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Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance

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"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."

This character is too ignorant to realize they're ignorant. They possess so little power and knowledge they have nothing to compare themselves to, and thus grossly overestimate their own power, knowledge, and importance. Likely to live in a Small, Secluded World or be saturated in Paranoia Fuel...or both.

A character who is characterized this way is sometimes referred to as a "King of Pointland", after an old example of this trope. Pointland in the novel Flatland is not a kingdom at all, it's just a dimensionless spot of nothingness. Its only inhabitant is "king" by default since he is totally alone. He has no width, no height, no depth (neither literally nor metaphorically), no power or knowledge, and since he has nothing to compare himself to, he believes himself to be omnipotent.

Children and animals are normally excused from this trope. They can be included in special cases when their "ignorance of ignorance" is highlighted rather than simply a part of who they are, or when they have powers way beyond their maturity, such that their lack of understanding becomes a problem.

Characters who are merely Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance are very different from characters such as a Small Name, Big Ego or a Heteronormative Crusader. While the Small Name, Big Ego is narcissistically full of themselves and a Heteronormative Crusader is self-righteously narrow-minded, an Ignorant character is merely naive and doesn't know any better. While ultimately innocent, they might still be a villain — often one who is tricked by smarter villains, and thus relatively easy for the heroes to turn against their master by using their incomprehensible yet efficient powers. Compare Outside-Context Problem, who exploits ignorance of even their potential existence.

As Wikipedia can tell you, in Real Life Psychology it has two names: illusory superiority being the broader concept, and Dunning-Kruger effect being its effect on the individual's thoughts.

