Follow TV Tropes


Selective Obliviousness

Go To

"It's not denial. I'm just very selective about the reality I accept."
Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

When a character refuses to comprehend a particular fact. They'll especially turn it up when someone attempts to tell them directly, which usually results in said would-be confessor aborting the attempt because not only was it a difficult subject to begin with, they can't bring themselves to smash this person's sense of reality.

Regarding unrequited relationships involving someone with Selective Obliviousness; even if everyone else is aware of someone's crush on that person, nobody will ever mention the possibility to the practitioner. Nobody likes to gossip about who is interested in whom. Stop laughing. This is one person's cross to bear alone.

This contrasts with Weirdness Censor, in which everyone except the main characters are oblivious to the bizarre occurrences around them.

Usually, this is supposed to denote a sense of innocence; however, to more cynical viewers, it may appear that the person either consciously or subconsciously knows, and just doesn't want to deal with it. Or more disturbingly, he refuses to consider it to the point of suppressing it and choosing his own reality, thereby being driven to insanity. It also seems inexplicably popular with characters whose main trait is (apparent) perceptiveness of other people's character. Selective Obliviousness is also a tool that the writers use to keep things in the air, such as for Will They or Won't They? or Belligerent Sexual Tension. Like all stalling tactics, overuse breeds contempt.


Less comically, a character may do this to avoid acknowledging his own guilt or envy in some manner. Often leads to Divided We Fall or Irrational Hatred. Similarly, when applied towards a boss' assumed infallibility, it leads to Blind Obedience.

If this happens in real life, it is called Canon Discontinuity or Confirmation Bias.

Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills is a sort of involuntary Selective Obliviousness imposed on a character by the limits of the plot. Contrast with Failed a Spot Check, in which the character fails to comprehend something everyone else is aware of.

Oblivious to Love, Giftedly Bad, No True Scotsman, and Hypocritical Fandom are common forms of this. Theory Tunnelvision is a subtrope. See also I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That, in which a character feigns Selective Obliviousness in order to avoid the consequences of acknowledging the situation. May be related to I Reject Your Reality and Captain Oblivious.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Another:
    • The students of Class 3 manage to force and subvert this trope, in an effort to stop the calamity that kills off members of the class and their family members. Due to the calamity being caused by one person in the class actually being dead, it can be averted if the class ignores one person in the class and pretends they don't exist... which only works sometimes, and it's hinted to only work if they pick the right one, which is pure chance. They originally choose Mei Misaki, until the protagonist ends up talking to her, having not been briefed by the class on how to behave. This appears to start the calamity all over again, and the students even resort to ignoring the protagonist himself, with no success. Irony, because the calamity had actually started before — with someone related to Mei, so she couldn't tell them because they were ignoring her.
    • Also present in that the one dead person in the class is impossible to detect, since everyone in the class and town and even the dead person themselves have no recollection of their death — at least, that is, unless someone kills them, in which case everything goes back to normal and everyone, except for the person who returned them to death, remembers them for how they really died, and has no recollection of their ever being in the class.
  • Naruto: Naruto didn't realize Hinata had strong feelings for him, something many of the other ninjas were easily able to figure out. He also doesn't realize that Sasuke really doesn't want to come back to the village, even after Sasuke impales him and almost kills Sakura and Kakashi.
  • In Ranma ½:
    • The bombastic Tatewaki "Blue Thunder" Kuno refuses to believe that the hated Ranma Saotome and his beloved "Pigtailed Girl" are one and the same, even when Ranma changes right in his arms. After a while, one wonders if he isn't fully aware and just forcing himself not to think about it. His sister has a similar ailment, but she isn't confronted with the evidence quite as often (and in the anime, never) and actually tried to figure out what happened before getting sidetracked. Kuno might also be purposely ignoring all of the blatant evidence that neither of his "love interests" actually even likes him, let alone lusts after him... although this may be less Selective Obliviousness and more a cocktail of Casanova Wannabe grade lechery (Kuno is debatably a Handsome Lech) and whopping ego.
    • Akane Tendo is often accused of this regarding the fact that her pet pig is actually the cursed form of one of Ranma's rivals for her affections. It's got to be the biggest problem she brings to the relationship, even worse than her insecurity. That's not to say that Ranma doesn't contribute his own flaws, faults, and problems, but when she's been shown to consciously ignore Ranma's attempts to explain how a situation wasn't what it looked like, to the extent that the manga version of Akane ignored Ranma's outright telling her why he was trying to grope Hinako, coupled with showing her the pressure point chart he was using, in order to support her own belief that it's because Ranma is an uncontrollable lecher. In the anime canon, this flaw is actually the explicit reason why Akane is a Lethal Chef; she refuses to follow the recipe and adds extra ingredients that she ''believes'' will make it even better (and then adds the wrong wrong ingredients, due to not looking at what she's grabbing), and refuses to admit her cooking habits are why nobody will ever eat her cooking unless forced. In one episode, she spends the entire night trying to make edible cookies and continues to repeat the same mistakes over and over even though each and every batch turns out terrible. When Ranma finally allows himself to be guilted into eating her latest batch, and promptly takes to his room with severe stomach pains, Akane idly declares that the recipe must have been faulty.
    • Kasumi Tendo calls people who are actively trying to murder Ranma his "friends". Often flanderized in Fan Fic into one of her defining traits.
    • Mousse could be called Selectively Oblivious in regards to Shampoo. He refuses to admit that the girl he's been chasing since they were three has never shown any sign of reciprocated interest, at best ignoring him and more commonly hitting him whenever he made one of his "romantic" gestures/speeches. By the late manga, she's perfectly willing to let him die just to be rid of him. Instead, Mousse blames her lack of interest on her (willingly given and clearly backed by genuine emotion, at least in the anime) engagement to Ranma and frequently assaults the Japanese boy, accusing him of seducing Shampoo or otherwise keeping her away from Mousse.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena was interesting in that it didn't portray the girl (Shiori) practicing Selective Obliviousness in a positive light. One can also argue that Utena starts indulging in this after episode 31.
  • In Cromartie High School, no one (except Kamiyama, Hayashida, and the Doctor that performed the school physicals) seems to notice that Mechazawa is, in fact, a robot. The same for the student gorilla.
  • Kyon of Haruhi Suzumiya very deliberately ignores any hinting that the Chessgame of Life may have a King (who decides the game) as well as a Queen (who has the power in the game); he refuses to acknowledge Tachibana flat out telling him that he has the power to transfer Haruhi's power as well as Tsuruya's telling him that he and his friends really need to work on their Masquerade better. And then there's just his ignoring Haruhi's feelings for him; over which she's willing to rewrite the whole of reality over. Even Itsuki is starting to get annoyed.
  • Souichi of the Boy's Love manga The Tyrant Falls in Love doesn't seem to realize that he's making an awful lot of exceptions to his homophobia in regards to his gay companion Morinaga, not even after he says outright that he doesn't want Morinaga to leave him and that he can have sex with Morinaga only. That must be one hell of a balancing act between "I hate hate homos!" and "I can't let Morinaga leave my side, even if he likes me that way!" in Souichi's mind.
  • Nearly the entire cast of Hayate the Combat Butler has this about one subject or another (Sakuya, for example, believes her destiny is to become Japan's greatest comedienne, with Nagi as her partner).
  • Ouran High School Host Club: Tamaki persistently interprets his attraction to Haruhi as paternal affection; hilarity, naturally, frequently ensues out of the dissonance. Aside from Haruhi herself, no one else is fooled, and in later volumes the other members of the Host Club speculate that Tamaki subconsciously refuses to acknowledge his feelings for Haruhi because he doesn't want anything to break up the surrogate family he's created in the Host Club the way his parents' love caused his own family to be broken up. The funny thing is, Tamaki's "paternal love" obsession goes a bit far when he realizes he's romantically in love with Haruhi. He thinks of himself as a "perverted lech" preying upon his "daughter" and feels horrified about committing "incest".
  • Penguin Revolution: It takes Ayaori six manga volumes of rooming together and, finally, actually seeing Yukari naked (with his contacts in, for a change) before he realizes that Yukari is a girl pretending to be a boy instead of a boy pretending to be a girl. Sure, he's Blind Without 'Em, but Yukari pretty much stops trying to keep the act up around him before the first volume is over.
  • In Detective Conan:
    • Ran has had suspicions about "Conan"'s identity, but not nearly as often as she should have, all things considered. (In one instance, Conan was terribly ill; he reverted to his normal appearance while nobody was watching him thanks to a drink he had been given by Heiji, then solved the mystery. He had a conversation with Ran, while obviously still very sick, then fell down the stairs and vanished in a puff of smoke. She heard Shinichi scream from nearby, and when she investigated, she found Conan instead. And somehow, she didn't figure it out.
    • Satou's very much aware of Takagi's affection for her at least relatively early on, and she definitely reciprocates it. What she isn't aware of is how much nearly every other male detective in her department is crushing on her (well, except for Shiratori, but that was only because she got stuck in an omiai with him), to the point where she never seems really aware why the Absolute Defense Line keeps making things difficult for the hapless Takagi. She doesn't even realize that any ring on her left ring finger will typically symbolize engagement! On the other hand, considering that the last officer she was attracted to died at a mad bomber's, explosives...she may just be subconsciously tuning out anything that could lead her into that sort of devastation again. Takagi's genuine love for her is the only thing capable of getting through that membrane.
  • Death Note:
    • Misa is fairly intelligent, and professes to be talented when it comes to romance (and might well be), but refuses to see that her beloved Light actually hates her. She's perfectly capable of realizing when Light is fake-dating other girls just to use and manipulate them, but somehow never figures out he's doing the same with her. Admittedly, even if she did know, she still wouldn't care.
    • Light is utterly incapable of seeing that his actions make him just as bad as the criminals he kills, if not worse. When Ryuk point-blank tells him that once he kills all the evil people in the world, he'll be the only evil person left, Light brushes him off, remarking, "I don't know what you're talking about."
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • England doesn't seem to comprehend what colonial America meant by "Go to hell, England". Even in the present, he thinks of how cute of a kid America was. Since it was a very early strip it seems to have been retconned since then, and all later strips show the relationship between England and little America as genuinely warm and fluffy, with little America pretending to enjoy England's cooking even though it's horrible, being happy to receive presents from England, and crying when England goes home.
    • Spain has this, especially in the strip where he proposes to Romano. He merely asked for three meals a day without the slightest hinting to either option, but Spain automatically takes it as rejection.
    • America also fits in this, as Word of God states that he "refuses to read the atmosphere". In other words, he can literally choose whether to remain oblivious to an event or finally pay attention to it.
    • Russia seems to think that other nations actually want to live with him. When one of them rebels and he does have to face the fact that they all hate him except for Belarus, he doesn't seem to have a clue why.
    • More recently, Denmark has been hinted to do this as well, ignoring aggressive social behaviour and maintaining a cheery demeanour. He never gets it whenever Norway insults him, and during the 2011 Halloween event, when Belarus throws a hanger at him and declares that Russia's team will win, he simply wished her luck.
    • Then there's Japan's reaction after he and Greece had sex: "IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM! I'M SO GLAD IT WAS JUST A DREAM!"
  • Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!. In the beginning, it looked more like he sincerely never notices when characters are in love with him. However, as the series goes on, it starts becoming more and more obvious (as his suitors become more and more direct) that he's actively turning up his obliviousness. This is no doubt due to his atypical upbringing, he probably has no idea HOW to react to such affection. His relationship with Tessa comes to mind, in particular. Numerous times, she makes incredibly aggressive advances on him, which he actually notices enough to feel nervous and scared. However, when people are later referring to her feelings for him, he's shown to react in a very oblivious manner, many times completely dismissing it. She's his commanding officer so he would have a good reason to do this.
  • Yurika in Martian Successor Nadesico tends to do this, insisting that Akito is head-over-heels in love with her, even though he's never shown any signs of it and tends to get pretty annoyed when she tries to get close to him. But it's possible that her obliviousness is all part of a master plan to make Akito fall in love with her. if so, it works.
  • In Monster, Eva manages to overlook the fact that she had mistreated Tenma in the worst way - and when he tells her, nine years after she had broken off their engagement, that he is flattered but uninterested in reconciling, she chooses to turn a deaf ear and threaten him with telling the police that he had killed her father should he really decide to continue his life without her.
  • In Moyashimon, Aoi Mutou used to work hard at part-time jobs so she and her boyfriend could afford a place together. But one day, she arrived at his apartment only to find he had moved out, taken the money they had saved and left a note saying he had found someone else. Mutou preferred to believe that he had been abducted by aliens, which is how she fell in with the agricultural university's UFO Club. Any attempts to bring up the obvious truth simply drive her to drink.
  • CLANNAD: Upon learning that his daughter, Nagisa is pregnant, Akio is torn between denial ("A stork brought it, right?"), joy at becoming a grandfather and wanting to strangle Tomoya for getting her pregnant. He does eventually (grudgingly) accept it. This is a rather extreme case, as Nagisa and Tomoya have been married for several months at that point and to make matters worse, he himself had been ribbing Tomoya about the possibility mere seconds before.
  • Katekyō Hitman Reborn!: Yamamoto Takeshi is the poster boy for this trope. He has seen talking infants wield guns, come very close to dying at least three times, traveled forward in time to stop an Omnicidal Maniac from destroying the world, and, depending on your interpretation of his character, still thinks the mafia is a role-playing game that Tsuna and Gokudera cooked up. After being specifically told this isn't a game multiple times.
    • Lambo at least has basic awareness that he's in the mafia, but being a five-year-old, he is unable to grasp that the major events in the series are serious mafia business, instead believing that he is being taken along to play. This results in at least two occasions of a rude awakening after he ends up injured.
  • Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion does it as part of her Belligerent Sexual Tension with Shinji: while she never misses an opportunity to berate his perceived weaknesses and constantly calls him an idiot, pervert, etc., whenever he demonstrates evidence to the contrary, she makes a pointed effort to ignore it due to her severe intimacy issues. This becomes even stronger as the series goes on, eventually contributing to her mental breakdown when she realizes it's not working anymore.
  • Ikuto in Nagasarete Airantou is this to anything supernatural, dismissing it as his imagination or putting it into logical reason, despite living on a daily basis with talking animals and a kappa. When Ikuto's sister is introduced it's revealed that she is actually a youkai and that he has been cursed to prevent him from realising.
  • In Skip Beat!, Kyouko is completely oblivious to the fact that Ren is in love with her, even after his assistant blatantly told her.
  • As a Running Gag in Eyeshield 21, Mamori continuously misses the signs that Sena is Eyeshield 21, despite Sena practically Clark Kenting. She knows Sena has the same build as Eyeshield 21, that Sena joined the football club, never saw Eyeshield 21 without his mask and Sena always seems to disappear when Eyeshield 21 shows up. She thinks "Every time Eyeshield 21 shows up... Sena never seems to be around. Maybe they... don't get along well?" The justification is that since she still sees Sena as a little kid who cannot stand up for himself, she simply cannot think of him as a successful football player. It's even lampshaded by Hiruma: "Preconceptions are harsh..."
  • A Cruel God Reigns:
  • It's possible that Angela/Ash is this in Black Butler. She/he commits horrible and very sinful actions and yet, she/he believes that it is for the work of the Lord. See Well-Intentioned Extremist to understand this.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair it is implied over time the Mitsuhide's apparent unawareness of Kiki's feelings for him is more something he's playing up as he would rather not address it. To a different degree it is eventually confirmed that his apparent obliviousness to the crushes and flirtations of most of the female staff in the castle is just his way of dealing with unwanted potential romantic attachments until such things get to the point where he needs to actually say that he has no interest.

