You Didn't Ask
Sarge: You mean you could have turned the bomb off any time!? Why didn't you tell us? And don't say I didn't--Gary: You didn't ask.
A character on the show has been less than forthcoming about information that would have certainly helped the protagonist figure things out faster. Often, there's a good reason—a Big Secret or an Awful Truth, for example. In reality, the writers just needed a way to protract the story or build the suspense.
There are two ways this trope is generally employed:
Version one: The detectives or crime labs find evidence that their main suspect in the crime couldn't possibly have committed the murder because he had some other alibi. Usually, the secret they are keeping is illegal, immoral or highly embarrassing, but scriptwriters usually fail completely in getting viewers to accept that the perpetrator wouldn't have volunteered that information anyway to avoid going to prison for the primary crime. Usually used ham-handedly in crime dramas to get the Red Herring out of the way and move suspicion off of the patsy.
Cop: You didn't tell us that you were having an illicit affair with your secretary while betting on backroom cockfights.
Perp: You didn't ask.
Version two: Used when a Forgotten Superweapon is in the pocket of a non-primary character. This can often feel a bit like Deus Ex Machina, if the viewer was not given enough advanced warning that the character actually had this in their pocket.
Hero: Why didn't you tell me you had that Applied Phlebotinum in your pocket?
Sidekick: You didn't ask.
Similar excuses include forgetfulness ("Didn't I tell you this?"), not realizing that the other person actually needs the information ("I thought you already knew."), or underestimating the importance of the information ("I didn't think it was important."). The last can be somewhat justified if said information is of an embarrassing nature. A Trickster Mentor, vague prophet, or similar enigmatic figure may deliberately withhold information until asked, either because they can't reveal it otherwise or they need the other characters to keep consulting with them.
This idea is often used when computers or Artificial Intelligence are involved. Because computers are extremely literal, it often happens that the computer or AI knows the answer to solve the problem, but since they weren't asked (or weren't asked correctly)...
You Can Talk may also figure in the conversation.
- In a recent commercial for Ally Bank, there are two girls in a room with a man. He asks one "Would you like a pony?" When she accepts, gives her a small, plastic toy pony. He then asks the other "Would you like a pony?" When she accepts, clicks his tongue a few times to bring out a real pony for her.
Girl with toy: You didn't say I could have a real one.
Businessman: Well, you didn't ask.
Anime & Manga
- Xellos from Slayers loves this trope, and often cheerfully informs the group of such hidden things when they finally ask him about them incredulously. Examples include the fact he used their entire planned heist as a distraction for his, his nature as a mazoku (demon), and numerous other such subjects. However, he does have limits: if he doesn't feel like revealing something, his trademark Catch Phrase "That... is a secret!" is all anyone's going to get from him. This is very justified in Xellos's case, since he feeds on negative emotions and gets quite a bit of pleasure out of watching the others squirm. There's also the fact that his goals are often different from those of the group...
- In Ranma ½, this is literally Ukyô Kuonji's explanation for not revealing that Wholesome Crossdresser Tsubasa Kurenai was a boy she met while infiltrating an all-boy's school until after Ranma has been running around trying to "out-girl" him. For added bonus, she claims that since nobody asked, she figured they must have known—Akane immediately Lampshades how stupid an assumption that is.
- Urusei Yatsura: In one manga chapter, Ataru, Lum and several of their friends went camping. Lum was making lunch and everyone were happy... but Ataru. He adamantly -who usually eats ANYTHING and EVERYTHING he can have his hands on- refused eating. His friends nagged him about rudely rejecting Lum food... and then they tried it. Right away they dragged it away and asked him why he had not warned them Lum's food is very spicy. His answer? They did not ask (And he did not want to warn them).
- Second variation in Naruto Shippuuden #111. Naruto decides he needs a fire element attack. One of his summoned toads casually mentions that he can use one. Of course, when asked why he never mentioned this before, the reply was that he never asked.
- The manga has been going on for hundreds of chapters and only now do we learn that the tailed beasts actually have names. The shinobi typically consider them to be nothing more than mindless monsters or weapons, so they never thought to inquire about their names, which leads to quite a bit of anger on the beast's part that none of the ninja ever bothered to ask them.
- Used in the dub of Dragonball Z -- Android 16's response when 17 asks why he hadn't mentioned another likely place Goku could be hiding. He says it with a slight grin, so he may be just messing with their heads.
- No, he doesn't, he actually says it when 17 asks why he didn't tell them that he could scan power levels.
- In Bleach, Kisuke Urahara spams and subverts this trope. He's a Well-Intentioned Extremist Guile Hero. He'll do the right thing, sure, but he'll lie, trick and manipulate just about everything he says and everyone he meets. However, as Ichigo observes in Chapter 491, if Urahara is asked to give the information, he refuses rather than playing this trope straight and revealing it when asked.
- Avdol's survival after his first "death" during the third arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was a well-known fact among the heroes except for Polnareff, who was intentionally kept out of the loop by the others.
