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Viewers Are Morons

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Sooner or later, he'll learn to live without the TV.

"No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."
H. L. Mencken, "Notes on Journalism"

A common belief among film and TV executives is that everyone who watches media has the intellect of Beavis and Butt-Head.

This belief is a root cause of Executive Meddling, especially common among shows intended for children. Kids can legitimately be said to be less knowledgeable than adults, though we all probably know a depressingly large number of exceptions.

Of course, there is a "moron" demographic out there, and it has its members, but executives seem to believe that every person who watches TV belongs in it. This may be due to something known as the "80-20" rule in business — in this case, that market research shows that 80% of money spent on television-advertised products comes from the lowest 20% in terms of education and intelligence, so show-content is naturally geared towards them.

On top of that, not only are viewers stupid, they are also intolerant of people and things unlike themselves, ignorant, hate change, need to be instantly satisfied, and have the attention span of a goldfish.

Leads to:

Interestingly enough, though, this meta-trope sounds worse than it is, at least currently; actually comparing and contrasting the entertainment of today with the entertainment of the past will show that overall, shows demand more of your mind than they used to, probably because we'd be bored if it didn't and partly because things like recorders or the Internet now make it possible to examine shows in more depth more easily than in the past (read Stephen Johnson's book Everything Bad Is Good For You for an eloquent explanation beyond the scope of this article).

Of course, all that means is that the bar for entertainment is raised even higher, and that viewers will get annoyed more and more easily if things like Infodump happen a few times too many. Additionally, the caveat about this being what executives believe about viewers was, at least at one point, not particularly untrue. In the era of the "Big Three" networks (NBC, ABC, and CBS), before VCRs and the like, shows really were designed to be simple and supposedly "unobjectionable" narratives, for fear of making that one third of the entire TV viewing audience tune out and tune in to one of the competitors. This is why television quickly gained the nicknames Boob Tube and Idiot Box from intellectuals who found television pandering and simple.

Note that this viewpoint is not particular to network executives. Question some point of continuity for a children's show with a sizable adult Periphery Demographic, and you are pretty much guaranteed one of the periphery adult fans will insist that it's "because it's a kid's show and they don't expect kids to notice." Ironically, kids are often far more aware of such mistakes, not because kids are per se "smarter" than we expect, but because not having things like a job, spouse, or "real life" to distract them, they tend to watch their favorites much more obsessively and with more of their minds fully devoted to analysis. (Which makes them similar to others you may be familiar with.) Consequently, children can put even the strictest editors to shame with their awkward questions.

Lastly, this trope is not necessarily bad. Business administrators and anyone else whose job it is to explain things to others (like a coach or a presenter) know the "KISS" method ("Keep It Short and Simple", or "Keep It Simple, Stupid) because of the fear that if something is too complex then no one will understand it, which is certainly true of TV plots. Thus, it's not a bad idea for a writer to assume that their audience are not geniuses and write accordingly, as no one will be entertained if they can't follow along the story. Of course, great care needs to be taken, because if a writer makes their story too simple they also risk alienating the audience who will angrily invoke this trope.

Some of it comes from how people use TV, too. In some households, the TV is just on. The background noise and familiar voices add a comfortable ambiance to a home. These people may prefer programs you can tune in and out of, and not miss much. Face it, not every viewer is like a Troper, analyzing character's actions, and picking apart the plot. This does not mean the person is a moron, but when it comes to explaining the show that they "watch", they may sound like it to a troper.

Compare Lowest Common Denominator. For when the viewers really are morons, see Fan Dumb and Hate Dumb.

For the less common polar-opposite, see Viewers Are Geniuses. When this trope and the latter trope conflict, however, you can wind up with an Unpleasable Fanbase.

For versions enforced by law (or out of fear of a potential lawsuit), see also Our Lawyers Advised This Trope.

Not to be confused with Humans Are Morons.

In-Universe Examples Only

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used in episode 13 of the anime adaptation of Amagi Brilliant Park. The second promotional video created by Tricen to promote the park resembles something a film student would've created for a film project, causing Seiya to reject it, and go with the boring first video created. Tricen then tells him he secretly uploaded it online, and Seiya is shocked to find out that said video already has nearly a million and a half views, along with over seventy-four thousand comments.

    Comic Books 
  • Lampshaded by the authors of Action Philosophers! as the reason for the creation of these comics. A Truth in Television example is mentioned in the recommended books of the Freud-Jung-Campbell issue where it turns out that Jung wrote a book for his students, simplifying his ideas, because he wanted them to actually understand what he was teaching.
  • Crossed with Dumb Is Good, in Elvis Shrugged.: Col. Tom Parker preaches this on TV, before Elvis interrupts. The setting is a Crapsack World where all libraries are closed.
  • J. Jonah Jameson from Ultimate Spider-Man subscribes to this, whole-heartedly, giving it as his reason for being so unfair towards Spider-Man when Peter asks.
  • Inverted in Viz by Roger Mellie; the TV executives are usually the ones insisting that viewers want to watch highbrow material, whereas Roger's pornographic retoolings of popular shows (Call My Muff, The Bollock Naked Chef, etc, etc) inevitably end up being massive hits.
    Roger Mellie: Why bother feeding the pigs cherries when they are happy with shit?

    Comic Strips 
  • Played for laughs in Liberty Meadows, when the genius inventor Ralph tries to explain to the idiot Leslie how his holographic machine works. Leslie asks him "could you dumb that down?" When Ralph tries to explain it in simpler terms, Leslie asks him "could you dumb that down a little more?" Ralph ends by saying "It lets you see things."
  • In Hsu and Chan, the brothers believe this especially when it comes to RPG gamers who they consider too stubborn to admit they can't beat a broken game the Tanaka's market to them. This trope is also employed when the brother's explore creating an illusion of depth and consequence in a video game.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Emperor's New Groove and Kronk's New Groove, this is the way Kuzco treats the viewers when he's narrating.
  • Toy Story 2: Likely why Jessie stated that Tokyo (where the museum Al planned to sell the Roundup Gang to is located) is in Japan.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Very minor example. The majority of the movie takes place in a kart racing game, because this kind of video game could be almost immediately understood by the entire audience without any exposition, even those who had little or no understanding of video games.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This conversation from Bowfinger: "That's too much for the audience to have to think about. They have to know that the guy's name is Cliff, they have to know that he's on a cliff. That the Cliff and the cliff is the same. It's too cerebral! We're trying to make a movie here, not a film!"
  • Parodied in the 1987 Dragnet movie, when the PAGAN cult's full name is shown for the first time.
    Joe: [reading] People Against Goodness And Normalcy... P-A-G-A-N... PAGAN!
    Pat: [sarcastically] Good, Joe.
  • Subverted in Ed Wood; while Wood shows a blatant disregard for things like visual continuity and set quality, and justifies this by saying that no-one really pays attention to the smaller details, he does so because he's projecting his own way of watching films onto the audiences, rather than considering them to be... well, morons.
  • Fat Head points out this is a driving factor in a lot of reform movements targeted at the fast food industry, so at one point Naughton interviews several people to reveal that the ability to recognize that fries and a cheeseburger is a high calorie meal is pretty much universal.
  • Discussed Trope in H.M. Pulham, Esq.. Harry works at an ad agency. He says he doesn't get an ad. Ellsmere suggests it's because Harry doesn't have any brains. Harry's boss leaves no doubt this trope is in effect.
    "Do you suppose for the average person who sees this picture is going to have any brains? We're not trying to be intellectual, Ellsmere."
  • In A Letter to Three Wives, George goes on a rant about how advertising treats customers like this.
  • Wayne Gale from Natural Born Killers is a firm believer in this; he even explicitly calls his millions of viewers "morons".
  • In Quiz Show, Rittenhome makes it clear to Goodwin he's not intimidated by the prospect of being exposed, because nobody cares if the quiz shows are honest or if the contestants aren't really earning their fame and fortune.
    Rittenhome: The audience didn't tune in to watch some amazing display of intellectual ability. They just wanted to watch the money.
  • The repeated use of location tags was parodied in Start the Revolution Without Me, a farce set during the days before the French Revolution. Several times during the first fifteen minutes, we are reminded by a stentorian narrator that the story takes place in 1789. Later the location tags run with it; "Paris, 1789", "A small country inn, 1789", "Later that same day, 1789"
  • Hercules Returns. Ted wants to hire a new act for his nightclub in Ancient Greece, but can't find anyone his wife Muriel likes.
    Ted: Listen, Muriel love, I'll find someone to please an audience! Though your average audience these days is stupid anyway. [Aside Glance] No offence...

