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They Just Don't Get It

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The floating sign unnerves me. I'm not sure why or what it means, but I look forward to learning in class tonight!

A character, or more often a whole group of people, has something elementary and basic explained to them, but for some reason, they just aren't getting it.

They aren't being deliberately obtuse and stupid. They simply do not understand the rather obvious implications of what has been said to them. To the character trying to do the explaining, and to the audience, the train of thought is painfully easy to make work logically, but the target simply isn't getting it. Usually, this is because the concept is so foreign to them that they cannot grasp it. This is not a case of What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?, where an alien species has no concept of the idea, but rather a case of a greedy character not understanding the concept of charity, or someone with a Complexity Addiction failing to grasp a Mundane Solution.


Sometimes this is because of Selective Obliviousness or Obfuscating Stupidity, but only rarely does the audience know this at the time. Compare Sustained Misunderstanding, Cassandra Truth, and Evil Cannot Comprehend Good. Contrast with Too Dumb to Fool.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Touta from UQ Holder!. Ikkuu and Jinbei convince him that he needs to go "all the way" with Kirie during their trip to Kyoto; she is told the same thing by Karin (everyone in UQ Holder is shipping them pretty hard). When the two are using an outdoor bath in their hotel room, he tells her he's going to go all the way with her (both of them are naked), and... he just kisses her. When she gets confused, he tells her he thought that kissing in a romantic context was going "all the way." In the very next scene she tries to explain what sex is through a flower metaphor. He doesn't get it. She then explicitly tells him what it is. He still doesn't really get it. She puts on some porn. He (apparently) finally gets it.

  • Aziz Ansari has a bit where he claims that he was sitting in a restaurant when he overheard 50 Cent asking for grapefruit juice, receiving grapefruit juice, and repeatedly not understanding why the grapefruit juice wasn't purple.

    Comic Books 
  • The Mighty Thor: The mortal Bill Cobb is dating the goddess Kelda and so is allowed to live in Asgard. At one point, Bill decides to teach the Asgardians how to play basketball. When he tells them about the scoring system, the Asgardians are completely unable to understand what points are no matter how much he tries to explain.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge: Several Kaiju get sent to Equestria and transformed into native species, including Destroyah, who looks like an Alicorn. After she saves the Cutie Mark Crusaders from Timberwolves (she only attacked them because they were attacking her as well), the CMC repeatedly cheer her as a princess and a hero. No matter how many times she says she's not a princess, that she's actually a villain, and that they are annoying, they don't stop.
  • Rupert and Earl, villainous aliens from The Calvinverse, believe Calvin is the Earth Potentate solely because Galaxoid and Nebular told them. They steadfastly hold this to be true, and dismiss any evidence to the contrary (including Calvin himself straight-up telling them). Retro Chill finally subverts this when they get their hands on a guide that tells them that the Earth does not have a Potentate.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series movie, when Yami finally confronts Anubis, he asks him why he wants to destroy the world. Anubis doesn't understand the question, even as Yami exasperatingly repeats that he surely must have a reason for destroying the world, considering all the trouble he went to to do it.
  • In this ficlet Nick and Judy capture one of Muggshot's guard dogs and keeps it in the interrogation room. Carmelita tries to explain the difference between dogs like Muggshot and dogs like the guard dog but to no avail.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery:
    • During a discussion of Austin's teeth.
      Vanessa: And then there's this. [shows Austin a dental hygiene kit complete with floss, toothpaste and toothbrush]
      Austin: Let me guess. The floss is garrote wire, the toothpaste is plastic explosives, and the toothbrush is the detonation device.
      Vanessa: No, actually. Since you've been frozen, there have been fabulous advances in the field of dentistry.
      Austin: What do you mean?
    • Cleverly inverted in the scene where Scott Evil wonders why they are going to all the trouble of putting Austin and Vanessa into a deathtrap.
      Scott Evil: I have a gun. In my room. You give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here. BOOM! I'll blow their brains out!
      Doctor Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya?
  • Idiocracy. Joe Bauers encounters this problem in every scene where he tries to explain something to someone, or tries to be subtle about something, because everyone in the future is Too Dumb to Live. The most notable instance is when he is explaining to the Cabinet his plan to use water on crops instead of Brawndo energy drink. He has to pretend that he can talk to plants before they listen to him.
  • In John Wick, Iosef has a hard time grasping that he's just pissed off Death incarnate by stealing the title character's car and killing his dog, just a few days after the death of his wife. He repeatedly brushes off his father's warnings, and at one point even says that he'll go back and kill Wick himself. It takes a club full of mooks getting systematically slaughtered right in front of him before he starts to grasp just how screwed he is.
    Iosef: Father, I can make this right.
    Viggo: Oh? How do you plan to do that?
    Iosef: By finishing what I started.
    Viggo: What the... did he hear a fuckin' word I said? [...] John will come for you, and you will do nothing because you can do nothing.
  • In The Last Samurai, when the samurai Katsumoto learns the story of General George Custer and Custer's Last Stand, he admires him as a warrior who fought to the bitter end without fear of death. Algren tries to tell him that Custer was an arrogant fool who needlessly got himself and all his men killed and not a man to be admired at all, but Katsumoto fails to see Custer's faults.
  • This happens in Mystery Men when one of the characters realizes that Captain Amazing is just Clark Kenting. The other characters don't understand the way this train of thought works, since without glasses, Captain Amazing would not be able to see.
  • One of the most famous moments in Spinal Tap cuts both ways from the point-of-view of the other character. Marty can't seem to make Nigel get that "ten" could be made louder to make for a more intuitive numbering system, while Nigel can't seem to make Marty get that "eleven" is clearly better than "ten".
  • In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Cal Naughton Jr. just doesn't seem to understand why his friendship with Ricky Bobby should be affected by something trivial like Cal sleeping with Ricky's wife.

  • In Alien in a Small Town, the Jan seem to be like this about lying. They understand it well enough to know that other races may lie to them, but for themselves to say something they know to be false is practically beyond their comprehension. This is because they evolved from hive insect-like communal prey animals for whom cooperation was absolutely necessary to survival.
  • In Robert J. Sawyer's novel Calculating God, one of the alien races we meet is perfectly self-aware and in some ways extremely intelligent; but is utterly, neurologically incapable of even the most basic mathematics. Even counting is essentially beyond their ability.
  • In the Discworld novel Sourcery, Rincewind doesn't understand that he can just leave the growing wizard problems behind if he stops being a wizard, which would be easy for him since he can't do magic. Subverted later when he finally does get it, but says that he can't just stop being a wizard since it's more than just the ability to do magic.
  • In Watership Down, when Blackberry figures out that the rabbits can escape on the humans' boat if they chew through the rope tying it to the shore, he has a very hard time explaining it to the other rabbits because they are, well, rabbits, and even the simplest human technology is beyond their comprehension. We're told that even many of the rabbits who participate in the escape and see exactly how it was done still can't quite wrap their heads around what has happened, let alone explain it to anyone else later.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One sketch on All That has Superdude, played by Kenan Thompson, being confronted by an impostor played by an 11-year-old Amanda Bynes wearing a copy of his costume. The townspeople, incapable of determining the fraud based on physical appearance, are further unable to distinguish the difference in Power Levels when they see Superdude bending a giant pipe and the impostor tearing up a piece of paper.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the fifth season, the fact that mild-mannered doctor, Ben morphs into the Big Bad Glory is concealed from anyone who finds this out by means of a spell which makes them instantly forget it. When several of the Scooby gang actually see Ben morph into Glory in front of them they cannot comprehend what they saw, even when directly and repeatedly reminded of it by Spike (who is immune to the forget spell). This, of course, drives Spike to utter distraction. Particularly when the spell no longer works:
    Xander: Wait, guys... I think... Ben IS Glory!
    Spike: Well, look at the big brain on you! I've only been saying that for the last two weeks!
  • Father Ted: Once, Father Ted tries to explain to Father Dougal the difference between cows that are small and cows that are far away.
  • Leverage: Parker, having Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training, falls victim to this trope regularly.
    • Series wide, she can never seem to keep track of what "normal" people do or act like no matter how many times the team try and explain it to her. She eventually grows out of it, but it's pretty egregious in the early seasons; her attempts at playing Succotash fall flat because all of her guesses involve stealing things, her idea of hanging out with someone is stealing a painting, and it takes her almost five seasons to realize Hardison really was terrified every time he was forced to jump off a high point.
    • She spends the entirety of "The Miracle Job" convinced Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus are the same person. Parker gets it by the end of the episode, but she keeps having to be corrected way too many times.
    • Throughout "The Juror #12 Job", she just cannot remember that "Alice White" is one of her aliases and not someone else entirely. Three seasons later, Parker still can't fully wrap her head around the notion that she is Alice.
    • She really struggles to grasp the concept of Sophie faking her death in "The Two Live Crew Job", to the point where she worries that Sophie might be a ghost.
    • She doesn't get that the Fiddle Game con they're running in "The Studio Job" has Eliot as the fiddle until halfway through the episode.
    • She spends most of "The Cross My Heart Job" convinced that the island they just came from, nicknamed the Emerald of the Caribbean, had actual emeralds somewhere on it, much to Eliot's exasperation.
  • Kaamelott: After his failed suicide attempt, King Arthur doesn't have the will nor the strength to feed himself. Karadoc tries bringing him food, and when Arthur repeatedly tries to explain that he's not hungry, Karadoc (who's a Big Eater) just cannot grasp the concept.
  • Limmy's Show: In this sketch Limmy fails to grasp that a kilogram of steel weighs the same as a kilogram of feathers, even when his friends demonstrate with a literal kilogram of each material on a scale.
  • On one Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Tom Servo is completely unable to grasp the concept of Trivial Pursuit, giving nonsensical answers that have nothing to do with the questions and sticking with answers even after being told they're wrong. Joel finally says the trope name word-for-word.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • This exchange from the episode "Stasis Leak":
      Cat: [to Rimmer] What is it?
      Rimmer: It's a rent in the space-time continuum.
      Cat: [to Lister] What is it?
      Lister: The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.
      Cat: [to Rimmer] What is it?
      Rimmer: It's singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time don't apply.
      Cat: [to Lister] What is it?
      Lister: It's a hole back into the past.
      Cat: Oh, a magic door! Well, why didn't you say?
    • Not to mention the Trope Namer for Everybody's Dead, Dave, where Lister simply cannot comprehend that all of his shipmates have been killed. Either that or he can't get past the first stage of grief.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The episode "Symbiosis" featured drugs. Wesley Crusher says he doesn't understand why anyone would take drugs because the health problems associated with them are well documented. Tasha Yar tries to explain drug addiction and how people turn to drugs to escape from their problems, but he is completely unable to comprehend the concept.
  • Survivor:
    • Russell Hantz still has no idea why he lost the game twice in a row, despite everyone from interviewers to fellow contestants, to Jeff Probst himself explaining that you just can't piss off the people who will be casting the votes that decide whether or not you get the million. Instead (like some of the Hantz Nation), he's going with the theory that the game is flawed — especially since the two girls he lost to beat him by being less reprehensible than himself. Even Parvati was seen as the lesser of two evils in "Heroes vs. Villains" (and received three jury votes).
    • He and his allies also didn't realize why he was evicted from "Redemption Island" so early despite that unlike the first two times he played, people knew who he was, and he had made no visible effort to change his game. (There is more or less no excuse outside of having never seen the show before for not knowing Russell's game by now.)
      Jeff: [in a sneak preview for Redemption Island] He still doesn't get it! He still thinks that everybody loves him.
  • One sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look featured a young doctor working in a Carry On style saucy seventies hospital, where everyone communicated in sexual Double Entendre and he responded by offering to get his cock out. He was ultimately fired after failing to understand the difference.
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know: in the bank robbery sketch, the leader shows blueprints for the bank they plan to rob. Train Bike has a problem with understanding it's two levels of the same building and not two different buildings. This ends up costing them their first attempt. The next attempts don't go any better.

  • One of Frank Muir's Feghoots on My Word ends with him having to explain to a man that his fiancée and his best friend have just eloped. Frank attempts to explain this in several different ways, but the man's mind is just incapable of grasping the concept. Finally Frank works out that the only way he can comprehend the message is if it is expressed as a nautical metaphor.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jenna realizes that she has no clothes on and starts to panic. However, at this point, she's been turned into a mass of insects with no recognizable human biology, so the people around her are left confused about what she's freaking out about.
    • It takes a good minute for Ivy to explain to her parents that she has superpowers. They first take her confession to mean that she's an alcoholic, and then that she's doing drugs, only to finally realize what she means when she uses her power to reconstruct their TV remote.

  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2013 musical), Willy Wonka sings the I Am What I Am song "Simply Second Nature" when he realizes that the adults in the Golden Ticket tour group don't understand why he created the beautiful but largely "useless" Chocolate Room — he simply loves to create beautiful things. The lead-in dialogue is as follows:
    Mr. Salt: [a businessman] Look here, Wonka, the waterfall makes sense, but what's the point in all the rest of this stuff?
    Willy Wonka: The point?
    Mr. Salt: Well, what's it for?
    Willy Wonka: It's my creation.
    Mr. Salt: How does it make money?
    Willy Wonka: It doesn't.
    Mrs. Gloop: [a Fat and Proud glutton] It's a little cupboard of treats for a midnight feast.
    Willy Wonka: No, madam.
    Mr. Beauregarde: [a showbiz Shameless Self-Promoter] You use it for photo shoots.
    Willy Wonka: Certainly not.
    Mrs. Teavee: [a Stepford Smiler housewife] It's therapy.
    Willy Wonka: No.
    Mr. Salt: Well if it isn't for anything and it doesn't make money then why on Earth does it need to exist at all?
    Willy Wonka: You really don't see, do you?
  • In A Very Potter Sequel, when Lucius Malfoy explains the evil plan he had just choreographed to travel back in time and kill Harry Potter, the other Death Eaters just don't get it. Ironically, it's not until he explains it in a more convoluted way that the lightbulbs go off and they all suddenly get it.
    Lucius: The Dark Lord would have survived, had they never met.
    Death Eater #2: So you're saying that he wouldn't be destroyed?
    Lucius: He'd be alive, what don't you get?
    Death Eater #3: Still not understanding...

    Video Games 
  • Ensemble Stars!: No matter how many times someone tells him, Souma just can't seem to understand that it's a bad idea (for both legal and social reasons) to constantly carry around a sword. By the time of the Main Story Keito admits that he puts up with it due to Souma being his junior in Akatsuki and instead just tries to at least keep him from brandishing it when he can.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution had its beautiful example of "Orky logic".
    Kaptin Bluddflagg: 'ang on a squig! If dat Kyras git is anglin' ta zog da whole sector...
    Miss'ta Nailbrain: Right...?
    Kaptin Bluddflagg: ... an' Kyras is in da sector...
    Miss'ta Nailbrain: Okay...
    Kaptin Bluddflagg: ... an' Kyras don't want ta get zogged...
    Miss'ta Nailbrain: Yeah... yeah... right...
    Kaptin Bluddflagg: an' dose big humie ships won't dakka dat place dey dakka'd before...
    Miss'ta Nailbrain: Yeah?!
    Kaptin Bluddflagg: Den Kyras... would go... to da place... dey wouldn't dakka! Which is dat place!
    Miss'ta Nailbrain:[Beat] Still not followin' ya, Kaptin.
    Kaptin Bluddflagg: Kyras is dere! OOOOOOH! Get ready, ya great, posh, tin-plated stomp bait! DA ORKS IS COMIN'! WAAAGH!!!

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Gonta Gokuhara, upon leaving a virtual reality simulation, claims to not have any clue what anyone's talking about when they mention a "ver-chew-ul world". Justified in that he's an idiot and plugged the cords into his VR headset incorrectly so that his memory of the virtual world was wiped upon logging out.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All: Adrian Andrews doesn't seem to understand that refusing to testify, legally permissible or no, will not help her frame Matt Engarde for murder when the evidence now points to her instead. Justified however in that she does have a mental illness that would cause this behavior.

    Web Comics 
  • In this strip of Ctrl+Alt+Del, a man is confused about the phrase "Exit Mech" while playing the demo for Titanfall. Another man explains that its for when you want to leave the giant robot suit, however the man playing the game claims to hear only gibberish when the other man talks about anything other than piloting the suit.
  • Jennie of The Devil's Panties has a bit of an addiction to cake.
  • Agatha of Girl Genius has trouble understanding the idea of not bringing lots of tools.
  • Girls with Slingshots: No matter how many times or how extensively Hazel's lesbian friends try to clue her in, Hazel can't let go of the idea that lesbian sex isn't primarily "taking turns with a strap-on."
  • Subverted in Gunnerkrigg Court, where Annie keeps trying to explain her completely rational reasons for splitting her psyche in two rather than dealing with her anger over her father's actions, but Ysengrim keeps dismissing the explanations, and she eventually tells him this. In actuality he understands quite well; he's trying to get her to face the real reason she's angry by pointing out how feeble her given reasons are.
  • Loserz: When Ben asks high school playboy Adam for advice about asking his crush Jessica out to the spring dance, Adam tells him that Jessica is notoriously chaste, and no one has ever even been able to get past second base with her. She's actually gay. Ben, who's fine just spending time with her, tells Adam that they don't have to have sex just because they're on a date. Adam reacts like he's speaking utter gibberish.
    Ben: You know? Not have sex?
    Adam: There's words coming out of your mouth, but they're not making any sense!
  • Ennui GO!: When Dr. Bald bemoans he won't makes money from his failed "Frankenhooker" experiment, Noah points out to him that he invented reanimation, which he could easily be monetized. Dr. Bald doesn't get how people could want their departed ones turned into hookers. Noah insists that he doesn't HAVE to turn them into hookers.
    Dr. Bald: I don't follow.

    Web Animation 
  • In the RWBY episode "New Challenges", Jaune decides to get the rest of Team JNPR to defeat their opponents through tag team attacks similar to what Team RWBY does. However, when he does so, tossing out the names "Flower Power" and "Arkos", the entire match grinds to a halt as Pyrrha, Ren and Nora are confused about Jaune's talking about and their opponents are confused as to why they're arguing in the middle of a match.
  • Season 6 of Red vs. Blue sees Sarge completely unable to grasp the idea that in the time Red Team was split up, Grif got promoted to captain. Once it gets to the point where Sarge asks where their invisible captain who has the exact same name as Grif is, Grif tells Simmons to stop trying to explain it to him, noting that he just doesn't have the mental capacity.
  • In the How It Should Have Ended video How Frozen (2013) Should Have Ended, The Elder Troll tells Elsa that she must control her powers and fear will be her enemy. Elsa's parents ask if he's saying they should do what they did in the movie, which the Elder Trolls points out what they're suggesting has nothing to do with what he said and just flat out tells them The Power of Love will save their daughter. The Elder Troll decides to just take them someplace who can actually help Elsa Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters

    Web Original 
  • Dream High School opens with a floating sign telling you you're dreaming. Your response? "The floating sign unnerves me. I'm not sure why or what it means, but I look forward to learning in class tonight!" Readers could have voted on an option to invoke this trope again immediately: "I pinch myself." You even quote the sign on Page 5 and still don't get it.
  • Shown in many Not Always Right stories. For example:
    • A woman enters a bakery and asks them to create a wedding cake and bill her for it, totally ignoring the submitter's insistence that they don't sell cakes or send bills out before she leaves; naturally, none of what she asks for is accomplished. She then begins sending attorneys to the bakery, apparently oblivious to the reason why they all immediately drop her case against the bakery, and ends up going through four of them, probably wasting thousands or even millions of dollars in the process, before she gives up (or, less charitably, before she gets enough of a bad rep amongst attorneys that they won't take her case).
    • To summarize this story, "Do I need bags for this vacuum?" "No you don't need bags." "Okay, but do I need bags?"
    • Another perfect case, where a woman drops a pair of dogs off at an animal shelter — please note, by "drops off" we mean that literally: dropped from the top of a five-foot fence just so she didn't have to pay a fee —, then comes back long after said dogs have been adopted by someone else looking for them, assuming the place was a boarding kennel and refusing to believe otherwise. She ends up dragging a police officer into the mess, who immediately arrests her for animal cruelty and neglect — and the story ends with the reveal that she also had contempt of court charges added to that, for still not understanding that the place was not a kennel and even spitting in a judge's face for siding with them in the case.
    • To this elderly customer, "born and raised here in this very town" is apparently meaningless gibberish.
    • "I don't care if the Washington Monument is closed, I want to visit it now!"
    • "I don't think you understand the whole 'you're not allowed in here' part."
    • This customer completely fails to comprehend the bartender telling her three times they don't have any Carlsberg. Especially odd in that she does understand the other half of what he's telling her, it's just "we don't have Carlsberg" she's completely tuning out.
    • This customer asks for a Green Card photo, and the photo tech in charge explains that the software won't allow it. Multiple times. As the customer in question speaks very good English, and is accompanied by his wife (who speaks even better English), it's not a case of Language Barrier. When the customer finally gets what he's being told, he has the gall to ask:
      "Well, why the h*** didn't you just tell me that?!"
      "I did, love. Five separate times. Have a great day, folks!"
    • This person doesn't seem to understand the concept of a yard sale, and threatens to report them to the BBB for selling used items.
    • This customer refuses to listen to a pizzeria worker when calling in an order: no response when asked whether it's a delivery or carryout, to two requests to pause the order when the computer crashes, or to a request to be put on hold. After the worker gets the computer fixed, the caller hangs up, calls again, and asks why they were hung up on.
    • This customer seems to be interpreting "we know what you're asking for, but we don't have it" as "we don't know what you're asking for", because the customer restarts his description of the part every time he gets the former answer. Eventually the manager passes the buck by telling the customer to try a big box retailer... who he knows doesn't have the part either.
  • The Surprised Pikachu meme is all about people being surprised by the incredibly obvious, usually detrimental outcome of a stupid action.

    Web Videos 
  • Achievement Hunter once features a scene where Gavin marvels at his newfound realization that Star Wars is not set in the Milky Way Galaxy in the distant future, while the others marvel at how he never picked that up from the fact that every movie begins with the words "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", which he still fails to grasp is pretty explicit as the conversation goes on.
    Gavin: It has actually blown my mind that it's way in the past and really far away. They should have put that at the beginning of the movie.
    Everyone Else: THEY DID!!!

    Western Animation 
  • The centerpoint of the Chicken Boo sketches on Animaniacs is that the Only Sane Man is trying, and for most of the sketch failing, to explain why Chicken Boo, who walks like a chicken, clucks likes a chicken and looks like a chicken is, in fact, a chicken.
  • Archer:
    • The title character is simply unable to grasp the notion that a rigid airship filled with non-flammable helium is considerably safer than, say, The Hindenburg. Lampshaded at one point:
      Lana: What part of that aren't you getting?
      Archer: Obviously the core concept.
    • Archer is, in fact, unable to grasp a number of basic concepts related to his job. He's competent, but also an idiot.
      Mallory: Most secret agents don't tell every hooker from here to Hanoi that they're a spy!
      Archer: ...then why be one?
    • Archer, as well as the other characters, keep trying to shoot Barry, despite him having become a cyborg who is completely Immune to Bullets, and Archer even stupidly tries to fight him hand to hand on several occasions. Effectually Archer finally does get it, and buys explosive shotgun shells during their second-to-last meeting
      Barry: Yeah, remember right now, when I'm a friggin cyborg?!
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In "Chess Mom", Dexter competes in a chess tournament. His mother loudly cheers for him, but everybody tells her to be quiet so the players can concentrate. She doesn't get it and keeps cheering louder and louder until she is kicked out of the building.
  • DuckTales (2017): In an episode, Launchpad's response when Mrs. Beakly suggests he try driving a subway train without crashing it is confusion at the concept.
  • In Family Guy, when Peter is trying to help Mort get more business for his pharmacy he explains the concept of sales and selling things at a discount, however all the stereotypically Jewish Mort can hear is gibberish. He understands just fine when Peter talks about sales at others business's, just not his own.
  • Futurama: Averted in an episode. The Professor shows everyone a complex equation. Amy gasps as she realizes it describes the impending end of the world. Then Hermes reacts as he realizes what it means. Fry just says "Don't wait for me."
  • Invader Zim: This is Dib's problem. No matter how much he tries, no-one believes his claims that Zim is an alien from another planet. Whenever he's not foiling one of Zim's schemes (or trying to), he's trying to get the proof he needs; but even when he does get something, something else happens and he loses his credibility. (His sister Gaz knows, she just doesn't care, mainly because she realizes Zim is too incompetent to actually conquer Earth.)
    Dib: ZIM IS AN ALIEN! Why do I even have to try and prove it this much!?
  • Phineas and Ferb: Dr. Doofenshmirtz, who would be at least mildly competent at the whole Mad Scientist thing if it weren't for the fact that he just cannot grasp that Phineas and Ferb's pet platypus is, in fact, his arch-nemesis, Perry The Platypus. As long as Perry doesn't wear his Nice Hat, Doofenshmirtz is simply incapable of recognizing him, even if he changes right in front of him.
  • Sheep in the Big City: This is frequently the case between the Angry Scientist and General Specific.
    Angry Scientist: We are not needing a plan! We simply go having to the house of Little Lisa Rental!
    General Specific: I see. And she knows where Sheep is?
    Angry Scientist: She has Sheep! She has Sheep! What she calls a dog is really Sheep! The dog is Sheep! Can I be making it any clearer to you!
    General Specific: Perhaps. Do you have any charts? I love charts!
    Angry Scientist: The dog is Sheep! The dog is Sheep! The dog is Sheep!
    General Specific: I'm finding you hard to believe without any charts.
    Angry Scientist: AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGH!
    • General Specific eventually figures it out when he wakes up to Sheep bleeting in the night. Rendering Angry Scientist making all those charts worthless.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson more than once.
    • Most famously when the doctor was trying to tell him that he needed a coronary bypass/heart surgery, and Homer continually asking him to use simpler terms until Hibbert said, "We're going to cut you open and tinker with your ticker," in a slow and deliberate fashion as though talking to a child. Homer still asked him to dumb it down.
    • In another episode, the family is in a witness relocation program, and given the surname Thompson. Homer is given instructions to say "Hello" back when someone says "Hello, Mr. Thompson." Homer claims to understand that he is Mr. Thompson, but doesn't respond when prompted immediately afterwards. Time passes and the next thing we see is Homer failing to even non-verbally acknowledge the agent stomping exasperatedly on his foot, believing the other agent to be the "Mr. Thompson" that the first agent is trying to talk to.
    • In "Bart Carny" when Homer and Bart are working the ringtoss booth at the carnival. Wiggum tries to get Homer to bribe him, (Bart, of course, gets it immediately) but after three tries (one of which includes mentioning his friend "Mr. Bribe"), Wiggum decides "screw this", and shuts the booth down. Later in the episode, Wiggum refuses to help the Simpson family when the owners of that booth took over their house. Homer still doesn't get it.
  • Duckman: Similarly to the Simpsons example, Duckman once contracted an incurable disease from ingesting a mix of ingredients, one of which included acid from a car battery, that made him grow uncontrollably whenever he lost his temper. When Dr. Stein tried to explain it, Duckman kept demanding it "in English".
    Stein: Okay.... the square thingie in your car has a goo inside it...
  • The PJs: Yet another doctor example, when Thurgood's doctor tries to explain high blood pressure to him.
    Doctor: Your blood is bad, especially when you get mad, and if you die, you'll be very sad!
    Thurgood: Now was that so hard?
  • South Park:
    • This happens pretty often when one of the kids tries in vain to explain the facts of the situation to the adults, and the adults either just don't get it or else get it horribly, horribly wrong. For example, in two separate episodes, Stan and Kyle (respectively) try to demonstrate that psychics are fake by explaining their methods. Both times, they are revered as psychics themselves.
    • Another episode has a moral equivalent to this when Butters is arrested for toilet papering a house when the main characters were the ones who really did it. Cartman cannot understand why the others think this is a bad thing, since he's a sociopath who simply does not care about other people in the slightest.
    • One episode has the military ask M. Night Shyamalan and Michael Bay for help in defeating the terrorists occupying Imaginationland. The first describes a bunch of plot twists, the second a long action sequence where everything explodes. When told what they just said doesn't help at all, their response is to stare blankly back at the general.
    General: Those aren't ideas, those are special effects!
    Michael Bay: ... I don't understand the difference.
    General: I know you don't.
When Mel Gibson comes in, he's insane, but they say at least he understands story structure.
  • VeggieTales: The silly song "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" features Pa Grape and Mr. Lunt singing about all the pirate-related activities that they have never done, but Larry sings about completely random and ridiculous things he has never done. Pa and Mr. Lunt try to explain to him that "we're supposed to sing about pirate-y things", but get sidetracked into a debate on whether Pa looks like Cap'n Crunch. Larry sings another gleefully un-piratey verse and Pa shakes his head and proclaims "You just don't get it" before the song ends.

You still don't get it, do you?


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