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Hopeless with Tech

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For context, she's trying to free what she thinks is the soul of a woman trapped in that phone.

"I don't know how to work this machine... Spending the nights alone, talking to yourself into an obvious Nazi machine. This is a Red China, Manchurian Candidate machine because I can't record anything, and when I do I automatically erase it."
Judy Garland battles a tape recorder, Judy Garland Speaks

Technology is a very important aspect of modern life. From cellular phones to desktop computers to automated banking machines to cars, we have all kinds of mechanical and cybernetic gadgets that (at least for some of us) we can't imagine living without.

But there are some people who just don't understand technology. The newer or more mainstream it is, the more likely it is that such people will be left totally bamboozled by it.

This comes in two types:

  • Completely Hopeless: Alice can't work her way around computers. Give her a cell-phone (especially of the very latest model), and she's clueless as to how it's supposed to work. Digital cameras leave her wondering how they're supposed to be used. (Where do you load the film? Where can you get it developed?) She's bewildered by all the complicated technical stuff that others take for granted. If she makes an effort to use any technology despite her cluelessness (usually in an attempt to prove that she can in fact get the concept), very bad things happen.
  • Basic Understanding: Bob has a basic understanding of how a computer is supposed to work (meaning he can browse through folders, surf the Internet, send an email, type, et cetera), but disassemble the parts and challenge him to put it back together, and he's stuck in a rut. He knows the fundamentals of using a cell-phone (you dial numbers and communicate with others), but the various additional functions have him lost, especially if it's a model he's not used to. He knows how to drive a car and the basic fundamentals behind it (press the gas to go and the brake to stop, use the steering wheel to direct the car), but he's stumped when it comes to pinpointing specific engine parts or knowing what wires go where.

In fiction, both types may be Played for Laughs, depending on the character and the situation.

Compare Walking Techbane, which may wind up being the absolute worst-case scenario, Ludd Was Right, for those who don't like technology, thinking it's a hassle, Technologically Blind Elders, and Evil Luddite, who refuses to accept technology because of its perceived evil. Contrast Technopath and Gadgeteer Genius.

When this trope is applied to advertising (usually for Rule of Funny), that's a form of Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aggretsuko; several of the older staff members in Retsuko's department have some issues with tech, despite them being in accounting where computer savviness is all but required. Ton can barely operate a computer and does most of his calculations on an abacus, and while Tsubone isn't nearly as bad she tends to freak out if anything odd happens on her computer and thinks Y2K and cryptocurrencies are viruses that spread like normal viruses.
  • Bleach: Volume 12's slice of life sketch covers the school's Handicraft Club trying to cope with sewing competitions while their two best sewers (Orihime and Uryuu) are off rescuing Rukia. When the club speculate about why the pair are uncontactable, someone suggests that Orihime doesn't own a mobile phone because she can't handle electronics. However, in the Lost Agent Arc, she is shown to not only possess a mobile, but to be experimenting with creating different ring tone designs as well.
  • Yuko in The Demon Girl Next Door has no knowledge in operating any modern electronics. Justified, as her family had never been able to afford any modern conveniences aside from a phone/fax, a CRT television, and a second-hand Super Famicom.
  • Seijuro Shin from Eyeshield 21 is unable to use any machine more complicated than a digital stopwatch or a gas stove without breaking it to pieces. This is apparently a combination of his nigh-superhuman strength and a complete lack of understanding of how technology works; he once tried to use a GPS by opening it like a map.
  • Hajiotsu has Himari who has a basic phone because she already finds them complicated to understand. And while she can send text messages just fine, she's not very good at it, so her messages are always full of typos or need to be deciphered to what she actually means.
  • Mihoko from Saki, which leaves her at a disadvantage in the prefectural tournament, since she's unable to print out records on her opponents so that she can research their play styles. In the anime, even attempting to print out records resulted in her being wrapped in wires while the computers on the network sparked electricity. It's unclear, however, how much this applies to Saki herself, who doesn't own a cell phone, in stark contrast to other characters.
  • Shinobu of Kiniro Mosaic reportedly thinks a human can catch computer virus, and does not own a cell phone—highly unusual for Japanese high schoolers—because of this trope.
  • Mocha of Is the Order a Rabbit? doesn't use a cellphone as a twenty-something because of this trope.
  • Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Chapter 42 shows that she has very limited knowledge about technology, even thinking that she broke the internet while trying to make a Twitter account and she keeps dragging Hayasaka from her bath help her, making the towel clad girl miserable the entire chapter. Kaguya also starts out as the only character who still uses a flip phone, at least until she gets a smartphone later on.
  • Echizen from Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, trying to keep her "Japanese Delinquent girl" image, doesn't use modern tech such as cellphones; an entire chapter is spent teaching her how to use one.
  • Portugal of Hetalia: Axis Powers struggles with building technology, due to the fact that he was very late to industrialize. Word of God mentions that his close friend England often lends him his technological skill.
  • Usagi from Sailor Moon has trouble using a computer early on in both the manga and the first anime. This was justified back in the early 90's, when the series originally began, because personal computers were new technology that Usagi and everyone else were still learning to use. But in Sailor Moon Crystal (which is set in The New '10s), it's absolutely comical, as Usagi (airheaded though she might be) is a teenage girl who (like her peers, and like much of the audience) has been around technology all her life.
  • In Kemono Jihen, Kabane doesn't know how to operate anything more complicated than a telephone or a washing machine due to living in seclusion and never going to school. When a kid tells him about YouTube, Kabane thinks of a hose with a mouth at the end.note 
  • Lupin III: Old-fashioned Samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, who is generally inept with modern technology, especially for Rule of Funny. The most recent incarnation of this is with cellular and smartphones; if Goemon has one, it's because someone else gave it to him. And just because he has it is no guarantee he can use it. In the fifth Lupin series, he has one at Lupin's insistence, but is still clueless about it, at one point handing his phone to a bunch of kids so they can help him read and reply to a text message.
  • Given that the technology level of the other world is somewhere around that of the late Middle Ages in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, it normally takes a couple months for those who come to Earth to acclimate. Kanna uses this to her advantage against Azad, causing all his plans to come crashing down around him with two very basic pieces of modern technology: a tape recorder and a cellphone.

