged in Gantz:
    • Many fighters are so self-absorbed, or so sure that they already have the answers, that they never ask critical survival questions, even internally, and never note anything potentially threatening until it's on top of them, even if they've already seen how lethal it can be.
    • Others, most notably Nishi and Kurono, are very curious about the powers and limitations of the weapons and tools they're given and test them systematically. Unfortunately, when it comes to big questions like "Where does all this futuristic tech come from?", "Why are there aliens and monsters around all of a sudden?", and "Why are we being forced to fight them, and by who?", answers are not very forthcoming.
    • Much later in the manga, intrepid reporter Seiichi Kikuchi tracks down the story with a dogged curiosity, but is only toyed with by those who might be able to answer his questions.
  • Haibane Renmei:
    • Rakka is born (from an egg) into a strange isolated town ruled by creepy, aloof clerics, sprouts wings, is given a halo that mysteriously hovers on her head, has to obey arbitrary rules, such as she can only buy used items, and doesn't question any of it. She does have Laser-Guided Amnesia about her previous existence, so it's quite possible that she has no way of knowing if any of this is weird or not. This isn't so strange considering that the entire setting of Haibane Renmei is a rip-off / homage to the dream world in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, which the protagonist doesn't question much either. She also has no one to ask. The only people who might know something are the Toga and the Communicator, but neither of them really responds to questioning.
    • In addition to all of the Haibane having amnesia about their previous existences, the series spends the first five episodes largely just to introduce the setting and characters. And then it turns out that the older Haibane have their own predicament to worry about and have varying degrees of acceptance of their environment.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Kyon. In less than a week he discovers the existence of aliens, espers, time travelers, and, according to one theory, God and it annoys him so much that he avoids any and all exploration of the ramifications unless forced otherwise by The End of the World as We Know It. Even then, he only does the minimum that he has to. The times he does ask questions, he either gets no answer from Mikuru, an answer that doesn't make sense from Koizumi and Yuki, or an answer that makes sense that has 'unreliable!' written all over it from all of the above. Oh, and the anti SOS Brigade puts all three together. His saving grace is that he is extraordinarily smart to the point that, when he passes the first couple of reveals, his reaction goes from mild surprise and annoyance to "checked, checked, checked". In fact, his ability to cope with the increasingly weird situations is, in Itsuke's opinion, what makes him special.
  • In Heaven's Lost Property, Tomoki does this a lot, because of his desire for peace and quiet. Some of it borders on Too Dumb to Live. When Ikaros tries to explain how her powers work (which is important to him because she grants his wishes), Tomoki cuts her off and says her exposition is boring. Later, when Nymph explains that the person who has been sending hostile Angeloids to try to kill them is someone named the Master of Synapse, Sugata says they need to find out who this guy is and what he wants, but Tomoki gets bored and says, "Who cares?"
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Magic! Flying whales! Demons! See also: vampires, robot girls, immortality, Beastmen, telepathy, time dilation, the entire magical world itself and more. However, don't ask what the hell is going on. You might get turned into an ermine or something. Chisame is the only character to show the slightest interest... by running away from the answer. The other major exception is Haruna; when she finds out about magic, she threatens to torture her three best friends for not telling her sooner.
  • One Piece: Luffy is completely uninterested in hearing anyone's backstory. Whenever people explain their past, he'll either fall asleep or leave.
  • Pokémon:
    • In "The Battle of the Badge", Jessie and James steal Misty's Togepi and present it to Giovanni. Despite Team Rocket focusing on stealing rare Pokemon, Giovanni was completely uninterested in the never before seen Togepi and rejected it, saying he only cared about Pokemon that could fight, not babies. Good thing he didn't investigate it or else he would have learned about Togepi's special powers.
    • In the movie, Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, Ash discovers he has Aura, and this power is crucial to saving the day. However, in later episodes, though characters occasionally reference this movie and Aura, Ash seems completely uninterested in developing his Aura abilities and hardly ever tries to use them, even though they would be pretty useful.
