Backhanded Apology


(permanent link) added: 2010-08-02 05:02:35 sponsor: SylviaSybil edited by: DracMonster (last reply: 2010-08-02 05:02:35)

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Attention Sylvia Sybil: I'm in ur YKTTW launching ur trope! If you want to reclaim it, edit and delete this to put your name back on it. --DracMonster
To be launched as Backhanded Apology on 8/2 unless there's objection to the name or the OP takes it back.

Rolling Updates.

First, I'm sorry that you have no life and spend all day editing tropes.

Second, this is a subtrope of Sarcasm Mode, when a supposed apology is actually very unapologetic, and instead makes it very clear that either the person being apologized to is the one in the wrong, or that the apologizer prefers Insane Troll Logic to admitting they are wrong. So when Alice is supposed to apologize to Bob, she instead says "I'm sorry you screwed up, Bob."

Why would Alice be apologizing in the first place? Perhaps Bob demands an apology for some tiny or imagined slight, and Alice just can't resist explaining how it's all his fault, instead. Perhaps Alice's boss is a Beleaguered Bureaucrat or a Corrupt Corporate Executive who just wants to get the problem over with, and the easiest way to do that is to order Alice to apologize for something she didn't do. Or perhaps Alice really is in the wrong, but she's enough of a Jerkass to ignore this in favor of putting Bob down.

Note that it's not enough for Alice to say "I'm not sorry." Her apology has to actively shift the blame to Bob. This may cause Alice to say Screw the Money, I Have Rules!, to place Honor Before Reason, or lead her to become The Last DJ. Alternatively, this is just one more spat between Alice and Bob and there are no real consequences, other than Bob now being irritated with Alice.


Examples

Film
  • In Donnie Darko, when the independent minded teacher complains to the head about being fired, all he says is "I'm sorry you have failed."
  • Zoolander:
    Derek: I'm sorry that good-looking people like us made you throw up and feel bad about yourself.
    Mugatu: Oh, I'm sorry, did my pin get in the way of your ass? Do me a favor and lose five pounds immediately or get out of my building like now!

Literature
  • The Carpet People:
    Owlglass: He was sentenced to death for telling the Emperor that he was a blithering idiot who didn't have the brains of a meat pie.
    Pismire: Actually, I got sentenced to death for apologising.
    Snibril: How can you be sentenced to death for apologising?
    Pismire: I said I was sorry, and that, on reflection, he did have the brains of a meat pie.

Live-Action TV
  • The Closer: Assistant Chief Pope has received numerous complaints about friction between Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and other legal departments, and so has ordered her to apologize to the offended parties.
    Brenda: I'd like to start with you, Ms. Powell. I'd like to say how sorry I am that I was unable to ignore your general level of incompetence in the wrongly obtained conviction in the case of Bill Croelick. And I'm sorry if you felt hurt and defensive about putting a man on death row for the wrong crime, and I certainly hope that that will never, ever happen again. Agent Jackson, I deeply regret that the FBI handed over two million dollars to a man on a terrorist watch list without the capacity to trace it, or managed to follow him for months without knowing his wife was having an affair with a doctor, and I hope you do much better in the future. Captain Taylor, I suppose I should apologize to you for not having been born in Los Angeles, but having seen you work up close now for several months, I can honestly say that try as I might, I can't think of any fair and reasonable system on earth where I wouldn't outrank you. There. I hope that clears everything up.
  • On Babylon 5, Sheridan's apology to the Centauri firmly cemented him as an awesome replacement to Sinclair. It's just a pity he never got to carry it out to them.
    Sheridan: I apologize. I'm... sorry. I'm sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I'm sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fire on a station filled with a quarter million civilians, including your own people. And I'm sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to hell! ...As with everything else, it's the thought that counts.
  • From Scrubs, after Carla tried to interfere in Perry and Jordan's relationship, Turk persuades her to apologise to Jordan:
    Carla: I didn't mean to upset you. Even though everything I said was true, and you know it.
    Turk: Baby, that is a God-awful apology. Just God-awful.
    Jordan: Yeah, that's 'cause she's not really sorry.
  • Stephen Colbert likes to invert this by proclaiming "I accept your apology" to someone who has not, in fact, apologized in any way.
  • Sex and the City: Carrie apologizes to Big's trophy-wife for having an affair with Big, to which she reples "I'm sorry too: I'm sorry you cheated with my husband, ran around behind my back, and caused me to fall and break my tooth, requiring 27 stitches and hours of painful surgery."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    WE WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAY IN WHICH POLITICIANS ARE REPRESENTED IN THIS PROGRAMME. IT WAS NEVER OUR INTENTION TO IMPLY THAT POLITICIANS ARE WEAK-KNEED, POLITICAL TIME-SERVERS WHO ARE CONCERNED MORE WITH THEIR PERSONAL VENDETTAS AND PRIVATE POWER STRUGGLES THAN THE PROBLEMS OF GOVERNMENT, NOR TO SUGGEST AT ANY POINT THAT THEY SACRIFICE THEIR CREDIBILITY BY DENYING FREE DEBATE ON VITAL MATTERS IN THE MISTAKEN IMPRESSION THAT PARTY UNITY COMES BEFORE THE WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE THEY SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENT NOR TO IMPLY AT ANY STAGE THAT THEY ARE SQUABBLING LITTLE TOADIES WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF CONCERN FOR THE VITAL SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF TODAY. NOR INDEED DO WE INTEND THAT VIEWERS SHOULD CONSIDER THEM AS CRABBY ULCEROUS LITTLE SELF-SEEKING VERMIN WITH FURRY LEGS AND AN EXCESSIVE ADDICTION TO ALCOHOL AND CERTAIN EXPLICIT SEXUAL PRACTICES WHICH SOME PEOPLE MIGHT FIND OFFENSIVE.

Professional Wrestling
  • This is a stock part of Trash Talk in professional wrestling, with Heath Slater's "apology" to Jericho being one of the more recent ones.

Webcomics

Western Animation

Real Life
  • During a televised awards show, reasonably popular stand-up comedian and breakfast radio host Dave Hughes refers to 'shock-jock' Kyle Sandilands as a "massive dickhead". Everyone laughs. Except Kyle Sandilands, who proceeds to underscore the statement by proclaiming on his show the following day: "I don't care if I go to jail for three months, that guy needs a punch in the throat. Simple." Hughes responded with a press release. In its entirety:
    "Mr Dave Hughes has issued a public apology to Mr Kyle Sandilands, who has made comments in the past days in reference to remarks made by Mr Hughes at the 2007 TV Week Logie Awards. Mr Hughes said : 'I am sincerely and deeply sorry that Kyle Sandilands is a massive dickhead.' Mr Hughes hopes that this sincere and unreserved apology will put this ugliness to rest and stop Mr Sandilands from going to jail. Mr Hughes further remarked: 'No one deserves to go to jail just for being a massive dickhead. Massive dickheads have the same rights as normal people.' Mr Hughes is not available for further comment on this matter."
  • On Fandom Wank, this is known as a Heidipology.
  • Kanye West's "apology" for the Taylor Swift incident spawned the Kanye West Apology Generator.
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