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I Thought Everyone Could Do That

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Haley: Celia... humans can't shoot energy out of our fingers.
Celia: Really? Not even lightning?

Someone has an unusual talent. The twist is, they don't know it's a talent; it comes so naturally to them that they just assume that everyone else can do it too.

Generally, characters like this are either a Cloudcuckoolander, Captain Oblivious, a Fish out of Water, or very young and inexperienced. Depending on the feat, this can also be an Achievement in Ignorance. Truth in Television — you can only experience your own mind, so it makes sense to assume that others' minds work the same way unless proven otherwise.

For the opposite trope, see Giftedly Bad, which is for a character who think they have great talents in something they are actually awful at.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aisia from Da Capo Second Season starts off believing that the ability to use magic is so common that the school Asakura attends must be an academy for teaching magic. Obviously she is wrong.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku thought that every boy has a tail. Amusingly, when he tells Bulma, she gets upset that she still doesn't know about the male anatomy at her age.
    • When the group needs to get across a deadly booby-trapped hallway, Goku and Krillin easily jump across. Goku says to Bulma it's her turn, and Bulma angrily yells that there's no way she can jump that far. Goku is surprised.
    • In the sequel series, Dragon Ball Z, the first time Gohan goes to school, he ends up playing baseball. He grew up among superhuman fighters and didn't realize that the average person can't jump 30 feet into the air. When he does realise it, he covers it up as a "fluke" and tries to hide his superhuman strength, and does so by not hitting a pitch while batting. What he didn't realise is that while doing so, he took the full impact of a fastball directly to his head without flinching — which was done by a Jerk Jock with the intention of making him flinch and recoil in shock and/or fear to embarrass him — which is something that the average person cannot do, and so, while Gohan thought that he lucked out, everyone around him stood stunned. By a similar margin, he's caught off-guard at the idea of having to teach Videl about ki and manipulating it in order to fly; while he realizes that flight is a rare skill, he never considered that the concept of ki would be such an unknown to people.note 
    • Watching Goku's fight with Cell, Gohan doesn't realize that the other Z Fighters can't track Goku's movements the entire time, thinking that Goku is holding back.
    • On Earth, sensing ki is a basic ability that even the absolute weakest Z Fighter is capable of by the time the Saiyans arrived. Despite this, off-world, this is apparently an extremely rare ability, and no one in Frieza's entire army is capable of it and they have to rely on the use of Scouters. The heroes take this so much for granted that it's halfway through his fight with Final Form Frieza before Goku realizes that Frieza can't do it, much to his surprise.
    • Likewise, suppressing one's power level is a common, basic ability on Earth and Namek that, again, even the weakest members of the cast are capable of. However, off-world this ability is completely unheard of outside transformations like Zarbon and Frieza's, which allows the heroes to hide from them on Namek or ambush an enemy by powering up. Vegeta manages to ambush and kill off Cui and Dodoria using this, as they don't realize he's now strong enough to curbstomp them until it's too late. Only Captain Ginyu seems to have heard of the ability before in some mutants (such as himself), and therefore he isn't caught off-guard by the fact that Goku is hiding his power… though he’s caught off-guard by just how much power Goku is hiding.
    • Goten stumbles into this trope by naïveté. He accidentally goes Super Saiyan when sparring with his mother, Chi-Chi, and is surprised at how shocked Gohan is at his ability to do it (his best friend Trunks has the same with his father Vegeta). Goten is also surprised that Videl doesn't know anything about ki or utilizing it.
  • Nanami Jinnai in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is immune to illusions, but doesn't detect them, so when she happens to warn her friends about one, it's through blind luck. ("I thought everyone saw what I did.")
  • As in Eureka Seven AO has the ability to see trapar particles, which are invisible to the naked eye. He always assumed they were part of the wind and that everyone could see them.
  • A variant appears in Fullmetal Alchemist, during the first fight with Father. He turns off the alchemy, but Scar and May can still transmute; unbeknownst to Father, their techniques aren't actually alchemy.
    Envy: How can you use alchemy here?!
    [Scar and May glance at each other]
    Scar: ...what do you mean?
  • Hajime no Ippo: Woli is a 17 year-old boxer from an isolated island in Indonesia, whose physical abilities are nothing less than genius. In his match with Ippo, Woli performs a bunch of techniques that other high-level boxers are famous for but which none of them ever possessed all at the same time, and in fact comes up with these techniques by pure intuition without having ever seen them performed by anyone else. On top of this, Woli's unique movement patterns and the angles at which he is able to dodge or throw a punch are completely outside the box. While observing the fight, Ippo's senpai Takamura remarks that, "For someone like Woli, I don’t think he gets surprised by the stuff that other people can do, but by the stuff that other people can’t do."
  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: Shera L. Greenwood has had the ability to see magical power flowing through the air since she was a child. It took her a while to find out that it takes a lot of training for other people to learn how to do that.
  • At the beginning of Hunter × Hunter, Gon doesn't seem to know that most people can't follow a person in the middle of a forest by the scent of their aftershave.
  • Naoki in Itazura Na Kiss thinks his Photographic Memory is normal.
  • Tohru and Kanna from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid initially believe that Earth is a World of Badass like the one they come from after having watched The Matrix. It comes as a genuine shock to them when Kobayashi reveals that Earth humans can't fire energy beams or perform feats of superhuman strength.
  • Cleverly played with in One Piece. When Luffy becomes friends with the inhabitants of Amazon Lily (who are all women by the way), all of them think that Luffy is the poster boy for men. Their logic is that since he can stretch, other men must be able to stretch as well.
  • Tiger & Bunny's Keith Goodman sometimes forgets that other people can't fly.
    Keith: Why are you hesitating? Get up here!
    Ivan: I can't!
    Keith: Why not! Remember, you said you'd do your best!
    Ivan: I don't have flight.
    Keith: ...Ah, that explains it.

