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This is when a character, either permanently or temporarily blind or vision-impaired, makes some kind of error to do with their surroundings simply because they lack sight, either permanently or due to Temporary Blindness, or have misplaced their glasses. It can be anything from mistaking one object for another, one person for another, one location for another, or even whether something is there or not. For example, the character could pick up a bottle of vegetable oil instead of the intended bottle of water and drink it.

This trope is used generally for comedic effect.

See also Blind and the Beast.

Examples of Blind Mistake include:


Advertising

  • There was a Sears Optical commercial involving a woman letting in a raccoon thinking it was her cat.
    • There's another with a man who accidentally snips off a lock of his wife's hair while trying to cut the tag off her dress. He doesn't notice.
  • There was a commercial for an optician's in Europe involving a woman inadvertently performing fellatio on the gearshift of a car instead of the man sitting next to it - while "parking" with her boyfriend.
  • A whole range of advertisments for SpecSavers opticians in the UK, featuring, amongst others, a shepherd who shears his sheepdog, an elderly couple who get on a rollercoaster thinking it's a park bench, and Postman Pat crashing his van through fields and picking up a sack of vegetables instead of mail. All ending with the slogan "Should have gone to SpecSavers".

Anime & Manga

  • Mousse from Ranma One Half certainly looks better without his Nerd Glasses, but once he takes them off he ends up mistakenly glomping any girl person or object in front of him, thinking it's Shampoo. Among the more unusual items he has mistaken for a curvy 16 year-old girl with knee-length lavender hair: a giant panda, Shampoo's 1ft-tall grandmother, a bicycle, a 3ft-high tanuki statue, and a potted plant.
    • At one point, while on a "date" with Akane, Ryouga (who has good eyesight) was frisked in the darkness of an ocean-themed haunted house by Shampoo. Elated by what he thought was a forward advance from Akane, he quickly turned around and hugged the first thing he found --a giant pufferfish model. He thought Akane felt a little chunky, but he still didn't open his eyes to realize his mistake.
  • A Tear Jerker variety happens in the backstory of Rurouni Kenshin. Kenshin is subjected to a bout of Temporary Blindness and deafness thanks to a series of attacks, and is forced to fight their leader barely able to see or hear, and as a result can't see his wife Tomoe jump in front of him to try and block the leader's blade until it's too late, and winds up accidentally killing both her and the leader.
  • In Legal Drug, Kazahaya and Rikuo have to search for a vase inside a pitch dark shrine that's Bigger on the Inside while Holding Hands so they don't get separated. It takes them a while before they finally realize that they're actually both holding onto the spirit of the vase's hands, and she's been leading them around in circles the entire time For the Lulz.

Comic Books

  • There was a Magoo-like character in the British anthology comic The Beezer called Colonel Blink (The Short-Sighted Gink). In another British anthology comic The Beano the character 'erbert from The Bash Street Kids is also very Magoo-esque.
  • A whole story from Cattivik revolved around his attempt to mug a blind guy with a really dangerous stick.

Film - Animated

Film

  • A Running Gag in the film Moving Violations, where a character played by the "Where's the Beef?" lady from old Wendy's commercials repeatedly does this. Some classics include: driving onto an airport runway and sitting in a unrinal and asking "Why's my back all wet?"
  • The blind Butler in Neil Simon's Murder By Death is always doing things like that - eg, sticking stamps to letters but missing by a mile and sticking them to the table; or lighting a fire in a guest's bedroom... in the center of the bed itself. ("At least the bed will be warm," quips the guest.)
  • Robin Hood Men in Tights has an entire character, Blinkin, who exists to act out this trope (see the page pic). Ironically, Blinkin is so surprisingly competent and skilled that his blindness is the only thing keeping him from liberating England by himself.
  • In Minority Report, Tom Cruise's character is recovering from eye replacement surgery and eats the nasty rotting sandwich instead of the freshly made one sitting right next to it. And then washes it down with sour milk. Presumably his nose stopped working too, or he is still under the effect of anesthetics.
  • In the Daredevil movie, Matt asks Foggy for honey to put in his drink, and Foggy (deliberately) hands him mustard instead. Matt's other senses work just fine, however, so he switches drinks with Foggy without drinking.
  • The blind hermit in Young Frankenstein.
  • I was blind but now I can see... aaargh! (falls into pit)
  • Pew from Muppet Treasure Island is constantly bumping into things, except on the few occasions when his enhanced hearing briefly makes him super-competent.
  • Happens several times with the blind girl in City Lights. At one point the Tramp is helping her ball up some yarn, and she accidentally grabs a stray thread from his clothes instead. He's too shy to correct her, and ends up helping unravel all his underwear.
  • In Adventures in Babysitting, Brenda, stranded in a bus station without her glasses, pets a huge rat thinking it's a lost cat.

Literature

  • Verbally mentioned from Harry Potter, after Harry reads a letter Sirius sent him:

 "He sounds exactly like Moody," said Harry quietly, tucking the letter away again inside his robes. "'Constant vigilance!' You'd think I walk around with my eyes shut, banging off the walls...."

Live Action TV

  • On The Odd Couple, Felix returns from the hospital wearing a post-op bandage (blindfold) as the result of a sinus procedure. Wanting to freshen the air in the apartment, he mistakenly grabs a can of whipped cream sitting next to the can of Glade. He also goes to the closet and mistakenly puts on his ex-wife Gloria's coat. After Oscar clues him in, Felix says "It fits!".
  • Mr. Lomax in Psychoville is constantly making these sorts of errors, like mistaking a Club biscuit bar for a mobile phone (nobody ever rings him on it).
  • Half the humour relating to The Mighty Boosh's Lester Corncrake derives from this. The other half is from him doing various things which imply that he can see.
  • There was a case on Drake and Josh where Helen had eye surgery and had patches over both eyes for a while. After claiming she didn't need help, she picked up a baby carrier (yes, with a baby in it) and walked away, thinking it was her purse.
  • This was a running gag in the Small Wonder episode "Vicki's Glasses".
  • This happens in one episode of Reba, during which Reba tries to take care of herself on her own after having an eye surgery (with hilariously disastrous results, such as drinking water out of a potted plant). Efforts made by Barbra Jean to assist Reba while the latter fumbles around without knowing someone else is nearby trying to help only amplify the hilarity further.
  • Sophia from Golden Girls is prone to this whenever she loses her glasses. For instance, in one episode she tried to call her daughter to pick her up at a shopping mall after she lost her glasses but failed to manage it because she didn't realize that the machine she was using was not a pay phone, but a condom vendor instead.
  • A Running Gag with Private Vanderbilt, the fort lookout on F Troop. He once allowed two Indians wearing feather head-dresses to enter the fort unchallenged, and later explained "I thought they were turkeys."
  • Happens several times in the Monk episode, "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing".
  • A rare justified example occurs on Arrested Development with Maggie Lizer. She's not actually blind and is doing a really bad imitation.
  • Mostly avoided/subverted on Covert Affairs with Auggie's character, although he did accidentally bad-mouth Jai's father as Jai approached, despite Annie's warning.

 Auggie: I'm assuming from the silence and the stiletto in my shin that Jai has joined us. ...I'm off to do...anything else. (leaves)

  • Crosses the Line Twice in a sketch in the Swedish sketch show Lorry: a blind couple buys a television set from a blind salesman, who then sends a blind errand-boy on a motorcycle to drive it home to them. Every one of them trashes everything around them, remaining cheerful and blissfully unaware all the time.
  • This is the entire point of the character Eli from Last of the Summer Wine.

Theater

  • Act II, Scene II of The Merchant of Venice. Launcelot's blind father, Old Gobbo, shows up and doesn't recognize him. Launcelot is a troublemaker, so instead of revealing his identity, he gets into a whole conversation with his father about "young Master Launcelot," finally revealing that Launcelot is "deceased." The trouble is, once he decides that the joke's gotten a bit old, he has trouble explaining to his father that he's really Launcelot, and not dead at all. The whole thing cumulates with Old Gobbo joyfully embracing Launcelot, complimenting him on his fine new beard--actually just his long hair, which his father has accidentally grabbed hold of. And that's only what's directly mentioned in the script. Depending on the performance, there will usually be plenty of visual gags involving Old Gobbo walking off in the wrong direction, bumping into the other characters, falling off the stage and into the audience, etc.
  • Played for Drama in King Lear with Gloucester (whose eyes have been gouged out) and his son, who pretends to be "Mad Tom."

Web Comics

  • In Homestuck, the now-blind Sollux is shown to be osculating between Matesprit and Kismesis for Gamzee, but since he's looking at Lil Cal the puppet it confuses the hell out of Karkat.
    • Terezi has been the butt of this joke, although she can usually get around her handicap. Notably, when she adds sunglasses to pictures of Dave, she always misses his eyes. Also, in the Act 5 finale, she points in the wrong direction when everybody's staring into the sky.
    • It's also pretty common for Terezi cosplayers to intentionally face the wrong direction in photoshoots, and for her to be drawn facing the wrong way in fanart.
  • Mia from Unintentionally Pretentious is blind, and is occasionally prone to this.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Anything featuring Mr. Magoo is based around this. He's myopic to the point of Blind Without'Em only with no glasses, so there's plenty of opportunity for hilarious scrapes right there.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph kisses the wrong person after she is rescued from a sea serpent. In another episode, declaring that she doesn't need the help of someone with sight to help put up posters, she glues the wrong side of the poster to a wall. "It's upside-down, isn't it?"
    • Also occasionally inverted:

 *the Gaang are about to tunnel underground to try and undermine the giant Fire Nation drill machine*

Sokka: Aah! It's so dark! I can't see a thing!

Toph: Oh no, what a nightmare!

Sokka: ...sorry.

    • And played with/invoked:

 Sokka: Toph, when I was in town I found something you're not going to like (unfurls a wanted poster)

Toph: Well it sounds like a sheet of paper. But I guess you're referring to what's on the sheet of paper.

  • One episode of Two Stupid Dogs is based on this. The dogs act as guide dogs for the blind man while he wanders around a construction site.
  • On The Simpsons, Bleeding Gums Murphy learned to play sax at the feet of Blind Willie Witherspoon:

 Willie: I've been playing jazz for 30 years and I just can't make a go of it. I want you to have my saxophone.

Bleeding Gums: This isn't a saxophone, it's an umbrella!

Willie: So I've been playing a umbrella for 30 years? Why didn't anybody tell me?

Bleeding Gums: Heh, we all thought it was funny.

Willie: That's not funny.

    • Milhouse frequently gets the Blind Without'Em treatment when he loses his specs, or if someone just takes them. In "Summer of 4 Ft. 2", Bart Takes them to spy on Lisa and doesn't bother to give them back. A horshoe crab then crawls into frame and Milhouse pets it, mistaking it for a lost puppy.
      • When Bart becomes a faith healer he "heals" Milhouse by throwing away his glasses. Milhouse belives it, then walks into traffic and gets hit by a car.
  • On Futurama, Leela is medically required to wear an eyepatch after an accident with a spice weasel. She has only one eye. and she's the pilot of the Planet Express ship. Fry tries to make her think she's still piloting the ship when it comes under attack by putting Nibbler's food bowl in her hands, and he manages to competently keep them intact. Then she realizes she's holding the bowl and retakes the wheel. She then gets the fuel line blown and they're taken captive.
    • Professor Farnsworth is generally implied to be blind without his glasses.
      • Since they're thick enough to stop gamma rays, he's more or less blind with them. He switched to reading glasses once where each lens was a cylinder a foot long. They punch through the magazine he's trying to read.

 Farnsworth: Why, Zoidberg, there's a lovely picture of you in here!

  • This was done a few times with Velma after she lost her glasses on the CBS Scooby Doo series. Among other things, Velma once approached a statue and thought it was Shaggy, petrified with fear.
  • On Chowder, a Magoo-like character crashes into Mung Daal's kitchen, mistaking it for his home, and tries to make out with Schnitzel, whom he mistakes for his wife.
  • In the first episode of Eek the Cat entitled "MiserEek", a blind old lady adopts the titular Eek and thinks he was her cat Mittens. Because of her blindness, the old lady did a lot of wrong things to Eek, such as showing him a big vacuum cleaner by mistake (cue a scared scream from Eek), accidentally putting him into a pot of boiling water (instead of a chicken) and scrubbing butter on him, and taking him to a zoo instead of a vet.[1]

Real Life

  • In 2003, at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, a 7-year-old blind girl drowned because all three counselors were also blind.
  • One of Barack Obama's senior staffers mistook the second-most senior Army General for a waiter at an event because he was standing in her periphery, she wasn't wearing her glasses and all she could see were the stripes on his pants. The General laughed it off, while she was mortified.

Notes

  1. Actually, Eek snook out of the old lady's car and threw himself all the way to the zoo, where animals can put him in dangerous situations.
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