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Ignored Vital News Reports

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Let's hope he sticks to sunbathing.

In the world of 24-Hour News Networks it's hard not to stay up to date with all the world's problems and issues. Well, if you're actually paying attention to the news, that is. This trope is when a lot of the impending doom and gloom has been ignored because the characters were going about their lives in a mundane, nonchalant way while ignoring all of the breaking news on the radio and TV. Usually missing out on the early reports of the incoming Alien Invasion, the rise of the machines, the coming Zombie Apocalypse, or just bad crappy severe weather. Which of course would have saved them a lot of trouble later. But hey, this happens to us all in real life, right?

Just think about it. You're sitting on your couch flipping through the channels and all you get is little blurbs of the following: This just in! Reports are coming in all over about.... *changes channel* ....There are several reports of strange.... *changes channel* ....Earlier today people witnessed a strange object hovering over Chicag.... *changes channel* ....There's chaos on the roadways as the city streets are jammed and.... *changes channel* ....Police are warning people to stay inside, and.... *changes channel* ....It has been reported that these people appear to be in a catatonic daze with the taste for.... *changes channel*

Damn, there's nothing on TV!!.... *looks outside* Hey, what the hell is everybody running from?!!

A subtrope of Failed a Spot Check. See also Worst News Judgment Ever, when the media misses out on the news, rather than the viewers. Contrast Coincidental Broadcast.


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    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Apollo 13, Ken Mattingly turns off his television just as the "Special Report" graphic appears. He goes to bed and misses the report on how the space mission is in danger.
    • He also takes the phone off the hook when going to bed, forcing someone from NASA to get his landlord to open his apartment to get his help.
      John Young: Good, you're not dead.
  • In The Clearing, the protagonist ignores the news reports on the radio about random violent attacks while driving himself and his daughter to a camp site.
  • In Fright Night (1985), Charlie and his mother are busy conversing when a news report about a murder plays on the TV. While never explicitly stated as such, the victim was presumably killed by the vampire next door.
  • In Giant Luz II is parked with Jett Rink and turns off a radio report about Pearl Harbor.
  • A couple of examples in Godzilla (2014) where people try their best to ignore the news, but are forced to pay attention: Mrs. Brody with her son ("Dinosaur!"), and a bunch of gamblers in Las Vegas with an EMP blast and then the female MUTO ripping away one of the walls of their casino.
  • In Hunted (1952), the hostess at the Bed & Breakfast turns off the radio while news are announced about the two fugitives she just let in.
  • Played with in Independence Day. Steven Hiller pays passing attention to the news and assumes it's about the "small earthquake" he and his wife felt a few minutes prior. It's only when he gets outside and notices everyone hurriedly packing their cars that he takes a good look around and finally sees the several-mile-wide spaceship. Clearly, Hiller is not a morning person...
  • Living Dead Series:
  • Shaun of the Dead: Shaun practically ignores every unusual event that's happening around him due to being very preoccupied with his miserable personal problems. In fact, when he wakes up in the morning, hung over after a late-night bender, he changes the channel every for every news bulletin or boring show. The news bulletins, which include a nature documentary, finish each others' sentences (even when switching to and from non-news channels), all talking about the dead coming back from the grave.
  • The Silence (2019). Jude is playing a computer game on the TV when her mother switches it off, saying he has to do his homework. After she's left he switches the game back on again, turning off a news report about a "fourth plane crash" presumably brought down by The Swarm of flying monsters. That night though the children are woken at three in the morning by their parents who have been following news reports on the crisis. Later Ally is shown regularly checking the internet for information.
  • Threads has the main characters not pay much attention to the developing crisis in Iran, even though it's covered in TV and radio news reports all the time... Until the first Soviet nukes arrive.
  • The film adaptation of World War Z has Gerry Lane's family watching a news report about martial law being declared as the disease spreads. They think nothing of it, at least until they're trapped in a city that's being swarmed with zombies.

