You Are Not Ready

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Commonly uttered phrase by powerful—often Sufficiently Advanced—beings when lesser lifeforms (like our heroes) ask for assistance or technical support. Oftentimes, the heroes get a hold of the information or gear for themselves, and the point is proven or refuted.

In other situations, this can be a line uttered by either The Obi-Wan or the Big Bad. In the former case, he is telling our young hero not to be brash and preperation is very important (though the hero will rarely listen). In the latter case, it is used as a rather hammy taunt.

Compare to Figure It Out Yourself, The World Is Not Ready.

Examples of You Are Not Ready include:

Comic Books

  • Upheld with the Watchers of the Marvel Universe who originally shared their scientific knowledge with a primitive alien race. The alien race advanced to interstellar levels only to be obliterated after challenging a much more advanced civilization race to war. These events traumatized the Watchers into being non-interventionists.
  • Upheld in Grimjack where some space aliens who were trying to dissect and understand a time travel watch accidentally obliterated one-quarter of a galaxy in the process.


  • Sphere. A depressing thought to Norman.

Beth: What's the matter, Norman?
Norman: It's a little hard to let go of. Something that could've been... this gift? The power to make your dreams come true. We're given the greatest gift in the history of mankind. We're given this magic ball. And it says "lmagine what you will and you can have it." That's an extraordinary gift, but we're so primitive we... we manifested the worst in us, because what we have inside us... is what we have inside of us, instead of the best of us. What does that say?
Harry: We weren't ready, Norman.
Normal: We have what's called an imagination. I mean, look what we're capable of. We can... (sighs) We're not ready.

  • Uttered by the Old Master towards his pupil in almost every martial arts film ever.
  • Similar to the above, Yoda informs Luke of this when he goes to face Vader on Cloud City.
    • Played even more straight with Anakin's accession to Jedi Master in Episode 3. Samuel L. Jackson knows a thing or two about ready, and You Are Not Ready.
  • At the end of Gremlins, Mr. Wing shows up to claim Gizmo and berates the Peltzers for not following the rules of proper Mogwai care and states "You are not ready!" When he sees how much Gizmo has come to care for Billy, Mr. Wing decided Billy may be ready "one day". (Did somebody say "sequel"?)
    • They sure did, but Mr. Wing was too dead to deem Billy ready by that point, so Gizmo heads out on his own to find his new master again.
      • Technically, Gizmo didn't find Billy. After Mr. Wing's store was knocked down, he was captured by a mad scientist and was found by Billy in a science lab.
  • This is the attitude of the Autobots towards technology sharing with humans in the Transformers movies. They won't give us weapons to fight Decepticons with because they know we'll end up using them to kill each other, and they don't give us non-weapons technology because they know we'd find a way to weaponize it.

Optimus Prime: "We've seen your human capacity for war... we believe it would only make things worse."

    • In other words, exactly what the Autobots and Decepticons have been doing to each other for the last several million years? (Actually, this is sort of the point. Optimus likes humanity and does not want them ending up in a repeat performance of that).
  • Mortal Kombat had Raiden tell Liu Kang he wasn't ready to face Shang Tsung. Which is quite weird, because he tells him he is ready, near the end, although we don't see anything changing in Liu Kang's character nor he learns any new skills.
  • In Mystery Men the Sphinx tells the others they are not ready to confront the Big Bad because they need training (and Ice Cream Koans.)


  • This trope may have originated (in Science Fiction, at least) with E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series back in the late 1930s. In that series, the rise of humanity and most other intelligent life in the Milky Way galaxy is part of a master plan by the Arisians, who are about one step short of Energy Beings. The goal of the plan is the eventual overthrow of the (quite nasty) Eddorians. However, at almost every step in the process the Arisians keep the ultimate goal a secret from humanity and its allies, and avoid making their own immense power obvious to them, for fear of "creating an inferiority complex" among the species they have raised to deal with the problem. In other words, You Are Not Ready.
  • The excuse used by all of Bruce Coville's aliens for why they don't swoop down and end all disease and strife on Earth. His last few books just had them as merchants who wanted stuff in return - they got peanut butter and ketchup.
  • In Iain Banks' novella The State Of The Art, a Culture Contact ship spends several months snooping about on Earth in 1977, before deciding not to contact us. Not so much because the Culture has any qualms about influencing the Earth—it is just that the Minds have decided to use Earth as a control group.[1] A passing reference in the appendix to Consider Phlebas does suggest that Earth has been Contacted by 2110 AD, at least. Humorously in Excession, when the Culture inadvertently becomes the victim of the trope, it is played completely straight.
  • Used and Subverted in the Nights Dawn trilogy, The hyper advanced aliens, the Kiint, refuse to solve humanity's "reality dysfunction" crisis, saying that each race faces it, and must find their own solution. On the plus side, they are more than willing to use their advanced technology to give humanitarian aid to those that become affected.
  • Inverted in Speaker for the Dead, where it's the humans telling the piggies that they are not ready for all the fancy human technology like spaceships and ansible communication—mostly just because the humans are afraid that the piggies will pose a threat to their superiority in space. This is a disputed policy and is one of the central conflict points of the novel.
  • In Vernor Vinge's novel A Deepness in the Sky, it's the humans hiding from the aliens while they wait for them to become Ready, and they are the ones who require technical assistance from the more primitive aliens.
  • In The Mallorean, Belgarath tells Garion he needs 2,000 years of study before touching weather again. considering what Garion triggered, Belgarath is entirely right to demand this.

Live Action TV

  • In Farscape, John is given information about wormholes. The catch? It's behind a mental lock, and the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who gave it to him state that if he isn't capable of unlocking the information on his own, he's not smart enough to use it wisely.
  • Babylon 5 did this rather well in the first-season episode "Deathwalker". A notorious war criminal has created a serum that gives the user immortality. Despite the heinousness of her crimes, Earth's government pardons her in return for turning over the formula. As she leaves the station, she reveals to the characters that had reacted to her in disgust the evil twist involved: every dose of the formula required killing another person of the same species. She intended to give the formula to everyone, and watch as they all fell into self-destructive chaos as a result to prove her twisted reasoning right. However, as she's leaving, a Vorlon ship appears through the jump gate and destroys the ship with her on it. When questioned about it, Ambassador Kosh says simply, "You are not ready for immortality."
    • Sebastian, the Inquisitor sent by Vorlons to test Dellen's resilience and spirit, replies with this to Sheridan's questions about Vorlons.
    • After Vorlons leave the galaxy Lyta, who had been tightly involved with them, said that it would take humans more than a million years to get ready for a visit to the Vorlon homeworld.
      • Actually, "You Are Not Ready" is pretty much the summary of the Vorlons' approach towards "lesser" races.
  • Basically the reason the Vulcans gave for not giving humans the technology to go to Warp 5 pre-Star Trek: Enterprise. The NX-01 is the humans' Warp 5 prototype, nearly 50 years and much emnity between humans and Vulcans later.
    • Many instances in Star Trek media where the Prime Directive is invoked revolve around this trope; Starfleet crews are on occasion conflicted between moral pressure to help those in need and complying with the Federation's rules about "interfering" with less-advanced cultures.
  • The Tollan from Stargate SG-1 refused to share their technology with Earth because of a previous experience with a less advanced race that destroyed itself and the original Tollan homeworld. Flipped around a few seasons later, when this became the refrain of SG-1 when dealing with a less advanced society.
    • Ironically in the final episode humanity gets the sum total of (even more advanced) Asgard knowledge.
  • Used word for word in Smallville by Lex Luthor in Season 8
  • In the first episode of Mahou Sentai Magiranger, youngest sibling Kai is denied the chance to become a Magiranger by his mother because he's too reckless. After being scared witless by Wolzard and working up the courage to stand up to him to defend his older siblings anyway, he is then deemed worthy, becoming MagiRed.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • The title phrase was actually used as a slogan in ads for the original PlayStation - though in printed ads, it was written in the more cryptic form "U R NOT E".
  • Slight variation: In the opening cinematic for the World of Warcraft expansion The Burning Crusade the main villain (sort of) Illidan can be heard saying "You are not prepared!" at the beginning and end of the cinematic and during his pre-battle monologue (and if you are indeed not prepared, he will say it again and again...). This became a meme, and one version provides the page picture.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Creepy guy in brown cloak: "One who knows nothing, can understand nothing..." (refering to Sora)
    • Subverted, as creepy guy is later shown to be greatly mistaken about his beliefs and knowledge. The sequel features another arrogant old man with a thing for vague statements about your ignorance, he turns out to be wrong about many things too. The Kingdom Hearts world isn't a good place to be an enigmatic mentor.
    • The latter example, though, actually turns things around. In the end, he admits his own ignorance and uses the knowledge he gained from the experience to make the Big Bad's defeat possible.
  • After the timeline in The Journeyman Project has been altered, the entirety of First Contact with the Cyrollans is revealed to have consisted of these four words before their ship departs.
  • Mass Effect: Humanity is not ready for a human Spectre, or a seat on the Citadel Council. By the end of the game, they have both.

Web Original

  • Mark Oshiro, completely spoiler-free, is not prepared as his fans constantly remind him. He wasn't prepared for the Twilight books, but there it took on a more somber tone. And he certainly hasn't been prepared for any of the other stuff he's been reviewing.

Western Animation


Yoda/Carl: Y-You're not done with all your Force stuff, a-and besides, you can't fight Vader. Only an experienced Jedi could fight Vader.
Luke/Chris: Well, why don't you go?
Yoda/Carl: Yeah, you're probably ready to fight Vader.

  • In Episode XXXII of Samurai Jack, after Jack fails to defeat The Guardian and gain access to the time portal, we see in a Flash Forward that Jack will eventually use the portal when he's ready.

The Guardian: You can't use it yet, Samurai Jack. Not yet.

  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Azmuth considers Ben to be this regarding the new Omnitrix he is building (He changes his mind by the end of the series, though).
  1. In Inversions the Culture subtly guides a medieval civilization onto a more enlightened path.