  • Potemayo: Nobody seems to be too interested in the bigger questions about Potemayo and Guchuko- what they are, where they come from, and why they're appearing in people's refrigerators.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena is all about people not asking basic questions about what's actually going on. No matter how fanciful or surreal, after the initial shock, people just accept the nonsense as all a part of the "power to revolutionize the world." Granted, the answers really are near impossible to attract without being told directly (the audience has the benefit of flashback) and most of it was just theatrical shenanigans but even the lead asks a variety of questions in the very beginning and then just gives up trying, establishing the status quo of the episodes. To her credit, Utena realizes this near the very end of the series and tearfully regrets it because that kind of indifferent behavior (towards Anthy, especially) was exactly what she had been criticizing about the other duelists.
  • In To Love Ru, approximately no one (other than Rito, on occasion) seems to care that aliens exist and show up on Earth on a regular basis, or that Lala's father apparently rules the entire galaxy, including Earth, and that he's threatened to destroy it.
  • In the Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba acknowledges that magic exists and that Duel Monsters originated in ancient times, but he's just completely uninterested in it, finding running his company and winning at Duel Monsters to be a higher priority. The 4Kids Entertainment dub changed this to make Kaiba a Flat-Earth Atheist.

    Comic Books 
  • A rule in most comic book universes where the Fantasy Kitchen Sink is prevalent and anyone can be Pals with Jesus. This is particularly bad in DC where much of Vertigo Comics deals with the supernatural. You'd think that there'd be at least some intersection between characters who know about the afterlife and characters willing to say "I have positive proof that Christianity is false, because the afterlife you get is based on what you believe".
    • Problem is, as soon as you bring up the issue of whether any or all religions (especially the Judeo-Christian ones) are false, you run a real risk of losing sales.
    • It's canon in DC comics that the afterlife is pretty much whatever the heck you think it is. That is, until hell comes to Earth and starts eating people, which happens about twice a year.
    • The Sandman's Death (who has become DC's official Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, give or take a few badly attempted retcons) has mentioned in some sources that she has no idea where people go after she takes them.
    • Which has been badly contradicted by numerous accounts, including The Sandman itself, which explicitly states that you go to Hell only if you want to, and that there are numerous other places to go, including Hades for those of the traditional Greek faith, the Dreaming for those whom Dream finds interesting, and reincarnation. The Judeo-Christian God is explicitly the creator of everything, but pagan gods exist and have power under him.
    • During Brightest Day, Lex Luthor asked Death why she did not interfere during Blackest Night. She answers that the Zombie Apocalypse did not really interest her.
    • One DC comic character was questioned as to how he could be an atheist in a world where divinity is manifestedly real. His reply indicated that in a world with Superman, wizards, and multidimensional alien invasions, the mere presence of something supernatural did not prove it came from an all-powerful divinity.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge:
    • Several Kaiju get sent to the world of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and get turned into native species. They can still use their original powers, and learn that with practice, they can use the powers of their new body in conjunction with their original powers. However, Godzilla Junior, who was turned into a Unicorn, flat out says he is uninterested in learning how to perform telekinesis or magic and prefers to stick with his original powers. Chibi Moon lectures him that he should be trying to maximize his potential because there might be new enemies that he can't beat as he is now.
    • In addition, Godzilla Junior is uninterested in learning what happened to his birth parents, as he was an abandoned egg. He says Azusa Gojo and Godzilla Senior are the only parents who matter.
  • The Lament Series (ChaoticNeutral):
    • Once Gabriel won in Gabriel's Lament, he didn't bother learning who Ladybug had been. After reality was altered by his Wish, he also didn't bother looking for any of the Miraculous again, even when Emilie still picked up the Peafowl Pin. This allows somebody else to find the Butterfly Brooch and become this world's version of Hawk Moth... and unlike in his world, there's no Ladybug active, and Gabriel has no way of finding her.
    • In Chloe's Lament, Chloe assumes that swapping lives with Marinette ensures that she will become the new reality's Ladybug heroine. When it's not immediately dropped into her lap, she merely looks at the most likely places for it to be delivered, only realizing that it's not coming when she sees footage of Red Queen and Cheshire in action.
      • Chloe's complete lack of regard for others also stymies what little effort she does make. For instance, while aware of the Guardian's existence, she doesn't recall anything about him beyond the shirt he was wearing; in a side snippet, Wayzz destroys that shirt so that there's no chance of her seeing Master Fu in it and recognizing him based off of that.

  • Both Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty run into this trope where the protagonist meets God and, even once they are convinced it is really God, do not ask any of the questions one might expect (in fact they ask very few questions of God at all).
  • In Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Gretel starts to question why their parents abandoned them in the woods and why witches' magic doesn't affect them directly. Hansel says he doesn't care.
  • Indiana Jones: Indiana has been presented with absolute incontrovertible proof of the truth of the Old Testament and the New Testament (and arguably the Bhagavad Gita). This seems to have had absolutely no effect on his lifestyle, career or (dis)belief in the supernatural.
  • Invoked in Looper. Joe asks his future self about time travel and memories, but Old Joe shuts him down, pointing out how confusing time travel can be. "I don't want to talk about time travel shit. Because if we talk about it, then we're gonna be here all day, drawing diagrams with straws." Abe, who's also from the future, concurs: "This time travel shit just fries your brain like an egg."
  • Roger Ebert got into an amusing rant about the film Over Her Dead Body and the fact that no one seemed to consider the staggering theological implications a real live ghost (or should that be a real dead ghost) would mean. He had similar issues with Jack Frost, wherein Michael Keaton dies and is reincarnated as a snowman to help his son fight bullies. People can be reincarnated? As inanimate objects??? Oh, don't bother elaborating on that. Back to the snowball fight.
  • Invoked in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Quentin Beck’s deception of claiming to be a warrior from another dimension works because people in the MCU are so used to the surprise arrival of gods and aliens that nobody bothers to investigate him closely and discover he’s just a disgruntled Stark Industries employee with special effects.
  • Discussed by Magneto in X-Men: The Last Stand as justification to have Worthington Labs' mutation cure destroyed on the grounds that while at first it would be played as a voluntary cure; Worthington and the other Humans would soon start rounding up Mutants and forcing Mutants like them to take the cure all the while the neutral Mutants would be talking about trying to get organized, form committees and talk to government representatives about raising Mutant awareness.
    Magneto: It is only then when you realize that while you're talking about 'Organizing' and 'Committees', the extermination has already begun.
  • Christopher Lloyd's character in Suburban Commando seems to have no questions or comments when it is revealed that his tenant is an alien bounty hunter. The most he registers is mild annoyance at the fact that he WAS FROZEN TODAY!
  • Teen Wolf: Nobody seems to be too interested in the existence of werewolves other than how well they can play high school basketball.

  • Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tried to save herself from having to create a coherent magic system by having her viewpoint character tune out whenever theory is mentioned. It worked in the sense that she was able to avoid talking much about how magic actually works, but it does give the reader the impression that Harry is an incredibly apathetic child about this magical world that he suddenly finds himself living in. She used a similar trick for the backstory, having Hermione exposit whatever bit of Hogwarts: a History is currently relevant while Harry steadfastly refused to even look at it.
  • The whole premise for several of the works of José SaramagoDeath with Interruptions and The Stone Raft come to mind — is to avert this trope: an extremely simple but fantastic setup is provided (death stops operating in a country; the Iberian Peninsula splits off at the French-Spanish border and begins to sail aimlessly around the North Atlantic) and the whole rest of the story analyzes the sociological upheaval it causes.
  • To quote from Fred Clark's series on Left Behind:
    Here you have God appearing center stage. A direct, incontrovertible divine miracle witnessed by millions. Absolute, doubt-destroying, skeptic-shattering proof of the existence of God. There's freaking divine flame in the sky. Yet it produces nary a ripple of wonder, awe or spiritual searching. Alone among the millions who witnessed this event, Buck Williams is slightly prompted to be more "spiritually attuned." The people in this novel are not human.
  • The Lost Fleet: At one point, protagonist and recently-defrosted Human Popsicle John Geary asks his fellow officers a couple of important questions: How and why has a war that both sides knew they could never win dragged on for a century without either side attempting to sue for peace or just flat-out collapse under the terrible cost in lives and resources? Nobody can really give him a satisfactory answer, and worse, it never really occurred them to ask the question themselves because they'd never known a time when there wasn't a war going on. The answer to both questions ends up being crucial to the resolution of the plot of the whole series: A hitherto-unknown third party has been playing both sides off against each other, including leaking the hypernet gate technology that revived their flagging economies a few decades earlier, so that humanity will be too busy fighting among themselves to be a threat to them.