    Comic Books 
  • In his honeymoon edition, Spider-Man mocks the idea that his web fluid was notable in any way and thought any idiot could do the same, but Fireheart's scientists made one that breaks easily, unlike his which is much more durable.
  • Aquaman in the JLA: Year One series expresses this. He doesn't think of his abilities as powers because everyone can do it where he comes from. Likewise, Martian Manhunter thinks of his abilities more as "skills" or "gifts of will" rather than powers.
  • The Impossible Man from Marvel once watched a human fall from a building until she was rescued. When asked why he did nothing to attempt to save her, he said that he was wondering what she was going to shapeshift into to save herself, as that's what he would have done if he was in her situation.
  • In Runaways, Klara originally believed that everyone was capable of communicating with plants. Her horrified, god-fearing parents responded by sending her off to live with an abusive older man who beat her until she learned to suppress her abilities.
  • When Squirrel Girl makes an appearance in All-New Wolverine, we learn that she has been operating under the assumption that all Animal-Themed Superbeings can communicate with the animal they're named after. In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, this belief results in a montage of her going to a whole bunch of feline-themed people to find one who can talk to cats. None could, but she ends up finding a talking cat who refuses to help.
  • Donna Dunlap from the Heroes comics thought everyone had Telescopic Vision and Innate Night Vision when she was a child.
  • Wonder Woman: Diana herself is usually quite grounded and well aware of the limitations of regular humans compared to herself and other Amazons. However, when fellow Amazon Mala ended up in New York after getting kicked out of her airplane back during the Golden Age she had a very difficult time adjusting to the difference in power levels and didn't quite understand that regular people can't just pick up a truck or punch through a stone wall.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dæmorphing, the Hork-Bajir take for granted that they're the only species who can see the Dust and are confused when others say they can't.
  • In the My Little Pony fanfic The Son of the Emperor, Twilight is surprised by the fact that something as mundane as lifting books or opening a door with magic is unheard of outside of Equestria. This is because unicorns are not allowed to practice magic beyond certain strict limits, and most of them can't perform even the most basic tasks.
  • At the end of the Animorphs fanfic The Thing from Another World, everyone is surprised when Tom partially morphs his face into a snake's just to freak Marco out. Tom thinks it's just basic morphing, but is dumbfounded when the others explain that only rare estreens can morph one body part at a time.
  • Tristan of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series thinks that if you get angry, you turn into The Incredible Hulk. When told the truth, he says he thought everyone could do it.
  • In Serpentine Harry turns out to have a rare Potter family ability to animate his own artwork. When questioned he says "I thought lots of people were able to do that."
  • In The Student Prince, Merlin doesn't realize that his magical ability is extraordinary even among sorcerers. He can stop time, expand his mind to cover thousands of miles and talk to Kilgharrah, and it's only when Gaius and Morgana tells him that he learns how unusual such talents are.
  • In The Fifth Act, Cloud thought he was rather average in Soldier strength and speed since his only basis for comparison was Sephiroth and Zack and spent most of his career training to catch up. When he joins SOLDIER, Cloud is surprised that he's actually unique even among SOLDIER and is faster and stronger than any of them, including Sephiroth.
  • In build your wings on the way down, Edward has an unfortunate habit of assuming that every alchemist knows the details of more advanced alchemy such as talking chimeras being made out of humans and chimeras being products of soul alchemy. This results him in thinking that Roy Mustang is a monster since he approved of Shou Tucker, not knowing that Roy doesn't know what Tucker did.
  • The Sanctuary Telepath: Janine thought her Source Blood-given abilities were the standard between telepaths. Ranna explains to her that what she can do even in Hollow Earth counts as terrific.
  • Family Of The Shield After speaking with the other three Heroes about how to further empower their Legendary Weapons using their individual methods, Naofumi Iwatani casually mentions that he has four Random Drop Booster Shields; which he had unlocked after feeding an Usapil, Gold, Silver, and Copper Coin to his shield. Cue the surprise from Naofumi that had unlocked these Item Drop Bonuses on Day One of being in Melromarc while the other three that only knew about the Usapil method but didn't think to feed any of their own money to their Legendary Weapons in the months they've all been in Melromarc to unlock those same Drop Bonuses.
  • In The Great Alicorn Hunt, Pinkie's pinkie powers are explained to be the result of a rare form of earth magic that lets her perceive and operate in many more dimensions than the norm.
    Pinkie: You mean nopony else can see this stuff? So that's why my friends act all funny when I take my special shortcuts, or I get stuff out of my special hiding places! That's so weird!
    Luna smiled to herself. It was all a matter of perspective. While Pinkie's antics may have been baffling to her friends, their inability to understand was just as bewildering to her. It would be like living with ponies who couldn't use windows or doors.
  • Fates Collide: Mash Kyrielight is mystified when she finds out Jaune Arc's sword doesn't have any special abilities, since in her homeland, all weapons have a special property.
  • Percy in Son of the Western Sea assumes that his ship control powers are just part of the parcel of being a child of Poseidon. Both Poseidon and Athena refer to it as an unexpected power, as while sailors prayed to Poseidon it was usually in his role as a god of storms and he admits not being much of a sailor. Both put it down to just being an unusual quirk as a side effect of being the single most powerful demigod child Poseidon has ever fathered and his resulting Combo Platter Powers. After all, it isn’t like the time a child of Zeus developed power over fruit…
  • While very separate fanfics, both Avenger of Steel and Infinity Crisis make references to how Thor (and other Asgardians) fail to mention various cosmic or fantastic items (from the Tesseract in the former to the existence of Atlantis in the latter) as they just naturally assume Earth is as knowledgeable about such things as the rest of the universe and thus see no need to bring up what they accept is "common knowledge." For example, both MCU Thor and EMH Thor never brought up the Savage Land because they thought it was already known, even believing that Jurassic Park was filmed there.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Great and Deathless Trixie, Trixie thinks nothing of dying and coming back to life a day later. She's died a few dozen times in her career from stage accidents, but since she's a traveling showpony, she never stuck around long enough to notice that no one else did the same.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds Transplanted Character Fic The Blood of Kings, privately-trained apprentice mage Aki has people brought in on occasion by her master so that she can practice healing magic on them. It's noted that she managed to completely heal someone from the brink of death in under fifteen minutes, but when asked about this, she brushes this off and says she's still in training and her master handles the really difficult cases. Unbeknownst to her, that level of healing is so impressive within the setting (even a master mage would take hours to heal a broken arm) that her master is able to pass her off as some kind of goddess.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: When Harry asks her mentor for references on imbuing shaped magic into potions, perhaps under another name, she has a hard time getting through to him at first, because no-one has ever heard of such a thing before, and he believes it doesn't even make sense as a concept. To her, it seemed quite natural after learning to consciously imbue unshaped magic into a potion, and learning to control magic without a wand. Once she demonstrates it, he immediately recognises that it has the potential to revolutionise the whole field of potion brewing, but still, hardly anyone can replicate her feat.
  • The Vasto of White: Lilynette has only known of Hollows her whole life, so she does not know that humans and Shinigami do not normally have a Healing Factor.
  • In The Awakening of a Magus, Draco's Scanner talent manifested when he was eight or so, but his family never noticed because he never considered it something worth talking about.
  • Towards the Light:
    Snape: You can feel subtle differences in temperature?
    Harry: Can't everyone?
  • Marvelous Exploits beyond the Walls!: Bunyan somehow finds herself in the world of Attack on Titan. When she meets the Survey Corps after killing several Titans and wolves, she comments killing the Titans is easy, causing one of the scouts to angrily rant at her for treating this like a game because the Titans had killed many of their friends. Bunyan apologizes and says even with her Master constantly reminding her, she often forgets that regular people are not as strong or fast as her and don't have her powers.
  • Emily from Sixes and Sevens always knew she was a little stronger than normal, but it takes her kicking a werewolf across a room and healing severe injuries in a matter of days to consider that there might be something else going on. The story implies that she's a late-blooming mutant.
  • God of Hate: Chapter 13 ends with the shocking revelation that Krista can understand Eren in his Ghidorah form. She's as shocked as everyone else, having assumed that everyone else could hear his growls as speech.
  • A Thing of Vikings: During his Greek lessons Sigurd accidentally outs himself as literate in front of his tutor and promptly gets confused by the man's shocked reaction. Coming from a place with universal literacy, he has a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that being able to read and write is somehow unusual.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Temple Grandin, Temple's mentor is stunned when she describes the way she thinks and processes information. This, in turn, shocks Temple, because she always assumed that was how everyone's mind worked. (This is Truth in Television for many people on the autism spectrum; see Real Life entries.)

  • Animorphs: Ax, token non-earthling in the group, is rather surprised when he learns that humans cannot tell time accurately or judge direction (North-East-South-West) innately.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm:
    • Myne, who lives in a Medieval European Fantasy while having Past-Life Memories from living to early adulthood in modern-day Japan, frequently forgets that skills that were basic in her previous life are both relatively rare and specialized in her new world; the setting averts Medieval Universal Literacy, for instance. While some characters will show to be some mix of surprised and impressed in her presence, other cases are only revealed when the reader gets to see the point of view of characters who are native to the setting.
    • When she uses magic, she is prone to Achievements in Ignorance from a mix of drawing wrong conclusions from observing others do magic and assumptions based on how she came to imagine magic working from her previous life.
    • Lutz needs to be told he actually acquired a very valuable skill simply by being Myne's Cloudcuckoolander's Minder and doesn't notice how fast he's picking up the skills involved in the merchant trade for someone who didn't grow up in its midst.
  • Beast Tamer:
    • Rein is oblivious to just how talented as a Beast Tamer he is, as he can contract with both the Strongest Species and multiple normal animals when normally a Beast Tamer is limited to only a single normal animal. This is due to having spent his childhood in a village full of Beast Tamers like himself before it was destroyed, and not really coming into contact with "normal" Beast Tamers since. It's not until Kanade points out just how impressive he is that Rein starts to realize it himself and begins to experiment with things he would not have tried before, such as trying to "overwrite" another Beast Tamer's contract to take control of a Behemoth.
    • This goes to his previous team as well. After they kicked him out, thinking of him as dead weight, they were surprised to find out how weak Beast Tamers were compared to him. When they tried to get the other Beast Tamers to do even a fraction of what Rein used to do, the Beast Tamers think they are nuts for expecting that much.
  • Early in the Ciaphas Cain books, he neglects to mention what his tunnel instincts are telling him because it doesn't occur to him that his companion can't tell. He's aware that it's a talent not everyone possesses, it just seems to slip his mind for a moment. Further complicated by the fact that during his childhood on a Hive World, everyone did actually have that same tunnel sense due to most of the population living underground.
  • In the Discworld series:
    • It's mentioned that Susan thought nothing of her ability to make herself unnoticeable, and assumed for the longest time that everyone could do that. Even in her second appearance (by which time she knows her origin), she finds stopping time to be so easy that she wonders why ordinary people can't do it. This is partially justified, in that many of Susan's (and Death's) "supernatural" abilities really are much more straightforward than the way regular humans approach reality. For instance, it's not that she can see things that aren't real, it's that everyone else can not see things that are.
    • Tiffany Aching knows that being able to step out of your body and look at it from the outside isn't an ordinary thing for a human to do, but she's not sure if it's an ordinary thing for a witch to do. (It isn't.)
    • Jingo: Vetinari does a bit of impromptu juggling, and the following impressive display of street theatre tricks leads Colon to say to him, "I didn't know you could juggle, my lord" and Vetinari to ask "Can't everyone?" Implied to reference how good Vetinari is at keeping everything going where/how he wants...
    • Small Gods: Brutha never forgets anything, never has dreams, and always knows his exact location on land, down to being able to retrace his steps up to several years into the past. He eventually does realize that the first isn't true of everybody, yet the concept of "forgetting" remains extremely perplexing to him.
    • Thief of Time: Jeremy Clockson not only doesn't realize that not everyone can intuitively tell what time it is, but he doesn't even seem to grasp that that's what the clocks he devotes himself to crafting are used for.
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern series, F'lar chastises Lessa for not telling him that she can hear the telepathic speech of other people's dragons. Her response boils down to "How was I supposed to know you couldn't?" She simply assumed that it was her dragonrider ancestry that accounted for it, and that all dragonriders would have that ability. Even after she'd been living in the Weyr for some time and had met other dragonriders, the subject just never came up.
  • Earth's Children: Ayla has an exceptionally well-trained memory for a Cro-Magnon. Of course, she was still considered to be "slow of memory" amongst her adoptive Neanderthal tribe. But once she is among her own people, they are constantly baffled by her surprising memory. Oh, and her ability to detect lies from body language, since the Clans of the Cave Bear can't speak complex language and use sign language almost exclusively.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: At the climax of "The Mule", the Mule mentions that it took him awhile to figure out that other people couldn't manipulate emotions, perhaps because, according to Foundation's Edge, he was from a planet where everyone really could do that, though he was unique in his willingness to do so without considering the well-being of the people being manipulated.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Until the middle of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (when he does it in front of an audience for the first time), Harry assumes that all or most wizards can talk to snakes — in fact, he doesn't even realize he's speaking a different language when he does. In the sixth book, it takes him some time (and prompting by Dumbledore) to understand that Morfin Gaunt is speaking Parseltongue in the Pensieve Flashback, as he only hears it as perfect English.
    • Not an innate ability, but when Harry is told the legend of the Deathly Hallows, one of them is a mythical cloak which granted the wearer true invisibility and never lost its power... which Harry soon realizes is the cloak he'd had since his first year at Hogwarts, and had always assumed was an ordinary (if rare) magic cloak.
    • Part of why Hagrid's lessons in Care of Magical Creatures are so widely dreaded is that he simply doesn't get that his ability to deal with horrible dangerous monsters like dragons and giant spiders and Blast-Ended Skrewts (ten-foot-long armored bloodsucking manticore and fire crab hybrid with stingers) comes partly from his half-giant resilience and strength. Similarly, he's certain his half-brother (and full-blooded, if stunted, giant) Grawp can be taught to handle himself in regular society and asks Harry and Hermione to help, convinced they'll say yes.
  • Honor Harrington: The main character isn't modest enough not to realize she's an outstanding military commander, but has difficulty believing that when she pulls off some kind of awe-inspiring feat (such as the mass prison escape from Cerberus) that people don't accept it was merely her duty to do so and thus she deserves no special accolades for it. She also has no idea how inspiring she is: she's astonished to learn that people who have served under her end up, on average, being better officers than their peers afterwards.
  • Kevin J. Anderson's Hopscotch: Darragon doesn't realize during the early part of his life that most people can't see auras. The subject comes up when he notices a Body Swap, so he does explain it as soon as it becomes relevant.
  • In Other Lands: Serene and Luke think it is perfectly normal to jump from several stories and be no worse for wear, much to the bafflement of Elliot and a few background characters.
  • Mistborn: Marsh dedicated his adult life to learning as much as he could about the Steel Ministry, but since he's a commoner and the Ministry is only open to nobles, he can only learn through underground channels. When called to infiltrate the Ministry, since Marsh didn't attend the training camps, he thinks that his ignorance will stand out, but he doesn't realize until it's too late that he stands out because he's ''more'' knowledgeable than the average recruit.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls' Sunset Shimmer's Time to Shine: Sunset Shimmer, former star-student to Princess Celestia, exiled to the human world lacking magic posing as an ordinary high-school student, is being applauded for her amazing skills in mathematics and chemistry. She simply states that she didn't understand how anyone could have any problems with it since "you just memorize the formulas and where to use them" (not unlike learning spells). Cue shocked looks from her friends and her back-pedaling.
  • Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space: Rashmika, from Absolution Gap, is a Living Lie Detector. Until her late teens, she never lies, and becomes known for it in her village. It's not for any moral reason, though; she just assumes everyone would be able to tell if she did.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: William and Gamina both know that William can communicate telepathically with animals. But he doesn't realize that this is unusual, and she doesn't realize that none of the adults know about it.
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries: Several books after finding she can see through fairies' glamours and assuming it's just because she's part fairy herself, Sookie learns that no, most other fairies see what humans see, and her ability is considered a powerful gift.
  • In Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, it's implied that it took Thrawn some time to figure out that not everyone could Sherlock Scan like he can and infer tactics from artwork. Few people even believe that Thrawn can do it, although his superiors like Admiral Ar'alani and Supreme General Ba'kif are fully aware of his capabilities. In the book, he faces off against someone who can come close to his level of insight and planning, except that person doesn't understand art, preferring architecture. His opponent also has something Thrawn severely lacks — political awareness.
  • Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker: One of the, you might call it a problem, with "knacks", little skills that people are innately born with and can train to be even better, is that the person with the knack tends to not realize other people don't possess the same sort of skill. The narrator rambles in the fourth book:
    Like a lot of folks, he has a knack and doesn't even know it because that's the way knacks work: it just feels as natural as can be to the person who's got it, as easy as breathing, so you don't think that could possibly be your unusual power because heck, that's easy. You don't know it's a knack till other people around you get all astonished about it or upset or excited or whatever feelings your knacks seems to provoke in folks. Then you go, "Boy howdy, other's folks can't do this! I got me a knack!" and from then on there's no putting up with you till you finally settle down and get back to normal life and stop bragging about how you can do this fool thing that you used to never be excited about back when you still had sense.
  • Tawny Man: Fitz's daughter Nettle is a DreamWeaver, but doesn't realize that this is anything special. She doesn't understand why other people have nightmares, because why would anyone want to stay in a dream they didn't like?
  • Warrior Cats: Dovewing says this word for word when she finds out her super hearing is a special power.
  • Invoked in the X-Wing Series. When reforming Rogue Squadron, Wedge chooses another pilot over Aril Nunb to join the squad as his executive officer, even though Nunb is renowned and the pilot he wants is a suspected traitor who will have severe restrictions placed on his behavior. Later, attrition catches up to Rogue Squadron, and he brings Nunb in, though not as his XO, and explains to her that he's seen her fly before and was impressed. However, her skill as a pilot, he believes, can't be taught, and what he needs from his XO is, among other things, a trainer. Picking her would result in her being frustrated and his pilots bewildered (and possibly dead). But now there's room on the squadron, she's definitely earned a spot with her skill.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alphas: Marcus Ayers' Awesomeness by Analysis ability allows him to create Disaster Dominoes on purpose, and he's convinced that everyone else can do the same thing, thus believing that every bad thing that happens to him was intentionally planned by somebody, which drives his paranoia.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In one episode, Leonard, Sheldon, Amy, and Penny discuss who's smarter, men or women, and to settle the debate, they play a game of Pictionary. Penny and Amy end up dominating the game because the clues they give each other would allow anyone of average intelligence to guess the right answer after a few tries. The clues and answers Sheldon gave to Leonard only made perfect sense inside Sheldon's mind.