The inverse is I Thought Everyone Could Do That. See also Know-Nothing Know-It-All.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Enforced by the government. Books and other recordings about the outside world have been banned so long that people have completely forgotten about it. Armin and Eren get a hold of a book and they're amazed at the idea of deserts, mountains, and the like existing.
  • In Bleach, before Aizen, Gin, and Tosen arrived and usurped his throne, Baraggan believed that he had permanently conquered Hueco Mundo; no other place was worth the trouble and no one was stronger than him. Then, suddenly, he moves down in the world.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Several characters, mostly the ones living in Academy City, believe their conflicts and world of science is all there is, completely unaware of the conflicts and world of magic.
  • Dragon Ball: A former champion of sport combat, Mr. Satan achieved the title of World Martial Arts Champion in a tournament that none of the main characters participated in, and is thus completely ignorant of the level of power they or the villains they face fight on. He makes a foolish habit of challenging fighters who far, outclass him on the assumption that he is the strongest in the world by his title as champion, usually to comedic effect (he is a legit Badass Normal, but at this point in the series, everyone and their time-traveling kid can use ki). He eventually wises up, but keeps claiming that he can do so because the main characters don't want fame and are happy to let him take the credit for their heroics.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Prince Tserriednich Hui Guo Rou considers not recognizing his ignorance not only comparable to the seven deadly sins (claiming that they are incomplete) but that not knowing that you don't know is the most serious sin of all.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Sousuke's likelihood to successfully handle a non-combat task is inversely proportional to his confidence in accomplishing it. If he says it's not a problem (which is often), it definitely will be.
  • Magic Artisan Dahlia Wilts No More: The few times Emilia has a speaking role since Volume 1 suggests a general unawareness of how her actions contributed to Tobias and Dahlia's engagement falling apart. From using Dahlia's dresser for her own belongings and even having sex with Tobias in Dahlia's new bedframe, it takes Emilia attempting a Heartfelt Apology, tears and all, to Dahlia in public in Volume 2 to imply she's at least trying to be a good person, but Tobias twisting her tears into a Blame Game against Dahlia with his usual tactics could mean anything from her legitimately falling in love with Tobias and the "kind" image he set for her to the point of not being aware of anything else, or her being strung along with Tobias's Control Freak, All Take and No Give tendencies with no one else around to help her get out it.
  • My Hero Academia: During the Sports Festival arc, Izuku Midoriya is paired to fight against Hitoshi Shinsou, whose Brainwashing Quirk is seen as befitting more of a villain than a hero. He rants to Izuku about the stigma he's had to endure while assuming that Izuku was one of the fortunate ones to have a "heroic" Quirk, unaware that Izuku was bullied in his previous school for being Quirkless and didn't gain a Quirk of his own until he met All Might.
  • Naruto: Neji Hyuuga has a very strong belief in the inevitability of fate, the futility of fighting against it, and his own position as the most powerful genin in, well, the world it seems. The fact that he's preaching to Naruto of all people about bearing a burden he never asked for or deserved just proves how little he really understands about life outside of his clan's wealthy compound. Fortunately, Naruto kicks the stupid out of him shortly thereafter.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Uranus and Neptune in the anime refuse to work with Sailor Moon and the Inner Senshi because they believe they're too idealistic for their own good and can't make pragmatic decisions. After the battle with Pharaoh 90, they scold Usagi for protecting Hotaru which almost led to the planet being destroyed and say she is unfit to be queen. However, Uranus and Neptune are rookie soldiers without the experience of fighting various enemies Sailor Moon and her guardians have (judging by the information and flashbacks from the anime, they were active for roughly a year, with the Death Busters as their only threat to investigate). Naoko Takeuchi's Materials Collection notes even state that Haruka is "ignorant of the regular world" and "sees everything in black and white terms" so her claims that she and Michiru are making the best decisions don't hold much weight. Examples of their behavior include:
      • If Uranus and Neptune were as pragmatic as they believed they were, they would've teamed up with the more seasoned girls who had among them a national genius girl with a handheld supercomputer that's suggested to be more advanced than modern-day appliances (Ami), a psychic girl who could've figured out who held the Talismans by divining through the Sacred Fire (Rei), and a girl with a legendary crystal that has the capacity to heal/destroy an entire planet, purge evil from a person or place, and bring the dead back to life (Usagi). Granted, Uranus and Neptune might not have known about their previous missions to know they're capable, but since Sailor Moon and the Inners started picking up notoriety after they awakened (to the point of having little dolls made in their image and kindergarteners knowing about them in R) and Pluto let them know that Chibiusa was the Princess of the Future Silver Millennium, it's hard to believe that they wouldn't have heard of their exploits through the news or word of mouth, or that Pluto wouldn't have told Uranus and Neptune about them herself.
      • After Eudial calls them to let them know she has found a Talisman, Haruka and Michiru call Usagi to meet them, tell her they won't let her slow them down with her "half-baked play war" and even take away her brooch...with the Silver Crystal inside. What Haruka and Michiru both failed to realize was that their plan for finding the Talismans had been rather half-baked. Despite the time they spent investigating them, they were just piggybacking off the enemy's efforts: they just sat around and waited for the Death Busters to strike, remove a victim's Pure Heart, then check to see if it was a Talisman. At no point did they try to find them themselves. Eudial had to call and tell them that she found a Talisman. And at no point did they think she could have been leading them into a trap. They just rushed to meet Eudial without coming up with a plan other than collecting a Talisman for their mission.
      • Regarding Hotaru, they were hell-bent on killing her because she was the reincarnation of Sailor Saturn and they believed she would destroy the world when she awakened, yet they were unaware of her true purpose (to destroy the world only when things were at their lowest point so everything could be reborn anew) and would've killed an innocent girl and valuable comrade had they succeeded.
      • Finally, if Uranus and Neptune had teamed up with the girls and shared what they knew about the Death Busters (admittedly, something Neptune had suggested to Uranus who refused her), the issue would've been resolved quicker with far less conflict, but instead they were aloof and condescending towards them and even hindered them on several occasions.
      • In short, while Uranus and Neptune were smug and condescending towards Sailor Moon and the Inners for their beliefs, it was their aloof behavior, hasty decision making, and inability to cooperate and share meaningful communication that often led them to make things worse and cause unnecessary conflict.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: Larfleeze of the Orange Lantern Corps might be this. For eons he was locked away in a secluded system with his treasures, content to consume anyone who crossed him until the Controllers woke him. And while he is a formidable being, having the power of an entire corps and an entire legion of orange constructs at his command, his view of things is partially shattered when he encounters the rest of the universe after so long, circumstances force him to make deals and alliances with beings just as powerful as himself. Afterward, he also realizes that some beings in the universe, like humans, are better at being greedy than he ever was.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: The climax of the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow mini-series has one jock hoping to escape the Headless Horsemen by remembering the legend that the Horsemen can't leave Sleepy Hollow. When he crosses the bridge out of the town, the jock thinks he's safe only for the Horsemen to charge across the bridge to kill him. It turns out the man was unaware that twenty years earlier, a land development caused Sleepy Hollow's borders to cross beyond that bridge so he was still in the town limits.
  • In Logicomix, Frege is totally honest and devoted to truth & logic. Sadly, this devotion combined with this trope leads to Black-and-White Insanity in the form of a Straw Vulcan hatred for women and Jews. On the whole, this makes him a Troubled Sympathetic Bigot who is desperately trying to do the right thing.
  • Secret Wars (1984): Played with. The Beyonder was a Cosmic Being who believed it was the only thing that existed until it discovered the Marvel Universe. Subverted in that it really was omnipotent, although this was later Retconned to be a delusion (it was powerful, just not the most powerful cosmic being.)
  • Superman:
    • In Superman's first confrontation with his counterpart Ultraman, as Ultraman gained new powers whenever he was exposed to kryptonite, he assumed that the same applied to Superman, allowing Superman to trick him into exposing himself to a kryptonite meteor that was so large it overloaded Ultraman with so many powers he couldn't actually use any of them.
    • In Team Superman #1 (1999) When the hero-killing alien 'Anti-Hero' began his plan to kill Superman, he captured Superman and held a press conference announcing Superman's "retirement" so that he could keep Superman prisoner and draw on his powers to attack Earth's other heroes. However, because he was unaware of Superman's secret identity, the 'Superman' who retired paid no special attention to Lois during the press conference announcing his decision. This prompted Lois to pass on a message to Steel, Superboy, and Supergirl that Superman's "retirement" was false, allowing them to hunt down their captured friend and defeat the Anti-Hero.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin constantly overestimates himself. (While this is quite natural for any 6-year-old, it looks very weird on Calvin since he uses language and glimpses abstract thinking on levels far above his real-life peers.)