  • In The Otherworld humans occasionally witness surreal incidents and do nothing. In one such instance the witnesses were, in all fairness, stoned, but in Bitten Elena's fiancé watches her turn into a wolf and when she questions him on it later he claims he'd passed out long before she arrived and transformed.
  • Wolfram Von Eschenbach's Parzival fails to achieve the Holy Grail even though it's meant for him because he follows advice to not be too curious and doesn't ask about the Fisher King's injury. The poem is based on Chretien de Troyes' unfinished poem, in which Perceval's failure to ask about an entire procession of miraculous oddities because he's trying to be proper also results in the continued languishing of the Fisher King and his kingdom.
  • In Orson Scott Card's novel Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus society possesses a time viewer that is cheap enough for graduate students working on research projects to use. However, it is mentioned numerous times that Christianity, Islam, and other religions still exist, even though proving or disproving those religion's veracity would be the first thing most people would use a time viewer for. And there isn't a rule against investigating religion or anything, because one character made a name for himself by investigating the historical events inspiring the legend of Noah.
    • All religious revelations are conveniently ambiguous. (Except Columbus's, which is definitely mundane.) That still leaves the question of miracles, though.
  • In Bernard Werber's Thanathonauts series, the world promptly forgets about the initially worldshaking discovery that there is indeed an afterlife (and that it is quite bureaucratic at that). In another series, little is expounded upon the ramification of a porcine direct relationships to humans.
  • Arguably the main reason H. P. Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep ends in tragedy — the villain's plot to take over the body of Edward Derby plays out over months if not years with obvious warning signs of what's going on, yet despite the narrator and the victim being ostensibly best friends neither actually does anything until it's finally way too late.
  • Twilight has Bella's father's motto; "need to know basis". He probably figures out about vampires, but doesn't want details. Seeing how the Volturi would kill him if he knew it makes a lot of sense. It wouldn't take much to figure out that vampires probably would be lethal to humans in the know.
  • Averted and played straight several times in an early Star Trek: Voyager novel. When Neelix leads Voyager to a planet full of wrecked ships (needed for critical spare parts), Torres and Kim promptly began an exhaustive examination of the one powered vessel. Neelix, not caring and deciding that he is useless, decides to take a nap. This sends the ship (a passenger time machine) back in time. Later, we meet an operative whose job is to scare away any "Planet-Hoppers" (the term this people use to refer to the "crazy" races that use dangerous space travel instead of safe time travel) from the abandoned eras of the planet. His main weapon is strange events that the intruders don't care to investigate properly.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Various companions fail to question changing history, whereas some address the problems from the start (Barbara Wright). "Why do we need to save history? I come from the present, so I know history went right," or "If you can't change history, why could you save me? I'm history to you!"
    • This was lampshaded in the 1975 story "Pyramids of Mars". When they're in 1911, Sarah Jane asks the Doctor why they need to save the future when they've already been in 1980 and it didn't need saving. The Doctor answers the question by taking the TARDIS to 1980 and showing her that the Earth has been destroyed. Only if they set things right back in 1911 can the "real" 1980 be restored.
    • At least there's one odd thing they never fail to remark on: "It's bigger on the inside!"
  • The Good Place: Played for laughs. As Chidi explains to Eleanor that Janet can answer any question about history or the origin of the universe, Eleanor asks about an old crush. She then spends the rest of the series resolutely ignoring Janet unless she needs something. Presumably Chidi did ask all those important questions, but they aren't relevant to Eleanor's problems, so we never hear the answers.
  • In The Lost Room, a character gets a key that takes him into a hotel room that exists outside time and space. Walking out of the room takes you to any place in the world with a door. Why, why, why didn't he start experimenting with things like climbing out the window to see what happens? This is especially glaring considering that other characters do things like put things in the room, then close and open the door (making them disappear) and check if the room has electricity and running water (it does).
  • Star Trek is famous for not asking the alien cultures they visit about local laws and rules. Especially when they send crew members on shore leave; you would think it might be smart to ask about local laws and taboos just to make sure no one accidentally violates them. The notorious Prime Directive would give them an incentive to avoid asking those questions. The less they know about the culture, the less intentional their interference in it becomes, and the better excuse they can make to a court-martial.
