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Oblivious to His Own Description

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How did this clown ever wind up in Detective Comics?

"What's a raccoon?"
Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Character comes across some kind of definition that the audience, or other characters, know to be right about him. The character is the only one who is unaware of that.

Usually Played for Laughs. May come in a variety of ways:

  • Someone tells something about an unspecified someone. The character asks, "Who would that be?" The reply is, "That would be you."
  • The character hears a word or expression for the first time and asks out loud what it means. Perhaps it is beyond the character's vocabulary, perhaps it comes from a Fictionary. The irony is, the character is a walking example of the word.
  • There is a picture/drawing/"Wanted!" Poster of the character. He fails to see himself in it.
  • The character chews out other characters for behaving or acting in a specific manner while remaining oblivious to the fact that they are much the same.
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  • Someone is mocking the character in terms designed to keep them from realizing that they're being insulted.

An embarrassed or hypocritical character might act like this while keeping quiet about knowing the description is accurate ("I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about"). A disguised character might pretend to be oblivious but compliment himself while at it.

Compare Calling Me a Logarithm, Failed a Spot Check, I Resemble That Remark!, Stealth Insult, Tomato in the Mirror, and "Where? Where?".



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happosai and Cologne's first meeting in Ranma ½ has Happosai display a jeweled bracelet which he claims he got from an old girlfriend. Cologne mentions that it looks very much like one of the treasures a wandering pervert stole from her village after pestering all the local girls. Happosai doesn't catch least until Cologne attacks him for his theft.
  • Happens in Lovely Complex when Koizumi describes Otani as her perfect guy and he does not get it despite it being a perfect description of him. He finally gets it when she tells him her perfect guy is right there when they are the only two in the room.
  • In Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, during its field test the Dreamlands defense mecha Banshin develops an obsessive crush for Mahiro and starts striking Kamen Rider poses. Nyarko angrily asks if its brain is short-circuiting...and Mahiro quietly points out that it's acting exactly like her, the AI being an exact copy of Nyarko's own brain patterns. At which point she starts praising it.
  • In a flashback scene from Case Closed, Shinichi rejects the love of his football club's manager because he already has a girl he likes —a childhood friend whom he describes as "strong, stubborn, but gentle and sensitive" — obviously referring to Ran. When Sonoko tries to point this out, Ran wonders if there is such a girl.
  • In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Nozaki asks Sakura if there's anybody she likes and she describes her unsuccessful confession to Nozaki himself without mentioning his name. His response? "What's so good about a guy like that?"
  • In Assassination Classroom, the viewpoint character clinically remarks on the bloodlust and 'killing intent' of his enemies- often as if he didn't also possess those traits.
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: In the OVA, Komachi describes her ideal man (and the traits that would make him unable to cheat on her), and her brother doesn't seem to realize that she just described him perfectly. Yea...
  • In New Game!, The first character Aoba designs is based on Aoba herself: the latter's most distinguishing feature is her bright-coloured Girlish Pigtails, and is earnest but slightly ditzy. All of Aoba's coworkers recognize that character is based on her, but Aoba herself doesn't realize that until Kou tells her after she submits the design. Amusingly, Aoba tries to search for images of girls with pigtails, prompting Kou to tell her that Aoba herself has that hair style.
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten: Nanako Yamamoto knows that her younger sister Mayumi is completely oblivious to Hanamaru-sensei's crush on her...but is completely unaware that she's in exactly the same situation with her fellow teacher Tsuchida. And of course, Mayumi is the same way in reverse, knowing about Tsuchida's crush on Nanako. One episode even has a dinner scene where the two sisters both think "I feel sorry for him for having to put up with someone as clueless as my sister!" to themselves.
  • In chapter 71 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Kaguya describes herself while talking about the kind of girl that would go after Shirogane (completely hopeless, uses every dirty trick in the book, and oblivious to her own feelings). Hayasaka's response is predictable.
    Hayasaka: I agree with you from the bottom of my heart.
  • In Girls und Panzer, there is an OVA where the girls try to guess the subject of an impersonation. Hana gets everyone right.... but has no clue who they are trying to mimic when they do hers.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: While reading the outline for one of Fafnir's doujinshi, Lucoa comments that the woman in it is horrible for trying to molest a young boy, which suggests that either this trope is in play or her intentions with Shouta are more innocent than they appear.
  • Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online: When LLENN calls Pito the most ruthless player in the game, Pito says there's one player who's more ruthless than her. LLENN innocently asks who she's talking about. This is after LLENN became the most infamous player-killer in the game, was the champion of two tournaments, and killed Pito by having her own hands cut off and then biting her throat out. Pito just rolls her eyes.
  • Played for Laughs in One Piece during the Water Seven arc: when Sanji prepares to face CP7 Chef Wanze and describes him as a grinning moron, Wanze looks behind him as to see whom he was referring to, much to Sanji's wrath.
  • In Hitoribocchi no OO Seikatsu, Nako tells Bocchi about a weird girl who is following Nako around and trying to become friends with her. Bocchi, the only person who has been shown interacting with Nako at this point in the story, wonders who this girl is and whether she can become friends with her.
  • In Smile Down the Runway, Ikuto tries to bring up the possibility of him working full-time to his Jerkass boss, Hazime, by telling him about one of his "friend"'s current work situation, then asking Hazime for advice. In doing so, Ikuto describes Hazime's many unpleasant antics, which prompts Hazime to respond, "Tell your friend to quit working for that trash."
  • The Dangers in My Heart: When Kyōtarō tries reading "Kimi Iro Octave", a romance manga his crush Anna is really fond of, he starts to wonder if the male lead represents her ideal boyfriend. He makes a mental list of his character traits; he acts aloof and rude but is really nice deep down, and is unexpectedly cute and clumsy; a description that fits him to a T. He then concludes that no one like that actually exists.
  • Rent-A-Girlfriend plays with this. At the end of the protagonist Kazuya's big rental date to cheer his crush Chizuru up following her grandmother's death, he tells her his idea of his perfect woman (ie. her) when she asks if she's been able to meet his date standards for the evening. Chizuru does get it on some level (and wants to be right on a deeper level), but thinks he can't possibly be talking about her, because their relationship is supposed to be a business transaction and she doesn't believe anyone should fall in love with a Rental Girlfriend.
  • Sing "Yesterday" for Me: In Episode 5, Haru meets Minato, an old classmate of hers from high school, for the first time since she dropped out. They end up having the following exchange, in which Minato hints that he has feelings for Haru.
    Haru: Are you in a relationship with anyone, Minato-kun?
    Minato: I had a crush back in high school. We ran into each other again recently, but she's already in love with someone else.
    Haru: Oh, yeah? We're the same. I feel a little better.
    Minato: (thinks) She's so dense.

    Comic Books 
  • Groo the Wanderer, on numerous occasions, especially with synonyms for "stupid".
    Groo: What did he mean, "slow of mind"?
  • This was the downfall of Jimmy Natale, mob clean-up man and one of the Vulture's knockoffs in Spider-Man. Having found a way to create a new Vulture, he pitched the idea to his bosses as a way to discourage further screw-ups. Unfortunately, he didn't notice that he had all the qualities he recommended (ruthlessness, efficiency, etc.).
  • A recurring joke in Atomic Robo is Robo's Arbitrary Skepticism towards nonsense science, despite himself being a sapient atomic-powered robot with Super Strength invented by Nikola Tesla.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: The seventh habit of highly defective people is thinking the people in the comic aren't you.
    Pointy-Haired Boss: Hehe, look at that stupid hair.
    • Another strip had the PHB reading a memo about thefts in the office, and describes the thief as being "slow-witted, with pointy hair". He continues, saying that it "stops short of actually naming her Alice."
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin starts a list entitled "A Million Things That Bug Me." Hobbes suggests he add "excessively negative people," which Calvin happily adds, although he eventually catches the insult.

    Fan Works 
  • Cat-Ra: Catra constantly hides whether or not she's actually capable of using her powers on a given day, usually because it would involve admitting some emotional issue she's going through that's loosely or directly connected. In "The Coronation", Glimmer admits in the middle of a fight that she's unable to use her powers to help the others, because the place where she recharges said abilities reminds her too much of her recently deceased mother and she's thus been avoiding it. Catra is taken aback by this.
    Catra: What kind of person can't use her powers and doesn't tell her friends about it!?
    It took her a matter of five seconds before she noticed the silence emanating from her friends before looking back to them, seeing a mix of irritation, boredom, and disbelief as they both raised an eyebrow to her.
    Catra: ... What? ... WHAT?
  • In the Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony anthology comic, "Please Be My Friend," this happens between Tenko Chabashira and Himiko Yumeno, when the latter grows weary of the former's tireless efforts to befriend her.
    Tenko: You seem a bit out of it today.
    Himiko: Of course. With a certain someone accosting me every five minutes from dawn 'till dusk, 'tis no wonder I'm in low spirits. [shows Tenko repeatedly calling out "Yumeno-san!"]
    Tenko WHAT?! Who is this scoundrel?! Don't tell me it's a menace?!
    Himiko: It is you.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged's fifth movie features a very bored Piccolo taking one look at Cooler's Armored Squadron and declaring (in a Call-Back to the prior film) that they consist of a pretty one, a stupid one, and one with weird powers. Doore, the massive hulking bruiser, takes the compliment but declare he's "more handsome than pretty", Sauza, the smug, slim Bishounen with long hair, protests that his powers aren't that weird, and Neiz, the creepy-looking reptilian with stunning electricity and a retractable head, lets out an angry dinosaur screech.
    Piccolo: Okay, I take it back: you're all stupid.
  • In How I Became Yours, as Sokka is entering the Spirit World to save Azula, he begins describing the girl he fell in love with, and she doesn't seem aware that she's the person he's talking about. Justified in that there's no point at which he says "I'm talking about you," and as a result of being in the Spirit World, Azula is gradually losing her memory.
  • LadyBugOut: After betraying Ladybug's trust by posting a photo of her and Chat Kissing Under the Influence of Oblivio's Laser-Guided Amnesia to her blog, deliberately omitting the context, Alya defends herself by insisting that it doesn't matter that Ladybug didn't approve, claiming that it's 'just the price of fame'. This stubborn refusal to acknowledge that she's done anything wrong effectively torpedoes her friendship with several of her classmates, including Marinette. In the aptly named Non-Apology, Alya tells Marinette that "I can't be friends with someone who won't apologize and can't even see what she did" — perfectly summing up the very traits that are costing her so much. And continue to cost her, as Marinette replies "I can't be friends with someone like that, either. So I guess we're not friends anymore."
  • The Lunar Guardsman: Raegdan shares the story of Ulysses. He is completely oblivious to the parallel of a man trying to get back home and failing for years, even when called on it.
  • Frequently used for drama in Maleficent fanfic with a Maleficent/Diaval pairing: Maleficent doesn't believe in love, and even less believes that someone could love her, so if she overhears Diaval telling someone that he is in love with a woman, she'll think the object of his admiration is someone else. Often justified by his describing her in a way very different from how she views herself.
  • Maria Campbell of the Astral Clocktower: Maria scoffs at the idea of knights wandering the land, solving problems and defeating villains. Such things are obviously just stories. She completely forgets that she actually did that. Even Katarina rolls her eyes at this. Note that Katarina has her beat here; she is embarrassed at her reputation as a "Saintess" and thinks she doesn't deserve it, but at least she knows who people are talking about.
  • Mastermind: Rise of Anarchy: Bakugou's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of a crook he caught while playing Vigilante Man is interrupted by Death Arms, who shouts "Stop, villain!" Bakugou immediately looks around, sees there's nobody else, and complains about the hero getting his hopes up about there being more people to fight. Death Arms has to spell out that he's talking to him, much to his offense.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: Arial does such things as chewing Kokoa out for her Hair-Trigger Temper, chewing Ran out for chasing after Ahakon romantically when he's already dating Yukari and doesn't love her like that, and telling Sun that she has to accept that Gin has moved on to Kokoa and move on... when, as shown throughout this act and the previous one, a Hair-Trigger Temper and issues with her loved ones choosing other girls to be with instead of her are two of the traits that define Arial most as a person. Anyone who tries to point this out to her runs the risk of setting off her Berserk Button and getting physically attacked.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): When Salem calls to ask how her son Jaune is doing, Cinder says he's found a friend, the buxom blonde Yang Xiao-Long, who might be a romantic interest. Cinder is dismissive of her, calling her "childish and immature," and says Jaune needs someone more mature, more experienced, and more willing to control him when necessary. Oh, and not blonde. Cinder completely fails to notice that she described herself, which Salem finds amusing, since she's been trying to hook them up for years.
    Salem: Well then, should you ever find an older, more experienced woman with a different shade of hair – perhaps black – do be sure to let her know I would approve of any such relationship with my son.
  • In Who You Know, Alya berates Marinette for not listening to Lila and refusing accepting a seemingly golden opportunity from her. Not only had Lila never made that offer in the first place — both because she was lying about her connections and setting Marinette up to look like a jerk — but Alya proceeds to pass up a real opportunity Marinette's trying to offer because she refuses to listen to her.

    Film — Animated 
  • Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman: Batman's reaction to the presence of a new costumed crimefighter in town:
    Bruce: The last thing Gotham City needs is a vigilante running amok.
    Alfred: As they say on the streets, I'm not touching that one.
  • Shrek: Donkey has a moment of this when he follows Shrek back to his hovel in the swamp, and finds it surrounded by "No Trespassing" signs:
    Donkey: I guess you don't entertain much, do you?
    Shrek: I like my privacy.
    Donkey: You know, I do too. That's another thing we have in common! Like, I hate it when you got someone in your face, you trying to give them a hint and they won't leave. And then there's that big awkward silence, you know...
    (Shrek turns around and stares at Donkey, resulting in a big awkward silence)

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers (2012), Tony Stark starts painting Loki in a not very flattering light, not realizing until the very end that he's describing himself as well, in the process.
      Tony Stark: Divide and Conquer is great, but he knows he has to take us out to win, right? That's what he wants. He wants to beat us, he wants to be seen doing it. He wants an audience. [...] Yeah. [Stuttgart]'s just previews, this is... this is opening night. And Loki, he's a full-tilt diva. He wants flowers, he wants parades, he wants a monument built to the skies with his name plastered... [he suddenly realizes that his own name is written in huge letters on the Stark Tower, and thus realizes that Loki intends to use it for his Evil Plan] ...son of a bitch.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): As illustrated by the page quote, Rocket does not understand why Quill calls him a raccoon and doesn't listen when Peter tries to explain to Rocket that he is a raccoon.
  • In Wayne's World, Garth is snooping around Benjamin's room and finds the latter's diary. In it is listed the entry "Purchase feeble public access show and exploit it," to which Garth remarks, "Gee, I feel sorry for whoever that is!"
  • Liar Liar pulls a somewhat inverted version of this. When Fletcher requests a bathroom break and tries to think of a way to get out of continuing the court session so he can try to maintain his promise to his son, he decides on, in his own words, "kicking my ass!" When brought before the judge and asked who had done this to him, as he can't tell a lie of any kind, he PROMPTLY describes himself. The judge doesn't see through it, not even when Fletcher promptly hides his teeth after the "big teeth, kinda gangly" comment.
  • In the Dolly Parton film Straight Talk, the protagonist Shirlee sees her boss at the dance studio brooding in his office and insists on skipping her lesson so he can talk about his problem, saying that talking to people means more to her than the job. He talks about how he has an employee who's a Nice Girl, but who keeps neglecting her job so she can give customers relationship advice and doesn't take a hint, no matter how often he tries to tell her that he can't afford for her to do that. Shirlee says that, as sad is it may be, he probably needs to fire a woman like that. He agrees and fires her.
  • In The Wife, Joe reads his son's short story and tells him that the couple in it, an insufferable blowhard and his long-suffering wife, seem like a cliche. His wife Joan at least realizes that it's based on her and Joe.

  • In The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero recalls seeing The Talented Mr. Ripley and realizing how chillingly similar the relationship between Dickie Greenleaf and Tom Ripley was to the relationship between himself and Tommy Wiseau. When Greg later watches the movie with Tommy, he is worried that the latter will realize the same thing... but Wiseau remains utterly oblivious and is instead inspired by the movie to create his infamous "magnum opus".
  • Discworld: In Jingo, Lord Vetinari recruits Fred and Nobby to accompany him and Leonard of Quirm on a secret mission, due to their "special qualities". Later, as Fred is dozing off he hears Leonard ask "Why them?" and the Patrician replies "They do what they're told, they tend to believe the last thing they heard, they're not bright enough to ask questions, and they have that certain unshakable loyalty available to those unencumbered by too much intelligence." Fred then goes to sleep, content that he's not like those poor bastards because he's a man with special qualities.
  • Hit and Run by Lawrence Block: Hitman with a Heart Keller is watching TV in his hotel room and sees a story on CNN about the assassination of the governor of Ohio. They show a picture of the assassin, and he takes a moment to realize that it's a picture of him.
  • Ivan Krylov has a fable where a monkey sees itself in the mirror and says "My, what an ugly and misbehaving creature. Good thing I look nothing like that, or I would have died of shame. It does look a bit like some of my friends though."
  • "Notorious", a short story by João Guimarães Rosa (of The Devil to Pay in the Backlands fame). The narrator, a doctor, is surprised to get a visit from a feared outlaw. It happens a newly arrived guy from the government called him "notorious", and the furious outlaw travels miles... to ask the doctor, one of the few educated men in the backlands, what the word means. Fearing the worst, the narrator answers it means "important", and the outlaw leaves happy.
  • To the Ends of the Earth: The narrator overhears two people discussing someone with a very out-of-date worldview, but who is nonetheless fairly likable and not completely stupid. He does not realize that they are probably referring to him (it is never explicitly confirmed that they are, but it seems very likely).
  • The A to Z Mysteries book The Lucky Lottery has the heroes going to the convenience store where the winning, and now stolen, lottery ticket was sold to try to find out who might have taken it. The cashier offers a description of a suspicious man she saw in the store earlier, and Josh draws a picture based on what she says—but when they go to the police with their findings, the cops take one look and point out that it's just a drawing of Josh himself with a mustache. We later find out why: the cashier was the crook, and she deliberately made up a story to send the kids on a wild goose chase.
  • In the fourth book of Gulliver's Travels, the titular character ends up in the land of the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent talking horses. When Gulliver first arrives there, he comes across a creature, known locally as a "Yahoo," which he describes in great detail as hideously ugly and crude creatures with thick hair on the heads and chests; the Yahoos walk on their hind legs, lack tails, and are generally the most "disagreeable" creature Gulliver has ever seen. In case you hadn't already guessed, the Yahoos are human beings; Gulliver fails to recognize their parallels to himself and thinks that he has a lot more in common with the Houyhnhnms than the beasts.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 'Allo 'Allo!, very camp Camp Gay Lieutenant Gruber reads out the resistance's leaflet mocking the members of the German military staff. Present company includes Colonel von Strohm who is well-fed.
    Lieutenant Gruber: "We will show that fat pig colonel, and that queer lieutenant..." — whoever can that be?
  • In The Andy Griffith Show, Barney overhears Andy and Aunt Bea talking about a particularly irritating Know-Nothing Know-It-All. They look horrified when Barney walks into the room, only for him to agree that people like that are annoying.
  • Band of Brothers: After Lt. Spiers becomes the new CO of Easy Company, Lipton tells him that the men don't care about the rumors about him, they're just happy to have a real leader for the first time since Winters was promoted. Spiers tells Lipton that they did have one. This leader made sure the men were ready and in fighting shape, helped raise moral and discouraged anything that would hinder it. Lipton is confused and Spiers has to outright tell Lipton he is talking about him.
  • Batman (1966): When a TV show host asks Batman and Robin if they know anyone unusual for him to interview who wears a costume, has a dual identity, or has a notable purpose. They say that Gotham City doesn't have anyone like that besides a few prison inmates, apologize for being unable to help, and go on their way.
  • Best Friends Whenever: In the episode "When Shelby Met Cyd", Naldo doesn't realize that Shelby is describing him as Cyd's fourth-grade crush, including wearing hats and Cyd punching him in the arm to shush him.
  • In a Birds of a Feather skit for Comic Relief, Tracy has hired two cleaners, who turn out to be French and Saunders doing near-perfect Sharon and Tracy impressions. Tracy's reaction to them is a contemptious "South Londoners!"
  • In the Blackadder II episode "Beer", after Lord Percy has made several inept attempts at conversation with Lord and Lady Whiteadder (including "A vow of silence, now, that's quite an interesting thing. Tell me about it.") Lord Whiteadder complements Edmund on his jester. Percy looks round in confusion for the jester.
  • Breaking Bad: In "Cat's in the Bag...", Skyler looks at Jesse's website, and sees "MILFs" listed among his "general interests".
    Skyler: MILFs? What the hell is a MILF?
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Eleventh Hour": The newly-regenerated Eleventh Doctor witnesses the Monster of the Week transform into a perfect likeness of himself, and remarks "That's rubbish, who's that supposed to be?" Justified, as he doesn't know what he looks like at that point.
    • "The Pandorica Opens": The Doctor tells us of the legend of the being trapped inside the Pandorica: "There was a goblin. Or a trickster, or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it — one day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world." The Doctor doesn't seem to realize that sounds exactly what his enemies would describe him as...
    • A similar example to the above happens in "The God Complex", although it's Played With as at the end of the description, the Doctor pauses and realizes what happened and then adds "I wasn't talking about myself." (Or, the Minotaur clarifies that it wasn't talking about itself, and the Doctor only realises when he translates that bit.)
    • "Deep Breath": The Doctor describes Clara as a self-centred egomaniac. She thinks he's describing himself.
