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Parodies for Dummies

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They really do have a book for everything, don't they?

Harmony: I'm not gonna make the same mistakes you did. I've been doing my homework, reading books and stuff.
Spike: What, Evil for Dummies?

The For Dummies series of books is a popular way of learning just about anything, from C++ programming to Divorce Law to African-American History, achieved by simple explanations. They also provide a very useful quick reference for those already familiar with the subject.

As a result of their popularity, these books are often parodied, and fictional entries to the series are often conjured into existence. This is often done to show that a character knows next to nothing about a subject but is now trying to find out. They will occasionally be ludicrously specific to the task the character is attempting at the time.

Works created before the "For Dummies" series was started (or from authors or publishers who are wary of trademark laws) will use titles like "How to Do Tropes in N Easy Steps" or "You, Too, Can Trope!" or "Hey, You're not a Genius. Who Cares? Read This and You Won't Suck at X" or "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tropes But Were Afraid to Ask." Often, titles may parody the "Complete Idiot's Guide to _______" series as well.

Parodies often lean into the mildly Abusive Advertising connotations of calling one's readers "Dummies", showing a title that doubles down on it as in "[Subject] for Stupid Idiotic Morons" or the like.

Sister Trope to Correspondence Course and Specific Situation Books. Also compare Snowclone and The Joy of X, which lead to similar titling conventions. If it's bad enough that only a dummy would fail to realize how useless it is, it's a Faux-To Guide.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • My Hero Academia: During the Provisional License exams, All Might goes around telling the students simple advice that helps with their training. Aizawa then immediately notices All Might's back pocket holding a book that's titled "Even Dummies Can Be Teachers!", much to his surprise.
  • Yuuutsu-kun to Succubus-san:
    • Chapter 33 shows Sakuma the succubus gave Eru the angel a book to read on helping people who have Depression, such as Yuu, titled "Even a Monkey Could Do It: How to Heal a Heart". She learns enough from it to call Sakuma out on forcing Yuu to leave his job, as the book suggests serious life changes can cause exactly the kind of stress that should be avoided. Sakuma acknowledges this and explains she felt Yuu's case needed more drastic measures. Eru then immediately tries to use the book to tell Yuu he's supposed to be working, prompting Sakuma to tell her she's failed as a monkey.
    • On the back of the "How to Heal a Heart" book is an advertisement for "Even A Cat Could Do It: Quantum Mechanics!".

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Foxtrot:
    • Roger tries to buy an actual For Dummies book, but can't bring himself to pronounce the name and admit himself a "dummy", instead asking for a book for "college-educated professionals who majored in the humanities before computers existed."
    • In another strip, Jason comments while browsing the "For Dummies" section of the library:
  • In Dilbert, the company produces a product that doesn't work and its instruction manual is complete fiction. The Pointy-Headed Boss's reply: "Ship it and hope someone publishes a 'For Dummies' guide."
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie has Gothic Romance for Dummies.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Evan Almighty: God presents Evan with Ark Building for Dummies.
  • The Waterboy used the rival learning series Complete Idiot's Guide with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Football being read by the incompetent football coach, who is then mocked when the rival competent coach is seen reading the exact same book and laughing.
  • Bride of Chucky has Tiffany resurrecting Chucky from the dead through knowledge from a Voodoo for Dummies book.
  • The Master of Disguise features The Master of Disguise for dummies.
  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action has Bugs Bunny fighting Marvin the Martian with lightsabers while Bugs reads The Force for Dummies.
  • Inspector Gadget 2 has Quantum Physics for Dimwits.
  • An Ur-Example could be the 1968 British comedy film The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom.note  The main character's lover — who lives secretly in her attic — uses a series of dubious Do-It-Yourself manuals to build all sorts of items there, including a room-size mainframe computer.
  • In The Skeleton Key, the family's lawyer has an "Estate Law for Dummies" book on his desk, which is a subtle foreshadowing that he may not be quite what he appears.

  • One full book-length parody of both series is called Compleet Idoit's Guide for Dumies — misspellings theirs, and presumably intentional.
  • Discworld:
    • In Wintersmith, one village of anti-witchcraft fanatics get their information from the Magavenatio Obtusis, which a footnote helpfully translates as Witch-Hunting for Dumb People. For bonus points, it is actually written by a witch, who did it to ensure whenever she is caught they give her a hot meal and a comfortable room for the night, stuff two sixpences in her boots and then dump her in the river with easily-untied ropes round her arms and legs, rather than - say - burning her at the stake, which could be a little inconvenient.
    • Soul Music has Blert Wheedown's Guitar Primer: Play Your Way to Success in Three Easy Lessons and Eighteen Hard Lessons.
  • Liv in the Future: One of the books Liv checks out from the library is Portals for Dummies, providing an Info Dump about how portals function and some of the roles the government takes on. The sections on how portals are sustained long-term and what kind of research the government does with them are blanked out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones: One episode had Forensics for Knuckleheads on Aubrey’s desk. This is a bit odd since Booth used Plumbing for Dummies in an earlier episode. Forensics for Dummies is a real book so why they didn’t use it is unknown.
  • Eric of Boy Meets World defeats the witches who want to sacrifice the Hunters with the help of Witchcraft for Dumb-dumbs.
  • The Brittas Empire: At one point in “Http://etc”, Brittas can be seen briefly consulting The Idiot's Guide to 4.1 Computer Operating Manual whilst talking to Councilor Drugget.
  • In Charmed season 6 episode "The Courtship of Wyatt's Father". Elder Gideon presents a page in a book titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Portals But Were Afraid to Ask.
  • In Cory in the House, Cory procures a copy of Horses for Numb-Nuts (but with the stylized cover identical to the Dummies series).
  • J.D. in Scrubs reads The Iraq War for Dummies.
  • The Investigation Discovery channel has a commercial for their week of specials about Black Widows that has a woman at the register with normal Thanksgiving stuff, but the last thing the cashier scans is a book called Killing Your Husband for Dummies.
  • Cold Case: The episode "Andy in C Minor" has a book called "Sign Language for Dummies".
  • Doctor Who. In "War of the Sontarans", a floating triangle thingy keeps demanding that Yasmin Khan repair the damaged Temple of Atropos.
    Yasmin: I'm going to need more information. Take us through the basics. Idiot's guide.

  • One issue of Cracked (Collectors Edition #119) came with an insert titled Star Wars for Dummies.

  • Budgie's "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" (later Covered Up by Metallica).
  • Tim McGraw's "Back When":
    I read Street Slang for Dummies
    'Cause they put pop in my country...

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons worlds bless dummies with more literature:
    • Forgotten Realms has something close — canonically, Volo's Guides are an awful mix of brilliant investigations and silly hearsay. The most infamous was "Volo's Guide to All Things Magical", the "second edition" of which claimed that v 1.0 contained a lot of recipes how to kill oneself in a funny way — and so much of sensitive information that Volo hesitated to introduce himself in a hearing range of other wizards ever after, and Elminster had to personally hunt down and destroy every last copy.
    • Cover art of d20 Modern Arcana SRDnote  from Infinite Dreamers has a horned greenish lad reading 13 Easy Steps to Overthrow Your Demonic Master, with a readable annotation traditional for this sort of literature on its back cover.
  • GURPS Bio-Tech includes several quotes from Nanovirus for Dummies by possible Mad Scientist Dr. Lucien Locke. One excerpt has Dr. Locke assuring the reader that a Grey Goo scenario can't possibly happen unless you intend it to. And if you do intend it to, here's what you do...

    Video Games 
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), one of the collectible items that can be found is a book owned by Peter that's titled "Work/Life Balance For Idiots", it notably has sold over three million copies. Peter notes that, ironically, he never found the time to read it.
  • Grim Fandango: The beatniks at the Blue Casket in Year 2 have a copy of "Labor Organization and Revolt Made Easy". Part of a puzzle involves Manny having to borrow it in order to convince the Sea Bees to unionize.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel features "Intermediate Mathematics For Dummies" used by Emma, despite scoring the highest at the entrance exams, she feels its more simpler to understand than the more complex ones. The main reason she uses this book is to tutor her fellow classmate Fie, a girl who is two years younger than the rest of the class, and thus behind everyone when it comes to the school's curriculum.
  • The somewhat free MMO Roblox once had a hat for sale with the title Quantum Thermodynamics for Dummies. It was, indeed, a "For Dummies"-style book that could be worn as a hat (just a mesh, though, so you couldn't read it or anything...).
  • The Binding of Isaac features the "Telepathy For Dummies" power-up, granting homing tears for a single room upon use.
  • Unraveling God has a bookshelf which, along with a couple more serious-sounding books, sports a copy of Cellular Molecular Biology for Dummies, Volume 1.
  • A bookshelf in a private home in Dink Smallwood mod Terrania has a copy of Etiquette for Dummies.
  • The introduction to Magic Life shows a student making a potion while reading Alchemy for Dummies.
  • In Cartographer one of the books on Reuben's desk at the inn he runs is Managing Inns for Dummies: Version 3.2.
  • Dwarf Fortress has some entertaining in-universe examples created through Procedural Generation, producing titles that sound like vaguely pretentious self-help guides ("Start Your Day With X", "X For The Beginning Practitioner" etc.) applied to every subject from medicine and engineering to necromancy.
  • Cataclysm has a book called "Self-Esteem for Dummies" that trains your Speaking skill. The joke being that by reading a "For Dummies" book, you are admitting you are a dummy, and calling yourself a dummy is a sign of poor self-esteem.
  • Kingdom of Loathing: Getting really good Feng shui in your dwelling requires a decorative fountain, wind chimes, and a book called "Feng Shui for Big Dumb Idiots" to figure out how to arrange them.
  • Knight Bewitched: Instead of helping them, Morgoth gives the party a book called "Enchanting For Dummies" when he is unable to do the enchanting. Meredith is slightly offended by what he is implying with that book.
  • Styx: Shards of Darkness: One the Game-Over Man scenes has Styx suggest you read "Infiltration For Dummies" while holding a book titled "Stealth for noobs" (with his face standing in for the guy on the cover).
  • Dr. Ludwig and the Devil mentions that one of the books written by Theophrastus the Wise is Exorcisms for Dummyes.

    Web Animation 
  • Princess Natasha: In "Zoravian Lightning - Part 2", Greg reads a book titled "Moron's Guide to Driving" to study for a driving test.
  • RWBY: In their first meeting, Weiss is furious when Ruby's sneeze triggers an explosion of Fire Dust. When they next meet, Weiss shoves a pamphlet in Ruby's face titled "Dust for Dummies and Other Inadequate Individuals"; she recites the disclaimer in a voice that becomes comically fast and high-pitched before ordering Ruby to read it and never speak to her again.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Emperor's New Clones, the second Star Wars parody from Backyard Productions, features Vader reading The Dark Side for Dummies, and Han Solo's father checking The Star Wars Guide to Techno-Babble.
  • One of the naughty-scene-re-enactors in The Nostalgia Chick's review of Showgirls is reading Opera for Dummies throughout the whole thing.
  • Fredrik K.T.Andersson, the author of Pawn, in his equally NSFW gallery on Elfwood presents: Censoring for Dummies.
  • One of the things that Remus does while ignoring Logan during the Sanders Sides episode Working Through Intrusive Thoughts is a book called Ignoring Dummies for Dummies, which, to further illustrate the point, has an image of Logan on the front cover.
  • In Suburban Knights, Ma-Ti showed up with a book to help 8-Bit Mickey's problem. It's Goatf*cking for Dummies.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock lends "Mummies for Dummies" from the library to learn how to escape a mummy's curse.
  • Bunsen Is a Beast:
    • Mikey and Bunsen consult a book titled Minks for Morons in the episode "Braces for Disaster".
    • The episode "Beast Halloween Ever" has Amanda and Beverly read a book titled Dummies' Guide to Beasts, which has a very similar cover design to the For Dummies books.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • When Valerie takes interest in hunting ghosts, she checks out a library book titled Ghost Killing for Dimwits.
    • In Reality Trip, there's a book titled Ghost Envy for Dimwits.
  • Dan Vs.: In the episode "Dan Vs. Dan", while Dan is impersonating Chris, he pulls out a copy of Pancakes for Morons, complete with black and yellow cover.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In "Shelf Life", Timmy and his fairies try to stop Tom Sawyer from magically altering various books, especially because one of them, Astrophysics for Morons, is a nonfiction book and can allow him to alter reality.
    • "Booby Trapped" has Crocker and his mother owning a book titled Poaching for Dum-Dums.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: "Berry Scary" has a whole bookstore shelf full of "Blockheads Guide to" books, including the one Bloo and Mac are looking for, "Blockheads Guide to World Records".
  • Johnny Bravo: Johnny reads a book titled Modeling for Dummies in "Cover Boy".
  • Megas XLR with The Complete Moron's Guide to Picking Up Space Chicks.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: One episode had a scene where kids are checking out books from a bookmobile, a dopey looking boy with a hillbilly accent asks the librarian for The Dunderheads Guide to Idiocy.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Look Before You Sleep", Twilight Sparkle hosts a slumber party, but has no idea how, so she relies on a book titled Slumber 101: All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties But Were Afraid to Ask).
  • On The Simpsons:
    • From "Insane Clown Poppy": Moby-Dick for Dummies. Fridge Brilliance: For Dummies and Cliffs Notes have the same publisher.
      Bart: "Call me Ishmael, Dummy!"
    • One episode has Homer going to a book fair, with an entire library of Books for Dummies where he is quite at home.
    • When the Simpsons go to Brazil in "Blame it on Lisa", Bart learns Spanish on the flight there, which is Español para Dummies with Bumblebee Man as the instructor. Marge is quick to point out that Brazilians speak Portuguese, causing Bart to fly off in an angry rant in Spanish.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants, in episode "Rodeo Daze", has a book titled How to Open Things. SpongeBob can't open Sandy's door, but Patrick brings out the book. It conveniently has a whole page about Sandy's door. Also, SpongeBob claims to have seen The Film of the Book of How to Open Things.
    • It makes sense SpongeBob would have had to see the film. How would he have been able to read the book without opening it?
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: One of Star's reasons to believe Gustav isn't a real Scandinavian is the fact he has a book titled "Scandinavian for Doofuses".
  • Stōked: The Big Kahuna owns a book called "The Peabrain's Guide to Fish Funerals", which actually turned out to be "The Peabrain's Guide to Bringing Your Dead Fish Back to Life".

    Real Life 
  • ISIS recruits are often so ignorant about Islam that they have (or are ordered) to buy Islam for Dummies.

Alternative Title(s): Tropes For Dummies