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Arbitrary Skepticism

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Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoe: We live in a spaceship, dear.
Wash: ...So?

Real skepticism entails requiring evidence of good quality before believing something is true. Arbitrary Skepticism is the tendency of characters who deal with the strange and bizarre on a daily basis, or even are themselves weird and supernatural, to dismiss anything "strange" off-hand rather than consider that, in light of everything else they've seen and experienced, a "fantastic" explanation really isn't that far-fetched.

Sometimes it makes sense — after all, just because aliens exist, it doesn't follow that something unrelated does as well — but the viewer is often left wondering how a character who has seen ghosts and vampires can feel so comfortable in immediately dismissing the possibility of, say, Santa Claus. It's not Arbitrary Skepticism if the character came to their conclusion through research and thought, and has a plausible explanation of why Santa can't exist, or why this specific instance seems unlikely (for instance, Psychic Powers might exist, but this psychic seems to be faking it).

Sometimes this is used to define the extent of the fantasy of the world: for example, letting the viewer know that in this Fantasy Kitchen Sink, there are no vampires or ghosts, even if there are unicorns. Sometimes characters will discuss this, comparing someone's cynicism about talking bats to their fighting dragons last week. On the other hand, if dragons have been known to exist all along in the setting (and thus in the context of that world aren't fantasy creatures at all), their existence no more validates the possibility of vampires than does the existence of the duck-billed platypus in real life. Overall, however much this trope would make sense depends on whether what we in the real world would think of as the paranormal/supernatural is common knowledge in the setting, if it's a Masquerade setting, or it's some combination of the two (e.g. vampires and werewolves are common knowledge but ghosts are not,note  even though they all exist).

The Agent Scully is fond of this. When two people have different ideas about what is and isn't possible/real, determining if something is Beyond the Impossible is difficult, but the Scully will always chose the more mundane/less fantastic possibility.

Compare This Is Reality and Eskimos Aren't Real. A staple in Crossover Cosmologies and Fantasy Kitchen Sink humor. Effectively the aversion of All Myths Are True. See also Flat-Earth Atheist (when the character insists in not believing anything paranormal despite clear evidence), If Jesus, Then Aliens, Skepticism Failure, Skeptic No Longer, How Unscientific!, Scully Syndrome and No Such Thing as Space Jesus.


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  • An M&M's commercial that makes the holiday rounds. The giant anthropomorphic candies have already been shown interacting fairly well with humans (short of the times said humans want to eat them), so why should Santa Claus have been such a skeptic? (Besides symmetrical Rule of Funny.)
  • A UK advertisement for Muller yoghurt has two women talking about a new Greek-style yoghurt that's fat-free. One of the women then states that 'fat-free' is a myth, and it is then revealed that two women are centaurs.

    Audio Plays 
  • Creatures of Beauty, a Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama, features the Doctor and Nyssa encountering the Veln. They know about aliens, but refuse to believe that there is more than one kind of alien: Even after blood-testing Nyssa they discover she's not Veln and assume she's Koteem. After finding no match with Koteem blood samples, one remarks that it must mean that she's a Koteem with a "different sort of blood".

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: In "Asterix and the Magic Carpet", the Big Bad's henchman says:
    Owzat: I don't believe in that kind of miracle, o divine master. Flying carpets are one thing, but rain-making is sheer science fiction!
  • Atomic Robo absolutely refuses to believe in Time Travel — even as he's talking to three past versions of himself, even when he has encountered ghosts and at least one Eldritch Abomination.
    Atomic Robo: No such thing as time travel. We're only experiencing this nonlinear episode due to interacting with physics outside our universe.
  • Beasts of Burden: Pugsley is always the first to dismiss any talk supernatural phenomena as superstitious nonsense, no matter how much weird stuff he sees (like witch-cats in "The Unfamiliar" or a ghost in "Stray").
    Pugs: Just 'cause your doghouse was haunted doesn't mean everything's spooks!
  • The DCU:
    • 52: Dr. Will Magnus reveals that he's spent his entire life being hounded by this. His Metal Men operate under the idea that each element has a specific personality trait attached to it, and an individual's psyche was determined partially by the chemical make-up of his body. He wound up laughed at by almost every serious scientific institute, save for his Evil Mentor Dr. Thomas Morrow. When he explains this theory to Chang Tzu, a giant, sentient egg-like creature who's running an island containing all the world's mad scientists and is forcing Magnus to build a new Metal Man based on the scientific theory Magnus just described to him he remarks that's completely absurd. Magnus then reveals he already rebuilt his original Metal Men and has them murder Chang Tzu. Then again, he also admits that his theory resulted in a device that's basically a Black Box - it's possible his theory is closer to alchemy or Magitek than true science.
    • Bruce Wayne (Batman) and the late Ted Knight (Starman) claim to be atheists, and Ted has explicitly stated that he doesn't believe in anything supernatural. This is despite having both of them having had regular interactions with magicians, clairvoyants, angels, demons and Greek gods.
    • Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt) justifies his atheism by pointing out that the Justice League has encountered a great many nigh-omnipotent beings who haven't claimed to be gods, so he sees no particular reason to believe those who do. This became especially hilarious when he would encounter his dead wife and child (their deaths having led to his atheism) in the afterlife and later actually meet God. As Ragman points out, there are explicitly souls (Ragman's powers coming from them). Mr. Terrific promptly Handwaves this with a comment about energy. To a man who is literally wearing a suit made of corrupted souls. In later years, several characters have started pointing out that his denial of God is getting petty and ridiculous.
    • Batman's second post-Crisis encounter with Bat-Mite. In the first encounter, he understandably assumes his momentary glimpse of the being is his imagination. In his second, a Superman team-up, he concludes Bat-Mite is a creation of Mr. Mxyzptlk. In other words, it's perfectly acceptable for eccentric, reality-warping, extradimensional imps to exist, just as long as they're Clark's problem and not his.
    • Robin (1993): In one story arc Tim is contacted by what appears to be a version of Alfred from a Bad Future where someone in the Bat-Family has devastated Gotham. Robin is unable to convince Batman that it actually happened, because, quoth the Bat, "Time travel is scientifically impossible." Even though Batman himself works with time travelers in the Justice League and has traveled through time dozens of times himself. Then it turns out that it was a test to see if Robin was prepared to accept the idea of Batman going rogue and be able to deal with it on his own.
    • Moving right along, in one Batman graphic novel, Batman meets up with aliens — the abducting, Anal Probing kind. This rattles him badly, as he always considered such beings to be pure myth. For those unaware, one of Batman's closest friends, Superman, is an alien, though he may have meant that the big-headed Anal Probing aliens were a myth, rather than aliens in general.
    • In one DC Universe Holiday Bash story, "No, Bart, There Really Isn't a Santa Claus", Max Mercury doesn't believe in Santa, and is rather surprised that Impulse does. But Impulse correctly points out that a guy who can travel around the world in a single night, knows what everyone wants for Christmas, and can enter and leave your house without you noticing makes perfect sense in the DCU. Max is finally reduced to arguing that if someone did have all those amazing powers, they wouldn't be selfless enough to devote their lives to others, from their secret base in the Arctic...
    • Green Lantern: Saarek has the power to communicate with the dead. Despite using it to great effect, the other Lanterns doubt his talent.
    • Legion of Super-Heroes: In The Great Darkness Saga, the Legion travels to Zerox, most famously known as the Sorcerers' World, inhabited by wizards who are constantly changing the landscape merely for showing off, and where Legionnaire Dream Girl's sister White Witch studied magic in the past. All the same, Dawnstar -whose race is deeply spiritual- still believes magic is a hoax.
    • Superman: A Pre-Crisis Superman story actually featured a group of people who refused to believe that Superman was really an alien. It turned out that these people were in fact aliens themselves, but, being stranded on Earth seemingly forever, opted to erase their own memories so they could live normal lives among humans. Their skepticism was a side effect of the brainwashing. In the end Superman helps them return to space. Not only didn't they believe that Superman was an alien, they claimed that there was no such thing as space travel and all reports of missions that had been flown were hoaxes.
    • In Adventure Comics #396, Supergirl declares magic to be "superstitious nonsense", despite dealing with magical creatures on a daily basis, and magic being one of the few things that can hurt her.
    • The Hunt for Reactron: Even though the JLA has met gods, and Superman himself has bumped into the Kryptonian goddess Cythonna, Kara believes Krypton's top god Rao to be a fairy tale and her Raotian friend Thara Ak-Var a fundamentalist nutjob. She changes her tune when Thara becomes the incarnation of the goddess Flamebird.
    • Death & the Family: When Dr. Light informs Supergirl that they have analyzed tissue samples of Insect Queen's giant critters, and their genetic makeup seems to be insect DNA hybridized with something else, Kara asks if it could be partially human. Dr. Light finds it hard to believe, but Gangbuster points out they are dealing with alien insects who have erected a hive in the middle of Metropolis.
      Supergirl: Doctor, could the tissue you've been unable to identify be partially human?
      Dr. Light: Human? That seems unlikely—-
      Gangbuster: Says the lady who watched alien insects erect a hive in the middle of the city in a matter of days.
    • The Death of Luthor: When Supergirl reveals her existence to the public, Lex Luthor refuses to believe she is real, despite notoriously and repeatedly clashing with a Kryptonian. He is utterly certain that Superman is hoaxing the underworld with a robot.
    • In Swamp Thing, some time after Alec's (the title character's) presumed death, Adam Strange drops in on Alec's lover Abby with a message that he's still alive and will return to her soon. Abby's delight turns to angry disbelief when Strange explains that he met the Swamp Thing on the planet Rann, which he visits periodically via zeta beam. In tears, she tells him to "call up Scotty on your communicator and tell him to zeta beam you the hell out of here, you goddamned lunatic!" This, despite the fact that she's been witness for many years to all sorts of paranormal occurrences and creatures (like her lover).
    • Teen Titans:
      • It seems like in every single issue there would be some supernatural/psychic/alien/other fantastic threat that a civilian or single Titan would witness, only for most of the team to blow it off as imaginary or the viewer as crazy until they did a little bit of investigating and then stop said threat, then the same exact thing happens next issue.
      • In a New Teen Titans issue dealing with a girl who is possibly possessed, most of the Titans act like demonic possession is impossible. This is despite having encountered supernatural beings and gods before, and Raven, one of their own teammates, being the daughter of a demon. To his credit, despite initial skepticism, Robin eventually says that he gave up wondering what was crazy the first time he met The Spectre.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): After their encounter with an Ancient Egyptian who claimed himself immortal and faded away following his defeat Steve Trevor is rather dumbfounded that the two Holliday College professors they brouht along are happy to denounce the entire thing as something they hallucinated or dreamed up, considering they're standing right next to the magical immortal Amazon Princess Diana whose youthful looking mother has been around since the now fabled siege of Troy and is mentioned in actual Greek Mythology.
    • Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons dismisses Odin and the Valkyries as "Nordic Myth". Colonel Darnell also dismisses them when told about Valkyries by his own soldiers, but changes his tune as soon as Wonder Woman shows up to investigate, deciding that if she's there, there must be some credibility to the stories. The Amazon Queen is the one who needs more proof that they exist, and then that they are anything but creations of the Nazis, despite having seen things far more fantastic than Wonder Woman on several occasions.
    • While Golden Age Earth-Two Wonder Woman has an open mind, her Silver Age Earth One counterpart can be skeptical to an unhealthy degree. In issue #113, after being told about a spinx that will come to life when it sees Queen Mikra, about how she looks just like this queen, Wonder Woman decides to take Steve Trevor out to the desert to prove it's just a myth. When the Spinx moves, roars, blasts her with Eye Beams and starts speaking English, Wonder Woman tries to convince herself it's just a nightmare she will soon wake up from. Earth One Wonder Woman's setting is less fantastical than her Earth Two counterpart's, if one ignores the Shared Universe elements that are more pronounced on Earth One anyway, but it doesn't change the fact Earth One Wonder Woman has super powers gifted to her directly from the goddesses of Olympus and Hermes.
    • JSA Classified: In the "Nightfall" arc Mid-Nite, who regularly fights the plant zombie named Solomon Grundy alongside the JSA and lives in a world where there's at least one actual vampire acting as a hero, refuses to believe that the fanged serial killer with no heat signature whose been running around biting people and draining their blood could possibly be a vampire. In the end it seems that Mid-Night was actually right.
    • After the 2011 DC Universe Reboot, Dan DiDio was quoted as saying that one of the reasons it was decided that Barbara Gordon -Batgirl- should able to regain her mobility (after spending two decades since being shot by The Joker in a wheelchair as the information-brokering Oracle) was that it required "too much suspension of disbelief" for her to remain wheelchair-bound in a universe where all sorts of magical cures were available.
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics:
    • In an Uncle Scrooge comic book, Scrooge and company are on a quest to track down the fabled Philosopher's Stone — but when Huey, Dewey and Louie suggest visiting the Labyrinth in Crete, Scrooge and Donald Duck laugh it off as a myth.
    • Goofy, who is usually the most naive and gullible individual in the Disney pantheon, turns into a very persistent skeptic every time he gets a visit from an old-style witch named Hazel. No matter how many fantastic tricks Hazel does for him, he absolutely refuses to believe that she is a real witch who can do real magic. Goofy also steadfastly refused to believe that Eega Beeva (a human from the far future who looks rather like a sensory homunculus) was real when him and Mickey first encountered him, until Eega demonstrated his realness by punching Goofy in the face.
    • In general, there are so many stories about the protagonists facing various supernatural creatures, aliens, magic, etc., that only Negative Continuity explains how can they ever be surprised or skeptical about anything at all.
    • Lampshaded in the story "Uncle Scrooge and the Wonderful Wishing Crown":
      Huey, Dewey, Louie: It's said the crown will magically grant three wishes to those brave enough to find it! Interested?
      Scrooge: No! Wishes are the stuff of children's bedtime stories! Don't waste my time!
      Donald: Odd skepticism, coming from the duck who discovered lost Atlantis and the Philosopher's Stone—wouldn't you say?
  • Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom (the Jim Shooter reboot): Having willed himself back into existence as a godlike being following his death in an experiment that was sabotaged, Dr Phil Solar discovers that one of the anomalies caused by his rebirth has given a bad sci-fi writer named Pickerel the ability to spontaneously create life. After turning himself into electrical impulses and telephoning himself into his Secret-Keeper's house:
    Solar: Pickerel's characters are coming to life. Leviathan and another one called Glow.
    Dr Clarkson: "Coming to life". Phil, I've had to accept some extraordinary things since this all began...
    Solar: Doctor Clarkson, I came into your kitchen through the phone. Are you really going to doubt what I'm saying?
    Clarkson: Well... in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe comic "Tesseract", the Tenth Doctor refuses to believe that his new companion Emily has encountered beings called the Tef'Aree that live in the Time Vortex, because they're the subject of Gallifreyan fairytales. His rationalization that she heard the word somewhere is particularly flimsy — WHERE would she have heard it?
  • Ghostbusters (IDW Comics): Egon, full stop. Ghosts, ancient deities, demons, creatures and people from parallel dimensions... sure. But aliens? Absolutely not. The Transformers crossover naturally makes him grow out of that belief.
  • A major point of Invader Zim (Oni) is that Dib knows about all sorts of paranormal phenomena, most notably Zim, but can't convince anyone. One issue focuses on his classmates' weird theories about their teacher, Ms. Bitters, while Dib is the only one who thinks that she's a normal (albeit nasty) old woman.
  • Iznogoud: Played for laughs with Wa'at, who outright says in "Iznogoud on Thin Ice" that while flying carpets and magicians are perfectly acceptable facts to him, a woman able to freeze people with her face is ridiculous.
  • Judge Dredd: Defied by Judge Dredd during the "Titan" arc when a vengeful former Judge apparently comes Back from the Dead as an ice monster. A younger Judge calls it impossible, so Dredd points out that they live in the same universe as zombies, ghosts, and the Devil himself.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, despite the fact that Allan and Mina live in a world in which every work of fiction exists, they'll occasionally decide that the idea of, say, a mindreader or a magician is just too far-fetched. This is justified, though; the 1890s setting is when the fantastic really came to the fore in fiction, and the British government has tried its damnedest to keep fantastic elements a secret from the public anyway. Mina doesn't know that a man named Gullivar Jones flew to Mars on a flying carpet, for instance — and had all this time thought her encounter with Dracula to be an anomaly, not akin to something she would soon deal with every day.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Giant-Man is particularly ironic. He is an atheist despite knowing the existence of Eternity, the living personification of the universe. Thor and other gods he dismisses as extradimensional beings, but to be a straight atheist and dismiss Eternity is a stretch. From Avengers vs. Atlas:
    Giant-Man: Sirens, that's a... myth...
    The Wasp: You do remember we've got Thor on our team, right?
    • It's been suggested that his disbelief may be a coping mechanism. Hank Pym is prone to mental illness (delusions of grandeur and bipolar disorder, in particular). Clinging to a set definition of "real" vs. "unreal," even if it's inaccurate, helps keep him mentally grounded.
    • Avengers: Back to Basics: Bruce calls out Thor on this when the latter claims that the undead warriors trying to bring about Ragnarok are a myth, since according to common wisdom so is Thor himself.
    Loki: Tell me, Thor — do you remember the Desir?
    Thor: They... they are myth.
    Bruce: Says the Norse god of Thunder.
    • Fantastic Four: In most continuities, Reed Richards doesn't believe in magic. Not even when he's standing beside it. Once in a blue moon, he'll admit that he recognizes that it exists (kinda hard not to when one of your best friends is Doctor Strange) but just doesn't understand it, being unable to understand why it doesn't operate scientifically. At times, it seems that his denial of magic comes from annoyance that despite his genius, Reed hasn't yet figured out how to explain it scientifically.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy:
      • During a team-up with Thor, most of the Guardians refuse to believe he's an actual god at first. This is after they've done things like time-travel, met Doctor Strange and Valkyrie, who is from the same place as Thor.
      • In the middle of War of Kings, Adam Warlock asks Major Victory if he believes in werewolves. Bear in mind Adam's a genetically engineered superbeing using what is essentially magic (he just refuses to call it such), and more importantly, werewolves do exist in the Marvel universe. Major Victory points out that given the circumstances, he's willing to believe in anything at that point.
    • The Incredible Hulk: One issue of Bruce Jones's controversial run on Hulk (1999) involving X-Files-type shenanigans with Gray-style aliens has the Hulk casually dismiss the idea, saying he doesn't believe in aliens. Needless to say, the Marvel Universe in general and the Hulk's life in particular are always up to their eyeballs in aliens, and he knows that perfectly well.
    • Spider-Man:
      • When Spider-Man first joins The Avengers as a reserve, he helps the team fight a break-out at Project Pegasus. At one point, Captain America mentions the Lava Men. Spidey laughs it off, stating matter-of-factly he does not believe in Lava Men. This is despite the fact that not only is he a superhuman joining a team of gods, mutants, super soldiers, and androids, not only is he fighting equally inhuman villains at the time, but one of his own rogues resembles Lava Men a great deal: the Molten Man.
      • In the crossover "Superman and Spider-Man", Wonder Woman tries to bind Spider-Man with her magic lasso. As he dodges her, Spider-Man, who has fought alongside Doctor Strange several times and faced plenty of magical threats, declares he does not believe in "magic lassos".
      • Spidey once thought the idea of alchemy being real was absurd when he fought the old Fantastic Four villain Diablo (who was living proof that it was) at first thinking he was some sort of illusionist like Mysterio. (Of course, seeing as most scientists tend to universally regard alchemy as a "fake science", it was hard to blame Peter, someone who had studied biochemistry and other physical sciences most of his life.)
      • Try as hard as you cosmically can, you can never get the Superior Spider-Man to believe the legitimacy of any mystical aspect of the Marvel Universe. Sorcerer Supreme? Hack. Inter-dimensional representation of the Spider? It's got the word "totem" in it so it's just stupid rambling.
    • From Wolverine Vol. 4 #17:
    Gorilla-Man: You mean... this is literally a tunnel to China? That's insane. And this is coming from a talking gorilla.
    • Tales of Suspense: Red Ledger: Bucky's refusal to even consider that Natasha is truly dead is strange enough in a universe known for people coming back to life all the time but is even more ridiculous coming from a man who was considered dead for more than a century. And of course, Natasha turns out to be alive after all.
    • Ultimate Marvel:
      • Ultimate Spider-Man: Ben Urich wants to run a story on recent vampire activity in New York and Jameson refuses to publish it. As Urich lampshades, mutants, Spider-Men, frozen people and supersuits are all plausible but Jameson chooses to draw the line at believing in vampires for some reason. (This is made even more amusing by the fact that in the main Marvel continuity, Jameson's son is a werewolf.) This may actually be making fun of a moment in the Peter Parker comic series where main universe Spider-Man suddenly draws the line at believing in vampires... despite having fought a massive number of bizarre entities before. And living in the same universe as Blade. And actually having fought vampires before, like Morbius (who isn't technically a supernatural vampire), and Count Dracula (who, well, is). This is merely so Spider-Man can be proven "right" when the vampire in question proves to be a science-based rather than supernatural vampire, like Morbius. Despite the fact that Morbius, despite not being a supernatural monster, is still a vampire for almost any useful definition of the term.
      • Later on, when Spidey rescues Urich from a girl he was interviewing after she was bitten by a vampire, he lampshades this out loud after bringing Urich to a hospital and the doctors initially don't believe what happened.
      Spider-Man: Listen! You are talking to a man with spider powers, and I am telling you he was bitten by a vampire!
    • Ultimate Thor: Brian Braddock thinks that, if Captain America could be found in ice and brought back to life, then it shouldn't be too weird to accept Thor's story. His father replies that Cap's case was a combination of genetics and cryogenics, scientific stuff; Thor's claims of being a reborn god are something completely different. Thor's right, by the way.
    • What If?: In the "Avengers of the 50s" issue, Marvel Boy — who grew up on the planet Uranus and is telepathic — seems to have difficulty accepting that Venus is the mythological goddess Venus.
    • In an early X-Men issue, Iceman encounters the Super-Adaptoid — a robot villain — alone in the woods and goes to tell the rest of the team. Despite the fact that the team has fought monsters, aliens, and, yes, robots many times, they refuse to believe his story for no apparent reason. Not only that, their resolute belief that if there really were sinister robots about it certainly would have been someone other than Iceman who spotted them is so convincing, that Iceman himself starts to wonder whether he's remembering the incident correctly.
      • During an issue of New X-Men, the commander of Sentinel Squad O*N*E, a former Mutant who was depowered by the Scarlet Witch warping reality, expresses skepticism about magic to Amanda Sefton, who is a witch. She tells him if Doctor Strange were there, he'd turn the man into a llama just for that.
  • Doctor Strange himself plays with in one issue where he dismisses a supposed mystic teacher as a charlatan. His business manager Sarah Wolfe immediately responds, “I would think that you of all men would be more open to the possibility.” He answers that he of all men knows how how few true practitioners there are, and how many impostors.
  • During one point in the Wonder Woman issue of Scooby-Doo! Team-Up, Daphne says it's weird that beasts like the Minotaur, a dragon, or harpies could be on Paradise Island, given that they're merely mythological. Wonder Woman points out that some people would call Amazons or talking dogs mythological as well.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Ratchet rejects anything religious or spiritual: Primus, Spectralism, the afterlife, magic, and so on. This universe includes plenty of magic, a Dead Universe that resurrects Transformers as zombies, and so on.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Bloom County, Oliver Wendell Jones lives around talking animals (one of which is a basselope), has witnessed more than one Alien Invasion, is friends with someone who has a closet of living anxieties, and is himself a Child Prodigy who has created clones out of a chemistry set and a teleporting machine. But astrology? He calls it "pseudo-science bibble-babble".
    "Bloody difficult to be an agnostic these days."
  • In the retrospective The Prehistory of The Far Side, Gary Larson shares one instance where his fans called him out on an entomological error. The comic depicted an anthropomorphized male mosquito, dressed in a coat and hat, walking into his house and complaining to his wife, "What a day! I must have spread malaria across half the country!" Fans were quick to point out that it's the female mosquitoes that suck blood (and therefore spread diseases), not the males. Gary Larson admitted the mistake, but wryly added, "Of course, it's perfectly acceptable that these creatures wear clothes, live in houses, speak English, etc."

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: Milo's Return: While traveling to Hellstrom's castle, Audrey questions the idea that the storm they're flying through is caused by the power of the old gods. Vinny lampshades this immediately by pointing out that they have already encountered several entities with godlike powers.
  • Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: When the turtles first meet Batman, Leonardo mentions that he'd heard rumors of a giant bat that lived in Gotham and fought crime, but had dismissed them as being ridiculous. Despite, you know, being a giant turtle who fights crime.
  • Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen: The kid who knows a talking reindeer doesn't believe in Santa.
  • At the start of Justice League Dark, Batman expressed disbelief about magic causing people to commit random acts of violence (as they're seeing demons instead of normal people), despite One: being set in the same DC Universe Animated Original Movies universe that started with Justice League: War and thus Shazam is a founding member of the League; Two: Justice League vs. Teen Titans (in the movie before this one in this continuity) featuring Trigon as the main villain; and three: in addition to Superman mentioning Shazam and Wonder Woman mentioning Trigon, the latter also mentioned Noodle Incidents involving Circe and Felix Faust—the last of whom even appears in the movie.
  • In The Polar Express the protagonist is doubtful Santa Claus exists, even though he's riding a magic train (and he can't claim to not know it's magic, since it literally appeared out of nowhere). Even when he reaches the North Pole which is full of elves and an entire Christmas town he has a hard time believing Santa is in charge.
  • In The Secret of Kells, when Aisling is trying to warn Brendan about Crom Cruach, he tells her that Crom is "pagan nonsense" and that it's silly to be afraid of imaginary things. The irony that comes with saying all of this to a fairy seems to be lost on him.

  • A campfire song (to the tune of "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes") seems to be about this effect:
    There are no bananas in the sky, in the sky.
    There are no bananas in the sky, in the sky.
    There's a sun and a moon and a coconut cream pie,
    But there are no bananas in the sky.

    Myths & Religion 
  • C. S. Lewis argued the story of Thomas doubting Jesus had risen was this. When Jesus told him "You have believed because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed." this was not, in Lewis's view, endorsing a blind faith. Rather, because Thomas had already seen Jesus perform many miracles (including another resurrection) and heard him predict his own, refusal to believe without seeing him was unreasonable. For someone else, Lewis agreed it would be reasonable wanting to see Jesus personally before they believed.

  • Chloe in The Bright Sessions, initially refuses to believe that she could be telepathic, instead insisting that she can hear the voices of angels. This is in spite of the fact that she knows her own mother is telekinetic.
  • During the first season of The Magnus Archives, the Archivist is bizarrely determined to reject stories about supernatural forces, even though he knows for a fact that magic books and sentient hive-minds are things that exist. Later justified when we discover that he's been playing up the skeptic angle on purpose; he can sense that he's being watched, and he's worried that he might anger the watcher if he doesn't play-act as Agent Scully.
  • Discussed in an episode of Rule of Three, a podcast devoted to discussing and analysing comedy, in an episode featuring Paul King, the director of Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2. King at one point discusses criticism that the film has received of the unlikely house that the main characters live in, which is too large and centrally located within the highly-expensive Notting Hill district for the characters to realistically afford. King notes in amusement that these people don't seem to have much trouble suspending their disbelief with regards to the talking bear that the films revolve around.
  • In "Beyond Belief", a show from The Thrilling Adventure Hour wherein a married couple solve supernatural mysteries together:
    Sadie: Frank, when did you decide there's no possible such thing as a talking dog? Was it when we met a cat-headed goddess? Oh — was it when I turned into a vampire and back in an evening? Or was it when a genie granted us three wishes of our very own?
  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • Invoked after Khoshekh, the cat found hovering in the men's bathroom, gave birth to a litter of kittens.
      Cecil: How does a he-cat give birth? Well, how does a he-cat hover in an immobile spot in a radio station bathroom?
    • Many of the inhabitants of Night Vale do not believe in mountains. Cecil was one of them, declared the entire concept absurd, and denounced those who did, until one of his friends drove him out to show him a mountain. At this point he conceded that at least one mountain probably existed, though he did not rule out the possibility that the mountain-believers had built it to create evidence for their beliefs. Intern Dana is also surprised to see a mountain despite currently being trapped in a infinite barren desert overlaid over the real world but never interacting with it.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Finn admits that they're dealing with the physically impossible when it comes to their newly acquired superpowers. That said, he still finds himself unable to believe that Katheryn could be sentient ink, rather than some other organic substance.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Are You a Werewolf, a variant of a Russian game, Mafia. The main difference is the addition of character types, among which is the Skeptic. The person who draws that card must refuse to believe in werewolves until someone adjacent to them is killed by one, no matter how many nights someone is mauled mysteriously in the middle of the night.
  • The Palladium game Beyond the Supernatural included the Nega-Psychic class, who can spend all night fighting ghosts and evil wizards and still refuse to acknowledge their existence, or at the very least, rationalize away their experiences. Ironically, Nega-Psychics are psychics whose extreme skepticism weakens supernatural powers around them (including their teammates', unfortunately).
  • Pathfinder has an example of this with the Sasquatch. Its description highlights that even in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting, scholars still doubt the existence of Sasquatches, citing a lack of remains or lairs. Justified in that Sasquatches are remarkably stealthy in their forest habitats, feel no need to build or modify potential lairs, carefully and solemnly bury their dead, and have a language that sounds like natural forest noises.
  • A weird example exists in Warhammer, the severity of it depends on what source you're reading. The Empire refuses to believe in the existence of the Skaven, giant mutant rat people living just below the surface of the world. While this would normally be understandable, it must be pointed out that mutant Beastmen, Elves, Dragons and Magic are all just facts of life in this setting and the Dwarfs exist in a constant state of war with the Skaven. Various sources have explained this as The Empire keeping it hushed up (to keep people from panicking), the Skaven themselves keeping their existence quiet or even some innate magic of the Skaven making they exist. Older sources said that people dismissed them as being a Beastmen variant, despite looking and acting nothing like Beastmen and being far more technologically advanced.
    • Similarly in Warhammer 40,000, Depending on the Writer, the Imperium at large is either mostly ignorant or totally unaware of Chaos and Daemons. Considering all the of various aliens, mutants and psychic powers running around, Chaos gods and Daemons aren't exactly far fetched. That said if you do see Daemons in person you probably won't be telling anyone about it anytime soon, and the Imperium is not very big on education, so it's plausible that the average citizen would simply not know much about Chaos at all.
  • Similar to the above, the World of Darkness setting has the Sleepwalker merit that a character can take. This merit allows a non-supernatural character to see and comprehend magic as performed by mages. Normal people (AKA sleepers) react with Disbelief when they see magic, causing the spell to both fail and have catastrophic consequences for the mage who cast it. Similarly, werewolves have Lunacy, which means that mortals who see them do not understand what is going on and rationalize the experience in their own minds, and changelings have the Mask, which shields mortals from seeing their Fae aspects unless the changeling wills it.

