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This page refers to two completely different tropes.

A) Bob is trying to tell Alice something important, but Alice dismisses Bob as a kid, or is too distracted or upset to listen to him. Eventually Bob gets his point across, and Alice yells, "Why didn't you just say so?!" At this point, the viewers are thinking, "He did, moron, but you were too self-absorbed to listen!"

Bob will never yell this obvious statement back, unless the scene is set up to make him look like a Jerkass.

B) As an Expospeak Gag. Bob is explaining something to Alice in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness or some other way in which Alice can't understand. In response to Alice's confused, "Huh?", Cindy translates Bob's speech into Layman's Terms for her. "Oh. Why didn't you just say so?" (Of course, this can also happen when Bob uses perfectly normal terms which Alice is too much of The Ditz to understand.)

Compare Not Now, Kiddo. See You Didn't Ask or Now You Tell Me for the flip side of this trope. See Translator Buddy which is often involved in type B.

A Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • In Fruits Basket, when Momiji bursts into a room where people are planning their class trip, declaring, "It's terrible!" they announce they are dealing with terrible things, too. Much later, Momiji explains that Haru is tearing up a classroom. Cue "Why didn't you tell us sooner?" (To be sure, Momiji let himself be distracted, yelling at Kyo for not wanting to go with other people on the trip.)
  • In chapter twelve of the Love Hina manga, Keitaro learns that he did not fail the test, because "most of his random answers were good". However, the girls either refuse to listen to him or to believe him, leading to them throwing a "bath party" to cheer him up. When they "discover" that he didn't fail, they shamelessly accuse him of having set them up and go Ax Crazy (he manages to flee this time, though). Yes, life is unfair when those girls are around.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, Kyoko thinks that Godai proposed to Kozue so she storms off and stays with her parents. Godai drops by every day for five days to try and clear up the misunderstanding, but Kyoko won't come out to see him. When Mrs. Ichinose tells Kyoko that it was all a misunderstanding,

 Kyoko: But... he never told me...

Mrs. Ichinose: Did you listen to what he was telling you?

Kyoko: Well... no


  • In the Errol Flynn film Captain Blood, Lord Willoughby pleads with the pirate captain to save the English colony of Port Royal from the French. Since that would mean fighting for King James II, the same hated king who had most of the crew enslaved, they scoff at the idea. However, Lord Willoughby finally mentions that James II has been deposed and he represents the new King, William of Orange, to grant them, emancipation, pardons and a naval commission. At that wonderful news, Captain Blood lightheartedly asks why the old windbag didn't mention that earlier and the whole crew prepares for battle under English colors.
  • In the Dirty Harry film The Enforcer, Inspector Moore is trying to tell Harry that she just saw one of the suspects they are looking for. Finally she does, and he says, "Why the hell didn't you tell me?" to which she responds, "Why the hell didn't you let me!"
  • Variation in one of The Little Rascals films: a bank employee telephones for the kids' caretaker, but young Spanky picks up. However, Spanky interprets questions like "Who is this?" and "What number is this?" to be about the person calling, so the employee can't get anywhere. His growing frustration finally forces him to skip the formalities and directly state the name of the person he wants to speak to, at which point Spanky replies "Well why didn't you say so?!" The employee reacts with a gasp that sounds like a loud hiccup.
  • In the Dreamworks film Over the Hedge Verne's tail usually tingles around RJ in the film. Then when they are in the Executioner Van and the animals don't want to help RJ, Verne says to let him in.

 Ozzy: But Verne, you're the one who said Trust Your Tail.

Verne: But it's not tingling.

All except RJ, Vincent, and Verne: Oh.

Stella: Why didn't you just say so.

 Lisa: You should have said something.

Max: Gee, I wish I had. Oh, wait, I did, but you were too busy fucking Andy all over the goddamn building to listen to me.

 Han: This is not gonna work!

Luke: Why didn't you say so before?

