An all too common phenomenon among characters who bash things: they don't actually look at what they're bashing. These are the people who insult movies before they even come out, or claim a video game Rated M for Money has more deplorable content than is actually there.
Also, sometimes this can be invoked if some leave out the full context of complaints to make a show they don't like look bad. A character could complain about a part of a show, and it may actually be worse than the person thinks. Or they might end up disliking a show for a different reason.
Now there is some Truth in Television to this trope, but while some people have revealed (directly or accidentally) that they haven't watched shows, just as often many will accuse them of it simply for criticizing it (even when people are merely criticizing preview elements for shows not out yet).
Even for characters in a show doing this, this trope can be driven by other reaction tropes, such as:
- Animation Age Ghetto (dismissing a work as rubbish just because it is animated and therefore intended for children)
- Cowboy BeBop at His Computer (a documentation of a work gets their facts about it completely wrong, the lack of research often being because the person creating the article may not have cared about checking for accuracy)
- Fan Hater (they don't just hate this particular work, but they also despise everyone who likes it)
- Hate Dumb
- Hype Aversion (disliking a work simply because one is sick of hearing everyone praise it)
- Moral Guardians (who are concerned of the effect more than overall content)
- Periphery Hatedom (disliking a work that wasn't intended to appeal to you in the first place)
- Public Medium Ignorance
- Ruined FOREVER (fans overreact to changes they dislike by declaring the franchise ruined forever)
- Shallow Parody (mean-spirited parodies tend to not be an accurate depiction of the work being mocked, often by claiming the work has flaws it doesn't really have or grossly exaggerating flaws that the work does have)
- Tainted by the Preview (when people get a bad impression of what the work will be like just from watching a preview)
- In Chapter 7 of I Think Our Son Is Gay, Akiyoshi mentions the gay romance TV drama Koi-Men. He then added it's "kind of unpleasant to watch a same-sex kiss scene", unaware that his son Hiroki is gay and closeted. It turns out he hasn't watched the show to begin with, so Tomoko, who knows her son's sexuality, suggests Akiyoshi to watch it first.
- A pretty audacious example appears in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. Several gags imply Maeno, Nozaki's former supervising editor, nearly never reads Nozaki's scripts!
- In the sequel to Kingdom Hearts: The Short and Honest Version, the author takes a huge dump on Avatar. When asked if he's seen Avatar, he falls silent.
- Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami: One directed at Code Geass.
"Suddenly a rocket WOOOSHED past and left a big line of smoke and a bang at the end where it missed but only the helicopter because it still hit another tower but it was okay because noone was in the tower except for that leloosh guy (MORE LIKE LELOSER AM I RIGHT!) an d everyone hates him so its cool except he has a giant robot and also ive never seen it."
- In Birdman, Riggan runs into Tabitha Dickinson, a highly influential New York Times theater critic shortly before the premiere of Riggan's play. Tabitha tells Riggan point blank that she will write the worst review she has ever written despite not having seen the play simply because she despises Hollywood and the idea of Hollywood actors believing they can achieve "real art" like the theater. She ends up writing a positive review after all, after witnessing Riggan shooting himself on stage, calling it just what American theater needed.
- Matinee: Citizens For Decent Entertainment protesting against Mant without having seen it. It is, of course, a stunt to drum up publicity.
- The Day of the Triffids: Before civilization collapsed, Josella Playton was notorious for writing a novel called Sex Is My Adventure. When she sees Bill Masen's reaction to realizing she's that Josella Playton, she sighs and asks him if he's actually read it. He admits he hasn't, and she says the same is true of most of the people who deplored it.
- Don Quixote: With Don Quixote: At Part II Chapter LIX, When Don Quixote hears someone talking how he is not more in love with Dulcinea del Toboso, he is full of wrath and indignation. So he read only a few pages of Avellaneda’s Fan Fiction about him. After a discussion of how this Continuation Fic is full of Character Derailment for Don Quixote and Sancho, Don Quixote believes that the book is bad and not worthy of his time or effort:
... though Don Juan wished Don Quixote to read more of the book to see what it was all about, he was not to be prevailed upon, saying that he treated it as read and pronounced it utterly silly; and, if by any chance it should come to its author's ears that he had it in his hand, he did not want him to flatter himself with the idea that he had read it; for our thoughts, and still more our eyes, should keep themselves aloof from what is obscene and filthy.
- In the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Gaudy Night, Harriet attends a literary party, where a gang of authors take turns theorizing why some thoroughly arty and undeserving novel has been awarded a reviewer's prize — because of advertising deals, or political loyalties, or familial connections, or other underhand reasons. Naturally, none of them have actually read the book, or have the faintest idea what it's even about.
- The Daily Show:
- Robert Novak, frequent target of Take Thats due to his role in the Valerie Plame affair, was asked in an interview whether he'd ever seen The Daily Show or any of its material on him; he said no, then promptly went on to describe Jon as "self-righteous" and a "phony" and so forth. The old incident of Geraldo Rivera ranting to Bill O'Reilly about how TDS and TCR "exist in a small little place where they count for nothing" is most likely also an example, since he cited their supposed use of "video of old ladies slipping on ice and people laughing," which are not exactly Stewart and Colbert's stock in trade. (We would say these were in-universe examples, except y'know, it happened in this universe.)
- Jon Stewart also lampshaded this in regards to Noah, with FOX complaining about it using the word "Creator" instead of "God". Jon Stewart points out that in the movie, Noah's son says that the Creator is God. It is then taken a step further with some of their complaints showing that they must not have read the source material either.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show: In "Punch Thy Neighbor", a number of people criticize the most recent episode of The Alan Brady Show even though they haven't seen it, because Rob's next-door neighbor joked about it being rotten.
- In Newhart, the townspeople think Dick's do-it-yourself books helped a prison break. They get ready to do some Book Burning, but then Joanna convinces them to actually read his books. They see the books couldn't have told the prisoners how to escape, but the books are boring, so they almost burn the books for that reason. So this was a Zig-Zagged Trope.
- Siskel & Ebert: Whenever they report on groups protesting a controversial movie, such as The Last Temptation of Christ or Get on the Bus: They say the groups' criticisms are invalid if they haven't actually seen the movie in question (and in nearly all cases, they hadn't).
- The Goodies. In an episode spoofing Mary Whitehouse, the Goodies are hired to do a sex education video by 'Mrs. Carthorse'. Even though the subject is ludicrously Bowdlerised ("This is a man...and this isn't"), Carthorse calls for its banning the moment the title appears, because it has a dirty word ("gender") in it.
Goodies: You mean you're going to condemn our film without having seen it?
Carthorse: Why break the habit of a lifetime?!
- An episode of Psych has a minor character make fun of The Mentalist, something that Psych itself does occasionally, and then admit he's never actually seen it.
- The Twilight Zone episode "The Misfortune Cookie" starred a Caustic Critic who is introduced writing a bad review for a new Chinese restaurant that he has not even dined at yet. When he actually does visit the restaurant at the urging of his editor, all he does is order a massive amount of food (none of which he eats) before asking for the bill.
- In Dream Girl, Clark Redfield explains that he doesn't always read the books he reviews for newspapers, because he still gets to earn the "minimum wage for a maximum working week" guaranteed by his union contract and doesn't want to spend unnecessary time taxing his brain and his eyesight reading through thousands of pages of European history.
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory: The trophy you get for simply starting the game questions how many reviewers will actually have that trophy.
- Super Paper Mario features a Straw Fan as an Arc Villain, and at one point you have to get past the door via a true/false quiz. One "question" in that quiz is "I love going on message boards and complaining about games I've never played!"
- The gaming magazine GameBro in Homestuck gives a so-so review to the highly anticipated Sburb. It later turns out that the reviewer hadn't even touched it.
- Scrambled Eggs: Quint hates Jimmy Zoopie-Doo purely because of overexposure and his own lack of faith that teen singers can produce quality songs; the only Zoopie-Doo song he ever heard was a Gee cast member's cover, which to Quint's credit, has pretty awful lyrics.
- Miko Miyazaki writes the introduction to The Order of the Stick prequel Start of Darkness, heavily criticising it for its subject matter. About halfway through, she mentions that she hasn't actually read it.
- Bob Chipman: In the Intermission editorial "Tortured Logic" concerning Zero Dark Thirty, he addressed the controversy over the film's depiction of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. He wonders exactly where this controversy came from, given not only the film's Black-and-Gray Morality, but also the fact that it quite explicitly averts Torture Always Works, showing it failing to secure intel on an impending terrorist attack — precisely the opposite of the claim that the film was an endorsement of the CIA's use of torture.
- The Defrosters: It's implied that Pixel Girl's hatred of World of Warcraft is this.
- Beatrice the Golden Witch mentions this trope in her Let's Argue series regarding Sword Art Online. Beatrice says that the hatred of Sword Art Online is largely bandwagoning and most people have not actually watched it, but have seen people discuss how terrible it is enough to know it's bad through word of mouth.
- DVD-R Hell: Rock: It's Your Decision did some terrible research on the songs it vilified. Brad quickly called the movie out for this, debunking each and every one of the movie's arguments. A particularly bad example on the movie's part:
Jeff: (providing "examples" of Satanic songs) "Evil Ways" and "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana.
Brad: Yes, I can see how you would have misinterpreted the line, "You've got to change your evil ways."
- Extra Credits: They criticised Hatred as having no value - which is actually rather impressive, seeing as the game wasn't even out yet and there was probably no way for them to have actually played it.
- Game Grumps: During Silver's Radical Train, Arin and Jon have a long conversation about Bioshock Infinite that lasts about two episodes, with Arin being critical of it despite having barely played it. Two weeks later, once Arin had actually finished it, he tweeted that he liked it.
- Hadriex: "You never really played this game did you?" "Of course not, it would have melted my cerebellum."
- The Nostalgia Chick:
- She's put her foot down about never doing Sailor Moon because she didn't grow up with it, says she wouldn't do it justice, and hates it so much that "I now hate sushi by cultural association."
- Justified with her Jem review, which she has admitted was done only because she felt pressured by its 'girly nostalgia', despite the fact she was not a fan nor ever watched the show as a kid.
- The Nostalgia Critic:
- Critic reviewing Doug, Hey Arnold! and the anime series Pokémon: The First Movie was based off of. He admitted he had never actually seen them, but argued in the latter case that it could be open to a broad audience not familiar with the franchise.
- He received criticism for reviewing Thomas and the Magic Railroad and stating that he has never seen the show the movie was based on. This is featured in his third "Top 11 Fuck Ups" video and he states that he has done this before (like his Pokemon review mentioned above) and he received a lot of requests by fans to review the movie so he did.
- Discussed at length in this banter from Scott The Woz's Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash episode:
Therapist: So you've barely played this game, and yet you hate it this much?
Scott: No, I hate it way more than this much.
Therapist: You can't form an opinion on a game you've barely played. That's unethical! That's why we have HR.
Scott: So I should play 10 hours of a game I already know I don't like just to have an opinion on it?
Therapist: Well, if you don't like it, don't play it!
Scott: But how would I know I don't like it if I don't play it?
Therapist: WELL, JUST STOP DOING STUFF!!!
- The Spoony Experiment:
- Lampshaded in that he's never actually played Final Fantasy IX, beyond maybe two hours, but avoided it solely because he hated the art style, and hadn't been paying any attention to the first two hours, since he wrote Zidane off as an "androgynous-whiny-pansy-ass character". He also admitted that "it was likely that [he] was being fiercely unfair" to Final Fantasy IX on judging it by its art style, especially when the game was specifically targeted at fans of the NES and Super Nintendo-era Final Fantasy games like him, but he just couldn't get over it. He elaborated in his Q&A at MAGfest, and admitted his reasons for avoiding it were entirely childish, and he really can't stand the art style so much that he simply can't make himself keep playing.
- Also admitted to never playing the Worlds of Ultima spin-off games because they were based on the Ultima VI game engine, which he hated.