    • "Twice Upon a Time": The First Doctor explains that one thing that factored into his leaving Gallifrey was to try and answer why good always prevailed over evil when, objectively, evil should typically win because Being Good Sucks. Bill Potts suggests the idea that it could be because of a single bloke running around, helping where he can and maintaining the good in the universe as a result. The Doctor dismisses this as a fairy tale.
  • Friends:
    • Monica's mother Judy constantly belittles or undermines everything Monica says and does. When Judy's own mother dies she starts talking about how often Nana criticised her while she was growing up but remains completely oblivious to the fact that she's now treating Monica the exact same way.
      Judy: Do you know what it's like to grow up with someone who who is critical of every single thing you say?
      Monica: (Beat) I can imagine.
      Judy: I'm telling you, it's a wonder your mother turned out to be the positive, life-affirming person that she is.
      Monica: That is a wonder.
    • Rachel starts dating a guy named Russ, who is an exact duplicate of Ross. Not only does Ross not see the resemblance, but he also starts going on about all his annoying habits, not realizing that they apply to him too.
      Ross: And it takes him, what, like, like, I don't know, uh, hello, a week to get out a sentence?
      Chandler: Yeah, it's annoying, isn't it?
      Ross: [after hesitating for a long while] ...Yeah!
  • In Full House, Stephanie gripes about having to work with the class Jerkass on a project and DJ tells her that sometimes people can seem annoying at first, but once you get to know them you discover their other, better sides. She's clearly referring to Kimmy, but Kimmy demands to know if DJ has any other friends she's not telling her about.
  • In Game of Thrones, a protester claims the King is being manipulated by a "twisted demon monkey". The crowd laughs, and Tyrion is amused by the protester's imagination until Bronn points out that Tyrion is the monkey.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, the girls learn that their new neighbors are jewel fences and decide to help the cops capture them by going to their place for dinner and planting a bug. After they return home, they all take turns eavesdropping on the criminals:
    Rose: (wearing scarlet) They keep talking about "the bubblehead in the red dress"—could that be code?
  • The Good Place: In a long group conversation with Michael, Eleanor describes herself, Chidi, Tahani and Jason as, respectively, "an Arizona dirtbag, a human turtleneck, a narcissistic monster, and literally the dumbest person I've ever met." Jason then looks around expectantly and asks "...And who am I? Describe me now!"
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Mac and Dennis are trying to gently kick Charlie off their team. Charlie describes himself as the team wildcard, and they point out that a wildcard isn't really a good thing, and that their team really doesn't need a third member who just gets in the way and makes random decisions. Charlie enthusiastically agrees that they should kick that guy off the team, whoever he is.
  • The Muppet Show: In the Spike Milligan episode, an entire segment consists of Milligan alternately doing wacky, incoherent things and inflicting slapstick on the newscaster. At the end of it:
    Newscaster: A newsman was attacked today by a mad English comic!
    Milligan: Really? We must go and find him! (knocks the newscaster unconscious with a hammer and runs off)
  • From The Office (US):
    • Phyllis is flashed by a pervert in the parking lot. Pam is asked to draw up a description of the man in order to make wanted posters; she blows it off and just draws Dwight with a mustache instead and asks him to put the posters up. Dwight does so enthusiastically, even mentioning happily that he wants the "pervert" to be caught.
    • Michael, after being put off by Andy's weird behavior, says of him, "I don't understand how someone can have so little self-awareness."
    • After finding half a joint in the parking lot, Dwight starts interrogating the other employees, beginning with Kevin:
      Dwight: Let's go over some symptoms of marijuana use, shall we? You tell me who this sounds like. Slow moving. Inattentive. Dull. Constantly snacking. Shows a lack of motivation.
      [Long pause]
      Kevin: ...heeeeeey...
  • Psych: In one episode, Shawn and Gus are hanging at a playground in an attempt to covertly interview some nannies. After a while, Buzz shows up and awkwardly informs them that the police got a call about “two creepy dudes” loitering at the playground. It takes them a minute to get the hint.
    Gus: Really? I haven’t seen anything, but I’ll keep my eyes open.
    Shawn: We’ve just been here hanging out in bushes.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): Mr. Poe unironically talks about how his book about Count Olaf features various "well-meaning but ineffectual authority figures who help him intentionally or unintentionally along the way."
  • In Sherlock there's a variation in that the description is of what effect his actions had:
    Mycroft: The terrorist cells have been informed that we know about the bomb. We can't fool them now. We've lost everything. One fragment of one e-mail, and months and years of planning... finished.
    Sherlock: [to self] Your MOD man.
    Mycroft: That's all it takes. One lonely, naïve man, desperate to show off. And a woman clever enough to make him feel special.
    Sherlock: You should screen your defence people more carefully.
    Mycroft: I'm not talking about the MOD man, Sherlock, I'm talking about you!
  • In Veep, Selina blames President Hughes's failed presidency on his chief of staff and senior strategist, who she describes as a "burnt-out loser" and "conniving robot," respectively. Her own staff, burnt-out loser Mike and conniving robot Dan, nod quickly and agree.
  • In The Wire, it's subverted when detective Jimmy McNulty is at the FBI getting a profile on the "serial murderer" that he faked all the evidence for that basically describes McNulty himself to perfection. He's visibly unnerved by the accuracy of the description but makes an effort to hide it.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible has an instance of this with respect to King David. After David's Uriah Gambit is successful and Uriah is slain by the Ammonites, God becomes angry at David and sends a message to Nathan the Prophet. Nathan tells David about a rich man that had numerous herds and other possessions. His neighbor was a poor man with one little ewe lamb that he loved dearly. When the rich man wanted to entertain a guest, he was reluctant to kill one of his many lambs. Instead, he killed the poor man's lamb and cooked it for his guest. Upon hearing the story, David becomes furious and declares that the man will surely die and that he will pay fourfold for the lamb because he did this thing and had no pity. Nathan does not pull any punches and tells him "You are the man!" Cue the literal My God, What Have I Done??
  • This is a classic from fairy tales (e.g. Grimms' False Princess who happily declares her own death sentence this way) and surely has its own Aarne-Thompson number.

    Video Games 
  • In Sonic Colors, one of Eggman's PA messages has him informing "the owner of a white hovercar shaped like an egg" that their car was broken into. He only realizes who the owner obviously is once he repeats the message a second time. For extra hilarity, judging by another of his messages, his own robots go around looting the guests' cars, meaning they might be responsible.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, when you've solved almost all of Riddler's puzzles, he has a Freak Out and laments that it's like he's crossed into some Alternate Universe where Batman is the smart one and he's nothing more than a lunatic with an over-inflated ego.
  • One of the side characters in Grand Theft Auto V, Mary-Ann, tries to explain to Trevor why they wouldn't be a good couple and falls hard into this trope:
    Mary-Ann: You are thin. You're irrationally angry. Nothing you say makes any sense. You are... completely have no control over your emotions. We have nothing in common!
  • This trope helped cause the downfall of MJ-12 in Deus Ex: they had created the AI Daedalus to crackdown on terrorist groups that could challenge their rule and utterly failed to realize that MJ-12 itself fit their stated definition of a terrorist group, which caused Daedalus to go rogue and team up with JC Denton.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Flayn's C support with Seteth has her complain to her overprotective brother (actually father) about someone getting in the way of her making friends. Seteth is horrified and asks who he needs to deal with; Flayn, of course, shoots back that she's talking about him before leaving. Seteth is left in Stunned Silence before seemingly forcing the conversation out of his memory.
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift: After listening to Hakumen's story about a woman he cared for long ago that inspired him at the cost of her life, Tsubaki remarks that she'd be happy to become a woman like that someday. She doesn't know that Hakumen is the alternate timeline counterpart of her love interest Jin, and the woman in question is that timeline's version of herself.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY Chibi:
    • In Episode 10, after witnessing the Love Triangle between Pyrrha, Jaune, and Weiss, Ren remarks that they can't see what's right in front of them... while Nora, who's crazy about him, is waving a sign reading "Notice Me!" surrounded by pink hearts.
    • In Season 2 Episode 1, after the opening sequence goes pear-shaped, Ozpin states that he'd have to be a pretty incompetent leader if he didn't notice sabotage happening right under his nose. This is almost immediately after Mercury and Emerald respectively conked Ruby on the head with a boom mike and dropped a stage light dangerously close to Yang, complete with false apologies. Following this, Ozpin gets flattened by the rose symbol when Cinder pushes it over... and still believes that it fell on him by accident.
    • In "Super Besties", after Ruby has used Bedtime Brainwashing to force Weiss to spend the entire day with her against her will, and to force Yang to hand over spending money and let her use her motorcycle, Blake tells Yang point blank that she and Weiss "have weak minds and are easily manipulated"... while she herself is wearing a "back-up bestie" T-shirt, courtesy of Ruby.

  • In Something*Positive, Davan tells Peejee he used to have a crush on a girl, but she didn't return the sentiment. They became really good friends and it ended up being for the best. Peejee insults the girl for not realizing Davan's great, he replies that, no, she's one of his favorite people. He walks away. Peejee catches on and blushes.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Captain Tagon comments on the emblem with his side-face (and conveniently stands so you can see his side-view and see how accurate it is).
    • Petey says that he is making a retirement offer to Tagon's Toughs because he's trying to take a band of career sociopaths out of circulation. Schlock asks him whom he should shoot.
  • Girl Genius, after seeing Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!) do something impressive to get a doohickey for Agatha's lightning stick:
    Tarvek: I keep forgetting he's a Spark.
    Violetta: Really. So you've completely missed that he's overbearing, self-aggrandizing, and certain death to be around?
    Tarvek: Well, no, but... what's your point?
  • Shortpacked!:
    • Ethan and Robin are discussing Transformers: Prime.
      Robin: Miko's the best part of that show! There's just something about her that speaks to me. The lack of boundaries for her over-the-top behavior is the catalyst for half of everything that happens on that show. Thank god she never learns anything and the rest of the cast is so forgiving.
      Ethan: Something about that speaks to you, huh?
      Robin: Yeah, maybe she reminds me of Rainbow Dash.
    • Played more seriously when Robin seduced Leslie to stop Malaya flirting with her, even though she and Leslie were broken up at the time and Leslie wanted to sort through her feelings rationally.
      Robin: Just think, you were this close to bangin' some control freak self-absorbed chick who won't consider your feelings.
      Leslie: [head in her hands] Closer than you think.
  • The Order of the Stick: After Durkon is turned into a vampire, Roy argues that he can still be part of the team (with supervision). Belkar, the Token Evil Teammate who's known to kill people because he can, is quick to point out the ways this could go wrong.
    Belkar: I just don't trust the idea of us using a horrible bloodthirsty savage to fulfill our goals while we — oh, I get it.
    Roy: Yeah, we already made the parallel.
  • Katamari: Ace gives The Prince a nasty speech about trying to steal all the glory for himself, blissfully unaware that the lecture he's giving him would be better directed at him.
    Ace: So what do you think, Prince? Are you willing to admit your arrogance, set aside your vanity for once, and ask me for help?
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Sabin loses Locke and Celes's wedding rings. Upon hearing this, Edgar coyly suggests that a thief stole them from Sabin. Locke gets angry, saying they'll need to search all the guests, before suddenly realizing Edgar meant himself: Locke is something of a kleptomaniac (which is roughly canon) and Edgar explains that his kleptomania goes into overdrive when he's nervous. Indeed, Locke pickpocketed his own wedding rings from Sabin and either forgot or didn't realize that he had done so.
  • The title character from Vexxarr can't (or rather, refuses to) recognize that he fits the ever more specific profile to undertake a mission in the Lattroxx Hegemony.
  • After a murder is committed outside her door in The Handbook of Heroes, Magus, resident rapier-wielding catfolk, does some detective work, announcing to all present that the victim was killed by someone with fur wielding a piercing weapon. Her teammates are all facepalming at this point, knowing that now they'll have to catch the actual killer to clear her name, and that they're probably not going to get paid to do so.

    Web Original 
  • In this video, "Sherlock Can't Solve Elementary," Sherlock describes the protagonist of Elementary to John, while totally oblivious to the fact that he's basically describing himself.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: In the "Baloney and Kids" segment, Yakko calls Baloney a "big fat polyester dinosaur who's the colour of an International House of Pancakes". Baloney doesn't seem to realise the comment is directed at him, but then, Baloney is not particularly clever.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka fails to recognize when Suki is talking about him.
    Suki: I lost someone I care about. He didn't die. He just went away. I only had a few days to get to know him, but he was smart, and brave and funny.
    Sokka: Who is this guy? Is he taller than me?
    Suki: No. He's about your height.
    Sokka: Is he better looking?
    Suki: It is you, stupid!
  • Animal Mechanicals. Certain situations will elicit a conversation like this:
    Team: If only we had someone who could stretch that far... [everyone turns to Sasquatch, who is The Big Guy and resident Rubber Man]
    Sasquatch: Yeah... but who could that possibly be? [Beat] I know! The Mighty Sasquatch can stretch that far!
  • In the first episode of South Park, Cartman is watching a news report on Crop Circles and the camera pulls back to show that the circles form an exact portrait of himself.
    Cartman: Hey! That looks like... Tom Selleck.
  • On Metalocalypse, the band hires body doubles for security reasons. They resemble the actual band members to varying degrees, but Murderface's double is a dead ringer.
    Murderface: Hold on, this guy doesn't look like me! He's hideous, he's grotesque, look at 'im!
    Ofdensen: Actually, Murderface, he—
    Murderface: Look at that head, that disgusting forehead, that stupid-shaped hair, beady eyes, like, stupid flat nose, wide hammer-ass, chicken-plucked legs idiot! (at Ofdensen) You need to get your eyes checked, you piece of shit! This guy doesn't look like me!
    Murderface: (about to cry) Oh God, he looks just like me.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island:
    Simone: I've had enough of that meddling dog!
    Scooby-Doo: Dog? Where?
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! has Helga doing stand-up impersonations of everyone at school. Mr. Simmons is the only one who doesn't recognize Helga's parody of him, including not noticing his own Catchphrase.
    Helga: Okay class, we're all going to do something very special, that's all going to show how all of you are special in your own special way.
    Mr. Simmons: Who is that? Is that Mr. Packenham? Who is she doing?
    Mr. Simmons: [to Helga] Are you going to do that "special guy" again? You know, the one who says "special" all the time? Who is that?
    • In another episode, Arnold, Gerald, Sid, Harold, and Eugene go on a fishing trip with their dads (and Arnold's grandpa) that turns into an unmitigated disaster, culminating in the group being stuck outside in the rain and swarmed by frogs. When someone suggests they tell scary stories, Harold snaps and tells a "scary story" which is just a recap of everything that has happened to them. Once he's finished and starts sobbing:
    Eugene: Gosh, that sounds awfully similar to what happened to us.
    Arnold: (glaring at him)' It is what happened to us.
  • One episode of The Lion Guard has the leaders of different animals in the Pridelands gathering and arguing a bit. During that, this exchange happens.
    Big Baboon: I was having a perfectly nice time when suddenly this... this hippo with a horn bumps into me.
    Mbeya: Who are you calling a hippo? I'm a rhino, you baboon!
    Big Baboon: Who are you calling a baboon?!
    Bunga: [deadpan] You are a baboon.
    Big Baboon: Oh. Right.
  • In the Bump in the Night episode "To Sleep, Perchance to Burp", Mr. Bumpy starts searching for a monster under the bed who's keeping the boy whose bed he lives under awake. Even when Molly Coddle points out to Bumpy that he's most likely the monster bothering the boy since he himself is a monster living under a bed, it takes a while for Mr. Bumpy to make the connection.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Often with Dr. Doofenshmirtz, constantly talking about some dummkopf or slob which could just as easily apply to himself. For example, in "Finding Mary McGuffin", he's rooting through a box of on-off switches to find one that will work with his latest -inator.
    Doofenshmirtz: Oh, and here's one. The exact same size and shape that I'm looking for except it's upside-down. I mean, the words are actually printed upside-down. What kind of a dummkopf would invent an upside-down... switch...that... [Beat, he sighs and turns it right-side-up.] I did it!
    • In "Hide and Seek", the introductory episode for Irving, Baljeet, of all people, dismisses Irving as a nerd.
    • The premise of Candace and Linda's plotline in "What Do It Do" is that Linda, normally the Reasonable Authority Figure, is going through all the usual motions of her high-strung teenage daughter. She spots a bizarre object in the yard, it mortifies her, she tries to call someone (in this case, her husband Lawrence), he doesn't believe her, she drags him away from what he's doing, only to find the object has vanished. While Candace notices it almost immediately, Linda never realizes the similarities.
      Lawrence: [from his work, after Linda has called him about the rocket] Linda, my dear, I love you, but you couldn't have chosen a worse moment to go completely bonkers! I'm sorry, but I've got to call you back! Bye!
      Linda: Ohhhh, he doesn't believe me!! He said I sound crazy!!
      Candace: Ohhhhh, reeeeeeally???
      Linda: Yeah! You know I'm not imagining this!
      Candace: Of course not! Gosh, that must be so frustrating to have someone not believe you when you're telling the truth!
      Linda: Oh, you don't know the half of it.
      Candace: That feeling you have right now: that's how I feel every single day when you don't believe me about what Phineas and Ferb are doing! Now that you finally understand, would you come with me to the backyard?
      Linda: Why?
      Candace: Now, keep in mind how Dad just made you feel, okay? [With total confidence] Phineas and Ferb have reverse-engineered and built an exact duplicate of this thing and at this very moment, they're trying to figure out what it does by forcing it to belly dance and work in a library.
      Linda: Candace, honey, I love you, but you couldn't have chosen a worse moment to go completely bonkers!
    • In "Summer Belongs To You", the characters find themselves in Paris, the City of Love. Candace, Ferb, and Isabella are eager to spend time with their crushes, but none of them go anywhere. Candace can't work up the nerve to talk to Jeremy, Vanessa's father finds her and Ferb believes she's left him on the Eiffel Tower, and Phineas' Oblivious to Love tendencies kick into overdrive as Isabella is pouring her heart out in song form. When they regroup, Phineas sympathizes with their romantic woes but fails to identify Isabella's.
      Phineas: Hey Ferb. Where's Vanessa?
      Ferb: She went off with someone else.
      Phineas: That's too bad. I thought the two of you, you know, a boy, a girl, alone in the City of Love. I thought romance was a foregone conclusion.
      [Isabella grunts, loudly, and snaps her pencil in two]
      Phineas: Isabella, did you say something?
      Isabella: [through gritted teeth] I need a new pencil.
      [Ferb hands her another pencil. Candace enters]
      Phineas: Oh, hey, Candace. So how'd it go? Did you see Jeremy?
      Candace: Well, I saw him. I just didn't talk to him.
      Phineas: Oh, that's too bad. I thought, you know, the two of you, a boy, a girl, alone in the City of Love—
      [Isabella grunts, and all of a sudden, her head explodes]
      Phineas: Isabella? Isabella! [cut back to reality, to reveal the explosion just in Isabella's imagination] Isabella, are you alright?
      Isabella: [calmly but still aggravated] Peachy.
    • In "Night of the Living Pharmacists", Stacy's subplot revolves entirely around her setting up a new home entertainment system and watching a horror movie. She jokes to herself about how clueless the movie's characters are, while she never turns around to see that Zombie Apocalypse that has broken out in Danville. In fact, her obliviousness, combined with the fact that she never leaves the house, cause her to be the only known character not to get zombified by the night's end.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "D'oh-in' in the Wind", after Homer's antics end up ruining an organic juice shipment:
    Brockman: And, in business news, Groovy Grove Juice Corporation has announced it will miss delivery on its third-quarter shipment. A spokesman attributed the production shutdown to a half-witted oaf.
    Homer: Aww, it was sweet of those guys to blame an oaf. But really, it was my fault.
    • In "The Old Man And The Lisa", a newly poor Mr. Burns doesn't realize how low most Springfielders' opinion of him is.
    Burns: (cheerfully) I'm riding the bus.
    Barney: Hey, aren't you that guy everybody hates?
    Burns: (chuckles) Oh, my, no. I'm Monty Burns.
  • In Spongebob Squarepants episode "Hall Monitor", Spongebob gets worried when he hears the news about a maniac terrorizing the citizens of Bikini Bottom and causing traffic accidents, not realizing that that's exactly what he has been doing as hall monitor.
    • From "Hooky":
      Patrick: Well, that Mr. Krabs is just a big dummy! Are you gonna listen to a big dummy, or are you gonna listen to me?
  • Bob's Burgers: In “Land of the Loft,” Teddy is annoyed that Bob and Linda’s new friends "decided to come here one day, liked the food, showed up more and more often and now they're here every single day", thinking it's "creepy." All Bob and Linda can think of as a reply is a confused "uh..."
  • Futurama:
    Amy: Only weirdos and mutants join third parties!
    Zoidberg: (apprehensive) Really? I'd better keep an eye out at the next meeting.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Marinette can't see herself in Adrien's love poem (which is actually written about her but not to her) without some convincing from Tikki.
  • When Toxic Crusaders look for jobs, Nozone thinks it would be a stretch to answer an ad seeking “someone outgoing and with a large nose.”

    Real Life 
  • According to Chuck Jones, Daffy Duck's lisping voice was Mel Blanc's impression of Warner Bros. producer Leon Schlesinger. Jones' autobiography Chuck Amuck quotes Schlesinger's reaction to the character as follows: "Jeethus Christh, that'th a funny voithe! Where'd you get that voithe?"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Oblivious To Her Own Description, Oblivious To Their Own Description


Director Ozpin

Yes, Ozpin, you really are THAT incompetent.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObliviousToHisOwnDescription

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