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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?
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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 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, zombies. It's not Arbitrary Skepticism if the character came to their conclusion through research and thought, and has a plausible explanation of why zombies can't exist, or why this specific instance seems unlikely (for instance, Psychic Powers might exist, but this psychic seems to be faking it).

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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. ghosts and vampires are common knowledge but werewolves are notnote , even though they all exist).

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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, If Jesus, Then Aliens, Skepticism Failure, Skeptic No Longer, How Unscientific! and No Such Thing as Space Jesus.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • 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 recent UK advert 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’s then revealed that two women are centaurs.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, when Guts tells Collette's father in volume 1 that he's being chased by a legion of evil spirits, he laughs and says that Guts is safe with him because he's a priest and has God on his side. The appearance of a frightening incubus that night shocks him and he asks if Guts was being serious before, to which Guts says, "You're sayin' you believe in God, but not in evil spirits?"
  • Bleach: Ghosts? Fine, most of the cast can see them. Heartless monsters that eat ghosts? Again, fine, pick up the BFS and let's go kill something. Talking cats? That takes some getting used to. The only cast member who isn't wigged out by Yoruichi on first meeting is Orihime, and that's because she has an overactive imagination. When Ichigo finds out Yoruichi is a person, she even says "Cats don't talk. Use your head a little, Ichigo", implying that she also thinks it's supposed to be impossible and that she's merely an exception due to not being an actual cat.
  • In Dragon Ball, Korin gives Goku a bell around his neck so that that he can ring it when he reaches the abode of God. Yajirobe scoffs at this, saying God isn't real, despite having fought along with Goku several demons and cowering at the prospect of challenging Demon King Piccolo. Ironically, God and Piccolo turn out to be two halves of the same coin.
  • A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun:
    • Touma Kamijou sees esper powers on a regular basis (including being blasted by lightning the previous day) but initially dismisses the idea of magic as nonsense. To him, esper powers at least have a scientific basis.
    • Kuroko Shirai dismisses anything she thinks is scientifically impossible or contradictory to the Power Curriculum, including Gemstone espers (people who were born with esper powers instead of training to get them), Level Upper (a strange sound that gives normal people esper powers and enhances esper's existing powers when they listen to it), and Imagine Breaker (Touma's ability to negate other people's powers). She's wrong every time.
    • When Mikoto Misaka learns of the existence of magic, she assumes it is an exotic form of esper power.
  • Played with in Marginal #4's "Re: 24 Hours" (a mystery drama the characters star in, presented as episode 8 of the anime). Yukito (Atom) is a cop whose partner/mentor was killed. He meets a young man (Rui) at the partner's grave who claims to be that partner, kept from the afterlife for 24 hours to help Yukito solve the case. Yukito gives arbitrary skepticism, but ends up believing him. He shouldn't have - the young man isn't a ghost, he's the partner's nephew, pretending to be his uncle's ghost in order to catch the real killer - Yukito himself.
  • In the two-part Kino's Journey episode "Coliseum", Hermes tries to tell Kino that a one-off character's dog can talk. Kino's response is "Stop being such a liar." Kino's a traveler. Just on screen, she's seen practically every crazy thing under the sun. Ignoring all that, she's talking to a talking motorcycle. To make this a little bit weirder, everyone in Kino's world seems to think like this. No one is ever surprised when Hermes talks, but a talking dog? No way. And in an odd example of Schizo Tech, there are plenty of countries with highly advanced technology, including hovercrafts, but apparently no body's ever built a working airplane.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: When Jotaro is told about Dio being a vampire, he thinks he's being BS'd, until Avdol helpfully points out to him that he just got Psychic Powers a few hours ago.
    • Likewise, the protagonists dismiss the initial observations of Silver Chariot and The Hanged Man with the statements "No user can have more than one Stand" and "It's impossible for a Stand to exist inside of mirrors" respectively, which they announce as though they are ultimate authorities on Stand abilities, despite the fact that Stands keep having new and strange abilities. Ironically, while their dismissals prove true, both "rules" are broken later on - Man in the Mirror explicitly exist within a mirror dimension, Bad Company takes the form of a miniature army (with soldiers, tanks and helicopters), Echoes have multiple forms with distinct separate abilities, and Killer Queen have two sub-Stands (Sheer Heart Attack and Bites The Dust) that can operate independently.
    • The protagonists (with the exception of Kakyoin) also dismiss the idea of a baby having a Stand, despite the fact that not only can children develop Stands (as Polnareff can attest to) but a baby having a Stand is apparently more ludicrous than an orangutan having a Stand, which they'd already encountered at that point. Not to mention that the protagonists had already been established for a while as being Properly Paranoid and immediately suspect any strange activity to be the work of an enemy Stand, but here they dismiss Kakyoin hysterically screaming that a baby they've been escorting is a Stand user as Kakyoin losing his mind.
  • Hell Girl: A client accepts one of Hellgirl's contracts — you pull the red string, and the object of your scorn goes straight to Hell. When Hellgirl explains the price for this service (the one pulling the string also goes to Hell when they die), the client scornfully dismisses the idea that Hell really exists. And Hellgirl magically transported him to her crimson field before they started negotiating.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • Negi cannot convince the other Mages that Chao is from the future, despite the fact that he has a working time machine. They reject the idea on the basis that no-one's ever been able to do it, ignoring the fact that somebody could have figured it out, in the future. You know, where Chao claims she's from. It's like going to 1900 and saying that airplanes are impossible because no one's ever built one. While having a working airplane.
    • Humorously, Meta Girl Chisame goes out of her way to deny the existence of magic — even after she obtains magic powers herself. She doesn't accept it until she finally frees herself from the madness, only to realize that her life is now too boring. She then goes along with it, albeit grudgingly.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: In the first Megami Sound Stage, Nanoha attempts to see if Fate will believe in Santa Claus. It fails the moment Fate, one of the many mages who can fly on her own, reads his description.
    Fate: Also, according to this picture he rides through the sky on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. I don't recall hearing of such an aviation method for small aerial vehicles.
    Nanoha: Um...
    Fate: This can't be magic, can it? How can this be?
  • Parodied in Nurse Witch Komugi R. Tsukasa bakes sweets for her co-star, whom she has a crush on, and he declares them to be delicious. Tsukasa promptly rushes out of the room and giddily wonders whether she's dreaming... while hugging her Mentor Mascot, a spherical, flying, shape-shifting talking cat. Magical Girls and cursed, monster-summing cards are perfectly believable, but apparently her crush liking her food is entirely out of the realm of possibility.
  • Death Note
    • L is willing to believe that Kira uses some sort of psychic power to kill over distance, but completely flips when he first hears about the Shinigamis' existence.
    • Averted in the manga when Sidoh picks up the Death Note. Mello, who is unable to see Sidoh at the time, wonders why it's flying, and a member of his gang notes that if it can kill people, it wouldn't be a surprise if it were alive.
  • One Piece
    • Luffy, whose crew consists of a talking reindeer, a perverted cyborg and a talking skeleton, is amazed that Trafalgar Law has a talking bear in his crew. Whether that's disbelief or just thinking a talking bear is really freaking cool is unclear.
      • His doubt may have been because the bear in question was seemingly not a Devil Fruit user, just a bear who walks and talks like a person. The post-timeskip revealed he is part of a group of humanoid animal tribe known as the Minkmen (whose existence was hinted at when looking at the slave prices in Shabody.)
    • The entire town of Mock Town. When you're on the Grand Line, which screws up physics and natural law so much that it is bluntly stated that anything is possible on this sea, the notion of an "island in the sky" should not be dismissed, especially when it's true.
      • To be quite honest, Skypeia's existence was small potatoes compared to everything that happened in the series after that point. As if to drive the point further, this was in the first half of the Grand Line, later revealed to be utterly tame by comparison to its second half, the New World. If anything, that further enforces the sheer stupidity of the occupants of Mock Town.
    • In the beginning of Thriller Bark, Ussop dismissed the ideas of an invisible man, ghosts and zombies. Each being the cause of his imagination, a weird looking bird and a "under grounders" type of human race respectively. He acknowledges having met a walking talking skeleton a few hours earlier, being the product of a devil fruit, but still dismisses the unusual phenomenon. They all end up being related to devil fruit users.
    • When confronted with an undead swordsman who was once said to have slain a dragon in a single blow, Zoro retorts that he doesn't believe in dragons, in spite of all the other bizarre animals he's encountered during his travels. This becomes a straight-up Plot Hole in the anime, as one of the filler arcs that preceded it involves the Straw Hats encountering an actual dragon.
  • Nagasarete Airantou
    • Ikuto has been on the island long enough to know that the standard rules don't apply to the island, and indeed has gotten to the point that he can talk to the animals of the island, his usual first reaction to a new oddity of the island is to reject any simple fantastic explanation from anyone else (even from the oddity itself) and instead comes up with his own explanation that's usually even more ridiculous (for example, he thinks that all the ghosts on the island are polar bears). Revealed in chapter 126 to be due to a spell his own family placed on him to prevent him from discovering his sister's supernatural abilities. As of the same chapter, said spell is no longer in effect so his skepticism is gone.
    • Ikuto finds himself on the other end of this trope in a later chapter when Ikuto sees an alien and is unable to convince anyone else that it's an alien — they just think it's another talking animal or spirit.
  • Durarara!!
    • Shinra has it on good authority that werewolves and vampires do exist and is dating a dullahan; nevertheless, he finds the idea of alien abductions, psychic powers or doomsday prophesies to be laughably absurd. He justifies this by claiming that the existence of one previously unknown seemingly supernatural being has no implications regarding unrelated phenomena. Shinra actually does acknowledge the possibility of such paranormal phenomena (he says as much at the end of this), it's just that it's not exactly productive to respond to your girlfriend's fears that we'll all die in 2012 with, "Yep, we're probably doomed."
    • The real arbitrary skeptic is probably Izaya, who refuses to believe in any afterlife he can't prove the existence of himself, even though he's on first-name basis with a psychopomp. Subverted later on when he acknowledges that the existence of said psychopomp should teach him to have an open mind.
  • Black Butler Anime: Ciel Phantomhive has a demon for a butler, has seen a crazy transgender grim reaper with a chainsaw, met the actual grim reaper, met an angel, has a demon dog living at his house...but believes the old story of the white stag is simply a fairy tale.
    • Averted in the manga, where Ciel's opinion on what is and isn't possible seems to be "if my demon butler who cannot lie to me tells me outright that X is real/a myth, I'll believe him." The closest he gets to this trope is when he says that "witches" were just innocent women who were accused of magic for various political reasons (like in real life), but he then follows up by admitting that this is just his opinion, and he pays close attention to Sebastian's input on the topic. Throughout the rest of the arc he remains skeptical of the story he's been told about witches and werewolves, but mostly because Sebastian already told him that werewolves are mythical.
  • In the Alice in Jails arc of Baccano!, Firo is extremely skeptical when Isaac insists that he met a fairy. This skepticism would be more reasonable if Firo wasn't immortal and not-dating a homunculus. For bonus points, fairies actually do exist in the Baccano universe (read: Celty).
  • Allen and Lavi from D.Gray-Man are exorcists who fight akuma on a regular basis and have generally seen a lot of weird stuff, but they refuse to believe in ghosts or vampires.
  • Used humorously by Lisianthus in SHUFFLE! when, worried over being able to pass a test in order to avoid summer school shouts "There is no God or Buddha!" when her father IS God!
  • In Ah! My Goddess, Sayoko Mishima starts picking up that Belldandy has supernatural powers, but when Belldandy tells Sayoko that she's a goddess, she doesn't believe her and instead assumes that she's a witch. Why exactly she thinks that a witch is more believable than goddess is anybody's guess.
  • In Digimon Tamers episode five, when discussing strange markings on the school soccer pitch, a random fifth grader states: "Oh come on, there's no such thing as Crop Circles! What it really was was a ghost. And that dinosaur the principal saw? That was a ghost dinosaur."
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!,
    • In the Orichalcos arc, Rebecca and her grandfather explain what they know about the enemy, which involves Atlantis. Honda/Tristan laughs and calls them crazy. Joey/Jounouchi calls him out on it, reminding everyone about all the crazy adventures they've had so far.
    • In the English dub of the series, Seto Kaiba stubbornly refuses to believe in the supernatural abilities of the millennium items and Duel Monsters' and his own mystical ties to ancient Egypt, despite constantly witnessing and occasionally being a victim of them. (By contrast, in the original Japanese series, he had no issue believing in the supernatural, he just thought dealing with it was a pain.)
  • Book Girl: The eponymous Book Girl is a supernatural being who feeds on stories. She doesn't believe in ghosts.
  • Yuriko of Kotoura-san runs the "ESP Society" as part of her quest to prove the existence of psychics. Yuriko's mother was clairvoyant, and one of the club members is naturally telepathic. But she dismisses ghosts as ridiculous delusions, and explains the said telepath's ghost sightings as accidental telepathy (sort of like Doing In the Wizard with a different wizard). She's right, but Manabe doesn't hesitate to lampshade how inconsistent this is.
  • Rokujyouma no Shinryakusha!?: Ghosts? Aliens? Underground civilizations? Sure, why not? But a magical girl? Clearly she's a deluded cosplayer.
  • In a crossover between Fairy Tail and The Seven Deadly Sins, Hawk, a talking pig, tells Elizabeth there's no such thing as talking cats, and is shocked when they meet Happy, a talking cat.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Miyu is a Magical Girl with access to powerful magic. Yet, when Illya demonstrates the ability to fly, Miyu is in utter disbelief and cites several scientific laws about why a human flying is impossible. Because Miyu doesn't believe it is possible, she cannot fly.

    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 
  • DC Universe:
    • 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 Norse gods. This could be a question of definition — sure, there are powerful beings with abilities we don't understand, but that doesn't necessarily make them actually supernatural or divine.
    • Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt) actually makes this very argument when justifying his atheism; he points 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.
    • A particularly arbitrary example is 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.
    • In one three-comic story arc, Robin 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, so Batman was just saying that to avoid helping Robin.
    • 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...
    • The Green Lantern known as Saarek has the power to communicate with the dead. Despite using it to great effect, the other Lanterns doubt his talent.
    • 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 a Pre-Crisis Supergirl story, the titular heroine 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.
  • Pugsley from Beasts of Burden 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!
  • 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.
    • Subverted in an old story where Peter goes undercover to rescue a traumatized Betty Leeds from a cult. He thinks he'll be able to spot the cult leader as a fake due to his experience, but starts to believe he might have powers once he sees him "cure" someone's cancer. Fortunately, he is smart enough to consult Doctor Strange who explains the slight of hand parlor trick. Strange points out that it is actually easier to convince someone like Spider-Man since he'd seen far too much to disbelieve anything.
    • In 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!
    • Also in the mainstream universe, 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.
  • Aside from the superheroes and major characters displaying it, ordinary people in both DC and Marvel main universes are often shown being shocked and/or disbelieving at the idea of aliens. Despite the fact that both versions of Earth have been invaded multiple times, and in DC continuity the most famous superhero on the planet is well-known as being a literal alien. Similarly, when a super uses their powers in front of others often normal people and sometimes even other supers will claim what they're doing is "impossible", despite living in a universe full of superheroes and supervillains that demonstrate so-called impossible superpowered feats on a routine basis and are widely known to the public. Additionally, random bystanders also tend to think when someone else sees supers that are flying or look unusual, which they usually describe as "flying men" or "beast men" or something along those lines that those people are drunk or need a psychiatrist despite again, supers that fly and look like lizard people or whatever being all over the planet and widely known.
  • 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.
  • Asterix and the Magic Carpet boils this trope down to its fundamentals with the following quote.
    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!
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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, Iceman himself starts to wonder whether he's remembering the incident correctly.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • It gets especially bad in the Teen Titans comics especially precrisis. It seems like 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.
  • Dr. Will Magnus reveals in 52 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 Man and has them murder Chang Tzu.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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 is "pseudo-science bibble-babble". (The strips where he doubted its authenticity were a Take That! towards the Reagan White House after it was leaked that the First Lady was consulting astrologers.)
    "Bloody difficult to be an agnostic these days."

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: Asuka has come to terms with Daniel being a God-Emperor from another dimension… but seeing winged humanoids render her speechless.
  • Doing It Right This Time: Lampshaded. Time Travel? Shinji finds it perfectly believable and thinks being skeptical about it is silly. After all what has happened to him, why not?
    He didn't see any point in wondering whether or not this was real; considering he'd been at least partly responsible for shattering the very fabric of reality and/or turning the entire human race -less himself, a two hundred-foot naked copy of his sister(?) and Asuka- into LCL to experience some rather nebulous transhumanist paradise, skepticism about mere mental time travel seemed rather silly.
  • Averted and lampshaded in Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami: Dark asks Blud if ghosts exist, and Blud says it is impossible. Dark asks if this would mean Blud, as a Shinigami, is impossible, too, and Blud says that shinigami are possible in the Death Note universe. It soon turns out that Blud's wrong about ghosts, though, as L comes back as one with the help of God's Ghost Note.
  • Similarly in I Won't Say:
    Light: You're not going to see a single ghost, not even the tiniest little spirit of a brutally murdered fly, because there are no such things.
  • Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Used then averted. Despite working for an organization that uses colossal biological warmachines made of reverse-engineered alien body parts to fight against the equally colossal aliens that border on Eldritch Abomination from which they are derived, numerous characters are initially immediately dismissive of things such as Psychic Powers or the existence of Machine Spirits. Then follows about a year of physics regularly being torn a new one to cause destruction on a scale the world hasn't seen since Second Impact, then all but the most mind-boggling things become almost mundane.
  • Streets of Rage Saga: Skate scoffs at the idea of ninja-themed magical powers during the Crossover adventure with Joe Musashi in the fourth book, The New Syndicate... despite the fact that Skate has fought robots and clones and has teamed up with a cyborg to fight The Syndicate.
  • This permits Reflections Lost on a Dark Road (a crossover of two crossovers — The Road To Cydonia and Dark Titans) to get started as a case of Let's You and Him Fight. In TRTC, the Ranma ½ crew is abducted by aliens, then escape into the (not-so) gentle clutches of X-COM: UFO Defense, joining them in a Grim Dark war against aliens and suffering severe cases of PTSD in the process. In DT, the Ranma crew befriend the Teen Titans and become part of The DCU. Several years later, Ryoga and several of the Titans are transported to the TRTC universe. Bad enough they're spandex-clad metahumans, or that the aliens' latest gimmick seems to be creating fake "metahumans" whom X-Com has responded to with a Mutant Draft Board, but as TRTC already has a Ryōga (with severe combat fatigue), he's more than ready to kill his alternate on sight rather than inquire as to the strangeness. Sociopathic Soldiers armed with Supernatural Martial Arts versus Thou Shalt Not Kill superheroes is a Foregone Conclusion — the only surprise is that X-Com didn't kill any of the Titans.
  • Turnabout Storm:
  • Stardust:
    • Dr. Ngo refuses to believe Twilight Sparkle's stories of Princesses Celestia and Luna manipulating the sun and moon of her planet, despite the fact she's talking to a pastel purple unicorn the size of a large dog who can speak, teleport, change physical matter on a molecular level, and has enough telekinetic power she can crush a human into pulped gore with an idle thought.