  • In Atlas Shrugged, Dr. Floyd Ferris writes the propaganda piece Why Do You Think You Think? for the general public, whom he believes have the intellectual ability of "drunken louts", and Dr. Stadler agrees with his premise enough to not publicly protest his methods, even though Ferris has cited Stadler's own research, completely out of context, to prove his points. Stadler's agreement with this trope is also why he had the State Science Institute founded in the first place. Many regular people in this universe seem to play this trope straight, although it is also hinted that acting on it is actually causing it to become true.
  • Invoked in the Frederik Pohl short story Day Million, as an omniscient narrator who's describing life in the 28th century grows increasingly angry with what he assumes to be the present day reader's ignorant disbelief.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In the first book, one of the prospective cartoonists for the school newspaper seems to believe this, despite (according to Greg) being one himself. The text of his comic, "Dumb Teachers", helpfully clarifies that the stink lines he drew are, in fact, stink lines, and they are, in fact, emanating from the poop in a teacher's soiled pants.
  • Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter seems to hold a very low opinion of her average readers' intelligence, since she often contradicts herself depending on what she finds juicier at the time. In an early article during the fourth book she refers to Hermione Granger as "stunningly pretty," only to then describe her in an article published just a few months later as "a plain, but ambitious girl", heavily implied to have done so as revenge for Hermione calling her out on her nosy and gossipy nature. And given how easily the Wizarding World fell into slandering Harry and Dumbledore over Voldemort's return in the next book, it seems her opinion isn't that far off from the truth.
  • In In the Keep of Time, repeatedly applied to the tourists who come to visit Kelso and especially Smailholm Tower, even to the point where they are mocked by the children for thinking there's "not much to this place". Granted, even in its ruined state it seems a bit ignorant to assume there was never any significance to it, and dismissing it does come across as insulting. But it isn't as if they can tell what role it used to play merely by looking at it, let alone know about the Time Travel aspect. Still, the statement that the tourists had "brought with them to Smailholm Tower the interest and imagination they would take to all the other places on their tour", that they "look at a lot of places and never see anything" sadly has some Truth in Television in it.
  • The Real Frank Zappa Book:
    The more your musical experience, the easier it is to define for yourself what you like and what you don't like. American radio listeners, raised on a diet of _____ (fill in the blank), have experienced a musical universe so small they cannot begin to know what they like.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events constantly spoofs this trope by having an adult character say a word, then assume that the orphans wouldn't know what the word means and try to define it for them, to which one orphan or another (usually Klaus) almost always interrupts "We know what it means." The author also often uses various words and phrases in the actual narration, then explains them in a humorous way as they apply to the situation at hand, such as describing "takes the cake" as "a phrase which here means that more horrible things had happened to them than just about anybody" in The Reptile Room. The Baudelaires are generally shown as being far more intelligent than anyone gives them credit for, and the adults of the series routinely underestimate them and never put much stock in anything they say, something which usually results in more unfortunate events. Leading to those who Follow the Leader ripping off the "a word which here means..." while apparently under the impression that it was supposed to be dead serious.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for laughs in the second episode of Season 5 of The Apprentice — Trump starts to explain at length what text messaging is, before stopping and admitting that everyone else knows exactly what text messaging is, and that he's the only person who needs someone to explain it to him, getting a few chuckles from the candidates.
  • Parodied in Arrested Development
    Maeby: I know what the shape of a banana reminds you of, and I know when I say nuts it makes you giggle.
    College Kid: [giggles]
    Maeby: But, do you have any other response to "here's a banana with nuts?"
    College Kid: Whooooohohoho! [giggles]
    Maeby: Why are we even going after this idiot demographic?
  • Used in Bones, when called upon at a trial as an expert witness, Brennan goes on about the skeletal remains as though she was talking to fellow scientists, using technical jargon and hardly stopping to take a breath. The prosecution was furious with her behavior, but she refused to talk down to the jury, believing that they could follow her. She later had a talk with her superior on the matter, who rationally explained to her that most of the world is unfamiliar with the very field she is a master of and that presenting things in a simplified manner will allow her expertise to help the case.
  • Discussed and then subverted on Chopped. In the Viewer's Choice episode, Geoffrey Zakarian was very surprised at the ingredients the home viewers chose for the contestants, thinking, "They could NOT possibly know about those kinds of ingredients."
  • Delightfully mocked in the Doctor Who story "The Daemons", which shows the production of a TV broadcast from an archaeological dig.
    Professor Horner: Six inches behind there lies the greatest archaeological find this country has known since Sutton Hoo..
    Fergus (TV Presenter): Would you like to explain that reference, Professor?
    Horner: No. [Fergus then attempts to explain to the viewers what Sutton Hoo is, but is firmly talked over]
  • Occasionally embodied by the various Meddling Executives in Episodes.
    Myra: Will people know who Rudyard Kipling is?
    Sean/Beverly: Yes.
    Myra: Are you sure?
    Beverly: Do you know who he is?
    Myra: ...The writer guy?
    Beverly: There you go! See? People aren't as stupid as you might think!
  • On Garth Marenghis Darkplace, Garth has a very low opinion of pretty much everyone that isn't him, and treats the audience and many of the people he works with like they have single-digit IQs.
  • On Have I Got News for You, Victoria Coren claimed the BBC's coverage of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant was this, with it being aimed at "some imaginary idiot".
  • A Discussed Trope in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6." Mac keeps improvising As You Know dialogue and has to be repeatedly told that the viewers aren't as dumb as he is.
  • In Kenny vs. Spenny, during "Who can produce a better commercial" Spenny claims it doesn't matter if the pizza he's making doesn't taste good because kids can't tell what good food tastes like.
  • Played with when Harry Hill appeared on Light Lunch as the presenter reluctantly gave the details to contact for a copy of the recipe Harry was cooking, which was Chops and Mash.
  • In Made in Canada, this is apparently one of Pyramid's mission statements, as they knowingly produce programming that is some combination of crass, obvious, or stupid but which still draws big audiences. For example, after Alan changes the title series in the Series 5 episode "Dock Cops" from a gritty detective series with a middle-aged male lead to a campy action series with two young female leads, audience figures skyrocket.
  • In Mad Men, perfectly straightforward advertising pitches are often rejected on the assumption that potential consumers would be either confused or bored.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a sketch all about this, where a TV executive suggests showing the last five miles of a highway; the show gets ridiculously high ratings. In the same sketch, the aforementioned executives decide to change the titles on old TV series to make them seem new (e.g. "I Married Lucy").
  • Discussed in The Newsroom, between Will and Mackenzie during their first meeting. Will is a seasoned professional who believes in its validity or inevitable applicability, while Mac is a defier who thinks there is room for intelligent content in the news. She manages to convince Will of his error, but they have to compromise on one occasion when the ratings plummet.
  • QI:
    • Phill Jupitus derides the fact that when discussing Cpt. Flint, the parrot in Treasure Island, the picture of him on Long John Silver's shoulder had the parrot circled.
    • Lampshaded repeatedly whenever a picture of a common object is shown when Stephen goes, "There's a picture of a _____, in case you wanted to know what one looked like."
  • Rome:
  • Seinfeld:
    • In the episode "The Butter Shave", the same NBC executives who had previously offered Jerry a pilot now offered bad comedian Kenny Banya a chance at his own pilot since he does jokes the viewers don't have to think about too much.
    • This trope was also used in "The Comeback" when George explains to Elaine and Jerry that he will not dumb his joke down "For some boneheaded audience", which cues everyone in the diner to look at him.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Hollywood Babylon", the network executive Brad Redding is concerned the audience will not understand how the ghosts in Hell could hear the chanting. Marty agrees to add in an "explainer", and the next time the scene is filmed the following additional dialogue has been inserted.
    Mitch: They must have super-hearing!
  • Parodied in a sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look. Gilbert and Sullivan are facing critical failure and try to recapture their past glory with new works such as "Shark With Big Teeth" and "The Girl With A Demon Inside Her That Was Removed By a Vicar". When all of these prove to be even more unsuccessful, Gilbert and Sullivan decide the shows weren't "accessible" enough and they need something more in the style of their last popular hit The Mikado - so they write an incredibly crude and racist operetta about natives in the jungle, which is a smash. Lampshaded as Sullivan asks "you don't think we've ... cheapened ourselves?" and Gilbert replies "Nah."
  • Lampshaded in the first episode of Jason King. King is a novelist who is adapting his adventure series for an American TV network, but the executive he's pitching to insists on dumbing it down.
    Executive: There are a lot of important plotlines there. I don't want our audience to miss anything.
    Jason King: Miss anything? It's translucent to the point of confusion! It'll all become clear as the story progresses.
    Executive: Jason, you know that, and I know that — but we're intelligent people!
  • The opening of the first episode of Blood Drive has the creator say that due to bad reactions from test audiences, the network thinks that the audience is too stupid to understand the show without an opening explanation of the narrative.

  • Discussed in 10,000 Maniacs’ "Candy Everybody Wants":
    "So their eyes are growing hazy
    Cause they wanna turn it on
    So their minds are soft and lazy
    Well who do, who do, who do you wanna blame?"

    Print Media 
  • In the MAD, Pearl Harbor parody, this trope is suggested to be the reason why the film included a bombing mission on Tokyo; the way history is taught, viewers might have left theaters with the impression that the Japanese won the war after bombing Pearl Harbor.

  • In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bottom repeatedly makes changes to Peter Quince's play, insisting that the audience will lack Willing Suspension of Disbelief and think that everything they're seeing is real. A good portion of this fear is that he's so convinced of his own brilliance that he'll take everyone in with his work, despite being an absolutely terrible actor. The result is a So Bad, It's Good piece of theatre which includes, among other things, the actor playing the Lion delivering an entire monologue about he's not really a lion. Shakespeare seems to have been poking fun at the theatrical conventions of his own time with this one, as some of his other plays, including Henry V, do include Prologues that point out that what the audience is about to see isn't real.

    Theme Parks 
  • In Muppet*Vision 3D, this is Rizzo's justification for trying to pose as Mickey Mouse — "They're tourists, what do they know?"

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • In Episode 60 of Bonus Stage, while Joel explains why they're not doing a Bonus Stage episode that week.
    Joel: Now, as you folks know, our show is created by the INTERNET! But what you may not know is that our show is also powered by COMPUTERS!
    Phil: Be sure to tell them that the show is also done "IN FLASH!"
    Joel: Good idea. The show is also done IN FLASH.
  • Invoked by Green Guy's voice actor after his character is killed in episode 3 of Girl Chan In Paradise.
    These stupid kids cannot tell the difference, you know they can't!
  • In Sonic for Hire, Mario watches the news after killing Sonic and they say that there is total world peace. However, they say "Not since Oedipus freed Theseus from the Curse of the Sphinx..." until being interrupted and told to "dumb it down a bit" (assuming most viewers won't understand historical references), so he says "Not since Papa Smurf thwarted the Evil Gargamel..." instead.
  • Parodied in the Cold Open of The Gmod Idiot Box Episode 7, where an unscrupulous YouTube user asks about a song in an Idiot Box episode, despite the very clear notice that songs are listed in the description. #1 is quick to express his disapproval.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd notes this in Back to the Future Re-Revisited when most of the levels are the same running stage only colored differently. "Do they think we're idiots?"
  • Caddicarus:
    • By Caddy's own interpretation, on occasion. Firstly in the Coronation Street "game", where the hint system is more like, "Can't find it? Here it is, you twat!". The second time is the patronizing clown he uses to state the obvious in 3, 2, 1, Smurf. The third time is the sarcastic hints in Bratz Rock Angelz.
    • Games aimed at kids that treat the player as an idiot are a general Berserk Button for him. He points out "Kids may be easily amused, but they are not stupid" and excessive hand-holding is just insulting to their intelligence.
  • How Nintendo views its fanbase according to Adam Buckley of A Dose of Buckley.
  • On History of Power Rangers, Linkara conjectures that the Rangers on Power Rangers Samurai shout out their names during the Theme Song because the production team assumed little kids would be too stupid to remember them otherwise.
  • According to The Key of Awesome, Kesha's fans perform the careless, drug-heavy behavior promoted in her songs and become dumb.
  • Many comments are made by Kung-Fu Jesus on how the game seems to assume this.
  • Kinley Mochrie discussed this trope a bit in her Oscar Retrospective, suggesting that this is what the producers behind the Oscars believe, hence the extreme dumbing down and almost schizophrenic nature the Oscars of the past few years have taken.
  • PeanutButterGamer acted like this in his Hey you, Pikachu! review, when Pikachu found a treasure chest and a sign popped up telling the player to open the chest by pressing B to use Thundershock.
    (while zooming in on the sign) "I just don't know if only I could figure out or had some clue to help me with this puzzling situation I find myself in. Oh, what is a video game video maker to do, it's such a situation woe is me!"
  • In Let's Drown Out Smash TV, Yahtzee berated Gabriel by assuming that the audience knows nothing about Smash TV, while Gabriel averted it by explaining that the game was out in 1990 and a fair chunk of their viewership were either born then or after that and they have no reason to learn about its existence.
  • The Nostalgia Chick:
    • In her review of Showgirls. "Because movie viewers are stupid and can't deduce success or failure based on what's been shown onscreen, we have Molly dictate from the sidelines whether or not Nomi is succeeding."
    • Her theory for why, unlike the first movie, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure keeps showing the faces of the humans.
    • She will, from time to time, use a couple of archetypal moronic viewers (Joanne and Cleatus) as an example of the Lowest Common Denominator that most studios aim at. She'll point out stupid stuff in movies that probably exists to cater to their limited intellect, and comment on concepts that might be too difficult for them to grasp (such as humanity being of little real importance in her review of Men in Black).
  • In The Nostalgia Critic review of The Lorax (2012), the Analysts state that the reason the film was so heavy-handed with its Green Aesop was so that the audience wouldn't be confused. The Critic argues that like the book, the film should try challenging the audience and make them think, and it's shown that the audience quickly lose interest in the film due to how forgettable it was.
  • Retsupurae:
    • Justified in Nightmare House where the solution to a puzzle is blatantly told to you on a nearby note, due to it being another Moon Logic Puzzle. Which kind of defeats the purpose.
    slowbeef: Now, seriously—you remade the game and you kept these shit puzzles in? Like, you had the whole opportunity!
    General Ironicus: It would be really clever and keep people out if he didn't just tape the instructions to the wall right next to it.
    • Pointed out in the Cobra Wrongupurae when the game showed a flashback to something right after the game told Cobra what had happened
    Diabetus: You had to flash back to this? How stupid do you think we are!?
  • The audience that many of the shorts mocked by RiffTrax were originally created for. Some of these include how to draw a rectangle and how to boil water.
    Bill Corbett: Should a person who doesn't know what "boil" means even be allowed near an open flame?
  • On Sequelitis, Egoraptor explains how the modern game developers portray this with tutorials for obvious things in the Mega Man X episode.
  • Star Trek’s repeated use of the word "Ancient" to describe anything in Earth's history seems to be done to emphasize just how far the show's events take place in the future, though the audience shouldn't really need to be reminded of that given how the show takes place on an intergalactic starship.
  • Spencer Bedlam thinks it is why kryptonite always glows near Clark in Smallville.
  • Stuart Ashen takes offense at the PlayStation Vita's "Welcome Park" tutorial program, which has the voiceover of a children's show. He doesn't even give it 10 seconds before he rudely cuts it off.
  • This Surviving the World lesson defends this trope, or at least one very much like it.
    • This one implies it.
  • Third Rate Gamer:
    • Played for Laughs, and almost always lampshaded. It is meant to parody how commonly The Irate Gamer would circle every little detail on the screen in a green circle.
    "Hopefully if I circle these words as I read them, it will enhance the video because my fans don't know how to read."
    • His review of Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2, which features two different stories in parallel timelines, has the message "Pay attention now because my fans are morons" at the beginning. This parodies the warning at the beginning of the Irate Gamer's review of Mario is Missing/Mario's Time Machine, which also featured the same type of parallel timelines storytelling.
  • II Neige of What We Had to Watch especially hates it when works aimed at kids talk down to their audience and/or are condescending in manner (such as the musical segments being mediocre to bad just because they're aimed at children).

    Western Animation 
  • In DuckTales (2017) , a line in Glomgold's theme song takeover has him say "Okay, we ran out of budget, but kids 6-10 will love it" in defense of the Stylistic Suck.
  • In Earthworm Jim, the narrator, who was a major Deadpan Snarker in "The Wizard of Ooze", narrated the obvious at one point, and then outright scolds the audience for their apparent stupidity.
    Narrator: Later, our heroes skip through the woods, which you may have noticed since you can ACTUALLY SEE THEM!
  • Parodied in Futurama:
    • In an episode, an evil A.I. residing inside a laptop computer and three "execubots" are in charge of a television network, and describe their functions: one rolls the dice on what types of TV shows will be popular, one is programmed to like things he has seen before, and the last is programmed to underestimate Middle America.
    • In the episode "When Aliens Attack", Fry objects to the plot twist about Single-Female Lawyer (Leela) getting married with this line: "But that's not why people watch TV! Clever things make them feel stupid and unexpected things make them feel scared."
  • In the Gargoyles episode "Thrill of The Hunt", despite the "Evil Ninjas" being the Pack's recurring nemeses, the creators of the Pack always think they have to remind audiences that they are the villains.
  • Done in The Real Ghostbusters when Corrupt Corporate Executive Paul Smart displays Robo-Buster's apparently superior ghostbusting abilities by seemingly destroying ghosts rather than just capturing them the way the Ghostbusters do. Egon protests that Smart's claims are impossible, because ectoplasmic physics don't work that way, but no one at the press conference where Smart is showing off Robo-Buster understands what he's talking about, and they don't believe him.
  • Parodied in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Pavement", where Space Ghost revealed he "writes" the episode they're doing and becomes an arrogant ass (well, moreso). After a commercial he states, "Welcome back, stupid viewers. You'll watch anything! Go ahead, change the channel, you'll be back!"
  • The Tick:
    • Parodied in "The Tick vs. Arthur's Bank Account":
      Handy: Even now, he [The Tick] sulks like Achilles in His Tent.
      [everyone stares blankly at him]
      Handy: Achilles?... The Iliad?... It's Homer?...
      [close-up on Handy]
      Handy: READ A BOOK!
    • Followed up with a double-subversion in "Grandpa wore Tights"
      [The Visual Eye attempts his signature attack "rocket from the sockets", i.e. shooting his eyeballs out into the air, but they simply drop unceremoniously to the floor]
      Handy: Well, THAT was an Oedipal moment.
      [everyone stares warily at him]
      Handy: Oedipus Rex?... The play by Sophocles?...
      [everyone continues to stare warily]
      Handy: He gets his eyes plucked out at the end?...
      [everyone gives him a look of mild exasperation]
      Handy: [indignantly] READ A BOOK!
  • In The Critic, Jay's boss, Duke Phillips, is a firm believer of this, which naturally causes him to clash with Jay's love for more pretentious films.
    Duke: Look, this isn't art, it's just mindless pabulum for losers who can barely read. Oh, that reminds me, I've got an interview with People Magazine.