Say a character finds out about a paranormal phenomenon, or a sinister conspiracy. There wouldn't be much of a plot left if they could just call the police and let them take care of it.
In these cases, heroes will simply talk like stereotypical paranoid schizophrenics.
- They will continually repeat a bizarre claim in a panicked voice.
- They will avoid mentioning what led them to believe it in the first place.
- They will be vague on details.
- They will never consider sticking to the provable parts of the story for the time being.
- Most important, they will be stunned and angry that anyone would find their claim implausible, regardless of how implausible it would be even if they weren't completely flushing any credibility they might otherwise have down the toilet in their method of persuasion.
- In extreme cases, they may respond to skepticism by wondering out loud if the disbeliever is "in on it" or "one of Them." And if anyone tries to calm them down, rather than taking a few deep breaths, sitting down for a moment, and coming back to the problem in a calmer fashion, they will immediately violently lash out, thus prompting the immediate summoning of the nearest security guards to have them ejected from the premises.
And then they wonder why no-one believes them.
What's more, this will give the heroes a reputation for Crying Wolf or being Windmill Crusaders, making it even harder for them to get anyone to believe that the threat is real. Of course, the senseless deaths of the skeptics is often seen as a karmic comeuppance in favor of the hero, even if it was the heroes' fault they aren't believed in the first place.
The other side of this trope is that, if the person making the claim sounds crazy, the listener will dismiss them to the point of going out of their way to dismiss them, no matter how simple it would be to investigate. When someone is screaming "THERE IS AN ALIEN DIRECTLY BEHIND YOU WHICH IS ABOUT TO EAT YOU YOU'VE GOT TO BELIEVE ME I TELL YOU!", you can be assured that the listener will not turn around; they will, in fact, stubbornly and strenuously refuse to turn around.
A possible cause of any disbelief towards the explanation of "aliens did it" in a continuity where aliens and alien invasion are not only known and documented, but semi-regular eventsnote . (Of course, this may be because some people are just stubbornly, willfully stupid, but hey.)
A subversion occurs when a normal person pulls this trope on a Conspiracy Theorist. Not only will he believe you, he'll also try to convince you that the situation is much MUCH worse than you think, and he will often already have plans in motion to do something about it. See also So Crazy, It Must Be True, where the person you're trying to convince believes your story because it's so outlandish. Contrast We Need to Get Proof, where the character realizes that nobody will believe him unless he comes up with some real evidence.
A kind of Poor Communication Kills. See It Was Here, I Swear!, Cassandra Truth, Ignored Expert, Properly Paranoid, Not Helping Your Case, and You Can See That, Right? Anyone invoking the trope is often dismissed as a Windmill Crusader or Cloud Cuckoo Lander — at least until the threat turns out to be No Mere Windmill, thus proving that The Cuckoolander Was Right. Sometimes, this overlaps with Clap Your Hands If You Believe the character must convince someone to believe because belief itself is necessary to save the day.
- 3×3 Eyes
- Played straight with Yakumo, who tries to tell the amnesiac Pai that she's in danger, she's not human and she's actually the last survivor of an immortal race. He says he doesn't want to "sugar-coat" it for her, but he then actually acts surprised and angry when Pai thinks he's nuts. (Although it turns out Pai had already seen quite a bit of evidence to support his story, and she was being a brat.)
- Averted and Lampshaded when Pai has been locked inside a club with demonic marionettes with her two friends Dee and Ken-Ken stuck outside. When Dee suggests they call the cops, Ken-Ken mentions this trope by sarcastically saying the cops would give them a drug test if they said things that crazy. Dee then says that they should obviously leave the parts about the dolls out and just say their friend was trapped inside a skeevy club... which is partially true and something a cop should listen to.
- Big Finish Doctor Who: "Minuet in Hell" has the Eighth Doctor lose some of his memory after crashing the TARDIS and winds up in a mental hospital. He tries to tell people his name and what happened, and tells the Brigadier when he shows up that he (the Doctor) recognizes him, but no one believes him, because, well, he's in a mental hospital (the Brig doesn't recognize him because he hadn't seen that incarnation before).
- A segment in House of Mystery #227 called The Weird World of Anton Borka, a young farmer is Blessed with Suck via a gift from an old peddler. Anton's able to see a group of strange creatures who promise to ensure he has good fortune, but because only he can see them the rest of his town think Anton's insane. No matter how much he pleads that the creatures are real everyone just shrugs it off as "crazy Anton".
- In Runaways, the kids call the Avengers hotline to report their parents (who are villains). The operator says they always get calls like that around report-card time, and dismisses it. The guy who made the phone call was actually The Mole. Of course he's going to make it sound outrageous. Having the group get actual help is the last thing he wants!
- Sabretooth has this with Deadpool in his 2016 solo series. Deadpool's memory is not good -to say the least. He doesn't remember killing his parents and mistakenly believes Creed did it. Creed decides to carry the burden -he felt guilty that he watched Wade kill his parents, but didn't stop him. Even when he thinks Wade is about to kill him, he only says that Wade has to trust him & that it's not what—, but Wade cuts him off to reveal he learned the truth.
- The Ultimates: The Ultimates have been told that Thor is just a madman using a technological belt and hammer that gives him powers. In his defense, he says that "Loki" (someone that nobody ever saw) is deceiving them all. He was Real After All, but he does sounds like a crazy nut when he was saying that.
- In the Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) episode Re-Ryuk a school shooter does this upon encountering a "journal monster." It goes about as well as you can expect:
Da Chief: He's obviously lying! Shoot him!
- In Fever Dreams when L is sick he begins raving to everyone that Light is Kira and he's going to kill us all! Everyone attributes it to L's high fever. It doesn't help that in his fever and paranoia L assumes that the doctor Watari brought in must be in on the conspiracy. L was right and Light is up to something but for once it doesn't involve killing anyone.
- Lampshaded in Slytherin Survival Tactics when Dumbledore begins ranting and raving that Tom Riddle is the Dark Lord like a paranoid schizophrenic and Slytherin's portrait somehow acquires a record player and begins playing "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Haha."
- In Divided Rainbow, Lero tries this tactic exactly once. From then on, his modus operandi for dealing with the Swapped and the Bewitched is to Just Smile and Nod at the things they tell him.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic tale "Fluttershy Is Free," Fluttershy makes the mistake of telling her foalhood friend Rainbow Dash that Fluttershy herself was sired by a Changeling by introducing it as the ravings of her paranoid mother. Given that Fluttershy does not in any way look like the mythical flying creature the Pegasi know as "buzzies" and generally take about as seriously as we do UFO sightings, Rainbow Dash simply assumes that Fluttershy has gone a bit crazy under the stress of being the unfavorite daughter in a dysfunctional family. At this point, Fluttershy gives up trying to tell Rainbow Dash the truth. Justified, as in canon Fluttershy is normally a ''very'' poor communicator.
- Zig-zagged in the Inside Out fanfic Intercom. Riley is determined not to do this, fully aware that telling people about her emotions could get her locked up. However, it becomes increasingly apparent to her parents and friends that something is troubling her. And the more Riley insists that everything is fine, the more it becomes apparent that something is wrong. It doesn't help that Riley's experiences with her emotions match the symptoms of schizophrenia to a tee. Eventually, Riley herself starts doubting if the voices are real.
- The movie Chicken Little uses this one a lot. Chicken Little's flabbergasted babbling as he attempts to explain himself isn't exactly helped by his own father apologizing for his craziness to the townspeople.
- The eponymous character in Coraline attempts to contact the police and explain that her parents were kidnapped, but once she gets to the part about the Other Mother, they shrug it off. Admittedly, she could have at least convinced them that her parents really were missing, but that doesn't mean they could do anything constructive. She also tells Wybie what's going on, but she doesn't try very hard to convince him, and is more venting at him than trying to explain anything. (Also somewhat justified by Wybie being rather a smart-arse.) She loses all credibility (despite telling the complete truth) when she starts throwing shoes at him.
- Monster House: An abandoned house eats anyone who approaches it. The kids tell the police this (loudly), instead of "someone went in and never came out".
- Appears in Mulan, as she struggles to tell her former teammates that some of the Huns have survived an avalanche that buried their army.
- Disney did this earlier in Beauty and the Beast when Maurice raves to the dismissive townsfolk about the beast who imprisoned his daughter Belle. It doesn't help that he's already known as a kooky Bungling Inventor in an anti-intellectual community with little regard for anyone who deviates from the norm. Gaston eventually exploits this by demanding that Belle marry him or else he'll have Maurice committed to an insane asylum.
- In Recess: School's Out, three different groups of people report strange happenings in Third Street School: TJ reports the green laser, his friends report his kidnapping, and even the typically unhelpful Ms. Finster reports ninjas. And yet, the cops make no connection and just laugh each one out of the room.
- When Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, poor Wilbur spends a good bit of the movie trying to convince Chick that he's seeing monsters.
- Several Abbott and Costello films involve Costello's character stumbling upon a dead body, only for the murderer to move the dead body before Costello can bring Abbott's character into the room to see the dead guy.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter tries to convince Captain Stacy that Dr. Connors is the Lizard with nothing but his say-so to back it up. Stacy has him removed but does ask one of his officers to look into it.
- In American Dreamer, Alan tries to explain things to the police, but he gives poor context for the situation, making the woman who thinks she's an adventure novel heroine look credible.
- Somewhat reversed in An American Werewolf in London, as it's one of the walking corpses who's trying to convince the living protagonist, who dismisses them as a hallucination.
- "Goddammit, David, please believe me! You'll kill and make others like me! I'm not having a nice time here."
- Once he does come to accept dead Jack's claims, David accosts a London bobby and declares he's the one who killed several people last night. The fact that Alex is right there contradicting his claims doesn't help his effort to convince the bobby to lock him up, nor does his recourse to cussing and insulting prominent U.K. figures when the policeman just tells him to move alone.
- In Beware! The Blob, the female lead witnesses the eponymous monster's first two victims, then almost becomes a victim herself. When it comes time to alert the public, the most coherent thing she can utter is "It came after us; it came after us!" She does get a little better by the end of the film; but by this time, as per the dictates of the trope, her credibility is done gone shot.
- In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Frances suspects that Caligari and Cesare are responsible for the murder of Allan, a point he argues very poorly to the police, although justified because he's batshit insane.
- Basically the entire plot of A Cry in the Wilderness, in which a father, suspecting that he might have contracted rabies, chains himself up in a barn, telling his son not to release him under any circumstances. Later he realizes that there is an imminent flood.
- Double Jeopardy: Libby wails this verbatim when testifying in her own defense regarding her husband's murder.
- In Edge of Tomorrow, the hero experiences the day over and over and is hence able to see into the future. His efforts to tell his story are quite fruitless at first. Near the movie's end, he manages to get his comrades to believe him, having gained enough experience and credibility to explain the situation coherently.
- A review of Evan Almighty posed the question that never seems to be answered in those kinds of movies — so Steve Carell tells his wife he's been chosen by God to recreate the Noah story and that's why all this weird stuff is happening. She doesn't believe him. Why doesn't he take her into the bathroom and show her how his beard grows back immediately when he shaves it, and so on? (Of course, the movie as it is depends on characters assuming that everything that happens to Evan is some kind of misguided attempt at humor he's engineered and is now refusing to let go, no matter how miserable it clearly makes him and how much he insists that it's not his fault.)
- Early in the Friday the 13th series, "Crazy Ralph", a local vagabond, would show up to try to warn people to stay away from Crystal Lake. In the end, the only person to take him seriously is Jason Voorhees, who cuts Ralph's throat early on in Part II.
- Played with in the original Fright Night (1985), when Charlie, convinced that his neighbor is a vampire who has been murdering local women, only tries to convince the police that his neighbor is a murderer, rather than a vampire. Sadly, when he doesn't have enough evidence, he goes right to the vampire story.
- In Galaxy Quest, Jason Nesmith tries to tell his co-stars that the odd-looking fans at the convention were really aliens: "They were termites... or dalmatians!" They don't believe him at first, even when a couple of the Thermians (shapeshifted into humans) arrive. Aside from the general ranting associated with this trope, he's also unshaven and disheveled, with alcohol on his breath, and the people he's trying to convince were already pissed at him for apparently blowing them off.
- In Ghostbusters II, the Ghostbusters are institutionalized when they try to inform everyone that the subways are filling up with malevolent slime and that a painting in the Metropolitan Art Museum is coming to life at midnight on New Year's Eve. In a minor subversion, Peter is smart enough to realize that acting crazy and hysterical, as per the trope, isn't going to do anyone any good; unfortunately, the others aren't:
Ray: As I explained before, we think the spirit of a 17th century Moldavian tyrant is alive and well in a painting at the Manhattan Museum of Art.
Psychiatrist: Uh-huh, and are there any other paintings in the museum with bad spirits in them?
Egon: You're wasting valuable time. He's drawing strength from a psychomagnotheric slime flow that's been collecting under the city.
Psychiatrist: Yes, tell me about the slime.
Winston: It's very potent stuff. We made a toaster dance with it. [gestures to Venkman] And a bathtub tried to eat his friend's baby.
Psychiatrist: A bathtub?
Venkman: Don't look at me. I think these people are completely nuts.
- This is despite the fact that, in the previous movie, a giant marshmallow monster rampaged through the town. Somehow everyone believes that it was a trick.
- Lampshaded in the first film, when Winston asks if they are seriously going to tell a judge that an ancient god to going to destroy the city.
- Pops up again in Ghostbusters (2016) when Erin, realising the true nature of the apocalyptic threat, tries to warn the Mayor to evacuate the city and doesn't do a very good job of it. It's partly her own fault, since she's both hysterical at the time and not the most socially competent of people to begin with, but matters aren't helped when the Mayor reacts with unexpectedly passionate rage when she compares him to the Mayor in Jaws.
- Speaking of Gremlins, this is what happens when the hero tries to explain the title creatures to the cops. And again in the sequel.
- Happens a lot to Nora in House on Haunted Hill (1959), who keeps seeing dead bodies and blood stains. It's part of an elaborate plot to keep her constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. By the time her Implied Love Interest, Lance, eventually spots one of the severed heads she told everyone about, he's had it with this trope, so he grabs the head by the hair and takes it to show everyone.
- Independence Day: As the alien ships arrive over major cities, David realizes that the weird signal he found is really a countdown to an attack. He immediately calls his ex-wife, the President's communications director, to warn her, but his out-of-breath and panicked speech (not to mention calling while the President is giving an emergency address) causes her to quickly hang up. He's a lot more calm when he goes to the White House to convince her and President Whitmore in person.
- The original ending of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) defines this trope, when the main character runs down the highway hysterically screaming at passing motorists that "They're here! You're all next!". The aliens even let him go, pointing out that no one's going to believe him anyway (and especially not if he's acting as hysterically as that). However, the studio was not satisfied ending on such a dark note, and added a Framing Device of the hero in a hospital telling his story to a pair of FBI agents, who don't believe him either... until a passing orderly mentions a car accident involving a truck full of strange, vegetable-like pods.
- Generally averted in The Midnight Meat Train, where the protagonist (played by Bradley Cooper) is quite reasonable and diplomatic with the police detective, accepting that the evidence he has is not enough to convict Vinnie Jones of being a Serial Killer. Unfortunately, his paranoiac dedication to finding out the truth drives him crazy.
- In The Mist, David Drayton makes a very lame attempt to tell Norton about "the creatures in the mist". Even his companions comment this to themselves.
- Played with in the Israeli zombie comedy Muralim. When the hero first attempts to get in touch with the outside world, he babbles about zombies taking over the base - but then he takes a moment to think, and issues an very calm correction. What he ACTUALLY meant to say was that the base is being attacked by terrorists. Unfortunately for him, The Radio Dies First, and neither message reaches the proper authorities.
- Non-Stop: Marks has to convince the crew as well as his bosses that he is not behind a hijacking. However, he doesn't explain himself to the passengers, for fear of provoking whoever is behind this or causing a panic. This comes to bite him when the passengers also believe he is hijacking them and decide to ambush him. Once he explains what's actually going on, though, they actually turn out to be pretty helpful.
- The hero of Shock Corridor had himself declared insane and sent to the asylum, where he eventually fails to convince the shrink of his sanity.
- Played with in Small Soldiers. The main heroine is trying to call the police to help them against the attacking toys, and insists that it's not a prank call. Then she reverses herself and says that it is, "So you'll come over and arrest me, right?" They hang up.
- The final scene of Soylent Green, in which Charlton Heston's character desperately shouts the titular staple's secret ingredient, is often played as this in Shout Outs / parodies, but actual scene doesn't really fit the trope.
- Subverted in Star Trek (2009); when he's figured out what's going on, Kirk races into the bridge like a madman yelling about how it's a trap. Given his actions — plus the fact that he's pretty much a stowaway — Captain Pike is within seconds of having him locked up when Uhura validates Kirk's story with evidence and Spock (who has been given no reason to like Kirk) acknowledges both that Kirk's theory is logical, and Uhura's linguistic skills are beyond reproach. This plus the fact that Pike wrote his dissertation on the anomalous event Kirk is trying to prove is happening a second time gets Pike to give Kirk the benefit of the doubt. It also helped that Kirk was acting fairly calm and rational, at least compared to most people described on this page.
- At first the main character of Take Shelter tries to hide his fears because he knows everyone will assume he's crazy. Eventually, though, he has a full-blown outburst at a work event.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), April actually seems to go out of her way to look like a raving nutcase when she first tells her boss about the Turtles. Actually mildly justified as she said she was up all night going over everything. Nerves + lack of sleep + the sheer nuttiness of the tale = not being at your best.
- Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor's rantings and ravings about a future war and sentient computers in the Terminator films gets them both labeled as nutters. By the second film, Sarah has even been institutionalized.
Dr. Silberman: See how clever this part (nothing inorganic can time travel) is? How it doesn't require a shred of evidence? I mean, most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant!
- They Live: Averted in a way during the 5 minute fight sequence where the protagonist won't take no for an answer from the person he is trying to convince.
- In the first few minutes of the 1982 version of The Thing (1982), some Norwegians land their helicopter near the American base and start shooting at (what looks like) a Siberian Husky. When some of the Americans come out to see what all the fuss is about (including the security guy with his revolver), instead of dropping their guns and deescalating things, the Norwegians keep excitedly shouting (in their native tongue) and shooting at the dog. The security guy pops them both before they can tell the Americans about the dog-thing.
- The Whole Nine Yards: Sophie says this to the police when she's being interrogated about hiring a hit man to kill her husband. Which she did. But he didn't kill him, because Nicholas faked his death.
- Played for Laughs in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Future!Wolverine briefly panics and loses his connection to his past self... and Past!Wolverine wakes up and finds himself unexpectedly in the middle of the action, in France, surrounded by people he doesn't know (including a blue and hairy Beast) and with no memory of how he got there. Charles Xavier at first tries to explain what happened, but realizes it's futile and gives this explanation instead.
Charles: ...You're on acid. Someone gave you really bad acid... yeah?
- Averted in Lifeforce. After being recovered from an Escape Pod, Captain Carlson starts to tell his interrogator that his story will seem hard to believe. He's interrupted with the news that the extraterrestrial woman that was found on his abandoned space shuttle has escaped, draining the Life Energy of several people in the process, so they'll believe a lot more than he thinks.
- At the end of Herbie: Fully Loaded antagonist Trip Murphy is last seen being pulled into an ambulance raving abut how Herbie (a VW Beetle) is alive and mocking him. It's true but he's written off as being dehydrated.
- See You Yesterday: Claudette and Sebastian try in vain to warn her brother and her friend of the incoming cops who will mistake one of them for a robber about to reach for his gun and kill him... It doesn't work.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: In The Silver Chair, the adventurers come upon a knight who claims to have brief bouts of insanity due to an enchantment, during which he must be restrained. It turns out to be this trope: he actually has brief bouts of sanity in the midst of what is otherwise an enchantment, but when he becomes un-enchanted, he's so desperate to escape it that he comes across as a raving lunatic.
- Averted in the Darkest Powers series by the main character, Chloe. In the first book, she's sent to a group home, where she's diagnosed (incorrectly) as a schizophrenic — she's actually a necromancer. After realizing that she and the other kids are in danger, and then escaping and being chased down by the staff with tranquilizer guns, Chloe manages to get to her Aunt Lauren's house. Once there, she immediately tells Lauren about being hunted down by the staff. But rather than blurt out the entire insane story to Lauren, Chloe leaves out the part where she's a necromancer, ghosts are real, she accidentally raised the dead, and the people she was fleeing with include a fire half-demon, a sorcerer, and a werewolf. And, in an even further aversion, before going to her aunt, Chloe actually takes the time to go back to the scene to bring evidence in the form of a tranquilizer dart, because she knows that she'll be just brushed off as crazy otherwise. So it's a damn shame that all of this effort goes to waste when it turns out that her aunt knew about everything all along, and was, in fact, in on the whole plot.
- Hoffmann from The Fear Index increasingly sounds like this as the events of the book unfolds. What first throws his sanity into question is when he insists a picture in a 100 year old book is a clue to the break-in of his house. Amazingly Quarry still believes him, but only because Hoffmann was never that normal to begin with.
- In the book of Freaky Friday, the protagonist starts, well, freaking out for a variety of reasons, one of which being that while she is inhabiting her mother's body, her mother has presumably gone joyriding in hers, and is now nowhere to be found. She decides to call the police. Instead of saying, "I'm deeply concerned that my daughter has vanished", she decides to blurt out the whole body-swapping story. The cops, unsurprisingly, think she's nuts.
- Happens often in Goosebumps books—in fact, one of the short stories in the collection More Tales to Give You Goosebumps is actually titled "You Gotta Believe Me!".
- In the sixth Harry Potter book, Harry is suspicious about Draco but unable to keep his calm about the matter, and even his best friends suspect that he's not being entirely sane about the whole thing.
- Aside from Dumbledore and Sirius, everyone always seems to disregard Harry's theories almost offhand:
- In the first book, nobody wanted to hear that he thought the Philosopher's Stone was being stolen.
- In the third, nobody listened when he claimed Sirius was innocent and Peter Pettigrew was still alive.
- He spends most of the fifth trying to convince the world Voldemort was back. Though it didn't help that the Ministry For Magic was deliberately working to discredit him. It also didn't help that Harry and Dumbledore offered no proof at all of their assertions.
- And in the sixth nobody, including his personal friends, believe him when he says Malfoy is a Death-Eater. This does have an instance of Crying Wolf and people do take him seriously at times (like when Mr. Weasley is attacked), but by the end of the sixth book, when Professor McGonagall is point-blank asking him for his input on something, he keeps it a secret, having apparently decided Adults Are Useless.
- Aside from Dumbledore and Sirius, everyone always seems to disregard Harry's theories almost offhand:
- In the children's book Help I'm a Prisoner in the Library, two girls, Mary Rose and Jo Beth, are accidentally trapped in the eponymous library after hours. Mary Rose, the elder sister, calls the police and tries to explain the situation rationally, only for Jo Beth to snatch the phone away and say, hysterically, "We're prisoners in the library!" The police dismiss the call as a prank.
- Heralds of Valdemar: Mentioned and averted in Storm Warning, when Karal notes that he has the urge to just blurt out his story to the Blues, but is also aware of how weird it sounds and makes a conscious effort to lay things out calmly and logically.
- Near the end of The Sharing Knife: Horizon, while Dag has, admittedly, had a pretty rough night, and just about anyone would be forgiven a fair bit of hysteria over finding their spouse Buried Alive; an authoritative explanation about the Enchanted Lakewalker Wedding Cords would have gotten Fawn dug up far faster than clawing at her grave barehanded while screaming "She's not dead! She can't be dead!"
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Arya overhears a pair of people discussing their massive gambit. However, with most of the discussion going completely over her head, what she does remember of it when she tells her father sounds completely nuts, even though her father is currently investigating part of said gambit. Except it's not, actually, she just thought it was and presented it to him as such, so he was perhaps right to ignore her (the discussed gambit hasn't actually impacted the plot... yet), if for the wrong reasons.
- Brienne combines being a very bad liar with a habit of getting into hard to believe situations, with the result that she tries to tell the truth but it comes across as an incredibly feeble lie. Most simply she had this story: "I didn't kill him! A magical shadow came out of nowhere while we were alone and cut his throat!"
- In The Space Merchants, Mitchell Courtenay falls headlong into this trope when he returns to Fowler Schocken and tries to explain the complicated intrigue he has been tangled up in.
- Star Wars Legends:
- Galaxy of Fear:
- The first book has no one believing that people are disappearing in the middle of the day, because the man who sees it is considered mad and they don't even see the extra footprints in the bare earth. He actually fetches his one remaining crewmember from her safe place with the idea that people are more likely to believe her, and when she disappears he hits his Despair Event Horizon.
- In a later book a hacker warns Zak that the ship's computer, which Zak is trying to give full control of the ship to, is evil. Of course, he'd self-sabotaged there in their previous interaction the hacker had agreed to let Zak examine some of the ship's functions, then immediately shut them down and blamed Zak for the failure. The hacker was also highly disheveled from being tortured by the computer, and the safeguards built into computers and droids to keep them from spontaneously becoming evil are so ingrained in popular consciousness that the idea seems laughable to Zak.
- Galaxy of Fear:
- In H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds the standard for appearing mad was much lower than in more recent works. Having a bare head would do it:
"He met a wagoner and tried to make him understand, but the tale he told and his appearance were so wild—his hat had fallen off in the pit—that the man simply drove on."
- Early in Watership Down, the Waif Prophet Fiver approaches the warren's head rabbit to tell them they must leave before a disaster overtakes them. He's too shy and scared to make a good argument. Subverted, when a character who escaped the disaster tells them afterward that the Chief Rabbit did listen but decided they could weather whatever disaster might be coming.
- Project Tau: Kalin keeps insisting that he's a college student and a legal human to the scientists. None of them believe him until it's almost too late.
- An episode of Season 2 of Amazing Stories is actually titled "You Gotta Believe Me". It involves a man who has a horrific dream of a plane crashing into his house in the middle of the night. As he walks among the wreckage, he sees ghosts of some of the passengers and the ghost of the pilot talking about having to attempt take off too early due to something being on the runway. He wakes up and, while still in pajamas and robe, heads to the airport. While there, he sees the things that were part of the wreckage in his dream (including a girl's Teddy Ruxpin toy) and some of the ghosts. Convinced his dream was a prophecy, he keeps trying to convince the passengers, crew, security and so on that the plane's going to crash and gets more and more frustrated by people not taking him seriously. In the climax, he's on the tarmac and sees a single-engine plane with a drunk pilot taxiing onto the runway, heading into the path of the airliner. He rams the plane with a forklift, saving the passengers. Security grabs him and he says: "They were going to crash! You gotta believe me!" At which point, they finally do.
- In the Arrow episode "Blind Spot", Laurel's insistence that the only reason she's been arrested for possession of illegal prescription medicine is because Brother Blood knows she's onto him and wants her out of the way sounds increasingly paranoid and crazy. It doesn't help that she has to acknowledge that, actually, she has been illegally self-medicating.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Subverted in the the third season episode "Bad Girls". After Faith accidentally kills a man, Buffy agonizes over what to do before deciding to tell Giles, only to find Faith has beaten her to it and blames it on Buffy. When Faith is gone, she pleads with Giles to believe the truth-and finds he does quite unequivocally, Faith having "many talents" but lying not being one of them.
- Subverted again in the fourth season episode "Who Are You?" when Faith switches bodies with Buffy. Buffy is easily able to convince Giles that it's her by rattling off a string of rather embarrassing facts about their relationship that Faith couldn't know.
- Played straight, if fairly subtly, in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: If Angel wants someone to invite him into their home so he can protect them, he won't say "May I come in?"; he will instead demand that they invite him in. This makes him sound like a crazy person. They never do. In Angel this causes the death of Kate's father.
- In "The Pack", Giles refuses to believe Buffy when she claims Xander has been possessed by a hyena spirit. Being Buffy, she calls him on it:
- In "The Replacement" the monster of the week splits Xander into two separate beings, one having his strong traits and the other with his weak ones. Weak Xander believes he is the "real" Xander, and tells Willow there is an imposter and recounts things from their childhood and does the Snoopy Dance. It turns out to be unnecessary, as Willow quickly figures out what is going on.
- Burn Notice: "Burn [Notice] After Reading" has a guy going to Michael claiming that a woman at his workplace is an alien bent on world conquest. While the client is obviously delusional, the woman was actually selling the names of spies, so he was right about there being a conspiracy, it just wasn't the one he thought.
- This is also happens to their opponent one week. When Michael finds out about a well connected father who was beating up his wife and kids, he decides to do something about it. The problem is that his brother is a gangster and therefore they have to drive a wedge between them. When they find that the father was doing side deals, they convince him that those deals have caused someone to want to kill him and that he must leave town. Unfortunately, this is when his gangster brother shows up and begins to question him. They then pass of the abusive father as crazy when Michael, Sam and Fiona all appear randomly on the street and the father begins claiming to his brother that he saw the three of them killed.
- The phrase is spoken by Britta when she is trying to unsuccessfully convince Troy and Abed that their friend Lukka is actually a genocidal war criminal.
- Invoked by the Greendale Air Conditioning Repair Initiation. It's supposed to be secret, and so they kidnap people in the middle of the night, there's an astronaut in the corner making paninis, to ensure that any story would sound insane.
Dean of Air Conditioning Repair: We don't want you to tell anyone about this, and if you do, we don't want them to believe you. Isn't that right, Black Hitler?
- The Daily Show: Played for Laughs by Rob Riggle's character, whose often somewhat valid points which are completely overshadowed by his borderline psychotic personality.
- Used a bit creatively in the Deadtime Stories episode "Invasion of the Appleheads": A girl calls police to tell them that her parents have been turned into "appleheads", immobile doll-like figures. The police don't believe her, and threaten to come to her house if she doesn't stop "prank calling" them. Realizing that she can get the police to her house anyway, she then calls back and intentionally makes up a fantastical story to anger them into indeed coming to her house. They show up, but are turned into "appleheads" by the time they get there.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor, as often as not, explains that a giant psychic carnivorous alien plant is about to destroy the planet, even if everyone would be much better of if he'd come up with a plausible lie, deal with the alien, and explain later. This usually results in him being called a nutter and locked up, even if the people he's talking to should have every reason to find giant psychic carnivorous alien plants perfectly plausible.
- Played with in "Rose", when Rose meets with a conspiracy theorist who has information about the Doctor (whom she has kept mysteriously bumping into). Initially, he starts off presenting his theories about why the Doctor keeps popping up in different parts of history in a calm and reasonable fashion, and presents a relatively plausible theory that she'd be likely to believe they're all different men who are related and sharing a code name. Then, as he gets a bit carried away with having an audience, he starts getting a bit more worked up and intense, until he's convinced that Rose believes him fully and so blurts out his real theory (which is the truth) that they're same man, and the Doctor is an alien travelling through time. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't quite won Rose over before this, who leaves believing that he's a nutcase.
- "The Fires of Pompeii": The Doctor tries to discourage Donna from warning people that Vesuvius is going to erupt tomorrow by telling her she'll be dismissed as a "mad old soothsayer". Later on, during the eruption, she tries to warn fleeing residents not to go to the beach (where the ash cloud will be lethal), but no one listens.
- Averted in "The Eleventh Hour": The Doctor breaks into a house, and keeps shouting about Prisoner Zero. He is knocked out cold, cut to a hospital. Despite our expectations, he isn't there.
- Later played straight in the same episode when the Doctor does beg Amy to "believe for twenty minutes."
- At the climax of "The Pandorica Opens", the Doctor desperately attempts to persuade the Alliance not to lock him in the Pandorica as he is the only one who can stop the TARDIS from exploding. He's rather frantic, but they don't listen to him because the Alliance is made up of all of his enemies and thus not inclined to do so.
- "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": The Doctor invokes the trope to get police officer Yaz to work with her instead of reporting the hostile aliens to her superiors, pointing out that they won't believe anything she says without physical evidence. Graham, meanwhile, averts it while getting information from his fellow bus drivers, by not mentioning he's looking for aliens when asking if they've seen anything unusual.
- Extant: Refreshingly averted with Molly going out of her way to avoid telling everybody, because she knows it's insane sounding, and gaining all the evidence she can to corroborate her story.
- Played straight in season 2 since the government covered up what happened in season 1 and Molly suffered a nervous breakdown due to John's death and Ethan's seizure by the government. She is committed to a "rest home" and her efforts to convince people that she is sane quickly devolve into this trope. It is then subverted when Molly decides that it does not matter if people think she is insane as long as they also think that she possesses useful information they need in the current crisis.
- Firefly: The parents of Simon and River Tam have some excuse for not believing their son when he claims their daughter, supposedly safe at a government school, is being tortured and tries to hire criminals to kidnap her. As it happens, Simon is absolutely right, but it isn't exactly the most believable of stories. A deleted scene implies that they didn't completely disbelieve him either, but were also afraid to go poking around in Alliance business.
- Played for Drama in The Flash (2014). Joe watches a video of young Barry being interrogated about the murder of his mother, and he insists that his father is innocent and "the man in yellow" was the one who killed her. Of course, at this point, Joe knows that Barry was telling the truth all along.
Young Barry: Please, you have to believe me.
- Played for Laughs in Frasier when no-one believes that Frasier is dating a supermodel:
Frasier: I AM NOT CRAZY! I am dating a supermodel zoologist, who left her professional sports player boyfriend for me and is heading out to the Galápagos Islands to artificially inseminate iguanas! Is that so hard to believe?!
- Get Smart: Events in "The Little Black Book" force Maxwell to tell an old friend of his that he is actually a spy instead of being in the greeting card business. He isn't convinced until Max drags him to CONTROL headquarters (by way of the telephone booth) and has him talk to the president on the cow horn phone.
- Played for laughs in an episode of The Goodies called Invasion Of The Moon Creatures — the audience has followed everything that happened and knows that it's true, but of course, it sounds insane summing it up. Context: Tim and Bill have been brainwashed by moon rabbits, and Graeme pleads for help with the authorities.
Graeme: (in close-up) Anyway, I sent that rabbit up to the moon...uh, that was Flopsy. But he didn't come back, so I sent Tim and Bill up to the moon to see what had happened, and when they got up there, they found all these...carrots. And then hundreds of rabbits attacked them and overpowered them...(zoom out to reveal two uniformed men are grabbing him) ...and they've just gone into the space-burrow and they've met Big Bunny. (gets fastened with sign reading 'LOONY — handle with care') No, honestly, it's the truth, it is the truth, and Big Bunny's teaching them to say 'Nyeeeeh, what's up doc'! (gets stuffed into a crate reading 'TO THE FUNNY FARM — this side up')
- In the Grimm episode "Woman in Black", Nick is desperate is convince his Muggle girlfriend Juliet that Wesen are real so that she will accept that it is possible that one is trying to kill her by magic and go to the hospital. So he takes her to his aunt's Trailer Full of Crazy, shows her all the medieval weaponry, the books of Grimm lore (in languages she doesn't understand and full of gruesome illustrations) and the collection of Nazi propaganda films and earnestly explains that several people they know are monsters that only he can see, pausing every few sentences to beg her to believe him. For obvious reasons, she thinks he's delusional, and he can't get her to the hospital until after she collapses.
- The next season he gets to try this again as a case of Magical Amnesia has wiped Juliet's memory of the event. This time he is much calmer, and makes sure that he can back up his claims by actually having some friendly Wesen transform into their Game Face in front of her.
- In the 1996 TV adaptation of Gullivers Travels, Gulliver heatedly tries to convince people his experiences were real, but comes off quite deranged since they're incredibly bizarre and he also suffers from very frequent traumatic flashbacks which make him seem like he's just hallucinating it all. His son Tom though eventually finds the tiny sheep from Lilliput which he brought, proving it was real.
- Played with in Hannibal; when Will realizes he's being framed for the copycat murders, he explains it to Jack in the calmest, most reasonable manner possible. Unfortunately, it doesn't help.
- Played absolutely straight in season 1 of Homeland when Carrie goes to Brody's house and, in the most wild-eyed, rambling manner possible, tries to convince his wife and daughter that he's a terrorist. She even says the trope name aloud word-for-word at one point. Justified in that Carrie is mentally ill with bipolar disorder and is currently in the throes of a manic phase.
- Doctor House from House is a brilliant medical expert who nails the most bizarre diseases and syndromes week after week, yet nobody ever believes him when he dismisses the obvious diagnostics of the other doctors, despite there always being a nagging little detail that derails the simple explanations. Oh, and the standard treatment to the obvious diagnostic always seems to instantly kill the patient if administered before House stops them.
House: IT'S NOT LUPUS!
- Then again, it doesn't help his case that he's a sarcastic curmudgeon with a bad case of pain killer addiction...
- Plus House himself will usually come up with a completely wrong diagnosis, that nearly kills the patient, before he comes up with the right one.
House: I'm almost always eventually right.
- The episode that this quote is from actually makes this a Chekhov's Gun. House begins to suspect something's up because the team is too quick to agree with him. He's right. The entire thing is a hallucination.
- Danny Rand from Iron Fist (2017) might be the ultimate example of this trope. Having been presumed dead for fifteen years, he returns to New York intending to reclaim his share of his father's megacorporation. He starts by walking into headquarters looking like a hobo and asking to see the CEO. When they don't let him, he breaks into the CEO's office by attacking the guards. Once he gets there and sees childhood acquaintances Ward and Joy, he repeatedly claims to be Danny without providing any proof and is shocked that they don't believe him. He sneaks into Joy's house and admits it to her face, then breaks into Ward's car and purposely nearly crashes it in anger. When he's put in a mental asylum, he violently lashes out on multiple occasions and insists on telling everyone he's spent the last fifteen years in an extra-dimensional land and has magical powers in his fist. On occasion he sees the potential value of speaking about memories that only he would have, but he ignores plenty of good opportunities to do this (especially when speaking with Joy and Ward), preferring instead to repeat ridiculous sounding claims and attack people when they don't believe him.
- Often happens to the marks on Leverage as they try in vain to get the authorities to believe that they were set up by an elite team of con artists.
- In "The Very Big Bird Job", corrupt executive Romer calmly explains to the FBI that he wasn't fleeing the country to avoid insider trading charges and causing a deadly crash. Rather, he believed he was flying the Spruce Goose to save it from Iranians out to steal 70-year old stealth technology invented by Howard Hughes. Their expressions say it all.
- In the first season of The Listener Toby is unable to explain how he can read minds and thus simply insists others have to trust him on things like knowing when a crime is to be committed or a secret someone has. When he meets police detective Michelle in the season season, Toby decides the only way to avoid all this is to tell her the truth and then reads her mind, answering her questions verbally until Michelle believes him.
- This is the title character's usual tactic in Merlin. He never has any proof, because obviously A Wizard Did It, and so it never works. You'd think he'd learn after a few tries. Or alternatively, you'd think the other characters would learn that no matter how insane Merlin's initial claims may seem (or however badly he goes about explaining it), he's always — always — proven to be right by the end of the episode.
- Although this is finally subverted by The Dark Tower, when Merlin is trying to get the Knights to follow him. Arthur, being his usual ignorant self, starts to ignore him, but the Knights point out that it can't hurt as they're already lost, and ask Arthur to give him a chance.
- Misfits: Nathan yells dramatically at his mother that her boyfriend is a "psycho, rough-trade, gay, rapist werewolf!" Granted, his mother probably wouldn't have believed him even if he'd just calmly explained the situation (especially considering that Nathan is pretty much a compulsive liar, and had leapt to a rather silly conclusion based on what he'd seen anyway) but by the time he realized that babbling like a crazy person probably wasnt doing him any favors, she'd already totally dismissed him.
- Commonly averted on NCIS.
- Witness this exchange from "The Immortals":
Gibbs: Skipper, I have reason to believe a bomb, possibly containing a biological agent, is set to detonate aboard this ship by sunset.
Captain: How real do you think that threat is?
Gibbs: (flatly) Very real.
Captain: (immediately turns around to face the XO) Sound General Quarters. Deploy the flying squad, start with the ventilation systems, and alert sickbay to the situation and have them stand by.
- Another notable example is "Enigma", in which Gibbs' old CO enters stage left exemplifying this trope in full, with breathless panicked warnings about a massive black ops conspiracy going to the highest levels of the US government that's illegally manipulating wars, siphoning money out of Iraq, faked the death of Gibbs' old platoon leader to use him as one of their black operatives (before he defected to the colonel's side), and going to kill him. Turns out that the colonel actually is a paranoid schizophrenic, it was all in his head, the 'not really dead' guy is a hallucination only he can see, and the "massive conspiracy" was just a few guys embezzling some money that he stumbled across, and which his insane brain seized on and built up into a massive edifice of paranoia.
- Witness this exchange from "The Immortals":
- NOS4A2: Vic struggles to convince people that Bing killed Sharon Smith, but with no evidence it naturally doesn't sway police. After she tells the detective who is lead on the case just how she knows about this (and Charlie Manx) she's referred for psychiatric help.
- No Tomorrow: Xavier's method of trying to alert a famous astronomer that an asteroid is (he believes) on a heading with Earth is loudly accosting her in public and behaving like a maniac. Not surprisingly he's been arrested multiple times and the astronomer's taken out a restraining order against him. Even when she's convinced to listen by Evie though and he talks calmly, she still thinks he's nuts.
- Mentioned by name in Once Upon a Time during the Arendelle arc in Season 4; Ingrid locks up Anna and tries to convince Elsa that Anna was plotting against her. Elsa confronts Anna in the dungeon and accuses her of treason, and then demands the guards leave her alone with her sister. Anna tells Elsa she would never even think of betraying her, pleading, "You have to believe me." Once she hears the guards close the door behind them, Elsa drops her angry mask and unlocks Anna's cell, assuring her, "Of course I believe you."
- In The Outer Limits (1963) episode "The Special One", a father asks the board of education if they provide tutors as part of the enrichment program. When he's told that they don't, he reveals that a man posing as a tutor has been visiting his son. And then he reveals that the man isn't human, is from outer space (which he couldn't possibly know), disappears and materializes, and then starts talking about climate control machines.
- Subverted in PeepShow: When Mark's girlfriend Sophie receives a phone call from a mentally ill woman that Mark has been unfaithful, Mark's pleas to convince her that she has been institutionalized are initially met with disbelief. However, Mark, rather surprisingly, gives a calm and rational statement: "No Soph, look at me; honestly, she's in hospital. I can you give you her reference number.". This actually convinces Sophie, although it is unfortunately hinted that she may have already had her revenge.
- In an episode of Power Rangers Jungle Fury, an archaeologist discovers some artifacts that are potential weapons for the villains. Instead of visiting her as a Ranger and just explaining the situation, the Red Ranger shows up in civvies and tells her that people he can't talk about want the artifacts for reasons he also can't talk about, and can he have the artifacts for safekeeping? Not surprisingly, she says no.
- Played with in Quatermass II. Professor Quatermass is trying to get a committee of Obstructive Bureaucrats to authorise an inspection of a well-guarded synthetic food factory, which has some connection with strange hollow meteorites landing in the area. A politician who also wants to get to the bottom of the matter agrees to help him, and starts pitching to the committee the idea that the factory might be in danger from these meteorites crashing down on top of it. Rather than realising what he's up to, Quatermass keeps interrupting to 'correct' the politician's supposed scientific error.
- Intentionally invoked by Frank in 7Days. When a journalist is about to expose the government's time-travel experiments, he confirms her story on national television. He then goes on to say that he is the only man that can time travel, which is why the CIA let him out of the psych ward so he can pilot the ship that runs off of alien technology found at Roswell and designed by a sexy Russian that totally digs him. He (and the journalist) are laughed off the show.
- Stargate SG-1:
- Subverted in one episode, where after relating a prophetic dream he's had to General Hammond, Dr. Jackson is surprised when Hammond asks what he can do to help. When asked why he believes Jackson, Hammond gets smart, alluding to all of the other crazy things he's seen and heard while in command of the SGC.
- Also played straight in several episodes. In the three episode arc that ends the first season no one believes that Daniel Jackson had gone to an alternate reality despite the fact that he had evidence in the form of a staff weapon blast on his shoulder and had disappeared for several hours with no other explanation. Later, and more (though not entirely) excusably, he has a hard time convincing people to take his theory about Teal'c's sickness seriously after he apparently develops and then recovers from schizophrenia. The latter is also a massive case of Hollywood Psych.
Daniel: Why does everyone think I'm crazy!? [Beat] Probably because I'm acting like it, aren't I?
- The same thing later happened to Jonas Quinn. When he starts seeing bugs that no one else can see, Hammond immediately orders a lockdown and a full sweep of the base. Granted, Jonas was the only one to touch the strange alien device, but he was also the only one who'd spent his entire life around a specific type of radiation that's known to cause schizophrenia, so, well...
- Oddly enough, it happened constantly on Star Trek. Someone would claim to see some kind of anomaly in their quarters, have been abducted, been contacted telepathically, or whatever. Yet, the crew would always look at the person as if they were insane, even though that kind of stuff happened every single week.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, on the other hand, played this straight to start with, then tended to avert it once the beard filled in and the main characters learned to trust each other, generally responding to outlandish claims with a sensor sweep or system diagnostic - which, naturally, rarely turns up anything at first - before suggesting a sleeping pill and a nice lie down. (It still does go straight occasionally, but there's always a valid reason given for why.)
- A good example of this is "Realm of Fear", in which minor character Barclay, who has a well-deserved reputation as a twitchy, paranoid hypochondriac, spontaneously develops a fear of the transporters, insisting that he's been bitten by something living inside the beam. Picard gives him a long, hard look... then tells Data and Geordi to tear the transporter apart looking for the problem, because he knows that Barclay is fully aware of his reputation, and wouldn't risk the humiliation of reporting to him directly unless he were absolutely positive.
- Another episode, " The Wounded", features a starship captain who is convinced the Cardassians are rearming in preparation to break the peace treaty with the Federation. He's right, but unfortunately, instead of amassing evidence and going to his superiors, he proceeds to just start blowing Cardassian ships away left and right and then rants like a lunatic about how "they're all the same" and "I can smell their deceit" when Picard calls him out on it.
- The final episode plays with every aspect of the trope, with Picard traveling through 3 time periods. The present crew believe him outright (especially when he mentions that Q is involved, meaning that any kind of weirdness is possible). The future crew has doubts, since future!Picard is suffering from a brain disorder known to cause delusions, but he calls in some favors and they go along out of a sort of familial duty. And in the past, having "just" arrived on the Enterprise, he simply opts to not tell them at all and just starts barking out orders.
- A similar event happens in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Before and After". Dying of old age as a nine-year old grandmother, Kes starts jumping back through her own timeline. At first she has difficulty convincing people as they (as with Picard) think it's dementia, but becomes more convincing as she gets younger and gathers more information...until she jumps back to her childhood on the Ocampan homeworld, where she's unable to convince her father she's not playing some kind of kid's game.
- In "Death Wish" the all-powerful and all-annoying being called Q transports a spotlight operator from the Woodstock festival and Sir Issac Newton to Voyager. Captain Janeway tries to explain to them what is happening.
Janeway: Consider for a moment that it might be possible to travel forward in time, say to the twenty fourth century, onto a starship seventy five thousand light years from Earth.
Janeway: You're having a very strange dream...
- In "Death Wish" the all-powerful and all-annoying being called Q transports a spotlight operator from the Woodstock festival and Sir Issac Newton to Voyager. Captain Janeway tries to explain to them what is happening.
- Dr. Bashir plays this trope straight in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Inquisition" while trying to convince the bridge officers that he's not a traitor. Then it's revealed that the officers are in fact holograms programmed to vilify him. The fact that his True Companions won't consider his side of the story is one of the things that tips Bashir off.
- Averted in Stranger Things. When Nancy and Jonathan reveal the details of the conspiracy to Murray he says nobody will ever believe it, so they water it down by taking the most damming evidence and leaving out the paranormal parts.
- Joyce falls victim to this trope a bit, seeing as she has both naturally rather prone to anxiety and nervous tension and has been the victim of a campaign of discrediting/gaslighting by an abusive spouse even before her son went missing and gave her very good reason for hysterics, meaning that very few people are inclined to believe her when she insists that her missing son is somehow both alive despite all evidence including a body and yet invisibly haunting the electrics of her home. She is self-aware enough to know both that she lacks credibility and her story is fantastic, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating for her to deal with.
- In "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), Dean has to convince the Sam of the Wishverse that he needs to hunt the djinn, but Sam thinks he had a psychotic break. Subverted earlier in the episode when Sam catches Dean stealing a silver knife; as he's a loser in this particular reality, Dean simply says that he owes money to a loan shark.
- Averted in "First Blood". The Winchester brothers have been arrested for attempting to assassinate the President of the United States and since no-one would believe that POTUS has been possessed by Lucifer himself, they just maintain an absolute silence.
- Happens so, so, so many times in The Time Tunnel. The two protagonists always jump straight to "We're from the future," never bothering to come up with some more plausible explanation for how they know what they do, no matter how many times it doesn't work. Though it is nicely subverted in one episode where Doug confesses everything while being affected by a truth serum, which just causes his captors to think he's been conditioned to resist the serum and consider this proof that he's a professional spy.
- This is Tru's default state in Tru Calling. When subtler methods of informing people of their own impending death fail or are sabotaged, she always falls back on this line. Not only does it never help, it was likely similar antics from Tru's mother (who had Tru's powers) that got Davis' wife killed, so Tru should really know better.
- The main character in the famous The Twilight Zone (1959) episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet spends most of the episode gradually slipping into a major anxiety attack after seeing a gremlin on the wing of the plane he's riding on, which vanishes whenever anyone else looks at it, and trying to convince everyone that he isn't going insane. Their concern is admittedly justified, because until recently he'd been a patient in an asylum after suffering a nervous breakdown on a plane, and because he's played by William Shatner's completely hamming it up.
Bob: (wild-eyed and drenched in sweat) Do I... look... insane!?
- Interesting case on Wire in the Blood: after the police crack the M.O. of a serial killer, it becomes vitally important to alert his latest prospective victim (who is already waiting to meet him) to the danger, without spooking her into hanging up or dismissing the call as a prank. Psychologist Tony Hill immediately demands that he be given the phone; he then adopts exactly the right inflection so that she not only listens to him, but believes him, gives the police her location, and agrees to lock herself into a bathroom stall until he will arrive, using his name as a pass word. This is an inversion in that it is the police convincing a citizen of a sinister plot and not vice versa, and an aversion in how professionally the task is handled. However, while Hill is a brilliant theoretical analyzer of criminals, he is also shown as very socially inept and in fact often more of a liability when interviewing friends and relatives of victims. For him to be that convincing is actually out of character, which might count as a hyper-aversion.
- Mulder of The X-Files has a bad habit of this; when trying to enlist outside aid in dealing with a case (local police, FBI higher-ups, etc.) he makes sure to tell them exactly what he thinks is going on, no matter how insane, as opposed to sticking to the parts they're likely to believe. He usually doesn't rant and rave, but the fact that he talks about these things like they're perfectly reasonable and the person he's talking to is just a close-minded idiot doesn't help his credibility.
- This becomes almost something of a Running Gag, since no matter how crazy the theory and how much Scully cites scientific research that he's wrong, Mulder is always right.
- It's suggested The Men in Black are pretty smart about this, deliberately acting as strangely as possible and using agents who look like famous people (or perhaps even making an agent, say, the host of a game show), so that anyone who tries to tell other people about them won't be believed.
- In the episode "Synchrony", an elderly man (who's actually from the future) approaches two guys and starts a rant about how one of them will die in a traffic accident while crossing the street that evening, and how this must not happen. Of course, they don't believe him. If he'd calmly started a conversation with them and held them up for just a few minutes, he'd have easily succeeded.
- In Magic: The Gathering shortly after the Gatewatch arrives on Amonkhet they see a person fleeing the guards and shouting to onlookers that everything they believe is a lie. Later on, after the narration switches to her perspective, Samut is kicking herself for thinking yelling in the street would accomplish anything. Although she has trouble convincing even her closest friend rationally - the lie they live is too immense to be easily put aside.
- In A Very Potter Sequel, when Harry asks the guard how to get to platform nine and three quarters, the guard insists that it doesn't exist. Harry uses the trope nearly by name, and starts talking about his Hogwarts letter. When the guard starts to walk off, he yells, "Sir! Listen, please! A bird gave it to me!"
- Invoked from the flip side as well when the guard says that hundreds of kids have asked him the same question that day, and he refuses to believe it exists or there's anything worth looking into.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura's (in)famous X-Files quest ends this (as well as It Was Here, I Swear!) way: when you try to expose the conspiracy, you realize your proof was just, let's say, stolen. For added trauma, when you return to the secret facility where you found it, there's nothing, not even a brick. There are even a number of relatively obscure minor characters (along with a major one) to whom you can present your evidence, but they all either end up dead, have the files stolen from them, or are actually working for the conspiracy.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Thanes are faced with some pretty outlandish stories from their population and might easily fall for this trope, although they have the good sense to ask you to go look into that mysterious cavern just to be certain. Surely enough, no matter how crazy the story was it all turns out to be true.
- In the DLC Dragonborn you can come across I barely clothed madman shouting about how a book inserted his secrets. No matter how calmly you talk to him he'll attempt to attack you. He's right of course, because All Myths Are True, but what makes it maddeningly is that you can know it's true by accessing one of these books before you've ever met him yet you still treat him like a complete nutcase.
- Averted / Defied in Gothic II. When the Nameless Hero has to gain Paladins' support against the dragons in Valley of Mines, he simply tells their commander, "The question is not if you should believe me, but whether you can afford to not believe me if I'm telling truth." It works pretty well — the Hero is sent to the Valley for confirmation.
- In the 1st Degree: James Tobin goes into this a few times. What really makes him look bad is how early on, he changes most of his story, saying that he was so scared and that he did not think anyone would believe him. He even admits to shooting himself in the leg because he wanted to make the situation he was in look like like it was self-defense.
- In Mass Effect, the Council is generally considered Too Dumb to Live for ignoring your warnings about the Reapers. But then again, Commander Shepard probably could've come up with some much better arguments. Subverted in Mass Effect 3 DLC The Citadel, where Shepard can find a recording tht indicates that the Council arguably knew about the Reapers before Shepard did, but played dumb to prevent panic and because they honestly didn't have a clue about how to address a threat of that magnitude.
- Twisted and reversed in Metal Gear Solid 2. At the game's climax, Raiden is contacted by Rose (secretly the Patriots' AI in her form) who claims, as the subtitles spell, "You have to beLIEve me!"
- Subverted in Persona 4. After trying out the local rumor (looking at a blank TV screen on a rainy night will reveal your soulmate), the protagonist, Yosuke, and Chie are all talking to each other about their experience the previous night. The main character, unlike the other two, was a bit more hands-on, and managed to fit his head into his TV, which he then calmly and casually explains to them. Thinking it to be dream or a bad joke, Yosuke and Chie take him to the electronics aisle of the local department store, sarcastically suggesting that he could climb right in through one of the flatscreen televisions. When they suggest for him to prove what he said that he did, he promptly sticks his hand into the TV, and then, when curiosity overtakes him, his whole upper torso, at which point Chie and Yosuke begin freaking out.
- Unfortunately played straight if he tries to tell his uncle about it later. Despite the TV in the room.
- In Starcraft: Brood War, Aldaris incites a major military revolt and goes off on a mindless tirade about how evil the Dark Templar are and how they would doom the Protoss society. Just as he is finally defeated and starts to explain what he's discovered, Kerrigan pops in and assassinates him. The heroes eventually find out the hard way that Aldaris was right two campaigns later....all because the guy descended into a raving lunacy rather than rationally approaching the dilemma.
- Almost completely subverted by Zeratul in StarCraft II. True enough, he starts out as if he's going to play this trope straight, coming to Raynor in a dark corridor and acting all crazy and hurried, but he does give ol' Jimmy all of the information he has, expressed as logically as possible. It's also hard to fault him for boarding the ship in secret, because, well, he's a Protoss (and a Dark Templar to boot), and that's just the way they do things.
- Tomb Raider (2013): One of the supporting cast doesn't believe in Lara's crazy theory that a Japanese demigoddess is controlling the weather on the island. Even though they witnessed storms that have literally formed in ten seconds to take down a massive, E.M.P.-shielded aircraft in one strike. And then an entire cruiser. IN HALF. Eventually, Lara realizes that she doesn't need the acting captain to believe her - just trust her, and her judgment in "going to the center of the island and killing whoever is sniping off people who try to leave the island with super-powerful technology". Since the acting captain has trusted her since the beginning, she agrees.
- In the second episode of the The Walking Dead the player can get one of these. When everybody is about to chow down to some nice human meat you have four choices, one of which is IT'S PEOPLE, to which the reply is "yes Lee, we're all people in here."
- In Warcraft 3, the Prophet Medivh could have done a much better job of warning the human leaders of their impending doom, if only he didn't barge into the throne chamber uninvited in the shape of a raven, transform into a human before the King, insult him, and then proceed to ramble about doomsday like a lunatic.
- Considering that the magi of Dalaran and the elves of Quel'thalas were very much aware of the existence of demons, all the Prophet really had to do was bring up the topic and say, "yeah, they're coming."
- In the final scene of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Blair, having witnessed evidence of Admiral Tolwyn's treason, interrupts a Senate hearing to try and present his case. The player is presented with dialogue options that determine how he goes about this, but the straighter you play this trope, the less likely the Senate is to actually believe him, to the point of bad ending yourself.
- In Kathy Rain, the titular Player Character is caught red-handed by the local Sheriff after she has broken into Father Isaac's office and is rooting through his private stuff. The player can choose to have Kathy rattle off a frantic explanation about how she is actually trying to prove that Isaac is behind the kidnapping of Kathy's friend, Eileen. Alternatively, the player can outright Subvert the trope by choosing a smarter response:
Kathy: ...Fuck it, just take me to jail.
- Virtue's Last Reward: When Dio and Quark's vote turns out to be "Betray" early in the game, if their opponent is Tenmyouji, Dio attempts to persuade Tenmyouji that Quark pushed the button, while Quark responds by screaming that Dio pushed the button and begging for Tenmyouji to believe him. (This trope turns out better than usual, though: Tenmyouji scolds Quark for losing his temper, but ultimately does believe Quark because he' raised Quark and could be deaf and blind and would still know if Quark was lying to him.)
- Lampshaded in Casey and Andy when Mary calls 911 to say that Satan was kidnapped by a mime assassin and gets hung up on.
Mary: I'm sure I could have handled that better.
- Averted and Lampshaded in Girl Genius when Agatha tries to convince Von Mekkhan that she is the Hetrodyne heir. Von Mekkhan has seen stranger things than talking cats, and while he has seen a lot of pretenders come by, he is willing to give Agatha the opportunity to make her case.
- Mulder's propensity for this is parodied in Monster of the Week, for instance when his ranting to a judge about a killer with mind-control powers is followed by him saying to Scully that the killer mind-controlled the judge into throwing out the case, and Scully snarking that that is definitely what happened.
- Used as a Running Gag in Sequential Art, whenever Art calls the police to resolve the current bizarre crisis. Naturally, they always hang up. The next trouble happens, and he does it again.
- One regular feature on Animaniacs was Chicken Boo, about a giant chicken (rooster?) who puts on human clothes and tries to blend in. Since Humans Are Morons, everyone is always completely fooled until his Dramatic Unmask, save for one Properly Paranoid guy raving throughout the short:
"He's a chicken, I tell you! A giant chicken!"
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Jet does this when he tries to convince the people of Ba Sing Se that Zuko and Iroh are Firebenders.
- Lampshaded by the Earth King when the Gaang says this regarding his Treacherous Advisor.
Earth King: You invade my palace, lay waste to all my guards, break down my fancy door, and you expect me to trust you!?
Toph: ...He has a good point.
- Early in Code Lyoko, XANA targets the local nuclear plant and the group ultimately decides to send Yumi to tell the adults what's going on. They don't believe her. In fact, pretty much any time the kids try to tell the adults about XANA's actions, they're dismissed outright. This also happens with their peers a lot.
- In Danger Mouse on the Orient Express, Penfold has a difficult time getting Greenback's agents and even DM to believe that the important document to be transported to London got eaten by a fish, which did eat it when Penfold was submerged in a Venice canal. Later in the episode, the fish, with said document in its mouth, is served to Greenback for lunch on the train ("So... the half-witted hamster was telling the truth!")
- In an episode of DuckTales (1987), Ma Beagle's latest scheme involves pretending to be married to Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge's attempts to deny being her husband fall under this trope, especially when she demands a "divorce" (meaning that she would get half his fortune), and he blurts out that he'd rather "stay married," which of course the judge interprets as meaning they already *are* married...
- The Fairly OddParents! has Timmy's Evil Teacher Denzel Crocker, who's obsessed with proving that Timmy has "FAIRY GODPARENTS!"
- Used humorously in the Show Within a Show, The Scary Door:
Gambler: There's a gremlin destroying the plane! You've gotta believe me!
Narrator: Why should I believe you? You're Hitler!
- In "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela", the crew discover that Earth is going to be destroyed by a giant automated death-sphere-ship thingamabobber, because it's "censoring" inappropriate planets by destroying them. Farnsworth states that people will listen to rational, intelligent people such as them. They emerge seconds later in robes and signs, saying "The end is near!" and "Repent!"
- In "The Inhuman Torch," Bender has what is by Futurama standards a perfectly plausible explanation for why he isn't to blame for a string of fires that broke out in his wake, but manages to convince Frywho has discovered evidence in his favor and already believes in his innocencethat he's guilty by phrasing his explanation like a next-level Lame Excuse while also playing up his own self-perceived heroism, which was exactly what was believed to have been his motivation.
Bender: It was a psychotic flame creature from the sun who set those fires!
- Used humorously in the Show Within a Show, The Scary Door:
- Duke and company in G.I. Joe: Renegades. The kind, benevolent, paragon of corporate responsibility that is Cobra Industries couldn't possibly be evil, could they? Starts to be gradually subverted as word of their heroic exploits gets out, and even Flint sees evidence that something much bigger is going on.
- Invader Zim: This is the entire reason why nobody ever listens to Dib, not even his sister who knows that he's correct about Zim being an alien invader. Not that it really matters.
- In Justice League Unlimited, Supergirl has vivid recurring nightmares about killing people. She goes to Green Arrow who is naturally skeptical. Then The Question overhears her and is so certain that it's part of a deep government plot that even Supergirl becomes skeptical. He is eventually proven right.
- Kaeloo: In Episode 98, nobody believes Stumpy when he says that Smileyland's sheep are aliens. Instead, his friends try to take him to a doctor/psychotherapist.
- The protagonist in Looney Tunes' "One Froggy Evening" follows this trope to a T when he utterly fails to convince anyone (talent agent, theater full of patrons, a policeman) that he is in possession of a singing, dancing frog.
- On Phineas and Ferb this is how Candace behaves Once per Episode when she witnesses her little brothers' shenanigans and tries in vain to inform their mother.
- Adora takes a turn in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power when everyone is stuck in a Lotus-Eater Machine and she starts getting memories from her real life breaking through. The only person who doesn't think she's entirely nuts is Scorpia, and that's because she manages to get Scorpia's real memories firing too. It doesn't help that part of the effect is that she stops picking up on the offscreen passage of time, meaning she looks like she's forgetting entire days at a time.
- The Simpsons:
- In the commentary for "Homer's Enemy" (featuring the line "This whole plant is insane! Insane, I tell you!") the writers note that if you're trying to convince people you're not crazy, it's not a good idea to end any sentences with "I tell you." Or worse, "I tells you."
- Lampshaded in "Treehouse of Horror VII" where Kang and Kodos abduct Homer and spray him with booze before releasing him so that his warnings will be dismissed as drunken ravings.
Homer: Why won't anyone believe my crazy story?
- On South Park, Al Gore uses the variant "I'm super-duper cereal [serious]!" during his ongoing crusade to defeat the seemingly imaginary monster ManBearPig. In keeping with the show's dismissive attitude toward environmentalism at the time that ManBearPig was first introduced, the monster started out as an obvious Windmill Political designed to mock Gore's real campaign against Global Warming. Then in a much later season, ManBearPig turned out to be No Mere Windmill, likely reflecting how public opinion has changed about the unavoidable reality of climate change.
- On the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Hooky", Mr. Krabs tries to warn people about the fishing hooks just outside of town, but they just ignore his ravings. One even tells him to take a breath mint.
- Subverted in Starchaser: The Legend of Orin, when Orin is trying to convince the others of the existence of the outside world and gets interrupted by Zygon.
Orin: He's only telling you what he wants you to believe!
Zygon: [entering the chamber behind Orin] Because I want you to believe the truth!
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Invoked by the antagonists in "Orders". Fives, who has found out that all the clone troopers have mysterious chips in their brains, is drugged with a compound that increases his aggression and paranoia, so when he tries to tell others, like Anakin and Rex, about the chips, he's incapable of expressing himself coherently. It's revealed in the Sequel Series, however, that Rex did listen, and that he and a few others had their chips removed as a result.
- Star Wars Rebels: In "Through Imperial Eyes", in a villainous example, Lieutenant Lyste, upon realizing he's being arrested for treason, tries to tell the other Imperials that he's not the traitor, Governor Pryce is. He quickly starts begging for Agent Kallus to help him once he realizes that no one is going to listen to him.
- Wacky Races (2017): In "Cold Rush", Dick Dastardly says this to the other racers when they won't believe he's not behind the episode's traps even after he gets caught on the last one with them. It's really not him this time.
- When the news of the Watergate scandal initially broke, Attorney General John Mitchell's wife Martha began calling reporters insisting that the White House was behind the burglary. No one believed her until months later when investigations confirmed her allegations. As a result, she now has a psychological phenomenon named after her.
- After Family Guy got uncanceled the first time, Seth MacFarlane called Alex Borstein to tell her that the show was back on. She didn't believe him, but instead laughed derisively at him and hung up.