This is when a character makes some kind of error to do with their surroundings simply because they lack sight, either permanently or due to Temporary Blindness, or have misplaced their glasses. It can be anything from mistaking one object for another, one person for another, one location for another, or even whether something is there or not. For example, the character could pick up a bottle of vegetable oil instead of the intended bottle of water and drink it.
The character doesn't have to be completely blind, either — people who are extremely near- or farsighted, or whose vision is extremely blurry, can also do this. Or it might just be dark.
This trope is used generally for comedic effect. Often greatly exaggerated, to the point of serious Fridge Logic.
See also Blind and the Beast.
- Sears Optical uses this several times with people who need glasses:
- A woman lets in a raccoon at the back door thinking it was her cat.
- A man accidentally snips off a lock of his wife's hair while trying to cut the tag off her dress. Additionally, it's implied that the wife also needing glasses is the reason she's with him in the first place, as she's noticeably more attractive than he is.
- A businesswoman in a hurry hops into a car and orders it to go to the airport. It's a cop car.
- There was a commercial for an optician's in Europe involving a woman inadvertently performing fellatio on the gearshift of a car instead of the man sitting next to it — while "parking" with her boyfriend.
- A whole range of advertisements for SpecSavers opticians in the UK, featuring, amongst others, a shepherd who shears his sheepdog, an elderly couple who get on a rollercoaster thinking it's a park bench, a volleyball player who spikes a seagull instead of a ball, a lifeguard who mistakes a seal for someone who needs rescuing, an overly enthusiastic aerobics instructor who shows up in an elderly bingo and Postman Pat crashing his van through fields and picking up a sack of vegetables instead of mail. All ending with the slogan "Should have gone to SpecSavers", which has rather successfully entered the vernacular.
- Ranma ½:
- Mousse certainly looks better without his Opaque Nerd Glasses, but once he takes them off he ends up mistakenly glomping any person or object in front of him, thinking it's Shampoo. Among the more unusual items he has mistaken for a curvy 16 year-old girl with knee-length lavender hair: a giant panda, Shampoo's 1ft-tall grandmother, a bicycle, a 3ft-high tanuki statue, and a potted plant.
- At one point, while on a "date" with Akane, Ryōga (who has good eyesight) is frisked in the darkness of an ocean-themed haunted house by Shampoo. Elated by what he thought is a forward advance from Akane, he quickly turns around and hugs the first thing he found — a giant ocean sunfish model. He thinks Akane feels a little chunky, but he still doesn't open his eyes to realize his mistake.
- In Pandora Hearts, Break, who was completely blind at this point of the story, mistook Lily for Vincent and kicked her.
- A Tear Jerker variety happens in the backstory of Rurouni Kenshin. Kenshin is subjected to a bout of Temporary Blindness and deafness thanks to a series of attacks, and is forced to fight their leader barely able to see or hear. As a result, he can't see his wife Tomoe jump in front of him to try and block the leader's blade until it's too late, and winds up accidentally killing both of them.
- In Drug & Drop, Kazahaya and Rikuo have to search for a vase inside a pitch dark shrine that's Bigger on the Inside while Holding Hands so they don't get separated. It takes them a while before they finally realize that they're actually both holding onto the spirit of the vase's hands, and she's been leading them around in circles the entire time For the Lulz.
- In Gintama anytime Sacchan takes off her glasses she ends up mistaking somebody or even something for Gintoki. In the Glasses Arc she gets from him a pair of glasses that aren't her prescription and refuses to wear her own, which almost gets her killed, because you really shouldn't do that if you're an assassin on a job.
- Played seriously in Detective Conan: The new assistant homeroom teacher Rumi Wakasa is apparently blind in her right eye. In one case, when she is distracted, one of her students approaches her from the right, but Rumi can't see the student even as she turns her head both ways. She has to turn her head all the way over to the right to finally see the student out of her left eye. This is significant because she is now suspected to be Rum, the Number Two of The Syndicate who has an artificial eye, who the heroes are trying to identify and defeat.
- There was a Magoo-like character in the British anthology comic The Beezer called Colonel Blink (The Short-Sighted Gink). In another British anthology comic The Beano the character 'Erbert from The Bash Street Kids is also very Magoo-esque. Blinky in The Dandy (which took on several characters from The Beezer) is essentially a younger version of Colonel Blink. In what may be an attempt at political correctness strips in the late 90's and early 00's claimed that it wasn't Blinky's eyesight that was messed up, it was his head.
- A whole story from Cattivik revolved around his attempt to mug a blind guy with a really dangerous stick.
- The Blind Ballerina in Jinty was a Played for Drama example. According to Alan Moore (who may be exaggerating slightly), a typical story would involve her Evil Uncle telling her she was performing at the Royal Albert Hall, and then leading her to the middle of the motorway.
- Judge Dredd: The elderly Mrs. Gunderson, who's both near-blind and practically deaf, does this all the time, such as walking into a wall when she's looking for the door or pouring a drink on somebody's plate. She never even suspected that her former tenant "Jay De'ath" was an alien superfiend in hiding.
- Rompetechos (originally having his own comic-books, now a recurrent character in Mortadelo y Filemón) is a Mr. Magoo-like guy who crosses paths with Mortadelo and Filemón because of a mistake — Rompetechos may be looking for a priest and, seeing Mortadelo's black clothes, will harass him nonstop, meddling with Mortadelo's activities.
- Robin: When Tim goes to ask questions of a temporarily blind Jason Bard, the P.I. pulls his gun on the door and warns whoever has quietly entered his office that he knows they are there. Tim, who had snuck in through the window behind Bard, mentions that it's probably not a great idea for Jason to be using a gun while blind.
- In a Running Gag in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a character with an oversized macaroni on his head is always facing the wrong way during crowd scenes.
- Vitruvius from The LEGO Movie. During the big break in to Lord Business' fortress, the heroes place him on watch. Cue him looking at a wall with a pair of binoculars.
- In Adventures in Babysitting, Brenda, stranded in a bus station without her glasses, pets a huge rat thinking it's a lost cat.
- In Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Ron Burgundy goes blind and does things like biting into an ashtray thinking it's a waffle, setting his dishwasher on fire thinking it's a fireplace, brushing his teeth with a live lobster and drinking a bottle of ketchup thinking it's wine, even though he shouldn't need his vision to know if something's up. This was even lampshaded by Brian:
Brian: If you drank a bottle of that, that's like... that's like... like nine or ten gulps. Couldn't you tell that was ketchup?
Ron: Did I stutter? I'm BLIND
- The main character in Blind Fury can defeat ninjas and gun-toting mooks with a sword despite being totally blind, but has trouble with everyday life. In one scene, he mistakes an alligator for a dog. In another, he's tricked into eating a hotdog swimming in hot sauce, but it turns out he has an extreme tolerance of spicy food.
- In The Blues Brothers, blind music store owner Ray Charles is shown hanging up a poster advertising the Blues Brothers' concert — upside down.
- Happens several times with the blind girl in City Lights. At one point the Tramp is helping her ball up some yarn, and she accidentally grabs a stray thread from his clothes instead. He's too shy to correct her, and ends up helping unravel all his underwear.
- In the Daredevil movie, Matt's partner Foggy repeatedly attempts to invoke this on Matt, such as when he hands him a bottle of mustard instead of honey for his coffee. Matt's other senses work just fine, however, and he switches mugs once Foggy turns away.
- One comic setpiece in W.C. Fields vehicle It's a Gift involves Mr. Muckle, who is both blind and half-deaf, visiting poor Harold Bissonette's grocery store. Mr. Muckle shatters the glass in Harold's front door with his cane as he enters, goes around wrecking everything else breakable in the store as he browses, and shatters the glass in Harold's other front door as he leaves.
- In Minority Report, Anderton is recovering from eye replacement surgery and eats the nasty rotting sandwich instead of the freshly made one sitting right next to it. And then washes it down with sour milk.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian: "I was blind but now I can see... aaargh!" (falls into pit)
- A Running Gag in the film Moving Violations, where a character played by the "Where's the Beef?" lady from old Wendy's commercials repeatedly does this. Some classics include: driving onto an airport runway and sitting in a urinal and asking "Why's my back all wet?"
- In Neil Simon's Murder by Death, the blind butler Jamesir Bensonmum is always doing things like that — eg, sticking stamps to letters but missing by a mile and sticking them to the table; or lighting a fire in a guest's bedroom... in the center of the bed itself. ("At least the bed will be warm," quips the guest.)
- A rare not Played for Laughs example in the Film Noir, On Dangerous Ground. Mary (who's blind) thinks her brother, who has killed a young girl, has returned home, but it's actually the cop that's been chasing him who enters.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights has an entire character, Blinkin, who exists to act out this trope (see the page pic). Ironically, Blinkin is so surprisingly competent and skilled that his blindness is the only thing keeping him from liberating England by himself. He catches an arrow in mid-flight before it hits Robin Hood, saying he could hear it coming a mile away... and then asks who's talking when Robin congratulates him.
- In A Song Is Born, Frisbee walks into Honey's bungalow at the motel they stay at by mistake, believing it to be Prof. Oddley's, and since it is dark, he fails to realize his mistake and pours out the depths of his ardor to Honey, causing her to realize just how much he really loves her.
- In the opening of Superman III, a blind man confuses his walking dog for a road painter. because all blind people are friggin' idiots, right?
- What's the Worst That Could Happen?: When blinded by mace, Earl fires several shots at Max, thinking that he is Kevin.
- The blind hermit in Young Frankenstein pours hot soup in the monster's lap, smashes his wine mug with a too-enthusiastic toast, and finally lights his thumb on fire instead of a cigar.
- Verbally mentioned from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after Harry reads a letter Sirius sent him:
"He sounds exactly like Moody," said Harry quietly, tucking the letter away again inside his robes. "'Constant vigilance!' You'd think I walk around with my eyes shut, banging off the walls..."
- In Discworld book Feet of Clay, Angua (a werewolf) takes Cheery to an undead bar. One of the regulars is a normal old lady, who started going to the location when it was a normal pub and can't see well enough to realize it's full of undead now.
- A rare justified example occurs on Arrested Development with Maggie Lizer. She's not actually blind and is doing a really bad imitation.
- One Chappelle's Show sketch was about a Blind Black Guy named Clayton Bigsby. The mistake? He doesn't know he's black, and he's a prominent white supremacist writer and KKK leader.
- Mostly avoided/subverted on Covert Affairs with Auggie's character, although he did accidentally bad-mouth Jai's father as Jai approached, despite Annie's warning.
Auggie: I'm assuming from the silence and the stiletto in my shin that Jai has joined us. ...I'm off to do...anything else. [leaves]
- Doctor Who: "Extremis" has an unusual example — The Doctor, who was blinded in the previous episode, is preparing to read a Tome of Eldritch Lore. To do so, he uses a fancy gadget that temporarily restores his eyesight by borrowing health from his future self. When it does so, his eyesight is initially extremely blurry, and thus he mistakes an approaching Prophet of Truth (the villain) for Cardinal Angelo (who the Prophets had vanished earlier) due to its red robes.
- There was a case on Drake & Josh where Helen had eye surgery and had patches over both eyes for a while. After claiming she didn't need help, she picked up a baby carrier (yes, with a baby in it) and walked away, thinking it was her purse.
- Merc's wife in Episodes has a couple. In a funeral episode, Merc has a minder tasked with the sole job of "making sure she doesn't fall in the hole." Her Jerkass husband also enjoys mocking her disability by doing mime shows to others while she's standing right there, which everyone but him seems to find acutely tasteless.
- A Running Gag with Private Vanderbilt, the fort lookout on F Troop. He once allowed two Indians wearing feather head-dresses to enter the fort unchallenged, and later explained "I thought they were turkeys."
- Sophia from The Golden Girls is prone to this whenever she loses her glasses. For instance, in one episode she tried to call her daughter to pick her up at a shopping mall after she lost her glasses but failed to manage it because she didn't realize that the machine she was using was not a pay phone, but a condom vendor instead.
- Crosses the Line Twice in a sketch in the Swedish sketch show Lorry: a blind couple buys a television set from a blind salesman, who then sends a blind errand-boy on a motorcycle to drive it home to them. Every one of them trashes everything around them, remaining cheerful and blissfully unaware all the time.
- Half the humour relating to The Mighty Boosh's Lester Corncrake derives from this. The other half is from him doing various things which imply that he can see.
- Happens several times in the Monk episode, "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing".
- On one episode of The Nanny, Fran dates a blind man (played by Jason Alexander) to prove that she has more to offer than merely her looks. The 'blind mistakes' are mostly hers (she breaks a vase and lets him think that he did it, and throws a ball for his guide dog to fetch while he's still holding on), though he does nearly drink a candle when they first meet at a bar.
- On The Odd Couple, Felix returns from the hospital wearing a post-op bandage (blindfold) as the result of a sinus procedure. Wanting to freshen the air in the apartment, he mistakenly grabs a can of whipped cream sitting next to the can of Glade. He also goes to the closet and mistakenly puts on his ex-wife Gloria's coat. After Oscar clues him in, Felix says "It fits!".
- Mr. Lomax in Psychoville is constantly making these sorts of errors, like mistaking a Club biscuit bar for a mobile phone (nobody ever rings him on it).
- This happens in one episode of Reba, during which Reba tries to take care of herself on her own after having an eye surgery (with hilariously disastrous results, such as drinking water out of a potted plant). Efforts made by Barbra Jean to assist Reba while the latter fumbles around without knowing someone else is nearby trying to help only amplify the hilarity further.
- A serious example is found in an episode of JAG, where a senior fighter pilot misjudged the height and distance to a ridge due to his failing eyesight. This caused his wingman to clip a telephone pole with his F-14 Tomcat, lose control and eject. The plane crashed into oncoming traffic, killing a mother and child.
- An example sort of serious, sort of funny example occurs in Anne with an E. Anne has her friend over for a tea party and goes into the Cuthbert family's pantry for a cherry cordial she remembers was there. She isn't blind, and it isn't particularly dark: it's just that the bottles aren't labeled, so she's "blind" in the sense of not knowing what she's getting. A sensible person would have left it alone, but Anne isn't sensible. The bright red liquid in the bottle she picks up turns out to be homemade currant wine. As it is homemade, the alcohol content is probably on the generous side. The adults are NOT amused, although the girls didn't do anything dangerous.
- Polyphemus from The Odyssey accidentally allows Odysseus and his men to escape after being blinded.
- Played for Drama in King Lear with Gloucester (whose eyes have been gouged out) and his son, who pretends to be "Mad Tom".
- Act II, Scene II of The Merchant of Venice. Launcelot's blind father, Old Gobbo, shows up and doesn't recognize him. Launcelot is a troublemaker, so instead of revealing his identity, he gets into a whole conversation with his father about "young Master Launcelot", finally revealing that Launcelot is "deceased". The trouble is, once he decides that the joke's gotten a bit old, he has trouble explaining to his father that he's really Launcelot, and not dead at all. The whole thing cumulates with Old Gobbo joyfully embracing Launcelot, complimenting him on his fine new beard — actually just his long hair, which his father has accidentally grabbed hold of. And that's only what's directly mentioned in the script. Depending on the performance, there will usually be plenty of visual gags involving Old Gobbo walking off in the wrong direction, bumping into the other characters, falling off the stage and into the audience, etc.
- In Katawa Shoujo, the legally-blind Kenji mistakenly buys a bunch of tubes of lip balm because he thought they were single AA batteries.
- The now-blind Sollux is shown to be vacillating between Matesprit and Kismesis for Gamzee, but since he's looking at Lil Cal the puppet, it confuses the hell out of Karkat. Much, much later revelations about what exactly Lil' Cal is imply that he might have sensed part of Gamzee's soul in the puppet.
- Terezi has been the butt of this joke, although she can usually get around her handicap. Notably, when she adds sunglasses to pictures of Dave, she always misses his eyes. Also, in the Act 5 finale, she points in the wrong direction when everybody's staring into the sky and is gently corrected by Karkat. It's also pretty common for Terezi cosplayers to intentionally face the wrong direction in photoshoots, and for her to be drawn facing the wrong way in fan-art.
- Mia from Unintentionally Pretentious is blind, and is occasionally prone to this.
- This trope is essentially the entire premise behind the Brandon Rogers "Fashion is Blind" sketch, which narrates the life and antics of Jurgen, a blind German fashion designer who also happens to be a chronic Cloudcuckoolander.
- In Suburban Knights, Todd in the Shadows winds up doing this thanks to his Dread Pirate Roberts costume's mask covering his eyes, including attacking Film Brain thinking he was one of the Cloaks and fighting an inanimate pole before falling over due to being disoriented. In the second instance Film Brain and one of the Cloaks actually stop their fighting to stare.
- In Eric Jacobuss's Blindsided, Walter finishes baking his pie and pours himself a glass of thoroughly spoiled milk before taking a sip and spraying said milk all over his new pie, ruining it (followed by attempting to wash his mouth out with the Tabasco in the fridge, and failing to get the glass right-side-up to get water to quench the hot sauce...), necessitating the convenience store trip that kicks off the plot. Why he didn't notice the smell...
- One episode of 2 Stupid Dogs is based on this. The dogs act as guide dogs for the blind man while he wanders around a construction site.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Toph falls into the water, and can't swim. Sokka (a guy) yells that he'll save her, but Suki (a girl) jumps in before he can do anything. Toph kisses "Sokka" not realizing it's really Suki. (Yes, the Tokka shippers love that one.)
- In another episode, declaring that she doesn't need the help of someone with sight to help put up posters, she glues the wrong side of the poster to a wall. "It's upside-down, isn't it?"
- Also occasionally inverted:
[the Gaang are about to tunnel underground to try and undermine the giant Fire Nation drill machine]
Sokka: Aah! It's so dark! I can't see a thing!
Toph: Oh no, what a nightmare!
- And played with/invoked:
Sokka: Toph, when I was in town I found something you're not going to like [unfurls a wanted poster]
Toph: Well it sounds like a sheet of paper. But I guess you're referring to what's on the sheet of paper.
- Toph gets this a lot, both ways. She's the world's most powerful Earthbender, who can tell where things are through the vibrations in the ground, to the point of knowing exactly who's who by their movements, and even being a Living Lie Detector because the same changes in heart rate and breathing when you lie are transmitted through the ground to her some distance away. It's easy for the others to forget she's blind when she's been walking with them and nearly every bit as aware of what's going on as they are. So three different characters forget, at different times in the same episode, that she can't read, and things like that happen now and again. Meanwhile, as powerful as she is and as good as her powers are at helping her navigate, she's still blind. That can mean things from walking into Sokka when he stops suddenly (in sand, her range and accuracy drop) or dangerous things like not knowing where airborne enemies are.
- On Chowder, a Magoo-like character crashes into Mung Daal's kitchen, mistaking it for his home, and tries to make out with Schnitzel, whom he mistakes for his wife.
- In the first episode of Eek! The Cat entitled "MiserEek", a blind old lady adopts the titular Eek and thinks he was her cat, Mittens. Because of her blindness, the old lady did a lot of wrong things to Eek, such as showing him a big vacuum cleaner by mistake (cue a scared scream from Eek), accidentally putting him into a pot of boiling water (instead of a chicken) and scrubbing butter on him.
