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Not Listening to Me, Are You?

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Amélie: I had two heart attacks and had to have an abortion because I did crack while I was pregnant. Other than that, I'm fine.
Father: [absent-minded] Good.

Bob is busy with something — playing a game, reading a book, tampering in the domain of God — and Alice comes up and tries to talk to him about "something important". Bob just answers with a few muttered lines of, "Yep, uh-huh, yeah," the lion's share of his concentration on his task, until Alice gets annoyed and says something completely outlandish: "There's a weasel chewing on my figgin." After a moment, the absurdity sinks in and Bob asks what she said, which (usually) prompts the stock phrase: "You're not listening to me, are you?" Variations on the gag includes Bob failing to even register Alice's outlandish comment and her lamentation that he isn't listening, or first noticing what she said after she has long given up and left the room in exasperation.

The actual import of what Alice has to say, compared with the importance of what Bob is doing, is largely irrelevant to the gag — it's perfectly okay to interrupt both video games and world-saving research with relationship questions, after all. The whole point of the gag is to bring out as absurd a non sequitur as possible when Alice "tests" whether Bob's listening to her.

Comes in several flavors. The most common is the girlfriend (or wife) who is angry with boyfriend/husband for ignoring her in favor of whatever he's doing. This is almost always the woman testing the man; it's a rare case where the woman is seen as the neglectful one in the relationship. Usually ends in a false reconciliation (sometimes with Bob reaching out to keep playing his game while still hugging Alice), and also often with Alice even angrier at Bob because he doesn't see what's wrong with his behavior. The next most common is the mentor or close friend (who may be either sex) trying to distract Bob from an obsession: Bob must beat the final boss, he must train until he drops, he must finish researching the cure for the supervirus. His efforts may have a noble intent, but he's going to make himself sick with how much he's putting into it, and neglecting food, sleep, and basic hygiene. If the stock phrase is spoken, it's usually with mere impatience or concern instead of outright anger.

A subversion would be if they were listening and pretend not to, or appeared to be not paying attention but could repeat what the person said verbatim.

This is Truth in Television as almost any couple can attest.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hunter × Hunter has a moment during the Greed Island arc during the dodgeball match against Razor. Gon has called himself back into the game and Biscuit tells him not to overburden himself, but he just mutters "yeah" to everything, so she eventually asks "what's one plus one?" and gets the same response. Realizing he's obsessed with beating Razor, she only gets a response when she says "Alright, beat him even if you die!". Gon was really pissed off at Razor because a deadly throw nearly hit his best friend Killua, and so Gon want's a total victory against Razor: beating him at all costs is all he's caring about now.
  • In the early fifth season of Sailor Moon, Usagi and Mamoru are on another one of their dates, but Usagi is noticing that Mamoru is seeming a bit distant and distracted at the moment. So she starts muttering a few Japanese tongue twisters in hopes of getting a reaction, but he just mutters "yeah" to every one until she starts openly confronting him about it. She doesn't realize at the time that Mamoru was cursed by a fragment of Nehelenia's dream mirror, which leaves its victims hopelessly apathetic.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Hide and Kaneki go to their favourite hamburger place to celebrate Kaneki being discharged from the hospital, and Hide tells a funny story about a friend's girlfriend looking exactly like a pro-wrestler. Poor Kaneki is distracted by the discovery than the wait-staff look more delicious to him than the meal they're serving and responds to Hide asking what he just said by congratulating him on getting a girlfriend. Who looks like a pro-wrestler.
    Hide: ...No, dude.

    Comic Books 
  • In Archie Comics, Archie sees Veronica speaking to a handsome guy and begins ranting jealously. Betty tries to convince him to forget them and go off with her, but when it's clear he isn't listening, Betty begins uttering nonsense to get his attention. ("Do you like the shade of green I dyed my hair? I died my other head purple! How does that grab you?") Then it emerges that the handsome guy was talking to Veronica because he wanted to be introduced to Betty. The two go off together and now it's Veronica ranting jealously as Archie tries to get her attention, resorting to spouting nonsense himself. When it's clear Veronica didn't hear a word he said, Archie glumly states that's not a very nice way to treat people.
  • Donald Duck had a strip where he completely agrees to everything Daisy is saying on the phone, but when she (finally) finishes talking she notices he's still agreeing. She goes to confront him... and sees him napping in his hammock while a gramophone continues to spout "Yes", "Uh-huh", and "Go on" into the phone.
  • In Nightwing, Dick has recently graduated the Bludhaven Police Academy, and gets a message on his answering machine that an opening is available. He rushes out and runs into his landlord Clancy.
    Clancy: You're up bright and early, sir.
    Dick: Gotta fly, Clance. Interview with the cops.
    Clancy: I'm startin' premed this morning.
    Dick: That's great!
    Clancy: And this afternoon I'm flyin' to Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize.
    Dick: Great!
    Clancy: In the nude.
    Dick: Great!
    Clancy: Didn't hear a bloody word. [sighs]

    Comic Strips 
  • A Baby Blues strip has Darryl and Wanda dining out with another couple, but they're too distracted by a little boy at another table to listen to them. The strip is titled "The Trouble with Dining Out with New Parents".
    Man: ...And after Cindy and I stopped off to pick up our Pulitzer prizes, we were abducted by aliens who made us their king and queen.
    Darryl: Uh-huh. That's great. I think Zoe was bigger at that age...I wonder what she's doing right now?
    Cindy: It's true. Every word.
    Wanda: Really? How interesting. What a cutie! His eyes are so big! I wish I could hold him.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin tries to trick his mother by announcing that he plans to become a radical terrorist when he grows up and that he's going to inhale a pesticide, to both of which his mother responds with a distracted "Mm hmm". But when he declares that he's going to stay up all night and watch television, she shoots him down, leading him to observe "You can never tell if they're listening or not".
    • Another has him pester her while she's reading a book.
      Calvin: What time is it?
      Mom: Go look at the clock and see.
      Calvin: What's the weather outside like today?
      Mom: Go step outside and see.
      Calvin: How fast can our car go?
      Mom: Go... ...nice try.
  • One FoxTrot strip had Peter make all sorts of strange statements, which Roger basically ignores giving the "yeah", "uh-huh", and "that's nice" responses because he's reading the paper... right up until he says he's staying an hour past curfew, and he promptly shoots down his request. He comments that one day he's going to get past his filter. Meanwhile, Jason is telling him his intent to change his name to a semicolon, with the same initial responses.
  • Played with in a Peanuts comic when Lucy pretends to fall asleep on Schroeder's piano. Schroeder doesn't buy it and flirts with her to see if she's awake.
  • In U.S. Acres, Orson is reading a bedtime story to Booker and Sheldon. Noticing they seem to have fallen asleep, he starts ad-libbing about a monster meeting a little chick and an egg with feet, "and then he stomped the suckers flat!"
    Booker and Sheldon: (waking back up) WHAT?!
    Orson: Just checking to see if you were paying attention.
  • Zits subverted this one: Walt's driving Jeremy to school, asks Jeremy a question, no response. Then he gets more outlandish, promising Jeremy more "gigawhatevers" in his computer, a raise in his allowance... oh, and Martians have landed. As Jeremy leaves, he agrees with Walt's plans for more memory and allowance and the like, but notes that the Martian thing seems unlikely.

    Fan Works 
  • Anne B. Walsh makes use of a variant on this trope. Some non-POV character is giving a speech/lecture, and the POV character tunes them out and gives an internal monologue... and then his attention cuts back in to the speaker saying something complete bizzare, and it turns out they've been talking nonsense for a while now.
  • The famous The Lord of the Rings fanfic Bag Enders features Aragorn trying to get Legolas' attention:
    Aragorn: I'm pregnant.
    Legolas: Mhm.
    Aragorn: I've sold the house to an international terrorist organisation.
    Legolas: Mhm.
    Aragorn: I've told Celeborn he can come live with us. Permanently.
    Legolas: You what?
    Aragorn: I thought you weren't listening.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Car," Penny and Bolt are sitting together on the patio area at Dinny's Diner, the girl enjoying coffee and both munching on apple pie. Penny talks to the dog about various subjects, but Bolt is far too focused on his plate of pastry to pay any attention to her. She realizes this and then starts to describe an outlandish fictional situation she suggests doing instead of attending college in the fall. Bolt continues munching on pie, still unaware Penny is teasing him.
    Penny: [wrinkling her face and giving the dog an amused look] Although, gotta say, I’ve been giving very serious consideration to exploring the South Pole this fall instead of going to college. Seeing if maybe, y’know, there actually are walruses or polar bears down there or not. I was thinking maybe of hitching you and Jenna and Astro and Humphrey and Droopy and Scooby-Doo to a dogsled, heading into the Antarctic interior for some wacky adventures. Maybe we’d even find the Abdominal Snowman. You know, the monster who is Santa Claus’s long-lost brother, but has just as big a belly? Bet you can’t possibly picture him without a couple of dozen roast turkey legs in each paw. Probably couldn’t pry those out of his mitts. You think? Unless you really wanna try…
    Bolt: [thinks while absentmindedly continuing to eat] Mmmmm, pie!
    Penny: [laughing and scratching Bolt behind the ears] You silly doggy — you weren’t even listening, were you? Like I said, you’re no different from any other guy when it comes to food. Good luck getting your attention when you’re scarfing down something yummy, huh? Not that I blame you, actually — I think it’s kinda cute.
    Bolt: [thinks while looking at Penny quizzically] Oh, sorry — did you say something? Must’ve had my mind elsewhere.
  • The Contest: The fic opens with Rarity telling Twilight the story of why she was late to their spa appointment. Twilight, meanwhile, has tuned out long ago, occasionally giving an absentminded "uh-huh" or similar. When she realizes Rarity has finished her story and is looking at her expectantly, she manages to piece together enough memories to come up with a diplomatic response — smiling and saying, "Well, I'm just glad you were able to join us."
  • From Brothers to Lovers, a Hetalia fanfic, features this:
    Captain: —so I think that would be best. What is your opinion on the matter, England?
    England: Hm? Oh, yes very good.
    Captain: ...And then I also think that we should form an alliance with France and you two can be the best of friends.
    England: Sounds good."
    Captain: I knew it! You've not been listening to a single thing I've been saying!
  • From the Death Note fanfic It's Just a Game, we get this exchange:
    Wammy: What is it, Namikawa?
    Namikawa: Just some reports that I wanted to give you in person. Apparently there's a health concern about one of the employees that we don't want the media to know about.
    Wammy: [no response]
    Namikawa: One of our employees is in what might be a temporary coma.... There have never been any problems severing a connection with the game before so it's a cause for concern.
    Wammy: ...hmm, the media?
    Namikawa: The man concerned is Teru Mikami.... He's in the infirmary now, and we're moving him to the hospital if nothing improves. We didn't want a media storm from this, which is why...
    Wammy: [no response]
    Namikawa: Actually, Mikami and I were thinking of getting married, and we want L to be the godfather of our adoptive children.
    Wammy: [looks up from his paperwork and blinks] What about my son?
  • In The Judgement of the World (5Ds), Red Dragon Archfiend tries to have a conversation with Stardust Dragon while the latter is staring at the cave Black Rose Dragon is hiding in:
    Red Dragon Archfiend: You know, maybe you should talk to him? You have the greater experience dealing with machines and the ilk.
    Stardust Dragon: Ummhmmm...
    Red Dragon Archfiend: Or maybe we can find a can opener Spirit and do a claws-on approach?
    Black Rose Dragon: [extends her vines out of the cave to slap Archfiend]
    Red Dragon Archfiend: Ow! Stop that, you lunatic!
    Stardust Dragon: Ummhmmm...
    Red Dragon Archfiend: [getting fed up] Or maybe I should leave the two of you alone? Am I interrupting anything? You know I have more important things to do than to just sit here and watch you stare into the dark abyss of Moony Madness, right?
    Stardust Dragon: Ummhmmm...
    Red Dragon Archfiend: [throttling Stardust] ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!
    Stardust Dragon: [choking] Ummhmmm...
    Black Rose Dragon: [ties up Archfiend and Stardust with her vines out of annoyance]
    Stardust Dragon: [finally starts paying attention] Rosy, really?
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Inko and Hisashi Midoriya have this conversation while moping around their campsite.
    Hisashi: [referring to the "shooting star"] I'm guessing you saw it, too.
    Inko: Uh huh.
    Hisashi: Man, not every day you see a shooting star crash into the planet.
    Inko: Uh huh.
    Hisashi: I think I'm gonna turn into a walrus and start living on the moon.
    Inko: Uh huh.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Amélie provides the page quote. Amélie's father is distracted because his favorite gnome went missing and sent him pictures from various cities around the world. What he doesn't know is that Amélie got one of her friends who was a flight attendant to take the gnome and take pictures of it around the world, all to convince her father to travel more.
  • Another variation: The movie Birthday Girl uses this to show that Nicole Kidman's character can't speak English. At the end, when it's been revealed that she was actually faking the non-comprehension and has been fluent in English all along, she translates it into Russian and asks the same three questions of Ben Chaplin's character, who actually doesn't understand her.
  • In Carry On Camping, Peter Potter tries to tell his wife, Harriet, that he doesn't want to go camping this summer, but instead wants to go to a resort. She is busy going through their camping things and is ignoring him, so, in the same tone of voice, he talks about his afternoon at work where a series of bizarre things happened, to which she continues talking about their upcoming camping trip.
  • Clerks: Variation when a customer tries to get a disinterested Randal to help her choose a movie. She shows him the same movies multiple times to see if he's paying attention.
    Customer: I just held up the same two movies. You're not even paying attention.
    Randal: [not looking up] No, I wasn't.
    Customer: I don't think your manager would appreciate—
    Randal: [still not looking up] I don't appreciate your ruse, ma'am.
    Customer: I beg your pardon?
    Randal: Your ruse. Your cunning attempt to trick me.
  • Eight Legged Freaks: Bret, the son of the Mayor, heads out for the night, and tries to tell his dad, who is talking on the phone. He realizes his dad's not listening, so he mentions he's going to do some increasingly extreme activities like having a wild orgy or stealing cars, even offering to get one for his dad. His dad merely gives an impatient "I'm on the phone. You go on and have some fun", to which Bret says to himself "thanks for caring, dad."
  • Used in Extraordinary Measures by, of all people, a sickly girl. Realizing that her father is not paying attention to her playing, she tells him about how her doll is going to go Axe-Crazy and slaughter penguins. It takes him a while to notice.
  • Meet Me in St. Louis: After John kisses Esther, she says something stupid and wanders back to her house in a daze with an idiotic grin on her face. When her mother says, "Your ice cream is getting cold," Esther dreamily responds, "Isn't it?" Then when her mother asks if there's something wrong with her, Esther thoughtlessly replies, "Yes, Mama," and then goes to say something, but stops. It takes her two youngest sisters mocking her to snap her out of it.
  • Done by the titular Patch Adams to his psychiatrist at the beginning of the movie, upon realizing that he's not really interested in his patient. It drives him to leave and become a good doctor.
  • Diana's mother in The Phantom:
    Lily Palmer: How are you anyway, sweetheart?
    Diana Palmer: I've contracted malaria, mother.
    Lily Palmer: That's nice.
  • Margo's father in The Shadow:
    Margo Lane: And now, I'm completely and utterly depressed.
    Reinhardt Lane: Well, that's nice, dear.
  • The Shaggy Dog (2006) has a scene where Dave's wife Rebecca is trying to point out to him that he's turning into the present-in-body-only form of Disappeared Dad. She points out the kids got into an argument and took the dog's side. Dave nods. Then, to test if he's listening, she tells him that a neighbor asked her something and she told the neighbor the family had converted to cannibalism. Dave replies, "OK, great. I'd have said the same thing." In an odd twist, he does not pick up the absurdity, and Rebecca is forced to drop a pile of heavy law books on his desk to get his full attention.
  • True Lies: Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) tells husband Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) how the plumber wants a small fortune for what she considers a small repair, so (thinking he's not listening) mentions that she slept with the plumber and he knocked $100 off the bill. Harry then says to her that was good thinking, and gives her a kiss as he goes on his way to work, as if he never heard a word she said. Played with, as it's heavily implied he heard everything and is just playing up his persona as being either oblivious or perfectly aware she's trying to mess with him.
  • Wayne's World 2: When the boys give an interview to a local radio DJ, they discover he's more interested in loading tapes than actually they start calling him names, and he's completely oblivious to their joking around.

  • A very dark example in American Psycho. Bateman often reveals his psychotic nature to friends by saying things such as "I like to dissect girls. Did you know that I'm utterly insane?" They either are not listening or think he is someone else.
  • A brief flashback sequence in Audrey, Wait! gives us this exchange that happened before the break up.
    "Hey," I said casually. "Bendomolena's on fire."
    "Cool. So yeah, Jon wants to do a drum solo and we were like, 'Dude, no!'"
  • In one of the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books, Georgia's mother is clearly not listening to her and Georgia says "Something very interesting happened to me last night. I slit my throat and my head fell off. Have you seen it?"
  • Discworld:
    • The Fifth Elephant has a lengthy discussion of the art of listening without listening (particularly the husbandly survival instincts which develop alongside it), which features His Grace His Excellency Commander Sir Samuel Vimes the Duke of Ankh not only making noises like he's listening to his wife planning for their trip to Uberwald, but adding an appropriate comment to the conversation... and then asking, a moment later, "What alligator?"
    • Later in the same book, Sybil mentions that she's going to have a baby, and the narrative records that Vimes' brain "hastily rewrote what she'd just said across the inside of his eyeballs in white-hot fire, then went away and hid," to prevent him answering absently with something unwise such as "Choose any colour you like," or "I'll have a man in to take care of it."
    • Also in Maskerade, Agnes does this:
      "Do tell me about yourself!!"
      "I'm from somewhere up in the mountains you've probably never heard of..."
      She stopped. A light had gone off in Christine's head, and Agnes realized that the question had been asked not because Christine in any way wanted to know the answer but for something to say. She went on: "...and my father is the Emperor of Klatch and my mother is a small tray of raspberry puddings."
      "That's interesting!" said Christine, who was looking at the mirror. "Do you think my hair looks right?!"
    • Mustrum Ridcully has been described once or twice as someone who never really listens. Ponder Stibbons has abused this in the past, and thus Ridcully had to start actually listening after finding his signature on several things he supposedly "agreed to" and doesn't remember at all.
  • In East of Eden, Sam throws in two lines of nonsense during a story. Adam and Cathy's lack of reaction confirm that they aren't listening.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: In The Mark of Athena, Percy sums up his attempts to have conversations with a severely distracted Annabeth:
    Percy: Hey, how's it going?
    Annabeth: Uh, no thanks.
    Percy: Okay...have you eaten anything today?
    Annabeth: I think Leo is on duty. Ask him.
    Percy: So, my hair is on fire.
    Annabeth: Okay. In a while.
  • The Mortal Instruments: In the opening scene of City of Bones, Clary and Simon are at a club, when Clary spots a mysterious, handsome young man. As she stares at him, Simon tries to get her attention with a series of increasingly outrageous comments, culminating with him telling her that he was sleeping with her mother and considering taking up crossdressing.
  • Newsflesh: In Countdown, Professor Mason tries to get the attention of his students, who are collectively distracted by rumors of a Zombie Apocalypse, by throwing mention of the final exam into a sentence. That doesn't work, but dropping books loudly on his desk does. Turns out the students were right to be more concerned about those rumors than about the final....
  • From the Star Trek expanded-universe novel Q-Squared (and paraphrased from memory):
    Q: You're not listening to a word I said."
    Trelane: "I am listening!"
    Q: "I just said you had a foot growing out of your stomach and you nodded!"
    Trelane: "...I thought it was metaphorical."
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch, Chakotay isn't listening to Janeway as she recounts her latest meeting with the admiralty. Janeway therefore gets his attention by mentioning how Admiral Nechayev supposedly turned up naked, with Admiral Montgomery offering no comment.
    • In Unity, part of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, Quark catches Nog's attention by randomly mentioning parasites, referencing the root cause of the current crisis, which he isn't supposed to know about. Until the magic word is thrown in, Nog was just nodding and grunting.
  • In Sharon Kay Penman's The Sunne in Splendour there is a scene where Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is thinking about his love, Anne Neville, and his brother, the king, says, "...and so there you have it, Dickon. If they cannot pay the ten thousand marks by noon Monday next, a gallows shall be set up in Cross Cheaping and—" He falls for it, spluttering in confusion, and gets gently laughed at it for it.
  • Thursday Next: Variation in The Eyre Affair: Thursday and her brother are speaking to an elderly and mostly deaf woman, and when Thursday realizes this she and her brother start saying increasingly obscene things about each other, to absolutely no reaction other than "that's nice, dear."

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock does it a few times.
    • From the episode "Jack the Writer".
      Liz: I think we need to change this Donald Trump joke... [all the male writers are staring at Cerie] ...because Donald Trump was eaten by a lion this morning... on the International Space Station.
    • Done again in "Black Tie":
      Liz: You're not even listening, are you? Poop. Monkey butt.
      Jenna: No, you're a good friend and thank you.
  • The 4400 has "So I took my pistol and I shot her in the forehead." Tom immediately looks up and says "Shot who?" The other character laughs at how he was clearly not listening.
  • The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: In the episode "Harriet Gives a Party", Harriet tries to get Ozzie to help her plan the guest list for the titular party, but he's clearly distracted by his newspaper.
    Harriet: Should I invite the Dunkles?
    Ozzie: Mmmm?
    Harriet: How about the Cunninghams?
    Ozzie: Mmmm?
    Harriet: How about King Farouk?
    Ozzie: Mmmm?
    Harriet: Who do I put him next to?
    Ozzie: Why don't you put him... [Beat] King Farouk? Who invited him?!
    Harriet: Nobody - but if you're not going to pay attention, somebody might slip him in!
  • Angel:
    • "Unleashed":
      Gunn: They've made arrangements to transport his body back to... the North Pole. Turns out he had a close personal relationship with Santa. Angel?
      Angel: What? I'm with you. Turning over to... [mentally catches up] Santa?
    • "Harm's Way" is a Day in the Life episode about Harmony, showing her as a ditzy but hardworking Butt-Monkey that no-one appreciates. One example is when Harmony is filling the boss in on his appointments. Angel is nodding away, but turns out to be listening to a language tape.
    • On a couple of occasions when Angel is giving a Patrick Stewart Speech. Lindsey confesses he just zones out when the yapping starts. Wesley shoots a man dead in the middle of the conversation.
  • From Babylon 5:
    • In "Infection", an old mentor of Stephen Franklin's comes back with some alien artifacts that look like they're organic technology. Stephen gets so absorbed in the research that his friend tries to draw him out with the statement, "There's a Martian war machine parked outside; they'd like a word with you about the common cold."
    • In "Messages from Earth", Marcus Cole is giving a status report to Commander Ivanova, and slowly realizes she isn't listening to him at all. "There's always the threat of an attack by say, a giant space dragon, the kind that eats the sun once every thirty days. It's a nuisance, but what can you expect from reptiles? Did I mention that my nose is on fire? And that I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers? [She finally reacts.] I'm sorry, would you prefer ferrets?"
  • Played for Drama in Band of Brothers. Lieutenant Dike starts asking First Sergeant Lipton about his life before joining the military. But rather than being A Father to His Men, it quickly becomes obvious that Dike isn't paying much attention to the answers. Lieutenant Compton plays into the trope to troll Dike later on.
  • The Big Bang Theory: the guys are busy playing Halo when Penny comes in with some of her friends and asks the guys if they want to have sex with them. When no one responds, Penny turns to her friends and says, "Told ya." After she leaves, Leonard asks if anyone heard something.
    • The above is a Call-Back to what happened in the second episode when Penny found the guys over-thinking the process of furnishing her apartment with their complex and wholly unnecessary ideas. Penny, losing patience, and a little pissed at Howard making a rude chauvinistic remark, jokingly said, "Guys, it’s hot in here, I think I’ll just take off all my clothes." The group didn't notice at all. In fact, they were so caught up in their own plans, they also didn't notice Penny thought her room was nice as is and ran off to start the own huge collaborative building project.
  • The Bill: When DCI Meadows is distracted by the promotion he's applied for, DI Deakin snaps him out of it by telling him that Jim Carver loves wearing women's clothing.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • "Life Serial":
      Giles: Buffy, a word in your ear. Um, if you, uh, think of the store as a, as a library, [cleaning glasses] it'll help you to, to, uh, concentrate on, on... service rather than selling.
      Buffy: Yes. And then I'm going to marry Bob Dole and raise penguins in Guam.
      Giles: [not listening] Yes, uh, quite, quite, yes.
    • Willow realises Buffy is doing this and uses the opportunity to confess to spilling something on Buffy's sweater that she borrowed without permission.
    • Angel has just broken up with Buffy, so she's found a Corner of Woe.
      Xander: How's it going over there, Buff?
      Buffy: [Thousand-Yard Stare] Fine.
      Xander: Well, I just wanted to say that your impersonation of an inanimate object is really coming along.
      Buffy: Thanks.
    • In the aborted Buffy: The Animated Series, Mr. Exposition is going on about the upcoming apocalypse.
      Giles: [looking through a book] Morgala's exact nature eludes us but we've narrowed it down to [looks up] not listening to a word I'm saying.
  • Castle:
    • Beckett is out on a date, but she can't stop talking about her latest case. At one point, her date says "Do you want to have sex with me?" and she doesn't even notice.
    • In another episode, Beckett is speculating about why a victim's clothes are missing, but Castle is distracted by thinking about his daughter having a boyfriend, and doesn't react when she suggests that giant moths killed the guy and ate his clothes. A few minutes later, he says, "Wait, did you say something about a giant moth?"
  • Flipped slightly in Cheers:
    Lilith: Frasier? Frasier? Doctor, are you listening to me?
    Frasier: [drowsily] Yes, please continue. [fully wakes up] I hate it when you do that.
    • It continues in Frasier. In "Come Lie With Me", Daphne surmises that if she moves out, it'll require a lot of hassle, including turning her bedroom back into a study. Frasier gets a distracted smile, leading to her stopping and remarking nonplussed:
      Daphne: You're picturing your study right now, aren't you?
      Frasier: [sheepishly] Well, you made me!
    • Funny thing as Frasier's catchphrase in Frasier is "I'm listening."
  • In CSI: NY "Comes Around", Mac is preoccupied thinking about being railroaded in a case where a suspect jumped from a roof to make Mac look like a killer. Peyton is trying to tell him autopsy results and when she realizes he isn’t listening, she says she made a patê with the victim’s liver. Mac finally pays attention again.
  • In an episode of Dinosaurs, Earl is poring over his new car's operating manual while Fran tries to tell him her errands for the day. She then tries to get his attention with a line something like "...and then I'm going to strip down and start dancing in the driveway." Earl just brushes her off with "Have fun," while the baby asks to dance with her.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Family Portrait", Jean and Rose are discussing Jean's wedding suit when Rose notices that Lucien isn't listening and remarks that "vivid purple was a bold choice". Jean replies "It will match the shade of violet I'm planning to dye my hair". This gets Lucien's attention with a "Did you say you're dying your hair v...?" before realising he is being pranked.
  • In one episode of The Donna Reed Show, Mary complains that her father doesn't actually pay attention when she tells him about her day. To demonstrate:
    Alex: How was school, Mary?
    Mary: Not bad. I got expelled.
    Alex: Good.
  • In Ghost Whisperer when Andrea is talking about the interior decorator...
    Andrea: And then I hope he rips my clothes off and has his way with me on the table.
    [Melinda looks up.]
    Andrea: Oh, you were listening.
  • Gilmore Girls: Emily Gilmore outlines her itinerary for the day to Richard, who is engrossed in the financial pages. She ends it by telling him that she was going to have sex with the gardener after the party they were planning. It was averted because Richard had been listening and suggested that the gardener might not be able to wait. After all, he hadn't.
  • The episode "Come Dancing" of The Goodies has an unusual example, with the one on the receiving end simply revealing he wasn't listening. The leader of a female dancing mafia (...uh, It Makes Sense in Context) is informing Graeme of the vital importance that he listen to her right now because if they genuinely win the dancing competition it will be very bad for them, while he just keeps tinkering with the gadget vital to their success. After she's done snarling and yelling, he simply says "Sorry—wasn't listening" and, distracted and absent-minded, reveals exactly what he was doing and how that machine is vital to them winning. She, however, listened. Hilarity Ensues.
  • From H₂O: Just Add Water Rikki gives us this little gem while Lewis is too busy at his computer.
    Rikki: Me and the girls were going to have a pillow fight in our jim-jams if you wanted to join us.
    Lewis: Sure, no problem.
  • Home Improvement had Jill trying to talk to Tim about ballroom dancing lessons while he was trying to listen to a football game on the radio through an earbud. Tim remains completely oblivious.
    Jill: So anyway, the lessons are on Tuesday nights. And it doesn't really cost very much. And I've been having an affair with a space alien. Yep, I'm having his baby.
  • Houston Knights: Detective Lundy tells his distracted lieutenant that he's thinking about buying a suspect lunch, a new car, and a round-trip ticket to Paris. She doesn't react as he says it, but a few minutes later she dryly warns his bemused partner that she doesn't want to see a ticket to Paris on their expense report.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    Ted Mosby: I think we should go someplace else. In this bar I will always be known as the guy who was left at the altar. It sucks.
    Barney Stinson: Good Times.
    Ted Mosby: Uh-oh, we lost Barney.
    Robin Scherbatsky: What'ya mean?
    Lily Aldrin: There's a woman over there in a tight red sweater, and he's not listening to a word we're saying.
    Barney Stinson: Gimme a Break!
    Ted Mosby: Long ago, he learned that he can fake a conversation by listing black sitcoms from the '70s and '80s. Right, Barney?
    Barney Stinson: What's Happenin'?
    Lily Aldrin: Hey, Barney. Wanna go with me and do stuff that I don't even let Marshall do to me?
    Barney Stinson: Diff'rent Strokes!
    • In an early episode, Ted took a girl out dancing but eventually realized she was only nodding politely to his conversation because she couldn't hear him over the obnoxious club music. He started saying random silly comments for the fun of it but then the music dropped out just long enough for him to scream "I'm wetting my pants" in her face.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In the 6th season episode "The Gang Buys A Boat" Dennis accuses Mac of this, which he doesn't exactly deny but also claims he wasn't doing either.
    Dennis: You're not even listening to me!
    Mac: No, I heard you. You said a bunch of words, right?
  • Lois & Clark: Lois is distracted on the way home after an evening out with Lex Luthor. When she doesn't respond to his comments about the production of Othello they just saw, he says, "Did you know that Shakespeare didn't write Othello? Turns out it was written by Dr. Seuss." Lois just nods and says "mm-hm".
  • Lucifer: Unusually for her, Maze offers a sympathetic ear to Chloe's problems, but we keep cutting to loud rock music from Maze's point-of-view. Turns out Maze has earphones hidden under her hair, while pretending to nod her head in agreement to what Chloe is saying. Chloe eventually realises what is happening and tells Maze that she intends to adopt a dozen puppies and let them sleep in Maze's bedroom.
  • In an episode of Murder, She Wrote, Jessica is worrying about her new book while the sheriff tries to discuss the case with her. Eventually he says they found lion tracks around the body, and she nods absently. Subverted when the next body shows up and she asks, "No lion tracks this time?"
  • NCIS:
    • In a season 3 episode, McGee is deeply absorbed in a bit of computer geekery and totally ignoring Abby, prompting her to say: "I'm pregnant, McGee. Twins. Haven't told the father yet. It's Gibbs. I know it's wrong, but something about his silver hair just gets me all tingly inside." Tony comes in just in time to hear her.
    • Happens again in the season 7 premiere when Tony is distracted by Ziva's absence.
      McGee: I've been thinking about getting some tight leather pants. You know, something that really cradles my butt.
      Tony: It's not normal.
      McGee: I'm kidding, I'm not really -
      Tony: It's not normal we haven't heard from Ziva.
  • Once Upon a Time: In the Season 1 episode "Skin Deep", Belle agrees to be the maid for Rumpelstiltskin. When he assigns her a list of tasks, she agrees to each one automatically, without really listening. He catches on and adds "You must skin the children I hunt for their pelts", causing her to drop the teacup she is polishing in shock, at which point he assures her that he was only kidding.
  • In Power Rangers S.P.D., while Cruger is distracted during her report, Kat tells him that the Rangers have requested clown suits while on patrol, and that she approved them. Cruger just replies with "Uh huh."
  • On Queer as Folk (US), Michael is in the laundry room, and there's an incredibly creepy guy there, staring at him like he wants to devour him. Michael rushes out of there and is in such a hurry that he drops things on the way out. When he comes back to the apartment, Ben is engrossed in the newspaper.
    Michael: I lost a sock and a pair of shorts, but the fuck if I'm going back down there with the crypt master!
    Ben: [doesn't answer]
    Michael: Ben?
    Ben: Uh... yeah?
    Michael: I said there was this guy down there... this incredibly hot guy, and I was bending over to get my laundry out of the dryer, and, and he ripped off my pants and he fucked the shit out of me!
    Ben: [still not listening] Uh-huh?
  • Royal Pains: Evan is worried about his father, and replies with "uh-huh, that's great" when his girlfriend says, "Oh, by the way, I'm pregnant. With triplets. Which is going to be tough in a maximum security prison." Later, at the end of the scene, he jokingly adds, "And I'll be sure to visit you and the triplets in prison."
  • Scrubs:
    • The Janitor tells J.D. that he's going on a janitor-only cruise for the weekend. He then tells J.D. that he paid Ted and Todd to duct-tape him to the ceiling of the cafeteria while he's away and that the only reason he's telling him this is that he knows that J.D. has zoned out by now and isn't even paying attention. J.D. then leaves, saying that he wasn't sure what the Janitor had said.
    • In another episode, Dr Cox tries the same thing on Dr. Kelso:
      Dr. Kelso: Perry, are you familiar with Sacred Heart's community service program?
      Dr. Cox: Bobby, lately I've noticed you don't listen to a single word people say, so my reply to your question is "I think you're the world's biggest jackass and I look forward to your death."
      Dr. Kelso: [not looking up] Well, you must not be familiar with it because you're the only staff member not to have completed his 24-hour mandatory community service. Consider yourself suspended until you do. Oh, and I'm never dying.
  • Seinfeld: Played with in that George appears to be listening but misses the point of Elaine's words.
    Elaine: What're you looking at?
    Jerry: There's a naked woman across the street.
    Elaine: [chuckling] This is gonna be the easiest money I've ever made in my life. So, my friend, Joyce, is teaching an aerobics class. I'm gonna go tonight.
    Jerry: Yeah...the - the waitress should've taken it back.
    Elaine: So then, I got a call this morning. You know, I was, uh, chosen to go on the space shuttle. We're goin' to Mars.
    Jerry: Uh-huh.
    George: Have a good time.
  • Smallville: As Chloe tries to inform Lana about the arrangements for her wedding day, she notices Lana isn't listening (since Lana's thinking about Clark Kent, among other things), prompting Chloe to tell her the day will end with "naked male Jell-o wrestling".
  • An episode of Stargate Atlantis uses this.
    Sheppard: [trying to get Rodney's attention] Pluto should never have been a planet... Zelenka's smarter than you are...
    Rodney: [indicates that he's finally paying attention]
    Sheppard: Whatever, Meredith.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, B'Elanna makes the mistake of building Tom a television set.
    B'Elanna: You didn't miss much while you were away. The Doctor gave a lecture on insects indigenous to the Delta Quadrant.
    Tom: [engrossed in a cartoon] Uh-huh...
    B'Elanna: It was pretty boring. Until Ensign Farley started snoring, and then no one could keep a straight face. Of course, the Doctor wasn't at all amused...
    Tom: [changes the channel] Oh! Hockey!
    B'Elanna: ...It was a shame we had to cut the lecture short, but the warp core overloaded and then the Borg invaded and we were all assimilated.
    Tom: Mm-hmm.
    B'Elanna: You haven't heard a single thing I've said, have you?
    Tom: [yells at the TV] Oh! Look at that!
    B'Elanna: ...Maybe this was a bad idea...
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Averted in the "Call to Arms" episode of when O'Brien, Dax and Rom are trying to come up with a way to block the wormhole, and Rom is apparently too preoccupied thinking about his wedding.
      Dax: Rom! Are you here?
      Rom: Cloak, small, dozens. I heard every word.
    • In "The Sound of Her Voice", the crew of the Defiant makes contact with a Starfleet captain who is stranded on an inhospitable planet and maintain a pretty much continuous comlink to her. At one point, it's Doctor Bashir's turn and, distracted by his work, he basically just gives her simple answers like "yeah," "ah ha," or "oh, yeah," until finally in frustration she pretends that there's someone after her...
      Voice: She's gone.
      Bashir: Who is this? What have you done?
      Voice: I have eaten her.
      Bashir: What?!
      Voice: I've eaten her! What difference does it make to you? You weren't even listening to her!
  • White Collar:
    Elizabeth: And so I told him I would spend the night with him for a million dollars. I'd have to run it by my husband first, but honey, it's a million dollars. What do you think?
    Peter: I think that's great. [notices her expression] I don't think that's great. What did you ask me?
    Elizabeth: Okay, admit it. You're worried about Neal.
  • Season 3 of The Wire:
    Bunk: Maz's pretty quick to yank a pitcher, ain't he?
    McNulty: [stares at his ex-wife and her male friend]
    Bunk: ... I'm thinking of becoming a woman.
    McNulty: [continues to stare]
    • Bunk is also guilty of doing this to Lester. Lester is obsessed with the problem of how drug kingpin Marlo is cutting a swath through Baltimore, and yet none of the bodies are being found. While he's pondering over this, a drunken Bunk is focused only on the pretty girls at the bar where they're sitting. The two go on like this for more than a minute, each in their own world, before Lester realizes what's happening and finally gets exasperated at Bunk. Link
  • In WKRP in Cincinnati, Johnny Fever is introducing Les Nessman to his daughter, Laurie, but he quickly realizes Les is too distracted by getting ready for his news segment to pay attention. Johnny decides to have a little fun.
    Johnny: Anyway Les, Laurie and I have built a nuclear device.
    Les: Uh-huh...
    Johnny: And uh... we're going to murder all the newsmen in Cincinnati before we use it.
    Les: Well, you two have a good time.
    Johnny: Knew we could count on you, Les.
  • The X-Files:
    • From the season 4 episode "Home": Scully tries to talk to Mulder about a case while he's tossing a baseball around on the field:
      Scully: I've collected soil specimens and, uh, although numerous shoe impressions were made from the sandlot game, I think a couple of dental stone casts will prove invaluable to the investigation.
      [Scully watches as Mulder throws the ball into the air some more]
      Scully: Meanwhile, I've quit the F.B.I. and become a spokesperson for the Ab-Roller.
    • From the season 7 episode "all things", Mulder tries to talk to Scully about Crop Circles in England, while she crunches on a salad and ignores him.
      Mulder: And I'm not wearing any pants right now.
  • The Yes, Prime Minister episode "Man Overboard" features this; Sir Humphrey Appleby stays behind after a Cabinet meeting to voice his concerns over Jim Hacker's latest scheme to relocate defence establishment to the North of England. Hacker, however, is completely absorbed by his notes, leading Sir Humphrey to facetiously remark that "There's been an earthquake in Hazlemere." Hacker responds with a distracted "Good".

  • The chorus of the song "Circle of Shame" by The All New Rosie and Rachel Show is a series of minimal responses a woman uses to give the impression that she's listening. Listen to it here. Except for one verse, which is about something else entirely...

    Pro Wrestling 
  • On SHIMMER volume 26, LuFisto earned herself a title shot by asking the inattentive champion MsChif a long series of inane questions - ending in a request for a title match.

    Video Games 
  • In Jade Empire, a man sends you to search the marshes for Fen, whom slavers have captured. You find a woman, but she isn't pleased to find out that you've been sent to find her husband's ox. When they leave the marshes together:
    Woman: Do I have to slaughter that thing to get your attention?
    Man: [bored] No, dear.
    Woman: Are you lying to me?
    Man: [bored] No, dear.
    Woman: Are you listening to me?
    Man: [bored] No, dear.
    [offscreen smack!]
  • Lampshaded in Pokémon Sun and Moon, during a conversation between the player and Hau.
    Hau: Hey, [player], did you know?
    Player: Of course!
    Hau: [visibly annoyed] I haven't even finished the question yet.
  • At the start of the Saints Row: The Third mission "Convoy Decoy", The Boss calls up Pierce and tells them that with STAG in town, the penthouse crib might be compromised, and they need to relocate to a more secure location. When The Boss realizes Pierce isn't paying attention (being more engrossed in a game of chess with Oleg), the Boss adds "...and we should get some horses and mount a charge on STAG," just to mess with Pierce.
  • In one scene in The World Ends with You, Joshua pulls this on Neku and thus indirectly on you. After giving a bunch of exposition, Joshua wonders if you're paying attention and asks you a question about what he just said. Picking the wrong answer causes him to scold you, telling you to pay more attention.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "dullard", one of Strong Bad's methods for dealing with "the office dullard" is to pretend to be listening while saying things like "Yeah? Yeah! Oh yeah!" During the demonstration, Homestar (playing the dullard) catches on and walks away, annoyed.
  • Zero Punctuation: Often to show people involved in a bad game not listening to each other.
    Person 1: Let's make another fucking realistic modern war shooter.
    Person 2: Yes, sounds great!
    Person 1: Um, also I think we should call it Warfighter.
    Person 2: Yes, sounds great!
    Person 1: (beat) And then I thought maybe I can push an entire birthday cake up your cockhole.
    Writer: So how about the horror's happening because reality is being overwritten by a deranged disfigured scientist's twisted subconscious? And also he's half ostrich and rides a unicorn from space and- you're not listening anymore, are you?
    Executive: Yep, sounds great. Call me if you need money, I'm off to the cocaine tasting.

    Web Comics 
  • From 8-Bit Theater:
    Sarda: ...And that's your mission.
    Red Mage: Sarda? Just a suggestion. We could strap dynamite to our heads and roll around in fire. It would increase our chances of survival.
    Sarda: Yeah, sure, why not?
    Red Mage: I have doubts that he's listening to us.
    • On the other hand, given that his entire purpose for helping them was to watch them suffer it's likely that he would have enjoyed said alternative plan anyways.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    Ellen: So I was thinking I might dance naked in your backyard while burning your finest art and furniture.
    Susan: Have fun.
  • Girl Genius:
    • When Dr. Sun Jen-djieh hears that Gil threatened to destroy England the fact that Gil is not listening is pointed out with a helpful arrow.
      Sun: You told them what!? Been a while since I gave you a thrashing...but I'm sure your father will approve.
      Gil: What? Um... Yes, sifu. —and someone powerful is running another Heterodyne heir—
    • After Agatha has been traumatized by her meeting with The Master his daughter Colette sees her traumatized reaction and confesses to love her. She takes Agatha's lack of response as confirmation that she's not pretending.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Someone doing this is abused against them: When Alistair's parents ask him if he'd like to be permanently transformed into a bird this way, and accept this as an answer and go ahead with it. It's not clear if this was invoked, or if they're just negligent.
      Mum: Hey, Aly. You want to be a bird?
      [Aly is playing a video game and paying no attention]
      Alistair: 'kay.
    • In Chapter 74, Kat asks how Annie's meeting went, but clearly isn't paying any attention to the answer, as she's too busy working on her project to figure out how Annie was split into two.
  • A Miracle of Science, when Caprice is trying to show Benjamin the sights, but he's too busy thinking about her knowing his secret now:
  • This Fowl Language comic:
    Dad: How was school?
    Kid: Good.
    Dad: Did anything crazy or fun happen today?!
    Kid: Good.
    Dad: You're not even listening to me, are you?
    Kid: Good.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In a variation, Roy's ghost isn't sure whether the Oracle is capable of hearing him, and tries to prompt a reaction through a series of "Yo Mama" jokes. Also subverted in that the Oracle can hear him but doesn't want him to know until it's too late for him to make much use of it.
    • Similarly (in a more broad application of the trope), after the group splits up, Vaarsuvius spends every waking moment (and they have plenty, seeing as how they refuse to sleep) trying to devise a spell to look for Haley. Sure, they listen to the things the other members are saying, but actively dismisses them as unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
  • This happens to Amy in one issue of Sonic the Comic – Online!. Her friend says, to see whether she's listening or not, "I'm really Don Long-Legs in a wig" (which is funny since she has no hair, being an anthropomorphic bug), and Amy just replies "Mm".
  • In the webcomic Sorcery 101, a werewolf girl is trying to set up a romantic evening with her boyfriend, a bounty hunter who's busy planning his next kill. He doesn't even notice that he's agreed to watch a chick flick with her, so she asks if she can paint his claws bright pink.
  • Subverted in Starslip:
    Quine: I guess the moral of the story is even a finely-tuned machine like the protocol system can't always THE BACK OF MY HEAD IS ON FIRE. ...See? You're not even listening.
    Cutter: I am, Quine. You know where the extinguishers are.
  • In Station V3, one rumormonger is constantly repeating "I know that", leading to the following dialogue:
    RM #1: Orange aardvarks are going to visit the moon.
    RM #2: I know that.
    RM #1: You're not listening to a word I say.
    RM #2: I know that.
  • On one page of Suicide for Hire:
    Arcturus: Came back for my books, mom. Leaving again.
    Mom: Mm-hmm.
    Arcturus: Gonna be gone all day.
    Mom: Mm-hmm.
    Arcturus: I set the bathroom on fire and cut open the couch to hide my secret heroin stash.
    Mom: Mm-hmm.
    Arcturus: [sigh] So good to know I'm cared about...
  • In Uncommon Animals, Jessie is only minorly annoyed to realize that Terry isn't listening to her, before diving back into her fan fiction.
  • Vampire Husband: In episode 2, when Charles tells Cheryl that he is a vampire, she first comforts him and then realizes what he just said.
    Charles: I'm a vampire, okay!? I'm created to hurt you! We can't be together!
    Cheryl: Charles... If you're going to do this, at least don't cry while saying it. I know you actually don't agree with it.
    Cheryl: Wait... Did you say vampire?
    Charles: What did you even hear?
    Cheryl: It's just so rare to see you cry.

    Web Original 
  • This entry on Not Always Right is told by someone who works at a family-run bakery that changed owners 23 years prior. A customer shows up and orders a very complicated wedding cake for her daughter while sending out multiple texts. She is completely oblivious to the worker's protests that the bakery doesn't make cakes of any kind and his offer to give her the number of someone who does, reacting to every protest as if it were a confirmation. Predictably, the woman came back a week later and angrily demanded the promised cake, claiming he had taken her order, guaranteed it would be ready, and promised he would bill her for it. The story goes on to state that they were contacted by not only the wedding couple, but also four lawyers she hired to represent her, but that all of them quickly apologized when they realized the bakery didn't even sell cakes.
  • What the Jealous Bunny Girl in Wholesome Girlfriend ASMR says when the viewer is paying more attention to the dog.
    "Today I decided to hotwire the car, and I took a trip to Target and then used the credit card to buy all the plushies in the toy section and then after that I went to Sea World met Dwayne Johnson The Rock and we took a trip to the moon".

    Web Videos 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Dr. Horrible is in the middle of conducting a heist via remote control when his crush, Penny, asks him to sign a petition for a homeless shelter. He tries to keep up a conversation with her while working the remote, and she picks up on his distraction:
    Penny: We would be able to provide 250 new beds, get people off the streets and into job training so they could... buy rocket packs and go to the moon and become florists... You're not really interested in the homeless, are you?
  • The Joker Blogs: Poison Iv - uh, Pamela Isley does this to Harleen Quinzel, who's feeling the pre-wedding nerves.
    "Guy's nervous too, if it makes you feel better." [beat] "I slept with him last night to calm him down."
    "That's okay, I poisoned your champagne.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Phone", Gumball tries to get Darwin's attention while the latter is playing on the phone:
      Gumball: [Sighs] Darwin, we need to talk.
      Darwin: Uhh yeah.
      Gumball: You know, I love you man.
      Darwin: Uh huh.
      Gumball: But... I think you have a problem with that phone!
      Darwin: Yeah.
      Gumball: So I've arranged for your butt to be surgically grafted onto your face.
      Darwin: Yeah, yeah sure great.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Between his regular life and being Batman, Terry hasn't gotten much sleep lately. While out at a club dancing, his girlfriend Dana notices and proclaims that her head is on fire, to which Terry only responds that she looks good.
  • Chowder:
    • Played with when the title character's boss, Mung Daal, has just started lecturing him. He immediately cuts to an Imagine Spot about filling the room with chocolate and swimming in it.
      Mung Daal: Chowder! Were you listening?
      Chowder: Sure I was! You said we should fill the kitchen with chocolate so we can swim in it all day long!
      Mung Daal: Lucky guess.
    • Also used in a holiday special Hey Hey It's Knishmas! with Panini trying to explain to Chowder that Knish Krinkle was only Gazpacho in a costume.
  • Daria:
    • From the episode "That Was Then, This Is Dumb":
      Jane: You see, my theory is that our primitive hunting instinct has no outlet in modern society.
      Jesse: Cool.
      Jane: So, rather than stalking animals, we substitute it with the shopping experience, and hunt for objects.
      Jesse: Cool.
      Jane: And then, Jesse, while we're asleep, those objects come to life and plot their secret takeover of our civilization. April 1st, 2007. That's the day they make their move.
      Jesse: Cool.
    • Played with in "Murder, She Snored":
      Jake: Hey, kiddo! How was your day?
      Daria: Fine. I heard a new voice inside my head and Kevin stole a test, so everyone's getting an F.
      Jake: That's great!
      Helen: Daria, you were just kidding about the voice, right?
      Daria: Relax... we don't have to answer that.
    • Played straight in Is It Fall Yet?:
      David: Steinbeck was perhaps best known for his poignant novel about the "Okies"...
      Tiffany: [Applying makeup] Uh-huh...
      David: A heavy metal band famous for having a baboon on bass.
      Tiffany: [still applying makeup] Uh-huh...
    • Subverted in "The Old and the Beautiful", when Daria is reading to an old lady in a nursing home:
      Daria: How about I read you some Byron instead?
      Mrs. Blaine: [nods]
      Daria: Or some really graphic smut?
      Mrs. Blaine: [nods]
      Daria: You're deaf aren't you?.
  • The Deep: In "The Dark Orca", Kaiko and Ant are trying to tell William about the salvage ship sunk by the Dark Orca while Will is engrossed in attempting to translate the Lemurian scroll. Will makes noncommittal replies until Kaiko says that the ship was taken by Martians who dragged it away while singing "Jingle Bells". Will replies "Fine. I'll get to it tomorrow", at which point Kaiko starts yelling at him.
  • Played with, like so many other tropes, in Kim Possible: Kim claims Ron wasn't listening to her and it not only turns out that he was listening, but that he fully expected her to claim otherwise and recites her words back exactly.
  • In one episode of Iggy Arbuckle, Jiggers is talking about he feels grossed out about how he and Iggy have to pretend to be Catfish Stu's friends while his mother is visiting. He then notices that Iggy isn't listening, due to him thinking of a way to stop Stu turning a field of orchids into a golf course, so Jiggers tells him that "Martians landed in Brain Freeze today and turned all the snow into grape slushies."
  • This exchange from King of the Hill.
    Bill: ...But then the rash went away, and I could wear pants again.
    Hank: Yup.
    Bill: Dale, Hank says he's going to become a...tugboat captain.
    Dale: Yup.
    Bill: ...Kabu, icksnack, bungo!
    Boomhauer: Mmhmm.
  • In "I Want a Trumpet" from Little Princess, when the King becomes absorbed in a music box with a little toy that plays a trumpet, Little Princess says that she wants a trumpet too, but the King doesn't even hear her, as he's completely absorbed in the music box. So she asks him "Can I have lots of ice cream... for breakfast?" and he just replies "Whatever you say, poppet." In the next scene, she's not eating ice cream, she's just irritated because she wants a trumpet.
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, Bugs tries to tell Daffy about his childhood, but realizes he isn't listening and switches to Superman's origin story. This makes Daffy listen, but being Daffy, he believes every word.
    Daffy: "You're from the planet Krypton?"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    • In the episode "Dragonshy," Fluttershy tries to get out of going on a dangerous mission, and approaches Twilight Sparkle while she's reading the map. The unicorn isn't really listening and just keeps saying, "Uh huh," even when Fluttershy says she should just stay home.
    • Later, in "Spike At Your Service", Twilight unwittingly ignores that Spike is leaving her side to be Applejack's aide due to his Dragon Code. When Twilight is told of it while she's actually paying attention, her reaction is what would be expected.
  • The Simpsons:
    • A sequence from the episode "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" may or may not have been intended this way:
      Bart: I got suspended from school today.
      Bart: They found a switchblade in my locker.
      Bart: I took a swing at a cop.
      Bart: I'm just mad all the time.
    • Maybe a subversion in a Simpsons episode called "Kill the Alligator and Run" where Homer gets in trouble from a guard for talking to someone:
      Guard (after whipping him): No listenin'. You hear me?
      Homer: Ummm... No?
      Guard: You just don' learn, do you?
    • In the second season episode "Bart Gets an F", Bart is getting lectured by Mrs. Krabappel about his grades when the scene shifts to Bart's perspective and her speech becomes Blah, Blah, Blah. Then we get this exchange:
      Mrs. Krabappel: Bart! You haven't been listening to a word I've said, have you?
      Bart: Yes, ma'am.
      Mrs. Krabappel: Well, then what did I say?
      Bart: Uh..."straighten up and fly right?"
      Mrs. Krabappel: [spluttering] Well, that was a lucky guess!
  • From an episode of Sushi Pack, where Maguro is trying to get Tako to stop playing a video game and come to dinner:
    Maguro: As co-leader of the Sushi Pack, do you think you should spend so much time sitting here playing that game?
    Tako: Yeah.
    Maguro: You do?!
    Tako: Yeah.
    Maguro: Or should you take a break and come eat dinner?
    Tako: Yeah.
    Maguro: Yeah, what?
    Tako: Yeah, whatever. Maguro, I'm playing here!
  • In "The Taketombo" from Timothy Goes to School, the Franks are sad and muted at dinner because of having broken Yoko's taketombo. When Big Frank tries to get them to guess what they're having for dinner and they don't really respond, he comments that it's "stewed brontosaurus with Brussels sprouts on the side." This is met with a sort of general "that's nice" from both of them.
  • Eliza from The Wild Thornberrys does this when her parents aren't listening. "I'm gonna go stay up all night, makes some prank phone calls."

    Real Life 
  • The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a company which provides bots which are designed to waste the time of telemarketers by responding with stuff like "sure," "right" and "uh huh" and run pre-written routines like "Hang on, there's a bee on my arm. You keep talking, but I'm not going to talk because of this bee." While they do have certain AI adaptations, they can't really directly respond to what's being said to them, and if the caller begins to suspect something's wrong, they sometimes try to test them in this way. In some cases, it works, in other cases, the programming responds in such a way that they're still not really sure whether or not they're talking to an actual human.


Video Example(s):


I Have Eaten Her

In "The Sound of Her Voice" from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," the senior staff members of the USS Defiant are taking turns chatting with a Lisa Cusak (voice of Debra Wilson) who is stranded alone on a planet but has managed to reach them long distance. Sensing that Doctor Bashir isn't really listening to her, she pulls a hilarious "Not listening to me, are you?" gambit, pretending that there is a monster after her, and then to be that monster, who has eaten her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotListeningToMeAreYou

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