Han: I did say so before!

Live Action TV

 (Jacob managed at last to tell O'Neill about the "problem": an all-out replicator attack)

O'Neill: Why didn't you say so?

(Jacob gives O'Neill a look and walks off)

O'Neill: I'm sorry. You said we have a problem, not a big galactic emergency.

  • Subverted in a Taxi episode, where Louie is in court against a wheelchair-bound old woman who's a notorious scam artist and who claims he hit her with his cab. Before the civil trial, Jim Ignatowski overhears her discussing the case with her lawyer and finds out that Louie really did hit her. When Jim tries to warn Louie, he's told to get lost, but keeps stressing the importance of the information he has and reminds Louie "how short my memory is, so let me tell you before I forget". Louie finally gives in, but it's too late: Jim has already forgotten what he was supposed to tell him. Louie subsequently attempts to prove that the woman's not really hurt, and nearly kills her in the process.
  • Doctor Who, especially in his fourth incarnation, is prone to this trope. For example in The Sunmakers after Leela attempts for several minutes to pull the Doctor's attention away from a riveting chess game:

 Leela: Doctor, can I speak now?

The Doctor: What? All right, if you must. What is it?

Leela: Well, the column has stopped moving.

The Doctor: So?

Leela: It is not important?

The Doctor: WHAT?! We might have gone right through the time spiral, why didn’t you tell me?

Leela: I tried to, but you wouldn’t let me.

The Doctor: You didn’t!

Leela: I did!

  • In The Sentinel, Blair is trying to tell Simon that they figured out who the real killer is, and that he's holding someone hostage. Simon interrupts him with "Not now, Sandburg!" When Blair finally explains the situation, Simon runs off, but not before saying "And the next time you have some information like that, you TELL me!" complete with a poke in the chest to get the point across. True to the trope, Blair doesn't say anything, he just makes an exasperated gesture at Simon's retreating back.
  • This skit from Whitest Kids U Know begins with a guy trying to interrupt another's phone conversation, but the latter won't listen to him. Another friend enters and Hilarity Ensues. The final lines of the skit are:

 Guy on the phone: [hangs up] Guys! What?

Friend 1: choking.

Friend 2: Bad.

Guy on the phone: Guys! [runs out of the room]

  • In That 70s Show, Kelso is going to drink some raw eggs. Jackie tries to tell him something.

 Kelso: Jackie! Whatever it is, I'm sure it can wait until after I drink my eggs!

Jackie: Fine.

Kelso: [drinks the eggs] Now. What is so important?

Jackie: You're allergic to eggs!


  • Red vs. Blue Reconstruction: While Church is attempting to tell Wash something important, he keeps getting shushed. When he finally gets out "I have a message from Delta," Wash asks him why he didn't just say so. In this case, since Church is a bit of a Jerkass, his response to this is, "Come on. Seriously?"


  • In the 1953 Thanksgiving episode of The Jack Benny Program, Dennis knocks on Jack's door and asks to use the phone. Jack won't listen ("Kid, why can't you use your own phone?"), and Dennis gets all the way through singing his song for the week before he mentions that he wanted to use the phone because Jack's house is on fire.

Video Games

 Diedre: *opens door* What do you want?

Rose: Um, we've got a letter, we need one gold for the postage.

Diedre: Oh! Why didn't you just say so!

    • The weird thing is, we did just say so, straight away.
  • In Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, the Sapphire Star is stashed away in a treasure horde on an abandoned pirate ship. Mario and co. arrive, only to get stopped by Cortez, who proceeds to give up a good fight to protect his mountain of booty. Just when the battle seems won, he states that as a ghost, he can't be defeated, and is ready to keep fighting... when Mario tells him that all they came for was the Star. Cue Cortez saying the trope word for word, claiming that he never liked that little trinket anyway.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasi and Phoebus venture to the Court of Miracles (the den of thieves and gypsies) to warn them of the impending attack but are ambushed on the way by the denizens, Bound and Gagged before they can utter a single word and delivered to the Court to be hanged as Frollo's spies. Fortunately Esmeralda steps in and clarifies the situation:

 Esmeralda: "These men aren't spies, they're our friends!"

