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Praising Shows You Don't Watch

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The Cthulhu Mythos: one of many things nerds can't get enough of.
"I love this book so much, I nearly read it!"
Justin Long on the cover of John Hodgman's More Information Than You Require

Praising Shows You Don't Watch is the inverse of Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch, in which these people somehow know exactly how good something is, without having ever actually seen it. Maybe they saw so much praise they feel like they can account for having actually watched it for themselves, or maybe they're just carbon-copying someone's opinions to fit into the group. Or they have seen a fragment of the work, liked it, and assumed the rest is equally good. Or perhaps they've seen the Audience Coloring Adaptations and decided they really liked those, which means the original must be just as awesome or even better. Or perhaps they just like the idea so much that they don't care what the actual execution is like. Who knows? Similar to somehow knowing a show is utter crap without having seen an episode, it's one of the greatest mysteries of human culture, and has only been exacerbated by the Age of the Internet.

This is often a major contributor to Mainstream Obscurity. When it becomes really commonplace, Popcultural Osmosis Failure is not far behind.

Compare Popcultural Osmosis and Fanwork-Only Fans. Often prone to happening with Sacred Cow works.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the 1990s, the success of the movies of AKIRA and Ghost in the Shell (1995) meant that many in the West professed to be "into manga", in many cases without ever seeing any more examples of the form than those two films. Or appreciating the difference between manga and anime. Or that there's a lot of different genres within the anime/manga world, besides dystopian sci-fi. This has created a weird situation where many fans of old-school anime want the industry to go back to "the way it used to be," i.e. focused on dystopian sci-fi; but it never actually was focused on that genre. For some reason, the other types of shows didn't start getting imported until years later.
  • The Metroid manga suddenly became widely encouraged reading material on related forums and other discussion areas after the backlash against then new title Metroid: Other M. To the ten people who actually read the manga though, the common arguments used to defend Other M made little sense, as the game's plot directly contradicted it in several instances; mainly in regards to Samus's post-traumatic stress disorder and general characterization. Notably, a major plot point in Other M is that Adam resents Samus having left his command and Samus sees it as a black mark on their relationship—which absolutely was not the case in the manga.
  • The standard technique for averting this problem with new anime tends to end up causing it, in a roundabout way. Many fans will start watching every show each seasonnote , but quickly "drop" ones they don't like or don't have time for after one to three episodes. They usually believe, by the end, that they have a clear opinion of exactly how good every show was, despite having watched less than one-fourth of most of them. ANN took this phenomenon even further with the "preview guide," in which the review team ranks and analyzes every new show based on the first episode. The disclaimer says that these are not meant to judge a series as a whole (which no one, other than the production team, has seen yet) but readers treat them that way regardless, and will argue about what the best shows are after watching between zero and one episodes.
  • Anime adapted from another work may be subject to this, where the show is praised for scenes and events that would only happen later in its source material rather than what is shown in the episodes themselves. This phenomenon tends to crop up especially for adaptations of books or light novels, since fewer people outside Japan may even come in contact with the material until after the show gets popular in their region. Until that point, the fanbase may have to go with word-of-mouth from the few who did read it.
  • Kimba the White Lion was widely seen as a masterpiece by people claiming it had been ripped off by The Lion King, when many arguments involving its status as a ripoff were made by people who clearly had never seen Kimba. For instance, claiming that Claw was the series's main villain and therefore Scar is a ripoff of him, when he only appeared in a couple episodes, or claiming he has some familial or personal connection to Kimba, when he doesn't.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has a long history of people praising the show's deep themes, loving characters like Asuka and Rei, or calling Shinji a whiny little snot without having actually seen the show (outside of maybe clips from End of Evangelion). This may be a major part of the franchise's Misaimed Fandom, as it means people essentially get the Eva experience from in-jokes, parodies, fandom memes, fanfiction, or even doujins—which, needless to say, skate over things a lot.

    Comic Books 
  • Although many people involved with comic books and superheroes praise Jack Kirby's New Gods, one gets the distinct impression they haven't read the original comic books. (It's hardly unlikely, as they took a long time to be collected properly and didn't sell well in their heyday.) Several post-Kirby New Gods comics show signs that the creators weren't familiar with the original work, with characters who are dead showing up alive, fundamental misreads of the lore and plot points, and generally little understanding of the themes—which, if you've read New Gods, were not subtle. When the New Gods comics were collected in hardcover Grant Morrison wrote an intro where they basically admitted they hadn't read it until now.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Bible. Some people who espouse it as the direct word of God haven't read more than a few verses of it (as opposed to Biblical scholars, who tend to analyze and discuss it academically, regardless of their faith or lack thereof). On the flip side, some people who hate it haven't read much of it either. Some traditions do cover a large portion of the text over the course of a few years, though.
  • In Islam, it is very important to learn about the Koran. It's not limited to just reading it either. Memorization of Al-Fatiha is important, as it is needed for prayer. Indeed, there are many people all around the world who have memorized the Koran by heart. However, like with the Bible, there are many who praise the Koran yet rarely ever read it.
  • William Shirer characterized Mein Kampf as the bestselling book in Germany between 1934-1944 that was never read by most Germans who bought it. This may or may not have been a facesaving lie on the part of many Germans after the war, as there is actually a lot of stuff in the book that foreshadows what Hitler did when he had the means to do so.
  • Any famous Doorstopper is in default danger of this trope or its inverse, especially the "modern" stuff like Pynchon or Joyce. Perhaps the most famous example, though, is War and Peace. Said to be one of the great Russian classics, but people tend to shy away from it due to it being 1200-1500 pages long in most editions. And the writing style is dense, and the format well...odd.
  • Classic Russian writers fall into this in Russia as well. Ask any Russian what do they think about Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky or Ivan Turgenev, and they would say that these writers are good, great and classic. Ask them why do they think so, and they won't be able to answer. The only things most of them can remember about their books are that Anna Karenina is about a girl who killed self by jumping under a train, Crime and Punishment is about a guy who killed an old woman with an axenote  and Mumu is about a deaf guy who drowned his dog. Somehow even the fact that two of these books are included in the school curriculum doesn't help much.
  • Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen's most famous and highly-regarded book, and frequently assigned in English literature courses in secondary school... and seldom read for any other reason.
  • Moby-Dick. People know the first line, and about Ahab and the white whale, but probably haven't read the chapters about the minutiae of whaling or sailing or any of the many other topics Melville wrote about in the book.
  • Gulliver's Travels. Everybody "knows" it... the shorthand, children's version, that is. The voyage to Lilliput is just the first of four voyages Gulliver makes; Brobdingnag is occasionally shown in adaptations, while the last two (a floating island of highly-intelligent humans and a land of intelligent horses) remain in obscurity, rarely included in adaptations.
  • The Lord of the Rings gets this, too. Mostly for people who haven't exactly read it, but praise it more for what it accomplished. This one is perhaps a very sad example, as most people who claim to love it might never have cracked it open, but have seen the movies, and therefore think they know the story. The movies were great, but missing J. R. R. Tolkien's classic writing style and a number of the important themes of the work were either truncated or left out. And there's the sheer number of non-Tolkien ideas that were added to the script.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four. Many phrases from the book, like "Big Brother", "thoughtcrime", "doublethink", and "Room 101", have entered pop culture, so quoting these phrases and being aware of the general theme of "totalitarianism and censorship are bad" is probably enough to convince someone else who hasn't read it that you have. Ironically, his essay Politics in the English Language specifically advises people from using "dying" metaphors that one is used to seeing in print, and parroting them off without taking the time to fully understand what they mean in an effort to look smart. Now 1984 is one of the biggest sources of that.
    • Orwell's work in general falls into this a lot, particularly from people who have either never read any of his writings other than 1984. Anyone describing Orwell as a conservative or a "fanatical anti-Communist" is talking out of their proverbial arses.
      Why I Write: Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it.
    • Brazil was inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four, despite director Terry Gilliam having never read the book until after the film's production.
    • According to a recent survey in Britain, two-thirds of people deliberately lie about having read a book to impress others. 1984 topped the list, with 42% of those surveyed admitting to lying about reading it. As a point of comparison, only half that number admitted to lying about reading The Bible.
  • Mark Twain would be displeased to learn that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer now meets his definition of "classic."note  When most people discuss the book, they refer to one scene — Tom tricking his friends into whitewashing a fence for him. This occurs in Chapter 2. Either that is an incredibly awesome scene, or it's got 'most quoted' status in school textbooks, or most people stop reading around page twenty. You can tell that someone has actually read the whole thing when they refer to other noteworthy moments, like getting lost in the caves, and Tom and Huck attending their own funeral.
  • Much like the Tom Sawyer example above, you can tell whether or not anyone has actually read Don Quixote by whether they tell you anything about it other than the windmill scene.
  • Umberto Eco would be another author for the pseudointellectual poseur. Most people likely never manage to get past the first 50 pages of The Name of the Rose and probably never start Foucault's Pendulum.
  • Richard Feynman mentioned in his autobiography a case when one publisher sent a schoolbook to the California State Curriculum Commission, but it wasn't ready for print, so it had empty pages. Six out of the ten members of the commission still rated the book favorably — literally judging it by the cover! Ironically, it was one of the highest rated books, and according to Feynman's autobiographical account, none of the other members understood why he hadn't rated the textbook.
  • Many works of mythology, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh and various other texts of Classical Mythology and other myths. Although many are well-respected as inspirations for modern fantasy and great storylines by themselves, few people have probably actually read them.
  • Part of the Framing Device for why The Princess Bride (the book, not the movie) is an 'abridged version' is because the author (who is, in the Framing Device, claiming to merely be an editor) recommended this book highly to his son, despite the fact he'd never read it, having only heard the (much shorter) version his father read to him as a child. (In his defense, he didn't initially realize his father had only read him a shorter version and legitimately believed he was plugging the book for what it is.)
  • While The Twilight Saga did have some... questionable... aspects of vampires, amongst the cries of how they ruined vampires like Dracula in Twilight is allegedly that they are moving during the day - which shows how familiar people actually are with Dracula.
  • A Brief History of Time and Gödel, Escher, Bach are both well-known for this, the former having been described as "the most unread book ever written". These tend to be the sort of books that people leave on their bookshelves or coffee tables to look sophisticated, but because the books are quite challenging to read, only a handful of people who own them have ever finished them.
  • Many people who praise the works of H. P. Lovecraft can't name a Lovecraft monster other than Cthulhu, who isn't a major character in his pantheon to begin with.
  • Many a Dynasty Warriors fan may profess themselves to be a fan of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story... but considering its unabridged version is well over 2,000 pages long, it's no small wonder many of said fans of the video games haven't actually read the epic. Same goes for fans of any other work inspired by the story.
  • This used to be fairly common with James Joyce's Ulysses. However, awareness of this trope turned this around to the point that it was called "The most talked about book that no one has ever read."
  • A specific example: in Stephen King's book Danse Macabre one of the books he suggests is Nigel Kneale's Tomato Cain and Other Stories. This is a notoriously hard to find book which has been out of print for the entirety of King's lifetime. While it is understandable that King would recommend Kneale (his Quatermass serials have given him a reputation for being the only one aside from Lovecraft who can do Cosmic Horror right), and Kneale actually did write science fiction and horror stories, Tomato Cain doesn't contain any of these; Kneale started out as a regional writer who wrote about eccentric people on the Isle of Man, and Tomato Cain is a collection of those stories.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Quite a few shows on HBO or Showtime have this problem, probably because those are higher tier networks so a lot of people can't see them (legally, anyway) until they come out on DVD, but everybody wants to seem "cultured".
    • There are very few people who have seen acclaimed shows like The Wire in full, yet because it is the general opinion of critics, they immediately proclaim them "the greatest TV show ever made" after watching the first few episodes. Which is silly, given that it's a very slow-burning show which takes several episodes to get going.
    • There's an extra on an The L Word DVD that shows a work-around: They re-enact the episodes using an recap. It makes for some...odd viewing. Presumably, they get the DVDs once they become available.
  • Though AMC is not on the same tier of network as HBO or Showtime, a lot of shows on it, especially Mad Men and Breaking Bad, are in the same situation as described above. Both shows get raves from seemingly everyone, with some even putting them on the same level as The Wire and The Sopranos, despite only getting ratings in the low millions. This did change in the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad, where it broke its viewing record 4-5 times and pulled in over 10 million viewers for its finale.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The fandom is prone to praising episodes it can't watch, leading to the sardonic observation by some fans that when a "classic" Missing Episode is discovered, those who described it as a classic often go very quiet... The classic example here is "Tomb of the Cybermen", which was considered the high point of the show as horror before its shock rediscovery in the 90s. After which it was seen as hokey, nonsensical racist garbage afterwards. Some people comment that this may have a lot to do with the high reputation of Season 5, which at the time was so Strictly Formula that it bored Patrick Troughton into quitting the role, but ended up mostly missing with plenty of time for the Nostalgia Goggles to kick in.
    • It's also been inverted, with some stories that were remembered in conventional opinion as very poor getting suddenly lauded when they got released on VHS, or rediscovered after some time on the "missing" list - the classic examples here are "Enemy of the World" and "The Underwater Menace" for opinion improving once more episodes got found, and "The Gunfighters" and "The Sunmakers" for re-evaluated video releases.
    • In-Universe - the character Whizzkid in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" is an unsubtle and pleasantly sadistic parody of obnoxious 1980s Who Fan Dumb who insist everything is Ruined FOREVER but are too young to remember whatever period they held as the show's glory days. He's obsessed with a circus, but due to his young age never actually saw much of it. Note that he has to base his opinions on the show by pointless bits of ephemera like 'poster design', a direct parallel to fans having to guess the quality of Missing Episodes from Radio Times listings and set photographs. Although the story shows very clearly that Whizzkid is right about the Psychic Circus, just as the fans he is supposed to mock would argue that VHS releases subsequently proved them right about their favourite era.
      "Even though I wasn't there in the early days, I know it's not as good as it used to be!"
  • Orson Welles made a pilot for a TV anthology series, which had no name, but is commonly referred to as The Fountain of Youth, after the title of its only episode. Until very recently virtually no one could see the episode unless they saw it as part of an exhibit in a museum. It's generally considered to be magnificent, with Peter Bogdanovich saying that if it had gone to series it would have changed the history of television. Then it leaked onto YouTube, and the response was... tepid. Imagine an episode of The Twilight Zone, where Rod Serling sat at a desk and narrated over still photographs of a classic episode, like Time Enough At Last.

  • Happens with a lot of very successful and famous rock groups. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones (Band), AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and many other older rock groups, in spite of having legit and quite large fanbases, are popular among this group of people, particularly in the case of music debates where one will list these bands and others to prove their musical taste is "superior" to the other person's. An exception to this is when someone uses a Progressive Rock group like Yes. They will often be seen as a music snob by others.
  • Happens in the classical music world as well; everyone's heard of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms, and so forth (Ludwig van Beethoven gets a pass for the "Ode to Joy", "Für Elise", and the opening of the Fifth Symphony) but few can name a piece of theirs or identify it on hearing (to Jeremy Paxman's eternal frustration on University Challenge). Made more confusing by the fact that their best-known hits are sometimes not at all similar to the rest of their oeuvre - Brahms' Wiegenleid ("Lullaby"), for example, which is almost entirely unlike everything else he ever wrote.
  • Take a trip to teenage "alternative" tumblr blogs, you'll find many teens wearing shirts of Nirvana, The Misfits or Black Flag, yet they post nothing about their music and don't know who Kurt Cobain or Glenn Danzig are.
  • Michael Jackson gets a lot of accolades, especially since his death, proclaiming that he's "the greatest entertainer of all time!" Like William Shakespeare (see below), however, he did a lot more stuff than just Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad, and it's telling that of those only a few Jackson 5 singles and Dangerous tracks continue to get exposure. As for his videos, beyond the three he did for Thriller, the bulk of the others are either forgotten — or made fun of. When the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour exposed both professional critics and casual showgoers to a lot of lesser-known Jackson numbers (both solo and with groups), they didn't like what they heard. And the "greatest entertainer" accolade bespeaks an unawareness or willful ignorance of the fact that after 1989, most of his live performances (on tour, at award shows, the Super Bowl, etc.) were lip-synched, which gives him more in common with studio-assisted, prefab starlets like Britney Spears than Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, The Beatles, and other performers Jackson is held up as an equal or superior to.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Due to the negative feedback about the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, many gamers have an utterly unhealthy love of Pathfinder as it's an outgrowth of the game's third edition (which, ironically, also had a loudly negative reception and people rushing back to second edition). This coupled up with fourth edition being marketed aggressively towards new players (to the point of actively insulting the previous editions and those that enjoyed them), with Wizards of the Coast supporting game shops to run "Encounter" events to show off 4E, to result in a lot of new gamers praising Pathfinder to death in order to agree with older gamers rather than trying it and seeing if they liked it first.

  • William Shakespeare is so well-known for being "the greatest author in the English language, and possibly any language," that many people will not hesitate to dump heaps of praise over his entire body of work and over all aspects of his writing. While some of his best-known plays are talked about in most high schools, Shakespeare wrote quite a few plays, and not all of them were works of staggering genius. Some plays are preserved only out of a Gotta Catch 'Em All sense of duty to study Shakespeare's entire body of work, rather than for their individual quality. Also, many people don't know that most of Shakespeare's plays were adaptations of previous works. Shakespeare punched up the plot and wrote the dialogue (the latter of which someone would argue is the point of reading Shakespeare), but did not himself invent the stories.
    • There's a joke about this in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), where they ask if the audience has seen or read any Shakespeare play (at which most audience members' hands go up)... then go on to ask if they've read King John (at which everyone's hands go down except for one person, who's actually one of the actors).
    • Another thing about Shakespeare is that his works are difficult to read for the average Joe, as in they are written in what can seem like a different language. How many high-school students would pass a test on Shakespeare without an explanation on the words used? This makes anyone who proclaims that Shakespeare is a master of language, but when pressed doesn't even know what half of the dialogue means, particularly amusing. Especially if it's one of the many, many examples of Get Thee to a Nunnery and really just a string of dirty jokes.
  • The works of Menander received loads of acclaim throughout history... despite all of his works existing solely as fragments from the eleventh century to the end of the nineteenth. Since then, a few of his works were recovered (Dyskolos, or The Grouch, has been found in its entirety, and now about three-quarters of The Samian Woman are now known), leading to an inevitable Hype Backlash.
  • Stephen Sondheim has a reputation as the greatest of songwriters in late 20th century musical theatre (if not musical theatre as a whole), but of his solo works — as opposed to often-produced shows like West Side Story that he only contributed lyrics to early in his career — few are produced on any regular basis beyond theatre hotbeds such as New York and London, and they usually don't run for long, owing to his tendency for Audience Alienating Premises. Many of those shows, such as Pacific Overtures, Merrily We Roll Along, Assassins, and Passion, were flops in their original productions and still haven't caught on with the general public in restagings. (The key exceptions to this rule are Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Into the Woods.)
  • Hamilton is this by the sheer virtue that it A) for some time had only been staged in New York and B) is damn near impossible to get tickets to, with what tickets that are available at a pseudo-affordable cost being several months in the future, without the original cast. The show has some diehard fans who literally have never experienced any part of it outside of the cast soundtrack and certain promotional materials released online or on television. This is now somewhat averted, as it has expanded to other cities and has a national tour (although those tickets often sell out months in advance as well), and has been released on Disney+.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan produced 14 comic operas together. Some are very well known: The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance are frequently produced over a century later. But others, like The Grand Duke, are no better than the average comic opera of the time and only known nowadays due to their creators.

    Video Games 
  • Silent Hill 2 — particularly after it was continually heaped with praise by Zero Punctuation.
  • The UK PC Gamer magazine's review of Far Cry 2 was more like a review of the press pack circa six months earlier; features were mentioned that didn't exist, the main factions were repeatedly called by the wrong names, and much was made over the ability to pick factions and missions, something you can't do unless you really hate advancing the plot.
  • Compare the number of people who have praised Psychonauts or Beyond Good & Evil to the actual sales figures of those games. You'll almost certainly find the former number far exceeds the latter. Regular Steam and GoG sales, plus the curiosity caused by the games' Cult Classic status may have diminished this slightly in the several years following their release. But only slightly.
  • Mysteriously, more people knew of and began to praise System Shock 2 after a certain someone reviewed a spiritual successor.
  • Radiant Silvergun is praised outside of Japan for various reasons related to gameplay and story, but the fact it was never released internationally and that it costs a small fortune makes it skeptical that many of them have ever seen anything more than a few videos of it. Thankfully it's much more widely (and cheaply) available today due to an international X Box Live Arcade release.
  • The Virtua Fighter series a whole. Often praised as the deepest fighting game ever created... by most that never played it.
  • ICO is widely praised as being a simple yet artistic, touching game. Finding people who actually played it, though, is not quite easy.
  • Portal has become insanely popular, but it is hard to tell whether people actually like the game itself or just listen to the memes the game created without even knowing a thing about the Companion Cube or how The Cake Is a Lie (and, to top it off, it isn't, as the ending shows).
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is sometimes praised because people who found out that it was the "real" sequel to Super Mario Bros. instead of the Dolled-Up Installment released as Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America. Actually playing - and surviving - probably silences the praise. And the US version of Super Mario Bros 2 was adapted from a game built off of the original prototype for the game.note 
  • Terraria had a community like this pre-release, with many people praising the game well before it came out and claiming it to be nothing like Minecraft, despite only a limited number of them having played it at that point.
  • A good number of Touhou Project fans have not played the games proper, and are only familiar with the games through fanart, doujins, remixes and other fan material. Most fans who have seen what the games look like praise them for having beautiful bullet patterns, but won't play them. Then there are Touhou Project fans that are only familiar with the games through canon and semi-canon gaiden works by the games' creator (from fantasy-land travelogues up to and including a book-length short story series), and praise the project as a whole because there's no single phrase referring to these works alone. This is perhaps part of why a lot of Touhou fans who are into the lore and fan works don't play other shoot-em-up series and why the general shoot-em-up fanbase is baffled by the Touhou fanbase.
  • There are certain fangirls who claim to love games like Kingdom Hearts and will tell you all about their ships, but have never actually played the games.
  • Even before the Mother series earned its status as Sacred Cow, there were many people repeatedly praising EarthBound (1994) and talking about how awesome it is. Now look at its sales figures, and ask yourself how many of those people actually played it when you could actually obtain a cartridge for a reasonable price. Even then, claims about its amazingness tend to skate over things like the Slow-Paced Beginning, the rickety and rudimentary battle system, and the many weird mechanics. It's also not often discussed that the most famous part of the game is also the final boss fight, which the rest of the game is almost nothing like. The satirical videogame website The Hard Times even had an article called "Huge Earthbound Fan Excited to Play It for the First Time."
  • TearRing Saga, Berwick Saga and Vestaria Saga were created by Shouzou Kaga, the original creator of the Fire Emblem games before he left Intelligent Systems. As such, they're held in extremely high regard by the Only the Creator Does It Right side of the fandom... the number among them who've actually played those games being very small. Those who have tend to believe they're decent games, but not flawless masterpieces.
  • Final Fantasy VI can reach this depending on the person. In some cases, you'll find that they like it just because it's not Final Fantasy VII. In other corners of the fandom Final Fantasy VII itself can get this effect by people who only like the game for one or more of its characters but only have knowledge of the game through YouTube videos.
  • Harvest Moon fans are quick to call Harvest Moon 64 the best in the franchise despite the fact few have played it. A good majority of the fanbase got into the games through (More) Friends Of Mineral Town, A Wonderful Life, and the Nintendo DS games plus 64 was obscure as it was; the 64 wasn't as popular as the Playstation and even kids who owned a 64 were more likely to pick Mario than some farming game. They simply hear other fans praising it so they praise it too. It doesn't help that it will likely never be ported onto the Virtual Console.
  • Tetris: The Grand Master. For all the attention it gets over two superplay videos, there are very few players outside of Japan who have seen videos of it and played it, due to No Export for You combined with arcade-only releases (Tetris: The Grand Master ACE on Xbox 360 doesn't count), and, like with Bullet Hell games, the harsh-seeming learning surve.
  • Plenty of fans of Persona 5 on social media haven't played the game. They only get their experience from fan-made content and clips on YouTube. Joker's inclusion as a DLC fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimatenote  is blamed for heightening the newbie boom, leading to Hype Backlash. Hence the recurring joke among the P5 player-base, "Don't mess with us Persona 5 fans, we haven't played the game."
  • Undertale got an awful lot of attention for the first month or two after it came out—absurdly high Metacritic scores, a quirky yet endearing aesthetic, and its two-year history of almost solo development (the entire design team could fit in a phone booth) quickly brought it to the attention of a wide audience. Tumblr in particular is a hotbed of Undertale fan work, many of whom have not played the game themselves. Given how Undertale runs on its characters and story, rather than its gameplay (a modest combination of roleplaying game systems and Bullet Hell mechanics), most of the non-players who sing its praises do so for the writing and personality.
  • For a long time, Knuckles Chaotix enjoyed a degree of popular mystique in the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom, owing to its status as a spinoff staring Knuckles, being the introduction to multiple popular characters (and for many years was one of the few game appearances of Ensemble Dark Horse Mighty the Armadillo), its excellent sprite-work, top-notch soundtrack, and the fact that few were able to play it, owing to the 32X's low sales and being notoriously difficult to emulate (so much so that the game has never been re-released in an official capacity). Unfortunately, its reputation took a turn for the worse once technology improved enough for more fans to play it, since it suffered from issues such as the central ring-tether mechanic being gimmicky and frustrating, the labyrinthine level design, and the poor structure and pacing that made the game a slog to play through.

    Visual Novels 

  • Homestuck has a number of fans who only ever read the parts of the comic that deal with one of the resident Humanoid Aliens species, the trolls. The troll characters are teenagers who are quirky and easy enough to identify with that it is often unclear when browsing the plethora of fan works whether some people are even aware that there is a story going on with these characters, or whether they simply latched on to the character designs, alien romance habits and exaggerated manners.
  • Cinema Snob Reviews Frozen (a fan comic where The Cinema Snob reviews Frozen) spoofs this In-Universe when Snob claims that The Snow Queen (1957) is superior to Frozen without even watching the older film, simply because it's classic and foreign.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a conceptual amalgamate of all the previous generations as admitted by the creator Lauren Faust herself, generated several different groups of fans, among them two interesting ones, either of which doesn't seem to have ever seen the old shows:
    • First says all the old generations sucked, and the new one (4) is so much better (possibly said to avoid ostracism, as the old shows were targeted to little girls),
    • Second says the first generation was great, then they sucked, and the new one is good because it's a remake of the first generation only.
    • There's also a surprisingly large group who are in it because of the multitude of surprisingly well done fan works floating around the net, to the point that few haven't even watched more than a few episodes since it debuted, or even watched the show at all!
  • There's a great deal of people who love to spam The Nutshack's theme song's lyrics on comments, yet haven't even watched a single episode of the show or heard the full song.
  • Plenty of Cartoon Network shows that were famously Screwed by the Network, such as Sym-Bionic Titan, Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?, Megas XLR, and Class of 3000, receive praise from those who never watched them and know nothing about them other than the fact that they were cancelled.