    • In one episode, the planet they visit has is described as being like Garden of Eden and they arrive to see it as nice, relaxed and so are naturally put off guard about the possibility that there may be randomly applied death penalty for even a tiny infractions (though they do find out about it through casual conversation, albeit a little too late). In retrospect, it does make the initial comparison double-sided.
    • Most of the time, the blunders the crews make would not have happened in the first place if the aliens had said "by the way, we punish doing this by death — tell your people not to do this, okay?" And the fact that they NEVER make exceptions for ignorance of the local laws because these are offworlds... One example involves B'Elanna Torres of Star Trek: Voyager nearly suffering neurological damage because they were removing violent THOUGHTS, which are illegal on this planet (their hat being telepathy). B'Elanna is part KLINGON — violence is the brim on their hat.
    • There are multiple explanations for this, and they vary depending on the specific show you are watching. Kirk's Enterprise was an exploratory vessel, most of the places they were going were not explored or had very little know about them. The red shirts sacrificed are the people the (future) history books will cite when they say "Planet 56793-d: Breathable atmosphere, rocky terrain, salt vampires". Picard's Enterprise had this as less of an excuse, though they did encounter new territories and cultures. The ones they were even mildly familiar with were probably cataloged in the ship's computer, and served as intercom messages before departing. Even so, laws change, and the files may be dated. And regardless of which ship you are on, the fact remains that if you go to a foreign country/planet, and break a law, "I didn't know" doesn't tend to work. Still doesn't explain why they don't ask for a copy of all local laws and have a computer program flag any capital punishment or where the punishment is two or more orders of magnitude harsher than Federation average.
    • There's also cases where something unexpected happens with their own technology as the impetus for the episode, and no one worries about the implications. Such as the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where it's discovered that a partially reflected transporter beam caused there to have been two William Rikers for several years. When they do find the other Riker, they do ask a couple perfunctory questions, like which one is the real Will Riker. The answer to that is a half-assed "They're both real." No one seems at all concerned with the metaphysical ramifications of their discovery, or even question whether the accident could be duplicated to effectively create clones of every living being in the Galaxy. They just spend the episode helping "Tom" Riker adjust to being back among civilization.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "When the Bough Breaks", Wesley Crusher learns the Aldeans have no interest in learning how their own technology works or how to repair it. In this case, apathy was really killing them as their technology was the reason why they were sterile and slowly dying.
  • Just about everyone in The Prisoner (1967) apart from the main character. "Questions are a burden to others, answers a prison for ourselves". Brrr. They do have some incentive to avoid questions, what with the giant suffocating bubble lying in the wings.
  • In Warehouse 13, Pete hasn't read the Warehouse's manual, and even the characters who have are still finding out new things about the Warehouse - they were surprised to find an entire Bed and Breakfast inside, for example. Justified in that the Warehouse is impossibly large (stretching on farther than the eye can see) and Artie doesn't like to share information.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The players, in any RPG, especially when they're looking for a hack and slash and the DM keeps trying to layer on mysteries.
  • This is a common survival tactic in Paranoia, where even the most innocent question could be beyond your security clearance and suddenly draw the attention of Friend Computer, IntSec, and/or your overeager teammates who are looking for an excuse to terminate you for being a suspected Commie mutant traitor.
  • Almost a policy in Warhammer 40,000, where you most likely don't want to know. "Only the awkward question; only the foolish ask twice."

    Video Games 
  • Notably averted in Final Fantasy X ... Tidus' questions about things that everyone knows or takes for granted is what begins to truly convince Lulu that he's not from Spira. It also ends up driving the whole plot since otherwise no one would end up questioning the system they are in. This is probably what the Fayth intended when they tossed Tidus out of Zanarkand into Spira; to ask the questions and start demanding better answers than "this is so" so as to kick apathy out of Spira.
    • That said the trope is played straight when Auron joins the party. Tidus knows for a fact Auron knows more than he lets on about what is going on, but rarely pushes for answers - nor does he ever question why Auron is being so secretive, mostly just dismissing that crucial piece of info as Auron being obstinate. He also never even makes it clear to Yuna and the rest of the group how much Auron has to know so they can help press him for answers. Auron of course has his reasons to play things close to his chest but the party never really confronts or asks any questions about why the man who clearly has all the answers isn't saying anything.