    • Averted by Dr. Mills, who notes that his initial gut reaction is to dismiss such a story, but then reminds himself he's talking to a purple unicorn on the topic of magic, and so she might just be telling the truth.
    • In chapter 26 Dr. Shen says that the engineers, who had seen so much previously thought impossible, flipped out when the topic of invisibility devices was broached.
  • Lampshaded in Life in Reverse when the token Muggle is the only one to believe Harry's "crazy story" about being from the future:
    Harry: You believe me?
    Owen: I don't know why I'm expected to accept appearing and disappearing but turn my nose up at time travel.
  • Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor has two examples:
    • Despite fighting all manner of demons, devils, and monsters on a regular basis, Dante finds it hard to believe that Kasumi and her family are real ninjas.
    • Likewise, even after the Mugen Tenshin village is attacked by demons, Ayane is quick to dismiss the legend of Sparda as being just that.
  • Cyborg in the Danny Phantom/Teen Titans story A Phantom Of A Titan insists ghosts don't exist, despite being half-robot and having one teammate that's an alien and another that's a half-demon sorceress. Danny, the one telling him about ghosts, is also half-ghost but he hasn't told the team that yet.
  • In Diaries of a Madman, no one except Nav believes Twilight when she claims the library is being haunted by something, despite this being a world filled with magic and far stranger things.
  • Justice League of Equestria: When Shining Armor tells Cadance that he's been recruited by the Green Lanterns, she doesn't believe him, laughing it off as a joke. This despite the fact that she's had lunch with an alien superhero and is best friends with a demigoddess — something she herself pointed out when reassuring Shining that she'd believe whatever he told her, oddly enough. It takes actually seeing Shining transform for her to believe him.
  • Ritsuko in Shinji's Nightmare refuses to believe in magic, despite working on giant biological robots that are piloted by children who fight aliens/angels and one of said pilots has been turned into an alicorn. She continues to insist there's a rational explanation for Shinji sleeping on clouds, entering dreams, telekinesis, and ability to survive in space without air then walk off reentry.
  • In the Darkwing Duck fanfiction Negaverse Chronicles, the members of the Friendly Four are informed that Negaduck is spending time with a witch. Bushroot (the guy who is part plant), Megavolt (the one who can shoot electricity from his fingertips), and Liquidator (the person made completely out of water) don't believe in magic. Only Quackerjack takes the threat of Morgana seriously from the start.
  • Mass Effect Human Revolution has a fair bit of this:
    • Chapter 15: Garrus dismisses the idea of a shapeshifting killer, to which Adam says that he lives on a space station.
    • Chapter 26: "You're an artificial human that can regenerate from fatal wounds in seconds denying the possibility that a young Asari can breakdown alcohol quickly."
    • Chapter 38: Adam is confused by the sight of a sapient anthropomorphic rabbit-cat. Hannibal reminds him that they "live in a galaxy dominated by blue women that can mate with their brains" and just killed a flying shark.
    • Shortly afterwards in that same chapter, Hannibal expresses doubt about the idea of "a Krogan scientist worthy of the term", upon which Adam tosses the other's earlier words right back at him.
    • In chapter 39, Aya and Garrus can't believe the talk of psychic powers.
    • It's a sign of Garrus' Character Development in chapter 41 when his response to having killed a flying shark in a supersonic High-Altitude Battle is not "are you kidding?" but "this is so cool!"
    • Aya on the other hand still can't take talk of possession or ghosts seriously.
    • In chapter 43, Spooky doesn't believe Adam's exposition on the past of the Prometheans and Reapers. Lunchbox calls him out on it.
      Lunchbox frowned at him. "Oh, come on! You believe in countless conspiracy theories! You believe in ancient societies faking the first moon landing but ancient space ninjas fighting ghosts from hyperspace is too much?!"
  • In Hope Comes to Brockton Bay, Robin Maestra, a Time Master who can use her power to simulate Super Speed and flight, thinks Legend's ability to make lasers turn corners is bullshit.
  • In A New World, A New Way, Twilight Sparkle has a hard time accepting that Aegislash is a spirit of a dead warrior possessing a sword with a shield. For added skepticism, this is after she met Arceus, the god of Pokèmon (and is willing to accept the fact that Arceus is a god).
  • In Blue Belle, Willow has no problem accepting that a girl she recently met is the daughter of a lesbian couple from twenty years in the future but faints upon learning that her parents have been lying about who her father is.
  • Averted in Land of the Dead. Lizzie Liddell, when being told that Downstairs has potions can help halt decay and keep maggots out, says that magic not real. But stops herself when she remembers that she and three-forths of her family are dead and in their burned-down house wanting for the afterlife. So why not magic?
  • In Cruel to Be Kind, Alexander has to deal with this whenever he claims to anyone of his legitimacy as a interdimensional traveler. He gets around it by teleporting them to Terra Prime, the homeworld of his inter-dimensional empire.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: Vaati calls out Twilight for not believing in curses, despite all the other magic present in Equestria. When Celestia later confirms that curses are real, Vaati doesn't hesitate to rub her face in it.
  • Child of the Storm: Hermione does not believe that Harry Dresden is an actual wizard even though she lives in a world where not only magic exists, but also aliens, gods (or god-like beings) and the Sorcerer Supreme, because Dresden is in the phone book as "Wizard" (which, in fairness, is against the laws of the magic community she lives in, though not Dresden's).
    • Ron has a very hard time accepting that mutants are real (or at least not some sort of wandless wizards) despite the aforementioned aliens, gods, and super science.
  • In Fate/Stay Night: Ultimate Master, Rin Tohsaka does not believe in aliens and thinks Ben 10's transformations are magical in nature.
  • It shows up in the Thor/Being Human (UK) crossover, Housemates. Nina, when informed that the lovely young woman she's befriended is a ghost, and one of her roommates is a vampire, her kneejerk reaction is to insist that there are no such things. Then she remembers that she's in a room with superheroes, two of them aliens. And one of those aliens is a sorcerer.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • Some Jerkass asylum orderlies refuse to believe Fluttershy can really talk to animals and think she's just making up what the animals are saying. This is in spite of the fact they believe in the powers she wielded as Princess Gaia/Nightmare Whisper.
    • Flutternice refuses to believe that a Reaper's weapon is sentient and communicates with its wielder, in spite of everything else she has experienced.
    • Some characters find the stories of Megan Williams and her friends hard to believe. Except for Applejack and Pinkie Pie, who have firsthand knowledge of the subject, many of the characters find the idea of alternate universes hard to believe.
  • The Bridge: Aria Blaze comes from a magical land of talking ponies and used to be a creature who would lure sailors to their doom with her singing, yet she finds the idea of aliens hard to believe.
  • Thousand Shinji: Kaworu isn't human but an Angel. Still, when Shinji states that he owes his Psychic Powers to daemon training, Kaworu replies that's ridiculous because there's no such thing as daemons.
  • In Origin Story, no-one at first believes that a character from a popular TV show is trapped in a superpowered woman's body and that their world is based on a comic book franchise. But eventually, some people — like The Avengers — came to (at some level) accept Alex's story. As Black Widow points out, they (the Avengers) have "encountered stranger things that were at least as improbable."
  • With This Ring: Wonder Woman briefly doubts the existence of a Zombie Green Lantern. Paul responds that there have been far stranger lanterns, listing off that there have been lanterns who have been a Mathematical Equation, a Robot, a Squirrel, a Plant, and a Planet (and yes, all of those are real.)
    • When Kid Flash decides to go on his "Magic isn't real" rant just before the battle with Klarion, OL points out that not only is it real, but that several League members and Aqualad are all proficient in its use.
  • In See the Stars repli-Ada lives in a galaxy where killer robots, ascended beings and genetic semi-magical powers are a day-to-day occurrence, but she refuses to believe that ghosts exist. As it turns out, she was right. It was a glitch in the algorithm.
  • In Princess Trixie Sparkle after being victims of a "Freaky Friday" Flip, The Mane Six have trouble believing in such thing as a magical gem that can swap bodies. The same Mane Six, that live in magical world where their princesses move The Sun and The Moom, magic is common place, and they themselves have repeatedly used The Power of Friendship to defeat Physical Gods, shape shifters, and a reality warping chimera can't wrap their heads around a magical gem.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug/Zootopia crossover Ultrasonic, this is subverted when Marinette is questioned about the akuma attack in Tundra Town and what she was doing there. Chief Bogo takes her explanation in stride, stating that he's willing to suspend disbelief a bit after what's happened that night. However, it's then played straight by Mayor Swinton, who dismisses Marinette as a delusional schoolgirl even after her warning of an army of Ultrasonic clones comes true, and refuses to let Bogo release her.
  • In The Stronger Evil (the sequel of the Jackie Chan Adventures fic The Ultimate Evil), Nataline Homato shared Uncle's belief that Oni weren't real until Tarakudo's entrance. Valerie Payne notes the irony of a demon hunter raised by a Japanese family with history of hunting demons not believing in Japanese demons. Nat defends herself by saying that there haven't been reports of any Oni for a thousand years.
    • Valerie herself didn't take seriously Uncle's words of a comet shower signaling an awakening of dark chi, despite being magically bound to Shendu through a binding that happened in a rewritten reality. Later she berates herself for this.
  • In How the Light Gets In, Laurel is brought Back from the Dead. Felicity freaks right the hell out insisting things like this don't happen...despite several people in the room (Dean, Oliver, and Sara) all having also been resurrected at some point. Sara and Dean even comment on it.
    • A few seconds later Oliver and Diggle wonder how could she have possibly dug herself out of her own grave, only for Dean to point out not only is that if anything is the least bizarre thing to be happening, but logic has no real place here.
    Dean: You might not want to pull on that thread, John. None of this makes sense. She was also fucking embalmed. In case any of you have forgotten. But here she is. She's breathing. She bled. She crawled out of her grave. That's what happened. This is the supernatural. It's not about logic. Not the logic you've been taught anyway. It's about magic.
