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Appeal to Obscurity

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Not to be confused with that other Platypus.

Superman: Have you ever heard of Mr. Mxyzptlk?
Green Lantern: No.
Superman: No! That's right. It's because I do my damn job.

Bob is arguing with Alice about how doing something will cause her to fail. To further his point, he gives an example of someone who did that thing. She will say that she's never heard of that person.

He says: "Exactly!"

Sometimes the point is that the person never became famous because they failed at something; sometimes it has more serious implications like death, a cover-up, or disappearance from history. See also Famed In-Story. Contrast Undead Author.

Additionally, this assumes that fame is the intended outcome. Someone with more reclusive tendencies will be less likely to be dissuaded by this appeal, or may find it more appealing instead.

Not to be confused with the kind of appeal to obscurity that hipsters use, i.e. "popular music is all crap, so bands no one's ever heard of must be good." That is an inverse version of the Appeal to Popularity called Appeal to Minority.

Looks like this fallacy but is not:

  • The opponent's initial claim is based on the thing in question being famous, important or influential, but it can be shown that it is in fact obscure, unimportant or a historical flash in the pan. This argument often comes up when discussing things commonly credited as "the first example of thing X."


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Chainsaw Man contains a very dark and strange example when Makima claims to Kishibe that the Chainsaw Devil eating another Devil erases them and the concept they represent from history. Kishibe doesn't believe her, but Makima asks if anyone but her remembers what the Nazis did to the Jews. Despite not being an obscure fact at all in real life, Kishibe has no idea what Nazis are (an ironic inversion of Hitler's own quote below), demonstrating to the audience Makima is right.

    Comic Books 
  • Maybe more a kind of appeal to annihilation than an appeal to obscurity, but in Achille Talon there's a dialogue which goes along these lines:
    Lefuneste: I don't want to swim in that pond: the water looks deadly cold!
    Achille: Come on, you wimp! Think of the Spartans! In the midst of the winter they would play water-polo using ice balls in the rivers they were gladly swimming in!
    Lefuneste: Exactly: there are no more Spartans!
  • Deadpool (Vol. 4) #25 is set in the alternate future of 2099. When Deadpool's daughter Warda Wilson confronts him about the fate of her mother Shiklah, who tried to conquer the world, the following exchange occurs:
    Wade: "On planet Earth, you either coexist, or you cease to exist. Just ask the Skrulls."
    Warda: "Who are the Skrulls?"
    Wade: "Exactly, my point."
  • Runaways, when the kids go on a trip to New York.
    Chase: Superheroes are an everyday thing for New Yorkers, boss. For these people, seeing [She-Hulk] is like an Angeleno running into Steve Guttenberg.
    Nico: Who's Steve Guttenberg?
    Chase: Exactly.
  • Used in quite a disturbing fashion in one She-Hulk story. The Time Variance Authority doesn't just kill people, it prevents them from ever existing in the first place. Like Knight Man and Dr. Rocket—not that you'd have heard of them.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, this turns up in the Seinfeldian Conversation of two incredibly bored doctors checking on the comatose Doctor Octavius.
    "Yeah—who decided [Ashley Judd] was a movie star?"
    "I know. Same person who decided Molly Ringwald was."

    Fan Works 
  • Played in some Harry Potter fan fictions regarding the "Eternal Glory" of the Triwizard Tournament. When asked to name one previous winner of the Tournament (which up until that year had not been held in the lifetime of anyone involved, including Dumbledore), the questioned will completely fail. The interrogator will then ask how that qualifies as "Eternal".
  • Put a Taboo to Use:
    Sirius: And my family wrote the law for line theft. Every time the Blacks bring the charge against someone, that wizard or witch dies terribly, and their families are ruined. Remember the Tolliver family from Bristol?
    Arthur: The who?
    Remus: I never heard of them.
    Sirius: My point exactly. Some Tolliver tried to insert his daughter into the Black family and got caught using a potion and compulsion on Betelgeuse Black. Three years later, the Tollivers were exterminated. But my Great-Great-Grandfather Phineas Black had three new vaults and two more seats in the Wizengamot.
  • Senses Abound:
    Templen: Picture it. Romania, 1925. The last war against Parmra people...
    Harry: Parmra people? I don't believe I've heard of them...
    Templen: Of course not! We defeated the bastards! Twenty of us wizards, all poorer then a hag, went up against the Parmra people, at least a hundred of them...
  • In Voldemort's Daughter Luna gives Belladonna an interesting fifteenth birthday present.
    Belladonna: It's an Egyptian cartouche.
    Luna: Daddy and I found it when we were searching for heliopaths. It should protect you from them because we didn't see any after I bought it for you.

    Film — Animated 
  • Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay: When the Squad is having their Explosive Leashes injected, the technician tells them not to move because they don't want the apparatus triggering too early.
    Technician: That happened once to the Ten-Eyed Man.
    Captain Boomerang: Who?
    Technician: Exactly.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Author! Author! (1982), Al Pacino is Ivan Travalian, a playwright who really needs his latest work/Broadway debut to be a success. He and all his family are waiting in the cold street at 4:00 A.M. for the New York Times with the review of the premiere, because the only thing that matters is the critic's opinion:
    Ivan’s son: Why are we waiting here? It was a success! The public loved it, they gave an standing ovation!
    Ivan: They also gave an standing ovation at the premiere of Microheaven.
    Ivan’s son: Of what?
    Ivan: Exactly.
  • In The Black Balloon (2007), Thomas and Jackie discuss an invasive weed Jackie likes.
    Thomas: They strangle all the native plants and probably poison all the native animals.
    Jackie: What native animals?
    Thomas: Exactly.
  • Invoked by the titular character in Chopper when trying to provoke a fellow prison inmate into a fight.
    Mark "Chopper" Read: Beethoven had his critics too, Keithy. See if you can name three of them. (Keithy gives him a puzzled look) See, you can't, can you?
  • Used in Good Will Hunting as the professor and therapist discuss Will's future. They ask the bartender if he's ever heard of several people who've taken the path they don't want Will to take, including the professor's name. Finally, Robin Williams' character wins with this:
    Sean: Hey, Timmy!
    Bartender: Yo?
    Sean: Who's Ted Kaczynski?
    Bartender: Unabomber.
  • In High School Musical, Chad tries to convince Troy (they're both high school basketball players) that basketball practice is more important than singing:
    Chad: Have you ever seen Michael Crawford on a cereal box?
    Troy: Who's Michael Crawford?
    Chad: Exactly my point!
  • Jade has a governor telling an assistant district attorney to drop a case, or he'll "have as much of a future here as Jerry Brown," to which the DA responds, "Who’s Jerry Brown?"
    • Also an example of Hilarious in Hindsight — while Jerry Brown was out of government at the time Jade was released, within a few years he made a comeback and successively served as mayor of Oakland and California attorney general, eventually becoming the governor of California himself again.
  • In MacGruber, bad guy Dieter von Cunth pulls one of these out when a minion says MacGruber is a harmless idiot.
    von Cunth: Do you remember the assassination of Jimmy Carter?
    Constantine: No, sir, but that never happened.
    von Cunth: No, it didn't. Do not underestimate this man.
  • In Mr. 3000, Stan Ross warns budding superstar Rex Pennebaker that if he doesn't support his team, he'll end up standing at the end of his career next to "Big Horse" Borelli. When Pennebaker asks "Who?", Ross says "exactly." "Big Horse" Borelli was the obscure no-name player who was the only one of Stan's former teammates willing to speak at Ross's tribute ceremony earlier in the film.
  • Inverted in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
    Norrington: You are without a doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of.
    Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), the board of top military brass discussing extremely Insufferable Genius Robotnik's track record:
    Commander Walters: Remember the Coup in Pakistan?
    Officer 1: No.
    Commander Walters: Or the Uprising in Azerbaijanistan?
    Officer 2: That's not even a country.
    Commander Walters: Exactly, and you can thank Robotnik for that.
  • From What a Girl Wants:
    Glynnis: Look what happened to Olivia Nixon when she went to China last summer.
    Clarissa: Who's Olivia Nixon?
    Glynnis: Exactly.

  • Why do elephants paint their nails red? So they can hide in cherry trees. You've never seen an elephant in a cherry tree? That's because of the red nails.
  • Jesus promised the end of all wicked people. Odin promised the end of all ice giants. I don't see many ice giants around.
  • "You should really buy some of my patented elephant repellent." "But there are no elephants in this continent." "See how well it works?"
  • The so-called Best Gorilla Joke of 1897:
    Gorilla: Did you hear about the gorilla who escaped from the zoo?
    Zookeeper: No, I did not.
    Gorilla: That is because I am a quiet gorilla.
    [Muffled sounds of gorilla violence]
  • A job opening was announced for a lumberjack, and the only applicant proved to be a small, rotund man with a cleaver. "Okay," he's told, "cut down this tree." The man makes a few lightning-fast moves with the cleaver and the tree falls over. "Holy-moly, man, where did you learn it?!" "Sahara." "But there ain't no trees in Sahara!" "Well, now there ain't."

  • In Bad Mermaids Meet the Sushi Sisters, the spy Meri Pebble is terrified the Sushi Sisters will blow her cover.
    Meri: Only one spy mermaid has ever failed her first proper mission, and do you know what her name was?
    Beattie: Nope.
    Meri: Exactly! Because she got kicked out of spy school and never spied again.
    Beattie: To be fair, no ordinary mermaid would know the name of any spy - because they're meant to be stealthy and, well, spies.
    Meri: Not the point.
  • Stephen Manes' Chicken Trek:
    Donald got his parents to invest in my cousin's latest invention, monster repellent. The idea is that if you wear it while you sleep, no monster will come near you. Dr. Prechtwinkle has already tested it on hundreds of people. Not one has ever been attacked by a monster, if you don't count big mosquitoes and killer bees.
  • Dinotopia: Dinotopia has a dense barrier reef and terrible offshore weather, which combine to make getting off the island by sea nearly impossible (the books are set in the 19th century, so there's no air travel, either, besides the native pterosaurs). The Dinotopians are certain that nobody has ever gotten out, because they've never met any new arrivals who have previously heard of a tropical volcanic island half the size of Germany with a shared human-dinosaur society living on it.
  • Discworld
    • In The Last Hero, Cohen explains why he a) wants to do something that will ensure he's remembered forever, and b) has dragged a minstrel along to record it:
      Cohen: Laugh away. But what about all the heroes who aren't remembered in songs and sagas, eh? You tell me about them.
      Minstrel: Eh? What heroes who aren't remembered in songs and sagas?
      Cohen: Exactly!
    • A variant, the Appeal to Obliteration, occurred in Interesting Times.
      'Like, supposing the population is being a bit behind with its taxes. You pick some city where people are being troublesome and kill everyone and set fire to it and pull down the walls and plough up the ashes. That way you get rid of the trouble and all the other cities are suddenly really well behaved and polite and all your back taxes turn up in a big rush, which is handy for governments, I understand. Then if they ever give trouble you just have to say "Remember Nangnang?" or whatever, and they say "Where's Nangnang?" and you say, "My point exactly."'
    • Another Appeal to Obliteration by the God of Evolution in The Last Continent, although in this case it's an apology for an uncontrollable reflex rather than a threat. It just feels like a threat:
      "Oh dear. there I go again..." A tiny bolt of lightning flashed off his thumb and exploded. "I hope it's not going to be the city of Quint all over again. Of course, you know what happened there..."
      "I've never heard of the city of Quint," said Ponder.
      "Yes, I suppose you wouldn't have," said the god. "That's the whole point, really. It wasn't much of a city. It was mostly made of mud. Well, I say mud. Afterwards of course, it was mostly ceramics."
  • Doctor Who Novelisations: In The Silurians, a scientist uses this excuse to keep quiet about the Silurians, rather than go public and find his place in history obscured by journalists and politicians, by mentioning the controversy over who invented the radio (it wasn't Marconi).
  • In the Relativity story "Legend of the Cheese Maidens," Ravenswood uses this trope to "prove" that the legend is true:
    Ravenswood: ...And, as the head alien promised, no-one from his planet ever came to Earth ever again.
    Melody: Did you just make that up?
    Ravenswood: No! Of course not. It’s all true. I can prove it. How many reports have there been of tentacled, bald, green-skinned aliens on Earth between 1959 and today? None.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has the annihilation variant when Roose Bolton and Jaime Lannister discuss the impending fate of a man who betrayed Jaime's father.
    Bolton: Our goat should have consulted the Tarbecks or the Reynes. They might have warned him how your lord father deals with betrayals.
    Jaime: There are no Tarbecks or Reynes.
    Bolton: My point precisely.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson defends S.H.I.E.L.D's policy of covering up supernatural events:
    Coulson: Do you remember the panic when that anti-matter meteorite landed off the coast of Miami and nearly devoured half the city?
    Skye: No.
    Coulson: Exactly.
    • Comes up again in "The Girl in the Flower Dress." Raina tells the pyrokinetic of the episode that he needs a code name. She demonstrates by asking if he knows who Steve Rogers is. When he says he doesn't know who that is, she tells him he's Captain America—a name everyone knows.
  • On A.N.T. Farm in the episode "TranplANTed", when Chyna wants to get her lunch from her locker and eat in the cafeteria, and Olive tells her its not safe for them out there.
    Chyna: I left my lunch in my locker.
    Olive: Emma left her lunch in her locker.
    Chyna: Who's Emma?
    Olive: Exactly!
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon has a rant about how he has a long history of choosing wrong in technology wars such as VHS vs Beta, HD-DVD vs Blu-ray and iPod vs Zune. Amy asks what a Zune is, to which Sheldon replies, "Exactly."
  • In Big Time Rush:
    Kelly: If you have a bad day with Deke, you'll be bigger nobodies than Tanyon Labelle.
    BTR: Who's Tanyon Labelle?
    Kelly and Gustavo: Exactly.
  • The Brady Bunch: Carol, trying to convince a discouraged Bobby not to quit his hair-tonic business, lists famous people who became great because they didn't quit, and ends with "Carl Mahakian."
    Bobby: Carl Mahakian? Never heard of him.
    Carol: That's 'cause he quit.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, an upset Eddie Cantor asks Billie Kent if she's ever heard of Lucy Danziger, Nucky's former lover who was Put on a Bus in season 2 after she abandoned Nelson van Alden with their out-of-wedlock baby, to remind her of the realities of being Nucky's fling.
  • Used in The Burns and Allen Show, both the radio and TV series. Gracie, when encouraging a young aspiring actress not to give up on her dreams: "Just look at what happened to (name)." "I've never heard of her..." "Of course you haven't! She gave up!"
  • Diagnosis: Murder: Dr. Sloan, while held hostage by domestic terrorists, managed to convince the revolutionary group to stand down and surrender to the Feds, rather than try to shoot their way out and likely get themselves killed, by invoking this trope. He pointed out that they would ultimately be forgotten as martyrs but if they stood trial, they would get 24-hour news coverage.
    Dr. Sloan: No martyr ever got interviewed by Larry King.
  • A (probably justified) use in the Dinotopia miniseries:
    David: Wait, how do you know no one made it [out of Dinotopia by boat]?
    Mayor of Waterfall City: Had you ever heard of Dinotopia before you arrived?
    David: No.
    Mayor: Exactly!
  • Castle:
    • Played entirely straight in the episode "A Dance With Death":
      Brad: I'd be off the show. I'd be Brian Dunkleman!
      Beckett: [Beat] Who's Brian Dunkleman?
      Brad: Exactly.
    • In "Swan Song", Castle can totally see why a lead singer going solo would provide his bandmates motive for murder:
      Castle: He wasn’t about to stay and they weren’t about to let him play George Michael to their Andrew Ridgeley.
      Esposito: Andrew who?
      Castle: Exactly.note 
  • Inverted on Dollhouse, when Echo is hired to help commit a robbery:
    Robber: If you're so great, how come I never heard of you?
    Echo: You ever heard of Bonnie and Clyde?
    Robber: [thinking she's made a mistake] Bonnie and Clyde got killed.
    Echo: That's because they wanted to be famous.
  • Freaks and Geeks: The heroine doesn't want to go to college. She lists famous people who never went to college, and her guidance counselor adds, "Frank." When she says, "Who?" his response is "The guy who pumps my gas."
  • I Love Lucy: In "The Benefit", Ethel expresses her disappointment that Lucy will be performing at her club benefit instead of Ricky.
    Ethel: It's like expecting Clark Gable and getting Hubert Grimstadt.
    Lucy: Hubert Grimstadt? I never heard of him.
    Ethel: Exactly!
  • Jonas: Used by the boys' father in "Forgetting Stella's Birthday".
    Dad: The last band to cancel interviews with this guy was The Happy Teens.
    Joe, Nick and Kevin: Who?
    Dad: Exactly.
  • New Tricks: In "The Fame Game", Steve is interviewing an agent who specializes in celebrity lookalikes, and who bemoans that reality television has made celebrities ten a penny:
    Agent: Who wants a lookalike when you can have Joey Essex?
    Steve: Who?
    Agent: Exactly.
  • The Partridge Family: In "Mom Drops Out," a promoter tells Keith and Laurie what will happen if they break their contract with him.
    Logan: You break this one, and you'll find that the Partridge Family's gonna end up like Sky and the Four Clouds.
    Laurie: Who're they?
    Logan: Right on.
  • Phil of the Future: Lloyd says this after he found out the family being stuck in the past was a Necessary Fail.
    Lloyd: Holy cow!!!! If Phil hadn't messed around with the controls, we would have been stuck in a massive timestorm!!! Like what happened to the Jabensons on their time travel!!!
    Phil: Who are the Jabensons?
    Lloyd: Exactly.
  • In a Christmas Episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina heads off to a magical party instead of spending time with her aunts and the partygoers mock those wanting to spend Christmas time together, including her aunts, on a TV. Sabrina cuts it off and storms out but is later told by Salem that she hit "erase" by accident and thus erased Christmas. He informs Sabrina she has 24-hours to fix the damage or Christmas will go the way of Bobunk, a holiday he inadvertently erased and couldn't get back.
    Sabrina: I never heard of it.
    Salem: THAT'S MY POINT!
    • In the first episode, Hilda and Zelda explain that the Witches Council have the power to turn back time, but it's only used in extreme circumstances.
      Hilda: Like for two months, a bunny ruled all of England.
      Sabrina: When?
      Hilda: See?
  • Saturday Night Live had a skit with Abraham H. Parnassus, an oil man (a baron, some have called him), appearing at his son's class to teach them the importance of CRUSHING THEIR ENEMIES INTO THE GROUND like he did to his rival H.R. Pickens.
    Samantha: Who is H.R. Pickens?
    Abraham H. Parnassus: EXACTLY!
  • On Schitt's Creek, after John gets guilted into giving a eulogy at a virtual stranger's funeral:
    Moira: It's Gord Whatshisname's funeral all over again.
    John: Who's Gord Whatshisname?
    Moira: Exactly. He was some kind of crew person on Sunrise Bay, I made an obligatory appearance at his service and his hysterical girlfriend cornered me into saying a few words. I didn't have a thought in my head so I just stood up and sang "Danny Boy."
  • On Star Trek: Enterprise, Archer has an example: "Do you know what Buzz Aldrin said when he landed on the moon?" Waitress: "No." Archer: "That's because Neil Armstrong got there first."
  • Supernatural
    • The changing-history version (see She-Hulk) is used when Balthazar prevents the sinking of the Titanic.
      Dean: Why did you un-sink the ship?
      Balthazar: Ugh, because I hated the movie.
      Dean: What movie?
      Balthazar: Exactly!
    • And another one from the same conversation.
      Balthazar: That godawful Céline Dion song made me want to smite myself.
      Sam: Who's Celine Dion?
      Balthazar: Oh, she's a destitute lounge singer somewhere in Quebec — and let's keep it that way, please.
  • On Wizards of Waverly Place, Agent Lamwood uses this tactic to threaten the Russos after he captured them.
    Agent Lamwood: We make people disappear all the time. You don't hear people still talking about Glen Goldfarm, did you?
    Jerry: Who?
    Agent Lamwood: Exactly.
  • In Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Joan explains to Zoey why work isn't actually that important:
    Joan: The night [my mom] died... um, I was preparing my presentation for the Google smart pencil. Do you remember that?
    Zoey: Um, barely?
    Joan: Exactly.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one series of Bloom County strips, Bill the Cat was arrested by the FBI for selling secrets to Russia. Steve Dallas - his lawyer - asked what the secrets were. (Keep in mind, this was when Ronald Reagan was still President):
    FBI Agent: The secret of the Sierra Madre, the secret recipe for Coke, and the secret of George Bush's appeal.
    Steve: The secret of George Bush's appeal?
    Agent: That's right.
    Steve: George Bush doesn't have any appeal.
    Agent: Well, that's the secret!
  • This doesn't quite work in one strip of Candorville. Special Guest Stephen King argues that Charles Dickens's fictional portrayal of slum life taught more people more about the slums than [mumble]'s factual reporting. Lemont, unable to hear him, asks "Who?" King responds "Exactly," and both wind up confused.
  • From the politically-tinged 1970s comic strip Conchy:
    Conchy: Is there any chance the war with the East Islanders will reach the nuclear stage?
    The King: Not a chance. North Island tested a nuclear bomb and since then we've all been a little uneasy.
    Conchy: North Island? There is no North Island.
    The King: Exactly.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Holy Musical B@man!
    Superman: Have you ever heard of Mr. Mxyzptlk?
    Green Lantern: No.
    Superman: No! That's right. It's because I do my damn job.
  • The Wharf Revue 2018, while commenting on Australian politics:
    Sarah Hanson-Young: It's not my fault! The cross bench is dysfunctional!
    Bob Brown: It was always thus, Sarah. Remember Ricky Muir?
    Sarah Hanson-Young: Who?
    Bob Brown: Exactly.

  • In BIONICLE Dark Mirror story, Takanuva impresses two Toa from a parallel universe by listing all the enemies they don't know because he defeated them. Including a bear he and a friend defeated before he had powers. It works, however: Takanuva is only caught when he mentions a being they know.

    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate II, Haer'Dalis deflates Edwin's ambition for eternal life through godhood by this trope:
    Edwin: You assume my death to be inevitable, but perhaps I think beyond those terms. Mortality seems escapable by others, so why not me?
    Haer'Dalis: Edwin, do you remember the name of the ancient Netheril god of the sea?
    Edwin: Eh... no.
    Haer'Dalis: Everything ends, Edwin. Everything dies. The dust of a god looks much the same as yours and mine will.
  • Invoked through Dialogue Tree in one of Karin's pep talks in the Olympic Mode in Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 for the Neo Geo Pocket:
    Karin: You have as many medals as Irving Thiddlebakker! How do you feel about events now, champ? How are they?
    Your first choice of response: Piece of cake!
    Karin: You're going to be just like Irving: forgotten! It's not over yet. There are more valuable medals still to be won!
  • The Curse of Monkey Island:
    • The game features a scene where the captive Guybrush Threepwood is trying to convince the Demon Pirate LeChuck not to kill him. At one point, it's possible to argue that if LeChuck kills Guybrush, there will be no more Monkey Island games, and hence LeChuck will wind up just another forgotten game villain. LeChuck scoffs at this, prompting the following exchange:
    Guybrush: Do you know the name "Bobbin Threadbare"?
    LeChuck: Um,
    Guybrush: Exactly.
    • Bobbin Threadbare is the protagonist of Loom, a previous adventure game by Lucasarts. Sequels were planned to create a trilogy, but were never realized.
  • When Mira is talking about her arch enemy, Hanharr in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, depending on which option you choose to respond to her question and explanation, you can get something like this:
    Mira: Ever heard of Dersonn III?
    Exile: No.
    Mira: See what I mean?
  • In Mass Effect 2, Kasumi Goto offers a variant of this trope, referring to herself as "the best thief in the galaxy, not the most famous." Most thieves of course don't want to draw attention to themselves, so she's got a point.

    Web Animation 
  • In the flash series Perfect Kirby, where Neil is talking about how Professor $1.99 is called that because he's cheap but still manages to make things work. His example is how they gave him a million dollars to make a hydrogen bomb. He spent most of it on candy but spent $1.99 making the bomb itself out of a pop can and other household items.
    Kirby: Did it work?
    Neil: Oh yeah. Remember Kaplikistan?
    Kirby: No?
    Neil: Exactly.

  • Arthur, King of Time and Space:
    Merlin: Don't make me mad.
    Space pirate: I'm on the verge of taking over all the territory of all the pirates Arthur's put out of business. I don't think one old man—
    Merlin: Have you heard of the dual dragons of Dinas Emrys?
    Space pirate: No.
    Merlin: They made me mad.
  • Dork Tower: Igor educates Matt on the efficiency of Kickstopper.
  • Life of Wily, an early Mega Man (Classic) sprite comic, features a unique delivery on the idea:
    Roll: [as Zero] You want Pop Culture? I'll show you Pop Culture!
    Wily: [as Sigma] Sure you will... You're about as Pop Culture as Dee Dee Stockton was.
    [Beat Panel]
    Roll: You just made that name up!
    Wily: No I didn't!
  • Played with in Questionable Content, where the conversation looks like this from Raven's point of view, but is a Stealth Pun from Faye's:
    Faye: You'd better be careful with those drinks, they're what killed Keith Moon.
    Raven: Keith who?
    Faye: Exactly.
  • Sean Tevis, who actually is running for Kansas State Representative on internet donations:
    "And exactly 0.003% know who Dirk Kempthorne is."
    "Who's Dirk Kempthorne?"
    • If this involves Kansas State Representatives, odds are only 0.003% need to know.
  • In Smithson, Gemma believes former child prodigy Darryl O'Doyle, who became normal following a brain operation, only to suddenly start writing avant garde poetry as an old man, through automatic writing with his left hand, is faking the whole thing. When Chuck asks why anyone would pretend not to be a genius for sixty years, she names three (real) child prodigies, and asks if he's ever heard of them. He hasn't.

    Web Original 
  • Bad Movie Beatdown twice did it, regarding Driven star Kip Pardue and The Spirit protagonist Gabriel Macht.
  • Early in Fen Quest, a noble is about to visit Fen's tribe and he fears a rival tribe may try to frame them for offending the noble. He voices his concerns to his brother Zizi, who recounts the last such incident:
    Zizi: The redclaw tribe once hosted a noble visit, but the leaf riders planted some notes talking bad about the nobles. You know of the redclaw tribe?
    Fen: Yes.
    Zizi: And you know of the leaf rider tribe?
  • During Guru Larry and Wez's list of "5 Games You Never Knew Had Sequels" he is talking about how Zool 2 was intended to be an Amiga CD32 exclusive with the character being the console's mascot, but ended up in Development Hell and was replaced by Oscar.
    Remember him? Exactly!
  • In Lindsay Ellis's video on the downfall of Hollywood musicals she notes that "The first canary in this coal mine actually came from the Disney company with The Happiest Millionaire[...] which bombed so spectacularly that you've never heard of it."
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
  • During debates regarding the fact that female soccer stars in the US were paid far less than their male counterparts despite getting far better results, The Onion offered the headline "U.S. Soccer Federation Argues It Ridiculous For Female Players To Expect Same Pay As Huge Stars Like Daniel Lovitz, Djordje Mihailovic."
  • During Rerez's Worst Ever series when chronicling the disastrous launch of Google Stadia, he remarks at the end that he doesn't know if Stadia will eventually be a success or go the way of OnLive's Cloud Gaming Service.
    Rerez: What's OnLive, you ask? Exactly my point!
  • In a Worst Hit Songs of 2001 video discussing 3LW's "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)":
    Sean: Naturi doesn't get a single line in the song. (...) Naturi's not the Michelle of the group, she's the Barbara!
    Ethan: Who's Barbara?
    Sean: Exactly!
  • Used by John C. Wright in this essay:
    While Bilbo, Superman, and Fu Manchu at one time or another, have been denounced as being stereotypes, note their enduring popularity; and compare them to the relatively flat and uninteresting versions of their less famous imitators, Curzad Ohmsford of Shady Vale, Marvelman, and the Mysterious Wu Fang. If you said “Who?” at these names, my point is made.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series
    • One of the earlier ones:
      Kaiba: Since he's the star, he thinks he can hog all the screentime to himself. I mean, just look at Bakura.
      Mokuba: Who the hell is Bakura?
      Kaiba: Precisely.
    • Bakura seems to get this a lot.
      Yami-Yugi: Hey remember when Bakura was in this show? Neither do I!
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Vegeta in Oozaru form threatens to crush Goku like an Arlian. "A what?" "Exactly!"
    • Used dramatically just before Freeza kicks the crap out of Nail, one of the few surviving Namekians:
      Freeza: Tell me...have you ever heard of the planet Vegeta?
      Freeza: Funny...because I expect to hear the same from the next person when I ask them about Namek.
  • In the I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC face-off between the Spirit and Wolverine, the latter's final jab at the former consisted of one of these:
    Wolverine: Listen, bub, toilets are not always funny!
    The Spirit: Is that a reference to my film?
    Wolverine: Yep, and no one got it. I rest my case.

    Western Animation 
  • All Grown Up!
    • The episode "Brother, Can You Spare The Time?": Tommy has just won an award for a video he's shot, and his brother, Dil, keeps intruding on a video he's shooting about himself because he [Dil] is worried that the fame will go to Tommy's head.
      Dil: Who knows what effects the "cross the fame border" has on sibling symbiosis? Once you're a big time director, the dynamic duel of T and D Pickles will be no more.
      Tommy: First of all, even if I do get famous, who's to say that you won't be the brother that got famous too?
      Dil: Two words, T, Lars Christian Anderson.
      Tommy: Who's that?
      Dil: Exactly.
    • There's a later scene where Dil uses Gabe Ruth to further his argument, and he even takes the argument to a TV talk show.
  • From the Animaniacs episode "Piano Rag":
    Yakko: Very Pete Townshend-esque.
    Dot: Who?
    Wakko: Exactly.
  • The Family Guy episode "Lois Comes Out Of Her Shell" has this exchange between Brian and Stewie:
    Stewie: Justin Bieber is so yesterday. I'm all about Quentin Vashay now.
    Brian: Who's Quentin Vashay?
    Stewie: Exactly.
  • Used on Fillmore!, when Fillmore and Ingrid are interrogating an artist suspected of doing graffiti:
    Tommy: I ain't goin' out like Charles Laskey, know what I'm sayin'?
    Ingrid: Who's Charles Laskey?
    Tommy: That's what I'm sayin', know what I'm sayin'?
  • Used in Frisky Dingo, when Killface's son comes out of the closet and Xander, Killface's rival in the presidential election, wants to use the news against his campaign.
    Stan: Nope, we leave this one alone.
    Xander: Why?
    Stan: Because two words: John Kerry.
    Xander: Who?
    Stan: Exactly.
    Xander: [Beat] ...He some sort of famous gay dude?
  • Men in Black: The Series: Agent K's way to make Agent J (and the viewers) understand a certain weapon's power was mentioning Earth's second moon. When J pointed out Earth had no second moon, the trope came into play.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: In "Time Out", Dakota mentions he became a time traveller to prevent the Mississippi Purchase. When his partner asks if he means the Louisiana Purchase, Dakota replies "You're welcome." Later in the same episode, another time travel agent mentions a similar thing about World War 3 and 4.
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "Black Friday", when Stan tries to convince the goth kids that they don't want the PS4 to lose to the Xbox One like Betamax lost to VHS.
    Henrietta: What's Betamax?
    Stan: Exactly!
    Michael: What's VHS?
  • Parodied on The Simpsons; after Lisa fails her audition for first chair in the school orchestra and tells herself there's no shame in being second place, she has a dream about being a member of "Garfunkel, Oates, Messina, and Lisa", the second-most popular band in America. The group is sponsored by Avis Rent-a-Car and has a #2 single called "Born To Runner-Up".
  • Steven Universe has Mayor Dewey use this when Steven doesn't recognize the name Ocean Town. It wasn't necessarily Dewey's intended point given that his next mention of Ocean Town to people got a 'Too soon', but it was close enough.
  • In the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "Crisis Point", which is set around a holodeck program that's a parody of the Star Trek movies (rather than the series), Boimler refuses to take part, and Mariner says he probably wouldn't have been in it anyway because he's "kind of a Xon". (Xon being a Vulcan who was cut from Star Trek: The Motion Picture,)
    Boimler: Who's Xon?
    Mariner: Exactly.
  • In the TaleSpin episode "Bearly Alive", when Baloo is expressing his intent to fly through the Bearmuda Trapezoid and go down in history, he compares himself to Amelia Airhead, Charles Limberger, the Kitty Hawk Kids and Oscar Wigglestomper. Rebecca asks who Oscar Wigglestomper is, and Baloo replies "He never did anything historic!" (This turns out to be a Brick Joke, when the aviators trapped in the Trapezoid include all the names Baloo mentioned, and Wigglestomper is unsurprised that Baloo doesn't recognise him.)

    Real Life 
  • Adolf Hitler says: "Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
    • He may have invoked this trope, but the annihilation of the Armenians was a very real event from around the time of World War I. This quote is often used to argue that The Holocaust was at least in part inspired by Turkey's genocide of the Armenians, and its ability to go unpunished for it.
    • The Armenian Genocide had somewhat fallen into obscurity at the time, so it worked. Only later was it made more famous once the United Nations adopted laws against genocide and the Armenian diaspora attempted to finally bring it to justice. Due to Turkey invoking the Streisand Effect, they only brought more attention to it in their efforts to cover it up.
  • From the Genghis Khan page on This Very Wiki: after a long list of conquered nations, the page asks you to "consider the Khwarazmian Dynasty. Oh, you've never heard of them? Exactly."note 
  • Conspiracy Theorists will sometimes resort to the argument that the reason they can't produce evidence for their claims is because the conspiracy covered it up so effectively. Conversely, this is countered by asking how they know anything about this cover-up if it was so effective - which is then met with varying levels of "That's what they WANT you to think!" and other I Know You Know I Know shenanigans.


Video Example(s):


Accrington Stanley?

Two young boys discuss their preferred after exercise refreshments. From a 1980s ad by the UK milk industry.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / AppealToObscurity

Media sources: