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"BAHAHAHA! What?! You think narwhals are real?! Like there are just whales with magical horns poking out of their heads? HAHAHA! Are y'all hearing this right now?!"
Pearl, Splatoon 2

This is when someone, usually an Insufferable Imbecile, The Ditz or the Cloudcuckoolander, is ignorant, confused, or ill-informed enough to lump "things that are well known to be real" in with "things that are made up." This is often applied to ethnic groups, but can also include historical characters, countries, and animals.

Essentially, Arbitrary Skepticism applied to real things, likely by someone who Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality, an in-universe occurrence of Aluminum Christmas Trees. The name of the trope comes from the tendency of average Europeans in the 19th Century to not believe the tales which Arctic explorers brought back about the Inuit peoples. This was because said tales sounded a lot like those which explorers of earlier eras had told, which then turned out not to be true in the slightest.

A Sub-Trope of Reality Is Unrealistic. A Sister Trope to Global Ignorance and Flat-Earth Atheist. Compare Legend Fades to Myth, when something that was once considered common knowledge is distorted by the passage of time to the point that it can no longer be believed with 100% certainty. Contrast Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either. Not to be confused with Canada Does Not Exist.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In year 2 of Azumanga Daioh, Tomo reveals that she doesn't believe that reindeer exist. Naturally, the way Tomo's disbelief in reindeer came up is that the girls had just been discussing Santa. Kagura then asks if reindeer are real, and Tomo proceeds to laugh at her and say they don't exist.note  When Chiyo, Sakaki, and Osaka all confirm that reindeer are indeed real, Tomo freaks out and tries to reassure everyone that she's not stupid.
  • Yotsuba&!: When Yotsuba first enters her Princess Phase upon reading a story book about Cinderella, she initially thinks that princesses are made up. Her father has to confirm that princesses are in fact real.

    Comic Books 
  • The comic book continuation of Invader Zim by Oni Press began with a 0-numbered issue presented as an issue of TruthShrieker Magazine. One article about an alleged haunted bee sighting features quotes from different people about whether or not the sighting is real, with The Letter M stating that he doesn't believe in bees.
  • The Ultimates: It seems that there was a 18% of people who thought that the Chitauri invasion was not real. That it was faked by S.H.I.E.L.D., to justify the budget destined to the Ultimates initiative.
  • In an early 90s story,note  while protecting the son of a Madripoor mafia boss, Wolverine distracts the kid with the tale of a feral child raised by wolverines in snowy Canada.note  The boy doesn't know what snow is, and after an explanation, he refuses to believe it is a real thing.
  • In the Rivers of London story "Monday Monday", one of the rookie constables thought the town of Scunthorpe was something made up for comedy routines. This doesn't thrill her partner, who grew up there.

    Comic Strips 
  • Get Fuzzy:
    • In a Christmas strip where Satchel is waiting for Santa, Rob tells him that Santa is probably flying over Canada at the moment. Bucky claims that there is no such place as Canada, saying, "So you see a couple of flannel-wearing hockey fans that mispronounce the word 'offense' and you automatically believe there's some other country? Next you'll tell me you pay taxes." Rob replies that he does indeed pay his taxes.
    • When Rob decides to try out a new recipe for Belgian ale, Satchel says, "I thought Belgium was a made-up place, like Hobbiton or Hoboken."
    • Bucky tries to tell Satchel that Hawaii is a myth, like "tough liberals or the Canadian Army". When Rob informed him otherwise, he reacted with genuine surprise, "It is?? Then why the %*(# DON'T WE LIVE THERE?"
    • There's also the time after Satchel's game show, where Bucky states how he believes the Harry Potter books to be lies. When Rob questions whether he is "breaking the story that magic doesn't exist," Bucky responds with "What? No, magic exists, I saw a thing on TV. But trains?... Owls?... ENGLAND? Nice try, I'm not buyin' it." Cue two-hour argument between Rob and Bucky over the existence of England (Canada and Greece, too).
    • In a later strip, Bucky again claims that owls are a myth, like Abominable Snowmen or Southern Democrats.
    • Another strip has Satchel wishing Bucky a good Saturday morning, to which Bucky replies that Saturdays are made up by greeting card companies to make money.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: Weird Pete doesn't believe that Papua New Guinea is a real country.
  • Peanuts: Lucy Van Pelt once spent several strips mocking Charlie Brown for telling her that birds fly south for the winter: "In all my life, Charlie Brown, I have never met anyone with an imagination like yours!" When Chuck insisted, and also added that they fly north during the summer, Lucy sarcastically retorted that they must fly east during the spring and west during the fall. Then she pressed the issue further with "Chickens are birds, aren't they?! You never see a chicken flying south for the winter, do you?! CHICKENS ARE BIRDS, AREN'T THEY?!" Eventually Lucy learned (from a third party) that Charlie Brown was right about (some) birds flying south for the winter, and had to eat crow.

    Fan Works 
  • In Chasing the Rainbow, ponies believe that lions are fictional.
  • In Code MENT, Lelouch claims that British people, despite being one himself, are as fictional as the Wolf Man.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb Character Blog Doofenshmirtz's Daily Dirt, Doof lists Abraham Lincoln among "fictional characters" that people cosplay as.
  • In Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, Ron pokes fun at Luna Lovegood for having an "imaginary creature" as her Patronus. Luna's patronus was a duck-billed platypus. When Hermione tells Ron that the duck-billed platypus is a real animal, he flatly refuses to believe her. note 
  • A running gag in Roommates, a Five Nights at Freddy's fanfic by The Weaver, is that nobody has ever heard of France or anything French, reacting with bafflement to images of "some kind of A-shaped building" and a special kind of toast. It makes communicating with one of the Freddys, who has suffered aphasia and now only speaks Frenchnote ... difficult.
  • In Resonance Days, Sayaka Miki has arrived in the afterlife as Oktavia von Seckendorff, with no memories of her past life. Thus, when someone mentions flying fish, she assumes they're messing with her.
    "Besides, fish fly. There's flying fish."

    "Oh, very funny," Sayaka snapped. "Look, my personal memory may be gone, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna believe every crap story you make up about the world of the living."

    A blanket of awkwardness descended on the group, during which Charlotte and Mami exchanged looks of discomfort. Kyoko, however, just cracked up.

    Then Mami cleared her throat and said, "Ah, Oktavia? She's telling the truth."

    Another silence followed, and then Oktavia slowly turned her head to stare at the blonde. "What," she said in a flat tone.
  • Miss Martian and Superboy in the second chapter of Scouting initially don't believe Superman when he explains to them what the age of consent is. Justified, however, in that the two are Fish out of Water still getting used to human society:
    Superman skipped one… two… three beats before replying. "No, I'm not. But while I'm here I'm responsible for you and everyone on the Team. So, while I'm here you will not be going into girls rooms and taking off your clothes, you will not be sneaking off to secluded parts of the Cave to play 'pinch & tickle', and you most definitely will not be having any underage sex!"
    Superboy raised an eyebrow. "'Underage'?"
    "You and M'gann are both minors." Clark began to explain
  • Stargazer: The Eliksni don't really have a concept of twins in their culture. While they have heard rumors of identical siblings existing within other alien species, most like Alkris wrote it off as an exaggerated tale.
  • In Total Drama Legacy, Katherine is so sheltered that she never knew virtual-reality games were a real thing until she had to partake in a VR challenge, and just thought they were something in sci-fi stories.
  • Ultra Fast Pony takes place in a weird version of Equestria where some human ethnicities, like blacks and the Irish, undeniably exist.
    • Nevertheless, the episode "Granny Smith Is Mean" gives us the line:
      Filthy Rich: And that was when I figured out, Mexicans aren't even real. So you don't have to be afraid anymore, children.
    • And "Pirate Shipping" has:
      Sweetie Belle: Yeah, Scootaloo, the gays and the Mexicans don't exist.
  • In Umbridge Goes To The Moon (Or Tries To), Umbridge doesn't believe a colleague telling her that muggle Americans had gone into space and even landed on the moon, thinking muggles too lowly to accomplish such a thing. That is until Fudge tells her that it's all true, which gets it into her head that if Muggles can go into space, so can Wizards. She ends up dying from suffocation after Apparating into orbit, thanks to not even researching how muggles go into space and how they need equipment to survive there.
  • "Don't be so naive, Yugi - there's no such thing as 'Egypt.'"
  • A Steel Ball Run fan-comic has Johnny Joestar express to Gyro Zeppelin that the moon is a big flat star rather than a large sphere, the tides aren't caused by the moon's gravity but by "big little fishes", the Earth is flat, and that he doesn't know what planets are. Then again, he is visibly drunk.

    Films — Animation 
  • Coco: As Miguel is being escorted to the Land of the Dead with some of his ancestors, he remarks that he always thought the Land of the Dead was just a legend.
    Miguel: I thought it might have been one of those made-up things that adults tell kids, like... vitamins.
    Tía Victoria: Miguel, vitamins are a real thing.
    Miguel: Well, now I'm thinking maybe they could be.
  • Happy Feet Two: Will the Krill believes "black holes" (whales, actually) are myths to keep people in the swarm.
  • Hal in Megamind says this while mocking Roxanne's idealism: "There is no Easter Bunny, there is no Tooth Fairy, and there is no Queen of England!" note 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Art of the Steal: On being told that Bick is an Interpol agent, Francie's reaction is an an incredulous "Interpol's real?!"
  • In Back to the Future, Goldie Wilson was working as a simple busboy in a diner, and when he gets the idea to be mayor, the owner scoffs at the idea of a "colored mayor." There had been a number of African-American mayors prior to the film's story line, but they numbered less than a half dozen, and were in charge of small rural towns; it was not until the 1960s that an African American was elected mayor in a city. note 
  • A Fairly Odd Christmas: Denzel Crocker didn't believe in North Pole or polar bears before going there and being chased by one. And, yes, this is coming from someone who already believes in Fairy Godparents and Santa Claus.
  • In Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, Krista believes that Neanderthal Man is a myth. Possibly justified given the time period, but still a strange statement from someone studying anthropology.
  • In The King and I, the kids have trouble believing that snow is a real thing, until their father the King confirms that it is real. Truth in Television, as the Thai language doesn't even have a word for 'frozen' and in the time frame of the setting uneducated Thais would be likely to believe it was made up. The snow subplot is based on an anecdote of Anna Leonowens that the royal children refused to believe snow was real until she asked the King to give a guest lecture on it.
  • The documentary Life, Animated relates the real-life story of a child with High-Functioning Autism who basically used the Disney Animated Canon as a Translator Buddy between himself and the rest of the world. At the time the movie was made, the child had become an adult in a relationship, and his older brother was interviewed wondering how he's supposed to use Disney movies to give him The Talk. At some point he mentions the concept of "Disney Porn" as if he finds it unlikely to exist. Two words: Rule 34.
  • The Film Crew: Kevin Murphy believes in many different fantasy lands, but claims that Spain is a myth.
  • Somewhat averted in Look Who's Talking Too. Baby Mikey is sitting awake at night scared. He lists various things he's worried about, and that they aren't real. This includes monsters, ghosts, witches, and dinosaurs. He knows that one of them used to be real, but can't remember which. Justified, since he is a baby.
  • A Brick Joke in Shaun of the Dead is an argument between Shaun and Ed whether or not the rifle at the Winchester is real. The owner says it is, but he also says dogs can't look up. After the rifle fires, proving Ed right...
    Shaun: Alright. But dogs can look up!
  • Star Wars: An in-universe example: in the original trilogy, the Jedi and the Force itself seem to be widely considered mythical. This ends up creating a lot of friction with prequels, which take place only 19 years before A New Hope and show the Jedi were common knowledge back then. This could still be justified by the Empire's propaganda, con-artists posing as Jedi, and the fact that the Jedi were mostly wiped out by ordinary clone troopers. It makes sense that members of Han's generation would think stories of the Jedi's abilities were greatly exaggerated.



  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Victory Unintentional": The Jovians insist that there aren't any inner planets (like Earth), so Jupiter and its moons are the closest thing to the sun. This is part of how Isaac Asimov shows their mental inflexibility.
    • In the story "Nightfall", the planet Lagash has six suns. As such, its inhabitants only experience total natural darkness once every two thousand years, when the suns line up and are eclipsed by the planet's moon. A wacky religious cult claims that there are things called "stars" which can be seen only at this time; the more fringe scientists cautiously agree that there might be more suns in the universe than their own six — maybe a few dozen or so. Normal people think this is bunk. One scientist laments that universal gravity is such a difficult and complex concept. It would have been so much easier to come up with, if only they lived in a simpler solar system. Say one where there was only one sun — but of course that would be impossible. Any planet in such a system would be dark half the time, and life couldn't possibly evolve in so much darkness.
    • One story takes place entirely on a satellite, where a newly activated robot refuses to believe there would be an entire planet full of humans, instead of just the two protagonists. This robot starts a cult to worship the satellite core. When the protagonists demand a temporary shutdown, they are locked in a room. The satellite gathers solar energy and sends it to Earth as a concentrated beam, straight to a receiver. When the satellite starts shaking, the beam has to be turned off. But the head robot refuses, as it is not the Satellite's will. The humans, detained, consider the vast damage on Earth as the beam goes haywire. But when let out, they discover that the robots have kept the beam perfectly aimed at the receiver. It was the Satellite's will.
  • In more than one Daniel Pinkwater novel, as a throwaway joke, a character claims that Los Angeles does not exist.


  • In And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid, five-year-old Li Jun tells Molly, 'Earthworms aren't real. I'm not stupid.'
  • John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise has a running gag that Chicago is a myth, mostly as a joke on how very New York the author's sensibilities are. Revisited in the follow-up That is All, when the mythical city rises at last from the swamp during the End Times of 2012.
  • Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts: Class F wonder if Shouko is attracted to Mizuki (when she's actually after Yuuji), which Akihisa dismisses as something that only happens in fiction (it's implied he's specifically talking about porn). Minami begs to differ, whereupon we are introduced to her Psycho Lesbian Abhorrent Admirer Miharu.
  • Catherine, Called Birdy: Birdy's uncle comes back from the Crusades and tells them about all the wonderful things he's seen, like gryphons and unicorns and something called "an elephant, with a tail at each end". Birdy thinks he's making that last one up.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here, in the chapter on World War I, claims that that Serbia "did not, technically, exist," even at the time that Austro-Hungary made the mistake of trying to invade it.
  • The Day Santa Stopped Believing In Harold: Discussed when the rumour spreads and people start to think Santa doesn't believe in children.
  • In the Otto Prohaska novel The Emperors Coloured Coat, Otto is dumbfounded to find that the sea captain of the vessel he's sailing on thinks the world is flat due to his religious beliefs. Even more amazing is how he's able to accurately navigate his ship regardless.
  • In the book The Enormous Egg (wherein a kid in rural New Hampshire finds one of his family's chickens laid a dinosaur egg), one of Nate's friends says that dinosaurs never existed - some guys found some big bones and made up stories about them.
  • Early books in The Executioner series had characters (and even the blurbs for the novels) explaining that The Mafia isn't just an Urban Legend.
  • The Good Soldier Švejk mentions an old priest, who learned that Saint Augustine of Hippo denied the existence of antipodesnote  and started harrassing his servant woman, who was getting money from a son in Australia. After he damned her in church he was sent to a nuthouse.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent is forced to deal with the reality of the Earth having been destroyed by the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
    New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway.
  • Kate Shugak: In Less Than a Treason, Kate encounters a thug who thinks that wolves are extinct and don't exist anywhere outside of Disney films. He is considerably shocked when his partner is attacked by one.
  • In The Last Continent there's been a millennia-long drought in FourEcks. Some of the settlers have grandparents who say that in The Old Country water used to fall out of the sky, but everyone who grew up there thinks that's ridiculous.
  • Humorist Robert Benchley wrote an article called "Movie Boners" in 1934 (back then, "boner" meant "mistake") where he listed various mistakes from (obviously fictitious) movies. One example was: "In the picture called Dr. Tanner Can't Eat there is a scene laid in Budapest. There is no such place as Budapest." A reader failed to get the joke and wrote a letter to Benchley, criticizing him for not knowing that Budapest is the capital of Hungary. So Benchley wrote another article, "What — No Budapest?", where he asserted: "There is no such place as Budapest. Perhaps you are thinking of Bucharest, and there is no such place as Bucharest, either."
  • In the Piers Anthony story "Possible to Rue", a young boy's pleas for a pet pegasus leads his father to look the animal up in the encyclopedia and show that they're mythical. So are unicorns. To the father's astonishment, so are zebras, mules, and even horses, which he distinctly remembers placing bets on. It's implied that, by denying zebras are real to avoid having to buy one, the father has inadvertently begun erasing these creatures from the universe.
  • In Rhythm of War, Raboniel denies the existence of the Surge of Adhesion (the Surge most closely tied to Honor, and the only one that Voidbinding can't access).
  • In Pamela Dean's The Secret Country, five children have made up a fairytale world where magic is real. They argue as to whether it's proper to have a Secret Country villain who doesn't believe in magic. Patrick, a materialist, says that would be as foolish as someone in the real world not believing in the law of gravity. His smartass sister Ellen promptly declares that she doesn't believe in the law of gravity. When they are in the real Secret Country, they find this man really doesn't believe in magic, he thinks it's all tricks and illusions.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, when Count Olaf meets Dewey Denouement in Book the Twelfth, he's surprised Denouement is a real person, having assumed he was just a legendary figure "like unicorns or Giuseppe Verdi".
  • In The Silver Chair, the Lady of the Green Kirtle claims not to believe in lions or any other aspect of the outside world. She's lying, but she nearly bewitches the overlanders into agreeing with her. (This is a typical C. S. Lewis allegory; in order to describe Narnia to the Lady, they have to do so in terms of things that she does accept the existence of, allowing her to dismiss it with "So you made up a bigger version of a cat, and called it a lion", in the same way as heaven can only be described in terms of the mortal world.)
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe book Med Star I: Battle Surgeons, cruel, arrogant martial artist Phow Ji refuses to believe in the Force, even when Barriss levitates something using telekinesis right in front of his face, claiming it's just a trick. This disbelief (plus a lot of his contempt towards Jedi) stems from one Jedi playing fair in a martial arts contest by not using the Force, allowing Ji to beat him. Notably when Bariss uses the force to heal him (thus preventing incontrovertible proof) he essentially chooses to commit suicide by proxy rather than live with it.
  • Wicked: It's mentioned that oceans are just a myth. This is because Oz is surrounded by desert.
  • Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure: At the gods' first press conference, Hera specifically states that while the Olympian gods ARE real, other gods such as Thor, Loki, Anubis, and Elvis Presley are not.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of 30 Rock, Tracy believes that diabetes is a white myth, "Like Larry Bird, or Colorado." In another episode, his entourage isn't there when he needs them because one of them had to go to the optometrist, and his response is, "Making up words won't save you!"
  • In 31 Minutos Bodoque, while telling a bedtime story to his niece and nephew, says that cowboys are just a Hollywood invention.
  • There's a Bones episode involving the search for a rumored pirate treasure. Zack expresses surprise that Hodgins believes in pirates, and Hodgins snarks back that they're not Santa.
  • In Boy Meets World, when Mr. Feeny starts lecturing about the Hutus and the Tutsis, Cory and Shawn find the peoples' names so weird that they are convinced he can't be talking about real people and has run out of real subjects and is now making it up.
  • Cobra Kai has Johnny Lawrence call his new karate dojo Eagle Fang, because he wanted to name it after an animal that kills snakes and believes that mongooses aren't real.
  • Pretty common on Community due to the various nut jobs involved. When Chang announces his plan to set fire to the school, he scoffs at how it'll be dangerous: "Fire can't go through walls! It's not ghosts!"
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). Because dogs are virtually Extinct in the Future, Faye Valentine is incredulous on seeing Welsh corgi Ein, saying she thought dogs only existed in zoos "next to unicorns and dragons".
  • In a The Daily Show segment satirically examining the "over-commercialization" of Hanukkah, John Oliver refers to the occasion as the "holiest of holy days" and is corrected by his (Jewish) guest. Oliver asks him to name one holier, and responds to Yom Kippur with, "Oh, now you're just making up words."
  • Derry Girls: After finding the letter written to the school paper by the lesbian, Orla remarks that she doesn't think that lesbians exist. Later, when handing out the papers to students, Orla is yelling "Lesbians really do exist!"
  • In Episodes, a group of Hollywood TV executives discuss a potential premise for their network's vampire style show. Many ideas are mentioned, culminating in Myra recommending the paranormal creatures in their show should be Gypsies. She recommends it twice, before somebody tells her that Gypsies are real.
  • Came up on an episode of the Australian version of Family Feud, when a contestant admitted she had once believed that flamingos were mythical until she saw them on one of David Attenborough's shows. Her excuse was that she had previously only seen them in cartoons such as Alice in Wonderland.
  • Friends:
    • Joey and Chandler are both interested in a visiting Dutch woman. Chandler gets an edge by "guessing" that Dutch people come from somewhere near the Netherlands (the place they really come from). Joey responds, "Nice try. See, the Netherlands are this make-believe place where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell come from", apparently having confused the Netherlands with Neverland.
    • When Chandler claims that he's moving to Yemen to get rid of Janice, Joey says "'Yemen,' that actually sounds like a real country!"
    • When Ross becomes obsessed with naming all 50 states, Joey looks at his list and says: "First of all, Utah? Dude, you can't just make stuff up!" And that one comes after Joey lists 56 states, including New England and South Oregon.
      Joey: How can New England not be a state? They have a sports team!
      Chandler: Does "South Oregon" have a sports team?
      [Joey glares at Chandler for a second, then scratches it off his list]
    • And the one when Joey and Chandler are fighting over the name of Phoebe's baby.
      Joey: Oh! Oh-oh, you gotta pick Joey! I mean, name one famous person named Chandler.
      Chandler: Raymond Chandler.
      Joey: Someone you didn't make up!
  • The Good Place:
    • In a flashback in "Existential Crisis", Eleanor's mother is attempting to lie to Eleanor about her dog dying by saying that the dog has traveled by a rainbow bridge to a farm in Guam. Eventually, she snaps and yells:
      "...there's no farm, no bridge and no place called Guam!"
    • In a Season 3 flashback to Season 2, the titular Good Place gives the characters the opportunity to adopt any pet they want. When informed that imaginary creatures are also available, Jason is ecstatic about the opportunity to meet a penguin.
      Eleanor: Jason, penguins are real.
      Jason: That's the spirit, Eleanor!
  • Greg News, the Brazilian version of Last Week Tonight, once stated that Brazil was the only mostly developed country with tax exemption for the rich aside from Estonia, "and there's a pretty high probability that Estonia doesn't exist because no-one has ever gone there".
  • Hey You! What If...: In "You Fell Into a Black Hole?", Ben is explaining what a black hole is when Kat interjects:
    "Wait. You mean they're real? I thought they only existed in movies. Like superheroes, or talking lions, or electric toothbrushes."
  • On Hope & Faith, Faith suggests paying for an expensive car by taking money out of the kids' college fund. "Come on, Justin isn't going to get to college! He thinks there's a place called New Mexico!"
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • On an episode, Robin believed that the North Pole and reindeer were made up. This is especially weird considering where she's from.note 
    • In a later episode, Robin's boyfriend Nick reveals that he thought gypsies "were just made up, like goblins, or trolls, or dolphins."
  • The InBESTigators: In "The Case of the Disappearing Deliveries", Kyle doesn't believe that there is a plant called aloe vera.
  • In The IT Crowd, Mr Reynholm is interviewed. His favorite non-fictional character is Sherlock Holmes. When he's told that Sherlock is fictional, he tells the interviewer to check her facts. She decides to ask him who his favorite fictional character is, which turns out to be The Elephant Man.
  • An episode of Kick Sum Maths had an architect who did not believe in following conventional rules (including geometry) being interviewed. When asked if his building will contain any parallelograms, he replies "You just made that word up!"
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Vixen considers ninjas to be completely fictional. Granted, the pop culture versions are inaccurate, but they really did exist. She later admits she's wrong when the group time travels to Feudal Japan and they encounter ninjas and samurai. Her skepticism is somewhat justified, as she is from 1942, and while there were plenty of Japanese films featuring ninjas, the concept had not yet exploded into foreign popular culture.
  • In a Christmas Episode of The Middle, Brick explains that Eskimos know how to put a fire in an igloo, only for Axl to snap that back that Eskimos aren't real, but are made-up creatures like leprechauns.
  • During an episode of My Name Is Earl, Randy tries to make a list of famous rich people he and his brother could borrow from, like The Beverly Hillbillies. Earl points out that they're fictional TV characters, "just like Richie Rich and Donald Trump".
  • One episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 had Crow do an entire presentation claiming that women don't really exist. Mike pointed out that Crow knows Pearl, causing Crow to concede that one woman exists. Mike then gets stumped when he's asked to show evidence of even one other woman. note 
  • In The Office (US), Kevin thinks that mummies are fictitious monsters from the horror genre, and expresses surprise and fear when people tell him that they exist and there are some in a local museum.
  • In Parks and Recreation, April's job as secretary is to prevent people from meeting Ron. Unfortunately, she schedules all of his meetings for March 31st, under the mistaken belief that "March 31st" isn't a real date.
  • Peep Show: Upon hearing her accent, Jez wonders if Elena is from Russia "or one of those other, made-up countries."
  • In Power Rangers Ninja Storm, the Monster of the Week Boxing Bop-a-roo had a bad case of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, which annoyed the rest of the villains. Lothor eventually started a Made-Up Word Jar, indicating that he didn't realize they were real words.
  • One of the Bill Brasky sketches on Saturday Night Live has a barfly state that "The character of Johnny Appleseed was based on Brasky." This may not be intentional, since Johnny Appleseed is so mythologized that it'd be easy even in real life to assume he's just a fictional folk hero.
  • In Scorpion, Ray books the team on a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica, instead of San Jose, California, because he says that San Jose, CA is just a myth; it isn't real, like Tallahassee. When told that that's a real place, too, he doesn't believe it.
  • In an episode of Scrubs, one of the interns is mentioned to be in an elaborate game involving a bar trivia machine. He's later seen arguing about his performance. "There's no way there was a president named Garfield!"
  • Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell has this line, a reference to a tasteless comment from politician Peter Dutton about rising sea levels.
    "I can assure people that climate change is a myth. No more real than unicorns or Pacific Islanders."
  • On one episode of Taskmaster, Daisy describes high-diving acts, which inspired her approach to one of the tasksnote . Greg mocks her for believing such a thing could exist. Oddly, she claims that high-diving acts are only practiced in the American South, which probably didn't do her credibility any favours.
  • On the Australian version of The Unbelievable Truth, Shane Jacobson was giving a lecture on Vikings when Sam Simmons claimed that he'd always thought Vikings were mythical.
  • Upstart Crow: In "The Most Unkindest Cut of All", Burbage expresses the belief that hermaphrodites are a myth.
  • The Weekly with Charlie Pickering: Film critic Margaret Pomeranz did a review of the mini-golf program Holey Moley, treating it as if it were an art house film and comparing it to a Guillermo del Toro horror movie, including the frightening leathery creation 'Greg Norman'. The scene then cuts a clip of an interview with golfer Greg Norman, and then back to Margaret who shudders and says:
    "Terrifying. Thank goodness it's not real."
  • In Welcome to Sweden, Bruce is incredulous that Swedes consider skiing a sport.
  • Will & Grace:
    • Semi-example, Karen about an ex-gay group:
      Karen: Honey, this is a cult! Yeah! Like the Moonies or the homeless.
    • She later repeats this line to Grace about Alcoholics Anonymous, again referencing the Moonies, but this time adding "the homosexuals or the elderly."
  • Would I Lie to You?: In "Would I Lie to You at Christmas 2018", Lily Allen claimed that for her entire life she had believed that reindeer were mythical creature, until corrected by her young daughter (and then googling 'reindeer'). She was lying.
  • In Zoey 101, Logan tries to convince Michael that reindeer aren't real.

  • Invoked in one episode of House to Astonish where they look at the entry for the Netherlands in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and treat it like any other Official Handbook entry.
  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • The majority of the townsfolk, at the urging of the secret police, do not believe in mountains. (This is often mentioned in the same breath as the similar disbelief by fiat in angels, which if anything is even more absurd, since a given resident will far more often encounter angels than mountains.)
    • In "A Memory Of Europe", Trish Hidge asserts that the sky and eggs weren't real, in order to practice her denial skills, "which she said she must always keep sharp and which don't exist."
    • The City Council attempts to cover up a traffic jam in "The Drawbridge" by denying the existence of cars.
    • Similarly, "The Lights in Radon Canyon", the City Council deny being Pink Floyd fans by claiming that Pink Floyd never actually existed.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets (2011): After Gary warns Walter not to get his hopes up about actually meeting Kermit on their trip because Muppet Studios is only used for tours, Walter responds "I think that's just an internet rumour. Like that there's a country called Turkey." Gary's reaction shows this isn't the first time Walter had made that mistake.

  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Timbuktu", Mr. Birling pays MJN Air to take him to the eponymous city so that he can prove to his wife that it exists. While Timbuktu does, in fact, exist, a civil war in Mali prevents the characters from going there, leading to the implementation of a Zany Scheme.
  • In Stan Freberg's Christmas Dragnet a man named Grudge doesn't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Columbus, or Cincinnati, and "ain't made up [his] mind yet about Toledo." By the end police detectives have shown him the error of his ways in regards to Santa, the Easter Bunny, Columbus, and Cincinnati; but he still ain't made up his mind about Toledo.
  • One of Jeremy Hardy's surreal rants on The News Quiz:
    Jeremy: America isn't a real place. Think of all the Americans you've heard of: John Wayne, Demi Moore; they're all actors!
  • In an episode of Quote, Unquote, Anthony Horowitz, asked to identify which musical about a famous fictional character the song "The Impossible Dream" came from, suggested Evita. It's possible he just misunderstood the question, rather than believing Eva Peron was fictional.

  • Invoked in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, when Rosencrantz claims not to believe in England, meaning he has no mental picture of what's going to happen once they get there, and Guildenstern sarcastically replies "Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?" Later they have the same exchange in reverse.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Fable of the Swan Tie-In Novel for Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, everyone is convinced Russia isn't a real place, leading to an incredibly awkward scene where Jasmine tries to explain this to Natalia, who is Russian.
  • Warhammer 40,000: One of Forge World's Horus Heresy lore books lists tigers alongside vampires and trolls as mythical creatures that might have been inspired by daemons.

    Video Games 
  • In The Closer: Game of the Year Edition, there's a running gag where Carl Everett refuses to believe in dinosaurs despite the clear evidence of a fossil record. Ultimately, this leads to him going off to a Dinosaur Forest in the West Coast to "prove" they don't exist. At the same time you travel there to attempt to rescue Moose from the Gritty Reboot world using a translated copy of the first-edition Final Fantasy VI strategy guide.
  • A rare case of the Only Sane Woman protagonist falling victim to this appears in Cloudpunk: When approached by a rando on the street who, due to a botched brain mod, has become addicted to meeting new people and mentions how there are introverts and extroverts, Rania says that's made up, "like star signs and blood types."
    • There is a man in Old Town with a robotic falcon who believes it is some matter of made-up fantasy monster, designed by using body parts from other birds. Rania has to correct him that while they do not exist within the bounds of Nivalis falcons exist (or used to) in the Eastern Peninsula.
  • In The Darkside Detective, Dooley believes in alien visitations and government conspiracies, but thinks germs are a made-up thing that only happens in movies.
  • Escape from Monkey Island: The bank teller on Lucre Island refuses to accept Ozzie Mandrill's traveller's checks because they've had to tighten their security, and they've never heard of "Australia" or the weird animal depicted on the checks he calls a "kangaroo".
  • The Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell launch trailer claimed that William Shakespeare was a fictional character from all those movies about poems and love.
  • In the Unicorns vs. Narwhals Splatfest in Splatoon 2, Pearl expresses her disbelief in the latter by way of the page quote. Marina, of course, shoots back that her landlord is a narwhal.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Soldier may taunt the Demoman by saying "Scotland is not a real country! You are an Englishman in a dress!" While he could be referring to how Scotland is governed as part of the United Kingdom instead of a sovereign state (although it is still technically considered a different country), it took Soldier several years to figure out he was in Poland instead of Germany, making this trope much more likely (besides, he would be less wrong if he called the Demoman a Brit in a dress). One comic also indicates that he doesn't believe in blood types.
  • In To the Moon, Johnny mentions lies that adults made up in his childhood memories:
    Johnny: Santa, the Easter Bunny, kangaroos...

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "highschool", Strong Bad plays the group skeptic in a Teen Super Sleuth parody, and insists "There's no such thing as 'mysterious'."
  • Red vs. Blue Episode 2:
    Grif: No, like a puma. It's a big cat, like a lion.
    Sarge: You're making that up.
    [and later...]
    Sarge: [pointing at the front of the Warthog] Look, see these two hooks? They look like tusks, and what kind of animal has tusks?
    Grif: A walrus.
    Sarge: Didn't I just tell you to stop making up animals?!


    Web Original 
  • Cracked:
    • From this article, discussing the rather odd video game sequel to The Goonies:
      "Mermaids aren't real. Neither are dragons, golems, and ghosts, but the Fratellis apparently control all of those things anyway. They also recruit an Eskimo gang to throw axes at Mikey, because some poor developer got confused and thought Eskimos were mythical creatures."
    • Another article written by a former Viet Cong fighter describes his group's shock at finding a squad of dead African-American soldiers.
      "We thought they must have been charred by an explosion until we realized their skin was naturally black. None of us had seen a black person before. Some people thought they were myths."
  • There is a Darwin Awards Honorable Mention for a British soldier in Canada, who leapt over a fence clearly signposted with instructions to keep out because of the buffaloes, despite the begging from everyone else there not to do it, because he was convinced that American buffalo don't exist. He probably misinterpreted the common meme that American buffalo aren't buffalo (they are in the same genus as European bison), as meaning that the animals in question don't exist.note  It ended extremely badly for him, although non-fatally.

  • IMDb:
  • Nonsensopedia, the Polish version of Uncyclopedia, jokingly insists that Albania is made-up by some unspecified conspiracy.
    • Uncyclopedia itself frequently brushes with the idea that Belgium doesn't exist, either.
  • Not Always Right has a few examples:
  • Reddit:
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1173 may or may not be be an example of this depending on how you interpret it. It either is a phenomenon that makes people think that a real country called The Islamic Republic of Eastern Samothrace doesn't exist, or it is a phenomenon that makes people think an imaginary country called The Islamic Republic of Eastern Samothrace does exist. The Foundation leadership is evenly split on the issue, and both sides have drugs that will cure the effect (or cause it if the other side is right).
    • SCP-4006 posits that everything we know about the state of Massachussets may be a lie. Somehow, a series of coincidences and accidents caused everybody who ever thought they had been to Massachusetts to actually have been lost somewhere else without realizing it, until the Foundation discovered this and decided to construct a fake Massachusetts in the same place everyone believed it was and it effectively became the real thing when normal people started moving there without realizing anything had changed.
    • A similar SCP was a series of coincidences that caused everyone in the Foundation to be be unaware of the existence of Yellowstone National Park. The effect was only broken when a Foundation agent went to an alternate universe and heard about Yellowstone there, as was surprised to find out that Yellowstone also existed in his own universe but nobody else in the Foundation had heard of it either.
  • As collected by Snopes, one of the funnier stories achieving Memetic Mutation is the one about a guy who went into a Taco Bell with a $50 bill and a $2 bill and attempted to pay with the $2, but had the cops called on him because none of the employees thought $2 bills were real.
  • Tumblr: Mop believes that lungs are not real because he has never seen one.

    Web Videos 
  • French Baguette Intelligence: In Do Irish-Americans exist?, Bowl claims that Irish-Americans are like the Balkans, 'not real'.
  • Hbomberguy used this trope in Climate Change: A Measured Response to satirize climate change deniers. "Having done the research," Hbomb enthusiastically decides horses do not exist because he doesn't like them.
  • JonTron:
    • After playing Clock Tower, he assures himself that the Scissorman is all make believe because there's no such thing as scissors.
    • During his review of Zoo Race, he points out that pirates and ancient Egyptians were from different times and that one of them might not have existed at all. Whether he was talking about the former or the latter is unknown.
  • Outside Xbox: At one point, Jane Douglas claims that the "eleven herbs and spices" used by KFC must be a lie, because there aren't eleven herbs and spices. She then tries to come up with a list, managing salt, pepper, and five-spice, making seven.
  • As revealed in Scott The Woz's 200th episode special, "Borderline Forever", it turns out that the rest of the world in the Scott The Woz universe doesn't believe Ohio (where Scott is from) is a real place.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Carl and Sheen are positive that ancient Egyptian curses are a myth, just like the Loch Ness Monster and North Dakota. And permanent records.
  • On Adventure Time, Flambo, a cat-like creature made out of fire, insists that ninjas "ain't real for nothing no-how."
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: The episode "Christmas" has Nicole tells her kids that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Bigfoot, and Switzerland aren't real.
    • Another episode has Richard say that a zebra is an amazing mythical creature.
    • The episode “The Lie” has Anais — of all people — say that Valentines Day is a made up celebration.
  • In American Dad!, when Stan tries searching for Oliver North's gold, Francine tells him it's just a myth, "like unicorns or speed reading".
    • In "Irregarding Steve", Roger loses his and Steve's money in what he believes to be the Hollywood Stock Exchange.
      Steve: This is the New York Stock Exchange!
      Roger: Like in the movie Wall Street?! I thought that was Hollywood make-believe, like children of every color being at the same McDonald's!
  • The Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "T-Shirt of the Living Dead" has the titular Aqua Teens visit the Egyptian section of a museum. Frylock and Meatwad were quite interested. Shake, not so much.
    Shake: Oh god, how much longer? Egypt is so boring! It doesn't even exist, I mean, you don't hear DMX rap about it.
  • In Ben 10 (2016) Ben and Gwen get into an argument because Ben refuses to believe camels are real. He then tells her, "Next you'll be telling me that reindeer exist."
  • In Big Top Scooby-Doo!, Shaggy does not believe in Sweden, stating that it is a made-up place like Fairyland. Or Australia. By extension, he does not believe in kangaroos.
  • In Central Park, Season 2 "Of Course You Realize This Means Ward", when Bitsy can't remember the names of a trio of dogs her family used to own when she was a kid, she only knows the names are based around a group of three things. Helen tries guessing three of the Marx Brothers (Harpo, Chico, & Groucho), three types of cheese (cheddar, swiss, & gouda), and the band Earth, Wind & Fire; Bitsy thinks those names are stupid and asks Helen if she made those up.
  • The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: In "They Came From Uranus!", Deuce is pretending to be a Zombie Butt from Uranus when he gets the name of the planet wrong. When Zack calls him out on this, Deuce says it's not his fault he can't remember the name of a stupid made-up planet.
  • In Detentionaire, Cam doesn't believe in hypnotism, claiming it to be "movie and comic book stuff".
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In "Something's Fishy", a giant squid is treated as a mythical creature...until one actually shows up. Possibly a reference to the fact that the giant squid used to be considered a cryptid, and scientific evidence only started emerging in the past century or so. A giant squid was not photographed alive until 2004.
    • Timmy's Mom just discovered that Uzbekistan is a real country and not a made-up comedy word in "Viral Vidiots".
    • Timmy's Dad and Mr. Crocker believe Turkey to be a made-up country in "A Boy and His Dog-Boy".
  • In Futurama, after Bender has a nightmare:
    Bender: What an awful dream! 1s and 0s everywhere! (shudder) And I thought I saw a 2.
    Fry: It was just a dream, Bender. There's no such thing as 2.
  • From the Garfield and Friends episode "It Must Be True":
    Garfield: There's no such place as Wyoming. Think about it. Have you ever met anyone from Wyoming?
  • Invader Zim:
    • After Dib proves that "Chickenfoot" is a fraud.
    Reporter 1: I bet this means Bigfoot is a fraud too!
    Reporter 2: And UFOs.
    Reporter 1: And hobos.
    Dib: No wait! Those are real! Except the hobos. Wait, no. They're real. I...I guess. But- what's wrong with you people!?!
    • Likewise, Bill, a paranormal investigator who believes that cereal mascots are real, but insists that dinosaurs are a fraud.
  • On King of the Hill, Dale once used a pirate radio station to ask viewers if they had ever seen any proof that Hawaii was real.
  • In one episode of Legend of the Three Caballeros, Baron Sheldgoose tries to explain his absence from the Quackmore Institute that he's suppose to be running.
    Sheldgoose: I had to go away for a the moon. There were robots!
    Aristocrat: Poppycock! There's no such thing as the moon!
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Bedeviled Hare", Bugs exclaims that there's no such animal as gazelles.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: in "Double Date" Lola, while crushing on Daffy for... complicated reasons, insists that Tina is a made-up name like Crabthar. Later, she poses as a waiter and introduces herself as Crabthar.
  • Metalocalypse:
    • The guys don't like the fact that Toki has befriended Dr. Rockso the Rock and Roll Clown and has him over — Nathan angrily exclaims "There's no such things as clowns!!!"
    • When Murderface seeks for meaning through religion, Skwisgaar declares that he doesn't believe in religion. No, he doesn't mean that he personally is not religious, he means that he doesn't believe religion exists.
      Skwisgaar: Pfft! This is dildos. Doesn't he knows there's no such things as religion?
      Nathan: You mean you don't believe in God. There is such thing as religion.
      Skwisgaar: Well then proves it! Show me a, uh... miracles that religion exists!
      Nathan: Well, um, you know, there's... the Bible right there. [points at a copy of the Bible on the floor]
      Skwisgaar: Welllll... maybe I re... evaluates... my life, then.
  • My Little Pony (G3) Rainbow Dash did not believe in pegasi.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: In "The All Nighter Before Christmas", Private mentions that Dec. 26 is also known as Boxing Day, only for Skipper to cut him off saying that they don't have time for his made-up holidays.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Buford insists that cowboys are fake, and asks the other characters if they've ever seen one. They all get looks of amazement on their faces as they realize that they haven't — even though, in point of fact, they had been cowboys in one episode. It was All Just a Dream instead of a Series Continuity Error, though.
    • From another episode:
      Dr. Doofenshmirtz: My favorite thing about cosplay is people dressing up as fictional characters, like... like Doctor Fish, or Abraham Lincoln.
  • Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja: Howard Weinerman doesn't believe isosceles triangles are real.
  • When a football game in Regular Show is interrupted by a lightning storm, Muscle Man and Hi-Five Ghost insist that people getting struck by lightning is an old wives' tale. They're almost promptly proven wrong.
  • Robot Chicken: In one sketch, Hobbes claims cowboys never existed in reality and were just made up by Marlboro's marketing department.
  • Rocko's Modern Life has Rocko trying to pick up Spunky from the pound, but the dogcatcher thinks Rocko is another dog. Rocko tries to explain to him that he’s actually a wallaby, which is “like a kangaroo, but smaller.” The dogcatcher accuses him of making it up and locks him up in the pound with the dogs.
  • In the Rugrats episode, "The Magic Baby", after Lou reads the babies the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, the babies are worried that a giant will attack them. Angelica tells the babies that giants are just something made up by grown-ups to scare them, like monsters, "sea slurpents", and cavities. Justified because she is only 3 years old.
  • The Owl House: In "Elsewhere and Elsewhen", Eda is utterly convinced that the existence of Opossum is just an urban legend.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer does it in "Treehouse of Horror IV":
      Homer: Lisa, vampires are make-believe, just like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.
    • In "Bart Sells His Soul", Bart refers to Michael Jackson on a list of fictional things adults make up to scare children. Interestingly, in an earlier episode Bart was a big Michael Jackson fan.
    • In "Lisa the Skeptic", after discovering a skeleton of what looks like an angel, Lisa postulates via Imagine Spot that it may be a Neanderthal who had been attacked by two big fish biting each of his arms simultaneously.
      Wiggum: Everybody's heard of an angel, who ever heard of a "Neanderthal?"
    • In "Homer vs. the 18th Amendment", Homer dismisses prohibition as something that happened in the movies.
    • Combined with Girlfriend in Canada in another episode. At an ice-skating event, Moe insists that all figure skaters are gay. Professional ice-skater Elvis Stojko points out that this is a common misconception as he has a girlfriend in Vancouver, to which Moe retorts, "Made up girlfriend, made up city."
    • When Homer reads a bird watchers' guide, he's surprised to learn that roadrunners are real.
    • In "The Great Money Caper" Marge gets drunk on a Long Island Ice Tea and remarks:
      Marge: I'd like to visit that Long Island Place, if only it were real.
    • Principal Skinner once got in trouble for refusing to give a Jewish student the day off because he thought Yom Kippur was a made-up holiday.
    • When Lisa scolds Homer that ham, bacon, and pork all come from the same animal he mockingly responds "oh yes Lisa, a wonderful, magical animal."
  • South Park episode "The Tooth Fairy's Tats 2000": The American Dental Association laugh when Dr. Foley tries to convince them of exactly what’s happening to the teeth, favouring their own chicken-squirrel hybrid theory. They further ridicule Foley when he says that he says that he has seen it before in Montreal, derisively asking “And where, pray, is this Montreal?”
  • While he doesn't actually believe this, Mr. Krabs of SpongeBob SquarePants at one point cracks in front of the police while trying to keep them out of his freezer, leading to this quote.
    Mr. Krabs: There's no ice! There's never been any ice! Ice is just a myth!
  • Steven Universe: In "Your Mother and Mine", Fluorite, one of the Off-Colors, seems to think that Rose Quartz was some kind of urban legend, commenting that she "isn't real." She's kind of right, since the Rose Quartz shown to the audience was actually Pink Diamond.
  • On El Tigre, Manny explains that he doesn't find the Day of the Dead as fun as he did as a child because he doesn't believe in spirits or the Land of the Dead anymore, believing it to be a made-up place "like Atlantis, or France".
  • The Venture Brothers:
    • In "Ghosts of the Sargasso" Hank speculates that if pirates are real, Santa and the Tooth Fairy could be real. Brock points out that no-one said pirates weren't real.
      Hank: So you agree with me that this is impossible!
    • A possible example is when Dr. Venture denies the Monarch's claim that if he dumped them in a river, fish called candiru would crawl up their pee-holes. It's not entirely clear if Venture is saying candiru themselves don't exist (they do), or just saying the idea of them crawling into a human's bodily orifice is a myth (which it is).
  • From the Total DramaRama episode "Weiner Takes All":
    Izzy: Ha! You're lying! There's no such thing as Australia!
  • On Wild Kratts, Koki, Aviva and Jimmy Z all assume narwhals are imaginary, so Chris and Martin have them set out for the Arctic to find one. Later, the brothers find a carving of a two-horned narwhal, and need to find one to prove those exist (albeit rarely) too.


Video Example(s):


Lisa is skeptical of angels

Lisa thinks there must be a scientific explanation for the skeleton she found that looks just like an angel. The townspeople aren't convinced by her explanation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AgentScully

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