  • In Prophecy of the end, set immediately after the Arrow Season 4 premier, Doctor Fate teleports into the team's bunker and tells them he's "of magic". When Laurel expresses disbelief, he dryly points out they know about Metahumans and just saw that Damien Darhk has magic. The team quickly concede the point.
    • Shortly after that, Diggle is skeptical that he could have delivered a real prophecy only for Laurel to comment:
    "After seeing Damien Darhk suck the life out of that guy with his hands, there’s nothing I won’t believe."
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: When Megas ends up in Gensokyo and several of its crew aren't sure that magic's really a thing, it's Jamie of all people who believes Alice. According to him they'd gone up against the Glorft and opponents ranging from a planet killer to a planet eater, so why should they be surprised that magic's prevalent?
  • Professor Kukui in A Professor And A Student has no problem admitting he lives in a world with time traveling onion fairies, storm causing kaiju fish, and talking Meowth, but humans with special abilities like Aura, Telepathy, and Telekinesis is where he draws the line and is adamant that they do not exist.
  • Fates Collide:
    • Francis Drake tells a tale of Apocrypha's first hero, Heracles, who liberated Apocrypha from the Grimm single-handedly (defeating twelve unique Grimm in the process), and inspired others to become heroes as well before disappearing. When Emerald Sustrai finds the idea of one man doing all that hard to believe, Drake calls her out on not believing after all the amazing things she had seen already.
    • Vlad III explains that his Noble Phantasm, Kazikli Bey, gives him power over the concept of impalement itself. Pyrrha Nikos is shocked and says that is impossible. He tells her that she should learn not to limit her thinking, especially with all the unusual things in the world already.
    • Archer and Cinder Fall run into BB, who is an Identical Stranger to Archer's deceased friend Sakura Matou. He thinks she may actually be Sakura, even though he watched her die and get torn to pieces. When Cinder does some research and concludes it is more plausible that BB is an android, Archer says Cinder has some nerve thinking his idea is stupid, because her idea is the stupid one.
  • Kur and the Crown: In this Danny Phantom / The Secret Saturdays crossover, Doc Saturday doesn't believe ghosts are real. Past experiences like alternate dimensions, underwater civilizations and sentinent lakes are brought up as reasons Doc shouldn't be so unwilling to accept the possibility of ghosts being real.
  • A Tactician's Testimony: Despite knowledge of such things as magic and healing staves, in "Sword of Spirits," Katri is in complete disbelief that the Mani Katti is sentient and chooses its owner.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Polar Express the protagonist is doubtful Santa Claus exists, even though he’s riding a magic train. 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.
  • At the start of Justice League Dark, Batman expressed disbrief 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 New 52 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, in which Indy encounters magical artifacts, comes before Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Indy at one point dismisses all superstition involving the Ark of the Covenant. After all he has gone through, you'd think Indiana Jones would at least be a bit more open-minded in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Despite previously encountering healing rocks, Nazi-killing golden boxes, life-saving cups and an Atlantean god-making machine, he still sneers at the prospect of magical telepathic skulls.
  • In The Last Mimzy, the brother has already found a strange cube that deposited several mysterious items, including a strange crystal that makes noise that only he and his sister can see (adults think it looks like a flat rock), a crystalline conch shell that enhances his hearing and teaches him how to command spiders through sound, and a set of stone "spinners" that his sister can spin to create a strange portal that causes her hand to split harmlessly into a million particles. Yet he still refuses to believe that her stuffed rabbit, which also came through the cube, speaks to her, despite it being the one that taught her how to spin the spinners. It takes the mimzy predicting their father's arrival to convince him.
  • Eight Legged Freaks. The conspiracy-believing radio host is unwilling to believe the others' tales of giant killer spiders. This may have been as much him suspecting they were making fun of him, as him actually finding the idea itself unbelievable.
  • Sabrina Down Under: a merman, sitting in a bathtub next to a talking cat, refuses to believe in witches. One spell later:
    Sabrina: You know, for a guy with a tail, you're extremely narrow-minded.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man, who is accompanying a talking lion and an animated scarecrow to kill a witch on the orders of a wizard, does not believe in "spooks" (ghosts).
  • The Cube film series:
    • In the first movie, Holloway and Quentin both commit this during their discussion of each other's pet theories on the origins of the Cube. She believes that the military-industrial complex created the place, which he dismisses because he believes government organizations are just composed of people like him, whose goals in life are to "buy big boats", not conspire. Quentin believes that the structure is a rich psychopath's entertainment, comparing it to The Man with the Golden Gun, to which Holloway reacts as if he just said that the moon is made of cheese. Granted that Quentin's theory is more outlandish than hers (and his citing of a stereotypical Bond villain doesn't really help his argument), but she didn't need to start acting like a Jerkass by ridiculing him for it. (Not that it makes his murder of her partly in retribution for this any more justified.)
    • In the sequel Cube 2: Hypercube, Max calls the rest of the group crazy for even considering that space and time could be distorted in the cube (despite repeatedly witnessing things that are physically impossible, such as the rooms instantaneously moving around) and argues that there has to be a logical explanation, such as an optical illusion. At the same time he berates the others for not believing in his conspiracy theories, and is convinced that the cube is operated by a mysterious superhacker called Alex Trusk.
  • Independence Day:
    • Even though the White House had just been destroyed by an alien death ray, the president laughs off Julius' belief in Roswell and Area 51, saying it's all a myth. As the President he probably assumed this is the kind of thing someone would have told him, only to find out he was left out to create Plausible Deniability.
    • Many people consider Russell Casse to be insane due to his drunken ranting about being kidnapped by aliens. Fair enough, but when an alien invasion actually does happen, by aliens who have been confirmed to have been studying mankind in detail for years prior to their invasion, you'd think that'd give his story a little more credibility, but everyone continues to act like he's insane. (It's never made explicitly clear whether or not Russell is telling the truth, or if his ranting is just paranoid delusion that happens to match up to the circumstances. Russell certainly believes the invaders are the same aliens, though.)
  • In the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Caspian and Edmund scoff at Drinian and the other sailors for being afraid of sea serpents, in spite of living in the original Fantasy Kitchen Sink and being personally acquainted with a wide variety of mythological creatures, as well as well-versed in the lore of many others - including dragons. When Eustace mistakes a seagull for a sentient being and tries to talk to it, a minotaur laughs at him.
  • In The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Molly's dad simply refuses to believe that a Satanic cult is coming for his daughter, even though he made a Deal with the Devil to save her. And how did he not notice that Molly's guidance counselor at school was the exact same person who acted as the Devil's agent in the deal?
  • In Plan 9 from Outer Space, people encounter flying saucers and a zombie that melts into a skeleton, yet have trouble believing that someone could have risen from the dead to break out of his own grave.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, the GCPD are awfully dismissive of Gordon's account of his encounter with Bane and his men in the sewers that he narrowly escaped from. And they still seem dismissive of Gordon's story about a masked man and an army living in the sewers even after Bane and his men attack the Stock Exchange, an attack in which Bane is clearly seen leading them, mask and all. Considering that, in the previous two films in the series, Gotham fell under terrorist attack by an army of ninjas and a man dressed as a clown, it's not particularly outlandish. On the other hand, those events occurred in the span of two years, at which time a vigilante who dressed as a bat was also active. Since the last 8 years have been peaceful and Batman has retired, it's possible that the GCPD came to consider those attacks to be isolated incidents.
  • Kazaam is a genie who disbelieves in fairy tales.
  • Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean is highly superstitious. However, he is skeptical of the existence of Davy Jones' Kraken (which is, in fact, real).
  • In Alien, Ripley wants to get rid of the Facehugger carcass, because they already know that the alien creature bleeds acid and have no clue what will happen after it's dead. Ash counters this by snarking at Ripley that it probably isn't a zombie.
  • Shows up to varying degrees in the Ghostbusters series.
    • In the first one, people are skeptical of the idea of ghosts even after the protagonists start doing regular business. Then there's a full-scale ghost attack on the city, followed by the conjuring of a 100-foot tall anthropomorphic marshmallow. Somehow, this manages to convince everyone that the Ghostbusters are frauds, despite the entire city having witnessed these events.
    • A second near-apocalypse in the second film finally casts away any doubt, likely because the Ghostbusters animated the Statue Of Liberty to save the day and the RMS Titanic sailed into port during the ruckus. Notably averted by the mayor in Ghostbusters II: when the Ghostbusters come to him proclaiming that the subway system is filled with anger-fueled ghost slime, his dismissal of them is not because he does not believe them, but because they aren't offering any realistic solutions (even within the context of their usual antics). Likewise, he only waits as long as he does to finally call on their services because he really would rather not have to.
  • In Red Lights, Matheson displays this from the beginning, and Buckley becomes the same when she dies.
  • Dr. Koven, in The Skeptic, is a parapsychological researcher who believes in psychics and in chi, but not in ghosts.
  • In 6 Souls Cara does a good job of avoiding this, approaching her doubts realistically and scientifically. But her father believes she has succumbed to it all the same.
  • Son of Godzilla: A bunch of giant, mutant preying mantises are treated as nothing special, yet Goro's reports of a mystery woman sneaking around the camp are treated with skepticism bordering on hostility.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Doctor Strange, despite taking place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, doesn't believe in "fairy tales, chakras, or energy, or the power of belief." The franchise already has superheroes, Norse gods, and aliens. One would think that, at this point, people would start believing in anything.
      • Hits a rather high extreme with Christine Palmer, who accuses Strange of joining a cult based on his strange attire and his difficulty explaining his whereabouts for the recent past. However she accuses him of all this mere minutes after talking to his Astral Projection, who was giving her directions on how to save his dying body.
    • In Antman And The Wasp, Sonny Burch has a drug expert working for him who has created a drug cocktail that makes it easier to convince people to tell the truth. When they use it on Luis, he and his friends say that it sounds like Truth Serum, only for the expert to angrily say that there’s no such thing. At the end of the movie, when Luis and friends have knocked them out before handing them over to the cops, Sonny and his goons are injected with the cocktail, and start blurting out all of their crimes to the cops, causing the drug expert to realize that it really was Truth Serum.
  • In Kong: Skull Island, Randa has been desperately trying to prove Kaiju exist for years. When a critic compares him to those people who believe in aliens, Randa dismissively says those people are nuts.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): When Steve tells the others about Diana's belief that Ares is behind WWI, Charlie scoffs at the idea. Sameer points out how silly it is that Charlie finds it hard to believe when they had just witnessed Diana conquer No Man's Land, throw a tank into a building with her bare hands, and demolish the top of a church by just jumping into it.

    Literature 
  • The Belgariad is full of this.
    • In a world of seven-thousand year old sorcerers, Physical Gods, demons, and magical artifacts capable of rending the world apart, it's Played for Laughs that people like the Tolnedrans and Melcenes steadfastly refuse to believe in the supernatural as a matter of principle even when confronted with it directly. This leads to statements like "I'm pleased to have met you, though I still don't believe in you, naturally. My skepticism, however, is theological, not personal." At one point Polgara mentions that the Tolnedrans have come up with a complicated theory involving successive identical people to explain away her long life.
    • On the other side, we have Belgarath, a seven thousand year old sorcerer who routinely deals with magic and the gods. After spending that much time dealing with the weirdest stuff in the world, it's probably tempting to assume that you've seen everything.
    • In The Malloreon we have an inversion around book 3 with Silk's factor Brador. Brador is a Melcene and doesn't believe in the supernatural. However, when the reports of demons massacring villages in Karanda start becoming frequent enough that it is clear that this is the real deal, he not only throws skepticism to the winds but begs his boss to try to make the Emperor drop his.
  • In Burn Me Deadly, Eddie has seen stranger things than dragons, but is adamant that dragons can't possibly exist, and that Father Tempcott's cult therefore consists of gullible morons. This is probably more about Eddie's stubborness and self-image than it is about the evidence in question.
  • In Curse of the Wolfgirl when 'Vex claims she can talk to cats she is disbelieved by Daniel, Moonglow, and Kalix. For the record Kalix is a werewolf, 'Vex is a fire demon, and whilst only human, Daniel and Moonglow have witnessed and been a part of more magical events than mundane ones.
  • Discworld:
    • Things like gods, wizards, trolls and dragons are perfectly acceptable, but things like Death and talking dogs are so impossible that people just ignore them. Arguably explained in Hogfather, where it's stated there's an upper limit on things people can believe in.
    • Talking trees. Notice that Rincewind here uses a perfectly fine logical analysis, but it fails because the premises aren't true:
      Rincewind: I can't be talking to a tree. If I was talking to a tree I'd be mad, and I'm not mad, so trees can't talk.
    • Witches and wizards on the Discworld can see Death (and hear talking dogs). They also interact with gods and demons on a regular basis, but don't believe in them, as this only encourages them.
    • Carrot and a few other characters can hear Gaspode, as could anybody he makes an effort in talking to. Plus, at several points in the series, there are statements to the effect of "there's no point believing in what already exists" — such as the space turtle on which the world rests. It's like believing in the postman.
    • On the other other hand, certain Ephebians, parodying ancient Greek philosophers, claim to be atheists. This is particularly difficult to do when the gods like to throw stones through the windows and lightning bolts at them in the street. Similarly in Soul Music, Susan is raised to be a "sensible" girl, trained in reason and logic and not believe "such nonsense", which is ultimately futile once you realize who her grandfather is.
    • A rather dark variant occurs towards the end of Thud! After he's possessed, Vimes kicks the demon out of his mind by sheer force of Lawful Good and loses consciousness. When he awakes, he promptly starts rationalizing what he did as sleep deprivation and his mind playing tricks on him. Snuff reveals he can't keep this going for long, since after it gives up possessing him the Summoning Dark takes a liking to him and hangs around.
    • In Feet of Clay:
      A Priest: But the gods plainly do exist.
      Dorfl: It Is Not Evident.
      [a bolt of lightning hits Dorfl on the helmet; however, being a golem, he is unharmed]
      Dorfl: I Don't Call That Much Of An Argument.
    • Granny Weatherwax has been known to criticize people for not being Arbitrarily Skeptical. She gets mad at Weaver for assuming she used magic to detect his presence while not noticing the fact that her cottage overlooks the path, and she tells off a bunch of opera people for assuming she used magic to block a sword, claiming she might well have had a bit of metal in her palm. The fact that she did use magic for these things is irrelevant in Granny's book.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward's companion Axiel is known to claim to be the son of the dwarf-king when he's very, very drunk. Ward lampshades this trope by mentioning that he doesn't doubt the dwarf thing so much (after all, there's a dragon skeleton in the basement of his castle, he has seen some weird stuff), but the king part is a bit inbelievable, as Axiel worked as valet for Ward's father. Turns out it was the truth. He was there as valet because he wanted to keep an eye on the family, due to a prophecy
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry had always assumed that "The Outer Gates" were merely a metaphorical limit to keep Wizards from delving too deep into Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, despite having personally encountered an Outsider in his youth as well as being acquaintances with a Wizard known as the Gatekeeper. He finds out during the events of Cold Days that they're an actual location at the edge of reality, and are under constant siege from Eldritch Abominations seeking to invade our universe.
    • And then there's Sanya, Knight of the Cross, wielding a sword that glows with holy power, with a nail from the Crucifixion in its hilt, given to him directly by the Archangel Michael himself, and uses said sword to fight everything from vampires to Fallen Angels — and was at one point possessed by a Fallen Angel — and he's a self-professed atheist, later amended to agnostic. Harry thinks this is hilarious and dubs him the "Knight of Maybe."
  • In The Goblin Reservation, Oop mentions a rumor about contact having been made with the Devil. When Carol is surprised the others are considering it might be real, Maxwell states that a few centuries ago, people were just as skeptical about the titular goblins, as well as other creatures now known to be real.
  • Staggeringly so in The Great Divorce. One character continues to deny that "Heaven" and "God" are literal things that exist, and insists they're just metaphors. This is while he actually has died, is in the afterlife, and is talking to a resident of Heaven, who offers to take him to see God this very minute.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Mostly subverted: Hermione's refusal to believe in Crumple-Horned Snorkacks might appear to be this at first, but there's documented evidence for vampires and thestrals, but none for the Snorkack. It's rather like saying if apes exist, Bigfoot must exist, too.
    • Her disbelief in Divination is a bit more complicated: most of the "Divination" in the books is like real-life fortune-telling (bogusness included). While several of the methods that Trelawney teaches actually work, they only seem to work for her, so Hermione is right to reject them. The catch is that real magic predictions do occasionally happen in the Potter universe — Harry witnesses one in the 3rd book — but Hermione never sees one, so she doesn't think they exist. After using a magic time machine for a year, you'd think magic prediction would seem plausible to her... though Trelawney is a terrible teacher.
    • Hermione, and sometimes Ron, are pretty quick to shoot down Harry's theories about Voldemort's latest schemes. They are pretty far-fetched by wizard standards, but this whole thing started with Harry surviving an unblockable curse that causes instant death as an infant. Harry's wild claims also invariably turn out to be correct or at least partially so, at least once per book. Despite this, they remain skeptical even by the sixth book, when you'd think they'd have learned to start giving him the benefit of the doubt long before now?
    • Her disbelief in the Deathly Hallows is a straight-up example, though. It takes Ron pointing out that they've been using one of them since they were in First Year to make her even consider the possibility they might exist. This is despite her discovering any number of other "impossible" magical artifacts were real (such as the Philosopher's Stone).
    • Harry mostly averts this. Since he was neither brought up in an all-magic environment like Ron, nor refuses to believe anything not written in a book like Hermione, he's at least willing to listen to Luna's bizarre theories, since he's witnessed far stranger things in the course of his life.
    • Happens with the teachers at Hogwarts too. Harry's theories about what's happening in each book always turn out to be at least partially right (usually they're reasonable conclusions with the information he's got, and if he's wrong it's due to missing some crucial bit of knowledge), but he's always disregarded by teachers and authority figures who insist on keeping him Locked Out of the Loop.
  • Spoofed in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the eponymous guide's entry about the Babel Fish: The scientists who discovered and analyzed the Babel Fish and its property as an universal language translator started to wonder if it would be a proof that God exists. Then God appears to tell them that proving something is the opposite of faith and God is nothing without faith. Their logical conclusion: God doesn't exist.
  • In Death series: Eve Dallas, being just a pragmatic soul, could be considered this. She has a hard time believing in the existence of vampires in Eternity in Death, ghosts in Haunted in Death, sensitives in Visions in Death, and supernatural things like in Ceremony in Death and Ritual in Death. Some supernatural things did occur in some of the books, but Dallas automatically goes with "I don't believe in this!"
  • Jasper Fforde's Jack Spratt novels feature a reasonable amount of this. This world features aliens, talking bears, giant superhuman gingerbread men and the like. Yet when Jack tells his staff, whose job it is to investigate things like the murder of Humpty Dumpty and Rumpelstiltskin's illegal straw-into-gold operation, that his car heals itself, they think he's gone mad. As does his boss when he reports on exploding cucumbers. And so on.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle
    • Kvothe can do magic with his brain, fights demons, visits fairy realms, and other supernatural stuff; and yet he remains extremely skeptical of the world's religions.
    • It happens the other way around, too. Most people (especially outside of the University) believe in some kind of fairytale creatures, depending on their origin, but Kvothe risks ridicule from everyone for even considering the possibility that the Chandrian exist, although he has seen them first hand.
    • A lampshaded inversion comes in the second book - Kvothe is surprised when Wil readily accepts the existence of Felurian without coercion, even though he spends a large amount of time early in the book shooting down other things such as the Amyr.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: David doubting the dragons at first is completely logical, but by the second book, one wonders why his Weirdness Censor is so hardy.
  • Throughout The Laundry Files, while Cosmic Horror exists; while anything can be imagined and turned horribly wrong; everyone....everyone agrees that vampires don't exist. Period. And that's exactly what the vampires have mind controlled them to think.
  • Uncle Andrew in C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew believes that he can perform magic and travel to different worlds, yet he's utterly incapable of accepting talking animals in one of them! He's a parody of scientists who have no problem with bizarre stuff in science (i.e quantum physics) but are skeptical about the supernatural.
  • In Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews, Kate inquires why a beast from myth doesn't look like it is depicted in ancient statues, and is told, "He says it's a, what's the word...allegory. There are no animals with human heads, that's ridiculous." She thinks, Look who's talking. An eighteen-inch-tall magic man in riding boots, werejackals, and sea dragons are all fine, but animals with human faces are ridiculous. Okay, then. Glad we cleared that up.
  • The Magic Tree House: In a relatively earlybook, Annie is afraid to go into a "ghost town" in the Old West. Jack says "There's no such thing as ghosts." to reassure her, to which Annie replies "Yes, there are, we saw one in Ancient Egypt.", which did indeed happen in an earlier adventure. Jack's reply? "Yeah, but that was Ancient Egypt." What makes it even funnier is that they had way more interaction with the Ancient Egyptian ghost in the previous book (talking to her and finding objects to help her reach the afterlife) than they do with the cowboy ghost when he finally shows up.
  • Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels. Werewolves have recently gone public; the fae have been officially out for a decade or so, but the protagonist has to spend some time explaining to people that vampires are also real, her ability to see ghosts is frequently disbelieved, and by the sixth book, someone who has relatives who shapeshift doesn't believe that Mercy can do so too. There is much Lampshade Hanging.
  • Used for humor in Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series. During a war, the main character, a wizard in training, recruits a bunch of different helpers from different dimensions to prevent it. One of them is a blue Gremlin. The main character's mentor, a demon, insists that there's no such thing as gremlins, and the little monster in question always remains just out of sight. Until the very end...
  • In My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister, Satori initially expresses doubt when he hears about a dark elf, thinking that they only exist in fantasy fiction. Not only does he have the titular vampire older sister and zombie younger sister, but this is after he's encountered several other supernatural beings like mermaids and fairies.
  • Devi, protagonist of the Paradox Trilogy, has this to an extent. She fully believes that the Sacred King of Paradox is capable of performing miracles, but doesn't believe in curses or psychic powers. She's surprised when the psychic energy plasmex, which she'd dismissed as mere ignorant superstition, turns out to be a well-known and well-documented phenomenon on worlds other than Paradox.
  • Septimus Heap
    • In Queste, Sarah does not believe in her son's Time Travel.
    • In Syren, Septimus has a hard time of convincing Jenna and Beetle of the Syren's existence.
  • Contrary to the popular belief this was not a trait of Sherlock Holmes.
    • For example, in The Hound of the Baskervilles he does not outright eliminate the possibility that said hound is supernatural — he merely states that all other options have to be investigated first and if it proves to be so, he is powerless to do anything about it.
    • Though he outright scoffs at the very idea of a vampire in The Sussex Vampire. Mostly because he immediately finds bucketloads of clues pointing to a more lively culprit.
    • Unsurprising, given that Holmes was written by an author who believed in fairies (he supported the girls who concocted the Cottingley Fairy Hoax later). Though the whole Holmes canon except for The Valley of Fear, His Last Bow, and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes were written before he became a Spiritualist.
  • Nicely justified in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: When people are warned of dragons or giants, they say that such things don't exist anymore, they all died out years ago! This is actually false in the case of the giants, and while the dragons did die out, they're back.
  • Somewhither: When Ilya tells Abby that on his world God took on human form and was killed but forgave his tormentors, Abby is incredulous that any god could possibly forgive such a crime. Ilya then responds...
    Whoa, whoa, wait a minute, little sister! You are in an evil magic tower filled with evil magic Astrologers who can predict the future, headquarters of an evil magic interdimensional empire ruling thirty-three parallel aeons of time, and in each of those aeons there is some sort of dark magic or another, including blind guys who eat souls and hairless wolfy things who climb walls, and you are looking for a man who can walk through the clouds, and you rescued a kid who cannot die with your magic shape-changing prehensile sickle of plus-one heat-metal, which enables you to scare the magic cage bars into magically retracting, and you look like a monkey, but you are telling me it is impossible for a divine being big enough to create the whole supercalifragilisticexpialidocious universe to be big-hearted enough to forgive his own murderers?
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, a Deconstruction/Reconstruction of superhero tropes set in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, the cyborg Fatale believes that her teammate Mr. Mystic is a real sorcerer, but is convinced that teammate Elphin (who claims to be the last of The Fair Folk) must actually be some sort of alien or mutant. Villain Protagonist Dr. Impossible, meanwhile, flatly disbelieves in all things magical, despite the fact that he battles magicians and fairies, he's worked with magically-empowered villains in the past, and part of his plan depends on exploiting a magic artifact.
    • A number of events suggest that Fatale has it backward. Elphin is definitely a real fairy and when Dr. Impossible faces Mr. Mystic it appears that his magic might be little more than complex illusions.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Yuuzhan Vong follow a Religion of Evil and truly believe the gods that they worship exist. They think The Force isn't real and that the Jedi and Sith are just charlatans. Their unbelief in The Force is helped by the fact that the Yuuzhan Vong are immune to most Force abilities. Later, after seeing some Jedi's extraordinary powers, some Yuuzhan Vong come to see the Jedi as the avatars of their gods.
    • And in the Expanded Universe novel Med Star I: Battle Surgeons, arrogant mercenary Phow Ji refuses to believe in the Force, even when it's demonstrated in front of his eyes. This appears to stem largely from his insufferable arrogance - he beat a Jedi in unarmed combat (because the Jedi didn't use the Force, to be fair) and is therefore convinced their powers are simply tricks. Notably it's heavily implied that the reason he launches a suicide attack at the end is because he has been forced to accept that the Force is real and that therefore he wasn't the best.
  • The Tamuli has most of the heroes who indulge in this learn to knock it off as steadily more things that "don't exist" turn out to be pretty damn real. Although it still has people professing agnosticism to the face of a Physical God.
  • In Vampire Academy, when Rose starts seeing ghosts, she questions her sanity. Because as she puts it: "while I believed in vampires and magic and psychic powers, I most certainly did not believe in ghosts."
  • In The Vampire Files, Charles Escott is uncomfortable with the idea that ghosts could exist. This despite the fact that his partner is a genuine Undead vampire. Played for Laughs when Shoe Coldfield learns the truth about Jack, as he's far less taken aback by the existence of vampires than by the thought that Jack could be one of them.
  • The War Against the Chtorr. The first novel "A Matter For Men" begins with a news report on three volunteers searching for a missing girl being dismissed for claiming they saw the giant Chtorran worms. Most people don't believe in their existence until the worms start moving into towns and eating people. Even then the Fourth World Alliance insists on downplaying the invasion (because they're more concerned about the US re-arming, a danger they are all too familiar with) until a captive Chtorran escapes and starts chomping its way through their delegates.
  • In Watersong, even after learning that the sirens from Classical Mythology are real, Harper doesn't believe in ghosts or spirits when Marci suggests performing a seance.
  • The Wheel of Time
    • Tuon refuses outright to believe in certain vaguely fantastical things the reader has seen to be true through the other characters and scoffs at what she sees as absurd beliefs, the next second reading signs and portents from a flight of birds as total fact. This is more a case of the Seanchan in general being unspeakably arrogant even within the standard of the setting, exceeded only by the Aes Sedai (and by contrast the Seanchan are at least usually competent).
    • That arrogance goes both ways, as Randlanders who believe in stuff like probability twisting ta'veren don't consider even for a split second the possibility that the Wheel's weaving could manifest itself in seemingly random omens, although they turn out to be true suspiciously often. Like a battle-hardened Seanchan banner general seeing an omen she considers "the worst she had ever seen" only to have her troops torn to pieces a few hours later by hundreds of Trollocs they considered to be absurd fairy tales up to that point.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov's Wrong Time for Dragons, the Middle World is, for the most part, your typical Medieval European Fantasy setting, There are elves, dwarves, mages, dragons, undead, shapeshifters, etc. But when Victor asks about Hobbits, all he gets are blank looks, and the concept is brushed off as something obviously made up.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, the people of Alres and Galle dismiss the stories of Nova Terra's Wild creatures as obvious fairy tales, despite living in a world where magic is a fact of life and the nearby country's being decimated by armies of the not-dead. The most notable example is probably the Gallish archbishop of Alba, who proclaims that the Wild doesn't exist while living in the country which has fought a great battle against it not even two year earlier.
  • In The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant, the titular vampire and his zombie assistant are driving to Vegas with his (the vampire's) Love Interest, who works for an organization that polices supernatural beings. She explains that all of Vegas is pretty much run by descendants of dragons. When Fred expresses his doubt that a single family is capable of secretly running all the casinos of Vegas, she points out that, being a vampire, who has a zombie assistant, he shouldn't be quick to dismiss anything. To be fair, though Fred hasn't had any exposure to the supernatural until relatively recently and has only been a vampire for a year. Given his quiet and boring lifestyle, he hasn't had an opportunity to encounter anything out of the ordinary.
  • In the modern fantasy novel One Foot In The Grave the protagonist quickly learns that vampires are real (and that he's becoming one), along with werewolves, house fairies, satyrs and more but is adamant that ghosts can't be real when his deceased wife starts haunting him. He spends his time trying to rationalize her away as some sort of psychosis (as supposedly ALL vampires develop some degree of insanity) even when she helps save his life. Interesting while he's told by another supernatural creature (no description of what he is is given but is likely some kind of doppelganger) that ghosts don't exist Dracula (yes THAT Dracula) has no problems accepting that she's real.
  • Xanth: In Faun and Games, Forrest Faun encounters Nimby the Dragon-Ass and his lover Chlorine (both protagonists of an earlier title, Yon Ill Wind), traversing the Gap Chasm by walking along the cliffside in complete disregard of gravity. Chlorine helpfully mentions that Nimby's special talent is "allowing his companions to be whatever they wish to be". Forrest concludes that Chlorine is absolutely, completely insane, because everyone knows that you can only ever have one singular talent, and Nimby's is obviously the ability to walk on walls. This despite the fact that Xanth is overflowing with strange and often useful magic plants, creatures and other things, and anyone living there can learn to make use of them; something that lets you change your personal gravity is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. And of course Forrest has no way of knowing that Nimby is actually the cover identity of the Senior Demon X(A/N)th, who as such doesn't have to abide by the laws of the land, magic, or physics itself unless he wants to.
  • One of the protagonists in the sci-fi novel John Dies at the End has a healthy amount of skepticism before his mundane life is derailed by a torrent of supernatural horrors, but even after he's accepted the existence of demonic beings that can erase people from history, and hunting ghosts has become a routine freelance job for him, he's still quick to dismiss things that are merely unlikely, such as a claim his friend John makes about birds' feet getting frozen to power lines during particularly cold weather.
    Without breaking my gaze with the TV, I said, "To John, something being funny is more important than being true."
The narrator actually notices birds whose feet have apparently frozen to power lines, and describes it in just enough detail for the audience to realize what happened even if the narrator's oblivious to it.

    Music 
  • 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.

    Podcasts 
  • 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.
  • 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 Khosheck, 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.
  • 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.

    Roleplay 

    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).
  • 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.
  • 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 Dwarves 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.
  • 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.

    Theatre 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Deus Ex: JC calls out Tracer on mentioning the Illuminati when the former was on his belly trying to escape the VersaLife labs with his life, thinking Tracer was making a poorly-timed joke. Tracer wasn't, and it's strange that JC would doubt him, after having escaped a hidden base beneath his old workplace, and discovering the existence of a shadow government.
  • The Might and Magic series, known amongst other things for its humor, lampshades this trope by having Roland Ironfist say the following on his first letter to his wife, in Might and Magic VI:
    Roland Ironfist: No, Catherine, Lord Kilburn was probably slain by something much more mundane than devils; perhaps a pair of dragons.
    This was clearly meant to be a joke, since Enroth, the planet on which the realm Roland rules is on, sports angels. The "devils" turn to be demon-like aliens. At least, an out-universe joke — from Roland's perspective, it's a lot less arbitrary than it might seem (the game that introduced Roland had dragon attacks as as mundane a cause of death as boating accidents, food poisoning and falling out of windows. Devils, meanwhile, have been completely absent from recorded history).
  • It's rather odd that in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link has to go out of his way to ensure that no one knows that he can turn into a wolf. Well, not the humans, at least. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is similar, hiding the existence of the eponymous magical race from anyone who's not a child. In defense of the game, Link's deeds are not known to most people, but the terrible horror they felt when they were in the Dark Realm is, and Link's wolf form is clearly a Dark Creature. People who are more aware of Link's activities, like the Zora, are more accepting of his alternate form.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Snake is extremely skeptical of Vamp's abilities, fervently reaching for every possibly logical explanation for the wall climbing (later proven to be tech-based), his regen ability (again, tech-basednote ), and then Vamp's ability to paralyze people by pinning their shadow (actually a form of hypnosis). What's funny is that Snake has seen a man that could command ravens, a very powerful psychic that can brainwash people, and is himself a clone who is aware he is a video-game character.
    • This gets carried onto his Super Smash Bros. Brawl incarnation, with the way he grouses about magic.
    • Also in Metal Gear Solid 2, Ocelot says near the end of the game that there's no such thing as the supernatural. Never mind that he's previously been on the same team as the aforementioned raven-controlling guy and psychic, his father could communicate with ghosts, create rainstorms at will, and is now a ghost himself who continues to do these things, and he himself spends half the game being possessed by a ghost.
    • This also applies to Snake's comments regarding Fortune near the end of the game. Even though he's faced far stranger people than her, he maintains there's "no such thing as a witch".
    • In Metal Gear Ac!d, Snake is skeptical of the ostensibly psychic Alice Hazel. He turns out to be right... sort of. She was really just familiar with the layout of the base, which was why she was able to provide help there, but also involved is the reincarnation of ghost children... or something. It's complicated.
  • The Metal Gear examples above are parodied in Merry Gear Solid with Otacon asking Snake about the above-mentioned supernatural(-seeming) events, and how he's fine with those, but not the concept of Santa Claus. They then hypothesize that Santa uses nanomachines too.
  • Travians includes a pig that can talk, two hats possessed by the souls of dead robbers, a physical land of the dead (apparently controlled by the military), and magic spells cast by a good witch and several druids... including a spell that turns a man into a frog for quite some time and some spells to protect houses and people, plus a love spell. Despite all this being pretty common knowledge among the NPC's, one NPC scoffs at his brother believing in a dowsing rod (which works, btw).
  • Subverted in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, when Ash travels back in time to the 1700's, meets his colonial-era ancestor, and explains how he's the man's descendant from the future and came back to fight a time-traveling army of demons. His ancestor immediately agrees to help and when Ash skeptically remarks that he seems to be accepting the situation a little too easily, his ancestor responds that after a night of fighting demons from another dimension, he's ready to believe anything.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum:
    • In the Case Files included with the Collector's Edition, it's noted that Dr. Penelope Young refuses to believe that the Ratcatcher can actually command rats, and believes he just has a bizarre form of Messiah complex; quite apart from the fact that working at Arkham requires her to treat extraordinary patients like Clayface and Poison Ivy, she's also going out of her way to ignore all the evidence of the Ratcatcher's ability provided by Batman and most of the other doctors at Arkham. For good measure, she continues to maintain her scepticism despite the fact that the Ratcatcher's cell is infested with rats!
    • On a lesser note, Doctor Whistler initially didn't believe Killer Croc's insinuations that he engaged in cannibalism, assuming he was just trying to scare her. Keep in mind that Croc is about ten-feet tall, an extraordinarily violent criminal (with Whistler being well aware that police only tend to find partial remains of his victims), is kept in Arkham's sewers for lack of a better place to house him, and has scales and razor sharp teeth.
  • Eavesdropping on random mooks in Batman: Arkham City can reveal some real gems. Working for a crazed supervillain with a clown motif? No problem. Biggest enemy is a man in a bat costume who drops out of the sky and disappears into the darkness? All in a day's work. Dealing with a monster who resurrects every time he dies, a woman who controls plants with her mind, drugs that can double your height and bring mass from nowhere? Pshaw, no big deal. Claim you saw ninjas? What, are you crazy or something? (The fact that they happen to be in America and not Japan is the main reason for them mocking the one witness.)
  • Persona 3 has a Scooby-Doo subplot about the high school being haunted. The members of SEES treat the rumor with varying levels of skepticism and fear. That would make sense, if it weren't for the fact that SEES fights dozens of "shadows" in the high school several times a week. This may be more of an If Jesus, Then Aliens case, as the shadows had thus far followed a strict set of rules regarding their appearances and ability to affect reality, being confined to the Dark Hour and all. A supernatural event taking place outside of that time would be at best a hoax, at worst an actual incursion beyond their previously established limitations. Turns out the ghost story is not a ghost's doing but a girl who was trapped in Tartarus due to a cruel prank played on her and the ghostly sounds were the echoes of her inner voice while her body didn't exist in our world. It's... complicated.
  • One of the conversations between Leliana and Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins points out the flaw in many accusations of arbitrary skepticism. Asked why she doesn't believe in the Maker despite using magic on a daily basis, Morrigan points out that she can see and feel magic and watch it cause tangible effects on the world around her, yet she has nothing more than vague legends to support the existence of the Maker. On the other hand, Morrigan's lack of belief in an afterlife seems odd considering that your party encounters ghosts on a number of occasions.
    • Morrigan's skepticism continues in Dragon Age: Inquisition, where she adamantly believes the Elven Gods of old were merely ancient elf rulers whose subjects mistook them for gods, if they existed at all. If the player allows it, she will even knowingly complete a ritual that binds her to serve one believing it to be an empty threat because the being in question doesn't exist. Unfortunately for her, she's wrong. Mythal is very real, or rather, was real: she was murdered by other gods and her vestigial aspect is carried by Morrigan's mother, Flemeth. That said, Trespasser basically vindicates her skepticism: the elven pantheon were real ancient elven kings, the Evanuris—although "god-kings" would be a more appropriate term, since their magical power approached that of a Physical God, so Morrigan is at least wrong about the "mistaken for gods" part.
    • Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition also adamantly believes the Elven Gods of old were not gods at all, but merely demons (proven entities in this world). However, while Morrigan had at least not believed in any gods or the afterlife before, Sera had earlier in the game been confronted with "proof" (to her) that "fairy stories" she had previously not believed in like the Seven Magisters entering the Fade and becoming the first Darkspawn, thus the Golden City and the Maker, were "real things" after all. But not elven stories. Nope.
  • In MySims Agents, we have Agent Rosalyn and Agent Vic, government agents who are investigating the disappearance of a young bottled water CEO. Vic is sure it's the fault of a yeti, while Rosalyn is just as sure that it's not. It turns out that there is a yeti, but the boy was unaware of this, and pretending to be a yeti and smashing things so the lodge would have to shut down and he could move in. But Rosalyn isn't who we're talking about here. At your next jet destination, there's a zombie butler. Both the yeti and the zombie gained their current form thanks to the Nightmare Crown. Additionally, you've been able to communicate on a pretty high level with a dog and a wolf... but you're skeptical about a girl befriending a giant squid?
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Nate and Elena's disbelief that the Cintamani Stone has supernatural powers would be a lot more believable if they hadn't fought Nazi zombies in the first game. Then again, the scene where Gabriel Roman is killed makes it look like the zombies are caused by The Virus. Supported by Navarro mentioned how much this thing is worth "to the right buyer". They get better about it once they actually reach Shambhala, but Chloe still isn't quite convinced. Elena calls her out on it.
    Elena: We're standing in Shambhala and you're questioning what's possible?
  • In TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, Cortez brushes off the idea of zombies, even though he's a time-traveler from a world that is currently under siege from ravenous, lightning-shooting creatures and he fought zombies in the previous game.
  • Tommy of Prey (2006) doesn't believe in what his grandfather is trying to tell him about his mystical heritage. This is understandable at the game start, but is a little strange that his beliefs are nearly unchanged after dying multiple times, visiting two different afterlifes, routinely separating his spirit from his body and running around a giant bio-mechanical spaceship. In fact, when Tommy first expresses his disbelief over the spirit world, while in the spirit world, to the glowing blue ghost of his dead grandfather, said grandfather just stares at him in a way that lampshades the absurdity more than words ever could.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Travis can't believe Sylvia when she says he's just fought an undead child powered by the devil. This is coming from a guy whose master's ghost ran his own gym for a while after dying, guided him through a forest, and handed him a farewell note. This boss was at the first of three Akashic points in the game. The mere fact that he even got there by some strange sort of teleportation should tell him something's off. It's lampshaded after Travis beats the first Akashic boss, where Sylvia tells Travis the undead devil kid's story, and Travis simply shrugs and replies with "All assassins are fucked up somehow. Hell, nothing surprises me anymore."
  • In The Reconstruction, the main characters bring Tezkhra Back from the Dead... but his claims to be a god? Preposterous! Lampshaded by himself at one point:
    Ques: So, you really are a god?
    Tezkhra: Of course. You did not believe me?
    Ques: 'Twas a preposterous claim.
  • In Fallout, several characters are skeptical of the existence of Deathclaws, believing them to be just ghost stories. This is a world where giant, bloodthirsty mutant beasts of all kinds roam the wastelands. Yet, a beast that's just a little bigger and scarier is apparently nonsense. Justified in that Deathclaws were a creature that had only recently moved into the area and there weren't very many of them. In later games though, the skepticism seems to have disappeared as Deathclaws have become more widely known about.
  • Ghost Trick:
    • Lynne says she doesn't believe in a sixth sense. Sissel points out that she is currently a ghost.
    • Subverted hilariously with Missile, who doesn't find Sissel's ability to travel back to 4 minutes before his death strange at all. His logic being something along the lines of "If human can walk on two legs, it's not so out there that they can walk backwards in time." Given Missile is a Pomeranian, one can't fault him for his logic.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Professor Hojo occasionally falls into this. He has two one-of-a-kind species in his lab at one point, he's trying to clone an ancient race of magic-using humans who no longer exist (Aerith is half-Cetra), he accepts that the Planet's giant self-defense Eldritch Abominations exist with little more than a shrug, his company uses souls to make batteries...yet he refuses to believe Chaos is a real thing until Vincent transforms right in front of him. Apparently, he thought Vincent's ressurrection after Chaos supposedly fused with him was a total coincidence.
    • Professor Gast is acknowledged as a better scientist mostly because he has morals, but he also seems to keep a more open mind, having been the first person both to think of the Jenova Project and to acknowledge that he was wrong about Jenova being an Ancient.
  • Diablo III:
    • Leah's skepticism of her Uncle Deckard's "crazy stories" (expressed while in the middle of a siege against the risen dead) is spoofed in this Penny Arcade strip.
    • Abd al-Hazir who provides narration on mostly mundane creatures and historical events is openly dismissive when it comes to the Burning Hells and High Heavens.
  • Over the course of the The Secret World, the player character has encountered magical creatures and phenomena of every single kind, from zombies to vampires, from mummies to werewolves, from a Wizarding School to the very depths of the Hollow Earth. Despite all of that- and despite being a powerful magician himself/herself- the player character appears to draw the line at Dragan having a conversation with a teddy bear.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    Barbas: Skyrim is now host to giant, flying lizards and two-legged cat-men, and you're surprised by me? Yes, I just talked! And am continuing to do so!
  • Thoroughly mocked in Neverwinter Nights 2. Grobnar believes in the Wendersnaven, mythical, invisible, all-powerful entities that he thinks can help in the quest. Everyone else dismisses his claims out of hand. This is in the motherfracking Forgotten Realms, where every single fantasy creature you can think of and dozens of gods demonstrably exist.
  • In King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, King Graham gets kidnapped by a giant bird, is promptly rescued by a smaller bird, and reunited with Cedric the Owl. When Cedric asks him what happened, Graham's response is You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You. This is despite the fact that ignoring the rest of the weird stuff that's happened to him, just five minutes earlier Graham killed a yeti with a custard pie to help an ice queen and her talking wolves. Why would he think a talking bird wouldn't believe a talking bird helped him?
  • In BioShock Infinite, near the end of the game Elizabeth transports herself, Booker, and Songbird to Rapture via a tear. Booker's reaction, after having been merrily galavanting around a city in the sky? (Though considering it's right in front of him and rather hard to ignore, he could just be saying that the concept is ridiculous.)
    Booker: A city... at the bottom of the ocean? Pfft. Ridiculous.
  • This can actually be used as a buff in Dungeons Of Dredmor, through the "There Must be a Rational Explanation" skill. Gives you some pretty nifty magic resistance in exchange for not being able to cast spells, but why would you cast spells if they don't exist?
  • Clive Barker's Undying: Patrick doesn't believe in magic. But he uses magic all the time, and owns a magical stone.
  • In Warriors Orochi 3, Date Masamune refuses to believe that Zhang Jiao can work miracles when he meets the character, despite by that point in the story Masamune has been working for a demon lord, traveling through time, and met and fought with and beside multiple gods.
  • In Mortal Kombat 9, Johnny Cage can use Ki Attacks. However, he assumes that the exotic members of the tournament are just fighters into cosplay with special effects, and laughs off Raiden and Liu Kang's explanation of the tournament's purpose in allowing Outworld to invade Earthrealm. He is eventually convinced.
  • In Arc Rise Fantasia, the disbelief of several characters (most prominently L'Arc, the main character) in the existence of gods is awfully odd considering many other aspects of their day-to-day lives such as monsters and magic. L'Arc is particularly notable for this because he is capable of summoning extremely powerful beasts called Rogress, which would make it a bit odd that he outright denies the god's claim of existence. What makes it even crazier is that he is explicitly referred to as "the Child of Eesa" and is The Chosen One of the local religion.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, Set Roth and his secret circle might be devoutly religious but they look down on the idea of magic and supernatural forces, believing that pure reason and knowledge alone are the path to understanding God. It is, however, justified in that Roth is fully aware that most of the Nazis super-weapons are actually stolen or reverse-engineered from discoveries that he and his companions made over the years.
  • In The Darkside Detective, McQueen has no trouble accepting the existence of ghosts, gremlins, alternate universes, werewolves, lake monsters, zombies, etc., but he doesn't believe in Bigfoot, an inconsistency he immediately lampshades.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Spoofed on Homestar Runner, in the Strong Bad Email myths and 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.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Robo will sometimes point out the impossibility of certain things, despite previously encountering those very same things.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In one Misfile arc Ash refuses to believe that a guy who just challenged her 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 she used to be a guy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Skin Horse:
    • Lampshaded: this from a talking dog and a patchwork zombie, whose office also employs a Steam Punk 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.
  • 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:
      FCG: WE CAN ALCHEMIZE PRACTICALLY ANYTHING WITH THE RIGHT MATERIALS AND GRIST.
      FCG: WE CAN, AND DID, MAKE SUPER POWERFUL WEAPONS AND ITEMS THAT CAN DO PRACTICALLY ANYTHING.
      FCG: WHAT ADDITIONAL ADVANTAGE COULD MAGIC OFFER? ALL THIS SHIT IS PRACTICALLY MAGIC ANYWAY.
      FCG: BUT MORE LIKE
      FCG: GOOFY SCIENCEY MAGIC. YOU KNOW?
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Seen here in Clockworks
  • 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.
    • More recently, 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.
  • In This Is the Worst Idea You've Ever Had! Cynthia, the local Cat Girl says vampires don't exist.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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. Late in the comic it appears he believed this because he felt it made him less likely to encounter them.
  • 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)."
  • 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?
  • RheaSnaketail, 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

    Web Original 
  • Jamie from More Tales of MU has a habit of dismissing as ludicrous rumors that readers know to be true (from MU classic).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • In Worm, despite a setting full of people with physics-defying superpowers, most people still think the sorts that perceive their powers as magical to be bonkers. This comes to bite them in the arse; while "magic" is technically wrong, the one person who knew the true story was one of said kooks, albeit calling them "faeries" rather than "aliens", which are the real source of powers.

    Web Videos 
  • 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!
  • 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 serious...like the Easter Bunny!" Worth noting that it's never actually stated if it is Santa or not.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Alternative Title(s): Arbitrary Scepticism

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