    • Throughout the series, Sheldon's genius I.Q. allows him to grasp abstract concepts like subatomic physics, quantum mechanics, and other such advanced scientific fields, and his eidetic memory allows him to recall minor details and become a world-renowned scientist. Unfortunately, this also gives him a feeling of superiority, and he quickly gets annoyed whenever he feels he has to "dumb down" to the level of everyone else, who should be able to grasp the same information he can.
    • One episode offhandedly revealed that Sheldon has synesthesia, which allows him to easily recognize prime numbers. He's confused by the others' confusion when they don't spot a glowing number in a sequence.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor occasionally expresses surprise and/or condescension when it turns out that not everyone has Super Intelligence like them. At one point, the Tenth Doctor rattles off a sequence of three-digit happy prime numbers offhand, and seems genuinely annoyed that the humans didn't learn this in elementary school.
    The Doctor: I dunno, talk about dumbing down. Don't they teach recreational mathematics anymore?
  • Farscape:
    • In Sikozu's first appearance, she's rather surprised to discover that Crichton can't shift his center of gravity, having presumed that all the species she had associated with so far (Scarran, Grudek, Sebacean, Human) were able to do so. Unfortunately, she only finds this out while bandaging Crichton's mauled legs — courtesy of the Monster of the Week Sikozu had easily escaped from.
    • In another Farscape example (though this time more of "I Thought Everyone Couldn't Do That''), Crichton discovers that every member of Moya's crew has better eyesight than he does when he claims there's nothing written on a basin, and the others take turns reading the small warning text aloud.
    • Pilot didn't know that everyone can't see the bubble of an emerging wormhole until Crichton mentioned it was invisible. Crichton can "kind of smell it", but this is known to be a unique ability.
  • Fonzie of Happy Days is convinced that he's been given a class of subnormal students because they can't change a carburetor perfectly after being shown how once, as he was able to as a boy.
  • Hyde in Jekyll. He knows that ordinary people aren't as strong or fast as him, but is still surprised when he learns that Jackman can't do things like detect drugs in his bloodstream or pull up photo-quality images from his memory.
    Hyde: There's something new in our bloodstream, keeping me awake. Tickles.
    Jackman: You can feel your blood?
    Hyde: You can't do that?
  • In one episode of Just Shoot Me!, Jack and Elliot discover that the small, overly delicate Dennis Finch (David Spade) has a penis whose size is such that it causes immediate crushing despair in other males at the sight of it, and apparently has no clue that it's anything special.
    Jack: Dennis, how did you not KNOW? I mean, hadn't you ever seen other guys in the shower?
    Dennis: No, I sat gym out because of my allergies. The only time I saw other guys naked was in porn. I just thought I was a little above average.
Humorously, this is actually a rather wide-reaching (if funny) retcon; previous episodes had definitively established that Finch was on the extreme other end of the size scale, and was once confused for a woman when he was seen in a skin-tight bathing suit. For most of his life (until this episode) he really wasn't extra-big.
  • Parker of Leverage makes a quick and accurate sketch of a hit man who's been following their mark around. Word of God is that Parker has Asperger's, and some people in Real Life with Asperger's or Autism can make extremely detailed drawings of things they only glimpse once due to their brains focusing on these details at the expense of other things.
    Hardison: Wow, I didn't know you could do that.
    Parker: I thought everybody could do that.
  • In a sketch on MADtv (1995), recurring character Rusty Miller, a geeky college student, is having a trivia contest with two girls, and infuriating them by getting every question right. Except the last question, which asks the average length of a penis. The girls get it right by answering six inches. Rusty protests that the machine is wrong, and the average is ten inches, then leaves the bar in disgust. The girls give each other a look, then rush out after him. As do several guys.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "DNA", Kryten is turned human and has trouble adjusting. He's surprised to learn that human nipples can't pick up radio signals and that the only way for a human to zoom in on an object is to move their head closer to it.
  • One episode of Sanctuary revolves around a Bedlam House for werewolves. One patient talks about how their condition is a curse that does nothing to make the world better... while casually assembling some piece of advanced technology. He's somewhere between skeptical and pleasantly surprised when fellow werewolf Henry explains that normal humans aren't Gadgeteers.
  • One conversation in Sherlock reveals that the Holmes brothers used to think that their massive intellect was the norm.
    Sherlock: I used to think I was an idiot.
    Mycroft: Both of us thought you were an idiot, Sherlock. We had nothing else to go on. Until we met other children.
    Sherlock: Oh, yes. That was a mistake.
    Mycroft: Ghastly. What were they thinking?
  • Used to dramatic effect in Six Feet Under. Brenda explains that when she was little, she read a report about the possibilities of a nuclear war breaking out. She explains that from that point on, every morning she woke up, she would feel thankful for being alive, yet also feel closer to nuclear apocalypse. When Nate asks how she could live like that, she says she thought that's how everybody else lived. Of course, she's not entirely wrong; there was in fact a lengthy period in recent human history where anyone who paid more than superficial attention to international relations really did live like that, and with good reason.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Heart of Glory", the bridge crew are given an opportunity to see through Geordi La Forge's VISOR, and notice that Data (when viewed through the VISOR) is emitting an aura of light. When questioned about this, Geordi is surprised to learn that this aura is not visible to the other officers, as he was born blind and can only see through his VISOR.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Prime Mover", Jimbo Cobb, a man with telekenetic powers who explains that when he was young he believed everyone had them. He only stopped using his when he found out that wasn't so, since he'd done a few things that had gotten him in trouble.

  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Yverdon-Les-Bains", Martin memorises the entire six hundred page Swiss Air manual, because if you don't do that, how do you know what you're doing? He therefore becomes the first person to score 100% on the famously difficult Swiss Air exam, prompting them to assume he cheated, much to his confusion. Some of the questions involve obscure facts about other airlines entirely; Martin thought those ones were "general knowledge" that any twelve-year-old would know.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In the Xenosaga series, Albedo is shocked to learn that other people can't regenerate, including his brothers. This occurs after a very disturbing scene in which a child Albedo blows his own head off in front of his brothers with an energy blast, or a gun in the Japanese version. For great Mood Whiplash, he was only trying to be funny.
  • Occasionally comes up in Mass Effect when people from different species make assumptions about each other.
    • In Mass Effect 2, Wrex doesn't realize that humans don't have a redundant nervous system like krogans and thinks that it's the explanation for how Shepard was able to survive being spaced when the Normandy was destroyed until being informed otherwise.
      Wrex: Ah, the benefits of a redundant nervous system!
      Shepard: Yeah, humans don't have those.
      Wrex: Oh. Well it must've been very painful, then.
    • In Mass Effect: Andromeda, this is implied to be the reason why angara tend to be so shocked by the small families seen in most Milky Way species, and why the idea of someone being an only child is upsetting to them. Angara are litter birthers, and since the arrival of the Milky Way races was the first time they encountered another species on relatively peaceful terms, it simply never occurred to them that some species normally give birth one at a time. Their family structure also involves several mothers raising children collectively with every child counting each other as siblings (and all of the women as their mother), making the culture shock even worse.
  • In Touhou Project, Fairies are resurrected when killed so long as the element of nature they represent continues to exist. They don't seem to understand death as it applies to humans and thus don't see why it's a problem to set humans on fire or lead them off cliffs as a prank.
  • This is a dialog option in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim when the Greybeards praise you for learning Words of Power so quickly. If you choose it, they will inform you that it takes many years of training for a non-dragonborn to learn a single Word of Power.
  • Hina from BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! is The Ace who is amazing at almost everything she tries, first time. However, this sometimes leads to her being Innocently Insensitive because she genuinely doesn't really understand how people can try things and not be immediately good at them.