- A variation of this appears in Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. During a mission where Mao and Kurz are escaping from the enemies chasing them, they end up getting into Sôsuke's car, resulting in a car Chase Scene complete with the enemy shooting at them. Both Kurz and Mao lament "if only we had the weapons to shoot back at them," and Sôsuke proceeds to ignore them. Then, they notice the enemy catching up, resulting in them realizing they need to lighten the car so they can go faster. They contemplate throwing out their kidnap target from the car.
Sôsuke: Throwing out his body won't be enough and I think the weapons in the backseat are weighting us down, too. Let's scuttle everything.
Mao and Kurz: Weapons?! (they pull down the backseat, revealing a whole arsenal of rifles, ammo and a rocket launcher) Why didn't you tell us?!?
Sôsuke: (deadpan) I thought I did.
Mao: But you didn't, dumbass...
- In the fourth sound stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Erio and Caro are shocked when Lutecia tells them that her mother has been out of her coma for over a week. When they ask why she didn't tell them when they last visited her, she says they never asked.
- in the first series, Yuuno shocks Nanoha by revealing that he was actually a Human boy. He thought that he told her already.
- One Piece
- Luffy evidently knew since childhood that Ace was the son of Gold Roger, but never mentioned it. Somewhat justified as Ace is touchy on the subject and doesn't want it to be known for obvious reasons! Sort of funny, considering how bad he otherwise was at keeping secrets.
- It's justified because Luffy doesn't care about stuff like that and thus, doesn't have a reason to tell anyone.
- A smaller example came in the Alabasta arc: After traveling across half the kingdom to get to the rebel based in Yuba, they find out it was moved to Katorea, a city near where they started. They could have been saved most of the trip if Eyelash(es) (the camel who Chopper was able to talk to) mentioned that the wagon full of guns that accidentally brought Chopper to Katorea was being used by the rebels. He was promptly kicked in the face by Luffy, Sanji, and Usopp for not mentioning this, scoffs it off, and is then kicked in the face again.
- Death Note. Used by Ryuk whenever Light comes across a new Death Note rule that hinders his plans.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- This is Kyubey's response when asked why he never mentioned that the process of creating a magical girl involves removing their soul from their body.
- In fact, that's his standard MO. He has never told an outright lie, not even when asked a direct question, but he never tells the whole truth either. He frequently fails to mention key pieces of information, like the one described above, or magical girls risking, if not being outright doomed, to turn into their enemies, witches, through The Corruption, which might harm his goals. (The one time he had to be deceptive—in ascribing motives to his antagonist Homura—he merely provoked another girl into speculating about her, then nodded and said nothing.) One might chalk this up to his Orange and Blue Morality, and suggest that he doesn't understand why humans consider this information important... but he knows that they think it's important, and so he deliberately avoids it: "This is exactly why I didn't tell you. I always get the same reaction every time I say it."
- Hayate the Combat Butler has an odd take on this. After 88 chapters, he reveals to the other girls that he's had a girlfriend in the past, and she's the reason that he's completely clueless about all the other girls all but throwing themselves at him, even the one who's actually confessed to him. Even later he reveals who this girl is, and everyone realizes that they know of her and one of them was actually seen as her best friend. The phrase is never actually spoken, but there are reaction shots with this being their expression.
- Given the amount of mistaken dialogue present, this could clear up most of the confusion of the story. One of the characters seems to have gotten Genre Savvy about this. Granted, sometimes it's refused, even when one of the girls is asked directly, she can't answer.
- In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu just kind of forgot to tell all his coworkers (sans Antonio) - for at least a year - that he's a widower with a preteen daughter. They were understandably surprised. Especially Karina.
Karina: You'll make a great father someday.
Antonio: He already is.
- In Sankarea, the girl attached a GPS to Sanka. Professor Boil berates her for not telling anyone as they have been looking for her for the past few days. She causally replies in her defense, "no one asked me".
- In Heartcatch Precure, when Tsubomi, Erika and the recently-recruited Itsuki arrive at the Great Heart Tree for the first time, Itsuki makes mention of the Cure Moonlight dream. Erika wanted to know why she didn't say anything about it and Itsuki really didn't think too much of it. To their credit, though, Tsubomi and Erika was going to ask Itsuki over it, but Itsuki's concerns over her ailing brother took precedence.
Comics -- Books
- X-Men did this with Wolverine's real name. From his first appearance all the way to the end of the (first) Dark Phoenix Saga, his teammates only knew him as "Wolverine". The audience first learned it second-hand from a leprechaun, and first-hand later on in a conversation with his then-love interest. But the X-Men themselves only learned during a reconciliation with Alpha Flight that his name was "Logan". When asked why he didn't share this information, well... you can guess his answer.
- Wolvie was the living embodiment of this trope while Claremont was building him up. "You speak Japanese?" "You worked with them?" etc. For a while it was practically his Catch Phrase.
- It was also turned around one time, when Wolverine was surprised ("I didn't know.") to learn the Beast speaks Pashtun, and Hank replied....
- Nick Fury once showed up in one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s FlyingCars to pick up The Mighty Thor's civilian identity—yeah, S.H.I.E.L.D. knew who he was, anyway. When Thor made his transformation, Fury nearly lost control of the car, and exclaimed, "Why didn't ya warn me about the special effects?!" Thor's response: "Thou didst not ask."
- In the Green Lantern miniseries Emerald Dawn, when Hal Jordan asks why the lantern never told him it could talk, it responded "No inquiry was made". Immediately lampshaded by Hal.
Hal Jordan: "You never asked." Right. Silly of me.
- In Eiga Sentai Scanranger, a story set in Japan has a member of the team dumbstruck to learn that their mentor can speak Japanese (whereupon she quotes the line). This isn't that big a deal to begin with, but it's even dumber because not only is the one who notices a Japanese guy who also speaks Japanese and English, the mentor knowing a second language doesn't even come in handy because a friendly alien uses her powers to enable everyone to understand each other.
- Played with (and possibly inverted) in the Bleach fic Getting It Right.
Films -- Animation
- Irene and her new boyfriend Curdie play this trope almost word-for-word in the 1991 animated version of George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin. After narrowly escaping the tunnels full of evil goblins, Irene wants to kiss Curdie to thank him for saving her life, but they are interrupted by Irene's obnoxious and terminally stupid caretaker, Lootie.
Lootie: (hollering insistently from the castle grounds) Princess Irene!!!
Curdie: "Princess?!" You didn't tell me you were a princess!
Irene: You didn't ask.
Films -- Live-Action
- In The Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam hook up with Gollum to guide them, Frodo asks Gollum to "take us to the Black Gate" of Mordor, which he does. They see how massive and impenetrable the entrance is, and when they are about to make a charge for it anyway, Gollum pulls them back and tells them there is another way in. Sam asks why he didn't mention this before. Well... you didn't ask... Justified: There was a VERY good reason Gollum didn't mention that, didn't want to mention that, and such.
- In the live-action Death Note movie, this is Ryuk's explanation for why he hadn't told Light why, if you have a Death Note, your lifespan is hidden from a human who has traded for Shinigami-sight (which allowed Misa to discover who he is). In the manga and anime, he says he didn't know.
- In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, this is more-or-less Spock's excuse for never mentioning he had a dangerously insane brother running around the galaxy. Coming from Spock does make it a bit passable.
- In The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, a subplot involves taking a rich man's lazy stoner son with him on the voyage, basically to just get him out of the house.
Haroun: Dangerous? Dangerous?! You never told me it would be dangerous!
Sinbad: You didn't ask.
- In the Don Knotts film How to Frame a Figg!, Figg learns that the computer with the evidence that would clear him had been buried at the local cemetery. After digging it up, Figg and his sidekick try to buy enough extension cords to plug it into the nearest outlet... which is about a half-mile away. They wind up jury-rigging a whole bunch of cords together (including a mixer and a neon sign) and get within three feet. That's when Figg notices an outlet sticking up out of the lawn... about six feet from the grave. The sidekick, of course, knew it was there all along. Why didn't he speak up? GUESS.
- In Rush Hour, Jackie Chan's character is Obfuscating Stupidity by pretending to not understand English. A few minutes, a chase scene, and a held-at-gunpoint later, he demonstrates that he does speak English.
Detective James Carter: Why didn't you tell me you spoke English?
Chief Inspector Lee: I never told you I didn't. You assumed I didn't.
- And then this is reversed near the very end of the movie, with Carter thanking the Chinese flight attendant in Chinese.
Lee: You never told me you spoke Chinese!
Carter: I never told you I didn't. You assumed I didn't.
- However, in the sequel it's revealed that his knowledge is very poor and spotty, and that he's more likely to accidentally insult your grandmother than say anything useful. Plus, all he really said was "thank you". That's not the same as speaking the entire language.
- In The Karate Kid, Daniel is more than a little surprised to learn that it was the old handy-man, Mr. Miyagi, who had saved him from the five-on-one Kobra Kai massacre.
Daniel: Why didn't you tell me?
Mr. Miyagi: Tell you what?
Daniel: That you knew karate.
Mr. Miyagi: You never ask.
- Also done in Some Kind of Wonderful at the end when Watts, the tomboy, finally gets with Keith. When he asks "Why didn't you say anything?" to Watts, she answered "You never asked."
- In A Few Good Men, Pvt. Downey reveals on the stand that he didn't actually hear Lt. Kendrick's order to give a Code Red to Pvt. Santiago, and instead the order was relayed to him by Cpl. Dawson. In the next scene Lt. Kaffee demands to know why Dawson didn't tell him that Downey wasn't there. The answer? "You didn't ask, sir." Kaffee is very angry.
- Two in a row in The Princess Bride; although Westley did ask, this trope is referenced in the dialogue:
Westley: Why didn't you list [the wheelbarrow] amongst our assets in the first place?
- A particularly sinister example comes from cult classic Return to Oz. The Nome King has transformed The Scarecrow into an ornament for his palace, and offers Dorothy and her friends the chance to play a guessing game to change him back. Of course, the penalty for losing the guessing game is to be transformed into an ornament yourself, which the Affably Evil Nome King didn't even mention until the first member of their party lost. When called on it, he gives them a reasonable second option they can take instead of the guessing game.
Dorothy: But you didn't tell us about it!
The Nome King: You didn't ask. Perhaps you'd like to visit my fiery furnace!
- In The Elephant Man, Treeves assumes and even hopes that John Merrick is an idiot. (If he is an idiot, it means he won't realize just how unlucky he is.) Merrick surprises Treeves when it's revealed that he can read and recite an entire passage from Psalms from memory. When Treeves asks him why he didn't tell him he could read his answer is, "You didn't ask."
- In Laurel and Hardy's Block Heads, Ollie reunites with old war buddy Stanley, who is sitting in a chair in a way that makes him look like he'd lost a leg. Putting on a cheerful front, Ollie offers to take Stanley home, even carrying him quite a while under great strain. After a couple of spills, and only after Stanley helps him up, Ollie growls "Why didn't you tell me you had two legs?" And, you know...
- Happens twice in The Avengers 1998.
Mrs. Peel: Do you always obey orders?
Steed: Always. Except when I don't. For example, if I were, perish the thought, under orders to kill you...
Mrs. Peel: Pity you never told me.
Steed: You never asked.
Colonel Jones: As I recall, there was some former Ministry land used as a secret military installation and sold by us to Sir August years ago. And authorized by Father. And this is the site.
Steed: But where is it?
Colonel Jones: According to your map, it's an island right here in the middle of London. It must be where he's controlling the weather.
Steed: Why did you never tell anyone?
Colonel Jones: Nobody ever asked.
- In Reservoir Dogs, this is Mr. Blonde's response to why he didn't mention earlier that he has a kidnapped cop in his trunk. Mr. White deadpans, "Hardy fuckin' har."
- In The Toy, Jack and bratty kid Eric are trying to break into Eric's father's printing press, when Eric casually mentions that he has the key. Richard Pryor asks Eric why he never told him he had the key.
- Used quite often in J.D. Robb's In Death series about Roarke, Eve's billionaire husband, who went from Rags to Riches with roots in criminal activity. The first time this happened, when Roarke casually picked a set of locks.
Eve: You never told me you could do that.
Roarke: You never asked.
Eve: Remind me to ask, and ask a lot.
- Used in the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Imzadi. The Guardian of Forever doesn't tell anyone that the timeline in which Troi dies is the modified one, and that she lived in the original one. Thus, attempts at changing or maintaining the timeline are actually having the opposite effects. When the characters realize this and ask the Guardian why it didn't tell them, it literally says, "You did not ask."
- It was established in the original episode that the Guardian has A Thing about answering questions.
- In JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo and Sam hook up with Gollum to guide them, Frodo asks Gollum to "take us to the Black Gate" of Mordor, which he does. They see how massive and impenetrable the entrance is, and when they are about to make a charge for it anyway, Gollum pulls them back and tells them there is another way in. Sam asks why he didn't mention this before. Well... you didn't ask...
- This actually makes a kind of sense. For all Gollum knows they just want to go to the Black Gates, they don't say anything about getting inside Mordor.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, while on a quest to get the Forbidden Fruit-allegory, the main characters lament that they have nothing to eat. One of them wonders why averted-Crystal Dragon Jesus Aslan (who actually is Jesus, literally) didn't think to give them any food. The other replies that he probably did think of it, but "likes being asked." (A belief supported in the Christian religion by scripture.)
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' Thrones, Dominations (finished by Jill Paton Walsh) a secondary character does (indirectly) tell the police about his illicit alibi for a murder. However, he completely fails to mention that he visited the victim that afternoon (well, before she was last seen alive) and gave her a gift that then allowed the REAL murderer to establish an alibi.
- In Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series, protagonist Taran encounters talkative young redhead Eilonwy in the first book, and she introduces herself as "Eilonwy daughter of Angharad daughter of Regat daughter of...oh, I never can remember all that." It's not until the very end of the book that Taran (and the reader) learns from resident Ancient Keeper Dallben that Eilonwy is, in fact, a princess. Although this knowledge would not have had too great an effect on the plot of the first book had it been known, it does have direct bearing on the plots of the third, fourth, and fifth books. (Note that this applies only to the book; in The Film of the Book she introduces herself to Taran, and anyone else she meets, as Princess Eilonwy.)
- Done in a particularly bastardly way by—who else -- the Master in the Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel Face of the Enemy. Gee, Master, it would've been awfully nice if you'd've told the suicidal man (who just told you he had nightmares about women he loved dying in car wrecks) that the woman who died in the fiery burning car wreck wasn't really his wife. When Ian found out, the Master justified himself by claiming that angry-and-grieving-Ian was in a more useful frame of mind for taking on the enemy. Ian was rather justifiably annoyed by this, but then one should never trust the Master in the first place.
- In Larry Niven's short story The Patchwork Girl, the accused murderer refuses to reveal why she couldn't possibly have committed the murder due to a misunderstanding of the way the law works on the Moon vs how it works on Earth. She was visiting her clone at a cloning clinic. On Earth, she would have been condemned to the organ banks for having a clone made after using one of her birthrights (having a child takes two birthrights, one from each parent) AND the clone would have been sterilized. On the Moon, she probably would have been sterilized and the clone would have been left alone.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Straight Silver, Mkoll devotes most of his attention to one of the soldiers he is training as a scout, to the frustration of another aspiring scout, who believes Mkoll is ignoring her because she's A) not from Tanith, and B) a woman. When she finally asks Mkoll about it, he says that he was the one that needed more training; she was ready.
- In Isaac Asimov's short story "Victory Unintentional", a trio of Robots is sent to Jupiter, which is inhabited by a xenophobic race that has announced its intention to exterminate humanity as soon as they build spaceships capable of leaving Jupiter and holding Jovian atmosphere. The Jovians make several unsuccessful attempts to destroy the visitors, and finally deign to talk to them in a very arrogant tone, revealing that they are close to their goal. Suddenly, the Jovians do a total about-face, groveling and pleading for peace and friendship with humans. As they leave, one of the robots realizes that they never asked whether their super-strong and indestructible visitors were the "humans" they'd planned to fight....
- Subverted in the Discworld book Interesting Times: Rincewind meets Twoflower, a character he last met in the book The Light Fantastic. Twoflower talks about having a daughter, much to Rincewind's surprise, as they had spent a good length of time together without him ever mentioning it, despite Twoflower's insistence that he "MUST have done".
- Justified, His wife was killed by the main villain of the story when he destroyed the village where they lived, so Twoflower probably just tries to forget. Maybe he even left to travel the world to forget..
- In The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, Marvin revealed in passing that he could see The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything—for which the characters had been searching for some time—imprinted on Arthur Dent's brainwave patterns. His response to why he never mentioned it...
- This gets Played for Laughs and Played for Drama at the exact same time in the Heralds of Valdemar series. In Winds of Change, Elspeth is in mage training with the Tayledras when her Companion, Gwena, reveals out of nowhere that she's also a mage. Cue an absolutely withering lecture from Elspeth about hiding things; a deserved one too considering that Gwena had been trying to herd Elspeth towards a Glorious Destiny for two complete novels.
- In Anne of Avonlea, Gilbert Blythe publishes a bunch of "notes" in a local newspaper, heavily implied to all be deliberate and amusing falsehoods. One implies that a neighbor, Mr. Harrison, is engaged. Mr. Harrison's very indignant wife shows up as soon as she reads this. Anne points out that none of this would have happened if he hadn't pretended to be unmarried.
Mr. Harrison: If anybody’d have asked me if I was married I’d have said I was.
- Used directly in Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure series. Anacho has spent the first two books assuming that Adam Reith is crazy because he claims to have come from some other planet called "Earth". Until Traz mentions that he saw Reith's space boat.
- Minor occurence in Mistborn with the Kandra Ore Seur, when he doesn't tell Vin about a letter he knows she is interested in. In this case, it's simple passive-agressiveness, he's required to follow her orders, not to be helpful. Plus he's ticked off about his broken legs.
- Said word-for-word in Laurence Yep's short story The Rainbow People after the flute player frees the rainbow people from slavery and it turns out that they were transformed dragons.
- Played horribly straight in The Lost Fleet. A character was involved in a monstrous secret project, and for security reasons, was conditioned to be unable to talk about it (or about the conditioning); this is gradually driving him insane. Fleet regulations require that he be allowed to speak of it to a fleet admiral, but only if the admiral orders him to speak, in a secure environment (with no other witnesses or recording devices). And since he can't talk about his problem, the odds that a fleet admiral would ask him about it are very slight.
- Just about every episode of House features this trope, as the patient of the week and their relatives fail to provide crucial medical details and end up being misdiagnosed.
- A variation occurs in Law and Order SVU where a rape victim refuses to give the detectives the identity of her rapist with the statute of limitation ticking because she's sure he's no longer a threat. When they find him, they discover he'd been involved in an accident and was paralyzed from the waist down, thus no longer a threat. If she'd told them that, they likely wouldn't have jailed her for obstruction.
- In the Homicide: Life on the Street episode "In Search of Crimes Past", Bolander discovers that the reason that the wrong man was jailed 16 years ago was because he didn't ask whether the victim was having an affair with the true killer's wife.
- On Greek, the exchange went something like this:
Character A: Why didn't you tell me you were an all-state hockey player?
Character B: You didn't ask.
- On Red Dwarf, this exchange followed a self-destruct scare:
Holly: We haven't got a bomb... I got rid of it ages ago.
Rimmer: Why didn't you tell us?
Holly: You never asked!
- M*A*S*H: In "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan," Cpl. Klinger's failure to inform Potter that Major Houlihan had gone to deliver a baby led to the cast being subjected to the antics of Col. Flagg for the entire episode. Subverted in that they did ask Klinger; he was just too groggy to fully register the question and his answer - "She's having a baby" - made absolutely no sense out of context.
- In one of her earlier episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, Seven of Nine gets the crew out of a difficult situation with some desperate refugees by mentioning she has the knowledge to help them. When asked why she didn't volunteer this earlier she gives this answer. Of course, she still had the computer-like mentality of a Borg at the time.
- Subverted in Doctor Who, "Remembrance of the Daleks":
Doctor: Ace, give me some of that Nitro-9 you're not carrying!
- A notable example is also given in The Janitor's name from Scrubs. It is revealed in the final episode that J.D. had never asked, "What's your name?". It is revealed in the final episode when asked to be Glenn Matthews; however, right after this revelation another person walks by the janitor and calls him Tommy.
- Assuming the radio version of Yes Minister is similar to the TV version...
Bernard: Why haven't you told the Minister?
Sir Humphrey: Because he hasn't asked.
Bernard: But how can he ask if he doesn't know there's anything to ask about?
- Incidentally, later Hacker does ask. Sir Humphrey goes out of his way to avoid giving a straight answer.
- The 1980 TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (and possibly the original novel) has a rare entirely justified instance of You Never Asked. Late in the piece, the hero finally discovers that the villain is [X], and consequently that he's wasted a lot of time suspecting the wrong man. Minutes later, a friend who has been providing occasional assistance catches sight of [X] and remarks that they were at university together and [X] was already bad news then. The hero asks why, if he knew [X] was a bad lot, he didn't say so earlier and save them a lot of trouble. The friend says "You never asked", then forestalls the obvious objection by pointing out that the hero has been playing his cards so close to the chest that this is the first he even knew [X] was involved in the case.
- In The Office, Andy explains to the camera that he never told Erin he was engaged to Angela because she never asked.
- In Get Smart, Max learns that Agent 99 has introduced herself to another man as "Susan Hilton." He jealously points out that she's worked with him for years and never told him. It's rare for 99 to say the punchline, but this was one such occasion. It turned out to be a mere code name.
- Paranoia: One official mission has the GM offhandedly mention that there's a bot in the middle of the briefing room. It is, in fact, a Vampire Bot 666, every bit as visibly lethal and Squicky as the name implies, but the GM is specifically instructed not to describe it in any further detail unless the PCs think to ask.
- In Spamalot, King Arthur needs to find a Jew. After some searching, his servant Patsy reveals that he is Jewish on his mother's side. When King Arthur asks why this information wasn't revealed previously, Patsy responds with, "That's not exactly the sort of thing you say to a heavily-armed Christian."
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and its sequels, the main character invariably must guess his way to the truth before the witnesses will admit that they were not murdering the victim. Some witnesses are instructed (read: threatened) by prosecutors to not mention certain events or evidence unless asked about that event of evidence specifically.
- Solid Snake does this multiple times (he says "you never asked") in Metal Gear Solid 2, so much it becomes a Running Gag. Details never asked about include: Snake's real identity; the fact that they're hiding a Humongous Mecha-Forgotten Superweapon-Elaborate Underground Base hybrid under the sea; and numerous lower-key pieces of information involving the personal lives of the characters. He seems to enjoy it greatly. At least Snake has a good reason not to tell Raiden his entire life story - he is a terrorist who had faked his own death.
- Plus, Snake is probably at least partially aware that Raiden is the brainwashed minion of the Ancient Conspiracy that he is fighting against, as well as having a personal connection to Solidus.
- On discovering that Mizuti is a "Child of the Earth" (part of a race of sorcerers) in Baten Kaitos, the heroes question why she never said anything. Her response: "You not ask." The trick here is that she actually told them as such outright twice—they just didn't pay attention.
- Also in Baten Kaitos, the main party accuses Savyna for being a spy. Instead of denying it, she simply says, "You only asked for my name, not who I was."
- In Mass Effect, while talking with Wrex about his past, he'll casually mention he's met and worked for Saren, the Big Bad. When asked why he didn't tell anyone sooner, well, you can guess what his response is. Not as egregious as some others on this list, since he genuinely doesn't have anything new to say, and didn't even realize who Saren was until he met up with you, but still...
- Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana: After Delsus' refusal to give up the information he knows has led the party to fight a dragon, he will excuse himself with this. Subverted when the rest of the party promptly point out that they did ask. Repeatedly.
- In Planescape: Torment, Morte, a flying skull that accompanies you from the moment you wake up in the morgue actually served you in all your incarnations, and knows more about you than you do yourself. "You didn't ask" often comes up.
- Morte actually has a good justification for everything, including not mentioning "Don't trust the skull" being written on your back!
- In Snatcher, Metal knows all about the circumstances around Gillian's discovery and revival. Gillian doesn't. Metal refuses to tell him until the beginning of Act 3, when Gillian becomes the highest ranking Junker operative following the Chief's death.
- In Lost Magic, you Love Interest and Mysterious Waif sidekick Trista is one of the Sages. The Rune she shoves in your hand after a tedious boss fight would have helped a lot with said boss fight.
- Kotomine gets to do this a lot in Fate/stay night. Since he Will Not Tell a Lie he finds it highly amusing to mention, for example, 'Oh yeah, I do have an ulterior motive for saving Sakura. I wanted her to eat everyone and give birth to an Ultimate Evil. Shirou actually tries to avoid asking for awhile because when he does Kotomine tends to make him either look like an idiot or depress him.
- Kotomine tends to drone on at such length on the information he will reveal that if Shirou hasn't forgotten the question, he's reluctant to ask.
- At one point in Narcissu, the protagonist finds himself broke and unable to pay for the gas he's just filled his car with. Just as he's about to floor it and attempt to escape without paying, his normally-silent traveling companion hands him enough money to pay for the gas, and reveals that she has quite a bit more stashed away.
Protagonist: Y-you have money on you? Why didn't you say so before?
Setsumi: ... did you ask?
Protagonist: Er, well, that is, I, no...
Setsumi: That's why.
- Halo. In the first game, when Master Chief finds out that the halos destroy all life in the galaxy, and not just the flood, and he confronts 343 Guilty Spark on the matter, Spark's reaction is "you didn't ask." Guilty Spark was legitimately confused as to why Master Chief didn't already know what the halos did, since he was well on his way to activating them. After all, who would activate a giant gun without first finding out how it worked?
- Commander Shepard ?
- In Solatorobo, several hours into the game the main hero discovers that the boy he's been travelling since the beginning is in fact a girl. She uses this trope to justify not correcting him in the first place.
- Red vs. Blue: When Gary effortlessly disables a bomb about to blow up the base the cast is standing in:
Sarge: Gary, you mean to tell us you could have disabled the bomb this whole time, and you didn't say anything? And don't say it was because I didn't--
Gary: You didn't ask.
- And again when Grif's sister was supposed to replace the dead Blue captain:
Simmons: Oh my God what's wrong with you? Why didn't you tell us you were a Blue?
Simmons: And don't say "because nobody asked"!
Sister: But nobody did ask!
- In RPG World, Cherry is revealed to be an elf, after the strip had been running for several years, much to the surprise of the other characters. As a bit of subversion, however, her pointed ears are clearly visible in her first appearance. Though the early images are a bit inconsistent.
- Narbonic, here.
- Megatokyo. As seen here and here.
- In Erfworld, Wanda starts to give this answer when Parson asks why she hadn't disclosed her stash of canned spells. Parson rejects the answer before she can finish it.
- Parson is sensible enough to make the oft-neglected point that, as her superior and battle planner, she has an obligation to volunteer pertinent information.
- In Harkovast, Chen-Chen never mentions the fact she is a kung-fu master until the group get ambushed and she reveals her fighting skills.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: During the all All Hail Queen Mab story arc, it is revealed Mab has a daughter. When questoned about by Jyyras she simply responds "No one ever asked."
- Parodied in this Yahtzee Takes on the World comic. (Yes, that Yahtzee.)
- Girl Genius uses this; noticably Lars asks the sensible follow up.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, this turns out to be why Dracula hadn't saved humanity from the dinosaurs with his giant moon laser until more than a decade after the initial invasion. They don't usually like the laser, after all, so best to wait until asked.
- Doc Scratch from Homestuck bases his whole existence around this. He claims that only he can know all the facts, and he's only saving time by not telling everybody everything. However, it's clear he has his own agenda, and he fulfills it by leading people to the wrong conclusions through Exact Words.
- In one Global Guardians story, a villain tries to hold inoffensive precog heroine Second Sight hostage in order to escape. Second Sight, whose powers all revolved around her clairvoyant ability to see the future, took the villain apart with previously unseen Kung Fu skills. When her amazed teammates questioned her about them, her response was the classic, "You never asked." It turns out the skills had been there since the creation of the character. They'd just never been needed before.
- In The Title of Show Show, the cast ask Mindy why she didn't tell them Cheyenne Jackson shot her (they had been trying to catch her killer in front of her the whole episode). She replies with this.
- Swat Kats: T-Bone's answer to Chance asking why he never mentioned to his best friend and fellow Swat Kat that he can't swim.
- Fenton in DuckTales (1987) never dared ask his prospective Love Interest out until he could get a promotion. Where she replies that she'd have dated him even if he'd just been a bean-counter. He asks her why they never did and she responds: "You never asked."
- In The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, Wittgenstein the supercomputer offers a completely ludicrous method through which space travel (not to mention easy air travel and safe permeation of Earth's atmosphere) can apparently be achieved, and Radio says "If it's so easy to get to Mars, how come no one's ever been there before?" to which Wittgenstein replies, "Because no one ever asked me to get them there!"
- In Thomas the Tank Engine, Diesel goes to much bother to get a bunch of decrepid trucks for Duck, only to have them jammed on the tracks, so he has to help clear the mess. Duck then tells him he already has trucks, and didn't tell Diesel because he didn't ask. Also, because Diesel was boasting how revolutionary Diesel engines are.
- In the last few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko became more and more hostile in trying to get Aang to train. Aang, not understanding, asks what his problem is, and Zuko tells him about Ozai's plan to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground. They wanted to know why he didn't mention this earlier, and Zuko responded that they didn't ask—and was under the assumption that the plan was to stop him before the comet arrived, which would make telling them moot and just another thing to stress Aang. This is just after Zuko yells at them for not taking the impending deadline to fight the Firelord seriously, and finally mention that they apparently have all discussed and agreed they're actually not doing it on the timetable he thought.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Mid-Life Crustacean", SpongeBob and Patrick lure Mr. Krabs into going on a "panty raid"—and they do so, of all places, in Mama Krabs' house.
Mr. Krabs: Why didn't ya tell me this was me mother's house?
SpongeBob: Why didn't ya ask?
- In Class of the Titans, Atlas reveals that he knows the location of Atlantis, which the heroes were searching for, having been raised there. He points out the location after Odie discovers it, prompting Odie to ask why he didn't just tell them. Atlas simply replies, "You Never Asked."
- From the Tale Spin episode "In Search of Ancient Blunders", while Baloo, Wildcat, and Myra are trying to get out of the pyramid...
Baloo: Come on, this way.
Wildcat: No, this way.
Baloo: Wildcat, why didn't you tell us you knew the way out?
Wildcat: You didn't ask.
- An episode of Dungeons and Dragons has the group meet a tribe of tree-dwelling bear-like creatures. When they're surrounded by orcs, one of the bears surprises Eric by suddenly descending from the trees in Bamboo Technology elevator and tells him to hop in. Eric asks "Why didn't you tell us you had an elevator?" The bear replies "You didn't ask."
- An episode of Donkey Kong Country has Klump and Krusha hiding in barrels on Kaptain Skurvy's pirate ship while it sails off:
Klump: Now when the coast is clear, we'll jump out of the barrels, steal the Crystal Coconut back, and then swim back to shore.
Krusha: Duh, I can't swim.
Klump: Well, why didn't ya say so before we snuck on board?!
Krusha: Well, you never asked.
Jonny: Whoa! Iris, you never said anything about these things duplicating!
Iris: You never asked.
- In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, guest character Mistwalker is seen as a mostly harmless Witch Doctor. She proves to be anything but and does the bulk of fighting off the Black Hole Gang armed with her knowledge of the Death World she lives on. After the gang's been chased off, she explains to the heroes that she's led them back to their ship. Audra is shocked that Mistwalker can speak their language. Mistwalker shrugs it off.
Mistwalker: One who asks many questions. You never asked that one.
- Subverted in Kim Possible with Ron Stoppable. His parents have a habit of making life-changing decisions without telling him, leaving him to find out when it's already happened (i.e he didn't know his parents adopted a baby girl til he came home and found a crib where his room used to be, didn't know they were moving til the moving van came to pick him up). When he asks why nobody told him, his parents, rather than saying he didn't ask, say, "This is our way of telling you." It could almost be labeled as Abusive Parents, but seeing as how at least his father is otherwise pretty good with his son, it's more like Parental Neglect. Or Parental Obliviousness, since they really don't seem to understand that this is not a good way to break important news to their child.
- A more straightforward example occurs in "A Sitch In Time", after Shego escapes while Kim is primarily focused on Drakken:
Kim: Shego is the Supreme One? Well, you could have mentioned that!
Rufus 3000: I thought it was obvious.
- A more sarcastic version occurs on an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes, where it turned out Heloise had an app on her phone that could have solved all their problems after an episode where Lucius was going gung ho against technology.
Lucius: Why didn't you say so before?
Heloise: Oh, so now he likes technology.
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "The Ticket Master", Twilight Sparkle is torn between who to give her second ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala to. When the frustration becomes too much, she gives her two tickets back to the pony who gave them to her with a note of explanation. The reply? "Why didn't you just say so in the first place?" followed by a ticket for everyone.
- In "Hearts and Hooves Day" Sweetie Belle reveals to Applebloom that a cure for the love potion that's causing the episode's problems only after Applebloom had had a panic attack about the potential chaos they had caused.
- Anyone who has worked in the accounting or tax-preparation fields has heard this one (or its sibling "I didn't think it was important") at least once per client, if not more.
Accountant: Why didn't you mention your thousands of dollars in [overseas investments]/[margin purchases}/[gambling losses]?
Client: You didn't ask. I didn't think it mattered.
Accountant: (bangs head on table)
- Or tech support.
- Once heard a story: A married couple is arguing, and right out of the blue the wife yells that the husband doesn't say "I love you" anymore. The husband is completely stunned by this and replies, in that tone people get when they have to explain things to very slow children, "I told you that when I married you. If I change my mind, I'll let you know."
- There are many examples of celebrities that would have gladly provided their own voices on an animated series if they only been asked. A good example would be Michael Dorn, who noted that he would've voiced himself in the South Park episode "Fun With Veal" if he had been asked. Rinse and repeat for other shows, like Celebrity Deathmatch and Family Guy.
- Richard Lee calls this statement "the bane of anthropologists everywhere." He mentions it as part of a hilarious story about trying to buy a cow for a village full of people to thank them for helping him, only to have them complain about it and make fun of it and call him an idiot for buying such a terrible cow. Turns out, that's what they do to anyone who seems to be getting too high an opinion of himself - and they would have told him that if he'd thought to ask if they were serious.
- A relatively popular method used by teachers who like the problem based learning model. Critical info is specifically left out of the project description and the students are encouraged to "use all your resources". The idea is that the teacher IS a resource so as long as the students come up with the right questions (and start on the project earlier than two days before it's due) the teacher will tell them the missing info.
- It's suggested that the security forces that gave him the conditioning figured that eventually the burden would drive him to suicide.