  • Into the Woods:
    • Little Red Riding Hood doesn't believe Jack's really been up the beanstalk or that a hen laid a golden egg despite the world they live in. She similarly responds in disbelief to Cinderella talking to birds despite the fact she talked to a wolf.
    • The Steward and Cinderella's family don't believe the Baker when he reports the Giantess despite a Giant having just been slain a little while ago.
    • Used as a gag when everyone is trying to guess what caused the Witch's garden to be destroyed, listing off Dragons, Giants, and Manticores. The Witch disdainfully comments that Manticores aren't real.
  • In William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Caesar accepts superstition regarding the Lupercal festival as fact, and then refuses to believe a soothsayer telling him that March 15th will be a bad day.
  • Macbeth: Witches can predict the future and cast spells, dead men can come back as ghosts, apparitions can rise from cauldrons... but trees can't move. That would be silly.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: The Interactive Narrator, who's an antropomorphic talking raven, is baffled by the appearance of the shadow-baby in "Crownless". Soon after that, she casually complains about the play not having time for the dragons that are just as much part of the original story as the shadow-baby is.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations:
    • Edgeworth lampshades his own Arbitrary Skepticism when he scoffs at the impossibility of spiritual power, then finds himself looking for any of the "Psycholocks" produced by Phoenix's magatama that would indicate that Iris is hiding something.
      Edgeworth: And here I just finished saying that I don't believe in spiritual power...
    • Edgeworth also dismisses spirit mediums in general, despite the fact that Maya and Pearl have channeled Mia's spirit in court before his very eyes. It's implied that he doesn't see her because he doesn't want to believe. It doesn't help that he's got a grudge against the practice thanks to the DL-6 case, where Misty Fey's channeling of his father resulted in an innocent man being charged for his father's murder.
  • In Kindred Spirits on the Roof, Yuna investigates some rumors of "Hanako-san" the ghost in the bathrooms, but finds out that Megumi, one of the two "kindred spirits" she's gotten to know over the past month, was responsible for the paranormal activity that led to those rumors. Megumi is a bit annoyed that some rumors attributed the phenomena to "monsters," prompting Yuna to express disbelief.
    Yuna: A ghost is telling me she doesn't believe in monsters.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Robo will sometimes point out the impossibility of certain things, despite previously encountering those very same things.
  • Spoofed on Homestar Runner, in the Strong Bad Email myths & legends, where the cut-out of a Bear Holding a Shark is treated as a Bigfoot-like monster:
    Strong Sad: I'm sure it's just a weather balloon or a foreign exchange student. These strange beasts just aren't real!
    Strong Bad: ...said the elephant-footed ghost man.
  • Kirby from Perfect Kirby is shocked when he's told that he has to rescue an alien about the existence of aliens, and his boss points out that Kirby is an alien. It's actually subverted in that he knew aliens existed, he just didn't know any that worked for them. Neil then explains that lots of aliens work for them, including in the cafeteria.
  • RWBY:
    • Every person possesses Aura and has the potential to unlock a Semblance, an individual super-power unique to that person. The heroes know that Semblances can be as varied as gaining super-strength by absorbing electricity, gaining super-speed by bursting into rose petals, full-blown telekinesis, creating clones of oneself, and more. Despite that, when they learn that true magic can be used for shapeshifting into birds, the heroes struggle to believe it and are initially angry and horrified by the revelation. The creators later admitted that they hadn't done a very good job of explaining why shapeshifting is considered so weird in this setting.
    • Team RWBY have learned, and even witnessed, that a number of fairy tales are based on historical events and real people, such as "The Girl in the Tower", "The Two Brothers" and "The Story of the Seasons". However, when Blake suggests they've fallen into a fairy tale in Volume 9, Weiss and Ruby are reluctant to believe it. Ruby initially doubts that falling into a fairy tale is possible, even though a Talking Animal is sitting on her shoulder, while Weiss struggles to rationalise their situation and states the Ever After is a make-believe world from a children's book. Once Little confirms that this world is indeed the Ever After, and Blake summarises the story's plot to point out the similarities to their current experience, both Weiss and Ruby are convinced.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The eponymous doctor is from a family comprised of ninja who never remove their masks for any reason; he lives next to a haunted forest; his hometown has a zombie contingency plan (and yes, it gets used because the guy that instituted it came from the future specifically to do so); his mentor was a clone of Benjamin Franklin; and it only gets weirder from there. So what strikes him as unbelievably absurd? 1. A family legend about Irish proto-ninja defending their village by throwing frozen shamrocks, and 2. an ancient South American doomsday device that will go off if no-one plays tennis with it. For the record, he doesn't disbelieve them so much as think they're completely ridiculous. Which they are. Later on in those storylines, he has to use frozen shamrocks to fend off pirates just like the legend goes and the tennis temple merely unveils the Big Book Of Everything left behind by the tribe that build it.
  • Ava's Demon: Gil immediately brushes off Ava's claim that she's made a pact with a spirit possessing her, despite the fact that he just watched her manifest Playing with Fire powers, she's undergone a Power-Upgrading Deformation, and he himself is dogged by an entity that no one but he can see.
  • Beyond the Canopy: When Glenn tells his friends about getting attacked by ambulatory skeletons and accidentally acquiring a stick with magic powers, they naturally think he has an overactive imagination. What pushes it into Arbitrary Skepticism is that, even after his friends eventually accept that the stick has magic powers, they continue to insist that walking skeletons can't be real.
  • Blood is Mine: Played for Laughs. When Jane and Fuse use tin foil hats to protect themselves from a psychic attack, Michelle refuses to believe that it worked. When Caius calls her out on this, reminding her that they have all experienced far weirder things already, Michelle says that she just doesn't want Grizwald to be right about everything.
  • In Chaos Pet, we have two characters discussing whether dogs can think like humans think. Then, we cut to Sufficiently Advanced Aliens discussing if humans can think or not.
  • Seen here in Clockworks
  • Discussed in the notes for one of the Ravenholm strips in Concerned:
    "... and others wondered how exactly he could be a zombie and not be a mindless undead creature like the rest of the zombies. It just didn't make sense to some people (oddly, no-one has yet questioned how he is able to not only write letters to Dr. Breen, but also have them promptly delivered)."
  • In one strip from The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids, it transpires that the Wellsians — an alien race of telepathic octopi — don't believe in... oceans.
  • Dandy and Company: Bernard's teacher is told that they are living with talking or full-on anthropomorphic animals but doesn't believe it. Then the series experiences Earth Drift, talking and anthropomorphic animals turn out to be fairly common and not particularly secretive about it, with some even being celebrities and... he still won't believe.
  • Inverted in Darths & Droids where, as is pointed out by the DM (and The Rant), the party endlessly nitpicks at everything in the setting... except the existence of the Force as a deity, which they just blindly accept as fact, despite it being one of the few elements with an actual scientific explanation given (midichlorians, which are unambiguously the source of Force powers in this version).
  • Thief from 8-Bit Theater refuses to believe that dragons exist, and actually starts this belief after actually seeing one, and before that he didn't deny they existed when he was told about a dragon. It's later explained as being wishful thinking; he doesn't want dragons to exist so he can stop encountering them.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen anticipated her friends will doubt her story about living another life while asleep. Sarah pointed out that they aren't in position to say an idea is "so out there":
      Sarah: Look at us! We've got an alien hybrid, two magic users, a Mad Scientist and we're all the opposite sex for a party!
    • To the general public in the comic all of that is not just weird, but impossible.
    • In another instance, Justin failed to exhibit this trope. He's making a point and bringing up Big Foot as an example, and then...
      Justin: Wait a minute, after all we've seen... OH MY GOD BIGFOOT IS REAL
    • In a side comic, Susan scoffs at the thought of people making strategies to survive a Zombie Apocalypse, since walking corpses are scientifically impossible, only for Grace to remind her that they live in a world with Functional Magic (which Susan can use herself). Susan promptly changes her tune.
  • Clarice/Agent 146 from A Girl and Her Fed: She deals with ghosts on a near-daily basis and has a cybernetic arm. But refuses to believe that Hope has psychic abilities.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Agatha gets called on exhibiting this trope: Krosp objects that she works with mad scientists and should be able to handle a talking cat.
    • Krosp tries to invoke it on the former Heterodyne Senechal Carson von Mekkhan in Mechanicsburg later on only to be told off that a talking bipedal cat isn't the strangest thing in town. After all, the Heterodynes are a family of incredibly strong Sparks that routinely do things that other Sparks have trouble believing.
    • In a world filled with lightning guns, mind controlling bug robots, and other insane science, Tarvek utterly refuses to believe Gil's flying machine can stay aloft without a gas bag.
    • Later while attending a royal wedding between two secret civilizations Agatha is confused about why they are considered secret when loads of diplomats are turning up for the wedding. Wooster explains that a lot of people just refuse to believe that it exists. Also for added fun one of the visiting diplomats is from a different secret civilization and refuses to believe in the existence of a "surface civilization".
  • Grrl Power lampshades it when Sydney sees through Dabbler's glamour, and accepts the explanation of her being an alien lifeform. (It helps that Sydney works at a comic book store and reads comics, which can have plots involving superheroes and aliens.)
    Maxima: I have to say, Sydney, you don't seem surprised by the existence of aliens, or that Dabbler is one.
    Sydney: Says the giant golden superheroine.
    • This is a recurring thing with Sydney specifically in the comic. As a life-long proudly self-proclaimed comic nerd, her Genre Savviness is at a high enough level to make it practically a super-power in its own right.
  • Subverted in Guilded Age, when Sry'nj promptly accepts Gravedust's talk about visiting the astral plane because he has been using magic involving souls the whole time, and he just used astral travel to bring them all back from the dead.
  • Kat Donlan of Gunnerkrigg Court seems to be mentally distinguishing between magic and science, in a 'verse where that dichotomy may not exist. She has no difficulty accepting the explicitly supernatural: psychopomps, ghosts, fairies, demon-possessed stuffed animals, shadow-men, Physical Gods, pyrokinesis, and people turning into birds. But she doesn't believe in magic, even though her own parents are both science teachers who practice magic. And when it comes to robots, she's reluctant to consider the possibility of magitek, and outright scoffs at the idea of androids realistic enough to pass for humans. Lampshaded by Antimony here.
    Antimony: We have seen stranger. Remember that cursed teapot?
    Kat: Yeahhhhh... But that was... I don't even know what that was about...
  • Hijinks Ensue refers to this as "Scullyosis".
  • Homestuck:
    • Discussed:
      TG: dude monsters aren't real
      TG: that's stupid kids stuff for stupid babies
      EB: maybe. yeah you're right.
      TG: what are you an idiot
      TG: of course there are monsters in your house
      TG: you're in some weird evil monster dimension come on
      TG: skepticism is the crutch of cinematic troglodytes
    • Also played with in this conversation where Karkat scoffs at Kanaya for asking whether magic is real, but then admits that all the stuff Sburb has done for them so far has been magic anyway:
    • It's something of a Running Gag that a surprising number of characters maintain that magic is fakey-fake bullshit despite knowing about — and sometimes having — God-Tier superpowers.
  • In Housepets!, Fido initially considers the idea that a squirrel is a ForcedTransformationed human ridiculous. Fox lampshades it:
    Fox: How is this ridiculous to you!? You are dating a literal witch!
    Fido: Hey, just because I have witnessed direct evidence of ghosts, spirits, prophecies of the future, magic(k)al control over time and space okay maybe you have a point.
  • By the eighth story arc in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, scientist Jean Poule is rather appalled to realize she has LOST her arbitrary skepticism where Bob is concerned.
  • Insecticomics:
    • Starscream's Brigade has encountered the distilled power of Primus in the Matrix, battled against the priest and servants of a chaos god, and communicated with hyperevolved extradimensional beings. Starscream himself is immortal, has seen the afterlife and simply becomes a ghost when his body is destroyed. And yet their master strategist Thrust is repeatedly mocked for his trust in astrology and tarot cards.
    • Flat Earth Atheists Skyfire and Dreadmoon.
  • Lovely Lovecraft: Sybilla Mason. She's a descendant of famed witch Keziah Mason, she studies at Miskatonic University, a semi-magical school with an official oath to fight the forces of darkness, and she (presumably) lives in thoroughly mysterious and creepy Arkham. She somehow still manages to dismiss strange disappearances as lovers eloping, mocks the University oath, and refuses to acknowledge Keziah's witchcraft.
  • MegaTokyo: Piro (and Erika, and sometimes others) openly discredits the concept of zombies, and seems to be completely unaware of the existence of Kaiju, Magical Girls and, possibly, ninjas. This is coming from a guy who takes advice from an angel and devil and, oh yes, has a Robot Girl living with him. There's also his gunslinger friends, the odd gadgets Largo creates, and Hawk, but these may be negligible compared to everything else that happens. Course, there was a certain amount of vagueness on how much of Largovision was actually real, or at least, in the same universe that Pirovision was seeing. Piro seems to mistake zombies for fanboys, or Largo mistakes fanboys for zombies, or both, or something. Piro's not noticing giant beasts, Magical Girls, etc. is probably due to a Perception Filter combined with (or created by) his general obliviousness.
  • Psycho Mantis in the Metal Gear Solid fan Webcomic The Last Days of FOXHOUND is vehemently opposed to the idea of ghosts existing despite increasing evidence that they do when Big Boss possesses Liquid and being confronted by The Sorrow later on. This despite the fact that he is a psychic. The Sorrow lampshades this. The comic seems to provide a reasonable explanation for Mantis' skepticism, namely that he might really want there to not be ghosts, since if there are, that means he's going to have to face a lot of pissed off victims of his when he dies. Rather ironically, his ghost shows up in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
    • Mantis also refuses to accept that Berthold the wolf is psychic, despite his own abilities. This lasts up until Berthold puppeteers Vulcan Raven and threatens to remove Mantis's balls, which satisfies all of Mantis's objections at once.
  • In one Misfile arc Ash refuses to believe that a guy who just challenged him to a race could (a) talk to cars, and (b) be haunted by a dark force. For the record Ash lives with two Angels, has been intermittently stalked by a third, befriended by another racer who was haunted by her dead sister oh, yeah, and he is trapped in a female body.
  • Moonstuck has Science Woona (a magical unicorn pony with wings) gets pretty upset when science is openly defied. Even better — Science Woona is just regular Woona with Nerd Glasses and a labcoat. Guess who used her magical unicorn pony princess powers to defy science?
  • Asia Ellis from Morph E begins her first lesson in magic flat-out rejecting the concept, and when told how to picture an aura states "how can I visualize something which does not exist?". She has already used magic herself once in the story before this point and has had telepathic conversations and been teleported from one location to another. This is only counting the magic applied to her person. She does have reasons for holding firmly to her beliefs in reality, however. Something in her past required her to have to relearn everything she once knew and she does not believe herself capable of going through that again.
  • My Impossible Soulmate: Despite being a fantastical world filled with magic, the idea of "Unbounds" (travelers from another world) is seen by some as nothing more than myths. Most notably, by Nara. Part of this is because, in typical isekai fashion, most if not all of these people are unable to explain how they ended up in this new world.
  • An odd case in Neko The Kitty: Murphy can buy that dragons exist, but not that they can fly. Despite the fact that he saw Rremly fly in. Unfortunately, dragons also depend on Suspension of Disbelief to do things like fly, so as long as Murphy can't believe, they're all stuck in their current location.
    Rremly: I've never had anyone believe I exist but not believe I can fly before. You're weird.
  • Page 81 of Ratfist:
    "I don't believe in angels. Now if you want to talk about aliens, those are totally real. But angels? Nah."
  • Played with a bit in Scary Go Round. After scaring off a ghost with a holograph, The Boy expresses surprise that it would fall for such a trick. Ryan's response: "Ghosts got to be superstitious! Tell them there's a flying top-hat full of yoghurt out to get them... you'll get the benefit of the doubt."
  • In Schlock Mercenary Nick's reaction to a movie he just finished watching. Apparently a movie about ghosts is fine, but not if the main character has both custom grips and a palm lock on his side arm. (But then, the scepticism does make a certain amount of sense... for Nick, anyway.)
    KATHRYN: So... you'll let them make up rules about ghosts, but they can't make up rules about custom pistols?
    NICK: They can't make up rules about custom pistols because I already know those rules.
  • Skin Horse:
    • Lampshaded: this from a talking dog and a patchwork zombie, whose office also employs a Steampunk robot, a swarm of bees, and a helicopter with the brain of a video game nerd. And Tip.
      Sweetheart: Werewolves are storybook monsters, Unity!
      Unity: You're telling a zombie? Whaddya think they are?
      Sweetheart: I don't know! I thought we were after genetically-engineered talking Canadian super-dogs!
      Unity: Yeah, cause that's so much more real.
      Sweetheart: Okay, so this job can get weird.
    • Played for laughs again later, when a New Orleans doctor they meet is accepting and completely used to zombies — but is utterly freaked out when the dog starts talking.
      Remy: Sorry. There's weird, there's New Orleans weird, and apparently there's a third tier I wasn't aware of.
    • And then it turns out that he believes in the voudon "death-like state" zombies — he hadn't realized Unity was an actual deadgirl.
    • Remy in turn lampshades Sweetheart's reluctance to believe in possession.
      Remy: No, I'd never say anything so absurd to a talking dog.
    • The usual lampshade is itself subverted when Sweetheart finds it unlikely that the seemingly exploded Tony and Mecututo were actually teleported to Pavane's mothership, and they ask if it's really that strange.
      Sweetheart: Oh no! You won't get me with that. I won't be so open-minded my brains fall out. I can be a talking dog that lives in a giant robot and still think your thing is weird.
  • Rhea Snaketail, from Slightly Damned, is actually called out on this by another character.
    Sammy: It's funny to hear you excited about Khamega when your best friends are an Angel and a Demon!
  • Sluggy Freelance usually avoids this, at least with its main characters anyway. The bartender Crystal, however, falls pretty squarely into this trope. If she hears the other characters talking about aliens or vampires, she just assumes they're very drunk (which, granted, they usually are around her). She does this despite the fact that she's been to their Halloween parties (where a demon appears each year to devour Torg's soul), and regularly serves alfalfa margaritas to a talking rabbit.
  • You'd think Raphael wouldn't be so fast to discount a few oddities in his world, but in Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, he's completely (violently) unwilling to believe that a human could've been turned into a mutant turtle. It's even lampshaded later on.
  • In This Is the Worst Idea You've Ever Had! Cynthia, the local Cat Girl says vampires don't exist.

    Web Original 
  • In H-M Brown's The First Run, the Reporter doesn't believe that there are farmlands in New Jersey despite the fact that farmlands still exist in the future.
  • Discussed in Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War, as it's noted that the sheer amount of proven paranormal activity and entities in the world make it hard to be seriously skeptical about things like Bigfoot and UFOs.
  • Neopets: A Running Gag is that everyone except for a select few are in denial of Jelly World. This is despite the existence of fairies, witches, wizards, and The Undead being common knowledge in Neopia. They often say that Jelly World can't exist because "that would be silly", despite the existence of Anthropomorphic Food, a devil who's obsessed with underpants, and a villain who's made of snot.
  • Depending on the Writer, the SCP Foundation can fall into this at times via their extremely-strict dedication to scientific method. To take one random example, there's SCP-531, paired cat statues that turn people into more statues. The experimental write-up suggests a reluctance to accept that they can communicate via telepathy and attempts to recreate their "unknown" communication method, despite victims' testimony and the fact that telepathy is one of the least strange things about a typical SCP.
  • Jamie from More Tales of MU has a habit of dismissing as ludicrous rumors that readers know to be true (from MU classic).
  • Texts from Superheroes:
    • Reed Richards asks Franklin if he's written a list for Santa. When Franklin expresses doubt about the existence of someone who can watch people and deliver presents all over the world, Reed mentions people they've met who actually have that kind of power. Reed concludes that he can't be sure whether Santa exists or not, and decides to leave out some cookies, just in case.
    • Likewise, Robin asks Batman if he thinks the Easter Bunny will come while they're on patrol, and Batman answers that Alfred's the one who hides the eggs and he's surprised Robin still believes in the Easter Bunny. Robin points out that, with everything they encounter on a regular basis, a giant rabbit who distributes candy once a year isn't really a stretch.
  • Phase in the Whateley Universe has been trying to convince her friends (mainly Fey and Chaka) that the New Olympians are really avatars of the original Greek Gods, and not just teenagers who have a cool theme team. Fey, Chaka, and the rest refuse to believe. Fey herself is the incarnation (or something) of a Faerie Queen who is far, far older than the Greek Gods! And they all know Carmilla, who is the child of the demon Gothmog, who some of them have met. And Fey has faced Mythos-related magics. (Eventually, they are convinced, but only after talking the some of the New Olympians about it personally).
  • Worm is full of people with physics-defying superpowers, but people still treat the sorts that perceive their powers as magical to be bonkers. This is despite the fact that there is no given scientific explanation for where the powers come from at all. It turns out that one of the people closes to the truth was one of said kooks. She called the source of powers "faeries" rather than "aliens", but was still pretty much there. You could argue if calling the interdimensional Eldritch Abomination Space Whale giving people superpowers "magic" is technically correct or not, but it's certainly beyond human understanding.

    Web Videos 
  • Lampshaded during the Angry Video Game Nerd review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where James Rolfe points out the irony that fans complained that aliens shouldn't exist in the Indiana Jones franchise despite the fact that supernatural curses do.
  • British Cryptids: Although the narration often takes exceedingly weak 'evidence' for the cryptids it is discussing at face value, 'The Woodwose of Cannock Chase' dismisses the existence of Bigfoot out of hand, describing it is as obvious hoax.
  • Shane, the co-host of BuzzFeed Unsolved. In a show that is ostensibly about capturing evidence of ghosts and other paranormal creatures, he has dismissed everything from flashlights turning on at command to voices being caught on EVP to footsteps being audibly heard during one of their investigations as simply coming from natural causes. It's become a running joke in the fandom that for him to actually believe in ghosts, they'd probably have to drop-kick him into the floor.
  • Despite Captain Disillusion being all about debunking hoax videos and remaining skeptical, the titular Captain D doesn't question wisecracking living lens flares, egotistical floating heads, and the other weird things he encounters. This attitude is discussed in "The Undebunkable", where he argues that doubting and mistrusting everything you see is just as bad as believing everything you see, as it can lead to the Conspiracy Theorist mindset.
  • Parodied in LoadingReadyRun with their video "War of Christmas". The basic plot is that Christmas-related objects (tree ornaments, ribbons, inflatable Santas, etc.) are attacking people. Somebody asks if this could be the work of Santa Claus, leading another person to reply along the lines of "Santa Claus? Grow up! This is the Easter Bunny!" Worth noting that it's never actually stated if it is Santa or not.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • During Suburban Knights, the Critic wants to go after a magic gauntlet, but doesn't actually believe that magic exists, much to the chagrin of Linkara (who uses a magic gun). This is despite the fact that the Critic himself has regularly had unrealistic things happen to him like being revived by Optimus Prime, being attacked by a demonic teddy bear, being visited by a guardian angel, and dealing with people with Street Fighter-like powers.
    • From the DVD bonus "Search for the Necronomicon" comes this gem:
      Nostalgia Critic: Now, Chester, what did we talk about? There's no such thing as ghosts.
      Chester A. Bum: Oh, yes! This coming from the guy who said there's no such thing as magical gauntlets, ancient sorcery, or books that can bring people back to life, and yet here we are!
  • In Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Kakyoin still doesn't believe that there's a world inside the mirror. Illusio still shows up in a Early-Bird Cameo to offer Kakyoin and Polnareff a handshake if they reach the ruins at Pompeii.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Arbitrary Scepticism



Morty looks at the moon through a telescope in the front yard when he notices something/someone standing in a mid-stride walking pose. He tells his family about the strange sight, but nobody believes him; they suggest that it was probably a smudge on the lens. The next day at school, he finds out that Mr. Lunas is a real person that came to work as a guidance counselor. Later on, Morty snaps pictures of Lunas, and tells Principal Vagina that he thinks the guy is "up to something" and "lives on the moon". Mr. Vagina mistakes him for a pedophile and confronts Lunas, ending with the former punching the latter in the face. As a result, Mr. Lunas commits suicide. A few days later at his funeral, it's revealed that Lunas was a Marine, and that "from a certain angle, some people would say he looked like a smudge." Morty runs home and sees that there is, in fact, a smudge on the lens.

How well does it match the trope?

4.63 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom

Media sources: