Maya: I know! I know! Try "thank you."
A character who doesn't know how to show their appreciation for something. Perhaps they have No Social Skills, or maybe their lives were so messed up that they simply don't know how thank someone because they never before experienced kindness or helpfulness from other people. Or the favor in question was so great that a mere "Thank you" doesn't seem sufficient. Characters like this may give Disproportionate Rewards of some sort. Alternatively, they may do something they think would be an appropriate way to show their gratitude, only to shock or anger the person they were trying to thank instead.
Related to Cannot Spit It Out.
See also Rhetorical Request Blunder for other failed attempts at pleasing someone. See also Entitled Bastard for someone who rudely decides not to thank anyone. When it's a person suffering lack of gratitude, it's All of the Other Reindeer.
- Gretel, one of a pair of truly Creepy Twins from Black Lagoon, does this to Rock when she tries to express her gratitude for being the first person who was nice to her and shedding tears for her because of the horrible things that she and her brother had been put through and how they chose to handle it, something that had been completely alien to her until then... by dropping her panties and sexually proposing to him. Rock is shocked and horrified and immediately leaves the room to go upstairs, where he proceeds to curse the men who caused her and her brother Hansel to become like this. Also a example of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good played for drama.
- Nymph from Heaven's Lost Property doesn't ever say thanks for anyhing, because her master used to force her to act grateful while he treated her like crap, so she can't understand the honest meaning of the expression.
- Princess Arika from Negima! Magister Negi Magi is normally calm and composed, including at her own execution. When Nagi saves her life and professes his love for her, her first response is, "I do not dislike you."
- It's shown in an extra that Morgiana from Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, after a wonderful life of enslavement, is troubled as she doesn't know how to express her gratitude to Alibaba for freeing her.
- My Hero Academia: Bakugo has this problem in spades, namely because he's a very prideful individual who gets aggressive whenever he even thinks someone might be looking down on him. Most notably his former best friend and the protagonist, Izuku Midoriya. He pretty much starts screaming at him after Izuku leads some classmates to save his life; he is actually grateful, but too proud to admit it.
- He also gives Kirishima money to replace what he spent on night-vision goggles that he used to rescue Bakugo. Kirishima is one of the very few Bakugo acts less hostile towards, namely because of his niceness and easy-going nature.
- It appears that while Bakugo has trouble in general, it's implied it's even more so toward Izuku because he looks down on him. Though Uraraka points out he may actually fear Izuku or rather that he actually believes Izuku is more worthy of being a hero than him. This may explain why he has such a hard time with gratitude towards Izuku.
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- Haruhi doesn't know how to apologize or thank anyone. However, at one point, Kyon tells her that the one time he saw her in a ponytail it was "so cute it was criminal," and from then on whenever she really screws up, she puts her hair in a ponytail in the next scene, since it's the only way she can apologize.
- She doesn't know how to accept gratitude either. After the concert in "Live A Live", she is thanked quite nicely by the band she helped out, and, though she handles it well in person, later feels disturbed and antsy for no reason she can think of. Kyon believes it's because the antics she usually gets up to are not the sort of things people would thank her for.
- It seems like Bando from Elfen Lied can only show his gratitude by offering to kill a person of the recipient's choice, should they ever need it. As a matter of principle, he refuses to be indebted to anyone, but does not know how to handle such things because he is a Professional Killer to the bone.
- Rebuild of Evangelion has a variation of this in Rei, who in the second movie reveals that she had never thanked anyone. At least, until she thanks Shinji.
- One thing that Ledo faces in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is this. In his case, he's been raised in a pure military environment and doesn't really understand the concept of "gratitude": he understands exchange of services, but not the idea of simply being thankful for another's efforts. He seems to catch on fairly quickly, and the first word he says in the Earthlings' language is a somewhat garbled "thank you".
- Dragon Ball Z: All but stated to be the case for Android 18 at the end of the Cell saga. After Krillin makes a wish to Shenron to remove the bombs from her and 17's bodies, and the revelation that he did so because he fell in love with her, but thought that she and 17 made a good couple, she angrily comes out to drop the news that she and 17 are actually twins. She then goes "Don't think that I'll accept you so easily, or that I'm grateful to you for the bomb!" before leaving. Her being a Tsundere, it was her way to drop a hint that she was not rejecting him.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS, Yuo needs literally hours of instruction to learn how to say "Thank You", though in this case it's Evil Cannot Comprehend Good Played for Laughs. It isn't until he found out his older siblings threw him a surprise birthday party even though he spent the last fifteen episodes trying to launch a hostile takeover of the company he and his siblings are supposed to run together that he feels enough genuine gratitude to get it right.
- The Dothraki in A Song of Ice and Fire literally have no word for "thank you."
- October Daye: Fae do not offer thanks as it implies they owe a debt. Lords can thank their underlings though without fear, but it's somewhat rude and a bad habit to get into - a habit most changeling children need to be trained out of. Usually they use the term "appreciate" to express gratitude.
- Sherlock is so flustered when John, strapped to a bomb, grabs Moriarty and tells Sherlock to run, basically proving himself willing to die for Sherlock that he can only stammer, "That, uh, thing that you did — that you were prepared to do — that was... um... good." While carelessly waving a handgun around.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon hates exchanging gifts with his friends for exactly this reason - he feels like it's impossible to accurately predict the value of the gift he will receive and respond accordingly. When he receives his first-ever Christmas present from Penny, he's at a complete loss for how to say thanks. It's a napkin with a personalized autograph from Leonard Nimoy. He's so overwhelmed, he actually hugs her.
- Supergirl (2015): Snapper Carr, editor-in-chief of CatCo magazine, is too surly to thank Supergirl when she saves him from someone who was trying to kill a witness he wanted to interview. Supergirl then uses her civilian identity to needle him about it a little.
Kara: So I heard Supergirl saved you.
Snapper: ...Yeah, she was there.
Kara: Did you say "thank you?"
Snapper: Once. To a divorce lawyer. It was awkward for everyone.
- Were You Raised by Wolves?:
- Discussed whenever a question concerns how to show gratitude to someone. Nick's go-to response to "how to say thanks" is to say thanks with a hand-written note.
- Some Vent or Repent segments concern times when the other person didn't know how to show gratitude and so rudely did so or didn't at all.
- The protagonist of Double Homework is like this to Johanna, who spent months bringing him food, as well as being close to his only human contact, for the months that he was cooped up in his room. For a while, he is just as likely to lash out at her as to show any form of appreciation.
- Jack from Mass Effect 2 has a lot of trouble coming up with a simple thanks for Shepard after her Loyalty Mission, because basically, Shepard is the first person in her life who did something good for her that she didn't have to extort by force (technically the second, but the first one died while doing it). She does get better at it later, though.
- Dragon Age:
- In Dragon Age: Origins:
- The golem Shale from Dragon Age: Origins. Shale has effectively been a slave for as long as memory serves (apart from those twenty years Taken for Granite). The Warden can be the first person to selflessly help the golem with anything, which makes Shale attempt to say thanks in the late game (as well as attempting to address the Warden as 'you' instead of 'it' for the first time).
- After you return Sten's sword to him, he admits that he doesn't how how to thank you. He then immediately says that he wants to stay with your group, which - given the gravity of the favor you just did for him (since in his culture, the sword is akin to his soul) - is likely his way of trying to thank you.
- In Dragon Age II, Fenris often answers Hawke's help with complaining, brooding, or insults and accusations. He lampshades this after your first quest with him:
"I must seem ungrateful. I assure you that could not be further from the truth."
- In the Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC The Descent, Lieutenant Renn has an exchange with his close friend Valta which paints him in this light. He inquires as to whether she's heard anything regarding the food shortages in Orzammar, which have been known to result in riots, and she assures him:
Valta: I made sure that your mother and brother are safe.Renn: ...you didn't have to do that.Valta: You're welcome.
- In Dragon Age: Origins:
- In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, one mission to unlock the Dragoon job for your clan's Bangaa units involves protecting a Dragoon named Kyrra who's getting flack for it from some bullies. After your clan defeats the bullies, he chews you out for helping him, saying that he could've taken care of the bullies himself. When called out on his ungrateful attitude, he apologizes and offers to teach your Bangaa units how to be Dragoons as his way of saying thanks.
Clan member: We protected you, and you can't even say thank you?!
Kyrra: Ah... I was never good with gratitude meself.
- Played for Laughs in Chrono Cross with Starky, an alien. When attempting to express his gratitude, he uses the phrase "You're welcome." The person he is speaking to complements his attempted courtesy, and gives him the correct phrase to use instead. A text box then pops up and says "Starky learned 'Thank You,'" as though it was an actual in-game ability.
- Miles Edgeworth, from Ace Attorney has this problem, at least in the first game. By badgering the witness during the trial she earned herself a night in jail for contempt of court, Maya Fey keeps the trial going when otherwise Edgeworth would have been found guilty of a murder he didn't commit. During the recess, Edgeworth can't figure out how to express his gratitude, and he eventually asks Phoenix to relay a message to her: "Tell her something for me. Tell... Tell her to watch what she says in court." He also quietly pays her bail to get her released from lockup. At the end of that case, he stutters and becomes nervous about thanking Phoenix, before finally being able to give a clear "thank you" for defending him.
- In The Great Ace Attorney, Gina Lestrade, a Street Urchin with no social graces, has a similar problem when she tries to thank Ryunosuke for successfully defending her in the first game's final trial. Herlock Sholmes lampshades this when he suggests that "perhaps the situation calls for a phrase hitherto missing from your vocabulary, Miss Lestrade."
- Ishida Mitsunari from Sengoku Basara, due to mental instability, sullenness, an extremely messed-up life and complete lack of social graces. Magoichi's blue path, in which the Saika mercenaries work for him, exemplifies this: Mitsunari spends the entire campaign threatening Magoichi with horrible horrible death should she even think of betraying him. It turns out that Mitsunari values the Saika as employees, but has no real idea how to do that whole "positive reinforcement" thing, and simply defaults to threats and generally acting jealous so that they stay with him. When Magoichi notes that one of his comments is practically a compliment, Mitsunari gets annoyed, but admits that it was.
- Cephalon Otak from Warframe is a Downplayed and literal example - while he does appreciate the player gathering minerals and gems for him from the Cambion Drift, he has trouble actually saying "thank you" due to The Fog of Ages and the fact he is Sharing a Body with the Necraloid Loid. He actually says "Acknowledge you. Gratitude you." before Loid butts in and says "I believe he means to say 'Thank you'."
- Schlock Mercenary: Variant. Kevyn isn't sure how to apologize, so he goes to the Reverend for advice.
Kevyn: Reverend, what's the best way to apologize to someone?
Reverend Theo: Look them in the eye and tell them that you're sorry. The exact wording will vary depending upon how you've wronged them, and whether they already know they've been wronged by you.
Kevyn: I need to apologize to Elf for making her feel stupid.
Reverend Theo: Shout the apology at a dead run, and retreat under covering fire provided by troops loyal only to you.
Kevyn: "Exact wording will vary." Got it.
- Beetlejuice has a hard time with any sort of social nicety, including but by no means limited to saying thank you.
- Justice League:
- Batman states one of the very few things he is not good at, is saying thank you. But immediately afterwards thanks Zatanna for her help in saving Wonder Woman.
- There was a previous instance where Hawkgirl expected him to thank her after she rescued him, and he replied that it's a thing he's simply not used to doing.
- Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants can't say thanks or sorry.
- Played with in Steven Universe: Peridot's social ineptitude leads to Steven explaining, among other things, that friends exchange gifts and thank each other for them. She gets the general idea of expressing gratitude well enough, but treats Steven's exact wording ("Wow, thanks.") as the only way to do so verbally, regardless of the situation.