  • The lead character in Day by Day Armageddon initially does this, but starts paying closer attention later on when talks of a "super bug" start to spread in America. Since the story is framed as the main character's journal, he not only notes the news reports but considers them important enough to record. But it still serves about the same narrative purpose of having the unfolding Zombie Apocalypse set up for the reader while the characters ignore it since he treats fears about The Virus dismissively.
  • In Dragonsdawn, Avril pays no attention to the mayday from Landing and decides to not figure out why everyone's at landing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 2point4 Children episode "I'm Going Slightly Mad", Bill is passed out from her new job, and thus misses the news report that her Mysterious Protector motorcyclist Angelo had died in a motorcycle accident.
  • On The Americans, Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union, dies, a fact which will have major implications for the main characters, who are Russian spies. The first person to hear the news is their teenage daughter Paige, who listens to the news for a second, then flips to The Jeffersons.
  • Minor example in Cheers: when Lilith announces she's leaving Frasier, the latter threatens to jump off the building above the bar. Meanwhile, inside the bar, the gang is obliviously watching TV with Norm channel surfing and happening to glance a report about "some guy threatening to jump off a building". An extremely agitated Cliff then shouts at Norm to go back... to an episode of Quincy, M.E.. Only then does Sam ask to change to the "jumper" and they realize who it is.
  • Patrick in Dead Set does notice that something is happening on the news, but only worries about whether it'll affect the upcoming broadcast of Big Brother. (It does.)
  • Doctor Who: When the Doctor first meets Donna Noble in "The Runaway Bride", she missed out on previous high-profile alien invasions because she was hungover for the Sycorax, and scuba diving in Spain for the Cybermen. He's confused as to how she ended up like this. The novelization of "Rose" has a cutaway showing how she missed out on the Auton massacre as well.
  • In ER's legendary "Hell and High Water" episode, after rescuing a boy from a storm drain, Doug commandeers a news chopper to get him to County Hospital. The reporter films Doug's efforts to keep the boy alive until they get to the hospital where everyone is playing a video game. Not until the emergency is called in does everyone look up and see Doug on the television.
  • In a season 3 episode of Heroes, Hiro and Ando are trying to figure out why they have been sent to protect a baby, rather than the adult with the same name that they thought they were sent to protect. While they argue over possible explanations, the baby keeps turning on the TV...which is showing news reports of the adult they thought they were being sent to protect, wearing a suicide-bomber vest, being arrested outside the U.S. Capitol building. Hiro and Ando ignore the TV except to turn it off in annoyance every time the baby turns it on until they finally unplug the TV in frustration. Then the baby turns the TV on yet again with his powers, and Hiro and Ando switch to enthusing about the baby having a mutant power, still ignoring the news reports on the TV until the baby's mother comes home and tells them about it.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, the characters turn on Robin's morning talk show but get sidetracked by their conversation and fail to notice her putting out a fire, resuscitating a man after a heart attack and delivering a baby, all on camera.
  • Mad Men
    • The John F. Kennedy assassination:
      • In "The Grown-Ups", Harry and Ken are chatting about work, and Ken asks Harry to turn the sound down on the TV. Then the CBS News bulletins about the Kennedy assassination start popping up on the screen, but Harry and Ken don't notice until other Sterling Cooper employees barge into their office to watch the TV.
      • Duck turns off the TV in his hotel room on the first report that the president has been "wounded" in order to have sex with Peggy. Afterwards, he mentions that before she came in there was something on the news that's been on his mind, and he turns it back on just in time for the famous confirmation by Walter Cronkite ("From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official...").
      • On the other hand, Betty is watching when Jack Ruby kills Lee Harvey Oswald live on camera.
    • There's a bit of a Black Comedy moment in season 6 (taking place in 1968) when Pete's demented mother raves about seeing a news story about Kennedy being assassinated. Pete shrugs her off as having flashbacks to the JFK shooting...only she was actually referring to Robert Kennedy, who was indeed shot that day.
  • In a parody, the lads on The Young Ones actually did watch a news flash about a police siege, but they never noticed that it was happening at their own house. Even when it concludes inside their house.
    • Also there's the time Helen the escaped murderess turned up at the lads' house. None of them notice the radio broadcast about her escape, not even when Vyv and Rick are throwing the radio at one another or the reporter's voice breaks the fourth wall and starts yelling at them to pay attention.
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live! has a recurring sketch called "Lie Witness News", where a cameraman asks people their opinion on blatantly-false facts related to a recent news headline or event. One example has them being asked about a proposal to move the Fourth of July to February.
  • In the Season 2 finale of Superstore, a shopper flips through the channels on the store's TV sets, passing up various warnings that a Tornado Watch has been issued and to be prepared. The shoppers nor the workers have any idea a tornado's coming until they hear a tornado warning siren.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted at the beginning of The Last of Us. In the prologue, Joel's daughter Sarah wakes up in the middle of the night while Joel is out on a job. She comes across a news report in Joel's bedroom (that is cut off by a gas explosion). Joel and Tommy, when they get Sarah and try to flee the outbreak, talk about news reports including how many dead, where it started, and other things. Police cars are also seen speeding past.
  • In Noitu Love 2 we find a man sitting on a park bench calmly reading a newspaper, in the middle of a robot apocalypse that's been happening all game. As a strange inversion, it seems that he might have been better off paying attention to his surroundings instead of reading the news.
  • Done in season one of The Walking Dead as Lee is being driven off to prison, he makes small talk with the officer escorting him. As they do, we start hearing more and more reports coming on the police radio. The officer ignores it as he used to it and eventually cuts it off.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, neither the Saints or the Syndicate pay much attention to the news reports about the STAG initiative...until STAG bursts in on them and starts firing lasers at them.

  • Happens a few times in the prologue of Stand Still, Stay Silent:
    • A group of people sits during a storm, reading previous day's newspaper stating that the Rash is becoming a global pandemic and Iceland has just closed its borders to prevent spread. Rather than worry about the Rash, the characters discuss Iceland and the storm outside - though granted, the Rash is not yet a terminal disease.
    • On a ferry going to Bornholm, a news report talks about Madagascar and Japan also closing its borders, but the hero of this segment is more worried about his cat and losing his job.
    • When leaving on a family yacht into the Finnish wilderness, the child of an extended family is the only one watching television when the news anchor states that the Rash has just killed its first victim and is now considered deadly. He does tell one of the adults: his implied to be hypochondriac and currently very seasick uncle.
  • xkcd suggests "To make news stories way more ominous, imagine you're hearing them from a background TV in a movie as the main character leaves."

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series, "Joker's Favor": Everyman Charlie Collin's car's radio broadcast the last part of the bulletin announcing someone has escaped and is considered armed and dangerous. Charlie, not being a superhero, only cares that this would aggravate the traffic jam he's in and goes through a Rage Breaking Point and rants on how his life sucks. Some minutes later, he will be Mugging the Joker
  • In the Daria Musical Episode, which focuses on a hurricane hitting Lawndale, Helen and Quinn dismiss the weather report in the Setting Introduction Song. Daria only reads about it in the paper later; to her credit, she takes it semi-seriously.
    Helen: (turns on the TV) What's the weather like today?
    News Anchor: Maybe a hurricane on the way!
    Helen: (turns off the TV, walks away) But it's such a lovely day...
    Quinn: What does science know?!
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) the Professor sets up a curfew for the girls as they have to be in bed by 7:30 PM. When he watches the news it all features Townsville being attacked by everything the girls would handle but tries to ignore all of it because of the curfew. Only when he sees a channel reporting Daylight Savings Time ending and noticing he forgot to set the clocks back does he finally get the message and let them save Townsville.
  • In one episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, Peter is so busy getting ready for school and talking to Aunt May that he doesn't notice the (muted) news report of the escape of the Sinister Six.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, the Pigs' car radio picks up the report about the psycho killer they inadvertently just picked up. Unfortunately, before Plucky, the only one who was aware they were in danger, could get the number for the authorities, Hampton's mother turned off the radio.