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Parental Obliviousness

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Definitely not a helicopter parent.
"Open your eyes, Mom! What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing, and you still haven't figured it out?"
Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Parental Obliviousness would be best described as a subtrope of Adults Are Useless.

The kid is either trying to tell the parent something or trying to hide something, but the parent misses this completely, as well as other significant cues about their child's state of mind or personality.

Sometimes the parents are oblivious because there's something going on and the parent is a Muggle who can't know because s/he isn't Secret Keeper. Or perhaps the Extra-Strength Masquerade seems to be hitting them especially hard.

Sometimes it's just a mundane reason for the cluelessness, like work causing mom or dad to be absent too much. Occasionally, it's a case of the parent thinking too much and not being able to see the forest for the trees; or the parent not wanting to see and going deep into denial. And sometimes the parent is actively contriving to not know something they consider brain breaking. Denial is handy to maintain obliviousness.


Usually the trope is played for comedic effect, and often in animation to allow child or teenage characters to go off adventuring without their parents knowing and freaking out about it. (The alternative being the parents not being there.)

There's often a scene where the kids are in trouble and the parents finally find out and ask why did the kids not come to them about it. To that, the parents are always stunned to hear that their own children fear their reaction more than the trouble itself and cannot understand how their role in family discipline made them an object of fear that helped allow the problem to escalate into a crisis.

The flip side is Open-Minded Parent, where they figure out what their kid is up to... And seem strangely untroubled by it. Compare and contrast with Mama Bear, who knows what's happening in her child's life, and nothing will hurt her child. Then there's the Reasonable Authority Figure, who may not believe everything they hear, but will invariably hear them out and humor them. Parental Obliviousness is often required for a Don't Tell Mama situation to work, or at least helps it along. This trope has an older, more senile relative in Grandparental Obliviousness.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sword Art Online: In addition to simply being a Horrible Judge of Character in regards to Sugou Nobuyuki, whom he had set Asuna up with in an Arranged Marriage, Asuna's father Shouzou had absolutely no idea that Asuna completely despised Sugou even before she was trapped in SAO for two years and the events of the Fairy Dance arc.
  • Pokémon: From the time Butch and Cassidy appeared for the second time to the moment it evolved, Ash, Misty, and Brock had no idea baby Togepi knew the Metronome attack that had saved itself and the team on a few occasions. Tracey subverts this by questioning if Togepi really did save them once.
  • Haruka's Mom from Noein may be the queen of this trope. She failed to notice all the weird things going on around her (like an arm hanging from the ceiling in front of her face). The only thing that snapped her out of this was seeing her house disappear in front of her.
  • Amu Hinamori's parents in Shugo Chara! buy into Amu's "cool and spicy" persona as much as her classmates do, making them unaware of how shy she really is. And, oh yeah... they don't know about the whole Guardian Chara/Humpty Lock/Embryo situation, either.
    • They also don't realize that Ikuto is staying in her room for a few days. Her mum thinks it might be cat so she suspects something. I guess she was right in a way...
  • Fumiko Kobayashi in Kemeko Deluxe! has the general signs of this trope, but they're only compounded by her being a mangaka and regularly pulling all-nighters, meaning she's completely unaware of things such as a destructive battle going on in the room right above her, a rocket sticking out of the roof of her house, and the fact that... whatever Kemeko is has suddenly moved into their house.
  • Ichigo's dad in Bleach completely fails to notice the shinigami living in Ichigo's closet, his frequent and lengthy disappearances, or, in the anime filler arcs, as many as four sentient stuffed animals in his room. Actually a subversion; Isshin is a Captain-level shinigami in his own right and knew exactly what his son was getting up to.
  • Rea Amano in Future Diary is largely oblivious to Yuno's psychotic behavior and approves of Yuno as a potential bride for her son Yukiteru.
    • Though in Rea's defense, Yuno can fool pretty much anyone who doesn't know her that well. As everyone else just sees her as a model student and a Genki Girl.
  • Nana Sawada in Reborn2004 seems to be unaware of the fact that both her husband and her son are part of the Mafia.
  • March Comes in Like a Lion: Kouda has shown no signs of realizing how badly his biased and shogi-centered upbringing has damaged his three children emotionally. At least, as far as Rei's narration is capable of showing the readers.
  • Sandra in A Cruel God Reigns is totally oblivious to the fact that her perfect new husband is beating and raping her teenaged son nearly every night. However, we find out later that she knew all along and chose to ignore it. Jeremy finds out when he reads her diary, resulting in a massive Freak Out and Driven to Suicide
  • In Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, the Kid Heroes manage to keep their parents in the dark to an improbable degree. They never catch their children leaving home in the middle of the night. They never get wind of the weird incidents going on at school. (Laser-Guided Amnesia helps.) There's always a convenient excuse for times when the kids seem upset or depressed.
  • Issei's parents in High School D×D were explicitly shown to be placated by Rias' magic the first time he was caught naked in bed with her, though their fondness for multiple female housemates of his seems to come from cheerfully supporting their son's Harem Seeker ways. It blatantly crosses over into this trope when Issei gets another three female housemates at once without complaint, and when the family house is renovated into a six-storey mansion overnight to accommodate everyone (in opulence at that), they awake the next morning and happily remark how nice it is to have the extra living space.
    • When the charade is eventually open, it becomes obvious that now matter how weird things got, since it was making their son happy, they simply didn't care.
  • Actually somewhat invoked in Higurashi: When They Cry, as Keiichi seems to go out of his way to make sure his parents are oblivious to all the freaky stuff that's going on.

  • Batman: Depending on who's writing him, during Dick Grayson's formative years, he was so absorbed in the mission that he was completely unaware of Dick's neglected emotional needs unless Alfred pointed it out.
  • Batgirl:
    • Commissioner Gordon still seems to have no idea his daughter was the original Batgirl. At the time, he just seemed to be clueless; a Booster Gold story suggested he was so far in denial he would leap on the flimsiest evidence she wasn't, without even admitting to himself why it was so important that the woman in the Batgirl costume he saw talking to Babs was the real one.
    • It depends on the writer. In one comic where Babs, now an adult, tells her father she's Oracle and is happy to find him pretty accepting, she goes on to tell him that she was Batgirl as a teen.
      Jim Gordon: Now that, I knew.
    • It's outright stated in the New 52 that he doesn't want to know anyone's secret identity due to Plausible Deniability.
  • Robin: It takes a ridiculously long time for Tim's father to find out he's Robin, especially considering that at one point Tim got sent on an unplanned extended trip in space, keeps busy working in Gotham and Bludhaven and on Young Justice and later the Teen Titans, and has traveled all over the world for training and to chase down leads. It helps that Jack was never really involved with his son's life even before Tim took on the role of Robin.
  • More a case of parental-figure obliviousness, the characters in Runaways keep dismissing Molly when she tries to tell them she has superpowers (they think she wants The Talk).
  • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Carrie Kelly's parents completely fail to notice that their daughter is sneaking out to become Robin, because they are rather ambiguous drug users. They’re so bad that one point, they forget they even have a child.
  • Just before Green Arrow's ward Speedy is revealed to be a junkie, he gives an explanation of why someone would turn to drugs in which he stops just short of saying "And by someone, I mean me." GA misses the point entirely.
  • The Flash Wally West's biological parents Mary & Rudy West fall into this category, especially during Mark Waid's run. This is why he feels closer to Iris and Barry later on his life.
  • In Teen Titans, Eddie Bloomberg's parents largely ignored him, distracted by their own issues, so he turned to his Aunt Marlene and her client Daniel Cassidy, who ended up becoming Blue Devil.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: Shinji and Asuka got together and after a short while started sleeping together... and Misato kept thinking they were stuck on the Belligerent Sexual Tension phase. When they finally came clean about their relationship several months later, Misato thought they were pulling a prank on her because she did not believe they could get together without her noticing anything (to be fair, they deceived nearly everybody).
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Misato was completely oblivious to her wards' feelings and their increasing mental and emotional instability. As a result of it, they spent their whole lives trying to get over their issues.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon's parents are told, point-blank, that their son stood in for an schoolmate's fully trained bodyguard with years of experience who got injured in his job. They don't appear to find anything wrong with this, nor do they wonder why the schoolmate needs protection or how their son got the skills to stand in for the bodyguard without being injured himself.
  • Zigzagged in Office Politics. Though it never really comes up in conversation "L supposes... Chief Yagami is smart enough to know that his son was not always found nude in the company of L because they were planning on being completely heterosexual with one another."
  • In If Them's the Rules Harry doesn't realize that Tom is simply hiding his sociopathic tendencies and taking him away from his previous environment only met that he didn't have a reason to express them.
  • In Cinderjuice, both Lydia and Beetlejuice comment on the fact that Charles and Delia are often profoundly guilty of this. It makes Charles attempting to be an Overprotective Dad all the more amusing to Beetlejuice.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji and Asuka spent several months making out behind her surrogate mother's back. As the same time, their bodies evolved, transformed and gained new powers... and Misato didn't knew about it, either.
  • In The Second Try, Shinji and Asuka kept their Secret Relationship and their time-traveler status from her guardian Misato for months.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Misato was pretty oblivious to her wards’ complicated and quickly-changing relationship.
  • In Last Child of Krypton, Misato had no idea what her young ward and assistant was Superman. She only found out when another person told her.
  • In Once More with Feeling:
    • Even though Shinji acts strangely and knows things he shouldn’t know, his guardian Misato doesn’t suspect that he’s a time-traveller.
    • Gendo knows his son isn’t at all what he was expecting, and Ritsuko constantly brings to his attention that Shinji keeps doing things that make no sense, but Gendo keeps thinking it doesn’t merit his attention.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act III: Issa was completely oblivious to the fact that Akua and Kahlua had joined Fairy Tale right under his nose, even after they steal the Chrono Displacement spell from his secret archive for the organization's use; said archive was a family secret that only Issa and his daughters knew about, so there was no other way Fairy Tale could possibly have known about it, making it even more ludicrous that he didn't suspect anything.
  • Shadow of the Dragon: As revealed in chapter 19, Himiko Satome apparently had no idea just how much of a monster her son was (said son being a vicious bully and Serial Rapist who has been causing trouble at the school for a ''very long time) until after she discovers he's been arrested for trying to rape Tomoyo. Of course, this is at least in part because she never returned any of the school's calls or showed up at any parent-teacher conferences.
  • Played for Drama in Invisible Sun. Dexter's parents are oblivious to the point of Parental Neglect. They ignore him and don't take him seriously. Even when he was a baby, DeeDee acted more a parent to her little brother than their actual parents did. This leads to the Utoniums becoming Dexter's Family of Choice.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Chloe's father, Professor Cerise, is completely oblivious to all the reasons why his daughter dislikes Pokémon. Namely, the fact that his research takes up so much of his time and attention, the fact that he has forced her to work as his assistant after school, and the general assumption that she will follow in his footsteps despite her lacking interest. Add in the fact that he only pays attention to her when Pokémon are involved, and you have one of the biggest factors that drove her away from home and onto the Infinity Train.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Iron Giant: Hogarth's mother does not seem to have the faintest clue that Hogarth unabashedly despises Kent Mansley, and has been desperate to avoid him since he moved in. She goes so far to suggest Hogarth take Mansley around and show him the sights. Whether this is true obliviousness or just Hogarth's mother wanting her son to accept they have to rent the spare room for money is not completely obvious. She only picks up a dislike for Kent when he eventually calls the army on her son and nearly gets the town nuked.
  • In one scene of Big Hero 6 it's painfully obvious that Hiro is trying to hide something, yet Aunt Cass doesn't notice at all. CinemaSins called this out: "Aunt Cass apparently has never seen anyone act suspicious before."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Pin's mother in Brick is apparently unaware that her son is a vicious drug lord, despite most of the deals and scheming going on in her basement. She even starts serving drinks to the members of a rival crime family during what she assumes is a friendly get-together.
  • Home Alone: The McAllisters don't realize Kevin has been left behind until their airplane is already in the air. Granted, they were all in a rush so that they wouldn't miss their flight, but it also makes them look a bit foolish for not remembering about Kevin.
  • The Ring: Aidan knows not to help Samara, but his mother is horrified when he flat out tells her she wasn't supposed to help her, even though she knows her child is psychic. Part of that was Aidan's fault, since he didn't tell his mother anything helpful about Samara. His mother did precisely what nearly anybody in her position would have done: give Samara's body a proper burial.
  • The Last Starfighter: Alex Rogan's mother says exactly the wrong thing to her son who is dreading the idea of life never going further away than the trailer park he's grown up in... and doesn't seem to know why that upsets him.
  • The lead's parents in Away We Go (one of whom is Mrs. McAllister) apparently don't consider their son's girlfriend being pregnant and living in a ramshackle house a enough good reason to postpone an overseas vacation and let them use their house. Most of the other parents the young couple encounter aren't much better: "Can we talk like this in front of your kid?" "Pfft, it's all white noise to him, see: Brian. ''Brian''. Brian! Brian!!" (the kid is playing a handheld game, but not wearing earphones nor are the usual sound effects heard)
  • The clueless doofy dad in the tweener comedy Sleepover qualifies enough that he let four teenage girls be out of the house all night without ever noticing.
  • In The Hairy Bird, Tinka's mom, while talking to her, is not even paying attention what Tinka is doing, and doesn't even notice her running off with Snake at the end.
  • Implied in Mystery Team, although they may just be happy that their kids are spending time with more people than just each other.
  • Played for laughs in Moving Violations, in which a teamster and overprotective father is apparently unaware his 15-year-old daughter is a law-breaking punk who poses as an adult and sleeps around. Then again, she's apparently been deliberately deceiving him since she was 12.
  • In Mystery Men, Invisible Boy is implied to have gotten started on his particular super power by this trope. When he announces that he's going to his room with three strange men, his father doesn't even look up from the television.
  • Lydia has to endure this in Beetlejuice; among other examples, her father doesn't seem to understand that his daughter does not care for her stepmother and doesn't appreciate his insisting on calling her "your mother." It's not hard to understand why she eventually latches onto the Maitlands as Parental Substitutes, although by the end of the film both her father and stepmother do seem to have improved at least a little.
  • In Irreconcilable Differences, Lucy has no idea where her daughter Casey is most of the time. She is surprised to hear that Casey spends most of her time at the housekeeper Maria's house.