  • In Digger, Shadowchild is surprised to learn that not everyone can transform into large, demonic-looking monsters at will.
  • In Girls in Space, Zoe doesn't mention to her employment councilor that she's an omniglot, because she thought everyone on Earth spoke all Earth languages.
  • In The Order of the Stick:
    • Celia, an elemental Sylph from the Plane of Air, designs her summoning talisman to break from energy blasts, completely unaware that this was not something normal humans could do at will, which leads to some unfortunate consequences when her boyfriend fails to use it. She can also detect abjurations like the Cloister spell through the way her teeth tingle. Because she thinks everybody can do the same, she only mentions it in passing, assuming Haley already knows about it; when she finds out Haley doesn't, she actually gets angry about how worthless human(oid) senses seem to be compared to her own. Celia defends her ignorance of human abilities by pointing out that humans are the only race that doesn't get an entry in the Monster Manual, so it's not like she could look these things up.
    • Inverted by Eugene Greenhilt, an insufferably Smug Super wizard who acts as though he expects magical expertise to be commonplace even though he knows full well that it isn't. It's just his way of dismissing anybody who's not a spellcaster as being an idiot for not choosing a spellcasting class.
      Eugene: Bah. If you want to hurt someone with fire, just manipulate thermodynamic differentials with your fingers, like a normal person.
    • Dwarves have Innate Night Vision, so Minrah, a member of an isolated underground dwarf community, needs to be told why a visitor is casting a Light spell before going off down a dark tunnel.
  • For a while in Sluggy Freelance, Aylee keeps forgetting that earth creatures need things like sleep and oxygen to survive, and don't have quite her ability to heal.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Tedd thought being able to "see" magic itself was something everyone could do if they focused their eyes just right. The funny thing is he had explicitly told people more than once that he had learned how to identify different spell effects by sight—they just thought he had invented a function for his glasses and was overstating himself a bit.
    • In one of the earlier arcs, Grace expected the rest of the group to have known that her fur is fireproof because she's a squirrel. They have to explain to her that squirrels don't ordinarily have fireproof fur.
  • In xkcd, Beret Guy is surprised to learn that other people can't tell what atoms are in things just by looking at them. He wonders "How do you tell what things are?"
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things:
    • The Commander asks why Ganondorf doesn't stop Link by stealing all the keys Link uses to get through the dungeons. Ganondorf says that wouldn't work, since everyone knows how to pick locks. The Commander points out that while everyone from a village of thieves knows how to pick locks, the kid who is risking his life to find keys probably doesn't.
    • Kratos' son doesn't know that his father is a god, so he doesn't realize that feats of Super Strength like lifting houses are unusual.
  • Guilded Age: Syr'Nj does not see the point in one having toes ("taproots") if one can't absorb water with them.
  • In Drive (Dave Kellett), the small alien named Skitter can sense gravity waves through the Mohawk-like comb on his skull. Being an amnesiac, he doesn't realize at first that other species don't have the same ability. This would make his people extremely precious as navigators and pilots for everybody using FTL travel... if only they could find others of his kind.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1454 is a set of four identical men who have a shared memory. They see nothing unusual about this; as far as they know, it's perfectly normal for a human being to have memories of working over 200 hours per week and having had more than one first kiss.
  • Inverted here on Not Always Learning, with a man who is enraged that the school thinks his daughter is disabled. After all, doesn't everybody have trouble seeing black text on white paper? Turns out the daughter's visual processing disorder was hereditary, but nobody had diagnosed the father so he thought it was normal.

    Western Animation 
  • The Alvin Show: In one episode we meet Dave's country cousin, Chuck Wagon, who claims he can't do anything. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore decide to help him find some sort of talent, all of which fail miserably. They and Dave are later astonished to find him playing Theodore's guitar and singing about how he has no talent. As it turned out, where he came from, everyone could play the guitar and sing so it never occurred to him that it was anything special.
  • Legend Quest: In Episode 11 "The Chilan", when Alebrije sniffs out a portal of Yggdrasil, he's honestly surprised that humans can't identify magical places by smell.
    Marcella: Wait a minute. You can smell magical spaces?
    Alebrije: You can't?
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: "Much Ado About Boimler" features a variation when Ensign D'Vana Tendi creates a dog that can (among other things) fly, shapeshift, and speak English. She somehow assumed that all Earth dogs could do such things and didn't realize that she'd created a new species.
  • Steven Universe: In the Season 2 finale, Peridot pushes Greg off a roof to see if all lifeforms can fly, and has to be told that humans are "fragile and soft".
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Light Hope, an AI, is surprised when Adora, a human, tells her that humans can't remember what happened to them when they're infants.

    Real Life 
  • More or less by definition, you probably won't know if this trope applies to you, unless someone else spots it and points it out.
  • This is one part of the Dunning Kruger Effect: if you're genuinely skilled at something, that skill becomes part of your normal routine and you stop noticing when you're using it. This gradually causes you to overestimate the ability of others in relation to yourself, as you'll erroneously presume that tasks easy for you to perform are also easy for other people to perform.
  • Related with above is partial ambidexterity all left-handed people end up possessing. Since their natural reaction is to do various things left-handed, while whole lot of objects are made and build to be used right-handed, the result is a lifetime of practice in using both arms. Nowhere near the level of actual ambidexterity, but still enough to make southpaws completely confused when watching right-handed people utterly failing at even most basic tasks when forced or not able to use their dominant hand. And that all without mentioning people that are simply ambidexterious.
  • As a child, Julian Asher, the famous neurologist and synesthete, assumed that the lights are dimmed during a concert so that the audience can see the light that emanates from the music better. Indeed most people with synesthesia have this impression. Whatever sensory combination they experience, they assume the rest of the world does too. Can become quite interesting when two synesthetes meet, as even people with the same type of synesthesia don't have the same experiences (e.g., the sound of violins may taste like strawberries to one, but lemons to another, or one may see the letter z as blue while another sees it as orange).
  • The documentary program The Science of the Senses described a man with face blindness who never realized how different he was until late in his life, when his mate told him that all the "confusing" close-ups in films (for him, the characters become unrecognizable if he can only see their faces) aren't actually confusing for ordinary people.
  • A man who underwent a psychedelic experiment in hearing through the mouth was stunned to learn it was unusual that he has heard multiple noises pulsing through his head his whole life. He once was terrified by the concept of true silence, and he used to take sayings like "Your silence is deafening" as more literal than ironic.
  • This is related to the common phenomenon known as "illusion of transparency", where you assume that others can accurately read your experiences and emotions because you already know it. Also known as You Know What You Did.
  • St. Pio, also known as "Padre Pio", spent his childhood thinking that everyone got visited by angels and saints on occasion.
  • Autistic people might grow up thinking this, especially if undiagnosed. Though this is less "I thought everyone could do that" and more "I thought everyone else has a brain wired similarly to mine".
  • It's theorized that one reason that some star athletes have a hard time getting along with their teammates and come off as aloof and argumentative is that they don't understand they're just that much better than the average player in the game. They tend to assume everyone else around them is slacking, or unmotivated, when the reality is they just can't play as well as the star no matter how hard they may try.
    • Also often true for honor (or even "just" straight-A) students. They also tend not to grasp how much smarter they are than the average person their age. This also leads them to believe that their classmates are being deliberately stupid and/or lazy.
  • Most people who wear glasses have experienced the sensation of when they were first given a pair and finally understood what the world really looks like. Related to this is the following: People whose eyesight was (more or less) fine when they were younger and has degraded to the point that even the most stubborn of them will admit to needing glasses, but they don't realize the full extent of the problem until they get their first pair.
    • The exception is the rare people whose eyes were so clearly abnormal as infants (being born cross-eyed, for example) that they were fitted with frames as toddlers and have literally never known life without glasses.
  • In this article, a man with aphantasia (inability to form mental sensations) relates how shocked he was when he realized that other people can, in fact, visualize things in their mind. An article in New Scientist described a woman with the opposite (hyperphantasia) who assumed everyone else's mental pictures were as vivid as hers were.
  • Tinnitus (a persistent perception of sound with no external source, for example a ringing or hissing noise) is usually caused by hearing loss or other damage to the ear later in life, but in some cases it can be present from a very young age. For these folks, it can be a bit surprising to learn that not everybody's ears constantly ring.
  • People with ADHD who are more inattentive than hyperactive usually don't get diagnosed until they're teenagers or adults. As inattentive ADHD causes more academic problems than hyperactive, the diagnosis explains a lot about their struggles in school, and how no amount of trying could ever improve the situation. And with how often ADHD is paired with RSD (Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria), the inability to manage school is devastating for most people with ADHD. Realizing why they were struggling so much tends to cause more than a little bit of crying in most cases.
  • Many people with hypermobility disorders, especially in mild cases, can go years or decades before they learn that their range of motion is abnormal. Some have described being puzzled by things like back-scratching devices, because they're designed to compensate for a limitation that these people don't have. This leads to a frequent problem with Delayed Diagnosis, because they end up not mentioning things like that to their doctors when sharing other symptoms like chronic pain.
  • There are plenty of stories about people who previously identified as straight but believed everyone experienced same-gender attraction to a certain degree, and were surprised when it was pointed out that this is not the case.
    • In a similar vein, there are stories of supposedly-cisgender people who believe that everyone has difficulty identifying with their birth gender and fantasizes about being a different one. They're often surprised to learn that not only is this not the case, but that such desires are almost a textbook example of gender dysphoria. Or in layman's terms: "Wanting to be a girl is a symptom of being a girl".
    • When it comes to stories about people who took a while to realize they are asexual and/or aromantic, a recurring major factor is getting the idea that sexual and/or romantic attraction are social constructs maintained via an Abilene Paradox in which they are expected to participate themselves.
  • Can sometimes occur alongside the Hard Work Fallacy where a person unaware of the advantages they had (parental connections, private tutoring, socioeconomic factors...) truly believes they got to where they are solely by their merits. This is often described as, "being born on third base but convinced you hit a triple."
  • People who are naturally flexible enough to perform autofellatio (NSFW) can be surprised to learn how rare it actually is, because it's not exactly a topic that comes up in casual conversation.


Video Example(s):


Harry is a Parselmouth

Harry is surprised to learn that talking to snakes is not a common power in the wizarding world.

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Main / IThoughtEveryoneCouldDoThat

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