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No Listening Skills

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"Are you really listening...or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?"
R. Montgomery

This character never listens. Either due to hearing problems, vanity, rudeness, stupidity, inattentiveness or being in a different place as everyone else, they'll barely or never get the message that someone else is trying to tell them.

In the case of someone who's vain, a jerk or off in his own world this sometimes involves actively interrupting other people. Other times they'll have to be repeated to, their responses won't match what they're responding to, or they'll only be paying half-attention and have to be told things that have already been said in the conversation at a previous moment.


This is a bad combination when paired with someone whose Berserk Button is having to repeat themselves. Of course, due to this person having terrible listening skills, they probably won't recognize the pattern.

Husbands and boyfriends in media are often portrayed as not being able to listen to their significant others.

An Absent-Minded Professor and Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! tend to be this. Compare Comically Missing the Point, since this might be the reason, and Stopped Reading Too Soon when it comes to reading something. Related to Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer. Not to be confused with Not Listening to Me, Are You?, which is a common reaction to this trope.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair, Prince Raji Shenazard responds to Shirayuki returning to Tanburn and requesting the cure to the poison he used to poison someone who had helped her while she fled his attempt to force her to be his concubine by acting like she is deeply in love with him and that he is being magnanimous by letting her become his concubine instead of addressing the fact that he is giving her a Scarpia Ultimatum. She briefly wonders to herself if he's suffering auditory hallucinations but it seems he has just never been told "no" before in his life.

    Comic Books 
  • A Running Gag throughout the Tintin series is Professor Calculus never hearing correctly what Captain Haddock has to say. To be fair to the Professor, he is hard of hearing, but his deafness seems to become stronger any time Haddock (and only Haddock) says something (even if he's yelling it aloud).

    Comic Strips 
  • The Pointy-Haired Boss from Scott Adams' Dilbert is legendary in-universe for selective hearing. This can either frustrate his underlings, or in some cases, allow them to exploit this flaw.

    Fan Works 

  • Christine in Maskerade is both dimwitted and self-centered, to the point where Agnes tells her that her father is the Emperor of Klatch and her mother is a small tray of raspberry pastries without any of it registering.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On How I Met Your Mother, whenever Barney claims to be Ted's best friend, Ted always corrects him that it's Marshall. Barney always bulldozes this by continuing "and as your best friend..."
  • In Survivor: Heroes Vs Villains, Russell Hantz. When his fellow Villains suggested getting rid of Sandra before the merge, he went after Courtney instead. When Parvati insisted Sandra would be more dangerous than Jerri in front of the jury, guess which of the two was the next one to go.
    • Triple that for the jury itself. He specifically told Danielle (a former finalist, by the way, so she understands how the process works): "I'm not going to sit here and tell you what you want to hear, I'm going to tell you the truth." Whoops.

    Video Games 
  • Amaterasu, the Sun Goddesss and the playable character in Ōkami, has a very, very short attention span and is prone to napping in the middle of other characters explaining something to her.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Middle Manager Kornada in Mark Stanley's Freefall is told by his robots that a raging hurricane necessitates an evacuation in the Friday 24 March 2000 strip. This hopeless Obstructive Bureaucrat won't budge, because "'s not on the schedule." Florence has to trick him in order to get him to the evacuation point on the roof.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent:
    • In the Distant Prologue, the only road in and out of Aksel's remote village being broken means that a man doing a supply run by boat is his only potential means to move his grandmother from a nearby city and keep her relatively safe from an upcoming epidemic. The man doing the supply run wasn't exactly planning to bring passengers back and tries to tell it to Aksel, but Aksel answers as if he had said "Yes, no problem."
    • In the main story, Sigrun, the crew's captain, can get like this towards discordant voices, especially Mikkel's. Speechbubbles Interruption is a regular occurrence on her part. She's incidentally Aksel's great-granddaughter.

    Western Animation 
  • Exaggerated in the American Dad! episode "Stan Goes on the Pill", where men can only hear a faint hiss when forced to listen to a woman talk. Stan takes an experimental CIA pill that allows him to bridge the barrier and listen to Francine, but because he couldn't listen to the female scientist's advice about the dosage, he ends up turning into a woman.
  • Jason from Home Movies sometimes has this problem. In Season 4 "The Heart Smashers", after Brendon told him and Melissa how he's going to avoid Fenton after firing him and ending their friendship, Jason admits he wasn't listening. When Jason and Melissa are talking to Brendon about rehiring Fenton again, Jason thought they were going to hire Walter and Perry until Melissa corrects him.
    Melissa: You have to pay attention better, Jason. Okay?
    Jason: Um...what?
  • In The Weekenders, "Listen Up", this becomes a problem for Carver when he and his friends sign up to be helpers to help kids get over worrying about middle school and Carver doesn't help his kid by not listening to his problems. He spends the rest of the episode learning how to listen and comes to a realization when people don't listen to his problem. He eventually makes it up to his kid by the end.


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