  • The horribly depressing children's book, Not Now, Bernard is the epitome of this. Bernard sees a monster in the garden. He tells various adults, including his parents. They all say, "Not now, Bernard." The monster eats him. The monster goes inside. The parents say, "Not now, Bernard." The end. It's every child's nightmare. Then the story's ending turns hilarious. The parents are so oblivious that they actually mistake the monster for their son and the monster is so utterly confused by the turn of events that he just sort of goes along for the ride. The look on his face at the end after they tuck him into bed is priceless.
  • Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter is completely oblivious to the fact that her little "Duddykins" has become a smoking bully that runs with a group of other malcontents, and thinks he just goes to a friend's house to have dinner every day. She also somehow overlooks him gradually turning into a miniature humpback whale (not literally) for 15 years.
    • This trope is pretty much the Dursleys' entire parenting strategy, at least when it comes to Dudley. When he gets bad grades in school, Petunia insists he's a gifted boy and his teachers don't understand him. When Dumbledore comments on the horrid way they've mistreated Dudley (i.e. letting him grow up to be a spoiled bully), Vernon and Petunia are both bewildered.
  • Artemis Fowl's mother has no idea he's a criminal mastermind who consorts with faeries. His father kind of suspects the criminal mastermind part, but knows nothing about the faerie part.
    • As of Time Paradox, Angeline does know about the fairies, but that might not last. Every time one of the elder Fowls has gotten close to the truth before, either Artemis or Holly has mind-wiped them.
  • From the Kadingir series: Ishtar's parents are a pair of happy bohemian artists who live and breath their craft, and fail to notice most of the bizarre adventures their children get into. To name but a few: their daughter being spirited away into another dimension; their son fighting against and later making friends with an eight-inch tiger-man; a huge laboratory in their own basement; one of their guests being a giant chicken; two different demonic teddy bears roaming the corridors; a squadron of The Men in Black invading their home; and an increasing number of packages that may very well come from a different planet.
  • The Great Brain Reforms: Tom endangers himself and two other boys by sailing his raft in very promising flood conditions. It's not until his brother explains everything that their parents learn that Tom, the boy who is always involved in some money-making scheme and once charged his friends to witness the digging of a cesspool, has been charging for these excursions. You'd think their father would have suspected something when he inspected the raft that Tom told him he was building.
  • Even magic can't get the parents from Fablehaven to see what's happening around them.
  • Brandon Mull's other story, The Candy Shop War takes this past its logical extreme (though this time magic is the cause of the obliviousness). At one point an enchanted wooden Indian is attacking the main character and his father, who is watching, tells him he's only dreaming and needs to get back to bed!!!
  • In Ender's Game, the Wiggin children plan and carry out a plan to take over the world under their parents' noses. Subverted in the sequel Shadow of the Hegemon, which reveals that the parents let them go on with their "secret" online politicking partly because they are open-minded and partly because they know what the kids are doing and agree, or at least respect that the kids know what they are doing. In fact, when Peter finally learns that his parents have known all along that he is Locke, his father chides him, asking him where he thought his brilliant mind came from if not from his parents?
  • In the Flora Segunda novels of Ysabeau Wilce, Buck is completely unaware of the shenannigans which Flora gets up to (mainly because being Commanding General of the Califan Army takes up so much of her time). Hotspur is a bit more on the ball though.
  • The narrator of The Lost Thing has to point out to his parents that it's even in the room, despite the fact that it's bright red and HUGE.
  • In Snow Crash, Y.T.'s mother is apparently quite unaware how dangerous her daughter's part-time job as a Kourier actually is.
  • Sarah Heap in Septimus Heap refuses to believe that her eldest son Simon Heap has turned evil in Flyte.
  • In Hush, Hush, Nora's mother seems blissfully unaware that her daughter is being stalked and nearly murdered by multiple parties. This reaches dizzying heights of stupidity when one of said parties visits Nora in the morning, grabs and shakes her, and shouts that he won't let her go until she does what he wants. Nora's mother walks in on the middle of this and is only mildly concerned, buying that he just wanted to copy Nora's homework, and not pursuing the issue at all when Nora brushes it off (ignoring that Nora collapses on the ground and nearly cries after he leaves).
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie's parents are completely oblivious to their daughter leading a whole double life. This is explained by her using a magical Reflection that takes her place at school and home whenever she needs to be away (which seems to be most of the time), and by Valkyrie managing to lie convincingly whenever the parents do notice there's something odd going on.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, despite both being world renowned super-geniuses, neither of Penny's parents connect her and her friends to The Inscrutable Machine. The protagonist's realization that they literally cannot make what she considers the obvious connection (because they're laser-focused on dealing with the potential threat her alter-ego ostensibly poses to her real identity) is actually a major plot point that shifts her behavior substantially.
  • Danny Hebert from Worm is oblivious to his teenage daughter's career as a rising supervillain in Brockton Bay, first because he feels the need to give her space after her mother's death and later because she runs away to keep him from finding out. By the time he discovers something's wrong, it's far too late.
  • In Race to the Sun Nizhoni and her younger brother Mac are brought up by their father. And he is never there for them, for their school plays or matches, Nizhoni is positively surprised when he manages to come and pick her up from school after her sports injury—but then, in the car, he is constantly talking on his phone or texting, anyway. And he never seems to notice that Mac is constantly bullied, even when he sports a black eye.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Heroes: Crazy-Prepared HRG is prepared for everything except the fact that forbidding Claire from going to the homecoming dance means, as a teenager, she's going to defy him and go anyway; even if he did have a really good reason (that, admittedly, he did not bother even hinting at).
    • In contrast, Claire's mother had no idea at the time that Claire is superpowered (or that HRG is a Badass Normal hero-hunter), but immediately recognizes that Claire is going to sneak out, and even runs interference for her.
    • And Niki, who has powers of her own, knows her son Micah is gifted, but for a while there, she didn't seem to know how gifted.
    • The Petrellis have a major, debilitating case of this, to the point that Angela is still dismissing Peter's capacity to accomplish anything after he's rewritten the course of history right in front of her four times. When he comes back from the future in full god mode in season three, she essentially pats him condescendingly on the head and then goes back to putting all her eggs in the Sylar basket. Even when he casually blasts apart and overrides her plans three times in two episodes, she still can't take him or his power seriously.
      • More generally, the Petrellis constantly play for relatively minor political influence (they just want to Kennedy their way into a few elections, no actual shadow-government stuff involved) while ignoring the very real physical conflict and actual blood-shedding wars that the brothers (especially Peter) are usually involved with.
  • This was always a big part of Bernard's Watch.
  • Arrested Development: Tobias, Lindsay, and Michael have no idea that not only is Maeby is a movie studio executive, but also that George-Michael and Maeby not only have crushes on each other, but are married.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Buffy's mom, for the first couple of seasons at least, was incredibly clueless. When the truth finally came out in the season 2 finale, Buffy even called her on it, asking her if she'd ever wondered where all the blood she'd had to wash out of Buffy's clothes got there. Oddly enough, the backstory give a perfect reason she wouldn't notice: Buffy was thought to be a troubled kid (she burned down her last school's gym).
    • There's Willow's mom, who seemed to be only around when it was inconvenient for her daughter. She had only three appearances over the course of the series, and only one of them in person. Any parenting knowledge is cited from what sound like psychology textbooks, and it took her months to notice her daughter had gotten a haircut.
  • Borderline on The Cosby Show. More like parents were portrayed as dumb. In one scene Clair is mad at Vanessa for going to Maryland to a concert, she tells her a question but shuts her up when asking a question. But it was a dumb moment rather than the parents being stupid. Cliff is dumb for pretty much going along with this.
  • Justified in the original Batman (1966) TV show, as Barbara Gordon has pixie-cut brown hair and uses a red wig as Batgirl.
  • In H₂O: Just Add Water, none of the girls' parents are aware that their daughters are mermaids. In fact, some of the other kids' parents seem to be suspecting something, while the parents themselves are clueless.
  • Reversed in an episode of The X-Files; (Lord of the Flies, season 8?) when the mother keeps trying to tell her son something. It turns out she was not an original member of Pink Floyd... and like the son is a half-fly monster.
  • It's even lampshaded in The Secret World of Alex Mack in the series finale. Alex is trapped in a cell even her powers can't get her out of, and her parents are kidnapped by the Big Bad and stuck in the cell outside Alex's prison. Alex finally has to admit that she and her sister have been lying to them and hiding her powers for four years. Alex's parents blow a fuse, and her mom even says, "We must be the most oblivious parents ever!" To be fair, they're good parents and Alex happens to have powers well suited to sneaking around and avoiding being spotted.
  • Schitt's Creek: Johnny and Moira were completely oblivious to their daughter Alexis's wild adventures including run-ins with Thai drug lords, Saudia Arabian princes and at least once romance with a famous soccer player. They didn't even realize she had dropped out of her posh Swiss boarding school, and they attended her graduation.
  • In Stranger Things, most people are oblivious to the supernatural going-ons related to the Upside Down, but Ted and Karen Wheeler take the cake. Not only do they fail to realize that their daughter Nancy is hunting a monster from an Alternate Dimension, but even worse is that their son Mike successfully hid his super powered girlfriend Eleven in their basement for nearly a week. The only reason Ted and Karen found out about Eleven at all is because the Mad Scientist hunting her when she Escaped from the Lab thought it was a better idea to talk to them to see what they know (which is absolutely nothing) rather than let his borderline insane underling kill them when they start annoying her. At one point, Nancy allows Steve to spend the night in her room, meaning that both Wheeler children are simultaneously hiding people in the house, and their parents are none the wiser about any of it. To her credit, Karen is at least trying to have a relationship with her children, and just assumes that Mike and Nancy's odd behavior is due to the disappearances of their respective best friends. Ted, however, is just completely checked out on everything regarding his children.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Uncle Devil Show", Joey's parents are entirely oblivious to him using the spells that he has learned from his Tim Ferret and Friends video to change the world around him, including giving them the heads of a lizard and a wolf.

  • Tommy has a rather dark take on this trope. Tommy's parents offer only token concern before leaving their deaf, dumb and blind son with a drunken rapist. Or his sadistic cousin.
    Do you think it's all right / To leave the boy with Uncle Ernie? / Do you think it's all right? / He's had a few too many. / Do you think it's all right? / Yes, I think it's all right.
  • The Serendipity Singers' "Beans in your Ears" has a father issuing a grave warning to his children about doing exactly what is mentioned in the song title. It is obvious from the children's reply that they have no intention of doing anything so bizarre (even giving perfectly sensible reasons), but the end of the song reveals the parent has not listened to a word.

    Video Games 
  • Both subverted and played straight in the Mega Man Battle Network series. Dr. Hikari knows quite well that both his twin sons are going to save the world, though Mrs. Hikari tends to be more oblivious.
    • Same for Mega Man Star Force. Dr. Hoshikawa practically set up his son to save the world, while Mrs. Hoshikawa doesn't even have any idea her son is Rockman / Mega Man.
  • Persona 4 has you living with your uncle. Who is a police detective. Investigating the same incidents that you're resolving. Notably, it averts this trope, as your uncle suspects you less than two months into the game.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Crono can bring home a talking frog, the ancient master of evil that tried to destroy the kingdom, the princess, a cavewoman, and a robot from the future in a time-traveling jet and his mom will only get slightly surprised. Not to mention the fact that she doesn't seem to notice or care that you were away for several days while being held in the castle for execution...
  • Clive Barker's Undying: Joseph Covenant has no idea what has befallen his children until Jeremiah finally breaks down and confesses. Even though he tries hard to find some way to break the curse, he ultimately fails.

  • Riley's dad in Angel Moxie takes this to a surreal degree, to the point that the girls can openly discuss a battle plan in front of him and he assumes they are discussing a surprise party.
  • Jodie's mother in Loserz, as seen here.
  • Bruno's parents in Kevin & Kell. They were so caught up in watching TV that they didn't even realize Bruno (a carnivorous wolf) became a herbivore—or that they gave permission for him to have stomach implant (effectively diet reassignment) surgery.
    • They've been seen twice, and both times they were planted in front of their TV. The implication is that they are highly detached from Bruno. They may not even be aware of his girlfriend, Corrie.
  • Duchess Lettie actively deludes herself about practically everything, attempting to retreat into the fantasy world in which she believes magic users live. Aylia, her elder daughter, finally stuck it to her when she legally became an adult by out and out walking away from her plans... and she STILL thought she could maintain some level of control!
  • Although Miranda's father in But I'm a Cat Person is one of the world's foremost Being researchers, it doesn't take much effort to convince him that her Being is an ordinary human boyfriend.
  • In Cobweb and Stripes, Charles and Delia Deetz are just as guilty of this as they were in the movie. Charles does at least make some small effort, and clearly loves his daughter even if he doesn't understand her, but Delia is a lost cause.
  • In Stomp!, Stomp and Chomp's parents don't believe their adventures are real. They do seem concerned that their uncle is a bad influence, though.

    Web Original 
  • In the first 'Jade' novel of the Whateley Universe, Jade's foster parents not only miss that Jade has superpowers (mild though they may be), that Jade is transgender, that the 'friend' who doesn't want to come to the house is actually a pile of clothing animated by Jade's powers, that Jade is arranging on her own to go to Superhero School Whateley Academy on a scholarship, but also that Jade has to leave to get tested for admittance to the school.
    • And then of course there's the end of "Christmas Elves," where Fey tells her mother more or less exactly what a mess they got themselves into . . . and Fey's mom just assumes she was trying out for a TV role. This despite everything Fey has told her mom about her adventures thus far.
      • Granted, she did know that Fey was meeting with a big-name Hollywood producer. Who happened to be in league with a supervillainess at the time. And really, if you knew that part, and then your daughter and her little friend told you they were kidnapped and murdered (yes, a girl stands there and says she was murdered) and had to blow up an entire Syndicate base to escape, wouldn't you think it was a screenplay? At least, right up until the news talked about the building downtown that was just blown to bits.
  • This trope is deconstructed in Funny Business. The protagonist's parents are completely unaware that she is a Reality Warper, because she herself is using her powers to prevent them from ever finding out, fearing their reaction. When they finally do learn of this, they take the revelation surprisingly well.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Jake's father is oblivious partially because of the Secret Keeper issue, but he's still clueless beyond that. He doesn't seem to realize his son is growing up, and that the way his father treats him is chafing the teenage Jake... and is hurt when Jake lets off steam about it within his earshot.
    • He also is clueless that his children can both turn into dragons, but that's another Secret Keeper issue, and his wife and father-in-law both run interference.
    • And when Dad finds out, after a brief moment of surprise he acts like it's no big deal.
  • Animaniacs: Mindy's mother is oblivious to the fact that her child is a walking [crawling?] danger magnet, and moreover, she's clueless to the fact that brave and selfless Buttons is pretty much the only thing standing between her and Child Protective Services.
  • Atomic Puppet: Joey's parents, Phil and Vivian, are totally unaware of the fact that their son is the title superhero and the sock puppet he constantly carries around with him is the former Captain Atomic transformed into a living puppet. This is especially strange since Joey constantly breaks a hole in their roof when he leaves to fight crime, frequently talks to his puppet, and is often away for hours to protect the city. Phil finally learns the truth in "The Big Shift", though he decides not to tell Vivian because as he explains, "I don't need your mother worrying every time you leave the house".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a double example. Toph's parents are so oblivious they think that Toph is still taking baby lessons in Earthbending, rather than being an Earthbendrix supreme. Once they find out, they turn to denial so deep that they hired the guy who had her kidnapped to find said lost little lamb, because they can't handle the truth. Her father actually gets worse in the comic continuation. While he's apparently accepted he will never be able to force Toph to come back home, now he just insists she cannot be the daughter he raised, and Toph isn't about to be something she's not to get him to pay attention to her.
  • The Batman: Although not a strict example, Batgirl is dismayed to discover that Batman knows everything about crime in Gotham city, but wasn't even aware the college they were staking out is the college she now attends. Or that she had already graduated high school.
    • Commissioner Gordon, as above, who thinks it's a weird coincidence Batgirl has the same shade of hair as his daughter, is also an example.
  • In Beetlejuice, Lydia's parents are even worse about this than they were in the original film. She's constantly slipping away for adventures in the Neitherworld, some of which appear to last for days, and there's never any indication that they have any clue she's missing. It's even worse when Beetlejuice invents a human persona, Mr. Beetleman, who is clearly several years older than Lydia; the fact that this somewhat skeevy thirtysomething character spends a lot of time with their daughter doesn't seem to faze them in the least.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • His ghost-hunting parents have no idea he's half-ghost, even though their ghost-hunting equipment has identified him as such more than once. Dark Danny, Danny's evil self from a Bad Future, even lampshades it in "The Ultimate Enemy":
    Dark Danny: What kind of parents are you, anyway? The world's leading ghost experts, and you couldn't figure out that your own son was half ghost! Hello! Danny Fenton. Danny Phantom. Ever notice a similarity? Jazz did.
  • Herb and Binkie Muddlefoot of Darkwing Duck fail to notice Honker's long absences and ability to get kidnapped. This could possibly be excused by the entire Mallard household running interference and Honker being nothing in bad-guy bait compared to Gosalyn. However, the writers seem to frequently abuse Honker's mostly Stab-Worthy older brother Tank right under their bills without either batting an eye, most egregiously in "It's a Wonderful Leaf." Yet, they do appear to be genuinely loving parents...
    • Never attribute to malice what could just as easily be caused by stupidity.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter's parents are probably the epitome of this trope. They have no idea that Dexter has a secret laboratory in his bedroom, and assume that he just spends a lot of time in his bedroom. In fairness, Dexter is a Mad Scientist. They have become aware of the lab, and then been rendered unknowing on screen.
    • The episode "Double Trouble" has Dexter and Dee Dee make countless clones of themselves and Dee Dee's friends, wreaking havoc in the laboratory and rushing out as Mom calls them for lunch. Dad seems to pay no mind to the hundreds of children passing by him in the stairs, and only comments on their hurry.
    • In the episode "Coupon for Craziness", there's a mix-up at the grocery store and the family brings an entirely different kid home with them, who only kinda looks like Dexter and has a similar name. Dee Dee is the only one who seems to notice the difference between Dexter and "Dextor".
  • Inverted in El Tigre: Manny's parents are both well aware that he is a superhero. His father is a little overprotective about it. His mother can't handle it at all; she hyperventilates, and actually left because she couldn't handle it when her husband superheroed (this is the result of her having been a danger junkie during her own superhero days). In fact, Manny's grandfather is a supervillain and is often trying to convert Manny to evil.
  • The Fairly OddParents does this in spades. Aside from being unaware of all of the magical stuff going on in Timmy's life, Timmy's parents are completely unaware that Vicky is a Babysitter from Hell, even when the evidence is right in front of their faces. It gets worse in later episodes where Vicky doesn't even make any attempt to hide her evilness. Taking the worse factor a step further, in "Vicky Gets Fired", Timmy shows his parents incriminating evidence of Vicky torturing him, but they don't even bat an eye. In fact, they only get upset at Vicky and fire her because she erased their reality tape.
  • Family Guy: Either they're all really oblivious to Stewie, or they just don't seem to care, neither option seems very good. Lois does this in spades for not seeing Stewie's attempts and contempt for her life. Also, the entire family does this to Meg.
    • Nobody in the entire show seems to notice that Stewie is an evil genius, with the exception of Brian, who just doesn't care.
    • Word of God states that they notice Stewie saying and doing everything we the viewers see, but because he is a baby, they do not take him seriously.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is the Secret Keeper variety. Mac's mother doesn't notice that Mac goes to Foster's EVERY DAY. Her having "a million jobs" partially justifies this, but there was a reason the show's writers got The Unintelligible Coco to explain how he convinced his mother to let him go on a TRIP TO EUROPE with people she's never met.
  • Not only do Dexter Douglas's parents in Freakazoid! fail to notice Dexter's superhero alter-ego, but when his older brother talks about "the blue guy," their Stepford Smiler mother cheerfully attributes it to psychotic delusions on his part.
  • Inspector Gadget hasn't got a clue that his niece Penny is the one who's always saving the day - depending on your interpretation, of course.
  • Jimmy Neutron's father seems to have a selective denial variation of this. He went through an entire episode seemingly unaware that his son had accidentally swapped heads with a gerbil. (His mother, though... well, Jimmy's genius genes had to come from somewhere.)
  • Kim Possible:
    • Kim's father is a little oblivious. When it comes to boys, this is by choice. When it comes to fashion, well, he's a dad who doesn't get teenage girls. Outside of these two areas, however, he's a very attentive and supportive parent, fully aware of his daughter's world-saving activities and proud of her for them.
    • Ron's mother, on the other hand, is just oblivious to everything. Since the series made a habit of subverting tropes, Mrs. Stoppable being so distant in his life could be an intentional reversal of the norm.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper Lee's parents seem to also be in the dark about her being the Te Xuan Xe... due to Secret Keeper.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Played straight by Tom Dupain and Sabine Cheng, who are completely unaware that their daughter Marinette is Ladybug.
    • Justified with Gabriel Agreste, who is extremely neglectful to his son Adrien, and therefore understandably does not realize that he's Chat Noir. Then double subverted in "Gorizilla" when Gabriel starts to suspect Adrien's secret, but is thrown off (unwittingly) when Adrien recruits Wayhem to act as a Body Double. Quite fortunately, too, considering that Gabriel is secretly Hawk Moth.
    • Benigna Rossi is very busy with her work at the embassy, and does not notice that her daughter Lila is a dishonest sociopath, to the point of failing to fact-check the girl's Blatant Lies.
  • Moral Orel shows an especially glaring example with Orel's parents Clay & Bloberta Puppington. After a second season episode that ended with another family moving out of town, nobody but Orel (and Christina, Orel's Distaff Counterpart from the other family.) ever noticed that younger son Shapey and Block, the youngest son of the the Posabules, were accidentally switched. Bloberta discovers this only in the third season premiere, more than ten episodes later. The parents don't accept Block back. When Clay sees both Block and Shapey playing together, he writes it off as an effect of his being perpetually inebriated.
  • Professor Wakeman, the mother of Jenny in My Life as a Teenage Robot. She doesn't seem to understand that she programmed her daughter to act like a real teenage girl, and is thus mystified when XJ9 behaves like one. Particularly when she shows up at XJ9's school and forces her to assist in science class.
  • Phineas and Ferb, pictured above. Justified, as contrived coincidences always serve to remove all evidence of the titular boys' outlandish creations before their mother can actually see it (or in some cases, just the evidence that they were the ones responsible). At one point Candace uses this to their advantage by trying to tell their mom about something she wants gone. Sure enough, it disappears the second before their mom would have seen it. Their father, though more likely to notice what the boys are doing and has sometimes actively participated in them, seems to be oblivious to most things going on around him.
  • Rugrats. Bonus points for also featuring Grandparental Obliviousness.
  • The entire show South Park is based around this. The parents are always too busy or don't care what the kids are doing. And when the parents do notice, they tend to over-react in one way or another.
  • Subverted in Gravity Falls. The twins are staying with their Great-Uncle Stan for the summer. Throughout the first season, the kids get into all kinds of crazy adventures involving unicorns, dwarves and magic books, while Stan never seems to notice any of it. But as we see at the end of the first episode, Stan has some secrets of his own- he is seen descending a secret mysterious staircase behind the vending machine. at the end of Season 1, Stan reveals that he knew what the kids were up to all along- he just didn't want to reveal his own involvement.
  • An episode of Squirrel Boy has the main characters spend the day with the resident bullies. The Bullies threaten them by explaining that their parents believe they are angels and that it's going to stay that way or else. Rodney and Andy agree but the parents end up witnessing their mistreatment... only to be absolutely thrilled that their son was cruel rather than kind.

    Real Life 
  • Christiane F was addicted to Heroin by the age of 13, never mind what she had to do to get the money for the drugs. Her mother took over a year to notice. After she was discovered, quit, got addicted again, quit again and went to live with her father, she was soon re-addicted and HE didn't notice either.
    • Admittedly, at this time drugs from marijuana to heroin were something many people didn't even know existed, let alone how to recognize someone under their influence or what to do about it.
    • Very true. And there are sections where the mother is interviewed where she said how helpless she felt/was. However, things started when Christiane and her friend went out clubbing all night telling each parent they were sleeping over at each other's. That is the sort of thing a parent should keep track of (I'll just phone up your friends' mum to thank her for looking after you). And her father's strategy to keep Christiane off drugs was to give her a responsibility (looking after pigeons) that wouldn't allow her the time to scrounge drugs/money for drugs. Yet he seemed not to check whether or not the pigeons were actually being taken care of (they weren't).
  • The perpetrator of the 2014 Isla Vista massacre, Elliot Rodger, had begun his plans for "revenge" years before, even discussing them with a former close friend; while both of his parents acknowledged that there was something off with Elliot and were sensible enough to send him to counselling, they never knew what he was planning until he published his last video... hours before the massacre. Also, if his manifesto is to be believed, he clearly suffered from parental neglect in his early years.
  • Many have accused the parents of Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, of this.


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