- In his (alternate) Worst Films of 2010 list, he included Little Fockers just because he hated the jokes in previous movies involving Ben Stiller's character's name. He admitted to never even watching it. By alternate, we mean Spoony compiled a second list of movies that would be horrible and would probably be on his main list if he managed to watch them. Included were BloodRayne 3 and The Nutcracker in 3-D.
- Stuart Ashen: In the 2012 Halloween special the Silver Skull reviews a number of horror films sold in Poundland despite not having seen any of them.
- Fraser actively writes off Kingdom Hearts as being bad despite admitting to never playing any of the games and has mocked its fans, at one point saying after watching the Kingdom Hearts III teaser that [he] can't wait to tear apart [the fans'] favorite game.
- This satirical article is largely based around this trope. It is about an in-story author named Cliven Irving who claims that the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a tool by the "Six Pointer Commission", which is not at all an antisemitic slur, to promote "Cultural Marxism" and LGBT activism. He makes several blatant errors, such as claiming there aren't any male characters in the show (and then claiming this as proof that the show promotes lesbianism) and also that one of the characters is named "Molestia" (which he fails to realize is a fan nickname). It also gets lampshaded when he proclaims that "And I know them to be named that based on contacts who see people who watch this filth, for I will not let my purity be polluted".
- The film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes cited this trope when, in May 2019, they redid how they handled audience ratings, requiring users to present their ticket stubs (working with Fandango, which owns the site, and several theater chains) in order for their ratings to count towards the audience score. The cause of this was a number of high-profile troll campaigns aimed at driving down the audience scores of popular movies that they didn't like and boost the ratings of unpopular movies that they likednote , skewing the ratings away from the opinions of the broad majority of moviegoers and towards those of a Vocal Minority of the most diehard fans. Earlier that year, Rotten Tomatoes disabled user comments on films that had not yet come out, for much the same reason.
- Bob's Burgers: The episode "Moody Foodie" has Bob literally tie up a food critic to force him to change his mind about the restaurant. When a package arrives for the Moody Foodie and Bob opens it, he scoffs because it's a movie he doesn't like, but can't explain why. As it turns out, he never even watched it and only hates it because he read a review stating that it was bad.
- I Am Weasel: Baboon in "A Troo Storee":
Weasel: Don't you see what this means, you brainless louth? You wrote a book so bad that it makes people stupid instead of smart! Why did I trust you?! What was I thinking!? Your book has ruined the world!
Baboon: You say book is bad? But you never even read it yet!
- Later averted when Weasel actually reads the book and admits that not only does it do a decent job of describing what being a baboon is like, and that even though he disliked the writing, he realizes that the book has no effect on the people who read it because everyone was already stupid.
- Liberty's Kids: Sarah villifies Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" even when she meets the author personally. Once she gives it a read, she learns to at least appreciate it.
- Miraculous Ladybug: In "Animaestro," the titular akuma victim is the director of an in-universe Ladybug and Cat Noir movie. When they face off, Ladybug complains that the movie's trailer declares that she's afraid of cats, which isn't true. It only annoys Animaestro more that she's complaining about a movie she hasn't seen, and Cat Noir admits he has a point.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: "Read It and Weep" is all about this trope, beginning with Rainbow Dash dismissing the entire idea of reading books as "undeniably, unquestionably uncool", to the confusion of her friends. However, with nothing else to do while stuck in the hospital for several days, she eventually picks up the book that Twilight Sparkle left behind. To her horror, Rainbow admits to herself that she actually likes it, and becomes a huge fan of the series from that point onwards, spending much of the episode trying to get a chance to finish that first book.
- Phineas and Ferb: Candace is examining a row of books with no visible titles.
Candace: Boring, dull, stupid, lame, heavy-handed and derivative.
Linda: Oh, thank you for those insightful reviews of books... you haven't read.
- Admittedly, Candace does get in a good zing when Linda says she can't judge a book by its cover. To which Candace asks what made Linda acquire said books in the first place, causing Linda to hesitantly reply "I thought they looked interesting."
- An episode of Team Galaxy had one of Yoko's performances be bashed by a Caustic Critic. When Yoko confronts the critic, he reveals that he didn't even watch the performance, he just gave it a bad review for seemingly no reason other reason than It Amused Me.