    Comic Books 
  • Can be seen in Western depictions of a Superhero with a secret identity, attempting to tell it to the loved one. One Superman story has Lois admonishing the Man of Steel for "that creepy Clark Kent impersonation." (Indeed, one might make a claim that the whole Superman mythos embodies this trope, as it would seem painfully obvious that Superman is just Clark Kent without glasses.)
  • Spider-Man:
    • J. Jonah Jameson generally frowns upon "costumed vigilantes", considering them usurpers of law and order. But he is willing to give the devil his due when it comes to true acts of heroism and is considerably lighter on those he feels have "paid their due" — like Captain America. Of course, there is a big Spider-Man-shaped blind spot in this P.O.V. — which, Depending on the Writer, can range in severity from Running Gag (Robbie Robertson constantly having to talk Jonah down from some of his more libelous headlines and editorials) to outright insanity (the newly-elected mayor of NYC Jameson gleefully watching a S.W.A.T. team open fire on Spidey without provocation.) Robbie Robertson occasionally hints that he knows perfectly well who Spider-Man is, but that he can't acknowledge it. If he "knew," then he'd be morally and professionally obligated to tell his best friend and boss J. Jonah Jameson.
    • In the 2000s, Aunt May found out Pete was Spider-Man and called him out on not telling her, pointing out that she had survived the death of his parents and Uncle Ben. She also said that for a while, she had thought he was gay. Peter burst into laughter.
  • It's implied that, if Commissioner Gordon wanted to, he could figure out Batman's identity, but he deliberately chooses not to, and has, in fact, refused to look when Batman offered to reveal who he really was.
    • In Batman: Year One, Batman, out of costume, just saved his infant son's life and hands him the child. Even though he's personally met and spoken to Bruce Wayne, Gordon blames the loss of his glasses for his (claimed) inability to recognize the man he's talking to and standing two feet away from.
    • In the No Man's Land arcnote , Batman tries to get the understandably-abandoned-feeling Gordon to trust him again, and takes off his mask. Gordon immediately turns away, stating that if he wanted to know Batman's identity, he could have figured it out years ago, and even cryptically saying, "And for all you know, maybe I did."
    • In the Dick Grayson Batman era, it is repeatedly all but stated that Gordon knows who Batman is and more importantly, who he was.
    • In the New 52, Batgirl offers to take her hood off in front of him. He doesn't want to know. In the pre-52 continuity, he tells Barbara that he already knew about her being Batgirl when she comes clean to him, just never let on about it.
  • Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet. During the Batman: Hush storyline, Batman surmises that Perry may be well aware of Superman's secret identity (being "too good of a reporter" not to see it), but chooses not to let on that he knows. This only applies to the pre-New 52 Perry; The New 52 version being unaware of the truth, and takes it very badly when Superman's identity is revealed to the world in Superman: Truth, believing Clark was only working at the Planet to "sell his story", and firing him not long after.
  • It's painfully obvious that Doctor Doom, being a supergenius and all, should be able to realize that Reed Richards had nothing to do with the malfunction that caused Doom's experiment to blow up in Doom's face, and was only trying to explain to Doom that the experiment was flawed. However, Doom apparently can't stand the idea of Reed being smarter than him, so he steadfastly refuses to see reason and continues to try to destroy Reed's life in "revenge". It's hinted he does know this full well deep down though, as whenever Reed calls him out on this bullshit, he tends to fly into a homicidal rage, and at least once started beating Reed into a bloody pulp while screaming at him to admit he sabotaged the experiment "or else!"
  • Like with Doom above, Loki has this problem, though some of it does depend on how sympathetically he's being portrayed. While many writers acknowledge that Loki was The Un-Favourite, how much of this is his own fault varies.
    • Also, Loki often claims things like "everyone hated me" which may or may not be true. While most of Asgard does indeed dislike him, Thor himself often references that he and Loki were happy together as children, and Loki just seems to block that time out so his Freudian Excuse is more credible.
      • Loki returned to childhood age, with only those memories, and guess what? He's happy and knows that Thor loves him like the little brother he is and cares for Thor in return He also doesn't get why everyone seems to hate him since he doesn't remember all the things he did as an adult, which lends credence to the idea that Loki was editing his own self history to make it so he was "always hated" so his excuse held up.
      • Now he does know since many people of Asgard pointed it out for him that his scheme led to The Sentry bringing Asgard crashing down. However, they are also unwilling to tell him almost anything else (like who people are, what is happening at the moment, etc), since they still want to off him the second they think Thor won't care. The only exceptions so far seem to be the Warriors Three, who seem to do so very grudgingly (unless the story is funny or makes who Loki used to look bad).
      • Loki is a young adult once more, with their past-selves memories and abilities but their child-selfs morality and sense of right-and-wrong, and in the first issue of their own series it quickly establishes that at least some part of Loki's past hatred is justified, as Thor admits that he did use to be quite a bully to Loki when they were younger. After he's briefly returned to his previous cruel, alcoholic bullying self, he apologises for making Loki the way they once were, while Loki themself forgives him now that they're both heroes. Cue awws from the audience.
  • Don't bother to ask the Gauls in Asterix about the location of Alesia, the place where Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix and annexed the Galia into the Roman Empire (with the exception of a small village that resists, then and ever, the invader). The Gauls will react with a mixture of berserk screams and aggressive denial. (The Historical Injoke being that, at the time the books were written, people really didn't know where Alesia was. These days archeologists are pretty sure it's Alise-Sainte-Reine.)
    • Another example from the same comic strip: the very obvious obese Obelix is always in denial that he is "fat". Whenever characters refer to him as "fat" he is either blissfully unaware they are referring to him or he just gets angry and shouts: "I'm not fat!"
  • Suske en Wiske: Lambik is very vain, yet never realizes he's not as clever, powerful or great as he thinks. In "De Dromendiefstal" a villain tricks him into leaving him unguarded and then escapes. As Lambik returns and finds this out he first says: "How stupid of me!" But then he immediately corrects this to: "Stupid? No, he just took advantage of my confidence."
  • Tintin: Professor Calculus, who is obviously stone deaf, doesn't wear a hearing aid, because "he's just a little hard of hearing, that's all."

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Turns out Italy has this instead of being simply Oblivious to Love. His anxiety is so horrible, he didn't know why Germany and Japan loved him and thought they would "wake up and leave him". Thank goodness they never did though. Not that there was any reason to. In fact, they would be horrible if they did.
  • Kyon's mother in Kyon: Big Damn Hero refuses to acknowledge that Kyon had to get into a fight because of Tsuruya when she is told that Kyon had to replace Tsuruya's bodyguard, and instead decides to be full Shipper on Deck between them. And that was after scolding him for getting into fights at school (which happened because of Tsuruya too).
  • In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything Light is the king of this trope:
    Light: [Stephen]'s oddly pleasant considering the last time we met, and I swiftly come to the conclusion that L hasn't told him that he loves me and that we're just going through a rough patch which involves impacting my face with his fist.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, when referencing books to support her crazed conspiracy theories, the Lemony Narrator often glosses over the parts that directly contradict them, cherrypicking the parts that don't. It gets worse when she does acknowledge them, either rejecting them outright by crossing them out in-text or finding a workaround through Insane Troll Logic.
  • In Parting Words, Princess Celestia realizes that the Cutie Mark Crusaders have never received adequate help for their bullying problem because the adults are so wrapped up in their own duties and obligations that they convince themselves that the foals' problems are unimportant and not worth their time and effort.
  • Fluttershy in the Reading Rainbowverse didn't seem able to get that Macintosh wanted to break up with her without hurting her feelings. Even when Macintosh considered the manner settled, she failed to get the memo. Only after coming back from vacation and seeing him with Carapace did she realize what was going on... leading to a drunken rant atop a drunken dragon.
  • In Cultstuck, most of the titular cultists are unable to see Karkat as anything other than the perfect, infallible reincarnation of the Sufferer, and they interpret the slightest mundane thing he does as divine revelation. Karkat, on the other hand, is severely annoyed by this, as it means that none of them are really acknowledging him as a person or listening to his opinion. (He's tried to stop them being selectively oblivious, but... well, they are a cult.) This is played for laughs, but also drama: they expect/force Karkat to fit their image of the Sufferer, and have spent centuries producing propaganda and warping history to fit their beliefs.
  • Similarly to the above, Lereal Belsai of Hivefled refuses to believe that Karkat isn't simply testing his faith and genuinely isn't magically able to protect the Child Soldiers of the cult. He also dismisses Gamzee out of hand as a spy, despite obvious marks of torture on him.
  • Parodied in the caption beneath this Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors fanart.
    Hey, remember the ending when these two met again and hugged and lived happily ever after? note  I do!
  • In For His Own Sake, Mutsumi is intent on getting Keitaro and Naru back together... while completely ignoring that Keitaro broke off the relationship and doesn't want it fixed. She only acknowledges this little detail insofar as telling herself that he's been 'brainwashed' by his new friends, and insists that he'll eventually thank her once she saves him. This includes working with two bullies out to use her to get to Keitaro, something she also ignores all evidence of. It isn't until the very last chapter that Mutsumi finally gets the hint
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Arial Kuyumaya takes it Up to Eleven. Throughout all of Act V and the first third or so of Act VI, Arial is infatuated with Dark and, no matter how many times it's explicitly pointed out to her that he doesn't love her that way, blindly refuses to accept it until Act VI chapter 27, in which her actions cause Dark to have a mental breakdown that nearly leads to his death; in Ruby's words, not even she and the other members of Tsukune's Unwanted Harem were nearly as stupid and blind over Tsukune as Arial was over Dark.
  • Every member of the Order of the Phoenix refuses to believe anything negative about Dumbledore in Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor. Nearly all of them have been helped out of a tight spot by Dumbledore and have been "Dumbledore's man/woman" ever since. This includes Tonks who's grateful to Dumbledore for giving her a job after she was fired from the Ministry of Magic, despite the fact it was obeying his illegal orders that got her fired in the first place.
    • Though after their various covered up crimes are aired in court, and it's revealed that Dumbledore was functionally blackmailing all of them, most come to their senses.
  • A distinct problem with several Order of the Phoenix members in the Princess of the Blacks series is their refusal to believe the extremely damning evidence of Dumbledore's rather serious crimes. Furthermore, Dumbledore is of the opinion that anyone not blindly following his leadership is in the wrong and actively working against him.
    • James simply refuses to acknowledge that Jen wants nothing to do with the Potters and gets extremely defensive when anyone brings it up.
    • Dumbledore always focuses on anything "wrong" that Jen does (such as hospitalizing several students) while ignoring any extenuating circumstances (said students trying to kill her).
    • The Order of the Phoenix distrusts Sirius because he spent over a decade in Azkaban and "proved to be just like his family", completely ignoring that not only was he later declared innocent, but that he fought alongside them in the previous war.
    • Hermione easily ignores the revelation that Jen was abused by the Dursleys as a child and instead focuses on the idea Jen might have murdered them (Which, to be fair, she did, though Hermione has no proof of this).
    • The various Light families refuse to believe that the perpetual chaos that Hogwarts is in is valid grounds to have Dumbledore sacked.
    • The Order of the Phoenix focuses on Dumbledore's disapproval of Stan Shunpike's arrest and trial to the point of never considering the idea that Stan might actually be connected to the Death Eaters. He is, and sets off a bomb in Diagon Alley which earns him full membership into the Death Eaters.
    • Several members of the Order worry about having to fight a three-way war with Voldemort and the Ministry if their relations with the Ministry continue to deteriorate but ignore that they're the ones antagonizing the Department of Magical Law Enforcement by interfering with their operations.
  • Misty in Common Sense refuses to acknowledge that Ash is stronger than her. Even when Ash easily defeats Lt. Surge, she chalks his wins up to luck. Though, on some level, she knows it but continues to deny it anyway.
  • Akane Tendo in The Demon's Contract manages to be even worse than canon in regards to Ryouga. The very day Ryouga appears, Ranma explains that Ryouga uses his cursed form to sleep in women's beds and snuggle up to their breasts, something that appalls both Nabiki and Akane. Mere hours later, Akane is fawning over her "adorable P-chan". Neither Ranma nor Nabiki can believe how oblivious she is.
  • Hermione in Raptor spends years in denial over the fact that Harry's pet Talon is a dinosaur. Even when Jurassic Park is being built and advertising about recreating dinosaurs, she fails to make the connection and whenever someone brings dinosaurs up, Hermione insists that "dinosaurs are extinct and thus irrelevant".
  • In A Saiyain Warrior Videl outright refuses to comprehend that not only is her father not the strongest in the world but that there are people out there millions of times stronger than she'll ever be. Even once she does realize it, she fails to understand the sheer magnitude of how much stronger Bardock (Kakarot named his son after his father instead of Gohan) is until Master Roshi points out that she'll likely never catch up to him as Bardock's been training since he could walk and is unlikely to ever stop training to become stronger.
  • In Influenced Out of Normality, when Buffy and Willow discover Xander's attending USC and moving to Los Angeles, they accuse him of "abandoning the cause" despite actively trying to cut him out of Slaying for the past year. Furthermore, a central plot conflict revolves around Xander changing (rejoining the swim team, applying to college, gaining new friends, etc) and Buffy and Willow refusing to accept that it's not a bad thing. When they try to "support" Xander to "overcome his unhealthy relationship with Cordelia", Xander actually looks up signs of an unhealthy relationship and his relationship with Cordelia only match two criteria: Xander acting different and Cordelia trying to separate him from them. Meanwhile, his friendship with Buffy and Willow meet over half of the criteria that aren't about sexual or parent/child relationships. Faith laughs her ass off at the idea, noting that Xander and Cordelia have the healthiest relationship she's ever seen.
  • In the The Irregular at Magic High School fic My Son, Maya claims that she's Tatsuya's mother. She played no part in raising him and did not give birth to him, but she is his mother nonetheless. The fact that Maya's canonically insane may have something to do with this.
  • Hermione Granger focuses heavily on anything she thinks Xander Harris does wrong in Dealing with the Aftermath while completely ignoring the circumstances. Xander drew a gun on McGonnagall? Hermione ignores that she drew a wand on him first, which is also a deadly weapon. She also condemns Xander for killing Fenrir Greyback, despite the man being an unrepentant mass murderer. Probably the biggest though is that Xander shot (and ultimately killed) Dumbledore because the man just attacked Xander's partner with an unknown spell.
  • When Professor (Ale)Xander Harris refers to Professor McGonaggall by her first name in Time and Again, Hermione wants to reprimand him but "decides to let it pass". She has apparently forgotten that not only do colleagues often refer to each other by their first names but Xander and Minerva are married; of course he's going to call his wife by her first name.
  • In the Frozen fic The Alphabet Story, Elsa is clearly in love with Kyra however she denies her feelings both to herself and her sister. Same-gender romances are illegal in Arendelle and, even if they weren't, such feelings would be abnormal for a queen.
  • In Love you to the Moon and Back, Safira is understandably confused that all of the Scoobies except Faith seem to think Xander is some fragile child pretending to be a superhero. Xander admits to making things worse by never admitting that he's the one pulling off various heroic deeds in his reports but only does so because they'll simply refuse to believe it. In his words, if they see him do something amazing, in a week they'll believe it to be a fluke and in a month they'll think someone else did it.
    • Later chapters reveal their obliviousness is due to magic from when Willow tried to destroy the world forcing Xander's friends to think of him as the Zeppo. While Willow and Buffy are by far the worst, the longer anyone spends with them, the more they'll be affected.
  • Willow in Dragon Knight has a lot of trouble realizing that her "Xander-shaped friend" isn't the slacker she knew back in school, but is now Alexander, a married man who led an army in war and was functionally a king. Notably, she continues to call him Xander after the others call him Alexander and gets upset when he does something contrary to her thoughts on what "Xander" should be (such as not wanting him to grow back his beard).
  • In Ranma: Happenstance Gone Right, Akane insists she's both as skilled and as serious a martial artist as the rest of the Nerima Wrecking Crew (Ranma, Shampoo, and Ukyou in particular); she just doesn't spend all her time practicing because she "has a life", blatantly ignoring that she almost never practices and the others consider martial arts a way of life while Akane treats it as a hobby.
  • In Faded Blue, as a tactician, Rose really should've been able to pick up on the clues that Greg was less-than-trustworthy, but was having too much fun with him to notice.
  • Clint and Steve in Desire Written in Olive constantly do their best to "protect" Wanda after she marries Tony, ignoring everything she tells them about how first she and Tony are avoiding each other and then later actually get along. What offends her the most is when either of them implies Tony's molesting her and she doesn't know enough to realize it's wrong, since at that point not only have they never been intimate, but she and Tony are actually starting to fall in love.
  • In The War Is Far from Over Now, many of the Avengers that would eventually make up "Team Captain America" (Natasha and Steve in particular) remain completely oblivious to both how much Tony Stark contributes to the group and how incredibly busy he is. Unlike Clint, Natasha, Steve, and Wanda, Tony has a day job: running a Fiction 500 which any CEO could tell you is not a simple 9 to 5. Though he's since made Pepper CEO, Tony still invents most of their products when he's not improving the Iron-Man suit, organizing relief efforts for areas caught in Avenger business, dealing with the other Avengers' various screw-ups, and building a planetary defense system for the inevitable alien invasions.
    • Natasha's first impression of Tony Stark was formed when he was dying of palladium poisoning, causing her to view everything he does through the lens of a showboating, irresponsible playboy. For example, she gets upset at Tony's "narcissism" making Sam and Wanda's recruitment into the Avengers a mere footnote in the paper, never considering that as a former member of HYDRA, Wanda should be kept out of the spotlight.
    • Tony's self-esteem issues keep him from realizing that for all intents and purposes, he's the leader of the Avengers. Even though he houses them, handles public relations, and supplies all their gear, Tony only views himself as a "consultant". As a result, he's baffled that everyone from news reporters to the World Security Council contact him for anything regarding the Avengers.
  • Lampshaded in Enough Rope when Clint wonders how he never realized what was going on with the Avengers until an outside source spelled it out. In particular, when Steve threw his shield at Tony's head because Wanda claimed he was making another Ultron, Steve committed attempted murder on the word of a terrorist.
  • In Balance, Pepper Potts takes her Rescue armor and heads to space with Kraglin and Quill to find Tony and Fridaynote . Steve can't understand how Pepper could "abandon her post" when she has an Iron-man suit, even after Rhodey and Pepper both explain that not only does her suit lack the firepower of War Machine, Iron-Man, or Lady Iron (Friday's armor), but she has no combat training and isn't an Avenger anyway. Meanwhile, Steve disparages Jim Paxton who's present as Yellow Jacket, claiming the man has no training and has no business fighting Thanos's forces, ignoring that Jim is a police officer and has more training than Scott, whom Steve has no problem with being in the coming battle.
  • The inhabitants of Little Whinging in Eternal Fantasy have spent roughly a decade since the world was turned into an Expy of Final Fantasy doing their damnedest to pretend nothing has changed. Besides discouraging Adventurers and non-humans from visiting, they take great pains to make every house identical and change absolutely nothing about the village. When visiting for the first time in two years, Harry and Dudley are disturbed to realize that everything looks exactly the same, including the decorations in store windows.
    • Later chapters show the Wizarding World is exactly the same, doing their best to ignore how things have irrevocably changed. Perhaps the most ludicrous example is that they continue teaching classes the same way as before "The Transition" even though they know for a fact that wands have a limited amount of magic before they become worthless sticks. Hermione lampshades that they're wasting a non-renewable resource on parlor tricks like turning beetles into buttons.
  • Alya and Adrien both exhibit this in The One To Make It Stay:
    • Firstly, Alya refuses to acknowledge that Marinette has any valid reasons to distrust Lila. Even after being presented with proof that she lied about knowing Prince Ali, she declares that doesn't actually mean anything without proof that she's lying about everything. So far as she's concerned, the only reason Marinette has to dislike Lila is because they're both interested in Adrien... even though Marinette's given up on him and has moved on.
    • Speaking of that, Alya also does her best to strongarm Marinette into Zany Schemes she's concocted to help her hook up with Adrien, over Marinette's protests. When she outright refuses to cooperate, Alya chalks it up to her being nervous and fretting about things not working out, blaming her for those issues — she's just not driven enough! Even when she spells out for her that she's already dating Luka, Alya tries to blow that off as an Operation: Jealousy rather than a real relationship.
    • Alya also fails to grasp that there was anything suspect about her decision to secretly film Chat Noir confessing to Ladybug, then cutting up and splicing the footage to make it look like she reciprocated. Even when confronted directly by Ladybug, she dismisses her anger and hurt as no big deal, failing to acknowledge that she crossed any lines.
    • Chat Noir, meanwhile, elects to ignore Ladybug's insistence that she just doesn't feel the same way about him. Save for when he's sulking about how unfair she's being, and that she's not treating him like her equal partner... while ignoring that there's nothing 'equal' about him refusing to listen to anything she says that he doesn't like.
  • In Burning Bridges, Building Confidence, Adrien continues to insist to Marinette that Lila isn't hurting anyone with her lies... while also telling her that it's her own fault that Lila has turned most of their class against her. By lying. He also doesn't think anything of asserting this right in front of her Girl Posse, unintentionally revealing to them that he's known all along what Lila was doing and chose to stand by and let it happen. Because ruining Marinette's reputation 'wasn't hurting anyone', you see.
  • In the Invader Zim fanfic Science Knows No Bounds, Professor Membrane took in Almighty Tallest Miyuki when she crash-landed in his back yard years ago, and eventually fell in love with her as they worked together - unfortunately, he happened to realise this on the same day she died of old age. In his grief, Membrane chose to forget that aliens existed and refused to think of her as anything other than a human.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A particularly black comedic example comes from the Danish film Adam's Apples with the story's Deuteragonist, Ivan. After a life that seems like nothing but one endless streak of extremely horrible things happening into him (his mother died in his early childhood, his father was both violent and sexually abusive, his beloved sister was Driven to Suicide, his son was born severely disabled, his wife also committed suicide, and finally he was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor) this behavior has become pathological to him, to point where almost everything he says are Blatant Lies (though he fully believes them himself), such as claiming his son is a completely healthy and normal kid, and his wife is still alive and "around somewhere", and the criminals in his care are all reformed even though they clearly still frequently engage in their old crimes. Ultimately though, his obliviousness is what keeps him sane and alive.
  • The baker in The Baker's Wife insists that his wife left to visit her mother, even when it's clear to everyone that she left to be with another man.
  • This is what the title of An Inconvenient Truth refers to (specifically, being unwilling to observe something because your job depends on you not observing it).
  • In Lone Star State of Mind, Jimbo's father keeps trying to set him up on dates with pretty girls, even though Jimbo has been out of the closet for years and everybody else knows. Jimbo even screams, "I'm gay!" to him, to no avail.
  • Mars Attacks!. Art Land is so intent about selling the investors on building his casino that he ignores the all-out alien attack going on outside.
  • The Superman example above is lampshaded in Mystery Men. The Shoveller refuses to believe that millionaire Lance Hunt is really superhero Captain Amazing. He points out to Mr. Furious that Lance Hunt wears glasses, while Captain Amazing doesn't. Mr. Furious ripostes that he takes off his glasses when he transforms. The Shoveller responds "That doesn't make any sense! He wouldn't be able to see!"
  • A creepy example in Shutter Island. An asylum inmate subconsciously created an elaborate illusion of residing in her neighborhood and treated other patients and staff as neighbors or delivery men, flatly refused to admit that she's been committed for murdering her children. Then the unfolding story reveals that the protagonist suffers from that very delusion and that he created a far more elaborate illusion that placed him in the shoes of a federal marshal investigating the escape of the aforementioned inmate from the asylum and secretly searching for another inmate that killed his wife. In fact, the nonexistent escaped inmate is his wife, that murdered their children and thus drove him insane and the nonexistent killer is himself.
  • In Some Like It Hot, Jack Lemmon, masquerading as "Daphne", gets a marriage proposal from Osgood, an elderly millionaire. Daphne tries to talk him out of it:
    Daphne: Well ... in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde.
    Osgood: Doesn't matter.
    Daphne: I smoke! I smoke all the time!
    Osgood: I don't care.
    Daphne: I have a terrible past! For three years now, I've been living with a saxophone player!
    Osgood: I forgive you.
    Daphne: (tearfully) I can never have children.
    Osgood: We can adopt some.
    Daphne: You don't understand, Osgood ... (ripping off wig) I'm a man!
    Osgood: Well, nobody's perfect.
  • In Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren knows his hero and grandfather Darth Vader was also Anakin Skywalker, who embraced the Light Side of the Force before dying, but ignores Anakin and worships Vader's legacy.
  • Young Frankenstein: Eigor the hunchbacked assistant is totally unaware that he has a hump. Yet, as Fronkensteen later points out, Eigor's hump seems to move places so Eigor must be aware of it somehow: he just denies its existence.
  • Dr. Strangelove: When Gen. Turgidson is confronted with the refusal of president Muffley to attack Russia first with nuclear weapons (because a limited American nuclear attack is already in progress due to unauthorized orders, and would inevitably spark retaliation from the Russian), he insists that it's the smartest thing to do, because by striking first American casualties would be way smaller than otherwise. He seems to be completely unable to grasp that American casualties assessment is not really the point at stake because Muffley does not arguably want to kill millions of Russian citizens because of one American general who went nuts.
    Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war.
    Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say: no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops! Uh...depended on the breaks.

  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (at least the novels), Zaphod is literally selectively aware of his own motives, due to having both of his brains surgically altered so that certain thoughts wouldn't be detectable by the brain scans he needed to undergo in order to become President of the Galaxy.
    • This is also in the movie. It's more of a Hand Wave of Zaphod's two heads because they don't go into specifics.
    • The basis for the Applied Phlebotinum of the S.E.P. field. Making something invisible is incredibly difficult and requires massive power; a S.E.P. field is easy to make and can be run off a single battery. People can see things under a S.E.P. field, but they don't notice them, because whatever it is, it's Somebody Else's Problem.
    • Mostly Harmless features a species of bird that is oblivious to every strange thing that happens, like ignoring a fiery spaceship crash. However, they are always shocked by perfectly mundane things. For example, "...And sunrise always took them completely by surprise."
      • Their train of logic is that an unusual thing only happens once, so it's not worth noticing, as it'll probably not affect them. On the other hand, something that happens every day will affect them, so it's worth noticing.
  • Clifford manages to be shocked when he finally learns that his wife has been having an affair with another man in Lady Chatterley's Lover. His maid recognizes that he subconsciously knew about his wife's infidelity from the start, but just didn't have the courage to face it.
  • Discworld:
    • Twoflower is besotted with the idea of Rincewind as a Great Wizzard (sic), and refuses to realize that he's completely incapable of doing magic. This is far more prominent in Interesting Times, though, as he does seem to exhibit something approaching realization in The Colour of Magic.
    • The Duck Man refuses to realize that he has a duck on his head, regardless of how many people tell him so in no uncertain terms.
    • Lord Rust is well known for, as the author puts it, "Erasing unwelcome sights and sounds from his personal universe". This causes problems for him when people like Detritus and the Dean of Unseen University are apparently too large to erase, and hilarity when Vimes takes advantage of it to swear at him without him noticing.
    • In Making Money, Mr Bent prides himself on his impeccable perception and eye for detail (he can spot a miscalculation with just a glance from across the room) but is oblivious to a female coworker's open infatuation with him. Presumably it's not so much self-denial as it is an inability to expect anyone to have those feelings for him.
    • Nanny Ogg will never see her cat Greebo as anything other than a sweet little kitten, as opposed to the one-eyed, battle-scarred multiple rapist that everyone else knows and fears.
  • In The Secret History, Julian knows every important part of the plot, except for the crucial fact that five of his students killed the sixth one. He wants to believe the best of them, but really, it's not a huge leap to make...
  • Early on in Quill's Window, Courtney Thane's mother writes to him that she genuinely has no idea why his father cut him out of the will right before he died, and Courtney's sentiment seems to be the same. When we find out the reason for this later in the book, it becomes quite obvious that if either of them had engaged in serious self-reflection they would know the reason behind the father's I Have No Son! moment.
  • This is the cornerstone of Nineteen Eighty-Four's Doublethink. Bonus points for the requirement that obliviousness must not only be selective but also instantly switchable — you must completely and sincerely forget whatever you vehemently believed in a moment ago and, if necessary, switch back the next moment — and recursive — you must forget that you've just forgotten something, forget having forgotten that, et cetera.
    The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.

    He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions — 'the Party says the earth is flat', 'the party says that ice is heavier than water' — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them.

    Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
  • Johnnie Rico in Starship Troopers. While he tries hard to paint himself as "just another ape", reading between the lines shows he's pegged as leadership material almost from the start. This comes to a head when he tells his brevet Platoon Leader that he wants to enroll in Officer Candidate School. He's shocked when the man pulls out the necessary paperwork, already filled out, requiring only Johnnie's signature.
  • A short story (author, title forgotten) from the 1950s or 60s has a space traveler land on a planet. He encounters a village with two populations, where persons of one population are oblivious to anyone in the other. They dress very differently, so the main character can distinguish between the two. Representatives of both populations see him because his dress is ambiguous. There is at least one hint that the obliviousness is pretended: Children sometimes interact with children from the opposite population. Parents often find an excuse to spank those children. The main character resolves the issue by turning on a ray that causes everyone's clothes to melt.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Ministry of Magic chooses not to believe that Voldemort is back in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix despite the overwhelming evidence. They lead the public to believe that all is well and constantly berate Harry and Dumbledore as liars. It's explained that they have a contrived denial caused from how horrible Voldemort's previous reign of terror was. Despite this explanation, many fans interpreted them as Too Dumb to Live. Of course, "it was explained" by the protagonists themselves, and another interpretation is that the Ministry suspected Dumbledore of using Voldemort as a scapegoat to explain his own screw-ups at running the school. The Minister of Magic Fudge, on the other hand, believes that Dumbledore is trying to usurp him as Minister of Magic. It came back to bite them in the butt when Fudge got kicked out of office and public opinion of the Ministry plummets when it was discovered that Dumbledore and Harry were right.
    • In Book 4 it's briefly mentioned that Petunia, who could spot the tiniest imperfections that could be used for gossip fodder, refused to see that Dudley's obesity had reached dangerous levels (in the book he's compared to a young killer whale). She only sees reason after Dudley's school nurse sends her a letter about it since the school doesn't stock uniforms in Dudley's size.
    • Hermione refuses to listen to anyone who tells her that House Elves have different values than humans and enjoy serving wizards more than freedom (and that's including the House Elves themselves).
    • Snape refuses to see Harry as anything other than an egotistical rule-breaking show-off, in spite of any and all evidence, such as basic observation of Harry's behaviour might produce (okay, the "rule-breaking" part is kind of true, admittedly). That this is also his view of Harry's father, who bullied Snape when they were at school, has a lot to do with this - Snape just sees James Potter whenever he looks at Harry. And Snape refused to see James' better parts as well.
  • In the Jin Yong novel Smiling Proud Wanderer Linghu Chong, despite usually being quite perceptive and it becoming glaringly obvious, cannot grasp that his master is a scheming coward who doesn't care one bit for either Linghu Chong or any other of his pupil.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: The residents of Valdemar have a magically-induced blind spot when it comes to the existence of magic and the true nature of their Companions. For example, the scholars of Valdemar insist that the ballad of Kerowyn's ride, an account of more or less contemporary events, is meant to be interpreted metaphorically even after the real Kerowyn shows up in Valdemar and becomes one of the Queen's best-known advisors.
  • In The City and the City by China Miéville, two European cities, Besźel and Ul Qoma, exist on the same spot at the same time, interwoven with each other. Citizens of one city are trained from a young age to "unsee" the other city and its citizens, under dire penalty from a peacekeeping force known as the Breachers.
  • In Stephen King's IT, the entire town of Derry is afflicted with this, because IT is subtly manipulating them into complacency until IT chooses a scapegoat for them to slaughter. Practically all of Derry sees Beverly being abused by various people and none of them help, one man even calmly going back into his house rather than even scold her harassers. At one point, a man walks into a bar and dismembers a group of men playing cards with an axe. The rest of the patrons don't so much as ask him to leave... but when it's all said and done, they personally storm into the police station, nab him, and lynch him.
  • Dialogue in the The Dresden Files implies that Harry is aware of Molly's feelings for him, but chooses to ignore them and cuts out the parts of his narration that mention them. (This doesn't count as Oblivious to Love, by the way - he acknowledges Molly's feelings when she becomes his apprentice, attributing them to trauma, then goes on to ignore them.)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Tywin Lannister is a frighteningly intelligent lord and Hand of the King. He's smart, relentless, brutal and utterly competent — except when it comes to his family, especially his dwarf son Tyrion. Tywin is so appalled by Tyrion's dwarfism — and so angry that his beloved wife died giving birth to Tyrion — he can't recognize Tyrion's worth and the essential fact that his hated son actually has all of his father's intelligence and cunning.
  • Catherine Moreland of Northanger Abbey is such a Gothic novel fan she tries to read the plot of one into her stay at the Abbey and the late Mrs. Tilney's death, imagining a terrible and sad murder story. But she casts herself as the heroine, while completely missing that Eleanor Tilney hits all the notes of a classic Gothic heroine: dead mother, overbearing father, living in effective isolation, and with a secret forbidden love.
  • The Wheel of Time: One of Mat Cauthon's defining characteristics.
    • Born the son of a horse trader in a backwards village, he identifies himself as a simple man who rolls his eyes at the nobles he encounters, only good for gambling with and stealing their coins. Despite that, he throughout the series gains military command, political intrigue, and a taste for fine clothing and drink. It's almost parody when, late in the series, he ends up marrying a foreign princess and him insisting that "just because he married a princess, that didn't mean that he was a bloody noble" with his friends pointing out that not only did that make him a nobleman, it is the very definition of being made nobility.
    • He rescued the young orphan Olver from being whipped after messing with one of his lieutenant's horses. After a couple of failed efforts to unload him at an orphanage, he ended up hiring him to take care of his horse and ended up spending his nights with him, playing games and teaching him about the world. After about half a book of this, his men started to treat Olver as Mat’s De-facto son, something that greatly confused Mat. He was also annoyed that Olver started to pick up some Casanova Wannabe tendencies and cursing, wondering who in the band had corrupted him, with everyone, the reader included, noting that Olver acted as a carbon-copy of Mat himself.
    • He feels nothing but naked contempt for the Dragon-sworn, "those fool men who blindly follow every Word their precious Lord Dragon tells them" while A) technically being the leader of a band of such men and B) Unwaveringly doing whatever his best friend Rand asks him to do (although bitching and cursing every step of the way). His best friend Rand Al'Thor — The Dragon Reborn
    I'm here because Rand needs me! I will never understand what their excuses are!
  • In The King's Avatar, despite all the evidence that says otherwise (knowing Ye Xiu is a retired professional player, having played Glory for ten years, is exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable about the game and Ye Xiu flat out telling her who he really is), Chen Guo simply does not realize that her newest employee is the infamous Ye Qiu.
  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel Death and Diplomacy had the Doctor respond to a blatant come-on by a female villain by saying he made a point of being entirely oblivious to such things or getting them noticeably wrong, because it saved a lot of trouble.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Wesley managed to be totally oblivious to Fred's feelings for him in Season Five. This came to a head in an episode when he lectured Angel about the latter's failure to notice Nina's interest, while himself remaining totally unaware of Fred's. She eventually resorted to a Forceful Kiss to get the message across.
    • In Season Three, Cordelia was this way about Angel's feelings for her. Fred seemed to be likewise (re: Wesley's feelings for her) until Gunn later casually mentioned that she knew about them.
  • Sent up in Arrested Development:
    Tobias: You know, Mother Lucille, there's a psychological concept known as 'denial' that I think you're evincing. It's when a thought is so hateful that the mind literally rejects it.
    Lucille: You are a worse psychiatrist than you are a son-in-law, and you will never get work as an actor because you have no talent.
    Tobias: Well, if she's not going to say anything, I certainly can't help her.
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert (the character version of himself) insists that he is completely straight. Evidence to the contrary is dismissed with convoluted excuses when possible, ignored when not (as with the diagram of his brain in which one area was labeled "Repressed Homosexual Urges").
  • In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this is a major part of Rebecca's issues with mental health - it's almost impossible for her to realise what she really needs to be happy because she's so desperate to cling to the tropes of romantic comedies and Disney movies. A particularly painful example occurs in late season two after she finally gets together with Josh but still doesn't feel happy, and starts to wonder whether there's more to her recurring issues with depression than just unrequited love... only for her boyfriend to immediately come in and propose to her, causing her to instantly forget her realisation and devote herself to marrying him. A smaller scale version also occurs in the first half of the first season when Rebecca tries repeatedly to convince herself that she moved to West Covina because she really liked the place, and not because her ex-boyfriend now lives there, because that would be crazy.
    To be clear: I didn't move here for Josh, I just needed a change. 'Cause to move here for Josh, now that'd be strange. But don't get me wrong, if he asked for a date, I would totally be like "that sounds great!" Did it sound cool when I said "that sounds great?" Okay, how about now: "that sounds great..." Yes I heard of West Covina from Josh but I didn't move here because of Josh. Do you get those things are different? (No hablo inglés.) ¿Entiendes que son diferentes? Look, everyone, stop giving me the shakedown, I am not having a nervous- ...West Covina!
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor about Martha's feelings for him during series 3. "It's right in front of me and I can't see it" indeed.
      • Martha and Captain Jack Harkness both, apparently:
        The Doctor: Oh! I know what it's like. It's like when you fancy someone and they don't even know you exist. That's what it's like. [runs off]
        Martha: [stares despairingly after him]
        Captain Jack: You too, huh?
    • "Gridlock": All the drivers on the Motorway are aware on some level that they haven't seen any signs from the government and/or the people on the surface for over 20 years, but it takes some serious prodding from the Doctor before they even begin to address the Elephant in the Living Room.
  • In The Finder when Timo is worried about discussing family business in front of Leo, Leo casually mentions that he's "pretty engrossed in his book."
  • Friends:
    • Rachel is in constant denial about her true feelings for Ross when she's not with him. On the day before Ross's wedding to Emily, she somehow finally figures it out: "Sure, I like Ross, but feelings are really complicated... maybe I am sexually attracted to him, but I do love him... oh my God." When she demands of Phoebe on why she didn't tell her about her own feelings before, Phoebe replies, "Well, it's so obvious to everybody. It's like saying, 'Gosh Monica, you sure like to clean.'"
    • Ross asks for no strippers at his bachelor party, and after he leaves Joey immediately asks what kind of strippers they should get. Chandler reminds him what just happened, and he replies "Huh. I chose not to hear that."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • On top of his book counterpart's general refusal to see positive value in his son Tyrion, Tywin Lannister's last living episode has his daughter Cersei send him to immediate denial mode by confirming certain rumors that he was long aware of but never consciously believed. The rumors themselves should have been obvious and indeed were deduced by Ned Stark - specifically that the Baratheons' black hair is nigh-universally dominant, as is the case with all of Robert's bastards, whereas all three of his supposed children by Cersei are blond like the other Lannisters.
      Cersei: You don't know, do you? You never believed it. How is that possible? What am I saying, of course, it's possible. How can someone so consumed by the idea of his family have any conception what his actual family was doing? We were right there in front of you and you didn't see us. One look in the past twenty years, one real look and you would've known.
      Tywin: Known what?
      Cersei: Everything they say is true about Jaime and me.
      Tywin: No. No, no, no, no...
      • Per his actor Charles Dance, the way Tywin sees things is that his son Jaime was "the handsome apple of my eye" while the other two children are Cersei and Tyrion the whoremongering imp "who, unfortunately, is brighter than the other two put together", so consciously realizing that the rumors were true would have meant admitting to himself that none of his children were okay by his standards and that all three of Jaime and Cersei's children, nominally sired by Cersei's husband Robert, have no legitimate blood claim to either the Iron Throne or to House Lannister.
    • Shae's jealousy regarding Tyrion's marriage to Sansa despite Tyrion clearly acting as a protector and not consummating their marriage. The fact she feels Varys and Tyrion are exaggerating how precarious her position is, when any passing knowledge of Tywin and Cersei would inform most this is not the case, is very noticeable. Eventually, this refusal to accept how much danger she's in actually forces Tyrion to make a deliberately horrible speech to drive her away and she seemingly takes it at face value.
    • Though he's shown that he is primarily interested in hunting, whoring, and gambling, Robert is not a stupid man — as evidenced by his Hidden Depths and his occasional status as a royal who actually does something, yet in a world where blood so often makes people Colour-Coded for Your Convenience he is unable to see that Joffrey and his other children bear no phenotypical resemblance to the Baratheon family and in fact have traits that are exclusively Lannister. This could possibly be forgiven if it were the case with only one child and coloring was evenly spread amongst his other two children like the Starks, but ALL of his children are blond.
  • Played with in Hannah Montana; Miley mentions that she's kissed before, and quickly backpedals prompting Robbie Ray to say "I love our relationship, you pretend you don't kiss boys, and I pretend I believe you."
  • A very common theme in Hoarders, where people don't seem to notice they're living in squalor. One episode featured a woman who had a lot of dolls. At one point she picks up a small doll that's the size of a soda can and declares that it doesn't take up any space, completely ignoring the 8-foot-tall mountain of toys in front of her.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
  • Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother is almost totally self-deluded, not only is he a compulsive liar who believes his own lies, he constantly twists his perception of reality to paint himself and his life as "awesome", no matter how pathetic he actually is. For example, he will invent arbitrary social rules to justify his behavior and claim historical precedents for them, and continually insist they are true, despite their obvious falsehood.
    • This apparently stems from childhood, when Barney's mother chose to lie to Barney and conceal from him anything that might damage his sense of self-worth. For example, when no one came to his birthday party, she forged a letter from the Postmaster General, claiming he had lost all the invitations. This made Barney unable to accept anything that might damage his overinflated ego. Once, when he amicably broke up with Wendy the Waitress, he chose to believe she had gone crazy and was trying to murder him, rather than face the fact she simply didn't mind not being with him.
    • Everything you need to know about Barney can be seen in an episode in the sixth season, Zoe sets Ted up with her attractive cousin "Honey", and Robin and Barney both relate their own versions of the date to Marshall; in Robin's presumably more truthful account, Honey is fascinated by Ted and blatantly flirts with him, while Barney desperately attempts to hit on her and she politely ignores him. While eventually, Barney does leave with her, it's only because Ted is much more interested in Zoe and lets him; in Barney's version, Ted bores Honey by droning endlessly about architecture, and she is virtually ripping off Barney's clothes the whole time. When Marshall points out the difference in the accounts, Barney angrily insists his is true.
    • The entire group is guilty of this and later seasons have them confront this as part of their Character Development. Barney finally acknowledges that Bob Barker is not his father and actually seeks out his real dad. Ted and Robin realize that they do not have a future as a couple and that by remaining roommates they stifle any chance of having serious romantic relationships with others.
  • In Lie to Me, Gillian readily accepts her husband's feeble excuses about having to work late, even though her job is based around the ability to tell instantly when someone is lying.
  • In a first-season episode of Mad Men, gorgeous Joan's female roommate makes a very obvious sexual come-on. Joan pretends that she doesn't get it, the roommate pretends that Joan isn't pretending, and the incident is forgotten about.
  • In The Mighty Boosh, whenever Vince says or does something suggestive towards Howard (which is quite often) Howard will either walk away or awkwardly change the subject, totally ignoring it.
  • Guy of Gisborne from Robin Hood chooses to ignore the mounting evidence that Marian is in cahoots with Robin Hood. By the final episodes of season two, he's in complete denial.
  • Gul Dukat on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His imagined friendship with Captain Sisko escalates to ridiculous levels throughout the series, to the point where he chides Sisko for being so obtuse about his feelings while on the opposite sides of a battle line or in the middle of a no-holds-barred hand-to-hand fight. In fact, you could probably form a whole section on all the things Dukat pointedly ignores. (Although, from what little has been revealed of the Cardassians, that may be how they express friendship, or he may be doing it just to annoy Sisko.)
  • In Strangers with Candy, the homophobic Principal Blackman is the only one who doesn't know that Chuck and Geoffrey are lovers. At one point he catches them in the school basement and happily accepts the explanation that Chuck is showing Geoffrey the furnace system, even though Geoffrey has his trousers round his ankles.
  • In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody movie, Zack not only blatantly ignores two signs, he reads out loud what he wants them to say.
    Research facility sign: No unauthorized personnel. Absolutely no admittance!
    Zack: "Come on in. All are welcome." Perfect.
    Loading bay parking sign: Absolutely no parking here.
    Zack: "Absolutely no parking here except for Zack."
The last one comes back to bite him as a cargo crate is dropped in the exact spot he's parked in the second he leaves the car he pestered his brother for, crushing it horribly.
  • Elena from The Vampire Diaries is a darker example of the trope. While she may view Damon as a Jerkass Woobie, Damon has done actions that cross the Moral Event Horizon to her friends including trying to kill Caroline and Bonnie, killing her brother Jeremy (he got better), killing Lexi, turning Vicki into a vampire who had to be staked, and forcibly turning Bonnie's mother into a vampire. Basically, even if you ignore the large number of random people he's killed and continues to kill when he's in a bad mood, he's done enough to the people Elena is supposed to care about that her fondness for him requires mountains of this trope.
  • Vicious uses this as a Running Gag regarding Stuart's sexuality; he still keeps dropping hints that he's gay to his oblivious mother despite being in his early 70s:
    Stuart: Well, I hoped she'd have figured out our situation by now. I have been dropping little clues.
    Freddie: Yes. Like living with a man for 48 years.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The beholders in Dungeons & Dragons are like this by design. They have two brains. One is responsible for higher logic. The other hosts emotions and instincts, and is responsible for interpreting the data input from the senses. Thus, if something is against the beholder's beliefs, it will never get far enough to be considered on logical level. Too bad their genetic memory gives them the beliefs of rampant, murderous racists. The only reason they manage to survive at all with such a mindset is that their creator have also found it fitting to grant them innate massive firepower.
  • Amongst the Warhammer 40,000 fandom, Games Workshop is portrayed to have this reaction to any evidence of the existence of the now RetGonned Squats. Best illustrated here


    Video Games 
  • In the Borderlands 2 DLC "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep", Tina is the Game Master for a Dungeons & Dragons expy. In the game, she pretends that Roland is still alive and still just as heroic as ever after Roland had been shot dead by Handsome Jack during the game's Wham Episode. Throughout the adventure, the Vault Hunter players all nervously dance around addressing Tina's delusions, until they finally get fed up with playing along and start trying to address it directly, which Tina poignantly ignores as best she can. After the final boss is defeated, Tina finally breaks down and admits she knows she's lying to herself, but it's her story and she just wants to pretend for a while.
  • In [PROTOTYPE] soldiers who react to the display of the protagonist's Lovecraftian Superpowers or explicit hostility but super-fast runs, super-high jumps, running up a wall or falling from the sky and punching a crater in the pavement will be ignored. Without this trope the game would be much more difficult to play.
  • Role-players in City of Heroes (and presumably other games) almost require this trope for certain scenarios to take place. For example, there's certain to be more than one (or more than fifty) characters running around who all claim to be the same specific character from mythology (popular examples include Thor, the Devil, and even Santa Claus). If you accepted that all these characters' stories are true, even though they clearly contradict each other, they'd go insane. Also tends to be a vital tactic in other areas of roleplay: text-based combat (rather than in-engine PVP) oftentimes breaks down into "Bang bang! / OH I dodged! / No, I shot you / no you didn't!" levels of quarrels; Selective Obliviousness is oftentimes the only way to resolve a situation before ending up needing to get mods involved.
  • Kingdom Hearts I: Throughout the game, Riku repeatedly ignores all the obvious evidence that Maleficent lied to him and Sora not only didn't abandon him and Kairi for the Keyblade, Donald, and Goofy, but has been spending his every waking moment trying to find them. It isn't until he's possessed by Ansem, as well as Sora's Heroic Sacrifice to save Kairi, that Riku finally realizes the truth. It seems to be the influence of the darkness, for the most part, that's twisting his mind and making him delusional.
  • World of Warcraft: In Battle for Azeroth, Rexxar claims he rejoined the Horde to wage war against the Alliance because "Jaina Proudmoore couldn't forgive them for Theramore" and that she has "killed too many". That Jaina was the poster child for peace between the two factions and was betrayed multiple times seems to escape him, with Rexxar even dismissing that the Horde started the current war, saying he doesn't care. During his quest chain in Stormsong Valley, Rexxar rallies horde soldiers to "Drive these alliance scum from our lands", ignoring that said lands belong to Kul Tiras and the horde are the ones invading.

    Visual Novels 
  • Masayuki refuses to see the bad in people in A Profile or to distrust his friends. He simply won't notice such things.
  • Reiji actually does realize how Kyoko feels in Kara no Shoujo. He just thinks it wouldn't be right to start a relationship with her.
  • Shirou in Fate/stay night seems to have a slight awareness of Sakura's interest in him, but considering he's in denial about his own attraction to her, she's made nearly no progress in over a year and a half of trying. Similar things happen with Rin and Saber, although the life-threatening situations they find themselves in during the Holy Grail War force him to confront those feelings up front during the three routes.
  • Junichi in Da Capo is actually perfectly aware that Nemu likes him and has for years. He wasn't just completely dense. On the other hand, she's his adopted sister, which makes things kind of awkward, so he simply did his best not to think about it.
  • This is actually a pretty strong plot point in Umineko: When They Cry. Battler refuses to believe that a witch murdered everyone. Straightforward enough. However, he also refuses to believe that any of the eighteen people trapped on the island murdered everyone. Not only does he refuse to believe it, he actively rules out the possibility based on the fact that he doesn't want that to be the outcome, even when he acknowledges that the evidence points in that direction. Can you say "cognitive dissonance"?
    • This being Umineko, the truth of what's going is a bit more... complicated.
  • Shirogane Sakuya in Hatoful Boyfriend refuses to accept or understand that his brother Sakazaki Yuuya loves him and wants him to be happy, and he interprets everything Yuuya says in the most negative and insulting way he can. Partly this is because his backstab-happy aristocratic upbringing has him suspicious of good intent, partly because Yuuya is a "mongrel" half-breed and he's been taught to hate those of impure blood. Partly it's because Yuuya appears cheerfully oblivious to insults and continues to be friendly just to irritate him. Late in BBL, Yuuya makes a Heroic Sacrifice and reveals all, and Sakuya can no longer be oblivious.
  • Grisaia no Kajitsu: Amane doesn’t want to find out what Yuuji does for a living, because she senses it is something she probably not supposed to know. So she doesn’t.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, Thief constantly denies the existence of dragons. Despite the Light Warrior's direct interaction with several of the mythic lizards, Thief maintains that dragons are extinct. When Red Mage calls him out on it in a later strip while they are being confronted by more dragons, Thief explains that it's "wishful thinking". He just wishes the horrible lizard monsters trying to kill him don't really exist.
  • In Fans!, club president Rikk is utterly oblivious to fellow member Rumy's painfully obvious attraction to him. When third member Katherine gets fed up with this and tries to inform him directly, he exhausts every other member in the club, Katherine included, as potentially having a crush on him. Not once does he even consider Rumy.
  • In Flipside, Blithe Spirit Maytag has a complete and utter lack of any sense of modestynote . And an equally complete and utter lack of understanding it in other people. To the point where she's openly baffled when everyone else is upset when their carriage driver is caught using x-ray specs to peep through their clothes. Given the grasp of human nature she shows when she's in Manipulative Bitch mode, this is almost certainly self-justification for her own exhibitionist ways.
    • Semi-confirmed later on: Turns out that as a child she had almost literally no emotion, barely even reacting to pain. Through conversations with her mother and one or two people that basically "forced" friendship on her, she eventually decided that she wanted to experience life more fully and essentially gave herself Multiple Personality Disorder on purpose; years down the line, she's finally come to realize that the emotionless her, the "shy" her and the "Maytag" her are all equally "her" and — after her costume was sabotaged and she was left naked on stage during a comedy competition — she literally went into exposition mode and explained this to both the audience in the theater and the readers. The whole reason she's "baffled" over other people not living life as "fully" as she does, is that she believes them to be in unnecessary states of self-denial.
  • Randy, the tame fox in Faux Pas, is so naïve about sex that it's impossible to think this trope isn't going on. This alternately frustrates and amuses the wild vixen who wants to be his mate. We find out later that Randy does know about "the birds and the bees." But what he knows comes from human television, so anything that strays from Hollywood ideals of dating and romance leave him lost.
  • In Girl Genius some of those living in the hidden cities beneath Paris insist that surface dwelling civilizations are all a giant hoax despite the fact that they get newspapers and products from the surface and their societies have diplomatic relationships with surface kingdoms and empires and they regularly get students from Paris running through. They complain loudly that any surface dwellers they come across are just people wearing costumes.
  • In Girls with Slingshots, a Running Gag has been made of Hazel's inability to grasp that lesbian sex isn't just "taking turns with a strap-on." Her lesbian friends have tried to clue her in, but it never seems to stick.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Melissa is so madly in love with Justin, she keeps asking him out even after it is revealed that he is gay. Justin, needless to say, finds this extremely irritating, especially since she is the one who (either directly or "indirectly") blew the secret.
    • Earlier in the series (though chronologically after Justin was outed), Elliot pretended not to notice Sarah's feelings towards him, because he was afraid that a romantic relationship with her would destroy their friendship; he may have had Justin and Melissa's ruined friendship in mind, since he'd known Justin for some time at that point.
    • Until Tedd directly told him, Elliot was genuinely oblivious to the fact that his anime-style martial arts, and his enthusiasm for using them to stop bullies and fight monsters (not to mention that he was always the one who encountered the monsters in the first place) meant the rest of the school did not see him as an average, borderline anonymous student. It's possible his lack of understanding as to whether things that happen are strange was inherited from his parents, who cheerfully accept just about everything.
  • Homestuck:
    • Jake is an interesting example. He pretended to be unaware of his friends' feelings for him so he wouldn't have to give a response before he knew how he felt, but then accepted it without question when Jane claimed that he'd gotten it wrong and that she didn't have feelings for him after all, even when she acted very strangely about the whole thing. However, when he talked with a subconscious manifestation of these thoughts taking the form of Dirk in a dream bubble, thought!Dirk seemed doubtful that Jane had been telling the truth, an idea Jake waved away uneasily, indicating that deep down he probably is aware but just doesn't want to have to deal with it on top of everything else right now, especially after the way he reacted to everything.
    • Karkat admits late in Act 5 Act 2 that he is aware of and has been deliberately ignoring Nepeta's crush on him. The guy's a romantic expert, there is no way he didn't notice it. He says he's ignoring it because there are just too many other things going on that he doesn't have time to think of a way to let her down gently. The situation resolves itself when she dies without ever speaking to him.
  • In Misfile, Doctor Upton can hardly have failed to have noticed that his "daughter" appears to have developed some rather severe identity problems, especially considering that it was shouted out at full volume at one point. Despite this, the issue is never raised.
  • Capt. Tagon and Sgt. Schlock from Schlock Mercenary: Tagon tends to have a one-track mind and has a hard time dealing with things that don't conform to "shoot it/run from it/run, come back with reinforcements" (at least without someone there to wield a clue bat). Whereas Schlock tends to mentally spin anything he's told into what he wants to believe. (So his orders tend to be simple and specific).note 
  • Ruby of Sticky Dilly Buns suffers from a comedic Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality, and tries to deny that she has any interest in sex, or at least to claim that she can repress any interest in the subject. However, it soon becomes clear that she has a full set of (actually quite vanilla-heterosexual) sexual inclinations, which are triggered and stimulated by the various attractive men she keeps encountering. Her denial is Played for Laughs, and her justifications for things like acquiring a stack of Yaoi manga become increasingly baroque and transparent to anyone except her.
  • Skin Horse Unity does this to just about anything that doesn't involve blowing things up, especially specific instructions not to blow things up. At one point she cheerfully admits that her idea of logic is to start with what she wants to be the case and then work backward. Sweetheart, meanwhile, has a major blind-spot regarding her own feelings for Unity, which occasionally manifests as full-on homophobia.
  • Van Von Hunter is sworn to destroy anything evil that he encounters. However, he "doesn't notice" that Ariana Rael, the Child Mage tagging along with him is ungodly evil. The fact that she could destroy him with a thought has nothing to do with why he's not picking a fight with her...
  • An interesting version from White-Hat Guy in the xkcd strip "Wrong". He can't admit he was wrong, but instead of denying the facts, he denies that he ever believed otherwise; his actual point was another level of abstraction up.

    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue Reconstruction, Sarge is unable to understand that Grif is now the same rank as him. Grif actually suggests that he is physically incapable of comprehending that fact. Considering that he attacks one of the Reds who was trying to kill Grif (for attacking a superior officer e.g. Grif), Grif is probably right.
    • Seems to have grown out of this by the Chorus Trilogy, where he just reacts with extreme annoyance when Grif tells Sarge that he now outranks him (Grif was promoted to Captain at the beginning of the Season). Doesn't stop Sarge from asking the Federation of Chorus to promote him to Colonel, so that, once again, he outranks Grif.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is extremely good at denial over things he doesn't want to admit are happening, only reacting when they're explicitly pointed out to him. His Distaff Counterpart, The Nostalgia Chick, is exactly the same.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) when L tells the taskforce that Light is Kira. (With solid evidence to back it up this time!)
    Light: Now I need a place to stay.
    Misa: You want to move in with me? Yay!
    Ryuk: Ha!
    Light: I... *Sighs* this is the worst day ever!
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "big white face", an e-mailer asks why Strong Bad is so mean to "the guy with the big white face and grey body", referring to Strong Bad's Butt-Monkey brother Strong Sad. Strong Bad goes through literally the entire cast aside from Strong Sad, before concluding that the e-mailer was looking at a picture of the Poopsmith in grey-scale, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • RWBY: In "Lost," when Emerald and Mercury discuss their situation in the absence of Cinder, Emerald mentions how much Cinder cares about her, having saved her and looked after her. When Mercury tells her to wake up from her denial and accept that Cinder doesn't care about either of them, Emerald is furious. She regards Cinder as the only family she ever had and cannot handle being told that Cinder's just using her.
  • RWBY Chibi:
    • In Episode 18, Ruby and Nora fail to notice all the obvious signs that Cinder and Emerald are villains engaged in an Evil Plan, to the point of easily falling for Cinder's half-assed cover story about making a cake recipe for a kitten charity; they even think nothing of Mercury entering the room and talking about using a bazooka to kill kittens, which he aptly calls the "Kitten Killer 9000." Emerald even lampshades it:
      Emerald': They're messing with us, right?
    • In "Director Ozpin", Ozpin dismisses team RWBY's concerns that sabotage is occurring during the title sequence. As they talk, Mercury hits Ruby in the head with a boom mic; Ozpin notices the apology, but not that it's fake. Emerald pushes a spotlight that Blake has to save Yang from and which just barely misses Ozpin, but he doesn't notice. As he walks off screen, Cinder visibly pushes the giant Chibi logo on top of him and cannot believe he thinks it fell by accident.
      Ozpin: (muffled) Hello? Can I get some assistance? This giant rose seems to have fallen on me, completely by accident!

    Western Animation 
  • In King of the Hill, despite being an extremely paranoid Conspiracy Theorist, Dale Gribble is completely unaware that his wife is having an affair, even though it should be glaringly obvious to anyone who meets "his" son Joseph and isn't blind. The only people other than him who don't know are Joseph and Peggy (who had to be told by Hank). Nobody has the heart to tell him about it.
  • Invader Zim has two cases: Zim, who refuses to acknowledge that his leaders would like nothing more than his swift and painful death, and Dib, who thinks that exposing Zim as an alien will change how his family and peers think of him, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
  • Panini from Chowder doesn't understand the meaning of the words "I'm not your boyfriend."
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy's parents, while already pretty unintelligent, can never comprehend 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. Even Timmy, their own son, lampshades it.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Mr. Herriman can spot the tiniest speck of dirt, but he couldn't tell a crudely made decoy of Eduardo from the real Eduardo.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Fluttershy's introverted tendencies throughout her life result in a tremendous lack of self-awareness, to the point that she considers herself "a loudmouth". In "Putting Your Hoof Down," this carries over into her resolve to stop being such a pushover (a status which she needed her friends' objective input to realize), causing her to fail to notice how she's been acting until she notices how monstrous her reflection has become.
    • Scootaloo is stubbornly oblivious to the fact that acquiring a cutie mark actually requires personal introspection and self-discovery, instead simply trying whatever random activity or skill she can think of in hopes that this will prove to be her special talent. The other two Cutie Mark Crusaders, Applebloom and Sweetie Belle, follow her lead.
    • Pinkie isn't fond of Mudbriar's stoic attitude and mannerisms, despite her sister Maud's own personality being similar to his. Case in point, when Maud and Mudbriar take out their pets to play, they marvel at the fun they have together. Pinkie, however, whispers to Maud that Twiggy is just a stick even though Boulder itself is just a rock. When Starlight points this out to her, Pinkie retorts that Boulder has "ten times the personality of some random stick!" Similarly, Pinkie thinks Starlight is joking when she points out that Maud is undeniably awkward and strange just as Mudbriar is.
  • On Total Drama World Tour, Cody. Courtney a bit too, though she was at least suspicious that Duncan was cheating with Gwen behind her back; when Cody found out he seemed completely shocked, despite the fact that in-universe it's been a common theory they liked each other going back to season two.
  • In The Oblongs, Helga Phugly thinks she is loved by all, especially the Debbies.
    Peggy: Let's see there's the popular kids, the jocks, the nerds, and then there's us.
    Helga: Hey don't lump me in with you losers. I am accepted by all groups. Hi Debbie, hi Debbie, hi Debbie, hi Debbie, hi Debbie, hi Debbie.
    The Debbies: Ewww!
    • Regarding a tea party with the Debbies:
      Helga: I’m sure my invitation got lost in the mail.
      Milo: You live in a fantasy world, don’t you Helga?
      Helga: What was that? I was thinking about my hundreds and hundreds of boyfriends.
    • When told point-blank that the Debbies can't stand her, Helga covers her ears and starts humming loudly and stomping.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • SpongeBob not only completely ignores the words of warning a gypsy woman gives him about the Gremlins-like creatures she sells, but also ignores when it turns into a massive killer eel in favor of chastising Gary for "bullying" it even when he is in its mouth and about to be eaten.
    • What really sells SpongeBob (ditto for Patrick) as this is the fact that he just cannot seem to comprehend the obvious fact that not only is Squidward not his best friend, but in fact hates him to the point of madness, even though Squidward has flat-out told SpongeBob to his face that he can't stand him on at least one occasion. This is best shown in "Little Yellow Book," where we're shown a scene of Squidward chewing SpongeBob out; while in reality, Squidward was furious at SpongeBob for letting Gary into his home and Gary chewing up many of his possessions, complete with Squidward screaming "horrible words that should never be used around strangers" in his face, SpongeBob sees it as Squidward giving him "his profound opinions on how to properly raise and care for a household pet."
      Squidward: Great Neptune, I had no idea. The depth of his delusion is awe-inspiring.
    • Squidward is oblivious to the fact that he's not that good a clarinet player. It's implied that even SpongeBob knows it, but doesn't have the heart to tell him.
  • Family Guy:
    • In one episode Lois' brother, Patrick, is revealed to be the eponymous Fat Guy Strangler. Lois refuses to believe Patrick is the killer, despite the several glaring pieces of evidence that point to Patrick, including a half dead fat guy lying in Patrick's room who outright states that Patrick tried to kill him, until Lois sees more and more damning evidence piling up and Brian screaming at her to wake up.
    • The Griffins, except for the children and Brian, never seem to be aware that Stewie is highly intelligent for a baby his age. Every time he talks they never exactly react to what he says. In the episode "The Courtship of Stewie's Father", Lois meets with Stewie's preschool teacher and she shows Lois several drawings Stewie made, which show Stewie killing Lois in various horrible ways. The two women then have this exchange regarding the images:
      Teacher: Notice anything unusual in these pictures?
      Lois: You're right, his father isn't in any of them!
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter and Dee Dee's parents do not know about the lab, despite having witnessed the odd results of Dexter's experiments, as, for instance, the talking dog. It simply doesn't occur to them that this might be unusual.
  • Invader Zim is completely incapable of processing any evidence that he's not a great hero of the Irken Empire. No matter how much he destroys on his own side, how blatant the Tallests' contempt for him is, or how obviously they try to get rid of him, he always bounces back just as convinced of his own greatness as before. He realizes that the Tallest aren't coming for him in Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus... for a few minutes before he rationalizes it away and is back to his old self.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • Professor Hamilton worked with the Cadmus project and attempted to take down the Justice League all because of Superman's invasion of Earth while he was Brainwashed and Crazy and subsequently threatening him, referring to the events of the finale of Superman: The Animated Series. While that is true that Superman threatened him, it's only because Hamilton was being a total prick and refusing to help him save a badly wounded Supergirl because he was more concerned about saving his own ass by not consorting with someone who was considered a felon rather than helping a man he'd repeatedly given aid to in the past no matter the circumstance.
    • Superman falls prey to this exact same trope in the same Cadmus storyline. Despite later giving his "World of Cardboard" Speech in a different episode, at no point does Superman apologize to Hamilton or acknowledge that a human might have panicked at the reminder that his friend is an immortal alien with laser beam eyes. It later takes Green Arrow AND the Flash to point out that to most people, the difference between a Kryptonian superhero and a Kryptonian alien monster is a matter of how careful the Kryptonian is about damaging things. Like relationships, buildings, and people.
  • South Park:
    • Eric Cartman is so wrapped up in his own ginormous ego that he will ignore everything that contradicts his glorified self-image, and what he cannot ignore he will twist in his own favor. The best example is, of course, claiming he's not fat, but "big boned", but there are other examples too. On one occasion he frantically strives to avoid a fight with a girl who's mad at him, because if he loses, nobody will think he's cool anymore. When he's forced to fight anyway and loses, the other kids tell him that not only did they never think he was cool, but they can't possibly think any lower of him than they did before. He thinks that they're just saying it to make him feel better, meaning they care about him, meaning they STILL think he's cool.
    • "Asspen" finds Stan spell out that he is uninterested in competing with the resident Jerk Jock of the ski resort, only for the latter to take every single word as a challenge.
  • Daffy Duck often uses selective obliviousness, especially to facts that damage his ego. Chuck Jones told in an interview that when they first thought up Daffy's voice everyone was sure that they would be fired when their producer Leon Schlesinger would hear it because he would probably immediately realize that Daffy's lisp was based on his own. Strange enough Schlesinger never noticed this and even complimented the staff on creating such a wonderfully unique voice!
  • Porky Pig exhibits this at times. He refuses to believe in Daffy's imaginary friend, even when he is being carried in his invisible pouch. He will also never heed the warnings of danger from Sylvester, not even when a monster is looking him square in the eye (that tall green Martian is obviously a friendly Native American).
  • Mr. Magoo not only can't see past the end of his nose, but more to the point, refuses to acknowledge that there's something wrong with his eyesight. Even when he's told he's mistaken, he either misunderstands or dismisses it, stubbornly sticking to his guns rather than admit he's wrong. Only in two cartoons ("Fuddy Duddy Buddy", where he's told that he's mistaken a walrus for his old friend Bottomley; and "Magoo's Check-up", where's he's flat out told to get his eyes checked) is he confronted with the reality of his nearsightedness, and yet both times he pulls himself up and continues on as always (he takes the walrus out again because he genuinely likes his company, and he mistakes a TV repair shop for the ophthalmologist's office and thinks he's been given a clean bill of health). Word of God states that even if he did wear glasses, as bullheaded as he is, he would still make the same kind of blatant mistakes.
    • Interesting bit of trivia, there actually is an extremely rare condition in real life that causes people who are blind to think that they can see. Is called Anton–Babinski syndrome or Anton's Blindness. People with this condition can't be convinced that they are blind despite any evidence.
  • The Simpsons: Marge Simpson can sometimes adopt this philosophy in addition to being a Stepford Smiler. One example is her saying that Homer used to be a fat, immature slob before they dated and now he's an entirely different person. There's also this.
    Bart: I've got to go teach some kids a lesson.
    Marge: I choose to take that literally.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has an entire City of Weirdos doing this in "The Sweaters".
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Jeff the Spider imprinted on Billy when he hatched and only wants Billy to love him like a son... and is completely incapable of understanding that Billy hates spiders, including Jeff himself, to the point of madness, despite the fact that Billy regularly beats him with anything he can get his hands on.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Willful Blindness


"What do you mean stupid?!"

Charlie Brown accidentally calls Linus stupid for waiting for the nonexistent Great Pumpkin and he never showed up, causing Linus to ramble that he will come next year.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / SelectiveObliviousness

Media sources:

Main / SelectiveObliviousness