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I Reject Your Reality

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"... and substitute my own."
Paul Bradford, The Dungeonmaster

Some people just don't get it.

This sort of character is a relative of the Cloudcuckoolander but with much more sinister overtones. They seem to live in a world of their own, they may live by the mantra of Screw the Rules when the "rules" are hard facts. They will stubbornly insist "their" reality is the true reality in the face of evidence to the contrary, much to the frustration of others and sometimes danger to companions, underlings, peers or themselves, especially when the fact they are rejecting is a consequence of their own actions. If anything manages to pierce their iron-bound conviction, a breakdown, villainous or otherwise, is likely to ensue.


On a broader scale, any person can have moments or periods like these or full-on blind spots when it comes to some hot-button issue, a la Selective Obliviousness. It might be a running gag Played for Laughs, or the disabusing of their delusion may be a dramatic plot point.

The poster child for many other tropes: Belief Makes You Stupid, the Inspector Javert, the Knight Templar, the Lawful Stupid. Not to be confused with The Spark of Genius or the Reality Warper (who literally can reject and replace reality) although it is possible to combine this trope with either of the others; A God Am I is usually the result. Also, if the reality is fake to begin with, rejecting it may be a right and necessary step to awaken.

A Sister Trope to Implausible Deniability. When applied to a series, this is Fanon Discontinuity.


Compare Gravity Is Only a Theory, Windmill Political. Contrast Mr. Imagination and the Cloudcuckoolander, who have the more peaceful philosophy that they can "substitute their own reality" without this kind of fighting against everyone else's reality which they have rejected.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Sword Art Online:
    • Most of the Aincrad arc is actually an aversion of this. Despite Sword Art Online being an VRMMORPG, the fact it is a death game where dying in the game means dying in real life, means players need to accept the game as their new reality until it gets cleared. Kirito heavily delves into the philosophy of whether the virtual world was 'real' or not, with his belief that the virtual world could be as real as the real world if designed right.
    • Kyouji had given up on the real world and instead turned to the virtual world of an VRMMORPG, Gun Gale Online. When he doesn't succeed at that either, he decides to move onto the next reality after death and tries to take his crush Sinon with him.
  • Idiot Hero Luffy from the anime and manga One Piece pulls this often.
    Luffy: I refuse!
    Sanji: What do you mean you refuse?
    Luffy: I refuse your refusal!
    • An even more ridiculous example from the same series is Zeo, a bad guy from the Fishman Island arc; this Trope is his main Personality trait, from rejecting the fact that he was ignored by claiming he was speaking quietly (he was yelling), to rejecting the fact he got stabbed and instead insisting he was trying to break off the offending sword's tip with his own body. One of the best ones is that he even rejected the fact that someone stepped on his face, insisting that he's headbutting the person's foot. The last and very best one is when Zeo and the rest of the bad guys have been aged into old men due to the Energy Steroids they took, really an age-accelerating substance. Note that absolutely none of them knew this would happen...
    Zeo: I became old on purpose.
  • Pokémon 3 focuses on a delusional little girl named Molly Hale whose connection with a bunch of reality-bending psychic types allows her to bend reality. But even when confronted with things she can't change, she still insists her version is the correct one. Most likely because she's eight or so and because her father disappeared leaving her all alone since her mother left her father some years ago. As Linkara put it, the movie is basically Silent Hill for children.
    Ash: If you come with us, you can have real Pokémon.
    Molly: (conjures up crystal Pokémon) I already have real Pokémon! NOW, GO AWAY!
  • Seto Kaiba, from Yu-Gi-Oh! vehemently denies the existence of any sort of magic throughout the English dub, despite evidence to the contrary. The dub itself eventually started making fun of this.
    Dartz: Is that Your Answer to Everything, Kaiba? You really need a new catchphrase.
    • Made funnier, is the fact that Kaiba's past self was an actual sorcerer/priest who could cast magic.
    • His absolute refusal to accept that he lost to Yugi and he isn't as good as the Pharaoh really delves into this territory considering the many times he's forced Yugi into a rematch — when the final film ends, we find out in The Stinger that he built a machine to chase the Pharaoh into the afterlife to challenge him yet again.
  • A straight variant and a lighter, less visible variant of this is seen between counterparts Mikage and Utena in Revolutionary Girl Utena. For Mikage, he doggedly draws in young students, during a time when they feel down and out, and manipulates them to duel for him - and it seems that he's been keeping this up for years and years, possibly being Dead All Along, seeking an "eternity" where he and his old lover Tokiko and her brother Mamiya can flourish. When Utena begins to break through it, he breaks down and vanishes. So, what makes Utena his counterpart? She rejects the hardships that her fellow classmates go through, rejects the feelings that she gets for Akio because of the need to become "princely," and consistently rejects the notion that the seemingly pure and doormat-like Anthy is manipulative of everyone else and is afraid to step outside of her boundaries - the outside world - from being the Rose Bride. Whereas the other duelists manage to cope with their problems, Utena remains childish in behavior and ideals, and if the stabs of a million swords at the Rose Gate are anything to go by, doing that bit her in the ass pretty hard.
  • Obito from Naruto refuses to acknowledge a world in which Rin chose to sacrifice herself and Kakashi was unable to protect her, and chooses to believe the current world is fake. His main goal is to use Infinite Tsukuyomi to replace reality with a dream world where he can pretend Rin is still alive.
  • Ranma ½: This is the attitude of many of the characters, but the one that showcases this to the highest levels of annoyance to the rest of the cast is Tatewaki Kuno, who believes himself to be a top-notch warrior and God's gift to women (if anything, he's the weakest of the whole cast and is pretty repugnant), and that Ranma Saotome is not only a womanizer that has managed to get Akane Tendo and "the pig-tailed girl" (who is really Ranma's female form) under his grasp, but that he is a "foul sorcerer" that has won every "fight" he's had with Kuno and has enslaved the 'pig-tailed girl' using his magic (and so defeating Ranma will not only release the 'girl', but make her instantly fall head-over-heels for Kuno). There is absolutely nothing, no amount of beat-downs or even changing forms in front of him, that will make him change his mind about Ranma.
  • Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions gives us Rikka Takanashi, who for the most part is just a Chuunibyou, but the one part of her fantasy that she absolutely will not let go of is that her old home still exists, and that her father is still alive on the other side of the "invisible boundary line".
  • Jiren of Dragon Ball Super has this in spades. Having lost his family, village, master and friends to a mysterious villain, he rejects The Power of Friendship in favor of Might Makes Right. He gladly and smugly espouses this viewpoint as a Hope Crusher, intending on smashing every bit of chance and hope of anything other than pure, unadulterated strength being the worthwhile power. However, when Goku ends up mastering Ultra Instinct and beats Jiren into the ground, he's told that he's gained this through the trust of his True Companions (and Frieza). Jiren cannot wrap his head around this concept at all and tries to disprove it by attempting to kill them. This proves to be a big mistake and ultimately leads to his downfall.
  • As far as Motoyasu from The Rising of the Shield Hero is concerned, he's the archetypical Knight in Shining Armor, the most powerful and virtuous of the Three Heroes, while the titular outcast Shield Hero Naofumi is the Devil incarnate, who's every action is pure, unforgivable evil and who's companions are unfortunate souls brainwashed into servitude, and that Malty is a pure, uncorrupted maiden who's never done anything wrong in her entire life. He'll never stop believing this no matter what the undeniable facts in front of him or even common sense says.
  • Phryne Jamil of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is very bad with this. She's a hideous frog faced woman who thinks herself as the World's Most Beautiful Woman who has men of all scores head over heels over her. What she refuses to believe is that the men she "tastes" are traumatized to the point of complete impotence rather than so utterly love-struck that they won't be "satisfied" by anyone else. Nothing can change her mind, not her own teammates who are rightfully disgusted to be around her or a damn mirror. Her delusion is so twisted that she thinks herself more beautiful than the story's actual goddess of beauty, and she had the balls to say it to the face of said goddess' Number Two, who promptly kills her both for her stupidity and for bad-mouthing his goddess.

    Comic Books 
  • Doctor Thirteen in The DCU is a crazy skeptic who doesn't believe in the supernatural despite living in a world where wizards and aliens are public celebrities. Because of his innate, unknown powers, the supernatural literally doesn't exist for him (but does for his beleaguered wife and his witch daughter). This is taken to the extreme in the Vertigo Visions one-shot, where Doctor Thirteen is so stubbornly refusing to believe in anything that might be supernatural or out of the ordinary he considers himself to be the sanest man in the world. He thinks his wife is needlessly exaggerating their problems even though he uses her money to fund his research without getting paid while constantly insulting her, and labels everything unusual he sees as a hoax or a scam. For example, when presented with TV footage of characters from old shows somehow popping up in other programs, everyone but Thirteen consented that there was something wrong. Thirteen just called everyone else crazy and stormed out of the room.
    • Detective Chimp notes how Thirteen kept wondering where "the ventriloquist" was, refusing to accept Chimp was an intelligent talking monkey. Keep in mind, it's well known that in the DCU, there's an entire city of talking apes.
    • It's taken to extremes in a few issues where Thirteen seriously doubts in the existence of Superman and even brushing off full-scale alien invasions as just "mass delusion to handle the trauma of a global disaster."
  • Brief squib in a Chick Tract, where one pagan character declares, "Well, I'm a Buddhist, so you don't exist!"
  • Doctor Doom lives in a world in which he is the hero and Reed Richards is responsible for nearly everything bad in his life, starting with his scarred face. It was Doom's own fault that the machine exploded scarring his face, but admitting that would mean admitting that Reed (who tried to warn him about the calculation errors) is smarter than him. Doom's ego is too huge to ever allow that, so he came up with the delusion that Reed "sabotaged" his machine. Case in point: in Axis the bonafide truth smacked him in the face thanks to the truth wave, created by Valeria Richards and Loki to combat the Red Skull's Hate Plague, and he rejected both! Which is either impressive or sad. Maybe both.
  • The entire push of Secret Empire is Steve Rogers convinced by Kobik that he lived the life of a long-term Hydra agent. He also believes Hydra was a noble group corrupted by the Nazis and the Axis won World War II but the Allies used the Cosmic Cube to rewrite reality. In the final issue, after the real Cap has returned, he confronts the captured Hydra!Cap and realizes the man still believes in the "history" he knows and won't accept it was all an invention of Kobik.

    Fan Fiction 

  • John Doe, the serial killer in Se7en. He imposes his own private view of the world by first inflicting gruesome punishments on "sinners", and finally forcing Mills to kill him, his own punishment for himself for the "sin" of envy.
  • Baron Münchhausen sometimes was used as an embodiment of this trope in a comedy variant. The character invokes the trope in the Terry Gilliam film of the story.
    The Baron: Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I am delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!
  • The Dungeonmaster is the Trope Namer. It isn't actually an example though; he was responding to an oddly-worded taunt about serving his enemy "in a future reality"; it's a Shut Up, Hannibal! if anything..
  • Cypher in The Matrix rejects reality outside of the Matrix, and his betrayal was motivated by a desire to go back into the Matrix permanently.
  • Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny becomes more and more obsessed with finding a quart of strawberries that (apparently) went missing from the ship's pantry as he becomes increasingly more unhinged that when the people who took the strawberries finally had enough of his constant hazing of the ship's crew to force the thief to come forth and confess, Queeg refuses their confession and continues to look for the man who copied the cook's key with a wax mold (among other steps needed to pull off the heist imagined through Insane Troll Logic).

  • Lady Schrapnell of To Say Nothing of the Dog, has as one of her mantras that "rules are meant to be broken". This includes the laws of time travel and physics. Time lag? No such thing, you're trying to shirk work with a lame excuse. Bring artifacts back from the past? Well, they find a loophole in the end but who cares if it can't be done? Too dangerous to send the black grad student back to do the work? Nonsense, it's only an air raid, how bad can it be?
  • Harry Potter:
    • Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is in utter denial about the return of Voldemort - by Order Of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic is outright denying the comeback until the battle in the Ministry itself forces the issue. On the other hand, Voldemort is specifically lying low to accommodate this, so....
    • This is taken Up to Eleven in A Very Potter Musical, with Fudge denying Voldemort's return not only after seeing Voldemort's latest Flootube post, but even while Voldemort's standing right in front of him. Killing him. "A heart attack! It's got to be!"
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • A group of Dwarves in The Last Battle decided that Aslan wasn't real so they couldn't see that they were in Aslan's Country, thinking they were in a small dark shack. When they were given wonderful food they ate it but thought it tasted like shit, because they expected food scavenged out of a dingy stable to taste like shit.
    • In The Magician's Nephew, there is a similar scene where the titular magician sees Aslan as just a lion that goes around growling at people.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four employs reality-rejection as a sociological tool (it is the trope namer for the Orwellian Retcon). The residents of that world will even reject their own reality, if it's no longer in accordance with new updates in doctrine.
    Eurasia had always been at war with Eastasia.
  • Atlas Shrugged: Among the book's themes is that the governments and the failed businesses are denying reality (in the form of what amounts to Objectivism: reality is objective, morality is not subjective, and all the capitalist and "man qua man" philosophy attached to it) and should be left to suffer the consequences. Let's not get into the debate about the merits of that argument here.
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Rust owns this trope, with his mind refusing to accept various conversations, and on one occasion an entire person. This seems to have some effect on reality as well; he is perhaps the worst general in fiction, but events always conspire to keep him from ever being killed (even though he's only ever lost battles, he's always survived them). Arrows will curve in their paths to miss him and hit the man behind him. He believes that just being an Ankh-Morpork aristocrat makes him unbeatable.
    • Reg Shoe in Night Watch is what happens when you cross a Conspiracy Theorist with The Only Believer and face him with his actual impact on the world. Vimes outright explains to him that absolutely no one on either side cares about who he is or what he does, with Reg's reaction being to continue further into its fantasy. He takes Ankh-Morpork's Full-Circle Revolution particularly hard, to the point where this characterization disappears in (chronologically) later appearances.
  • Discussed in British statesman Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son: "Doctor Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, a very worthy, ingenious, and learned man, has written a book, to prove that there is no such thing as matter, and that nothing exists but in idea: that you and I only fancy ourselves eating, drinking, and sleeping; you at Leipsig, and I at London: that we think we have flesh and blood, legs, arms, etc., but that we are only spirit. His arguments are, strictly speaking, unanswerable; but yet I am so far from being convinced by them, that I am determined to go on to eat and drink, and walk and ride, in order to keep that MATTER, which I so mistakenly imagine my body at present to consist of, in as good plight as possible." (letter 52)
  • Zeus, King of the gods from the Percy Jackson and The Heroes of Olympus series has a tendency to do this thanks to his pride much to the annoyance and detriment of the heroes and other gods. In the first, he denies the return of the Titans until presented with impossible to refuse evidence and by then it is too late to do anything to stop them before another war. In the second, he knows the giants are rising, but thinks ignoring the problem will cause it to go away and the gods do not need demigod help. This is despite several of the giants already having risen and knowing from past experience that the giants are impossible to kill without a mortal's help. Once again other gods and heroes have to work behind his back to save the world till he comes around and then he gets in a huff at being embarrassed when proven wrong.
  • Lady Granleigh from Mairelon the Magician constantly ignores others in favor of her version of events, but as she has considerable power most people don't call her out on it. Until the end of the book where she actually manages to ignore the entire summation of the plot and accuse the villain of something that they actually haven't done. The villain is the only one to call her out on it: "I congratulate you. I have never before met anyone with so great a talent for seeing the world as she wishes it to be."
  • In Come Nineveh, Come Tyre, U.S. President Ted Jason absolutely refuses to face the possibility that the Soviet Union is openly attacking the United States. Invasion of Alaska? Eh, the Soviet paratroopers got lost on a training mission. American soldiers being captured in Panama and sent to POW camps in the Ukraine? A friendly attempt to rescue those soldiers. Soviet ships blockading American fleets from escaping? They're just exercising their right to sea travel. Eventually, during an emergency summit in Moscow, the Soviet premier has to flat out state that the Soviet Union is trying to take over the world, which sends Jason into full Heroic BSoD mode.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Nale is convinced that the Desolation is not coming, despite several people telling him that they saw the tell-tale signs of it. In his reality, those are all either unconnected coincidences or remnants of the previous Desolation - at least until he sees the Voidbringers himself.
  • In The Witchlands, grief-maddened Merik is absolutely convinced that his sister was the one to kill him, even though there's no proof she was and a mountain of evidence against her involvement - evidence he refuses to acknowledge.
  • In Codex Alera, Senator Arnos would be a great commander except for two things: he's willing to sacrifice any number of troops to further his own career and he rejects anything that doesn't fit into how he sees the world. There's a new enemy out there, dangerous enough to completely chew up a Marat and an Aleran force and whose sole motivation is killing everything alive that's not it? Just lies. Marat are barbarians and can't be trusted, you know. The Canim have invented crossbows? Nope, Canim are just beasts who couldn't possibly innovate anything, and the sample crossbow that you have isn't enough evidence. The Canim are building ships in order to get away from Alera? Can't be, since Canim only exist to make Alerans miserable. Allowing them to build ships would just result in sea-going Canim raiders. Pretty much everyone else is aware of this and thinks Arnos a fool for it, but he's in a high enough position that he can't be ignored (and is being backed by Lady Aquitaine, who's using him as a pawn).
  • Sword of Truth: The Bandakar are philosophical skeptics who believes there's no reality as our senses are not reliable. When something goes wrong, they start chanting "Nothing is wrong" (until Richard easily shows this view is absurd).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andrew from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was very prone to twist facts, particularly concerning his time as a supervillain, in order to make a more interesting story, and on some level seemed to believe his outrageous claims, even when they contradicted the outrageous claims he made two minutes earlier.
  • Cheers: In her worse moments, Diane Chambers gets like this, refusing to listen to anyone telling her she and Sam don't belong together forever, even when that person is Sam himself. One episode in particular has a marriage counsellor telling her, at length, that their relationship is toxic and doomed. Diane keeps going back to "prove" he's wrong, dragging an entirely reluctant Sam with her, even as he exasperatedly tells her he's not testing them, and finally has a spectacular breakdown.
  • Chernobyl: Dyatlov, the engineer in charge of the fatal test, is absolutely in denial about what just happened, to the point of denying that there was any graphite debris when he saw some himself (graphite is only used in the core- seeing it elsewhere is bad news), and insisting he's fine even as he suffers clear symptoms of radiation poisoning. This being Chernobyl, his stubborness leads several men to their cruel and unusual deaths, when he sends them to do stuff like cool the core that just exploded and was beyond any help, which exposes them to lethal amounts of radiation.
  • Chandler from Friends does this in "The One With the Routine" regarding something under his gym bag.
    Chandler: You don’t… like go into the back of my closet, and look under my gym bag or anything?
    Phoebe and Rachel: No, we never do that! (They turn away and laugh)
    Chandler: Because that’s where Joey gave me some stuff to store that I’ve never seen before in my life! Okay, that did not just happen! (He does a weird clicky motion with his fingers)
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sansa Stark hates the world she lives in. In the real world, the truth is either boring or horrible, so she makes up stories in her mind to survive. This is taking a toll on her sanity.
    • In season 6's "Battle of the Bastards", Ramsey Bolton literally cannot accept the fact he's losing even when the charging armies of the Vale are slaughtering his men. When he retreats to his castle, he stuns his aides by telling the castle holders that "the Stark army is broken." When one man points out his army just got routed, Ramsey scoffs that it doesn't matter as the Starks don't have the manpower or the supplies to mount a siege. At which point, a giant smashes the door to the castle down to let Jon lead a charge. Ramsey then avoids taking a shot with an arrow as he thinks he can still weasel out of beating Jon. Even when Jon is beating the hell out of him, Ramsey just laughs as if thinking he's winning.
    • Even when tossed into a cell, Ramsey gloats to Sansa that he'll get out of this and they'll bow to the Bolton banner. At which point, Sansa reminds Ramsey that because he killed all his family, there are no more Boltons. She then introduces Ramsey's dogs who he spent days starving as he intended to feed Jon to them. Ramsey honestly believes his hounds will never turn on their master and is almost bored telling them to sit. It's when they keep coming that it breaks into Ramsey that their hunger is outweighing any "loyalty" and it takes their teeth sinking into him for Ramsey to finally accept he's lost in every way that matters.
    • By Season 7, Cersei Lannister. Oh so much. By this point she may be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms but she has effectively killed the Lannister dynasty and alienated literally everyone else on the continent, and Daenarys' superior forces are pouring in to bring her down. Only by Jaime's martial brilliance do the Lannisters manage to win a few battles, but even he realises they're fighting an unwinnable war. She doesn't listen to him. Later she dismisses the threat posed by the Night King despite seeing a zombie with her own eyes, and seems insistent that she can still win the war; just because she correctly guesses that Daenarys dragons are killable, she believes that she can destroy both Daenarys' and the Night King's forces just by hiring enough mercenaries, this despite her scorpion ballista failed to critically injure Drogon one bit, let alone kill him, and the Night King possesses means to kill Daenarys' dragons very easily. She pretty much doesn't care if Westeros is ravaged and destroyed by the armies of the dead, as long as she still gets to sit on the throne.
    • In season 8, Cersei is completely unable to accept how Daenerys' forces are taking over King's Landing. She insists "the Iron Fleet will hold them" despite how the fleet is currently burning, the walls have fallen and her sellswords are running for their lives and her own troops surrendering rather than stay and fight the Unsullied. Even when she finally meets her end, Cersei seems to not grasp how her actions have led the entire kingdom to ruin. It's remarkable she even acknowledges the Keep (which she had stated was "the safest part of the city" is literally burning around her.
  • Much of the time MythBusters is devoted to debunking nutty hypotheses - free energy, Moon landing hoax and so on. Adam may also have been quoting the old 80s film The Dungeonmaster.
  • In Kamen Rider Gaim, DJ Sagara tells Kota that since power can only be used to destroy, if he wants to protect people, he should reject and destroy the rule of reality that hope can only be won with sacrifice.
  • Gul Dukat in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a master at remembering any event in his life in a way that makes him feel better — especially if it involves the occupation, in which he was a benevolent father to a planet of ungrateful Bajorans. So is Elim Garak.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000 the bots spin a complicated yarn about the existence of a Carnival Magic Cinematic Universe, comprised of sequels, spin offs, and a reboot which to their surprise Jonah seems to believe every word least until they take it even further and invent a phony trailer park based production studio. Leading to this exchange.
    Jonah: Were any of those movies real?
    Tom: Of course not, Jonah!
    Crow: I just watched Carnival Magic and I'm not even sure that was real.
    Jonah: That's a good point...did we even watch a movie just now?
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, "Real S.H.I.E.L.D." does this a lot. They frequently criticize Coulson's actions, and try to brush off any (factual) counterarguments they get. This is done most frequently with his decision to go to ancient city with alien artifacts. Whenever it's pointed out that was done to deny HYDRA powerful weapons, they always try to twist things so that HYDRA doesn't matter. They also blame Fury's tendency towards secrets as the reason S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, once again smoothly ignoring that that was HYDRA.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrrrrrr's analysis of Neville Shunt's play which uses railway timetables as metaphors for a murder mystery goes on to say that "reality is illusion and the ambiguity is the only truth." Only the truth can't exist because the ambiguity within the play's context has made no room for it.
  • Lorna on Orange Is the New Black, mostly due to her serious mental problems.
    • In the first season, Lorna talks of her fiancee Christopher and how he's waiting for her to get out of jail. She seems heartbroken to hear he's moved on and engaged to someone else. In season 2, flashbacks reveal that Christopher is a man she went on one date with then ruthlessly stalked. At her trial for trying to put a bomb into the car of his real girlfriend, Christopher is talking on how he had to change homes and jobs twice while Lorna is smiling to her lawyer. "It sounds worse than it was."
    • In season 6, Lorna marries Vince and gives birth to a child. In the final season, Vince breaks it to her that their son died after a short illness. Lorna is in total denial over it to the point of setting up her own Instagram account using pictures of other babies and telling everyone they're her son. When Vince talks to her, he sees she's so far gone that he has to divorce her. The final episode has Lorna in a mental ward in Florida still talking as if her son is alive.
  • Played for Laughs on the Saturday Night Live "Bill Swerski's Superfans" skit. The group always believes "da Bears" will emerge victorious no matter what the current state of the team is or who their opponent is. Any time the team loses, they either assume Coach Ditka threw the game for a noble cause or flat out ignore it happened.
    Bob Swerski: So far, da Bears are four and eight. And although they are technically mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, do not count them out.
  • The short-lived comedy Sunnyside has disgraced city councilman Garrett often in denial on how his drunken arrest caught on video has ruined what was already a pretty rough political career. The opening scene has him living in his office as he's dead broke due to overspending massively, thinking he could never lose his job. When a woman enters to kick him out, he tells her that "this is all going to blow over" and she's amazed he doesn't get he's been fired.
    Diana: The council voted to remove you. Unanimously.
    Garrett: (scoffing) "Unanimously?" What does that even mean?

  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Sarge. Nothing will convince him that he isn't a brilliant mechanic, that the Blue Team is not their diabolical and dastardly enemy, or that Grif could ever make Sergeant - to the point where when they reunite and "Sergeant Grif" is introduced, he asks where the invisible officer with the unfortunate name is. Somehow, he still manages to be a more competent leader than the other Reds, and is something of a Genius Ditz when it comes to warfare.
    • To a lesser extent, Caboose also fits this, combining it heavily with Cloudcuckoolander. When Church has to jump inside his head, we see just what sort of "reality" Caboose sees: Church (who can't stand Caboose in reality) is his overprotective best friend, Tucker is even more of an idiot than usual, Caboose himself is smart and erudite, Sarge has a pirate accent, Grif wears yellow, Donut (pink armor!) is a girl, and Sister is Church's yellow-wearing identical twin with a personality identical to the real Church instead of Caboose's made-up Church.

  • Doctor Steel is crazy. And a big believer in visualization and subjective reality. He calls himself a "Doctor of Reality Engineering."
  • Imaginary by Evanescence.
    "Don't say I'm out of touch, with this rampant chaos, your reality.
    I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge:
    The nightmare I built my own world to escape...."
  • In Deathspell Omega's The Furnaces of Palingenesia, this is a major part of The Order's philosophy
    We shall make you so impervious to the world that should all the Angels descend upon you and prove you wrong, you would simply shut your eyes and stop your ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard. Our teachings shall shield you from the world and turn you into an island in dead waters with high cliffs and no coves

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For Better or for Worse: When Luke, Candace's mother's boyfriend, tries to molest Candace, Candace's mother declares that "It never happened," establishing herself with this and crossing the Moral Event Horizon. It may not be done out of malice, but a defense mechanism to avoid the pure horror of considering the alternative.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes can be quoted thus: "It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Genius: The Transgression:
    • The game has the Unmada, Mad Scientists who believe they alone understand the truth. Unmada are low level Reality Warpers who unknowingly prove themselves right and censor contradictory facts. Then there are the Baramins of Lemuria, whole organisations of Unmada sharing similar delusions based around a key point where mankind went off in the wrong direction, and they're going to fix it. Any way they can...
    • The most triumphant example would have to be the Phenomenologists: The Baramin for people who believe mankind made a fundamental mistake when it acknowledged the existence of hard facts or any philosophy more consistent than personal whim. They casually reinvent their entire worldview to justify whatever they're doing and it is almost impossible to realise when one is lying simply because from their point of view they're always telling the truth.
  • Mage: The Ascension:
    • The game featured Marauders, mages who had something strange happen during their Awakening that drove them mad. As a direct result of that, they're more powerful than other mages, as Paradox slides off of them and onto others, meaning they can get away with the most blatant of magic without reality grabbing them by the short hairs. However, they're also locked in their own delusions, and if they get powerful enough, reality rejects them.
      • Some of them also literally had the ability to "substitute their own": they would (in a manner totally unconnected to their actual power level as a mage) unconsciously warp the reality around them to conform to their delusion. So a Marauder who believed himself to be a Nature Hero would walk down the street transforming buildings into gigantic old growth trees, cars into elephants or lions, and people into natives... and then they would all change back as soon as he left the area.
    • To a lesser extent, this is how all Awakened magick works: the mage identifies a fact he doesn't like and imposes his will to alter that fact. Of course, if the fact in question is obvious enough, reality tends to impose back, often painfully.
  • The Magic: The Gathering card Deny Reality, which lets you send a card back to your opponent's hand, seemingly because you just refuse to believe that much.
  • Played for horror/tragedy with Elena Faithhold, Darklord of Nidalia in Ravenloft. Originally The Paladin to Belenus, a goodly sun god, she allowed herself to become The Fundamentalist and from there The Heretic as she began leading a murderous crusade to forcibly convert everyone to worship of Belenus alone, which is how she got drawn into Ravenloft. Thing is, Elena completely refuses to accept that her crimes are her own fault, or even that she has even committed any crimes; she still ardently believes she's The Paladin and fails to notice how she no longer hears from Belenus or that most of her powers are either missing or mutated — most prominently, her Detect Evil power has been replaced by "Detect Strong Emotion Aimed At Me", but she still believes that she's detecting evil, even though nobody else in the demiplane can use that trait. In at least one edition, every so often, the sheer weight of her crimes causes her to have a mental breakdown, causing her to go galloping through her domain on her horse, weeping over her fallen status. Once the fit is over, however, the denial goes back up again and she's back to being a murderous fundamentalist again.
    • This is actually a trait of all darklords in Ravenloft to some extent or another; any one of them could escape the demiplane of dread if they could admit what they had done wrong that got them trapped there in the first place, but each and every one has a strong case of Never My Fault, so all of them reject reality.
  • Vampire: The Requiem: Zagreus the Liar is a 3000-year-old vampire with effortless Glamour, a highly mythologized interpretation of his own history, a bad case of Immortal Immaturity, the unique power to Curse an entire region by dictating things that will happen in its future (if not when or how), and a tendency to lash out when he gets bored. It's a bad combination.

    Video Games 
  • The Soldier of Team Fortress 2. In his Excuse Plot backstory it's mentioned that he was rejected from the U.S. military but went to fight World War II anyway. By himself. And he only stopped killing Germans when he heard that the war was over. In 1949.
  • In the Xenosaga series, this is revealed to be how the Gnosis alien race thinks, and in fact, what makes them literally exist: The rejection of reality as it is.
  • The Qunari in Dragon Age are masters of willful ignorance whenever they have to deal with people who don't fit perfectly into the Qun. For example, it's established that only men can be soldiers. The fact that some of those soldiers happen to lack certain male attributes (as in, all of them) is irrelevant. They're soldiers, so they can't be women. Alternatively they'll be shunted into one of the many combat roles that are not, strictly and technically, "soldiers" (it's a caste thing). Same goes for mages. Under the Qun, mages are dangerous things ("saarebas" literally means dangerous thing) that must be chained and leashed at all times. Anyone who earns the Qunari's respect that is able to use magic is not considered a mage. They are considered non-mages who just happen to be able to launch fireballs from their hands.
    • The Iron Bull of Dragon Age: Inquisition shows this off in greater detail. He considers all warriors men, as long as they're suited up. Thus his Lieutenant Krem, a transgender man, always qualifies as male in his eyes while Bull only classes Cassandra, a cisgender woman, as male when she wears armor. This is because the Qunari can accept transgender individuals as long as that individual still conforms to gender roles. Similarly, while he's terrified of spirits and demons Cole is okay because "you may be a weird squirrely kid, but you're my weird squirrely kid."
    • Sera of Dragon Age: Inquisition takes this to an even more baffling degree than many Qunari. She fights for the "common people" however she strictly defines "common people" as "non-noble, non-mage humans or surface dwarves." The Dalish? They weird common humans out so they must deserve what they get. City elves? Deserve what they get for being too "elfy". Mages? Their power scares other people so they deserve to be locked up in the Circle system. Any amount of oppression faced by any group she does not like is that group's own fault and any part of the world that does not fit her worldview is "stupid". She will use any number of fallacies to argue her points and does not like being disagreed with, even if it's to offer a third option to a seemingly black and white question. She gets a little better in the epilogue DLC Trespasser and undergoes a bit of character development there.
  • Halfway into Spec Ops: The Line, protagonist Captain Walker already ignored his orders to simply scout out the situation and instead gotten involved in Dubai's conflict, leading to his team making enemies of the American soldiers stationed there. When he uses white phosphorus mortars to clear out an enemy camp and finds the corpses of dozens of civilians in the aftermath, Walker snaps. He blames everything on the renegade Colonel Konrad and declares that he never had a choice in proceeding, and continues to go forward with his "mission" of making the colonel and the 33rd Infantry pay for what "they" did. It's only at the end of the game, when he sees Konrad's corpse, that Walker is forced to confront the truth.
  • Captain Cook in Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest is deathly afraid of ghosts and her character arc involves investigating a way to overcome that fear. She does so by coming to the conclusion that ghosts do not actually exist and, therefore, that isn't what she's fighting against despite the fact the player's party faces off against numerous ghost units and one of the playable characters is a ghost herself.
  • Fallout 4's DLC has Dara Hubble, leader of the Hubologists, who has brought her followers to the Nuka-World amusement park in search of a spaceship that will take her and her followers to the alien paradise that is the center of their religion. The player character, being considerably smarter than her, can point out that the "spaceship" she's so fixated on is nothing more than a decommissioned Gravitron ride. Dara promptly claims that the player's mind is too "limited by Neurodynes" to see the truth available to her, with her "expanded mental powers". This can come back to bite her; if the player fully charges up the ride, its broken controls means it proceeds to whip her and the rest of her followers around so hard that they are all torn apart by the centrifugal forces.
  • Salvatore in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice believes so strongly in her own authority over everyone (including people she is currently battling), that she frequently gives them completely impossible instructions to follow, and is incapable of understanding that her requests are unreasonable, even in the crazy Disgaea universe. This has interesting results in her DLC scenario in Disgaea D2 when she meets the Lawful Stupid Barbara, who is so conditioned to follow orders that she actually obeys.
    Salvatore: Master Big Star, you will burrow underground and attack me with 5,000,000°C magma! Aim for my heart! The rest of you, transform into a giant invincible robot and blast the area with a -5000°C blizzard!
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: At the end of the game, Batman is unmasked as Bruce Wayne by Scarecrow on live television. The Riddler refuses to believe it, telling Batman he's far too smart to fall for such a trick. In essence, this is an impossibly large ruse with everyone working together to fool him. The fact that literally everyone else sees it as the truth is taken by him as proof of it being a lie, since he's clearly smarter than them anyway.
  • At the end of the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series, if Batman chooses to reveal his identity to Big Bad Vicki Vale, she cannot wrap her head around the truth as she's convinced that Bruce is just as bad as his father, Thomas it's rejected and claims that he uses his identity as Batman to prey on the innocent

    Visual Novels 
  • Maria from Umineko: When They Cry insists on the existence of witches, especially Beatrice; if her reality is chipped away, she can get frightfully unhinged yet more stubbornly assured. Natsuhi dearly clings to the delusion that Kinzo loved and respected her, with no evidence whatsoever.

    Web Comics 
  • An inversion of the trope: A Loonatic's Tale Issue #4: "Talking To Myself," is about Dr. Qubert giving the main characters a mental health interview; Dr. Qubert's own personal philosophy on the treatment of mental disorders is that if he can see reality the way his patient does, he can understand what makes him see it that way and the best way to fix it. So in a very real sense he works by temporarily rejecting his own reality, so that he can see how his patient needs to change their reality to bring it in line with what's medically considered normal.
  • The Order of the Stick's Knight Templar, Miko Miyazaki. Once she gets it into her head that someone is evil, nothing on heaven and earth will change her mind, not even if the gods themselves were to smite her. Literally - she loses her alignment and paladin-hood when she kills her mentor, Lord Shojo, thinking he's a traitor. She dies thinking she did the right thing.
  • Ensign Sue Must Die: Ensign Sue is totally convinced that she's the protagonist of a suefic, and always acts as if everyone else fits into one. She rejects any evidence that reality does not work that way and that her crewmates are trying to get rid of her by any means necessary. For example, when Spock fires a phaser at her (she survives), she thinks that he was trying to give a demonstration to her and the phaser went off accidentally. When she's Brought Down to Normal in the sequel, she is forcibly dragged back into reality.
  • 8-Bit Theater. If a character is around long enough they will do this at some point. Highlights include Fighter's belief that he's best friends with Black Mage, and everything involving King Steve or Red Mage. Of course, oftentimes the "crazy" person's version of reality will be right, usually because it's funnier that way.
  • Goblins: The Maze of Many arc had an alternate universe version of Minmax who was a super intelligent Psion. He decided that since the universe is so flawed, he would remove himself (and hundreds of other people who don't share his goal) from reality. While this is itself not an example of the trope - he recognizes that reality isn't what he wants it to be - he slips into this a few times on the way to fulfilling his goal. For example, he claims upon killing someone, that he didn't ask the universe to make death possible, it just works that way, so he's done no wrong. He even accuses others of deluding themselves into thinking they have an Omniscient Morality License, while having that exact delusion.
  • Dr. Phage in Awful Hospital sees the titular run-down, grimy, dysfunctional hospital as a bright, cartoony, impeccably functional facility with staff who agree with everything he says. Justified in that Reality Is Out to Lunch in the setting, where a person's reality depends on what they're able and willing to perceive; and unknown Eldritch Abominations are sabotaging the very concepts of sickness and health that make the hospital exist.

    Web Original 
  • Filbert from Ruby Quest. He's one of the few who knows anything about what happened to the Metal Glen, but it's all mixed up in his madness. He believes that there is an infection ravaging the facility, and that its spread can be stopped by emergency amputation, and at the same time he remembers that what actually happened was that the Metal Glen's doctors administrated a treatment to their patients that cured all the patient's ailments, including conditions present since birth, and even removed the need to eat or drink. The higher-ups then prescribed it to everyone, and Filbert enthusiastically followed their orders. The treatment turned out to be part of an Eldritch Abomination and its use caused the facility to fall into the state it was in at the beginning of the quest. The only thing he is absolutely certain of is that he is the only one that's clean, and no amount of Body Horror will convince him that he is wrong.
  • In the How Did This Get Made? episode on the movie Sleepwalkers, June Diane Raphael flatly refuses to acknowledge that the eponymous Sleepwalker creatures are a mother and son in the midst of Parental Incest. Co-host Jason Mantzoukas wastes no time needling her about it throughout the episode.
  • Unfortunately common on Not Always Right, where way too many customers hear "we don't perform this service", "you're not supposed to do that", and "that is literally impossible given the laws of physics" as "Go ahead with whatever you're doing, and we'll take responsibility when it inevitably fails".
  • In Eurogamer's Bloodborne Let's Play, after killing Father Gascoigne with the Saw Cleaver, Johnny Chiodini insists that it was actually the Kirhammer, his favourite weapon, and goes so far as to upgrade it as a reward for its performance.

    Western Animation 
  • This is pretty much the embodiment of Cartman's character on South Park.
    • The episode "Fishsticks" has Jimmy and Cartman (mostly Jimmy) come up with a ridiculously popular joke. Over the course of the episode, we keep seeing Cartman's flashbacks of how they came up with it, each more glorifying Cartman than the last. In the end, Cartman has himself so convinced he SOLELY came up with the joke, that he won't admit otherwise, even when threatened with death, and has himself convinced that Jimmy is the delusional one for remembering accurately.
    • Best evidenced when, after getting completely thrashed by Wendy, he decides that the other boys saying they never thought he was cool meant that they were trying to spare his feelings, thus proving he was cool.
  • In All Grown Up!, Dil is a Cloudcuckoolander who believes the world is triangular, among other ridiculous things, and won't be persuaded otherwise.
  • This seems to be Peep's attitude toward Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes. No matter how angrily or violently she rejects his advances, Peep is convinced she's just teasing, and that Heloise will love him too. Not helping is the fact that Heloise did date him, but only to make Jimmy jealous.
  • Invader Zim. The title character is convinced that he's the greatest Irken Invader ever; completely oblivious to the fact that he's an incompetent, insane dolt who's hated by his entire species. Well he's right, from a certain point of view. If his goal was to take over or destroy the Irken Empire, then he would be considered remarkably competent. He has on his resume: killing two Tallests with a monster he created, wiping out the fleet of Operation Impending Doom I, setting most of Irk ablaze in that same incident, destroying an Irken Boot Camp, defeating Irk's most competent soldier, doing so in a dogfight against a superior spacecraft, hijacking the Irken Armada, and the Tallests' attempts to get rid of him tend to backfire horribly, including resulting in Invader Tenn being captured by Meekrobians, Irk's most dangerous enemy.
  • Steven Universe. Ronaldo Fryman, upon hearing his insane conspiracy theories proven false:
    Ronaldo: Don't get hung up on these minor facts! Truth is about more than that! Truth is a feeling in your gut that you know is true! Truth is searching for anything that proves you're right no matter how small, and holding on to that, no matter what.
    Steven: That kinda sounds like the opposite of truth.
  • Thanks to Selective Obliviousness, Helga on The Oblongs believes she's thin and beautiful, has hundreds and hundreds of boyfriends, and she is one of the popular kids.
  • The Simpsons has a minor example in one episode, when Nelson is shown treasuring what seems to be a Disneyland photograph of himself with Snow White.
    Detective: You know, she's just an actress.
    Nelson: Shut up! Some of us prefer illusion to despair!

"What do you mean that guy from MythBusters wasn't the first one to say it?"

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