  • One of the arguments that Marche is a Villain Protagonist in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is that he automatically assumes Ivalice is a fake world without asking a single question to test that idea. Babus Swain also calls him out on deciding that the only way to restore the real world is to outright destroy the fake one without even looking for alternatives.
  • Half-Life 2:
    • Gordon Freeman seems perfectly happy to join up with the first faction he meets without asking simple questions like "Who are you fighting?", "Why?" or "Do you have any kind of plan?". Or saying anything at all, actually. There is a bit of a Hand Wave in that said faction does consist largely of his former coworkers and friends.
    • The other faction also tries to kill Gordon before he's made any decisions at all. Which would tend to streamline the decision-making process tremendously.
    • The G-Man's comments at the end hint Gordon might be without free will, contracted to the faction he fought for by the G-Man.
  • "Apathy is death" is a phrase that gets repeated at you if you fail at a Vision Quest in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. To fail you have to turn your back on the fights and rivalries in your party, of which there are many. The lesson here is that you're the leader and you have to make everyone work together, despite their differences.
  • In Mass Effect, it's actually illegal to perform aggressive research (in other words, capturing or dissecting) the Keepers, the enigmatic species that runs the Citadel that galactic government is run from. This is mostly because there's not much to gain from trying, as the Keepers will self-destruct if interfered with and they are incredibly difficult to scan. After over a millennia of completely fruitless attempts to research them, the Council gave up. It's revealed in the game that they were actually engineered to run the Citadel by the Reapers and the whole structure is Schmuck Bait: a perfect space station to set up a galactic government from, so that the Reapers can decapitate said government in their opening attack and seize all its records on military structure and populations. Fortunately, the last surviving Protheans figured out what was happening and figured out a way to interfere, giving the current species a fighting chance.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, No character on Mother Base cared what happened to Paz after she fell out of the Metal Gear you built. Except an army of players, of course...
  • It's used to an extent in Persona 4 to pull out a surprise twist, should the player start questioning why the protagonist managed to obtain his persona-summoning abilities WITHOUT having to face his inner demons.
  • Justified in Rule of Rose. After being given a storybook by a strange boy, Jennifer inexplicably finds herself aboard a ghostly airship filled with nasty children. You'd think that she'd ask someone where she is and what's going, but between the Unreliable Narrator and the Thirty Mind Screw Pileup, the player only gets a secondhand view of Jennifer's character. Hell, since the game is likely a hallucination, a dream or the afterlife, it's also possible Jennifer knows the answers already.
  • Silent Hill:
    • In Silent Hill 2, when James sees his first monster, he promptly whacks it with a board and wonders briefly what it is. After that, he never questions anything else about the decidedly messed up town he's in. Justified because he's completely nuts.
    • Subverted in Silent Hill 3. Like those before her, Heather assumes the monsters to be either demons or illusions, only to be rebuffed with the famous line: "Monsters? They look like monsters to you?" Of course, Vincent is a Manipulative Bastard of a psychiatrist/cult leader, so he may just be trying to mess with her.
    • Henry of Silent Hill 4 suffers from the same lack of reflection on the circumstances he's facing. Could be justified in that he's been through extended isolation, sleep deprivation and malnourishment to the point that he could be prone to and apathetic to hallucination, but this is simply a projection of conditions only alluded to in the beginning, and never touched on through the story. Heck, the first person he runs into, a woman named Velasquez, assumes it's all a weird dream and comes on to Henry. Most of the other people who end up in the Other Side have similar confused and muted reactions, if at all, as the crack head doesn't seem to even see the monsters.

  • Fate/type Redline:
    • When Kanata Akagi starts vanishing from existence because his grandmother is being killed, Assassin is only mildly surprised before deciding he doesn't care.
    • Kaname Asama and her Archer find the magic hourglass that transported Kanata Akagi to their time period. She shows it to her superior, Major Magatsu, and says she can tell it is special and would like to study it and find out how it works. Magatsu says he doesn't care and berates her for wasting his time.
  • In Misfile, Ash and Emily meet with angels and learn of a Celestial Bureaucracy that can rewrite reality depending on how the files are arranged. They show no interest in this at all beyond their current predicament.