- Leela is medically required to wear an eyepatch after an accident with a spice weasel. She has only one eye. And she's the pilot of the Planet Express ship. Fry tries to make her think she's still piloting the ship when it comes under attack by putting Nibbler's food bowl in her hands, and he manages to competently keep them intact. Then she realizes she's holding the bowl and retakes the wheel. She then gets the fuel line blown and they're taken captive.
- Professor Farnsworth is generally implied to be blind without his glasses. Since they're thick enough to stop gamma rays, he's more or less blind with them. He switches to reading glasses once where each lens is a cylinder a foot long. They punch through the magazine he's trying to read.
Farnsworth: Why, Zoidberg, there's a lovely picture of you in here!
- In the Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Coned!", Mickey attempts to make his dog Pluto feel better about his Elizabethan collar by wearing one as well until it is time for Pluto's to get removed. Because Mickey insists on wearing the cone even when it impairs his vision, it leads to him obliviously injuring himself and causing destruction everywhere he goes.
- Anything featuring Mr. Magoo is based around this. He's an old man who is very much Blind Without 'Em, except he doesn't have 'em and refuses to get 'em, stubbornly insisting that his eyesight is perfect and everyone else doesn't know what they're talking about.
- This was done a few times with Velma after she lost her glasses on the CBS Scooby-Doo series. Among other things, Velma once approached a statue and thought it was Shaggy, petrified with fear.
- The Simpsons:
- Bleeding Gums Murphy learned to play sax at the feet of Blind Willie Witherspoon:
Willie: I've been playing jazz for 30 years and I just can't make a go of it. I want you to have my saxophone.
Bleeding Gums: This isn't a saxophone, it's an umbrella!
Willie: So I've been playing a umbrella for 30 years? Why didn't anybody tell me?
Bleeding Gums: Heh, we all thought it was funny.
Willie: That's not funny.
- Milhouse frequently gets the Blind Without 'Em treatment when he loses his specs, or if someone just takes them. In "Summer of 4 Ft. 2", Bart Takes them to spy on Lisa and doesn't bother to give them back. A horseshoe crab then crawls into frame and Milhouse pets it, mistaking it for a lost puppy.
- When Bart becomes a faith healer he "heals" Milhouse by throwing away his glasses. Milhouse believes it, then walks into traffic and gets hit by a car.
- In one episode Homer's vision is distorted when he starts wearing a pair of glasses he found in the bathroom at work.
Lisa: Dad, you shouldn't wear glasses that weren't prescribed for you.
Homer: [to Bart] Lisa, just because you're ten feet tall doesn't mean you can tell me what to do.
- Bleeding Gums Murphy learned to play sax at the feet of Blind Willie Witherspoon:
- Star Wars Rebels: "Through Imperial Eyes" has a serious variant — Kanan gets himself stunned because he doesn't know that the Imperial officer he tries to mindtrick is Governor Pryce, who's too strong-willed for it to work. And not only does Kanan not know who Pryce is, neither does Rex, so he can't warn him.
- In Wakfu, this is the whole schtick of Chamberlain Thickdruft of the Sadidas. His eyes aren't visible under his hair, and he's old, so his eyesight is bad either way. He keeps confusing random people for Princess Amalia — and then accuses said people of trying to trick him with disguises.
- In 2003, at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, a 7-year-old blind girl drowned because all three counselors were also blind.
- One of Barack Obama's senior staffers mistook the second-most senior Army general for a waiter at an event because he was standing in her periphery, she wasn't wearing her glasses and all she could see were the stripes on his pants. The general laughed it off, while she was mortified.
- It is in fact possible for a blind person to serve as a guide for another blind person if the guide is familiar with the surroundings, or if both people want to stay together in a crowd. Though in deference to the page quote, orientation and mobility training didn't exist in 1st century Palestine.