Clopin [in a voice full of utmost astonishment]: "Well, why didn't they say so!"

Quasi and Phoebus [their gags finally removed]: "We DID say so!"

  • In the Danny Phantom episode "King Tuck", Tucker has been trying to warn Sam and Danny during a giant ghost lizard attack:

 Sam: Wow. I never saw that coming.

Tucker: I did!

Danny: Well, jeez, Tuck, why didn't you say something?

  • In one episode Kim Possible was lectured so much by a dead serious janitor about fixing the vacuum cleaner that she avoided his lessons as much as she could. But in the end, he introduced himself as a canadansian spy that used that vacuum cleaner as a model of the doomsday device Drakken had stolen so that Kim could learn how to deactive that doomsday device. Kim asked why he never told that he was a spy, he told her that he thought it was obvious. Doy...
  • Angelica from Rugrats had some trouble telling the parents that the babies had gone missing, only to be scolded once she did get them to listen.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer the Great", in which Homer is attempting to join the Stonecutters, which would require his father to be one, Abe Simpson keeps pointing out that he is a member, with Homer ignoring him. Bart reveals that Homer had undergone hypnosis to help him ignore his father, leading Homer to notice it.
  • Even the ever-respectable Papa Smurf does this in A Child among the Smurfs.
  • In The Mr. Men Show this is Mr Scatterbrains Catch Phrase which he says after characters are trying to tell him specifically what they want.
  • In one episode of Lilo and Stitch: The Series, Gantu does this to Experiment 625. However, 625 saw this coming and has taped the previous conversation, resulting in one the best Ironic Echo tropes ever thought up.

Real Life

B Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • When Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann finally proposes to Nia, he says "Do you want to become one with me?". Obviously, since two persons can't be physically merged into one, Nia thinks he's joking and cheerfully replies, "No!" It's only after Kiyoh explains his meaning to her that she calls him back and accepts.
    • A Running Gag in one episode, when Leeron is briefing the Gurren Brigade on the nature of Anti-Spiral space, but forgets that it's staffed entirely with Idiot Heroes.
  • In the Time and Space Adventures arc of Tenchi Universe Washu tries three times to explain to the rest of the characters exactly what her Dimension Tuner does, resulting in only dumb stares. When she finally dumbs it down to "It changes the world to suit your needs," Ryoko asks, "Well why didn't you say so?" to which Washu tiredly replies, "I have been."


  • In the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, when the turtles are helping David Warner's character mix up a bottle of Applied Phlebotinum: "I don't mean to criticize science, but wouldn't it be easier just to call it 'the pink one?'"
  • Used in Ocean's Thirteen between Willy Bank and his assistant Miss Sponder, who have just spotted an important hotel reviewer who is actually a member of Ocean's crew:

 Bank: Which one is he?

Sponder: The gentleman in the trilby, sir.

Bank: The what?

Sponder: The... Dr. Doolittle hat.

Bank: Why didn't you say that in the first place?

    • And yes, Bank is a monumental Jerkass, which is why Ocean and his crew are after him in the first place.
  • Lethal Weapon 4. Leo Getz is rather confused by the nautical terms such as fore and aft, port and starboard, and snarks at Murtaugh and Riggs for not saying "to the right, at the back of the boat" instead.
  • Parodied in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra with this exchange:

 Paul: Now for the love of Mike would someone mind telling me what the heck is going on around here?

Lattis: The mutant's got Betty. We are aliens.

Paul: Whoa, whoa, slow down. I'm a scientist, and that was still fast.

Crobar: We had a mutant. It got loose. It has Betty.

Paul: Hey, hold on. One at a time. I'm gonna get whiplash here. Now just suppose you start at the beginning and tell me what happened before I get one whopper of a headache.

Lattis: We are from the planet Marva. We crashed here.

Paul: Planet...Marva...look, you're going to have to do a lot better than that if you want me to help you. Just suppose you take a deep breath, relax, and tell me all about it.

Crobar: <beat> The Universe is a very large place...

 Spooner: So, Dr. Calvin, what exactly do you do around here?

Calvin: My general fields are advanced robotics and psychiatry, although I specialize in hardware-to-wetware interfaces, in an effort to advance USR's robotic anthropomorphization program.

Spooner: So . . . what exactly do you do around here?

Calvin: I make the robots seem more human.

Spooner: Now wasn't that easier to say?

Calvin: Not really, no.

  • The Full Monty's working class heroes repeatedly fail to parse their professional dance instructor's choreography, until a late arrival breaks it down into "jump forward, thrust your hips, and wave your arms around like a fairy". The trope is voiced, and they instantly nail it.


  • Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles do this quite a bit, thanks to having a character who speaks entirely in Magi Babble.
  • In Summer Knight, Harry calls an animated tree a chlorofiend, which he keeps having to clarify as "plant monster." Murphy tells him he should've just said that to begin with. Of course, his narration showed he originally was going to just call it that, but he decided it needed a cooler name than that.

Live Action TV

 London: Whatcha doin?

Arwin: (insert Techno Babble here)

London: (long pause) Whatcha doin?

 Cat (to Rimmer): What is it?

Rimmer: It's a rent in the space-time continuum.

Cat (to Lister): What is it?

Lister: The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.

Cat (to Rimmer): What is it?

Rimmer: It's a singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time don't apply.

Cat (to Lister): What is it?

Lister: It's a hole into the past.

Cat: Oh, a magic door! Well, why didn't you say?

 The Doctor: It must be a spatial-temporal hyperlink.

Mickey: What's that?

The Doctor: No idea, I just made it up. Didn't want to say "magic door".

  • Often happens on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Giles is telling one of the others something.
  • MacGyver involuntarily commits a type B, when he is transported into the past and asks Merlin himself for assistance:

 MacGyver: Say, you wouldn't happen to have any ammonium carbonate with you?

Merlin: Any what?

MacGyver: Erm... salts of hartshorn!

Merlin: [rummages in robe] Oh, please! What kind of wizard would I be if I didn't carry salts of hartshorn?

  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; in the episode "Visionary", Odo informed Captain Sisko that three Klingons on the station were secretly part of a covert strike force, after providing a lengthy explanation of how he uncovered the truth.

 Commander Sisko: Why didn't you just say so?

Odo: Well, sometimes I have to remind you just how good I am.

Web Comics

  • In this strip of Order of the Stick, Belkar misunderstands what Roy is saying (namely the words "sextant" and "cartographer"). A few strips later, he says: "Geez, if you wanted a mapmaker, why didn't you just say so?"

Western Animation

 Dr. Hibbert: This will require a cardiac bypass.

Homer: English please, doc.

Dr. Hibbert: We're going to perform open heart surgery.

Homer: Spare me your medical mumbo jumbo.

Dr. Hibbert: We're going to slice you open and tinker with your ticker.

Homer: Think you could dumb it down a tad?

    • In the Latin American dub, the last line was changed:

 Homer: You didn't have to be so blunt.

    • And then later on, Homer tries to explain it to the kids with finger puppets:

 Homer: ...and so the magical fairies will take Prince Leg Vein on a looong journey to get married to Princess Left Ventricle.

Lisa: Dad, are you trying to tell us you're going to have a coronary artery bypass graft?

Homer: Um... yes.

  • Happens in Beavis and Butthead when Daria tries to explain the concept of a Walk-A-Thon to the duo. Naturally, they still get it wrong.

Real Life

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