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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.

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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. May overlap with In the Dreaming Stage of Grief if they rationalize this as "That was All Just a Dream". Believing Their Own Lies is the logical conclusion if they continue. When applied to a series, this is Fanon Discontinuity.

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Compare Gravity Is Only a Theory, Windmill Political and Theory Tunnelvision. 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. Also contrast the Reality Warper, who can actually reject your reality and substitute their own.

In Real Life, it is unfortunately so common and politically charged that we won't list any examples.


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Examples

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    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 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.
  • J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man comics has an unhealthy tendency to make people who correctly believe that Spider-Man is a hero to have second thoughts. He also refuses to believe that Spider-Man himself is a hero and just sees him a disruptive force of destruction. In many adaptations, this is one of his Flanderized qualities taken Up to Eleven.

    Film 
  • 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!
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 goading Mills into killing him, his own punishment for himself for the "sin" of envy.

    Machinima 
  • 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.

    Music 
  • Doctor Steel is crazy. And a big believer in visualization and subjective reality. He calls himself a "Doctor of Reality Engineering."
  • 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.
  • Thanks to the way their unique brand of Psychic Powers works, Warhammer 40,000's Orks can do this and quite literally substitute their own. For all intents and purposes, their shootas should explode in their hands as soon as they pull the trigger, their Gargants should collapse under their own weight, and their spaceships should be unable to hover a few inches off the ground, let alone blast off into space and travail the perils of the Warp. But if enough Orks believe otherwise, their psychic powers will make it a reality.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Maria 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 as a daughter-in-law, with no evidence whatsoever. This is especially apparent once it's made clear that all the moments where Kinzo seems to be praising and encouraging Natsuhi were all in Natsuhi's head, as it's later confirmed that Kinzo has been Dead All Along.

    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.
  • Slightly Damned: Kazai Suizhan has been so thoroughly indoctrinated by Angel-Supremacist dogma that it ends up turning him against his sister, because 'she continues to delude herself' that angels and demons are not so different. This is best shown when he uses the raid on Saint Curtis as an excuse to treat demons as worthless beasts, ignoring the speed at which Saint Curtis has been re-growing thanks to the efforts of all races.
  • Girl Genius: Othar's spunky assistants and student heroes are people who want absolutely nothing to do with him but who can't get that through Othar's skull. He seems to think they're all just wandering off or goofing around when they try to escape him and merrily catches them and drags them back.

    Web Original 
  • SF Debris: It's a Running Gag in Chuck's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reviews that Dukat regularly re-imagines his interactions with the DS9 crew to better suit his own delusional self-image.
    Gul Dukat: (After Major Kira throws a glass at his head) "Why Major, I would love to have a drink with you, but duty calls."
  • 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".
    • Not exclusive to customers. In this story, not only the college students but also the professors keep trying to use the one computer that's supposed to be installing a lengthy-but-vital security update, every one ripping off the "DO NOT TOUCH" sign because they all think it can't possibly apply to them. The tech has to stay after their shift so they can finish the update after the office is closed.
  • 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.
  • In RWBY, this is Ironwood's problem; No matter how many times it fails, no matter how often it enables the villains' plans, no matter what anyone tells him, Ironwood always assumes that his extremist ideas are the best way forward, and blames whatever failures occurred on other people.

    Western Animation 
  • In All Grown Up!, Dil is a Cloudcuckoolander who believes the world is triangular, among other ridiculous things, and won't be persuaded otherwise.
  • Infinity Train: As season 3 goes on, Grace and Simon are confronted with more and more evidence that they completely misunderstood the nature of the Train (Passenger numbers are supposed to go down not up, One-One is the real conductor rather than a fake, etc.). While Grace begins altering her perceptions, Simon just sinks further and further into denial, to the point he almost looks delusional; as Amelia explains the Train's history to him, he can do nothing but repetitively shout that she's wrong like a child, and begins lashing out at Grace for not agreeing with his perception of the Train.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

"What? No MythBusters. What the hell is "Dungeonmaster"?"
 
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Peter's Advice

In a deleted scene, Peter advises Lois to reject reality.

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