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Directionless Driver

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Dammit, I'm not lost!

Minny: Oh, for the love of Chrysler! Can we please ask someone for directions?
Van: [deranged] No! There's an on-ramp close! I know it! I can feel it! Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

A Directionless Driver is a character who actively refuses navigation aid when traveling. He will ignore anyone who tries to help them, and adamantly rebuff companions who suggest asking for directions. Things will get worse if the Directionless Driver has maps or a GPS, as he'll use them as evidence that he already has all the information he needs.

The Directionless Driver is almost Always Male, pertaining to the stereotype that men never ask for directions. This trope is also typically used to portray him as taking deep personal pride in doing things his own way.

In reality, it could stem from the fact that men used to do the vast majority of driving (and in some places, still do). A woman might be just as reluctant to stop and ask a stranger for help — especially at night — but if she's not driving in the first place... For why she wouldn't be allowed to drive, see her own bad driving stereotype.

For the record, while the Directionless Driver in general is Truth in Television, the gender difference may not be. A MythBusters test of 14 drivers, 7 male and 7 female, showed that male drivers that took part in the test do tend to ask for directions sooner than female drivers (a minute sooner on average, with the average male taking just over 4 minutes, and the average female taking just over 5), and both men and women were equally likely to stop (six out of seven of each gender did stop).

A sister trope to No Sense of Direction. Also see You Can't Miss It, Shortcuts Make Long Delays, and Too Dumb to Live. Compare and contrast with Women Drivers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Naruto, Pain does technically ask for directions for where Naruto is, but does so in a sufficiently manly manner, i.e. attempting to solo an entire city full of super-powered ninja, which is rather...inefficient, especially given that this is wears-bright-orange-and-never-shuts-up Naruto we're talking about.

  • In Vicki Lawrence's "Two-Woman Show" (based on Mama's Family), Vicki appears as Mama, giving her opinions on modern-day topics. On the subject of gay marriage, she says that she opposes it, because "then you'd have two idiots in the car who'll drive around for three hours before they stop for directions!"
  • Jimmy Carr: "It's true, ladies. Men are no good at asking for directions. On the other hand, maybe we wouldn't have to if you could read a bloody map!"
  • Bobby Slayton argued that this trope doesn't actually exist in real life, as men will actually plan their route weeks in advance if they have something they're looking forward to (such as a baseball game). He argues the trope only applies if the man is going somewhere they don't want to go, such as the woman's relatives for Christmas. ("Whoops, missed the turn-off...")

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: An elderly couple is driving on the surface of the moon - the wife exclaims "Oh, for heaven's sake - NOW look where the Earth is! Move over and let me drive!" Another strip has two aliens asking for directions at an Earth gas station. The attendant says they're in the wrong star system.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Spirited Away, this trope helped to kick-start the movie. Within minutes of starting, the film has:
    Chihiro's father: I must have missed the turn off. This road should get us there.
    Chihiro's mother: Honey, don't take a short cut; you always get us lost.
    Chihiro's father: Trust me, it's gonna work.
    [followed seconds later by:]
    Chihiro: Dad, I think we're lost.
    Chihiro's father: We're fine; I've got four wheel drive!
  • Pixar's Cars has Minny and Van, the lost tourists passing through Radiator Springs. Van, the husband, sternly refuses to ask for directions; The Stinger after the credits shows them still lost in the desert, exhausted and delirious.
  • Somewhat justified in Finding Nemo; Marlin refuses to let Dory ask a whale for directions to Sydney out of fear that it will eat them.
    Dory: What is it with men and asking for directions?
    Marlin: I don't want to play the gender card right now. You wanna play a card? Let's play the "not die" card.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fozzie in The Muppet Movie, whose route from Florida to California goes through Rhode Island and Saskatchewan.
  • Played for laughs in the movie adaptation of Postal, with Mohammed as the directionless driver and Osama bin Laden as the exasperated passenger.

  • Old joke:
    Q: Why does it take millions of sperm to fertilize one egg?
    A: Because they won't ask for directions.
  • Another joke offers this trope as the explanation for the trip from Egypt to Canaan following the Exodus taking 40 years.
  • There's also a joke about how it's good for space agencies to hire female astronauts because, unlike male astronauts, female astronauts won't be embarrassed to ask for directions if they get lost in space.

  • Alluded to in The Kane Chronicles. One of the chapter titles is Men Ask For Directions (And Other Signs of the Apocalypse).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played so straight it's almost a parody in one episode of Home Improvement, when Tim and Jill have to drive to their friend's wedding in North Adams, Michigan.note  Even though Jill already has directions, Tim refuses to use them, and they end up in Ohio instead.
  • Referenced in "The Science Fair" episode of The Red Green Show:
    Red Green: We're out there in our own vehicles, burning gas, got the sunglasses on, looking good. People seeing us going by would have no idea where we are. And we're not really excited about sharing that information. A man does not embrace the concept of going up to total strangers and saying, 'You may not know this, but I'm a moron,' whereas the woman he's with is only too happy to share that information.
  • Conversed in Rules of Engagement. Audrey makes a joke about men not asking for directions, and the couple she's talking to has never heard of this trope and the husband asks for directions.
  • Top Gear: According to his co-presenters, without a sat-nav (and sometimes even with), this is a very accurate description of James May. On several occasions he's managed to get lost on a racetrack.
  • Kevin's dad sometimes displayed this trait in The Wonder Years. His justification was that he had navigated a half-track halfway across Korea, so he certainly didn't need to ask for directions in his home state.
  • Discussed in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode "Sabrina The Teenage Boy". According to Hilda, the last time Zelda turned herself in to a man, she got lost for 50 years because as a man she refused to ask for directions.
  • One MythBusters test looked at whether men are really more reluctant to stop and ask for directions. Not only were men just as likely as women to pull over and ask directions (only two people in the entire sample refused to stop—one man, and one woman), the men actually pulled over (on average) one minute sooner than the women.
  • There's a lot of them going around in Canada's Worst Driver. They're not always men, though.

  • "The Lost Vikings" by Dethklok is about a group of... lost Vikings who are doomed to sail around the world forever in search of the battle they were supposed to take part in because they accidentally left their map at home and their pride prevents them from asking for directions. At one point in the song someone offers to give them a map and some directions, but they refuse, claiming to be travelling mercenaries.
  • Da Yoopers have a skit called "Beer Run" where the band members head for a bar and unknowingly drive past the same landmarks several times without realizing it. Finally, when they ask the driver (then-guitarist Joe Potila) which way to turn for the third time, they realize that he has been holding the map upside-down. They turn the other way this time and end up in a completely different town than they intended.

  • Referenced in El Goonish Shive after Ellen's "birth", as she deluded herself into thinking she was Elliot's Evil Twin.
    Elliott: I wonder what she's going to do once she gets back to Moperville.
    Tedd: If she can even find her way back there. I mean, you didn't know the way here and you slept in the car, so she shouldn't know how to get back home.
    Elliot: True, but you have to keep in mind that she is a woman and may consider tactics that we as men wouldn't even think of.
    Tedd: Like what?
    [cut to Ellen asking a gas pump attendant for directions]
  • Despite what his national anthem says, Poland is most definitely lost.

    Western Animation 
  • Lampshaded in the Family Guy episode "The Son Also Draws":
    Lois: Peter, we're lost. Would you please ask for directions?
    Peter: We are not lost. And even if we were, I can't ask a human being for directions.
    Lois: Why not?
    Peter: Because I'm a man. Haven't you ever seen a stand-up comedian, Lois?
  • Gender-flipped Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. When Frankie gets lost, Mac complains about how she won't ask for directions.
  • Gender-flipped in The Wild Thornberrys — Marianne always drives, and she never asks for directions even when her sense of direction isn't exactly best. The gender-flipped nature of the gag is lampshaded by Nigel.
    Nigel: I wonder if any other husbands have this problem...
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In the first "Spaced Out" episode, the King and the Queen of Yugopotamia were going to Earth to rescue their son. She said they'd not have to blow up so many planets if he asked for directions. He replied he was still the King around there and she said he was King of getting lost.
    • Timmy's Dad always gets lost whenever they are on a long trip. When going to a (terrible) hotel in the desert, he ends up crashing into Santa's workshop.
  • In The Loud House, while not involving cars, Lynn doesn't allow Lincoln and Clyde to use a map or ask for directions in school, claiming that it would make them the target of bullying for being "noobs", and that mean-spirited upperclassmen will intentionally misdirect them in order to get them lost. However, because Lincoln and Clyde still don't know the school well and haven't studied the map, they still get lost, and when someone offers them help they rebuke him, thinking he'd be one of those "mean guys" who would misdirect them on purpose, resulting in them getting lost further.
  • In The Simpsons, there was one episode where Homer became an ambulance driver. At some point, he was going around in circles and Lisa asked why he'd not admit he didn't know where the hospital was. Homer's reply was asking why she'd not admit he knew it was somewhere around there.
  • Justified in King of the Hill when 13-year-old Bobby is stuck driving his step-grandmother to the hospital when she goes into labor.
    Bobby: I can't ask for directions, I'm not even supposed to be driving this car!

    Real Life 
  • One of the drivers during the Monty Python First Farewell Tour, a fellow identified only as Sid, was mentioned by several of the Python crew as having been utterly unable to find anything, anywhere. On one occasion, according to Michael Palin, he managed to mess up a two-minute journey so badly it took half an hour.
  • The trope is a common joke for male drivers as it is implied that men are too prideful to ask for directions. Asking for help would be taken as a sign of weakness.