  • Mechanismo, Empowered's teammate, was transformed into a robot by alien nanoviruses. The upshot of this is that he can't actually understand what his cyberware is telling him; it's not easy to find the option for English when your computer's in Xplipadtic or whatever. Subverts this as most of the time it's "pretty intuitive".
  • Black Canary is absolutely useless when it comes to computers. During preparations for her wedding to Green Arrow, it was mentioned that she'd actually thrown a laptop out of a window after being unable to work it properly.
  • FoxTrot: Roger Fox can work the basics of most tech, but whenever he works with something complex like a computer, he tends to produce crashes or worse. This is a result of Flanderization since the 1980s, when computers weren't as ubiquitous as they currently are.
  • When Bloom County is Uncancelled in 2015, Opus stuggles to adjust to the modern world. In his first attempt to use the net, Oliver tells him to put "words that make you smile" into a search engine; Opus inputs "suds" and "nuns", and suffice to say, it turns out bad. Later, he mistakes Twitter for a chat room for birds and accidentally posts a video of Steve having sex with his girlfriend (later ex-girlfriend) to the entire world.
  • The Mighty Thor: Used as a gag in one joke story to explain why Thor is so difficult for his human allies to reach; he has no idea how phones work. Cue panel of Thor seeing his cell phone ringing, glowering at it suspiciously while holding Mjolnir in preparedness to strike.

    Fan Works 
  • In Flight: Shirou is incredibly inept with technology (he didn't even know what text messaging was). The sad part is that he is adept in comparison to most magi. Rin had no idea what a cellphone or computer was, making her worse than Shirou.
  • The Setup Wizard has to deal with people like this on a regular basis.
  • Justified in Angel's case in Influenced Out of Normality given that he's older than the discovery of electricity. When Xander asks his help with soldering some electronics, Angel admits that he's completely clueless as he was a vampire for over 40 years when the blow lamp was invented.
  • Fate Revelation Online has two omakes where Rin accidentally kills Shirou due to not understanding the dangers of NervGear. She also gets Ilya the second time around.
  • In Fate Genesis, Rin reluctantly has to concede part of the reason Eggman's technology keeps trumping over Magecraft is because most magi can't conceive the idea of their abilities being outmatched by technology, such as with his tech being able to detect Bounded Fields and Magecraft because most magi don't believe such precautions are necessary. It's also pointed out that while they do good at hypnotizing bystanders or wiping out physical evidence, they tend to miss out on little things like security footage.
  • My Heroes Reborn: Original Character Hibiki Kinzoku (a.k.a. pro-hero Orchestra Rave) is so inept with technology that he can't even use the Amazon website without help. What makes this even sadder? It turned out he was the reincarnation of Tony Stark.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Mittens wrecks Penny's computer through a series of mishaps in "The Autobiography." Among other things, she manages to shut down the machine's firewall, pop-up blocker, and antivirus protection immediately after going on it, as well as knocking over a nearby bottle of soda, spilling its contents into the computer.
  • Eevee Therapy for Little Magi: Downplayed and later inverted with Rin - while she initially has the standard magus ineptitude with technology, she eventually overcomes this through bullheaded determination and eventually starts working on magitek.

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Captain America can be seen like this to degree. When Iron Man needed him to describe an electronic service panel on the Helicarrier, Rogers is completely out of his depth. However, this is justified considering Rogers has just recently been defrosted out from 70 years of suspended animation and can't be expected to understand advanced technology, especially not in a way that an engineering genius like Stark would consider useful.
    Iron Man: I need you to get to that engine control panel and tell me which relays are in overload position. What's it look like in there?
    Captain America: (staring at the mass of circuits, wires, and blinking lights) It seems to run on some form of electricity.
    Iron Man: ...Well, you're not wrong.
  • Cars 3: Lightning McQueen is shown to be not quite accustomed to the Rust-eze Racing Center's simulator and starts going out of control the moment it starts up, to the point of destroying it.
  • Polly MacKenzie in The Inbetweeners 2 has trouble working the computer during her Skype sessions with Will, at one point unintentionally showing Will and his friends her cleavage through her botching of the camera angle.
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, Dave invokes this when he tries to video chat with the North Wind.
    Eva: "Where's the sound?"
    Kowalski: "Dave, your microphone, it's not on."
    Classified: "Click on the button with the picture of the microphone."
    Short Fuse: "Every time a villain calls in, this happens."
  • In City Slickers, Mitch spends hours during the cattle drive trying to explain to Phil how to program his VCR.
    Ed: Shut up! Just shut up! He doesn't get it! He'll never get it! It's been four hours! The cows can tape something by now! Forget about it, please!
  • Enemy of the State: Brill, who used to work for the NSA and is up on all the gadgetry they still use, tries to explain to Robert Dean how he's been bugged, but Dean doesn't understand the first thing about it.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Flint's father doesn't know the first thing about technology—just another thing that separates him from his tech-savvy son. At the climax, Flint needs his father to attach a file to an email and send it, leading to an epic Oh, Crap! face and a hilarious montage of him trying things like physically dragging the mouse across the screen. He does finally manage to attach a file, but it's the wrong one, leading Flint to come up with a different solution on the fly.
  • Godmothered: When Eleanor hears Siri say "Okay. Here's what I found," she says "Who said that? Is there a genie in there?" Even when she sees a mirror, which is commonplace in fairy tales, she screams and says "It looks like me!"
  • In Yannick a man takes everyone in a theatre room hostages, and demands a computer on which to write a new play. He has someone run a text editor for him, then types his text very slowly using only one finger of his left hand (while the other hand is holding his gun). He is offended when someone offers to do the typewriting for him.

  • Shouko from Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts is stated to be this by Yuuji.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Several Magic-side characters are unfamiliar with modern technology. Index can't figure out how to work a vending machine with a touch screen until Hyouka Kazakiri patiently walks her through it all while Hyouka comments that the touch screen should be fairly intuitive, but she grows out of this in time and eventually is able to start playing and winning online puzzles for prize money to support the income of the Kamijou apartment. Kaori Kanzaki and her peers can't figure out how to work a washing machine.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Frank usually has major trouble with figuring out how devices work, such as the television.
  • Good Omens: Newton is so hopeless with anything involving electricity he once managed to short out the power to his neighborhood. Weaponied in the climax when he's told to "improve" the computerized launch system for NATO's nukes, utterly destroying it.
  • Nearly the entire wizarding world falls into this in Harry Potter. It's partly justified by the fact that even muggleborns only have an eleven-year-old's knowledge of muggle technology, but it still strains the suspension of disbelief at times.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Yuki Nagato starts out this way. She's a Reality Warper genius space alien interface device, but she's used to (or designed by/for) such a high level of technology that working at lower levels is initially very difficult to get accustomed to. Sort of like how most people who know how to use a cigarette lighter would be lost when given tinder, steel and flint.
    • Mikuru Asahina as well. She's from the future, where technology has become non-physical, so modern technology is nigh-incomprehensible to her at times. She's generally fairly competent with tech from her own era, though we don't see her use it much (most of the time it isn't obvious that she is using it).
  • Shelby of the H.I.V.E. Series is actually very good with mechanical gadgets, as well as architecture and structural engineering. However, at one point she tries to hack into the school computer system. Professor Pike feels so sorry for her that he just gives her the files she's looking for on a flash drive and tells her not to bother trying to do that again.
  • Giles De'Ath in Love and Death on Long Island is so reclusive that even though it's 1990, he's never heard of home video. When he does order a VCR, he doesn't realize that he also needs to order a television to plug it into. When he gets a television, he at first forgets to turn it on...
  • Elijah Valentine from Last Mage has this as a Running Gag - technology so advanced it could just as well be magic? Easy-peasy. But give him a XXI century computer and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Doaks from Saving Max has never owned a computer and barely understands what Google is.
  • Starter Villain (2023): The first time Gratas attempts to deliver an ultimatum to Charlie via Zoom, he is muted at the start of the call and forgot to encrypt it, so Charlie hangs up on him before either of them can say anything incriminating over an open line. Gratas makes the same mistakes the second call too.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel can use cell phones, but constantly struggles to understand their nuances, like voicemail. He also confuses computer terminology:
    "They talk about me in the chatty rooms?"
  • Between the Lines (1992). Tony Clark meets John Deakin in a Smoky Gentlemen's Club, and annoys the residents when his fancy new mobile phone rings and he doesn't know how to answer it. One of the old duffers grabs the phone off him and swiftly presses the correct buttons to do so.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles admits that he's technophobic, and when he discovers that the library of Sunnydale High 2.0 consists of nothing but computers, he's absolutely horrified.
    • Kakistos preferred lighting his lairs with candles rather than electric lights, and had little interest in modern comforts that would easily enable him to establish a power base. This is the main reason Mr. Trick pulled a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! when Buffy and Faith attacked.
  • Cheers: Sam has absolutely no idea how to work a computer, which isn't so much of a problem in the earlier part of the series, but by season 8, and the mid-80s, it is. This is why he rehires Rebecca, since though by that point she is hopelessly incompetent in every other aspect of life, she can work a computer.
  • Innocent: Yusuf, a detective, appears genuinely baffled by the speed at which a video is uploaded to internet. Selahattin, his boss, disbelievingly tells him to get a smartphone.
  • LazyTown: The whole episode "LazyTown Goes Digital" occurs because Milford cannot understand how to receive a "b-mail" from Ms. Busybody.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Bambang, being a newcomer from the countryside, uses an old cellphone. When he buys a new smartphone, he's not used to it at first and once has another person types for him. Despite wanting to study a computer degree in university, he admits he doesn't know much about computers yet and starts searching for a computer course midway through the series.
  • Mr. Bean: Electricity itself acts strangely around Bean, televisions displaying static as he passes by, and a Van de Graaff generator giving him a strange humming energy field that makes things stick to him.
  • New Tricks has a gag like this every other episode (e.g. Brian setting up a twitter and having trouble with the wordcount limit). On the whole, Brian tends to subvert this (seeing as he's an older gentleman), however, to the point where he pretty much becomes the unit's tech-guy.
  • NCIS has Gibbs, who is poor with computers and sometimes insists on paper. Of course, when a blackout comes, he's the only person who can work an ancient copy machine...
    • When it's revealed that in the 90s Gibbs once worked undercover as a computer technician, his current team finds this hilarious. Abby speculates that he might have been faking it all along, but the rest of the episode implies that no, he really is as bad with tech as he's always seemed. He'd studied really hard to become proficient with 90s-era computers (and still remembers some of that knowledge) but didn't keep up with the changes in tech because he doesn't care for it.
  • Castiel from Supernatural has a bit of this early on, as he isn't quite used to all the nuances of Earth. A pay phone confuses him quite a bit.
    Castiel: The voice says I'm almost out of minutes.
    • And, when someone tries to call him and it goes to voicemail:
    Recording: Hello, you've reached:
    Castiel: I don't understand - why do you want me to say my name? Hello? Hello? (*sound of mashing buttons*)
    • Apparently John is one as well. Him sending the boys a text message in Season One - Asylum triggers this exchange:
    Sam: You think Dad was texting us?
    Dean: He's given us coordinates before.
    Sam: The man can barely work a toaster, Dean.
  • Dowager Countess Violet of Downton Abbey. Understandable for such an old person, but thrown into sharp relief by the fact that it's the tech of a hundred years ago that flummoxes her.
    Violet: *after slipping* Heavens, what am I sitting on?
    Matthew: Er... swivel... chair.
    Violet: Oh, another modern brainwave?
    Matthew: Not very modern, they were invented by Thomas Jefferson.
    Violet: Why does every day involve a fight with an American?
    • Mrs. Patmore, Downton's cook, is similarly distrusting of new developments, particularly when it comes to kitchen appliances. In her case, however, it's occasionally Played for Drama; after a disastrous attempt to use the electric mixer, she confesses to Mrs. Hughes that she's afraid of being rendered obsolete and "stuck in the past".
  • Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden on JAG is clueless whenever computers are involved.
  • In Haven, Dwight Hendrickson mentions he doesn't have a clue on anything computer or Internet related, which is why he gets others to handle it for him.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Captain Hook/Killian Jones is shown to have issues with modern technology. He insists on calling phones "talking phones" as he thinks just "phones" sounds silly, and admits he doesn't know how they work beyond Emma answering when he hits the right button (if she doesn't answer, then he considers it useless).
  • In Highlander, unlike most other immortals, Hugh Fitzcairn did not adjust well to modern technology. He needs the help of others like Duncan to forge him the documents he needs to maintain his identities. Later, he has no idea how to delete evidence framing him for murder.
  • In Monk, Adrian Monk is rather prone at wrecking stuff (anything from files up to the whole gizmo) because he can't stop trying to clean up something if he sees it dirty, accidentally pressing buttons.
  • Jen Barber from The IT Crowd has a really poor understanding of how computers work, which is ironic since she's in charge of her company's IT department. In one episode the boys in IT convinced her that if you type Google into Google the internet will explode, and in another episode they convinced her that the entire internet was contained in a small black box on loan from Big Ben.
  • Cobra Kai: Johnny Lawrence is a Disco Dan stuck in the 80s. He owns an old flip phone, is incapable of turning on a laptop he buys, doesn't know how to get on the internet (such as what wifi is), and is a hunt-and-peck typist. We see him use an Internet for Dummies book and use the pawn shop he bought his laptop at as tech support (which the owner is annoyed by when Johnny calls him for internet help).
  • WandaVision: Played for Drama in "On a Very Special Episode". Thanks to Wanda's mental influence, the people of Westview act like sitcom characters. Norm acts baffled at sight of a computer, and thinks that an email needs a letter opener to be read. Then Vision reverts him which makes him desperately beg to go home, only to wonder where to put a stamp on the email after this is undone.
  • Odd Squad:
    • The agents at the Arctic Odd Squad precinct are shown to be this in "Teach a Man to Ice Fish". In response to the need to get a rather clunky, boxy computer to an upper level in order for the power cord to reach an outlet, two agents suggest that the computer be dismantled. Their reasoning is that if there's "no computer", then there's "no problem."
    • As a Fish out of Temporal Water, Orla initially struggles to adapt to Odd Squad's high-tech ways at first, but slowly gets a grip on it over the course of the season. "Oswald in the Machine" shows that she's adept at technology enough to power a robot through a warehouse from a long distance away.
  • Forever: Henry hasn't kept up with modern technology; he's able to use other peoples' cell phones but thinks taking a .jpg picture and emailing it requires explanation, and he uses a computer terminal in the morgue but is a very slow typist.

  • The Tom Smith song "Tech Support For Dad" centers around the singer trying to help his father solve his computer problems over the phone. Highlights include the fact that the computer dates back to the Clinton Administration (Which the singer admits makes the song funnier every year), and an in-depth investigation into why the computer can't write DVDs, which ultimately turns out to be because it doesn't have a DVD drive.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In GURPS, uselessness with technology is the effective result of the “Low TL” disadvantage, which actually represents unfamiliarity with a setting’s general level of tech (so one could be perfectly competent with seriously out-of-date gear). It’s also possible to take “Incompetence” quirks indicating ineptitude with specific technological skills.
  • In Shadowrun, the game's character creation allows for players to equip the 'Gremlins' quality, causing technology operating by them to inexplicably malfunction at varying degrees of severity. This can become problematic in a Cyberpunk world dominated by technology. It also never works in your favor — if you try to deliberately mess up an enemy's tech, it not only won't malfunction, but may actually work better.

    Video Games 
  • Artery Gear: Fusion: Queen Lisa Autoluna is extremely bad at understanding technology. She accidentally sends an emergency call instead of a regular one, is unsure if others can hear her, and is unable to figure out how to disconnect.
  • Fake Happy End: While the protagonist can use a computer, they are unfamiliar with concepts such as using browsers other than the default Internet Roamer, touch-typing, maximizing a window, and social media netiquette. Aeri has to walk them through these concepts when they visits her net cafe.
  • Cyan from Final Fantasy VI is hopeless with machines. Sabin figures this out after Cyan tries to pilot a suit of Magitek armor without help, and Cyan freaks out when Sabin flips a random switch on the Phantom Train without knowing what it does. In the World of Ruin, Cyan's hideout contains a book on machines, implying he's trying to get over this uselessness with technology. But, his Battle in the Center of the Mind features the party riding in Magitek armor as part of Cyan's nightmare, showing he hasn't made as much progress as he thinks he has.
  • In The Walking Dead, Lee runs into Carley who is trying to get a radio to work. Lee quickly finds out that the radio needs batteries, but Carley has no idea what to look for, and asks him to find them. Upon being handed the batteries by Lee, she still can't get the radio to work. Lee then checks the radio again to find out that she has put the batteries in backward, completely missing the instructions painted on the tray. It's not let go of in subsequent episodes.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 reveals this about Gaius. He owns a GHS phone and knows how it should work, but ultimately is clueless about it. One of his field lines involves wondering why it suddenly turned off, only to learn that it needs 'some power device attached to it' to charge it again. A post-battle dialogue with Rowen has him complain that it broke during the fight, only for Rowen to check it out and say he forgot to turn it back on.
  • James Heller of [PROTOTYPE 2], a killing machine who can kill thousands, meets his mortal enemy: a computer.
    Heller: I'm at the computer, what do I press?
    Guerra: First you need to —
    Heller: I'm pressing the red button. Shit. Now the screen's all fucked up.
    Guerra: Okay, press the alternate key. "A.L.T." Alternate —
    Heller: Alt? There's no fucking alt. I got a fucking squiggly line key, I got a fucking key with a triangle on it — what the fuck kind of keyboard is this anyway?
    • Made even worse by the fact it is explicitly stated that when he absorbs someone he takes all of their memories, but for some reason, despite eating countless scientists he still can't work one.
  • Tekken: Sergei Dragunov is a badass and quiet Russian soldier, quick and efficient in battle. He is also shockingly awful when it comes to assembling robots if his Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ending is anything to go by.
  • James Vega in Mass Effect fits this quite well. His primary method of interacting with tech is kicking it until something happens.
    James: [Upon being asked to disable an AA gun] Tech's not my specialty, but I'll pull a few wires and see what comes out.
  • Sora from Kingdom Hearts admits that computers are way beyond his reach. Not that Donald and Goofy are much better than him, but Sora is flat-out useless with technology.
    • Hinted at in Kingdom Hearts II, where he’s shown to be unable to type properly. When trying to find Riku and Kairi in the Radiant Garden database, he types in a few keystrokes at random, hoping that does something. The entire TRON-based segments of the second game run with that fact. In fact, it's his constant smashing of the keys (and Donald's stepping on them) that get the trio dragged inside the computer in the first place.
      • He also doesn't learn from the events of Space Paranoids about computers, as when he finds a deactivated one in Monstropolis, Sora's first instinct is to try and smash it with the Keyblade before Sulley suggests another idea.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, Sora flat out admits "I can't computer." When Pence and Ienzo are setting up a network, Sora falls asleep, and the two of them have to explain in very basic terms what they're doing. He even has to have Jiminy explain how to use a phone.
      • Made even worse in San Fransokyo. He cannot understand a whole lot of Big Hero 6's Techno Babble.
  • Ensemble Stars!: Rei claims he can't use any kind of modern technology because he's a clueless old man. As a work-around, the Oddballs actually set up a series of paper cup phones (Kanata's made of plastic so he can use it in the fountain) so they can communicate that way. While Rei is probably a case of Obfuscating Stupidity, Souma and Adonis on the other hand are both genuinely terrible with technology and are barely able to operate their smartphones without accidentally cutting off calls and the like; in Souma's case it's justified by his family being extremely old-fashioned (they have a single landline at home but nothing much more advanced than that). Midori also once accuses Kanata of being this and he seems rather offended, though he does admit he has to replace his phone every couple of months since he keeps bringing them into water with him.
  • A3 has Tsumugi, who doesn't know that one can send photos via phone and use stickers to communicate, aside from text.
  • While it's apparent that The Boss in the Saints Row series is not tech-savvy, the extent of this is unclear. They can use cell phones, ATMs, radios, earpieces, and drone controls just fine and basic functionality of laptops appears to be a non-issue, but anything else seems to be beyond their capabilities. Keith David claims that the Boss couldn't hook up a VCR, but it's unknown if there is any truth to this or if it's just a remark at their expense, though most likely the latter.
  • Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus: When Max has to use a computer, he fumbles with it for quite a while, pressing random keys until he comes to a password entry screen. If he examines the hardware components, the descriptions are confused and vague. In contrast, Doris is knowledgeable in hacking and was top of her class in basic and advanced electronics (she brags that she didn't even have to change her teacher's files).

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • According to supplementary materials, Rin Tohsaka is this. In fact, most oldblood mages are. Mages tend to look down on modern technology due to a combination of believing Older Is Better, arrogantly assuming that Magecraft can't be bested by mere Muggle creations, and generally have no clue how it works. In one episode of Carnival Phantasm Rin can't even figure out how to get a Blu-Ray Player to record a show. In Type-Moon's April Fool joke, in which some characters set up Twitter accounts, she has Archer set hers up... which she uses as her secret diary. Hilarity Ensues.
    • All Around Type-Moon takes this to its most hilarious extreme when Rin attempts to learn how to use a laptop. She proceeds to accidentally summon Red Saber straight from the Moon Cell, and even after she's sent back, Rin proceeds to accidentally summon several more Servants, at least one of which is from a different Moon Cell entirely. She basically uses the Second Magic, the magic that made Zelretch so overpowered and omniscient, by the sheer Epic Fail of her technobane.
    • Tokiomi Tohsaka, Rin's father, had what amounted to a magical fax machine, and his student Kirei Kotomine wondered if a normal fax wouldn't be more efficient. Irisviel von Einzbern is a little better, having been taught about modern tech by her husband Kiritsugu Emiya, in that she knows about it, but still fumbles with a cell phone and Drives Like Crazy. In contrast, Waver Velvet seems to at least have a clue about modern tech, as he knew how to work Iri's phone when she didn't, which is one reason that marks him as unconventional by the standards of mainstream magi. Later he comes to really love video games in memory of Iskander, so he probably is proficient.
    • Weaponised by Kiritsugu Emiya. As most Magi are so completely ignorant about the capabilities of modern technology, they don't know how to defend against it. So instead of confronting Kayneth's elaborate magical defenses, Kiritsugu drops the building down around his ears with some well placed high explosives as just one example.
    • Kairi Sisigou of the Red Faction also weaponizes this, having become a successful Bounty Hunter of rogue mages after abandoning the studious path and combining his trademark Necromancy with modern weapons like shotguns and explosives. On the Black Faction, Caules Forvedge Yggdmillenia is the only member of Yggdmillenia (including his sister) who actively uses technology like laptops due to the fact he sucks at magecraft and originally abandoned the path before being pulled into the war, so he never bothered to conform to tradition.
    • Played with in Fate/Grand Order. The protagonist is a rather mediocre mage and is implied to have had a decently "normal" upbringing, so their tech knowledge is about on par with the average everyday person. The mage staff in Chaldea have to be good with tech since they use it so much themselves and collaborate with Muggles who do too. However, while the mighty leader of the Crypters, Kirschtaria Wodime, definitely knows how to use a computer which, "password security" still clearly eludes him.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Maya Fey is an interesting variation. She isn't completely hopeless with technology, as she has a cell phone which she knows how to operate, but when it comes to computers, she can't even turn the darn things on. She even laments it when she finds a computer while trying to escape her kidnapper in the second game: she notes she could send an e-mail to the police, but realizes she doesn't even know how to turn the thing on.
    • Phoenix Wright can use the basic functions of a computer and he knows what a computer virus is (as shown in Trials and Tribulations), but little beyond that. When he gets a computer to do what he wants, there's generally a lot of luck involved.
    • Jake Marshall also states plainly that he's not much good with machines. He can run the basic security, watching over the video feeds for the evidence room, but he's not aware of the fingerprint readers on the lockers and he even claims he couldn't tell you how a bicycle works.note 
    • Iris spent most of her life in Hazakura temple she but she did have contact with civilization and can use cell phones and computers as to not be for completely hopeless. Phoenix mentally notes that it's not something worth bragging about.
  • Plays a surprisingly huge part of Doki Doki Literature Club!. Not Love Interest Monika gains Medium Awareness and the ability to edit and delete game data at some point, and a large part of the Disguised Horror Story aspects of the game come from the fact that, while she can and does change things to try and make a route for the player to romance her and drive him away from the other girls, she's not very good at it and ends up causing things like various creepy bugs and glitches, and causing characters to go insane as their personalities are rewritten and even kill themselves. To be fair, though, DDLC is a particularly extreme example of World Limited to the Plot (the four girls and the main character are literally the only characters that exist, which contributes to the Disguised Horror Story), so Monika had to basically teach herself how to code from the ground up.
  • Downplayed with Tara in Heart of the Woods. Tara, the host of a Vlog Series known as Taranormal, isn't completely incompetent, but relies on her best friend and manager Madison to shoot and edit videos. Madison, who is getting tired of working on Taranormal as of the start of the story, wishes Tara would learn to do these things herself.
  • Averted with the protagonist of Melody. While he’s much older than some of the other characters and has a less recent taste in music (including sound quality), he isn’t at all bad with computers.
  • The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog: Justified and Played for Laughs, where Shadow admits that computers are not his strongest suit, where he accidentally print off the web page of a ticket retail site when trying to buy tickets off of it for Amy, with the printer being tricky enough that even Tails, the series' resident Gadgeteer Genius, had a hard time understanding.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG:
    • The protagonist Akira isn't very tech-savvy, as revealed when Ami changes his ringtone and he has no idea how to change it back. When Ami asks him if he's good with any technology, he replies that his motorbike is the only thing he needs to be familiar with.
    • His aunt Natsumi isn't much better - she knows how to type with a computer, since she's an author, but beyond that, she has no clue. Seiji pounces on the chance to give her a hand.

    Web Animation 
  • The mashed cartoon Soldier 76 Sucks has Soldier 76 trying to work a computer, but he ends up failing horribly. He accidentally mutes a call with Tracer, treats Omnibook as if it were Google, and when Sombra posts a blatantly obvious virus claiming it will help him fix everything, Soldier 76 thanks her and installs it.

    Web Comics 
  • Sigrun from Stand Still, Stay Silent manages to be this, even with After the End Schizo Tech. She put that she knew how to drive on her resume despite not actually knowing to because she thought it couldn't be that hard (let's just say she's lucky one of her subordinates actually knows how to drive) and manages to use binoculars the wrong way. In Chapter 6, she's seen talking into to the radio a couple of times, both times with someone else holding the microphone to her mouth because she doesn't realize that she's supposed to talk into a specific part of the radio (we're talking about the type of radio that can take up a whole wall in a small room here).
  • Tulip Natchralli and her son Horizon from the roleplays of White Dark Life play this to extremes — as furry Magical Native Americans with distant elven ancestry, they literally get sick around modern technology, to the point where they can't enter cities without getting disoriented. (Tulip's daughter, Dandelion, is an aversion.)

    Web Original 
  • Evan of Everyman HYBRID. The only technology he seems to know how to use is anything involving Video Games. Anything else, forget it.
  • The point of the Image Macro and/or Advice Dog spin-off "Technologically Impaired Duck."
  • Occasionally appears on Not Always Right and its sister sites. It's even worse when the angry customer immediately assumes everyone in tech support must be a Walking Techfix and calls them "lazy/incompetent" when they can't fix their computers or cellphones (which often have completely unfixable problems, like the keyboard being covered in urine, or the inner circuits being smeared with butter). Of course, customers on Not Always Right are prone to accusing any employee unable to do/give them exactly what they want of being lazy/incompetent no matter where they happen to work.
  • Jane Eyre of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is an improbable vlogger. Not only is she camera-shy and has a hard time talking to her audience, she's not very tech-savvy either. She claims it takes her forever to set her camera up and start recording. Sometimes she messes up audio or editing. She even sometimes happens to turn on her camera accidentally. All this adds a nice layer of realism and vloggy feel to this web series. Episode 13 had amazing glitches because her camera is old and broken. It was very spooky and very Gothic-novel-like.
  • r/talesfromtechsupport is naturally full of these.
  • RinkWork's Computer Stupidities is full of this. You'll find people who ask if you have to be online to backup online, people who believe the mouse is a foot pedal, people who tried to use the mouse as a TV remote, people who ask where the "any" key is on their keyboards when the "Press Any Key" message is displayed, and much more.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball shows Nicole to be this in Season 6. For one thing, she's a one-finger hunt-and-peck typer. She also has no understanding of firewalls (she puts up a wall of flame at the front of the house), thinks that right-clicking refers to snapping your finger at the screen, tries to pay for something online by putting money in the disc drive and sends emails by using dancing pixie e-cards exclusively. And this isn't getting into her social media habits. Presumably the only reason she hasn't been fired for incompetence is because her co-workers are just as bad. Though oddly, this only seemed to be a problem in this episode. As previous episode not only didn't imply this, but one episode even had a gag where Nicole's husband and kids have an Oh, Crap! moment and run off to destroy their devices, upon learning that she know how to look up search histories.
  • Big City Greens: The Green family have been living on country outskirts all their life, and have little to no experience with modern technology.
    • In "Cyberbullies", Cricket reveals he has no electronic devices (smartphone, laptop, email, tablet), meaning he cannot be hacked by the Cyber Knights.
    • In "Coffee Quest", Cricket tries to use Gloria's phone, but has no knowledge of such and cannot figure out how to turn it on.
    • In "Gramma Driver", Bill gets the family "Fun Fons"; while Cricket and Gramma instantly hit off with theirs, Bill has difficulty with his at first, given that he cannot hang up his first call. Tilly, on the other hand, stands out the most — she has absolutely zero knowledge of using a smartphone, to the point of believing the phone's Siri-esque assistant is a person's soul trapped inside the phone, and attempts to "free" it by destroying it the day she got it.
    • The Greens' lack of technology becomes extremely poignant in the climax of "Sellouts", as Gloria remembers she took a picture of the family's cool-looking chicken which went viral; it is that point the Greens reveal they never went social due to having no electronics, so she teaches them how to in order to let people know what they're selling.
  • The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants: Gooch is very hopeless with tech, to the point of mistaking a beehive for his phone in one episode. He's ironically pigeonholed into George and Harold's team as the tech guy, more due to process of elimination if anything else.
  • Gargoyles: Implied to be the case with Brendan Quarters; in his and Margot Yale's first appearance, he suggests that he might be able to find out what's wrong with their car, only for her to snarkily reply, "You need to call a repairman to plug in the coffee maker!"
  • In one episode of King of the Hill, Hank tries to turn on a computer by picking up the mouse, holding it like a TV remote, pointing it at the monitor, and clicking it. When that doesn't work, he's apparently out of ideas, since he gives up and writes a letter instead.
  • Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5: The Vandals, a savage culture of tribal warriors, are shown to be this. Makes you wonder why they have all their crazy vehicles. Season 2, “Fused”, reveals the answer to that. As it turns out, the Vandals owe the technological side of their arsenal to a race of super-scientists aliens they enslaved called the Kharamanos. When the Battle Force 5 discover the Kharamanos and slowly begin liberating them from the Vandals, their vehicles slowly begin falling into disrepair.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Uncle doesn't understand devices such as faxes (he gets his facts from books), laptops (dismissing Jade's as a "magic waffle iron"), and the Internet. Ironically, however, he understands sending a spell through a phone, but not a piece of paper.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Marinette's paternal grandfather, Roland. It's not just technology; he dislikes any changes from the way things used to be, but technology is a perfect representation. The most modern thing in his home is an old analog TV that he considers "broken," while Marinette is quickly able to assess that it's just unable to pick up the new standard digital signals. When she asks him to babysit her charges and brings her laptop so they can watch a movie, he's baffled by how he's supposed to insert a VHS. "Just press play" is too overwhelming of a concept for him.
  • Molly of Denali: Downplayed in the episode "Lights, Camera, Patak." Mr. Patak doesn't know how to use the camera on his phone.

    Real Life 
  • Most of us have at least one (usually older) relative that's like this. With the complexity of modern computers in the 21st century (particularly The New '10s), there are plenty of people who have been left behind in terms of technical knowledge.
  • "I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone". Bjarne Stroustrup note 
  • VCRs included a digital clock, which in many people's homes simply blinked "12:00" because no one could be bothered to figure out (or wanted to figure out) how to program it after hooking it up or after a power failure, because the clock wasn't necessary to watch movies - only to program when to record things. This became a common Stock Joke for someone who was Hopeless With Tech.
  • Cracked's video piece "6 Shockingly Out-of-Touch Celebrities" for example, DMX apparently had no idea what a search engine was... in 2012.
  • Angelina Jolie has admitted "I don't really know how to turn on a computer", and that she and then-partner Brad Pitt were completely perplexed when they once tried to use And this is from someone who played a hacker.
  • While Janeane Garofalo was promoting her Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, she admitted she wouldn't be able to watch it because she doesn't own a computer, smartphone, or any other internet-connected device to watch Netflix on.
  • A photo of Rudy Giuliani wearing AirPods backwards went viral. Many were perplexed as to how he even got them to stay in place.
  • If you thought this was a problem with just older people, a lot of younger people, used to mobile devices which restrict access to the underlying filesystem and search functions that make file organization unnecessary, apparently have trouble understanding how file systems work on PCs.


Mr. Boonchuy

Mr. Boonchuy is evidently not that good with phones, notably when he attempts to put his wife on speaker.

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Main / HopelessWithTech

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