  • FoxTrot: The whole cast shows this, but mostly Jason. He professes to be an Insufferable Genius (even desiring the "insufferable" part), but several times he proves to be a Know-Nothing Know-It-All armed with a vast library of Little Known Facts that he uses to try to impress people, only to look foolish. Some examples include doing a multimedia computer presentation of Old Yeller as a book report that had nothing whatsoever to do with the book (which he never even read) and doing a class report on when the assignment was the Amazon river. (His excuse? "I looked it up, they don't have one.") There are dozens more, all of them incredibly silly. That said, Jason is very book smart, tutors Paige on math and generally gets straight As, but it could be argued he is Street Stupid. Eileen acts as his Foil, being both just as book smart at him but more streetwise.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Lucifer (2016) fic Alloparent, a chain of events lead to Lucifer basically becoming Trixie's father figure when she's small before he even meets Chloe, to the extent that after he saves her from a child abduction ring while Dan was unconscious, Dan literally signs over all paternal rights to Lucifer after his divorce from Chloe. However, Chloe is unaware of this dynamic for four months until she sees Lucifer greet Trixie at the school gates, assuming until then that Trixie is talking about Dan when she talks about what she did on her court-appointed weekends with "Daddy".
  • The Supernatural fic Already Dead mixes this with Underestimating Badassery; during Gadreel's time using Sam as a vessel, he contacts the angel Damael about the possibility of Damael joining Metatron's forces, but when Damael learns that Gadreel has taken Sam as a vessel and left Dean alive, Damael concludes that Bartholomew at least has a better chance of surviving the next week after Gadreel and Metatron have pissed off Dean Winchester without killing him.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: True Purpose: Emma Frost is only informed while she's being taken to prison that Spider-Man has been brought back to life following Magik killing him during the war against the Phoenix Five.
  • In the Avengers of the Ring series fic Scarlet Witch and the Thirteen Dwarves, when Wanda arrives in Middle-Earth, she is completely unaware of the other Avengers' history in the future of this world (Captain America, Thor and Bruce Banner have 'already' assisted in the War of the Ring in their past and Middle-Earth's future), and therefore has no idea of the potential implications of her presence at this time.
  • Blood Sisters:
    • Dyson isn't aware of succubii breeding issues so Bo having a sister is just a surprise rather than the shock it was for others (succubii have such low birth rates that generally they only have one child, and if a second child is born it will almost always die in infancy).
    • Likewise, Trick was unaware of the finer details of the imprinting process, as he assumed it would make Dyson fanatically loyal to Bo regardless of her wider agenda and he was still concerned she might be allied with Aife. Dyson clarifies that others are generally only aware of the most extreme cases of imprint-related problems, and if he truly objected to Bo's actions he would have been capable of acting against her.
    • When Jacob talks with Kenzi and observes her talking about Bo as though Bo is her friend when he always assumed other fae were more controlling of their human "pets", he wonders if he has the wrong view of fae-human dynamics outside of Forks or if Bo and Kenzi are just unconventional.
  • Blue Moon:
    • The Cullens were unaware of the existence of other vampires and demons until Xander and Willow came to Forks (Carlisle and Jasper had heard of Slayers, but assumed they were just a myth, to the extent that they had never thought about it in Edward's presence until Bella brings it up).
    • When the Volturi come to Forks to confront the Cullens about breaking the rules about making contact with the Council, Carlisle argues that this basically applies. Since the Cullens didn’t even know the Slayer or the Council existed before Xander and Willow made contact, they didn’t know there was such a rule, and only told Willow and Xander the truth once they’d confirmed that the humans were aware of the supernatural anyway.
  • In Bonne Foi, Edward spent literally decades never considering the idea that he could drink from animals, until he finds himself starving and unable to feed from humans without thinking of Bella and instinctively chases down a deer.
  • In Calamity Jane Meets Doctor Isles, when Jane and Maura visit Boston, apart from Maura's mother and biological father, nobody Jane and Maura meet is aware that Jane is a woman, accepting the story that 'Jake Rizzoli' is Maura's new husband, to the point that the younger sister of one of Maura's old friends tries to flirt with 'Jake'.
  • In The Choices of Earth, none of Torchwood Three knew that Martha’s wedding had been called off, and the people trying to eliminate Jack and Torchwood are completely unaware of the Doctor.
  • The Confectionary Chronicles:
    • Gabriel/Loki was unaware of the existence of the wizarding world until seven-year-old Hermione Granger summoned him while seeking justice for her older sister’s suicide, Gabriel intrigued enough at Hermione’s natural magic that he goes to considerable lengths tracing where that power came from.
    • Fleur only learns after she has sworn herself as an acolyte to Loki that this prevents her being claimed as part of her grandmother’s Veela clan, but the Veela matriarch affirms that the fault is with Fleur’s parents for not clarifying how the claiming process would work.
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths: Brave New World, while Barry quickly establishes that Iris is dead in the new post-Crisis timeline, as he, Kara, Sara, and J'onn go over the history of their new timeline with Cisco, Diggle, Alex, and Ray, he and Kara take some time to realise that they're married in this new reality.
  • In Crossed Wires, Sark is aware of Castiel and Raphael’s interest in the Spear, but unlike Sydney (who has just started working with Dean), he has no way of knowing they’re actually angels.
  • In Dangerous Tenant, while Wesker is aware of the Doctor's second heart, he assumes that it is because the Doctor is a genetic experiment rather than realising that he's an alien.
  • In the Angel/The Hunger Games crossover Demon's Games, not only are the people Panem as a whole unaware of the existence of demons, even most of Angel and Illyria's allies in District Thirteen are unaware that Illyria can assume Fred's form as she chooses not to do so out of respect for Angel's feelings on the matter, allowing her to disguise herself and infiltrate their forces after Coin and Gale nearly kill Angel to get a feel for who would follow Coin even after Angel came back.
  • In the Lucifer (2016) fic Devilish Savior, Lucifer adopts a little girl after her alleged father, Matthew Davis, tried to make a deal with Lucifer to sell her after the death of his wife. It's only years later that Lucifer learns that Beatrice was actually the daughter of Chloe Decker; Trixie was abducted and sold to Davis when she was two years old, but since Davis had forged paperwork to indicate that Beatrice was his biological child Lucifer never looked for Beatrice's real parents as he had no reason to believe she wasn't the daughter of Matthew Davis.
  • In The Faith Chronicles, the Council's various agents in the American government are constantly undermined in their efforts to regain control of Faith after she's reunited with her birth mother, Major Samantha Carter, as none of the Council's contacts are aware of just how dangerous the 'Deep Space Radar Telemetry' project can be.
  • In Faith Wayne, Faith is attacked by the assassin Constantine Drakon, sent by Ra's al Ghul to eliminate Bruce Wayne's newly-discovered daughter, but manages to easily defeat him. Oracle later observes that whoever sent Drakon after Faith couldn't have known about her status as a Slayer because her supernatural abilities would put her far above an assassin like Drakon, who had no enhanced skills but was just very good in his chosen profession.
  • In Furious Angels, even Harry and Ginny are unaware that their increased magical power and knowledge is due to them receiving extra magic from what appears to be their future selves; in the future, Harry gave Ginny a 'soul stone' (a symbol of true love) before he was killed fighting Voldemort, with Ginny's later suicide somehow sending the stone back in time to the summer before Ginny's first year, making Harry and Ginny legally married and giving them at least a subconscious awareness of their future selves' knowledge of magic.
  • In Guilt Undone, after Sam goes back in time, the rest of SG-1 and the SGC as a whole naturally have no idea what’s just happened to her, although Jack and Teal’c attribute the intensity of her reaction to Daniel’s near-death experience as just a ‘natural’ response to the near-death of the man she loves rather than her reliving a moment she'd already experienced once.
  • In the Hannah Montana fic Higher Power Meltdown, when Lilly's father returns as part of an attempted covert operation by an organisation known as 'the Shop' to investigate Lilly's powers (Lilly has complete control of her molecular density, allowing her to either phase through solid objects or gain superhuman strength), she quickly realises that the Shop only suspect that she has powers and have no idea that Miley also has abilities (Miley possesses telekinesis and telepathy).
  • Infinity Crisis: Hela has Thanos recreate Mjolnir for her, only to realise after she summons it that she can't actually use the hammer due to the new worthiness enchantment, allowing her hostage to pick it up and wield it against her instead.
  • In the Interventions series, Sylar and Pinehearst are subject to this in the second story, as they are unaware of the existence of the supernatural and assume that the Slayers are all posthumans with the same powers.
  • The Karma of Lies: Thanks to living a sheltered, pampered life, Adrien doesn't understand that the world doesn't work the same way it does in media. He dismisses the damage Lila is doing by scamming their classmates, insisting that anything she steals can easily be replaced and that everyone will forgive her once they learn that she was only lying to impress them. He also firmly believes that he's protected by Protagonist-Centered Morality, dismissing all warnings about the potential consequences of his actions... and inaction.
  • The Beauty and the Beast fic Kissed by a Rose opens with Belle being raped by Gaston before she went to the castle. When she returns to help her father, Gaston sees that Belle is pregnant, but fortunately doesn't realise that the child is his (by contrast, Maurice uses his experience with Belle's mother to determine that she's so far along that she must have been pregnant before going to the castle).
  • The Last Connor:
    • Pops is unaware of some modern security systems, such as cars being secured with palm-readers, because he's been in low-power mode for the last few decades.
    • Ripley is unaware of the history of Sevastopol II, whose predecessor was destroyed by her own daughter to stop another xenomorph outbreak.
    • As it turns out, even Skynet was unware of Newt's connection to Sarah Connor until after it had targeted her for termination, which attracted Pops' attention.
  • For the first two books of The Last Son, many people assume that Superman is "just" an extremely powerful mutant when they first meet him until his alien heritage becomes public.
    • At one point, Doctor Doom of all people fell victim to this, as he was unaware that Superman had been sent to Earth just before Krypton's destruction until he offered the Man of Steel a magical artefact that would allow Superman to go home. Doom is genuinely shaken when Superman reveals that there is no home for him to go back to, and abandons his current plan with what could be genuine sympathy by Doom's usual standards.
  • In The Little Stark, it takes some time for Tony and Pepper to learn that Ariel was a mermaid who has been cursed into a human state, initially assuming that she is ‘just’ a mutant who can talk to fish.
  • Ménage à Quatre sees Harry and Ginny include Katie Bell in their relationship while adding a dom/sub dynamic to their sexual activities. When Ginny asks Hermione for help finding sex toys and sexy clothing, both witches are surprised at their revelations, as Hermione is amazed at how open witches and wizards are about polyamory (to the extent that some teachers at Hogwarts have multiple husbands and/or wives) and Ginny is amazed at just how open muggles are about sex, as well as a tamer interest in muggle exercise equipment.
  • In The Mermaid and the Genie, this is basically the reason Ursula loses; while she had created a scenario where Genie was forced to basically give her unlimited wishes after she stole the lamp from Ariel, Ursula didn't take into account that Genie still can't kill anyone, her shock at this distraction giving Ariel the chance to take the lamp back.
  • In A Mother's Love, Wesley mocks Lilah with his own knowledge of the truth of Angel and Connor’s positive relationship in this new timeline, Lilah still believing that Connor was raised by Holtz where Wesley knows that someone else took care of Connor in Quor'toth.
  • In The Necromancer, as well as Sauron concealing his true nature from the residents of Storeybrooke until he leaves, they only realise that Sauron came from the past when the world around them begins to change after his departure.
  • The Parts We Play:
    • The majority of the Capitol believe that Peeta is the father of Katniss’s child rather than Gale.
    • While watching the Games, Katniss is surprised to hear Cato and Clove say that they have two days’ worth of food when the same food could last Katniss a week but reflects that in their position she would also be able to forage for additional supplies, which the Careers don’t know how to do so.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, only Ash's Pokémon, Sabrina, Mewtwo, and Casey Snagem are aware that he's essentially doing his journey over for a second time, using the knowledge he gained in the original history. Instead, most people who meet him assume that he's just a naturally gifted trainer.
  • In the Power Rangers Zeo fic "Queen of Harts", when the existing Rangers are unable to break Tommy's brainwashing by Prince Gasket ("King for a Day"), Zordon and Alpha send in back-up. Tanya is the only Ranger present who doesn't recognise the newly-arrived Pink Ranger as she literally never met the girl in question, but the other Rangers immediately realise that Zordon and Alpha have recalled Kimberly, Earth's original Pink Ranger, with even Kat privately reflecting that if anyone's going to get through to Tommy in his current state it's Kim.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fic Reflections, the ruthless Merchants manage to capture a Starfleet shuttle after it falls through a dimensional rift to their world, subsequently travelling back through the rift to try and trick the station into an alliance. However, once the crew confirm that the Merchants captured the shuttle rather than that it was destroyed as they claimed, Sisko swiftly confirms that the Merchants know nothing about the Dominion when they don’t react to his threat to inform the Dominion that the Merchants are holding one of their gods hostage (Odo being one of the crew who was on the shuttle when it went missing).
  • The Twilight fic Roses in Winter introduces Michael, a vampire turned by Victoria years ago who was told that he could never even try animal blood because it would send him into a mad frenzy. Once he meets the Cullens and learns that drinking from animals is possible, Michael is sent to spend time with the Denalis to work on his self-control as he explores his new diet.
  • In The Saga of Avatar Korra, Korra is successfully kidnapped by the Red Lotus and put through Training from Hell for fourteen years. In all that time, the Red Lotus kept a lot of relevant information regarding the Avatar secret from her, including the fact that she is the reincarnation of Aang and the other Avatars preceding her. Additionally, she is not aware of a lot of other things in the world outside of training.
  • In The Secret Keeper, despite being decades old at least, the Cullens had no idea that magic was real until Bella told them about the wizarding world.
  • In the Bones/Angel crossover The Sister in the Door, the Jeffersonian team initially assume that a straightforward version of this applies to them when they learn that Booth had a sister who was killed years ago, speculating that Booth simply didn't want to share a painful memory. However, they realise that the situation is far more complicated when even Jared doesn't know anything about a sister, as they can’t imagine Booth's own family never talking about the lost sibling.
  • In Spellbound, Lucius and Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter) dismiss Tony Stark (Marvel Cinematic Universe) as unimportant when they meet in the vaults of Gringotts, unaware that Tony is the reason that the Granger Vault has become so large after Tony set up a trust fund for his newly-discovered daughter.
  • In Spider-Man: Finding Home, when Alexei Shostakov reveals that he plans to form a counterpart team to the Avengers called "the Revengers", he's shocked when Peter Parker informs him that there's already a team with that name that was assembled by Thor.
  • In Spidey-Team, Peter Parker of the Marvel Cinematic Universe swiftly sees through Quentin Beck's claims to be a dimensional traveller as he has taken part in the Spider-Verse crossover event, and thus knows that cross-dimension-travel doesn't work like Beck describes, such as that Beck should have started "glitching" if he had really been in this dimension for two weeks.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fic Stronger Together, this basically applies to the Buffybot; while it was programmed to insult Angel whenever his name comes up, since Warren didn't know Angel and Spike didn't provide pictures, it doesn't know what Angel looks like when he arrives in Spike's crypt.
  • In Tara Sheppard, while the SGC are quick to adapt to accept the supernatural into their worldview, Warren gets outmanoeuvred, captured, and sent off to a very dark prison because he has no idea what John and his allies are capable of.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton: It's revealed in Eternity in Promise that Horde Prime, the self-proclaimed "Emperor of the Known Universe", underestimated the true size of the universe by several orders of magnitude, with his empire being just a speck in size compared to the Galra's, who he did not know about by all appearances.
  • In A Thin Veneer, a major weakness of the Minbari early in the war with the Federation is that they constantly judge the Federation by their own standards, unable to conceive of the idea of the Federation as a mixture of species where all are treated as equals and assuming that the Federation's powerful ships require more regular maintenance than they actually do.
  • In Time Anomaly, the Doctor observes that Kang is subject to this, as the villain's plans all depend on his limited (and flawed) understanding of time travel allowing him to change history.
  • In Tok'ra Apocalypse, introducing the SGC to the Winchesters and the supernatural to the SGC puts both of their respective enemies in this kind of situation, as even Abaddon only recognises the Stargate as the chappa'ai without knowing what the SGC have achieved through that discovery, while the Genii are caught off guard when an angel calls Ladon out for condoning the plan to essentially "exile" Atlantis from the Coalition.
  • In the Triptych Continuum, this is the recurring problem faced by the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Driven to acquire their Cutie Marks, they insist on following what they feel is a sure-fire way of getting their marks, but in actuality, this is closing them off from the actual method of doing so. What's worse is that other ponies have tried to call them on their mistake, but the Crusaders ignore such attempts.
  • In What You Already Know, Senator Kinsey hires an assassin to enter the SGC and kill Daniel Jackson because he fears what the archaeologist could uncover about Kinsey's plans with his new abilities, but Kinsey doesn’t tell the assassin about Daniel’s abilities or the Stargate, which leads to the assassin being disintegrated by an incoming wormhole when he tried to take a hostage in the gateroom while an incoming wormhole was coming as the iris suffered a malfunction.
  • In With Stars in Her Eyes, to date only Brady knows that he didn't kill Jessica Moore (Jessica left with the Tenth Doctor and Rose and doesn't even know she's presumed dead back on Earth); the forces of Heaven and Hell are both aware that her soul isn't on Earth in the present, but they each assume she's dead and 'lost' in the afterlife rather than realise that she's currently travelling in time.
  • In Worlds Collide, when Oliver, Barry and Kara join the battle against Zod on Earth-96, the Kryptonian criminals are particularly taken off-guard when Oliver uses Kryptonite arrows against them.

    Films — Animated 
  • Pocahontas: "But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you will learn things you never knew you never knew."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 12-Hour Shift: Nurse Mandy and her cousin Regina are involved in organ trafficking. While nobody would expect Regina to have the same knowledge about the human body Mandy does, she is so ignorant that she has to ask Mandy how many kidneys does she have, and how many does she need to live. Still, she tries twice to obtain a kidney:
    • First she kills a patient, not realizing that he was on dialysis precisely because his kidneys did not work.
    • Then she kills some unlucky stranger and extracts the kidney herself, except she doesn't realize that she extracted the guy's bladder.
  • The male lead of Blast from the Past has quite a bit of this, having grown up in a Small, Secluded World and not getting any real experience of the outside world. For example, he doesn't consider his gay friend to be strange at all, not having any division between heterosexuality and homosexuality included in his worldview. It's possibly because that he doesn't realize he's homosexual, or even know what homosexuality is.
    Eve: (to Adam, about Troy) He's gay, by the way.
    Adam: (thinking she means that Troy is happy) Well, good for you!
  • Mom and Dad Save the World: Emperor Tod, although he's still one of the smartest people on his planet. Everyone else cheerfully acknowledges that they're idiots, even the one or two smarter than him.
  • The Truman Show: Played straight in the way that Truman grossly overestimates his popularity in his circle of friends. They actually hate him or at least don't care about him very much, and merely suck up to him because they want to be in the spotlight. Subverted in the way that Truman actually underestimates his importance in the world. He thinks he's a normal guy at a normal job in a normal town. But the town is actually a Small, Secluded World, and Truman himself is "on the air, unaware", having millions of fans without knowing it. Also subverted in that he is Properly Paranoid and has always had a sneaking suspicion that all was not quite right, something only more evident to him as the movie progresses. He's not totally ignorant of what his friends and family think of him either- he asks his wife, at one point, why she married him, when "you can't stand me". Plus, one of the hints he gets that he's being spied on is that random strangers know who he is.


By Author:

  • Several books by Edgar Rice Burroughs feature the protagonist visiting a Wacky Wayside Tribe where the residents firmly believe theirs is the grandest civilization in the world. Invariably, their mighty empire consists of a few pathetic mud huts.
  • Socrates, according to the writings of his pupil Plato, insisted that the only true wisdom is in acknowledging how ignorant one really is. Socrates irritated so many Athenians trying to convince them to give up their ignorance of their own ignorance that they made him drink hemlock. Well, That was the official reason anyway; the politics around his trial are extremely complicated, but boils down to "one of his students led a reign of terror before losing the civil war."

By Title:

  • The derelict, crazed ruler Karzahni in BIONICLE Legends #2: Dark Destiny was cut off from the world for nearly 100,000 years, to the point that he wasn't even aware he was supposed to serve the deity Mata Nui, nor that the rest of the universe was at war. Everybody else thought he was a mere legend. When Jaller's team discovered his realm, Karzahni dismissed their stories as lies and enslaved them. Karzahni's power hinged on his ability to project visions about horrible potential futures, so Matoro dared him to show the absolute worst future imaginable, the death of Mata Nui. Karzahni obliged, not believing Mata Nui truly existed — seeing his own vision paralyzed him with shock as he realized how little he knew and how insignificant he was in the grand scheme of things, allowing his prisoners to escape.
  • Discworld: Bloody-Stupid Johnson is this ten-times through. He doesn't know he shouldn't be able to make a circle where Pi is just 3 or that it shouldn't be possible to make some of the things he makes. His works double as Achievements in Ignorance. Even the ones that don't break the laws of physics, like Ridcully's bathroom; it definitely violates safety standards and common sense, but (unlike the mail-sorting machine he made for the Post Office) it doesn't actually break reality. It doesn't even break the people who are fool enough to use it, although we may reasonably infer that it is quite likely to bruise them in unfortunate areas.
  • The Ender's Game universe contains basically the same scenario, but worse. The aliens were assumed to be Always Chaotic Evil since they slaughtered all of the humans left alive when they captured their ships; it later turned out that they were a Hive Mind, and assumed humanity was the same way. They thought they were just cutting off communications.
  • In Flatland, the zero-dimensional creature known as the Point is the King of Pointland. He is the former trope namer and maybe ur-example. In fact, pretty much everyone but the main character applies. The one-dimensional world doesn't realize the existence of a two-dimensional world. The two-dimensional world denies the existence of a three-dimensional world, etc. The book is actually supposed to be written by the square to the three-dimensional world to tell them that there are still further dimensions; in effect, an accusation of this trope aimed at the readers themselves.
  • The Rebels in the penultimate books of Galaxy of Fear. They are quick-grown clones and have trouble telling the image of something from the reality.
  • In The Glass Inferno, (one of the books that inspired The Towering Inferno), when the fire at the Glass House breaks out, architect Craig Barton helps the firemen put together his original plans for the building which he designed with scores of safety features that should be able to handle this blaze. The first sign something is off is the fire chief complaining about having no fire-proofed doors and Craig snapping he had them in his plans. At which point, up comes Will Shevelson, who'd supervised the building's construction, who tells Craig that he might as well throw his plans away. He produces the actual on-site construction plans and Craig realizes that every safety feature he'd designed was either built poorly, built with substandard equipment or simply not built at all. Shevelson adds that because he was fired midway through construction (for protesting these changes), even these plans may not be accurate. Craig and the fire chief realize that rather than the safe building they assumed they were dealing with, the House is a deathtrap.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, most of the Admirals of the Solarian League are so convinced that they are the greatest leaders of the greatest military force in the universe that they keep walking into unfortunate situations that they probably could have avoided with a little thought.
  • The Hunger Games: Effie Trinket. Only Effie could think that she had made the perfect remark when saying "When you put enough pressure on coal, it turns to pearls!", Effie, it doesn't. It doesn't help that she prefaced the statement by saying she had thought up a very clever retort.
  • In The Island of Doctor Moreau, the Ape-man believes himself to be perfectly human (a "five-man") because his hands have five fingers, a trait he shares with the two genuine humans on the island.
  • In Life, the Universe and Everything, the people of planet Krikkit are surrounded by a dust cloud that obscures the rest of the Universe from view. Therefore, they have never thought "We are alone in the Universe," because they don’t even know there's a universe for them to be alone in. When they see that there is a Universe from a spaceship that they were motivated to build by the supercomputer Hactar, their reaction? "It’ll have to go."
  • In general, wizards in The Lord of the Isles series are hugely powerful, have no clue about the nature of the forces they're wielding, and are completely unaware of their ignorance. Consequently, major spells tend to have unexpected (and often disastrous) side effects: for example, in the backstory of the series, a spell cast to sink an enemy fleet beneath the seas also sank the island the spellcaster was on. Oops.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: As Silchas Ruin points out, Clip has lived in his tidy cave for too long, never having had the opportunity to learn such things as humility, and it has gone on for so long it's flipped into Small Name, Big Ego for Clip. He simply lacks any outside scale to measure himself against and refuses to acknowledge even that fact.
  • In the post-Apocalypse novel Malevil, the evil priest Fulbert is ignorant of horses and firearms and it painfully shows. He can't get Emmanuel to give him a cow so he trades for it: two horses and three guns.
    • He doesn't understand the labor and military importance of horses in their new world. He gives Emmanuel two unruly mares and keeps only the tame geldings, not recognizing that Emmanuel has the only stallion in the region, now all the breeding stock as well, and his trade gives him a total monopoly on future horses.
    • He's clueless on firearms and tactics. On Fulbert's orders, Gazel unlocks the armory and gives Emmanuel his choice of three. After checking on ammunition, Emmanuel proceeds to grab the scoped rifles. With conflict pending between La Roque and Malevil, Malevil being a fortified castle with high walls, Emmanuel is robbing Fulbert of his best weapons and gaining a massive tactical advantage: Malevil's rifles will pick off Fulbert's shotguns long before they're a threat.
    • Lampshaded by his goon Armand, when he's trying to blackmail Emmanuel over the horses coming with their saddles:
      "Anything you can't eat, our Fulbert doesn't know the first thing about it".
  • Chris Fogle in The Pale King, during his college years. He later realizes just how idiotic and lazy he used to be.
  • In the Past Doctor Adventures novel Imperial Moon, this is essentially the reason the Vrall are exposed; they claimed to take knowledge of English via a telepathic download from Turlough, but they use terms such as 'mechanical servants' that would actually be used by an educated man from the Victorian era, allowing the Doctor to deduce that they actually took knowledge of English from eating the brains of Sub-Lieutenant Granby and were far more dangerous than they appeared.
    • Suggested in the novels Heart of TARDIS and Wolfsbane, where the younger Doctors are apparently ignorant of their future selves' involvement in the current crisis, and the Eighth Doctor is even more ignorant than the Fourth in Wolfsbane due to his current amnesia.
    • Plays a more dangerous part in the Eighth Doctor Adventures with the Doctor's adversary Sabbath; while intelligent enough to be a Manipulative Bastard who initially gets the Doctor to eliminate his enemies for him, his alleged ‘business associates’ have manipulated him- actually, two different versions of Sabbath were manipulated by two different parties in two different timelines, no less- into developing flawed ideas about how Time works so that he can manipulate the space/time continuum on their behalf to create a universe better suited to their own agenda rather than Sabbath’s desires to benefit humanity.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel trilogy The Q Continuum, this is essentially the justification for how Q and Picard can observe Q's younger self; Q admits that his past self would be able to see Picard and the future Q if he had any idea they were present, but without any reason to suspect he's being watched, Past Q continues to act as though he's alone.
  • In These Words Are True and Faithful, Danny often lectures Ernie on subjects about which Danny plainly knows nothing.
    Danny explains how he cannot be overdrawn at the bank: "'Cause the expiration date on my ATM card isn’t for another two years, duh."
  • In the Xanth novel Faun and Games, protagonist Forrest Faun gives a show of this early on when he gets a ride from Nimby the Dragon Ass and his girlfriend Chlorine. Chlorine mentions that Nimby's magic Talent is to let anyone who travels with him be whatever they want to be (which is why she is beautiful, smart, and nice). Forrest wisely concludes to himself that Chlorine is utterly insane since Nimby has already demonstrated his singular Talent of walking up and down walls. Little does Forrest know that Nimby is actually the secret identity of the major demon XANTH, who doesn't have to play by the same rules as ordinary mortals. It's also fairly rude to make such a dismissal since the land of Xanth contains plenty of magic objects and plants that let you do exceptional things without having to use a specific Talent.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies. Assumed his sixth-grade education made him a genius and what didn't explicitly "know", he could figure out. The rest of the Clampetts, lacking even that much formal education, consider him merely a Know-Nothing Know-It-All. Which is still leaps and bounds above the buffoon he really is.
  • Dean Pelton in the Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design". Jeff quickly realizes that the Dean isn't capable of forming a conspiracy on his own and actually fails to understand what a conspiracy is with the Dean in the end 'conspiring' with everyone involved.
  • Often a factor in Doctor Who; on various occasions, the Doctor prefers to avoid awkward questions by acting as though he's a native of the local time period with expert knowledge of the current threat, with the result that quite a few people never realise he's a time-travelling alien and assume he's 'just' a human scientist, some kind of traveller, or (in extreme cases) a sort of wizard.
    • There's a case for House being this in "The Doctor's Wife"; as the Doctor calls him out at the end of the episode, House might be the size of a planet, but "inside [he is] just so small".
    • In "Voyage of the Damned," supposed "Earth expert" Mr. Copper turns out to know very little of the planet. So imagine his reaction when the Doctor spells out for him that what Copper thought was "some walking around money" using Earth currency is really one million pounds.
  • Maxwell Smart of Get Smart. He has no idea that he is a bungler with incredible luck, much to the chagrin of The Chief.
  • A hallmark of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Its Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists are completely ignorant of the world outside their Limited Social Circle.
  • Referenced in the first episode of Kamen Rider Build: After Ryuga had beaten himself up over his lack of smarts earlier, Sento assures him that he can't be that dumb since the truly stupid don't even recognize their own stupidity. But then he follows up by informing Ryuga that his fly has been open the entire time.
  • Person of Interest:
    • In season 3, Northern Lights (the organization that used to be in charge of the Machine) captures Root, demanding she explain how she controls it. The answer is simple: She doesn't.
      Control: (incredulous) You view the Machine as your superior?
      Root: No, much more. My power, my reason for existing, my friend. The Machine looks out for me.
    • The best part is when they demand her username and password; the Machine has never needed anything like that, even when it was being beta tested and accepting direct commands from its creator.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years", Kirk insists that he is still capable of command because the mental deterioration caused by his Rapid Aging has left him unaware of just how badly his faculties have decayed.
    • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Valiant", Nog and Jake Sisko are saved by the eponymous Starfleet ship commanded by a crew of cadets after its senior officers were killed. The story seriously deconstructs the Space Cadet trope by showing what would actually happen if a group of cadets commanded a starship without adult supervision: they get blown to hell by the Dominion because they overestimate their competency as officers.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • The holographic counterpart of Leonardo da Vinci believes himself to be a great scientist and inventor when the reality is that he's merely an ignorant victim of cruel computer programming.
      • In "Bride of Chaotica!", the crew encounter photonic (light-based) lifeforms, who appear on the holodeck and assume it is all real. They dismiss the regular crew members since they think sentient life can't form from matter. The only person they treat as an actual person is the holographic Doctor.
  • One idiot criminal on World's Dumbest... filmed himself committing a series of crimes, including multiple thefts and chopping drugs with his probation officer's business card. After getting arrested, he said, "I'm not dumb. I'm really smart." Yeah, keep telling yourself that...

