Follow TV Tropes

Following

Innocently Insensitive

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ii_kuzco.png
Drax: You, Quill, are my friend.
Quill: Thanks.
Drax: This dumb tree, he is my friend.
Groot: [grunts]
Drax: And this green whore; she, too—
Gamora: Oh, you must stop!
Advertisement:

This character picks on the short girl for being short. They'll ask a woman for her age. They'll bug the flamboyant guy about his sexuality. And the worst part is, they don't realize what they're doing is rather painful for the person on the receiving end of the criticism. In the worst cases, they might not stop at one insult and even continue until someone forces them to stop, or the other person runs away crying. (Their reaction to this is probably: "Huh? What did I do?")

What separates them from the Jerkass is that this person is actually a good person — they're just clueless to things that people might generally be sensitive to. To them, it was just a fun joke or an honest assessment — no offense intended. When others bring up the fact that what they're saying is hurting other people's feelings, they apologize and try to change.

Advertisement:

The Idiot Hero, Cloudcuckoolander, and those who have No Social Skills are prone to this. They tend to receive replies like "You Know I'm Black, Right?" and "I'm Standing Right Here". Innocent Bigot is a subtrope. Obviously guilty of frequently committing a Fee Fi Faux Pas. It may also be the result of a Crazy Cultural Comparison or a Cross Cultural Kerfuffle. Compare Horrible Judge of Character, Oblivious Mockery, My Parents Are Dead, Deadpan Snarker (when this is done intentionally) and Hanlon's Razor. Contrast More Insulting than Intended, where the insult was deliberate but not to such a degree.

Frustratingly Truth in Television. Especially notable are autistic people, though this can vary and often the exact opposite is true if said people are hypersensitive. Contrast with Apologises a Lot, when a character tries too hard to avoid being this — and it is not unheard of for the two to alternate.

Advertisement:

Example Subpages:


Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics (2015): During an argument, Jughead makes fun of Archie's Betty and Veronica Love Triangle drama. Archie replies with "Look, I'm not going to apologize for being a normal guy", which offends Jughead as an aromantic asexual. He apologizes afterwards.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, some of the members of the Yu Dao chapter of the Air Acolytes tattooed their foreheads just like Aang, who sees it as treating his culture as if it was a game. The members later apologized, saying they never meant to insult him or his culture.
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Zuko thinks to bring tea to Azula and Ozai to try to facilitate a conversation between the two of them. However, Zuko completely forgets that his sister is still in a straitjacket. Azula calls him out on this, presuming that he wanted her to lap the tea out of the cup like a dog.
  • The Avengers: On first meeting Monica Rambeau, Carol Danvers cracks a joke about her using the name Captain Marvel, asking if she's Mar-Vell the Kree — the first person to use that name — with a new look (Mar's a pink skinned male alien. Monica's a black woman). Everyone else in the room is a little aghast because Mar died of cancer some time ago. Carol legitimately didn't know.
  • Batman:
    • The Batman Adventures: After Batman has defeated one of the Scarecrow's schemes:
      Alfred: And not a moment too soon, for my taste. Nightmares every night is no way to live one's life.
      [awkward moment of realization]
      Alfred: Oh, dear. I do apologize, sir.
      Bruce: [looking at parents' portrait] That's... all right, Alfred.
    • Batman Beyond: Terry discussing family issues with Bruce.
      Terry: I'm beginning to think that relatives can be more trouble than they're worth.
      Bruce: I wouldn't know.
    • Deconstructed in a Catwoman issue. When Selina and Sylvia were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident or attempt to comfort her, causing Sylvia to develop a deep hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Sylvia's hatred of her was unknown to Selina, who still trusted her and considered Sylvia her closest childhood friend. This allowed Sylvia to betray Selina in the worst way possible.
  • In Black Panther, Aneka repeatedly refers to T'Challa as Harume-Fal — a mocking name that means "orphan king", which is meant to be a reference to the fact that he was the first King of Wakanda to lose his country. But in Wakandan culture, there is a deep stigma against orphans, because centuries of isolation and prosperity have made orphans a rare occurrence, and thus the few Wakandans who are orphaned are assumed to have deserved their state. Thus, when Aneka keeps gleefully using the name around her host, Khadijah, she ends up offending her, as Khadijah was actually an orphan, and suffered derision throughout her childhood because of it. Khadijah's husband, Changamire, takes it as a teachable moment, asking Aneka to examine why she is perpetuating the stigma just to mock an antagonist.
  • Miles Morales
    • First it was Miles, towards the Rhino. They're trying to locate the kidnapped Rhino's niece, and Miles asks if he has a girlfriend. "A wife. But not anymore". Of course, Miles apologizes after that.
    • And then it was the Rhino. Explaining that things are difficult for him, as he's trapped inside a Rhino suit he can't get rid of, he tells Miles that "You don't know what it's like. People think they know you 'cause of how you look". Miles is young, has a normal body... and he's black, so yes, he knows. However, as he's in his Spider-Man suit (which covers his whole body) Rhino had no way to know that.
  • Klara Prast of the Runaways once mistook the X-Men for demons, and on another occasion, mistook Tigra for a prostitute. She's also been on the receiving end of innocent insensitivity; Victor and Chase have used the fact that she was once married as an excuse to talk about sex around her because she presumably already knows about it. It doesn't occur to them that she'd rather not be reminded of that fact...
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Sonic himself has his moments. For example, he, after his breakup with Sally, ends up pursuing a relationship with Fiona Fox despite full knowledge of Tails' crush on her, leading to quite a strain on their friendship, which progressively gets worse when Tails' parents lead a Velvet Revolution; Sonic tactlessly criticizes Amadeus for leading an angry mob to Castle Acorn and calls it a stupid move right in front of Tails, dismissing Nicole's concerns over it and suggestion that they talk things out as they were "practically brothers" and would be fine. Later, when he tries to keep Amadeus in prison and Rosemary calls him out over his loyalties to Tails, Sonic smugly gloats that he and Tails grew up together and that since Tails worships him, he'll get over it; this is what pushes Tails to his Rage Breaking Point and triggers a massive fight between the two. Throughout the entire exchange, Sonic has no clue why Tails is so pissed at him until Tails flat-out screams it at him in a fit of rage; now knowing what it's all about, Sonic apologizes, explaining that he knew that Tails liked Fiona and that she had no interest in him so Sonic went out with Fiona to keep Tails from being hurt while acknowledging that it was a spur of the moment thing done because he was still hurting over Sally, and he didn't think before he took action.
    Sonic: I've been a jerk to you, man. I didn't mean it, but it doesn't change the fact that I was.
  • Superman:
    • Lois Lane, in her attempts to report on poverty, tended to do this.
    • In Action Comics #243, Superman gets turned into a humanoid lion. While initially shocked, Lois Lane talks him into going to a play with her to make him feel better and prove her feelings haven't changed. Much to her chagrin, she only remembers once they've arrived that the play is Beauty and the Beast.
    • Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: When Supergirl says she should pursue justice rather revenge, Ruthye screams Kara does not know what to lose someone is like. In hindsight, she admits she would have shut her mouth if she had known she was talking to someone who saw her parents dying and her civilization getting destroyed twice.
  • In Swordquest Realworld, Alvin tries to reassure Peter that he knows what he's going through by talking about how depressed he got when he was eliminated from The Cutting Board. Peter asks how Alvin could possibly compare losing on a reality TV show to dying.
  • In Violine:
    • After crocodiles tear apart two pursuing death squad members, Kombo leads Violine away so she doesn't see it... and then tells her how the crocodiles tore them apart in detail.
    • Kombo does the same thing when Violine is in danger from crocodiles herself, describing how they will take pieces of meat to the bottom of the river to let them rot before eating them.
  • Because she lacks social skills, Laura Kinney aka X-23 tends to do this. After an adventure in Limbo, Laura sees no problem with telling Surge (who wasn't present) that her boyfriend Prodigy had his heart ripped out (he got better) when all the other students were evasive about it (even implied that this was why Nori asked her about it after the others didn't come clean). When Laura is later attending Avengers Academy and Wolverine brings some of her former classmates from Xavier's there to keep them safe, she greets Dust by telling her she "smells healthy." After Dust reminds her it's not polite to tell someone how they smell, she innocently says that because she can't see her (Dust practices hijab and covers herself in public) it's the only way she can tell.

    Films — Animation 
  • After the Beast from Beauty and the Beast lets Belle go, ergo giving up his chances of becoming human again, Cogsworth comes in cheerfully proclaiming how great everything is going and how he always knew the curse could be broken.
  • Koda in Brother Bear 2. While teasing Nita with a salmon he caught, Koda unknowingly triggers back her fear of water. He goes so far in this that Kenai (who at first found this funny until he sees that Nita's being bothered) ends up having to sharply tell him to stop.
    • This trope is a good and bad thing for Koda in Brother Bear and its sequel. On the good side, Koda says what's on his mind and doesn't mince any words, telling Kenai important things that he (at first) doesn't want to hear. But on the bad side, he sometimes doesn't know when to stop talking and can be unaware of how this affects others.
  • Buck Cluck in Chicken Little. Despite his questionable parenting, it's pretty clear he's not intentionally abusive, and he makes up for it at the end.
  • In Encanto:
    • The town kids keep asking Mirabel what her powers are, oblivious to her discomfort with the subject and ignoring her deflections to avoid admitting her Muggle Born of Mages status.
    • One villager brings Mirabel a "not-special" gift basket while continuously talking about how she has no gift. He clearly meant no harm but he is unintentionally rubbing salt in a sore spot for Maribelle.
    • Bruno clearly had meant well but it was not a good place and time to joke to the already anxious Pepa on their wedding day.
      • Bruno also did not intend to cause trouble for Isabella and Dolores by telling his nieces about their futures but by doing so, it caused a lot of issues for them in the long run.
  • Anna from Frozen (2013) is a Nice Girl. She's just made to forget the fact that her older sister Elsa has ice powers after the latter nearly accidentally kills Anna while playing.
    • She repeatedly begs Elsa to build a snowman with her, not knowing that the last time they did it, she almost got killed.
    • The barrage of Armor Piercing Questions she fires at Elsa at the coronation ball is a downplayed example: Anna means to vent her frustration, but she has no idea just how much those questions hurt. She asks what is it that Elsa is so afraid of without knowing that Elsa lives in fear of harming others, especially Anna, with her uncontrollable magic or being hunted down as a witch. "What did I ever do to you?!" is probably the worst, because it's not what Anna did, it's what Elsa herself did. Anna doesn't know how stressed Elsa is at the coronation day and doesn't mean for her outburst to be the last straw that causes Elsa to snap, reveal her powers, and unleash the Endless Winter.
    • In Olaf's Frozen Adventure, as the sisters go through their old trunks, Anna asks Elsa what's in her trunk. Elsa says mostly gloves, and Anna assumes she's joking, "sure, rows and rows of satin gloves." They open it and see exactly that; Anna cracks an uneasy smile.
  • Sid from Ice Age franchise, especially in Ice Age: The Meltdown, where he makes several insensitive remarks towards Manny, who thinks that he's The Last of His Kind.
    Sid: Someday when you've gone extinct. When you make a stink—
    Manny: Shut up, Sid.
    Sid: Okay. [later] Stop, hey-hey, what's that sound? All the mammoths are in the ground!
    Manny: Stop singing, Sid!
    Sid: If your species will continue clap your hands! If your species will—
    Manny: Sid, I'm gonna fall on you again, and this time, I will kill you.
    Sid: Okay, somebody doesn't like the classics.
  • In The Incredibles, Jack-Jack is mostly oblivious to any hardship his family goes through. Being that he's a baby, he doesn't really understand the trouble he's causing with his superpowers and thinks it's just a fun game.
  • This is one of Joy's major traits in Inside Out. As the Anthropomorphic Personification of happiness, she's a cheerful, friendly emotion that loves Riley (the girl she and the other emotions maintain) and has her best interests at heart. However, she's so determined to keep Riley happy constantly that she often pushes the other emotions — and especially Sadness — aside so she can run things her way; at one point, she forces Sadness to stay in a small circle and read manuals about the brain to keep her from interfering with Riley's first day at a new school. Joy doesn't do any of this maliciously, but it still hurts, and much of her Character Development throughout the movie is learning that Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust have an important purpose in Riley's life.
  • The Lion King (1994): While stargazing with Timon and Pumbaa, Simba tells him that he was told that the great kings of the past are watching over them from the stars. This makes Timon and Pumbaa laugh, asking what "mook" made that up. Simba (who had indirectly mentioned his dead father Mufasa) feels sad and leaves, which leaves Timon to ask a little guiltily, "Was it something I said?"
    Timon: Hopefully they don't fall out of the sky! Hold on, your majesty!
    Pumbaa: Yeah, don't let go!
  • Wilbur Robinson of Meet the Robinsons treats Lewis being an orphan as a mere footnote when the audience is aware that this is probably one of the most painful parts, if not the most, of Lewis's life. Kind of Justified since Wilbur knows he's destined to be Happily Adopted by the end of the day/thirty years ago.
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, even when Private expresses how much he wants just to be a meaningful and valued member of the team, the others continue to just treat him as simply "the cute one", much to his annoyance.
    Skipper: You can't take away Private's cuteness!
    Kowalski: He's the cute one! That's, that's his thing!
    Private: What?
    Skipper: It's all the little guy's got!
    Private: Ugh...
  • Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, and Eeyore in Piglet's Big Movie. They don't mean to be so abusive to Piglet, and they realize just how badly they've taken him for granted as the film goes on.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness, Fred accidentally offends two astronauts by reminding them that their mission occurred "before [he] was born".
  • Fix-It Felix Jr. of Wreck-It Ralph has this painfully so. He can't bring himself to tell the Nicelanders to let Ralph in his birthday party, he accidentally causes Calhoun to suffer a Heroic BSoD when he calls her "one dynamite gal", and only realizes how crummy he's been when Ralph slings back Felix's accusation that he doesn't know how it feels to be treated as a criminal.
  • Being a movie all about stereotypes and how even the most open-minded people can have bigoted tendencies, Zootopia has a few characters who do this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Assault on Wall Street: Jim bumps into his former financial advisor whose bank defrauded Jim. The latter makes a token attempt at small talk, comparing Jim's situation to his wife complaining to him that they couldn't go to Barbados that year, not knowing that Jim's wife committed suicide because of their financial worries.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
    • This exchange when Bruce is feeling down about his time as the Other Guy. Though really, what did Black Widow think was going to happen when she asked the Proud Warrior Race Guy?
      Black Widow: Thor, report on the Hulk.
      Thor: The gates of Hel are filled with the screams of his victims!
      Bruce: [buries his face in his hands]
      Black Widow: [shoots Thor a horrified look]
      Thor: But not the screams of the dead, of course. No, no... wounded screams... mainly whimpering, a great deal of complaining and tales of sprained deltoids and... gout.
    • While preparing for the final battle, Tony Stark says that Ultron will be gunning for him first. Vision, who is literally a few hours old at this point, backs this up, almost cheerfully. "That's true, he hates you the most."
  • Bicentennial Man: During the trailer, when Rupert talks about how imperfection is the key to making a realistic face, Andrew makes a comment about how imperfect Rupert's head is. During the film, Rupert only does minor double-takes and chalks it up to Andrew's honesty. As robots can rarely lie, Andrew makes a number of similar remarks throughout, such as pointing out the contempt the NorthAm CEO has for him and insulting Portia's work.
  • Bumblebee: Charlie's step-dad tries to be a good parent to her and is always openly happy and kind to her, but does not understand she is still grieving the death of her biological father and is not ready to accept him as part of the family yet. He actually thought it was a good idea to give her a self-help book telling her to smile more, believing it would help her and everyone around her, as a gift for her 18th birthday. This ends up adding insult to injury after Charlie's equally clueless mother nixes Charlie's wish for a car as a gift and instead gives her tomboy daughter a girly rainbow-colored helmet to wear on her moped.
  • In Change of Habit, Amanda hears Irene, the only black nun, talking about her difficult background. Later, Amanda shows up at a party with a black hand puppet, and when an adult tries to talk to her, she says, "My name is Irene. When little white girls was playing with dolls I was praying I could be somebody and not just another nigger in the streets."
  • In Cinderella (2015), Ella's father is a Nice Guy, but he does love Ella more than his new wife and stepdaughters. Lady Tremaine overhears him tell her this, and it becomes the seed of a lot of the abuse she deals later.
  • Randall falls afoul of this Clerks II, using the slur "porch monkey" in front of some black customers in reference to himself and Dante. He'd grown up hearing his grandmother use the term without ever realizing the racial connotation of it. His attempts to "reclaim" the term go about as well as you'd expect.
  • In Elf, Buddy meets Miles Finch, a little person. Having grown up with Santa Claus and his elves his whole life, he assumes Miles is an elf and addresses him as one, asking how things are back at Santa's workshop. Miles is enraged, thinking Buddy is doing short jokes. Throughout the whole scene, Buddy doesn't understand his mistake, even after Miles beats him up.
  • Get Out (2017) has a more villainous example in the Armitage family. While they do horrible things to black people, their bigotry is presented less as raging white supremacy and more as a Bourgeois Bohemian, Pretty Fly for a White Guy tendency taken way too far, fetishizing black culture and bodies to the point where the people within those bodies who created that culture are ignored and dehumanized. Even before he starts to suspect that something is wrong, Chris quickly tires of the Condescending Compassion that the Armitages and their friends display to him.
  • Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) blithely muses that the Guardians are now his friends even as he continues to unknowingly insult them. The "innocent" part might have been more obvious if the scene where Literal-Minded Drax hears Gamora referred to as a whore without realizing that it's an insult hadn't been cut.
    Drax: You, Quill, are my friend.
    Quill: Thanks.
    Drax: This dumb tree, he is my friend.
    Groot: [grunts]
    Drax: And this green whore; she, too—
    Gamora: Oh, you must stop!
  • In Jingle All the Way, Jaime wonders why his Workaholic father doesn't dote on him or shower him with gifts like Johnny's father does. Johnny then states that Ted didn't become a Disneyland Dad until after getting divorced, and then suggests to Jaime that maybe his parents should get a divorce if it would make Howard do the same.
  • Murray Franklin in Joker (2019), with disastrous consequences. All he does is tease Arthur a bit about his stand-up routine, the sort of thing any talk show host would do, but it ends up being the last straw that finally pushes the much-abused Arthur over the edge, causing him to shoot Murray dead.
  • An interesting variation in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Trudy, who sneaked out to a party, got drunk, and found herself married to someone she didn't remember, and pregnant to boot, decides to trick Norval, who's been in love with her since they were kids, into marrying her. She brings up marriage as a general subject and says that it's not like she's ever had any designs on her. This makes Norval talk about how he's been in love with Trudy his whole life and brings up things like the classes he took in school just to be near her. This makes Trudy feel so bad she's now in love with Norval, and no longer wants to go through with it.
  • In Moonrise Kingdom, Suzy comments that being an orphan must be quite exciting. Her friend Sam, an orphan who is conspicuously not Happily Adopted, is offended.
    Sam: I love you, but you don't know what you're talking about.
  • Ahkmenrah's parents from Night at the Museum 3 when they hear Larry is half-Jewish:
    "We love Jews! We owned forty thousand. So happy, always singing with their candles..."
  • In Psycho, it seems like Norman Bates is going to run into this, especially once he starts asking his guest about "what [she's] running away from", but she seems strangely tolerant of it. A moment later, when she asks why Norman doesn't send his delusional old mother to an institution, he does not extend her the same courtesy.
    Marion: I am sorry. I only felt... It seemed she was harming you. I meant...
    Norman: What? You meant well? People always mean well, they cluck their thick tongues and shake their heads and suggest so very delicately that...
  • The Purge: The youngest Sandin kid is asking his parents why they don't kill during The Purge. He thinks it's a game and doesn't quite realize yet that it isn't.
  • In Sheitan, Joseph comes across as this when he refers to Thai as a 'chink' and Yasmine as a 'camel driver', as he appears to be a well-meaning yokel who doesn't know any better. Later, Jasmine seems to treating him calling her 'little camel driver' as a term of affection. However, when he refers to Ladj as 'nigger' and 'coon' during the drunken Christmas dinner, it becomes apparent that his political incorrectness might not be as innocent as it first seemed.
  • Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame always had a little bit of this going all the way back to the original series, due to his being raised in a society where emotions are suppressed in favor of logic, much to the annoyance of Dr. McCoy and the others. Captain/Admiral James T. Kirk was usually more patient with Spock due to their Heterosexual Life-Partners friendship, but in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Kirk, after putting up with an even more Innocently Insensitive than usual Spock (who was still coming off of rebirth) in the 20th century finally loses his temper and snaps at Spock who, upon learning that the window of opportunity to snatch up two whales is rapidly closing (thus placing the future of the Earth in dire peril), bluntly states that their mission won't be successful and states it as if they were running a grocery errand. Specifically, Kirk tears into Spock with an incredulous "Our mission? Spock, you're talking about the end of every life on Earth! You're half human! Haven't you got any goddamned feelings about THAT?!"
  • In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, when Padmé first meets Anakin and realizes he is a slave, she's shocked and bluntly states "You're a slave?" Anakin is somewhat annoyed by this, stating that he's "a person". Padmé apologizes, explaining she's unfamiliar with Tatooine culture.
  • Tales from the Hood 2: In "Good Golly", Audrey doesn't see anything wrong with wanting to own Golliwogs despite their blatantly racist origins, feeling she should get a pass because she has a Token Black Friend and wasn't aware of their history.
  • Too Soon to Love, teenagers Cathy and Jim go to a doctor to get a pregnancy test for Cathy, pretending to be a married couple. The nurse sees Cathy's worried face but gets the cause completely wrong, and says, "It'll come out positive! They usually do!"
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: After Mystique escapes the peace conference, she is outed as a mutant on the news. She manages to get to a hospital and get her leg bandaged in her normal human guise. The nurse who is doing it is watching the earlier footage and pities Mystique's appearance, wondering "It must be hard waking up each day and seeing that in a mirror". Ouch.

    Jokes 
  • A teacher (who's usually a Dumb Blonde or some other Acceptable Target), decides to teach her kids about how the circulation of blood works. At one point she stands on her head and notes that the blood all flows to her head, thus turning her face red. She then stands back on her feet and asks why the blood doesn't all sink into her feet. One of the kids replies, "Because your feet aint empty!"

    Music 
  • Michael Jackson: In the extended music video for "Bad," Michael plays an inner-city student who attends a prestigious, affluent, and mostly white high school. Before break, a white student intercepts him and tells him that he's "proud" of Michael's performance that semester. Michael takes the compliment awkwardly. On the subway ride back home, Michael sarcastically competes with another minority student from his neighborhood about how many rich white kids are "proud of them."

    Podcasts 
  • Carlos from Welcome to Night Vale is this towards Cecil sometimes. He does his best to fix the situation once he does finally notice it, though.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ring Warriors Grand Champion Bruce Santee tried to be political to help promote the all-inclusive atmosphere of the shows. Thing was, he wasn't, especially not regarding females, foreigners, and brown people. Still, the fact he tried offended Kevin Sullivan, who knew exactly what he was doing when he talked about those groups.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
    • This trait is often the reason why Miu is perceived as annoying by her classmates, as she has a tendency to just blurt out whatever she's thinking without filtering herself first. Kaede notes in her Freetime Events with Miu that her intent isn't malicious and her constant insulting of Kaede is because Miu wants to make friends with her but has no idea how to do so in a normal way. She often tries to lighten the mood with jokes without being able to read the tone of the situation.
    • Because of his gullible nature, Gonta tends to agree with insults directed at his classmates without realising it, such as telling Kaito that it's okay to be an idiot as long as you believe in people, or accidentally agreeing when Kokichi calls Miu an embarrassment to the human race.
  • The player character in Doki Doki Literature Club! comes off as this at times. He is irritated by his childhood friend Sayori's enthusiastic greeting in the beginning and criticizes her tendency to oversleep, not realizing that Sayori has depression and her friendship/romantic interest in him is her biggest coping mechanism.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Main hero Yuuji has a habit of doing this, most likely a combination of his gadfly tendencies and lack of social skills.
  • Sakuya Shirogane Le Bel from Hatoful Boyfriend. Classist (to Ryouta and the player character), racist (to Yuuya, Anghel, and the player character), ableist (to Oko San), and a royal Upper-Class Twit, and it takes him most of the game, if the player's on his route, to even acknowledge that these are bad things. However he also has a Freudian Excuse: his father raised him to believe himself above everybirdy else, and Sakuya cannot comprehend that his father could be wrong. In the Bad Boys Love route, finding out that not only was his father wrong but not even his father gives Sakuya a full-blown Heroic BSoD. In Anghel's route, Sakuya says quite a few racist things about Anghel in the presence of the player character, who echoes them later.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Keiichi does a variation towards Mion in the Watanagashi arc, by not giving her the doll he won, reasoning that she's too boyish to appreciate it as Rena (who takes home anything she finds cute) would; this instance of his calling out her boyish traits (unlike most other times) deeply hurts her feelings. Keiichi has to get lectured by both Rena and Shion before he finally realizes what he did. Unfortunately, at that point, the wheels are already in motion for tragedy.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Shizune Hakamichi can come across as being very blunt to the point where she comes across as being flat-out bossy. This is in part the result of her being deaf and because of this communicating with others directly is difficult for her along with the fact that she cannot perceive vocal cues of emotion and intent in other people. It does not help that her interpreter Misha seems to have her own troubles reading social cues in other people, leading to more than a few "blind leading the blind situations" including the panic attack incident in Hanako's route.
    • Hisao himself falls into this at times, especially early on when he's not sure how to talk to people with disabilities. This can be a problem in Hanako and Emi's routes; in the former, he can deeply upset her if he pities her too much, and in the latter, he can anger Emi if he is too aggressive in trying to protect her.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Junpei can be like this at one point, not due to lack of social skills but due to lack of context. At one point he jokes about setting Akane's heart on fire, not knowing that as a child she almost got burned alive.
  • Makoto Itou from School Days generally means well, but his social/romantic ineptitude often leads him to do some rather obnoxious things that hurt those closest to him. Unfortunately, the anime takes all of his redeeming/sympathetic qualities and punts them out a window, turning him into a Jerkass sociopath.

    Web Animation 
  • Dolph from Camp Camp is a young boy raised at a German army base who bears an unsettling resemblance to Adolf Hitler in both looks and mannerisms, something which has not gone unnoticed in-universe. However, he's actually just a sweet, artistic boy who doesn't even know who Hitler is, much less show any sign of following any of his ideologies.
  • DC Super Hero Girls: Harley Quinn's love of pranks puts her firmly into this territory. Glitterbomb in Wonder Woman's digs? Check. Kaboom candy in her bakes? Check. Taking a mallet to Poison Ivy's plants? Well, it wasn't a prank, but still a check.
  • In Hazbin Hotel, when Alastor summons Niffty to the hotel, she's excited to "make new friends", but reacts with confusion that there aren't any men, as she didn't realise the very feminine-looking Angel Dust is actually a man, though Angel doesn't seem to mind as he doesn't correct her, and Niffty also comments the hotel could do with a "woman's touch" and that it's weird because the others are already women (implying she thinks they should be as excited to clean as she is), but she quickly adds she doesn't mean offence by this. Given Niffty died sometime in the 1950s, this is a case of this trope and Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • RWBY
    • Jaune — being unaware of Pyrrha's feelings for him — sees nothing wrong with pouring out his romantic woes to her. Later, in a much more serious situation, Pyrrha opens up to Jaune about how she's always felt it was her destiny to save the world, and how she recently found a chance to do so. What she doesn't mention is that it will likely come at a great cost. Jaune encourages her to not let anything stand in her way. In any other situation, the words would be perfectly good advice, but because of Pyrrha's circumstances, it ends up hurting her.
    • Subverted with Yang's father, Taiyang. At one point he makes what looks like a very nasty comment about Yang's lost arm, but she treats it like a good joke.
  • In X-Ray & Vav, Mogar, a man who has seemingly lived his entire life away from most civilization, is coerced into aiding The Mad King in escaping and crushing our heroes. Though, when Mogar agrees, he refers to them as "those two colored people". While he obviously is talking about their brightly colored spandex, The Mad King makes a point to let him do the talking instead of Mogar just for that reason.
    • Vav has it much worse than Mogar. Vav's a Nice Guy compared to "Mr. It's All About Me" X-Ray. However, he has no clue at all that X-Ray is helplessly jealous towards Vav being attracted to Ash Samosa, the Intrepid Reporter out to cover the Mogar story. Thus, he sees nothing wrong at all at doing something like swiping all of their clues about Mogar and giving them to Ash or when put in a Sadistic Choice between saving X-Ray or Ash, choosing Ash was the wrong idea. When X-Ray blows off Vav and Ash, guilty over using him to push the story, leaves him, all Vav can do is shout to the heavens "What the bloody hell is going on?!"

    Web Comics 
  • Sunati of Always Human makes the mistake of regarding her girlfriend Austen as Inspirationally Disadvantaged due to her inability to use "mods", nanotech body modifications used in the sci-fi setting, which offends the latter.
  • In Champions of Far'aus, Some of the gods and goddesses slip into this on occasion.In the short story "Will's induction", the goddess Leilusa cheerily tells Will that he's getting a promotion to high priest at the funeral for his aunt, Leilusa's former high priestess.While standing at the foot of her grave.
  • This Cyanide & Happiness comic features a guy who just can't seem to avoid saying the wrong thing at a costume party.
  • In Disney High School, Quasi is occasionally on the receiving end of this.
    Kuzco: WOW cool costume, that mask is amazing! Are you in the drama club?
    Quasimodo: No, it's my face... I look like this.
    Kuzco: Oh shi... I'm sorry! I didn't... man I'm sorry!
    Quasimodo: It's okay, it's not the first time...
  • Marty of Dubious Company. He has no idea why Elly isn't into him or why Sue wants to shove her boot up his rectal cavity. He is able to recognize when he pisses off his brother, though.
    Izor: Something needs to be done about Walter.
    Marty: Yeah. No fair keeping all the cute ones up on the bridge. All we get is Sue here.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Grace accidentally suggests Sam, a trans man, is a Bearded Lady. Given that the moment was shown in a flashback and she apparently understands what transgender means now, presumably Sam explained the issue to her. She later realizes how her knowing at all might be causing him stress.
  • Girls with Slingshots:
    • Hazel is not good with lesbians, babies (and people who have them), animals, or her boyfriend (the last one gets her dumped).
      Jamie: Why are we friends, again?
    • Candy's reactions to being called out on her misandry seem to point to her being this way, too... though attempted rape is kind of pushing the definition of "innocent".
  • Grrl Power: When Sydney sees a bindi on an Indian doctor's head (that she somehow missed in their previous meetings), she immediately yells "SNIPER!" and tries to tackle the doctor to the ground. The doctor punches her out and storms off.
    Dr. Chevy: I feel like I should have been offended... but she did dive to my aid, so...
    Arianna: I'll have a word with her anyway.
  • The Guide to a Healthy Relationship: Apollo asks his co-worker Galia for advice because she always seems so smart and down to earth "for a tranny". Galia is rightfully pissed, but Apollo is somewhat dense in that regard; he's not too sensitive about his friend Julian's mental illness, either.
  • Jake of Homestuck. Most likely due to his upbringing as an orphaned, isolated inhabitant of a deserted jungle island, Jake has a tendency to be oblivious to the feelings of others, mostly Jane's. It's also implied that in his previous incarnation as Grandpa Harley, he was similar and ran away from home and from Nanna without apparently considering how it made her feel.
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes: Eva (a.k.a. Buckaress) falls into the "micro-aggression" under Real Life when clarifying whether she's meeting her girlfriend's sister or "sista".
    Alex: My actual sister. What's wrong with you?
    Buckaress: I'm white and need things explained to me. I thought we'd been over this.
  • My Deepest Secret: Emma says a lot of the same things that Camie said to Sophie in high school in order to cheer her up and attempt to help her boost her confidence. While she meant it because she's a very nice girl, Sophie takes it very poorly.
  • Never Satisfied: Philomena, Tetsu, and Broom Girl, all autistic characters, have had their moments:
    • Philomena accidentally shoves the dead pheasant in Cedric's face, grossing him out.
    • Philomena doesn't realize that she's holding January up from catching up with Sasha to retrieve her hat and busking money.
    • Philomena doesn't notice that Lucy's upset by her going on about how overbearing her dad is until they storm out of the bakery.
    • Philomena fails to pick up on Tobi's discomfort when she asks him about Su-Yeong not coming into work.
    • Philomena tries to bond with Lucy over their shared lack of magical skill, only for them to blow up at her because at least she has a loving, if overbearing, family.
    • After the third test when most of the contestants are engaged in a group hug, Broom Girl asks Lucy if they want a hug as well. They decline, so she awkwardly pats them on the head. Later, they complain to Ivy that she treated them like a dog.
    • Tetsu, in their zeal to find out as much as they can about Su-Yeong, ends up trampling all over her boundaries. She's irritated but takes it in stride.
  • Denmark of Scandinavia and the World fame is prone to this. This usually contrasts with his laid-back and... friendly attitude towards everyone around him. Of course, the character being based on Denmark, most of his comments turn up racist and insensitive mainly towards the Middle Eastern or African characters. Not that it can't help him out once in a while.
    Denmark: Hey there, sexy lady! Can I buy you a drink?
    Brother Thailand: Before you go any further, you should know that I'm not Sister Thailand, I'm Brother Thailand.
    Denmark: ... Oh.
    [beat]
    Denmark: So... You're trying to tell me you'd rather have a beer?
  • When Undine meets Heartful Punch in Sleepless Domain, HP recognizes her as a member of the Magical Girl group "Team Alchemical". She wonders why Undine is out alone and comes to the conclusion that the team broke up. Because she skips school assemblies and doesn't watch the news, Heartful Punch legitimately has no idea that the other members of Team Alchemical were killed or de-powered, leaving Undine the sole survivor with her powers intact. When she learns the full story the next day, HP is horrified with herself and fears Undine must think she's the world's biggest asshole. Fortunately, Undine quickly realized Heartful Punch was honestly ignorant at the time and was actually grateful to HP since she wasn't pussyfooting around her and let her feel like things were normal again for a little while. In fact, while HP is freaking out about how much Undine must hate her, Undine's biggest concern is whether the cafeteria is serving turkey. The whole incident sparks a friendship and between the two that gradually turns into being Lovely Angels.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Lalli, Emil, Tuuri, and Sigrun come at this trope from separate directions:
    • Lalli is Literal-Minded, has No Social Skills, prefers to work alone and is suspected to have some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, all leading to someone with little use for social niceties.
    • Emil, on the other hand, is a Spoiled Sweet Jerk with a Heart of Gold and a good person at heart... as long as he can remember that there are other people in the world than him.
    • Tuuri has a habit of not completely taking other people's point of view into account, which she apparently picked up while dealing with whatever disorder Lalli has. The problem is that both mages of the team (one of whom is Lalli himself, the other just starting to awaken during the story) frequently need her as a translator, and they very literally have a different perspective on the world than most people. This causes a lot of important information to get lost in the translation given to their commander.
    • Sigrun apparently just plain doesn't believe in being tactful.
    • Mikkel occasionally falls into this as well, since he's a Flat-Earth Atheist and shares a language with one of the crew's mages, causing him to dismiss concerns that are completely legitimate from the other's point of view.
  • Unsounded: Siya is friends with Ruffles, one of the inak that lives under the shrine. However, their friendship is very much filtered through the bias held by most humans towards the inak, considering them lesser. Siya bases an inak character in her story off of Ruffles, but she's portrayed as a dumb comic relief character. When some of the inack steal documents from the shrine head's office and the rest of the inak are ordered to stay underground, Ruffles asks Siya to stand up for them, but Siya is too caught up in her own troubles and essentially tells Ruffles to be a good girl and go with the other inak into imprisonment.
  • Katherine of Wapsi Square is remarkably observant, but lacks any social skills, so it makes sense that she would fall into this trope at times.

    Web Videos 
  • Chuggaaconroy ran into this during his Let's Play of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. His Episode 9 recap shows he had acquired a Linoone in Sinister Woods off-camera, a Pokémon with raccoon-like features. In Episode 10, Chugga decides to bring Linoone along for the Great Canyon, but he had also nicknamed it "Finecoon". Cut to post-production Chugga explaining that he had named it that because coon is short for raccoon, but he didn't know that coon is also a racial slur until the video had already been made and sheepishly apologizing for it.
  • Jester of Critical Role can be this, particularly in regards to social class. At one point, she's complaining to Caleb that she doesn't have enough money, and he responds that she has more money than his parents made in their entire lives.
  • Dimension 20's "Magic and Misfits" campaign is about four American wizards who were Raised By Muggles being sent to a magical school in the UK, so naturally, culture clash and this trope ensue.
    • The teens casually use the word "muggle" to refer to their non-magical families, having made the obvious connection between their situation and that of Harry Potter. They're promptly informed that in this world, "muggle" is considered a slur, and something you simply do not say if you have any sort of magic. (Given that the "official" term for non-magical people, "namps," feels somehow worse, and that they all thought they were namps until a week ago, they continue to use the word amongst themselves.)
    • They also have to be informed not to wave their wands around or point them at people, as it's a liability and just generally considered rude.
    • On the flipside, a younger (white) student is talking to Sam, who is black, and admires her hair before asking if they can touch it. The exchange students immediately yell "NO!", and Dream jumps in to explain that this is very rude and invasive. The student sheepishly apologizes, and Sam lets it go, since they honestly didn't know.
    • Dream is an Emo Teen who has always wanted magic, so she thinks Evan's dark powers make him Cursed with Awesome, and encourages him to embrace them. He politely but bluntly points out to her that these same powers are the reason he was homeless and alone when they met.
  • Dirigible Days: When Hooper, the new mechanic on board the S.S. Beatrix, meets the mute pilot Josie, he starts speaking to her in an exaggeratedly loud way. It takes him a while to understand that Josie is mute, not deaf.
  • Hiro The DenseDense Shonen Protagonist is this when it comes to the Horny Devils attempting to seduce him. Due to a combination of differing factors, he rebuffs every sexual advance he receives, but defeating the succubus Izilith and requesting that she take him to her boss as his prize yields this exchange.
    Izilith: But wouldn't you rather have me?~
    Hiro: But why would I want you?
  • Arthéon's Season 4 girlfriend Kary in Noob. Arthéon really loves Kary to the point that he actually wants to marry her in real life. After they find a unique item together, Kary agrees to a wedding on the online game that they're both playing. In the middle of the ceremony, a game-wide event is triggered and Kary prefers going to see what it's about rather than finishing the ceremony, stating it was just something they were doing for fun anyway. This breaks Arhtéon's heart to the point of causing a Rage Breaking Point. The main culprit in that insensitivity is however the fact that she seemingly was taking the relationship less seriously than Arthéon and assumed it was the same thing for him.
  • In memetic video "this is where i watched my parents die parappa", Parappa The Rapper cheerfully raps about the death of Batman's parents, only to realize a bit too late that he may have stepped out of line. (Some Alternative Character Interpretations have him as not so innocent, with one joke theory positing that Parappa killed Batman's parents and that his reaction is caused by realizing that he's probably not long for this world.)

    Real Life 
  • People with poor social skills — children and shy people who haven't had much chance to interact socially especially — are also prone to this. It's a recognized trait of autistic people to have some difficulty at picking up neurotypical cues that would alert them to other people's feelings.
    • Can also pop up on the Internet, where tone and nonverbal social cues just don't exist.
  • People with dementia can also come across as this, due the brain damage caused, it can cause the sufferer to forget important things, such as someone dying, or for them to lose the ability to stop and think what they are saying, and just come out with some highly inappropriate comments, and then not realize the offence they are causing or get very confused by it.
  • Can also happen when you go to another culture. Even if you speak the language, the complexities of social interaction can take a while to learn, and it'll often involve a lot of unintentional insults to the people whose country you're in before you figure out what you should and should not do.
  • Researchers such as Dunning and Kruger have studied for years how well most people estimate their own ability levels or competence and the ability levels or competence of other people. They have found that people who are highly competent and/or highly intelligent nearly always overestimate the ability levels of the average person while underestimating their own ability levels (because it never seems that difficult for them); in contrast, unskilled people nearly always overestimate their competence (because they lack the knowledge and metacognitive skills necessary both for that level of self-assessment and for successful use of feedback). That's right: the more talented one is, the more likely one is to assume everyone else is just as talented.
  • The term "microaggression", which refers to any kind of thoughtless comment that someone might take offense to (such as using the slang of another culture or referring to someone by the wrong gender), even if it's unintentional, has recently cropped up in the public consciousness, mostly through social media.
  • Anyone who tries to get an introvert or a shy person to open up by forcing them to be social. To them, it is trying to help someone out of their shell. To the person they are trying to help, however, it can come off as them being forced into something they are highly uncomfortable with.
  • Counterintuitively, this is how some disabled people feel about "inspirational" stories of the differently abled or even portrayals of disabled characters in the media. While the writer(s) and journalist(s) never set out to intentionally offend these people, some feel that they are presented in a patronising way. From non-disabled actors playing the role of a "Disabled" character to showing a differently-abled person somehow excelling at things more than a non-disabled person. Sometimes, they interpret them as pushing the message of how acceptance is conditional on how much a disabled person can be exploited or lead pressure to excel at something they legitimately have trouble doing.
    • Even some non disabled people can feel this about "inspirational" stories of the disabled or underprivileged, thinking this actually downplays any struggles they might have.
  • As The Great War looms closer, many attempts have been made to try and avert its course. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia at first called for demobilization of their troops, hoping to avert war. As his staffs argue with him about this decision, Nicholas looks out of the window, trying to think of a way out. But then an aide, his name lost in history, said the line, "Your majesty, we know how difficult it must be for you to decide...", unknowingly pressing Nicholas' Berserk Button, resulting in Nicholas ordering the mobilization instead. Never before an innocently insensitive comment would result in an entire generation dead.


Top

Sprig

Sprig thoughtlessly blurts out what everyone's thinking.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / InnocentlyInsensitive

Media sources:

Report