  • In a similar vein, the cast of Spinnerette have encountered a villainess who turned herself into a drider by performing a ritual to Lolth, and a Cerberus-girl charged with keeping damned souls in Hell. No one has any questions about the theological ramifications of this.

    Western Animation 
  • Blythe from Littlest Pet Shop (2012) somehow gains the ability to talk to and understand animals following a dumbwaiter accident. After a brief questioning of it in the first episode, the how and why of it beyond "dumbwaiter accident" is never brought up or pursued again.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The Crystal Gems deliberately hide a lot about gems and their history from Steven, but even then Steven tends to not ask questions when they would otherwise be very helpful.
    Steven: Why do I never ask follow-up questions?!
    • In a broader sense the Crystal gems, despite having made their lives' purpose for thousands of years to defend Earth, its living creatures and humanity, have shown basically 0 curiosity about any of them. To the point that what a baby is was unknown to them when Steven was born. While some of it made sense (There had been no union between a human and a gem before Steven so they couldn't be sure what capabilities Baby Steven had and how much of Rose resided in him), a lot of stuff seen in flashback indicates they basically lived as hermits with no understanding of the society or species they charged themselves with protecting. It's only when they became responsible for raising Steven that this changed as their role as his caretaker now forced them to acquire this understanding.
  • In the final episode of Teen Titans, "Things Change", while the other Titans question how Terra is back to normal after being turned into a statue, Beast Boy is more interested in the fact that she is back rather than how she came back.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), the Catfolk-populated kingdom of Thundera is largely confident in its Medieval Stasis, Kung-Fu Wizard Magic Knights and its magic-sword-wielding king. Technology, however, is nothing but a fairy tale for cubs, and anything for sale in the Black Market is obviously a fake crafted to take in the gullible. Naturally, the trope becomes exceptionally literal once a newly Higher-Tech Species pulls a Super Weapon Surprise on the Cats.
  • Happens continuously within My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic whenever it comes to a foreign power or overlord invading Equestria to cause havoc. The biggest example of this happens when Changelings launched an all-out invasion of Canterlot during a wedding celebration at the end of Season 2, and later returned to capture the Political Leaders and National Heroes and replace them with their own Changelings at the end of Season 6. For well over four seasons, the Ponies, the Princesses, and the Royal Guards knew what sort of threat the Changelings posed to Equestria, but they did not seem to do anything at all to create any sort of anti-Changeling protocols in order to try exposing disguised Changelings that might be infiltrating their towns and cities. Thorax, a Changeling that had participated in the original invasion of Canterlot and had later defected to the Crystal Empire; the Ponies did not even bother to ask him where exactly the Changelings Hive was located at or even what kind of defenses the Changelings had employed to protect their territory.

    Real Life 
  • College students often do this during lectures, including ones where they are outright told that half of the material is lies.
    • This also goes back as far as the 1st grade.
  • Some self-professed members of political parties, religions, scientific communities, etc. barely know anything about their or the opposing party's beliefs, and are basically the reason the Strawman Political exists.
  • We live in a society filled with amazing technology of great power and sophistication. Use of these machines grants capabilities unimagined by our ancestors. Yet many people have no interest in learning how these things work, despite the fact that the answers are often listed in easy to understand guides available to anybody who wants them.
    • On the downside, documentation usually sucks. Too often it's rushed out by someone so familiar with the product that they're completely out of touch with how most people would want to use it.
  • "Magnets - how do they work?"
  • A trope is you! Do you know how your computer works? You might know it involves ones and zeros, maybe some HTML and Java, but that's it.
    • Averted! The majority who use computers are curious enough to gather a lay understanding, but believe it or not, just like automotive mechanics and the physics of the combustion engine, knowing the details are not crucial to your survival! Not knowing won't kill any cats.
    • However, it may kill your computer. The Windows OS gets such a bad rap because many people who use it refuse to learn anything about it, do not maintain it, introduce easily escapable viruses because they have no idea how easy they are to avoid, or screw Windows up because they do something they seriously should not be doing. The term "computer illiterate" was created by computer geeks to describe this very common problem.
      • Unless you get captured and interrogated by a Serial Killer who really, really likes computers and really, really hates cats.