  • Averted by Eminem in "Berzerk."
    "At least I know that I don't know
    Question is are you smart enough to feel stupid, hope so"

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Earthsearch: The megalomaniacal Angel computers have used a meteorite strike to kill off the human crew of Challenger and take over the ship, raising the children of that crew under their control. Unfortunately the strike does more damage than they anticipated; in particular it destroys all their knowledge of Time Dilation, so when they return to Earth intending to conquer it they find that a million years have passed.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • St. Augustine of Hippo warned against this type of activity when he was debating The Bible literalists in the 5th century. Specifically, he warned: "Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has Neth, the Plane that Lives, who is literally a sentient plane of existence. Neth was once convinced that it was the only thing that existed due to being unable to directly see anything outside of itself. It only learned that other planes existed when people stumbled into Neth through the portal connecting Neth to the Astral plane. Now Neth's goal is to find out its own origin, as it doesn't remember how it was created.
  • Excessively Righteous Blossom in Exalted is awe-inspiringly bad at evaluating his own talents, meaning that he assumes he's a genius at everything and his countless failures in any field other than his personal area of expertise can only result from the incompetence of other people. The especially sad thing is that Alchemicals can install Charms to be really good at pretty much everything - but Blossom is convinced he doesn't need to.
  • GURPS Aliens include a hivemind race called Mmm. When first encountered, this creature slaughtered humans just to see what they looked like on the inside. However, Mmm just didn't know any better: Never before having encountered a race of individuals, Mmm assumed that humanity was a hivemind and that it wouldn't mind losing a few drones to Mmm's curiosity. (When it found out the truth, it was appropriately horrified.) Presumably a Shout-Out to the aforementioned Formics of Ender's Game.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Thousand Sons thought they were the most intelligent and well-informed about the Warp. Meanwhile, they were employing daemons as Familiars and had never even heard of the Chaos Gods. The entire Imperium circa the Horus Heresy had similar traits, but the Thousand Sons were by far the most reckless and smug about it.
    • The Tau are in many ways the early Imperium's modern-day successors when it comes to this. Due to their lack of warp connection, they have no understanding of supernatural activity, meaning that for any weird phenomena the Tau will have an explanation that is scientific, logical, and wrong. Luckily for them, the lack of warp connection helps with this; it makes them resistant to the more subtle corrupting effects, so to them, Daemons are just yet another hostile alien race. This even extends to their material thinking, believing that every alien race they encounter (including the perpetually violent Orks and the Necrons, who want to either kill everyone or reclaim their Empire's place in the galaxy) will decide that the Greater Good is the right way to go. They also have no real idea about the true size of the Imperium, and thinking during the Damocles Crusade that they had killed the "King" of the Space Marines when they managed to kill the Raven Guard's Chapter Master and expected the rest to surrender. Commander Farsight is one of the few who realizes the Tau's worldview is too limited. His main reason to oppose the Ethereal Caste is that they are keeping the Tau ignorant.

  • As You Like It: Shakespeare stated something along these lines, giving the line to Touchstone.
    The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Your companion Solas's friend, a Wisdom Spirit, has had something bad happen to it. It turns out that a group of mages bound the spirit. They had been trying to summon something to protect them, but instead got a Wisdom Spirit, which the bindings and their emotions corrupted into a Pride Demon. Solas knows all of this and tries to explain, but the other mages treat him as if he knows nothing about what he's talking about when they're the ones who screwed up. Worse, there's nothing you can do to save the spirit, it has to die. By the end of it, Solas is so enraged at their ignorance and pride that he wants to kill them.
  • Touhou: In the fandom, Cirno tends to get this treatment. While she was portrayed as somewhat stupid in her first appearance, it has been wholly embraced in subsequent appearances, declaring herself "The strongest!" after bumbling through a few fights in one and trying to take on what appeared to be a Giant Mecha in another. To be fair to Cirno she says she's the strongest after winning a match and as a playable character she IS actually capable of defeating EX-level bosses. According to Word of God however, she is still an idiot. Cirno only claims to be the strongest fairy in Gensokyo. While this is technically true, most fairies are Cannon Fodder that the player character defeats by the truckload, so this isn't saying much. Likewise, she's very intelligent by fairy standards...but all that really means is she's literate and somewhat numerate.
  • Referenced in Warframe among the fractured Entrati family by Grandmother, who states that Son (her grandson) is the least-foolish of her children and grandchildren because at least he is somewhat aware of how little he really knows, unlike the insufferably arrogant Mother, Father, and Daughter.

  • Blaster Nation: Ash is obliviously ignorant, at times - she buys cheap replica swords from Hai's father, apparently believing they are authentic.
  • Polandball: In the strip Conqueror by Redditor Teh_Sauce_Guy, the tiny island nation of Palau boasts of having conquered the world – it just doesn't know there's a world beyond Palau.
  • One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip is a graph of "Willingness to opine on a topic" versus "knowledge of that topic". An early bump representing this trope is dubbed "Mount Stupid".

    Web Video 
  • In Cracked's video "Why 'Idiocracy' Would Actually Be A Utopia", Soren Bowie disputed the assertions that Idiocracy was an indicator of increasing anti-intellectualism by arguing that in Idiocracy, the idiotic characters from 2505 are all aware about their idiocy, whereas in real life, genuinely stupid people don't have that sort of self-awareness. In Idiocracy, President Camacho admitted he didn't have all the answers to the addressing the country's food crisis and brought in Joe, who was identified by an intelligence test as the smartest man alive, to help him solve these problems, which suggests that he's actually a genuinely competent leader who actually wants to help people.
  • Zinnia Jones: In the episode "Filling in each other's blanks: The importance of listening", Zinnia discuss the concepts of "known unknowns" versus "unknown unknowns". With "known unknowns", we are least know what kind of answer we are looking for. That something is an unknown unknown, however, means that we are even ignorant of our own ignorance. Zinnia argues that we should always listen to people's experiences: If nothing else, it can still alert us to questions we didn't yet know we needed an answer for.

    Web Original 
  • Babe Ruth: Man-Tank Gladiator: Throckle No'Goor doesn't realize how little he actually knows about the 21st century.
  • Cracked's Gladstone lists 4 Douches Who Amazingly Don't Seem to Know They Suck. These include people who use a handicap tag for parking without actually needing one, people who grow weary of their customer service job, drivers who honk at other drivers merging onto a highway, and people who overreact to minor inconveniences.
  • Metamor Keep: In the story "Keeping The Lamp Lit" Lord Altera Loriod becomes the living embodiment of this as he's seemingly unaware that males who used to be females would not have any knowledge of how combat actually works in the middle ages, believes that Goldfish are made of real Gold no matter how many times he has been told otherwise, ignores everything the spirits tell him, and believes that if you rape someone in a cursed area that you have kidnapped they will get horny and turn into a woman instead of feeling helpless and turn into a child, when he is, and in a later story by a different author "Where Life Begins Anew" the Shapeshifter known as Hawl Enroygall can't seem to grasp that it doesn't matter if you can disguise yourself as anyone on the planet it won't work if the only person you can act like is yourself. Even Cedric Bariclauph sees through this and he had not even met Hawl.

    Western Animation 
  • It becomes a key plot point in the Elena of Avalor episode "Finders Leapers". Esteban openly considers himself a better and more qualified leader than Naomi because she's nothing but a commoner while he's of royal blood, to the extent that he terribly overestimates his own intelligence and when his own blundering ends up freeing the Duende from their imprisonment and putting Avalor in danger, he repeatedly blames Naomi. Needless to say, after the third time, Elena and Professor Mendoza have had enough and put him in his place:
    Elena: You haven't been following [Naomi], Esteban! You were the one who let the first Duende out, you ignored Naomi at the park, and you sprung the trap too early. The problem hasn't been Naomi. It's been you.
    Prof. Mendoza: Yeah, I guess you were never royally trained in listening.
  • In King of the Hill, Peggy is portrayed as a Know-Nothing Know-It-All, who thinks she's an expert in Spanish. This is exemplified in the episode "Lupe's Revenge" where she's arrested and tried for kidnapping a Mexican girl she accidentally smuggled into the U.S. At the trial she tells Hank and her attorney it's all a mistake on the part of the Mexican authorities, insisting her Spanish is flawless. Hank convinces the attorney to let Peggy giver her testimony in Spanish. After some deliberation, the Judge rules Peggy was too ignorant to understand what she was doing and declares her not guilty, Peggy thinks that she's going to prison, but after Hank says she's probably free, she takes credit for the "translation".
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: Look no further than Stimpy...
    "They don't call me stupid for nothing!"
  • On Spongebob Squarepants, Patrick Star manages to embody this trope while simultaneously applying it to someone else (he asked Spongebob to pretend to be dumber than him so that Patrick's parents, who were coming for a visit, wouldn't be ashamed of him; turns out Patrick was so dumb he mistook two random starfish as dumb as him for his parents).
    (Spongebob pretends to be stupid. Patrick immediately forgets that he's pretending.)
    Patrick: Dumb people are always blissfully unaware of how dumb they really are. (stares blankly and drools a little)

    Real Life 
  • His Imperial Majesty Norton I, Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico was one of these...or pretended to be. Norton was beloved by most of his "subjects". They even used his currency!
  • Known amongst psychologists as part of the Dunning–Kruger effect. Your ability to judge how good someone is at a skill is directly proportional to your ability at the skill itself, barring outside instruction. In the dearth of other information, most people will assume that they are above-average (around the 66th percentile) in ability, regardless of their actual ability level, with very competent people believing that most people are more knowledgeable than they truly are, and the incompetent people believing themselves to be far more competent at the task than they actually are. The only way to actually judge someone's skill at something is to have someone skilled at the task do so. Naturally, incompetent people don't believe that they are incompetent, and think that they can judge the competence of others...
    • The incident that gave rise to the Dunning-Kruger effect's discovery was a series of bank robberies perpetrated by McArthur Wheeler, who was convinced that using lemon juice (used to make invisible ink) would make his face invisible and thus unidentifiable to authorities.
  • This trope is also the reason why so many cases of Insane Troll Logic or outright bigotry are accompanied by the words "Sorry, but it's the truth..." or "I'm just telling it how it is!". Although in some cases, the poster may simply be trying to convince him/herself of their own wisdom.
  • There's a Spanish proverb that says: "Tell me what you brag about and I'll tell you what you lack."
  • Invoked by Donald Rumsfeld in his (in?)famous statement about "unknown unknowns", worded in a technically correct but dizzyingly confusing way.note  Not to mention the fact that there is another category much closer to this trope, that of unknown knowns, the things that it is possible to know but that the individual has not taken the time to learn or is incapable of understanding or something that is known but not taken into account.
    • For reference, here is an example of the four possible combinations, using the analogy of a baseball game:
      • Known knowns: A batter swings his bat. He knows that he knows how fast he can swing.
      • Known unknowns: The opposing team switches out pitchers when one becomes injured. The batter knows the pitcher is different but not in which ways.
      • Unknown knowns: An asteroid suddenly collides with the stadium. Possible to know, irrelevant in nearly all cases.
      • Unknown Unknowns: A giant worm from another dimension pops out of the ground and starts eating the field. Impossible to account for on logical grounds.
  • The documentary series Prehistoric Planet received criticism from a Vocal Minority of reviewers who believed that the many advances in dinosaur research shown in the show were wrong, or even trying to be politically correct. Some of these complaints included: some dinosaurs having feathers, pterosaurs being anatomically accurate (an accurately-depicted pterosaur is very visibly different from the kind usually seen in dinosaur media), dinosaurs being shown in Arctic climates (where fossils have been found), T. rex being bulky and not eating its children, and not portraying the dinosaurs as giant lizards or monsters. These criticisms were clearly coming from people whose knowledge of dinosaurs doesn't extend much further than movies.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): King Of Pointland, Ignorant Of His Own Ignorance, Illusory Superiority


We're gonna go play Hooky!

Despite making a Sailor's Promise to Mr. Krabs to never play on the hooks again, Patrick still goads SpongeBob into doing so.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ToxicFriendInfluence

Media sources: