Follow TV Tropes


Global Ignorance

Go To

Hulk Hogan: Brother I'll leg drop your ass back to Beijing!
Kim Jong-Il: Beijing is in China, you blond asshole!

For some reason, TV producers seem to consider geography to be the most basic form of human knowledgenote . When they want to show that a person is an idiot, they almost inevitably show some geographic mistake, such as mistaking a continent for a country, or inability to find a given location on a map.

This can be done with a character, to demonstrate his or her status as The Ditz, or with real people as part of a Selective Stupidity feature.

Alternatively, it can be used to depict a character as being a short-sighted nationalist, usually a resident of The God-Blessed United States of America. Europeans frequently use this trope as shorthand for stupid Americans who know nothing of the world beyond the continental forty-eight states. It's not without its merits, though: a variety of studies have found that American students are among the least geographically literate in the world.


In another variation, a character insists on using the old names for countries that have reformed or gained independence, such as Rhodesia (a former British territory in Southern Africa now known as Zimbabwe), Formosa (Taiwan), or Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In this case, the character is oblivious to the changing political climes, and has no interest in staying current. If he knows the modern names, but refuses to acknowledge them, he's probably a Quintessential British Gentleman who wants to harken back to the glory days of the empire.

A third possible use is to show a character as being out of touch rather than stupid by using the old names for countries that no longer exist but did exist in their lifetime, like Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union. Unlike the above example, these characters are unlikely to be making a statement and are simply old, or otherwise haven't had any reason to check a map in the past decade. A common side effect for anyone from the Soviet Bloc who Slept Through the Apocalypse of its disintegration.


Of course there are greater and lesser degrees of this trope, and it can be used in subtly different ways. Not knowing the name of the capital of the country a character is currently in almost certainly is showing how the character is genuinely stupid, while being unable to name all of the former Yugoslavian republicsnote  is unlikely to be saying a character is dumb unless its being asked by The Smart Guy to demean a character. However this can backfire as the 'genius' character demands another name—the capital of Belarusnote —and ends up stumping themselves.

Often a character who isn't characterized as being either The Smart Guy or The Ditz will make understandable but amusing slips along these lines to cement their position in the intellectual hierarchy particularly if they have been being a bit too smart recently. A good example would be thinking Thai people are from Taiwan which is wrong, but not completely stupid either.

Can overlap with Eskimos Aren't Real, if the character refuses to believe that a country actually exists.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, when Makie reveals how much she's learned much about the history and geography of Mundus Magicus in a few weeks, Yuna is surprised, given that normally she can't find Germany, France or Italy on a map, and thinks that Switzerland is near England and that Australia is around Europe.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Alfred/America asks where Japan is on a map... of the United States of America.
    • In the English dub of the anime, the narrator begins a discussion of a part of Polish history, stops herself - "Right, anime fans." - and backs up to begin a dumbed-down version of the same information. Then she stops herself again: "Right, American fans. Poland is a country. In Europe!" Ow.
  • Used as a plot point in Gundam 0080. Bernie, posing as a Federation soldier, claims to be from Australia while making small talk and mentions how he used to love playing in the snow around Christmastime. Several minutes later, the man he was talking to realizes that the Southern Hemisphere has warm weather in December; this is the mistake that blows the team's cover and gets everyone but Bernie killed. Not to mention that Sydney was wiped out by The Colony Drop and no longer exists at that time, anyone from Sydney should not be talking like that about it.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou is very ignorant about topics like geography and history, which the other characters find really annoying. He tries to use the excuse that he's a Japanese student and shouldn't be expected to be knowledgeable about countries like Denmark, but none of the other Japanese characters have this problem.
  • In the Jojolion arc of Jojos Bizarre Adventure, Hato Higashikata is revealed to have ruined a family vacation to Hawaii because she didn't realize Hawaii wasn't part of Japan (and, thus, never bothered to get a passport).

  • This trope is standard fodder for political satire. Various humorists' caricatures of Sarah Palin have had her, among other things, refer to West Korea, say that Delaware was in the Middle East, and think that lesbians are Lebanese, along with the famous "I can see Russia from my house" from SNL.
    "Lesbians are Greek. Everyone knows that."

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In a FoxTrot arc, Paige's friend Nicole was once asked to locate Iraq on a world map without country names. However, it comes to light that Nicole not only can't locate Iraq on the map, she can't even locate the U.S. Eventually Paige locates Iraq on her first try... but only because it was the only place Nicole didn't point.
    Nicole: Okay, so if this is America... then this must be Iraq!
    Teacher: Let's go back to that "if", Nicole.
    Nicole: [pointing at Antartica] Okay, so if this is America...

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dumb Blonde Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes:
    Lorelei: Excuse me, but what is the way to Europe, France?
    Dorothy: Honey, France is in Europe.
    Lorelei: Well, who said it wasn't?
    Dorothy: Well... you wouldn't say you wanted to go to North America, Mexico.
    Lorelei: If that's where I wanted to go, I would.
  • From the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie:
    Buffy: Well, excuse me for not knowing about El Salvador! Like I'm ever going to Spain, anyway!
  • In Die Hard, a psychiatrist interviewed on the news brings up his book on "Helsinki Syndrome", as he calls it (presumably Stockholm has copyrighted itself and wouldn't give the rights). The newsreader cuts into clarify that Helsinki is in Sweden, and is quickly corrected — "Finland."
  • Invoked in Disney's The Three Musketeers (1993); Porthos claims to have been given gifts from various royals who don't exist, including the Queen of America and the Czarina of Tokyo. He smirks whenever he says one, waiting to see if anyone catches onto his bullshit.
  • In Snow Dogs, the character played by Nichelle Nichols apologizes to an Alaskan cab driver because she only has "American money" with which to pay him.
  • Earth Girls Are Easy: An alien asks Valerie if they're in Finland (just having seen a sexy travel commercial) — she cheerfully replies "No, you're in the Valley — Finland is the capital of Norway!"
  • In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda's song in the beginning says, "She fell from the sky/ She fell very far/ And Kansas she says/ Is the name of the star" implying that Oz is on another world that now thinks Earth is Only Kansas.
  • Money Monster: Lee Gates thinks Swahili is South Africa's official language. He's called out for this.
  • Idiocracy: A government official mentions that a nuclear reactor is leaking in Georgia. When his coworker states it's in Florida, he responds by saying "Florida is in Georgia, dumbass".
  • In Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the protagonist is described as "someone someone who thought lran was David Bowie's wife, and who didn't know where Germany was". At least the latter allegation is corroborated.

  • In The Great Gatsby, Nick asks Gatsby what part of the Midwest he is from. Gatsby responds, "San Francisco." This is the first sign that Gatsby isn't who he claims to be.
  • In Why We Took the Car, Maik at first refuses to believe that Wallachia exists.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    Cordelia: Oh, yesterday your cousin called, with one of those names from your part of England.
    Doyle: ... My part of England? note 
  • The Chaser's War on Everything:
    • It has a journalist checking out general knowledge about Americans. During that skit, one section has random people point out Iraq and North Korea on the map. While they do find those countries, the map is mislabeled, and thus they put the pin in the middle of Australia. One person also commentes that North Korea has a large land mass compared to South Korea (mislabeled from Tasmania). And finally, if the USA needed to attack the country in the bottom-right corner of the map, they would have to attack from the West (cause the East just has the edge of the map).
    • There was another skit that involved promoting Australia's tourism. Random Americans were shown pictures of famous landmarks, which the Chasers then claimed were actually in Australia. Notable examples include the Leaning Tower of Perth, Big Ben in Adelaide, The Eiffel Tower in Melbourne and the Taj Mahal in the Simpson Desert.
      Woman: [after being shown the Sydney Opera House] That was in Nemo. I have no idea what it's called though.
  • Happened frequently with Ali G on Da Ali G Show.
    • In one episode he visited the United Nations building, was surprised to find that Africa wasn't represented as a country, and refused to believe the guide's explanation that many African countries were represented.
    • In a mock appeal, he shows a map of the world with pretty much everything mislabeled - such as Africa being labeled Jamaica and South America as South Central.
  • Friends:
    • Joey was fond of this one too. Notable exchange when Chandler is trying to compete with Joey for the attentions of a Dutch girl.
      Chandler: Joey, where do you think Dutch people come from?
      Joey: Um.... Pennsylvania Dutch come from Pennsylvania.
      Chandler: But original Dutch people? Would you say they come from somewhere like the Netherlands?
      Joey: Haha, you can't fool me. See the Netherlands is a made-up place where Peter Pan lives.
    • Joey also spent an episode trying to find somewhere he could change US dollars into "Vermont money".
    • And then there was the Thanksgiving Episode "name the states" game, in which he named 56 (including New England and South Oregon), and then chided Ross for making up a state (Utah) that was actually real.
    • When Chandler is pretending to emigrate to Yemen to escape Janice: "That almost sounds like a real place!"
    • In a second season episode, where Chandler and his new roommate are talking about ex-girlfriends, Chandler mentions how he broke up with a girl because she thought the capital of Cambodia was Sean Penn, when "everybody knows the capital of Cambodia is... not Sean Penn." (This isn't actually as foolish as it seems since Sean Penn sounds similar to Phnom Penh.)
  • Scrubs had geography as one of J.D.'s weaknesses. He claimed New Zealand was close to "Old Zealand" and pointed out China on the Janitor's globe when he was looking for Iraq.
    Janitor: That's China.
    J.D.: You're China.
    Janitor:...That's an outrageous accusation.
  • Mr. Show:
    • In the first episode, Bob Odenkirk tries, and fails pathetically, in an attempt to name all the US states in 15 seconds. Thereafter, David Cross explains that Bob missed the first day of school, believes there are only five states, and thinks one of them is called "Chim-Cham".
    • In one skit, a group of college students on an MTV show claim to have traveled all over the world, showing a crayon map of the places they went in Europe. "Europe" is drawn in the shape of the continental United States, divided up into countries such as "Germany" and "Europe."
  • In a Running Gag, Gob and Maeby in Arrested Development believe Portugal is a Spanish-speaking country in South America. The pilot also features Buster mistaking the blue parts of a map for the land (to make it even sillier, he was described a scene or two earlier as having taken graduate-level classes in cartography). Another one involves Gob's plan to hire "Mexicans from Colombia", where Michael points out that they are called "Colombians".
  • In one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Drew Carey called Africa a great country. Greg Proops responds "It's also a continent if you're a geographer!" The contestants turned it into a Running Gag for the rest of the episode.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, on his journey to Alaska Francis was conned into changing his US currency for 'Alaskan dollars'.
  • In an episode of the "Trash Talk Show" parody Night Stand, host Dick Dietrick (played by Timothy Stack) responds to a Vietnamese guest's question, "You've heard of Vietnam, Dick?" with "Oh yes, we fought against each other in The Korean War."
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Andy Dwyer:
      April: I'm sorry, I was in Venezuela.
      Andy: Oh, really? Wow, across the pond.
    • And in another episode:
      Andy: Hey it's me, Justin. Take my coat, but please be careful I got it from the King of Africa when we were walking on the Berlin Wall together. Really, Justin, what instruments do you play? [pause] Actually he's a pretty sick keyboardist.
    • Andy choosing a country for a model U.N.
      Leslie: Andy, will you be Iceland?
      Andy: The bad guys from Mighty Ducks 2? Don't think so.
      Leslie: How about Japan?
      Andy: The bad guys from Karate Kid 2? Even worse. How about Germany? They’ve never been the bad guys.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus in the episode, "Win, Lose, or Draw". On Andy's list of all the places he and April could live, "U.S.S.R." is listed, but crossed out with "Russia" written in next to it. Presumably, Andy ignorantly wrote down "U.S.S.R." and April corrected him.
    • After driving for many hours to visit the Grand Canyon with April, he asked, "So where are the faces of the presidents?"
    • In a deleted scene from that same episode, April takes advantage of her husband's global ignorance by taking him to a random patch of land and claiming that it is Four Corners (where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet), presumably to avoid having to drive out of their way to the actual place. Andy happily jumps back and forth across the imaginary state boundaries, excitedly shouting that he's in states like Arizona and Nebraska, that don't even border each other in real life.
    • In one episode, Tom's girlfriend from Doctors Without Borders was going to Rwanda. He complains that, "if I know anything about Rwanda — and I don't — I bet it's full of rich guys who will buy her whatever she wants."
  • In one episode of Boy Meets World Shawn thinks that you can get to Europe on a bus. He even buys a bus ticket to Paris, Texas thinking it will take him to Paris, France.
  • Seems to be a common trait among the "Beauties" in Beauty and the Geek.
  • The Amazing Race being a travel show and all, and not all of the contestants have exactly been geniuses. Occasionally the producers make a task based on it.
    • Despite being constantly reminded that they were going to Chile, Season 16's Jordan (the female one) proceeded to request tickets to Santiago, China.
    • Season 12:
      Nate: Taiwan? We're going to Taiwan? Huh.... I don't know much about Taiwan... but Thai food's pretty good.
    • Season 17:
      Phil: Nick & Vicki, what's the name of this country?
      Vicki: We're in London, right?
      Phil: That's right, the country of London.
    • Also in Season 17: The teams were visiting a school in Ghana and tasked with identifying Ghana on a map. It went about as well as you would expect.
  • When Frank, Dee, and Mac tried to play "50 States" in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mac and Dee continually name states like "West Dakota". Much to Frank's amusement.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Chimera", Carter remarks to her boyfriend Pete Shanahan that there's no zoo in Colorado Springs, apparently completely unaware of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Writer Joseph Mallozi said that this was done on purpose to indicate that she spends so much time working she's completely unfamiliar with the city she lives in.
  • "Moldavian wedding massacre" was a major plotline of the soap series Dynasty Apparently, the show's producers and writers were unaware that Moldavia was a real region and a historical country.
  • There was a somewhat infamous episode of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? where American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler showed up. "I thought Europe was a country..."
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch featured guest host Jerry Seinfeld playing a highschool history teacher. After all his students fail a test, he decides to adopt an interactive approach and opens a discussion about the Battle of Britain. However, the students turn out to be too ignorant for the approach to work, as they don't even know who Britain was fighting. You can see it here.
    Teacher: How many of you saw Raiders of the Lost Ark? [all hands go up]
    Student: I have it on tape. I could bring it.
    Teacher: No, thank you. Now, who in the movie was Indiana Jones fighting... [hand goes up] ...besides the snakes? [hand goes back down]
  • This happens often on game shows like Family Feud when given a question of a country as an example.
  • In Derren Brown's The Gathering special, he randomly selects an audience member and asks her to think of a country. She does. Her country? Africa. Not only does Derren not call her out on her obvious mistake (Note: there are over 50 countries in Africa) but has her reach under her seat and find a note he left there with the description of the woman in question and her choice of country. That's right, even Derren is guilty of that.
  • Flight of the Conchords:
    • People being unaware of New Zealand's existence (or just plain ignorant about New Zealand) is a Running Gag.
    • Bret and Jemaine's friend, Dave is always confusing them for Brits, Australians, etc. He later refers to New Zealand as someplace nobody's heard of.
    • A racist greengrocer won't serve food to Bret and Jemaine because they are from New Zealand. It's then revealed that he confused New Zealand for Australia and they bond over their hatred of Australians.
    • Murray wants to get the American President to met up with the Prime Minster of New Zealand. The President asks if New Zealand's even a real place.
  • Referenced in an episode of How I Met Your Mother when Ted finds out that Robin doesn't plan her life and out of the blue says she might want to go to Argentina.
    Ted: Why is this the first I hear of Argentina?
    Robin: Because American schools suck at geography?
  • Drake & Josh:
    • Occurs in , when Mrs. Hayfer is out of town and the boys are looking after her house. Drake finds a videotape of her as "Miss New Jersey".
      Drake: There's a New Jersey?
      Josh: Yeah, they just opened it.
    • And then later in the same episode, an Animal Control officer mentions having fought in Vietnam. Drake asks, "Where's that, New Jersey?"
    • Josh proves to not be much better than Drake when the latter asks why they call it "New Jersey" and he has no idea. Someone of his intelligence should know there actually is a regular "Jersey", as in the Isle of Jersey off the coast of Great Britain that's the source of the U.S. state's name.
  • In the pilot episode of Sports Night, Dan points out they've got sources from Helsinki's bid for the Olympics from Swiss Olympic officials when, in fact, Helsinki is in Finland. Later, when Nathalie brings up one of the candidates for the new associate producer job, Isaac responds, "Could you make sure they could find Helsinki on a map?"
  • The Inbetweeners: Simon doesn't know where Swansea is. Jay thinks it's Oop North. Neil thinks it's an animal.
  • In Kaamelott, this is true for a lot of characters besides King Arthur.
    • Hervé de Rinel, after a grand tour of Britannia, concludes that the island is round (and produces a map as proof). Worse than that is when he adds, to be more convincing, "I went around it twice to be sure!"
    • Séli has basically no idea of geography: she doesn't know where Aquitaine, the Pyrénées, or Burdigalanote  are.
    • And then there's Robyn (a Robin Hood parody):
      Robyn: But wait, isn't there a common border between Britain and Byzantium?
    • Perceval somehow manages to go around introducing himself as "Provençal le Gaulois" (Provençal the Gaul) instead of "Perceval le Gallois" (Percival of Wales).
      Arthur: Doesn't even know his own name.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Two WWE wrestlers, Matt and Jeff Hardy, were arguing which of them was the smarter. The first challenged the second to name the capitol of Brussels.

  • In Bleak Expectations the protagonist tries to catch the antagonist in this trope but just ends up proving he too fits it.
    Pip Bin: If you truly are American, then you will be able to name all the states of your fair nation.
    Harlan J. Trashcan (a.k.a. Mr. Gently Benevolent): Of course. There's Virginia, West Virginia, and, um... North Virginia, South Virginia, East Virginia, South-east Virginia, mid-Virginia... the Virginia Monologues, Like-A-Virgin-ia, Virginia-Virginia and Vermont.
    Pip Bin: Damn. Spot on.
  • Pauline Hatful on How Green Was My Cactus:
    "England? Dunno where that is, but at least you speak English."

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 5, Ryuji wonders how Yusuke is going to take a plane from Tokyo to Los Angeles, thinking that Los Angeles is both in the middle of the United States and the capital city of the country. The other characters all immediately mock him via text messages.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories has a radio ad for a cheesy International Showdown by Proxy sports movie featuring a "worldwide Push Up contest" held in "Tokyo, China".
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Playboy X says that Dubai is in Africa (instead of the Middle-East) when discussing his business with an Arab businessman. Niko immediately tells him that this is so wrong and shows Playboy is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective, Dangeresque, in the Stylistic Suck Show Within a Show, discovers that is father has been hanging around Venice. In a small badly-edited-out scripting mistake, he declares that it's time he heads to France (Jump Cut) Italy!

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Moviebob referred to Africa as "a beautiful country" in an episode of The Game Overthinker discussing racism. To his credit, he apologized for that error in a later video.
  • In the series CollegeHumor Does the Purge: Um, We Have A Few Questions About the Purge, Mike Trapp's character exhibits self-awareness. He keeps (yes he does keep) mistakenly thinking Canada is part of the United States and blaming the shoddy American educational system for his ignorance.
  • During the Hulk Hogan vs. Kim Jong-Il Epic Rap Battles of History, Hogan threatens to kick Kim's ass "back to Beijing". Kim's first line in his rebuttal verse: "Beijing is in China, you blonde asshole!"
  • There are countless stories on Not Always Right about people who never seem to have heard of New Mexico, Canada, or Delaware. There's also a woman who thought they celebrated Thanksgiving in Switzerland.
  • In Jon Lajoie's "Very Super Famous":
    All the Mexicans love me down in the South America
    From Colombia to Brazil all the way to Algeria
  • Darksyde Phil did very poorly on the geography minigames in Bully. He eventually had to get help online.
  • The premise of this Onion News spoof, with the wealthy European microstate of Andorra mistakenly receiving billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid money because the U.S. State Department thought they were a poor, war-torn African countrynote . And that's not even getting into the State Department's official "Map of Africa".
  • For Thanksgiving 2013, BuzzFeed asked its British staff to label a map of the US, which was predictably hilarious. The net year, they asked their American staff to label Europe, with roughly the same results.
  • In an episode of Fat, French and Fabulous, Janel mistakes Denmark for the country Dutch comes from.
    • Jessica: "You've been in America less than a year. Your understanding of geography is dissolving like seltzer as we speak."

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The PTA Disbands", when Marge became the substitute teacher for Bart during the teacher's strike, at dinner, she describes her day as "Exhausting. It took the kids 40 minutes to find Canada on the map." To which Homer responds by also invoking this trope, commenting about how small and tucked away Canada is. Down there.
    • Springfield itself is a Running Gag of this trope, being anywhere and everywhere the writers need it to be. Best exemplified in The Movie.note 
      Flanders: Look, you can see the 4 states that border Springfield. Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky.
    • Homer and Bart get whacked by this trope again in "Bart vs. Australia". Bart mistakes a "Rand McNally" logo on his globe for a country, causing Lisa to mock him: "In fact, in Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people!" Later, Homer looks at the globe, spots Uruguay, and laughs and says "Look at this country! 'UR Gay'! (Laughs)".
    • Both Homer and Mr. Burns (in different episodes) are astounded at the discovery of a New Mexico, though Mr. Burns at least has the excuse of old age.
    • In The Movie, Homer says, "We have a great life here in Alaska, and we are never going back to America again!"
    • Homer as a high school student skipping English class in 1974 in "The Way We Was": "English? Who needs it? I'm never going to England! C'mon, let's go smoke!"
    • Taken Up to Eleven in "G.I. D'oh" when Homer asks "We're China, right?"
    • In "Mother Simpson", Mr. Burns is seen in the post office trying to send a letter to "the Prussian consulate in Siam", exasperated as the clerk cannot find any mention of Prussia or Siam in his geographical index. This isn't a joke about ignorance so much as part of the Running Gag about how outdated Burns is — Siam became Thailand in 1939note , and Prussia broke up into several different countries between the World Warsnote , and had not been a sovereign state since joining the German Empire in 1871.
    • Two linked moments from Bart:
      • In "Girly Edition", as Bart is making a human interest story:
        Bart: Some say the ducks went to Canada. Others say, Toronto.
      • In "The Bart Wants What It Wants":
        Gretchen: I'm leaving in ten minutes. My Dad's shooting a movie in Toronto.
        Bart: You're going to Spain?!note 
    • The episode "Little Big Girl" featured a girl who thought Norwegian people were from a place called "Norwegia".
    • Similarly, in "Much Apu About Nothing", Üter was teased by other students and told to "Go back to Germania!"
    • In "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore", Mr. Burns has the Nuclear Power Plant outsourced into India, and Homer is picked to train the new employees. After the long flight, Homer says:
      Homer: This isn't India! Where's the University of Notre Dame, the Indy 500, Wrigley Field, Dodger dogs?
      Indian Woman: You ignorant American, you have confused India with Indiana, Indiana with Illinois, and the Cubs with the Dodgers!
  • The Penguins of Madagascar:
    • Alice, the zookeeper, thinks koalas and kangaroos will get along well, because they're both from Austria.
      Repairman: You mean Australia?
      Alice: There is a difference?
    • King Julian, while living in the Central Park Zoo, believes he is in France.
    • The penguins also mistake Shanghai, China for Dublin, Ireland.
      Skipper: We gotta blend in. River dance.
  • In South Park, Randy tries warning Arnold Schwarzenegger that California would be New Jersey's next victim after Colorado is taken over, only to be informed that Utah and Nevada lie between them. And he is a geologist. To be fair, they did manage to drive to China and Romania on two separate occasions...
  • Kim Possible: Ron is evidently not very good at identifying countries. "Tokyo... I love the French!"
  • An episode of Ned's Newt has Ned trying to lecture a dimwitted schoolmate, and one of the tasks is to place a cutout of Africa on the globe. He puts it on the Moon.
  • Pinky and the Brain: When Brain founded a fictional country, he was relying on the trope to keep people from finding out it wasn't a real one. Even the generals in The War Room fell for it.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Lawrence Fletcher thought Hawaii wasn't part of the United States.
    • Stacy believed the pyramids were in France. She corrects herself a moment later, saying they're in Belgium.
  • In season 1 of Totally Spies!, Alex is not only childish but also a little dumb dumb in the head. Episode "Shrinking" shows that she's very much geographically illiterate, thinking the Taj Mahal is in Mexico and the Great Wall is in Peru. Luckily, Sam the smart girl is right there to correct her.

    Real Life 
  • In a SBS manga column for One Piece, a fan asked Eiichiro Oda which real world countries each of the Straw Hats would come from. He answers by saying that Luffy would be Brazilian, Zoro is Japanese, Nami's Swedish, Sanji's French, Chopper's Canadian, Robin's Russian, Franky's American, Brook's Austrian... and Usopp? Oda says that he's African, giving the name of a continent instead of a country.
  • According to Americans, New Mexico is not part of the United States.
  • Some people still refer to Beijing as "Peking"; there used to be, in Britain, a group of people who willfully refused to make the changeover. "Beijing" isn't any more difficult to spell or pronounce than "Peking", although most Chinese Britons, and indeed many of the Chinese diaspora worldwide, are of Cantonese-speaking descent, and those hanzi are pronounced "bak-ging" in Cantonese, which is much closer to "Peking" than to (Mandarin) "Beijing".
    • Not to mention that Beijing is officially still called "Pekin(g)" in French, Dutch, German, Russian, Castillian Spanish (but not in Latin America) and, oddly enough, in Japanese.note 
    • And Beijing International Airport's IATA code is still PEK.note 
    • This attitude persists in Britain. Many, possibly older, British people, are surprised to hear that it isn't Malaya any more but Peninsular Malaysia, and that Singapore is no longer the island extention of "Malaya" but a separate state in its own right. Sri Lanka is still Ceylon, Calcutta is, as far as they are concerned, still spelled with the letter "C", and where on earth is Mumbai? Is it anywhere near Bombay, for goodness' sake? And the Conservative Party got negative press for its more right-wing elements selling t-shirts bearing the legend Why say "Zimbabwe" when you mean Rhodesia?.
      • A lot of younger people are, too, if just because geography lessons don't usually require naming a lot of countries/cities (rocks and waterfalls, not Paris and Berlin, though social studies and society generally make for the British being highly geographically aware) and their families/the media still use the old names. And when both old and new names are used, it's easy to confuse which is which, or to think they are different countries. Burma is now called Myanmar, rather than Burma still existing/being a country neighbouring Myanmar.
  • The Danish school system has a subject called "geography", but it's based much more around physical geography than human geography. Meaning that many Danish students will be able to tell you exactly what terrain and ecosystems that make up Brazil, but not where Brazil is (at least, they may not be truly sure except for "somewhere in South America"). Facts such as a country's location, its population number, its capital and the sorts are facts you'll have to find out yourself or be taught by someone else than your geography teacher. However, living in a very small country that is not as self-contained as the U.S., and being among the nationalities that love travelling the most, has helped to make most Danes not that global ignorant.
    • The same problem (among a few others) is prevalent in the German school system, too. The average German high school graduate has a reasonably good shot at correctly identifying Earth's continents, but most won't be able to pinpoint the various countries on them (hell, many can't even name all of Germany's sixteen federal states, much less tell you their location). No wonder, given how superficially actual global geography is treated in class. Stuff like demographics, economy and such usually doesn't get any mention at all. The best you can hope for is one or two class hours of skimming a world map, and perhaps a short test of your knowledge of the neighbouring countries and their capitals, and that's about it. Fortunately, Germans are just as travel-happy as the Danish, so anyone with an interest in the world at large is likely to avert this trope, to varying degrees.
  • Following the announcement that the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing were Chechens, so many Twitter users thought Chechens were from the Czech Republic that the Czech ambassador put out a statement which basically said, "we're not Chechnya". Ironically, "Chehi" ("The Czechs"), was a genuine Russian nickname for the Chechens during the Nineties.
  • People will occasionally refer to Myanmar as its older colonial name, Burma. However, this is an unusual use of the trope, as generally these people are aware of Myanmar's "official" name but refuse to use it because it was developed by the hated military junta that ruled the country until 2010 (and still has a very big say in how the country is run), and thus consider it wasn't decided by the country's legitimate government and people. There's a reason the TV Tropes Useful Notes page for it is called "That South East Asian Country".
  • There's a common joke amongst Brits that some foreigners (chiefly Americans) think that Scotland and Ireland are located where Ireland is, that England is the island to the right, and that Wales doesn't exist, and that this whole area comprises Britain. Some Americans will describe themselves as Scots-Irish (instead of Celtic, which would be accurate), and Americans of Welsh descent seem to be quite rare. If nothing else, Americans will always take the time to proudly list all the countries they are descended from without showing any knowledge of those countries beyond stereotypes. This manifests itself most obviously in St. Patrick's Day celebrations, which bear little resemblance to how it's actually celebrated in Ireland. Scots-Irish does not refer to some mix of Celtic Scottish and Irish blood, but rather to the Ulster Scots, a very specific group. Of course, not all Americans who claim Scotch-Irish heritage are aware of that history, or understand the distinctions, and may indeed think of themselves as simply having both Scottish and Irish heritage.
  • Even smart people can often make Egregious geographic mistakes. For example, a significant percentage of people picture South America being directly under North America, when it is actually more to the south east. Also, people tend to imagine Australia being much farther south than it really is.
  • Asking Brits to label the 50 American states (spoiler: some get them all, some get next to none, some get them all in vaguely the right area but not 100%) compared to getting Americans to label the 5 countries of the British isles (spoiler: One person got them all, but beyond her only a few of them even got Scotland and England in the right places).
  • A certain viral video from 2016 has a woman triggered over...a Lyft driver's hula doll accessory in his car. During the middle of her rant (at the start of the video), she calls Hawai'i a continent. Naturally, everyone who's seen this video will never, ever forget that.
  • While Americans are famous for not knowing that Asia has many more countries than China, Japan, and Korea, both they and a number of British folks have the disturbing counterpart idea that India isn't in Asia—usually to the idea that it's not just a "sub-continent" among Asia (thanks to its size and geography), but somehow separated from the mainland.
  • 60% of surveyed Americans couldn't find Iraq on a map even though the country was actively at war there. This means that many of the men and women deployed there likely could not even find their location on a map.
  • The trope is often exaggerated when applied to Christopher Columbus, with people saying he thought the Earth was flat and wanted to sail to the edge or that he thought it was shaped like a pear and way smaller than it really was. Neither of these are true, and while he did think he landed on a different continent then where he really did, most of the "in the know" people had the exact same misconception, so he can hardly be singled out for not knowing better.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: