Trope Workshop:You Know Nothing About X

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Moved back to the Trope Workshop since it has been marked with Needs a Better Description since before the TVTropes fork.

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Man in Theater Line: Wait a minute, why can't I give my opinion? It's a free country!
Alvy Singer: He can give it... do you have to give it so loud? I mean, aren't you ashamed to pontificate like that? And the funny part of it is, Marshall McLuhan, you don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan!
Man in Theater Line: Oh, really? Well, it just so happens I teach a class at Columbia [University] called "TV, Media and Culture." So I think my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity!
Alvy Singer: Oh, do ya? Well, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here, so, so, yeah, just let me...
[pulls McLuhan out from behind a nearby poster]
Alvy Singer: Come over here for a second... tell him!
Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!
Alvy Singer: Boy, if life were only like this!


A character, in order to make a point, invokes thing/person/place/event X. Another character then says something to the effect of "you know nothing about X" in rebuttal.

The implication is, of course, "I know all about X in a way that is more accurate/intimate than you do, and it's nothing like what you're saying. Therefore, your argument is invalid."

This page needs a better description. You can help this wiki by expanding or clarifying the information given.

Examples of You Know Nothing About X include:

Anime and Manga


  • In Wolfgang Petersen's Troy, Hector tells Paris that he know nothing about either death or love when the latter claims he is willing to kill or die for Helen, stating that he has killed and it is neither glorious nor beautiful. Justified as Paris is very naive at that point.
  • As seen in the page quote above, Annie Hall takes this to the ultimate, where Alvy Singer pulls from nowhere Mr. McLuhan himself to point out that the man knows nothing about McLuhan's work.
    • This scene was parodied by Mad TV in their sketch "Crimes, Misdemeanors, and Payback", when one of the terrorists holding schoolgirls hostage pontificates to "Woody Allen" that he teaches a class at Columbia in International Terrorism and therefore knows about Yasser Arafat's works. Cue "Woody Allen" reaching behind a door and pulling out "Yasser Arafat" to tell the terrorist, "You know nothing of my work".
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has this in the first movie: when Jack comments to his (former) crew that "the deepest circle of hell is reserved for traitors and mutineers", one crew member grabs him by the throat (and reveals his skeletal arm in the moonlight), hissing "you know nothing of hell."


  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher Eliza Jane Wilder claims on her first day at Laura Ingalls' school that she intends to rule by love, not fear, and states that "birds in their little nests agree". Laura's thought is that she obviously knows nothing about birds. Ironically, Miss Wilder ends up as a Sadist Teacher.
  • In The Secret Garden, when Martha lets it slip that she'd hoped Mary would be a native Indian, Mary flies into a rage and screams that "You know nothing about India. You know nothing about anything!"

Web Comics

  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob: Bob points out that Riboflavin's motivations for his crimes don't make sense. Riboflavin screams, "YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, YOU LITTLE &%!!&!! AND THE PENALTY FOR IGNORANCE IS DEATH!!!" (indicating, of course, that Riboflavin knows Bob is right and refuses to admit it to himself).

Western Animation

  • In Family Guy, Peter once claims to be Poseidon: God of the Sea! The real Poseidon walks up behind him and admonishes "No you're not, I am! And you know nothing of my work!"

Real Life

  • In the 1988 U.S. vice presidential debates, Dan Quayle compared his experience to that of John F. Kennedy. His counterpart, Lloyd Bentsen, responded with the following:

Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.