Created By: SylviaSybilAugust 2, 2010 Last Edited By: DracMonsterAugust 2, 2010
Troped

Backhanded Apology

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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 Five, 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • February 28, 2010
    SKJAM
    Alternatively, Alice may actually be in the wrong, but enough of a Jerkass to ignore this in favor of putting Bob down.
  • March 2, 2010
    Arivne
  • March 2, 2010
    SylviaSybil
    Im Sorry You Suck might sound too similar to The Reason You Suck Speech. This trope isn't the evil-gloating, tearing-you-down kind of you suck; this is when Alice is expected to apologize, and does, but she makes it clear that she isn't really apologizing and instead putting the blame on Bob.
  • March 6, 2010
    SylviaSybil
  • March 6, 2010
    Aminatep
    Another incredibly popular variation: Bob says that Alice is stupid, and when he has to apologise, he says "I'm sorry for your stupidity"
  • March 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    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."

    One of the frequent complaints about politicans apologizing for gaffes is "I'm sorry you were offended" just means "you're wrong but I want to get through this quietly".
  • March 7, 2010
    DaibhidC
    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.
  • March 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    @Aminatep. Oh yes yes yes, this is popular. Real Life example:

    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."
  • March 11, 2010
    SylviaSybil
    Should I launch this and let the Wiki Magic do its work, or does this still need more work?
  • March 12, 2010
    henke37
    There is a proper term for this, but I haven't read enough psychology to know it.
  • March 12, 2010
    Bisected8
    A closing gag on The Simpsons has Homer being chased by the mob. He then screams that he's sorry, causing them to stop and decide to leave him be. He then invokes this trope and the chase resumes.

    @henke37: Passive aggression (being hostile in a "passive manner" by shifting blame onto everyone else)? Projection (seeing everyone else as having your own negative traits)?
  • March 12, 2010
    jfpbookworm
    I've typically heard the "I'm sorry you were offended" line and similar referred to as a Non Apology.

    Is Stephen Colbert's "I accept your apology" line (when the speaker hasn't done anything remotely apologetic) an inversion of this?
  • March 12, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I don't remember the exact wording behind it, but Kanye West's apology for the whole Taylor Swift fiasco was an example of this.
  • March 12, 2010
    SylviaSybil
    I think "I'm sorry you were offended" as a Non Apology is a sister trope to "Im Sorry You Screwed Up" as actively shifting the blame, but I went ahead and lumped them together anyway. If this page becomes absolutely massive with examples (*eyeroll*) then that could be split into its own page.

    The inversion of when an apology is actively implying that the other person should apologize...yeah, I think it would be accepting an apology that hasn't been given.
  • March 16, 2010
    SylviaSybil
    Launchable yet?
  • March 16, 2010
    Unknown Troper
  • March 19, 2010
    Heliomance
    The Carpet People (quoting from memory):

    Owlglass: He was sentenced to death for teling 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.
  • March 24, 2010
    Medinoc
    I suggest calling it The Politician's Apology.
  • March 24, 2010
    SylviaSybil
    The Politicians Apology might not be inclusive enough. It sounds to me like it should be polite and use weasel words, "I'm sorry you were offended." Nobody's going to vote for a politician who aggravates people on purpose. But this trope mainly covers aggravating apologies. "I'm sorry you attacked us, I'm sorry your cobbler looks like throw-up."

    Maybe Im Sorry Youre Wrong would be better?
  • March 26, 2010
    tropesstealsleep
    Scott Adams lampshades this in one of the Dilbert book when describing how he deals with offended letters and emails, if memory serves he describes it as containing words that sound like an apology enough to appease the person, but without having that literal meaning.
  • March 26, 2010
    SylviaSybil
    I think people are definitely confusing what the trope is about. It's more than just Im Not Sorry, it's an apology that actively shifts the blame to the other party. I took out the examples where blame wasn't deliberately shifted away from the apologizer.
  • March 26, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    From Family Guy
    Peter: "Hey, That's my kid! I demand you aplogize"
    Douchebag who looks like a guy but is really a stupendously ugly fat chick: "OK, I'm sorry your kid is a fat screwup."
  • March 26, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    From Family Guy
    Peter: "Hey, That's my kid! I demand you aplogize"
    Douchebag who looks like a guy but is really a stupendously ugly fat chick: ''"OK%2
  • April 4, 2010
    Unknown Troper
  • April 13, 2010
    SylviaSybil
  • April 29, 2010
    Medinoc
  • April 29, 2010
    Stratadrake
    So this is basically the apologetic equivalent to a backhanded compliment/insult?
  • April 29, 2010
    Irrisia
    Wrestling. So very, very much in wrestling, especially during feuds.

    Heath Slater apologising to Jericho is just the most recent one I can think of.
  • July 24, 2010
    depaderico
    From Zoolander: "Sorry that your ass got in the way of my needle. GET OUT!!!"

    I was referred here b/cI submitted a trope about insincere apologies. Can those fit?
  • July 24, 2010
    Gamesbot
    If you're still wavering on the title, how about "I'm Sorry You Fail", "I Apologize for Your Failure", or "I'm Sorry for Your Lack of Skill". The last one isn't that good, though, I know.
  • July 24, 2010
    DracMonster
    Backhanded Apology? Everyone knows what a backhanded compliment is so that seems like it would succinctly communicate the concept.
  • July 30, 2010
    Gargomon251
    Why is this STILL not an article?
  • July 31, 2010
    Kinitawowi
    Mel Gibson's apology to the Jews in Family Guy.
  • July 31, 2010
    DracMonster
    Did Sylvia Sybil abandon this? If she doesn't reclaim it in a day or two, I may launch it.
  • July 31, 2010
    Gringodingo
    (Seconds "Backhanded Apology")
    • From 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."
  • August 1, 2010
    Arivne
    ^^ @Drac Monster: Sylvia Sybil put this Up For Grabs on April 13th, so go ahead.
  • August 1, 2010
    DracMonster
    Oh didn't see that. Ok then. I'm uncomfortable taking someone else's YKTTW even if they've done that so I'll leave it for the three days just in case she wants it back.
  • August 1, 2010
    Prfnoff
    The apology to politicians in Episode 32 of Monty Pythons Flying Circus.
  • August 1, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Compare with Insult To Rocks.
  • August 2, 2010
    DracMonster
    Insult To Rocks doesn't really seem like it has much to do with this.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable