Created By: VolatileChemical on March 16, 2012

That Could Be Anyone

A detailed or obvious connection is dismissed as vague

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Do we have this one?

A character dismisses an extremely explicit, detailed, obvious and/or incontrovertible connection as too vague. This might be a Hail Mary attempt at denial, avoiding a conclusion with some cognitive dissonance, or sometimes earnestly just failing to connect the dots. The first variety is frequently used as a knee-jerk response to open-and-shut accusations. Example: The police say the bank robber was a one-legged man with a pirate hat, a parrot on his shoulder and a name tag saying "L.J.S.", to which Long John Silver replies, "Oh, well, that could be anyone!"


  • In Youth in Revolt, after causing a large fire, Nick Twisp uses this defense when his mom's cop-boyfriend reads out a description of the arsonist that perfectly fits him ("white teenage male, approximately 5’9, 135 lbs, dirty blond hair, last seen pulling a trailer with the words 'God’s Perfect Asshole' painted on the side").

Western Animation
  • Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons is a fan of this defense:
    • Marge vs. the Mororail
    Chief Wiggum: Hey, I got pictures of you, Quimby.
    Mayor Quimby: You don't scare me, that could be anyone's ass.
    • Bart After Dark
    Mayor Quimby: [upon display of a photo clearly showing him walking out of the Maison Derriere, "Mayor" sash and all] Uh, well, that could be any mayor.
  • In Family Guy with Lois denying increasingly specific evidence that her brother Patrick is the fat guy strangler:
    Peter: What about that dead fat guy under the bed?
    Lois: Coincidence?
    Brian: What about that other half-dead fat guy?
    Half-Dead Fat Guy: Patrick did it.
    Lois: It could be any Patrick.
  • Futurama, when Bender denies that his thoughts are being received by nearby electronics.
    Woman: They're on my cell phone too!
    Bender: Madame, I believe you're mistaken...
    [Bender's voice from cell phone: "Wow, that lady's got a huge ass!"]
    Bender: Those could be anyone's thoughts, fat-ass.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • March 16, 2012
    • From The Simpsons Movie, after Homer pollutes a lake with a personalized silo of pig crap and it's on tv: "That could be anyone's silo of pig crap!"
  • March 16, 2012
    The Simpsons LOOOOOVE this one, but please please please please can the page quote be the classic Chief Wiggum line:

    "Suspect is hatless, repeat, hatless!"

    Um... even though that's the opposite of what this trope actually is...

    There's a Monty Python sketch about a man smuggling watches out of Switzerland where he does a terrible job and the customs officer dismisses all evidence of his guilt. The punchline is an inversion of this trope, where a priest shows up, makes some innocuous comment and is hauled off to be searched.
  • March 16, 2012
    • In the South Park episode "The Coon" Cartman is adamant that he's not The Coon, even though he's the only kid in town who's that fat.
  • March 16, 2012
    ^^ Yes, we already have Suspect Is Hatless, which is exactly the opposite of this trope.
  • March 16, 2012
    Happens in The Replacements when the rest of the Darings are spying on Riley's first date. When Jonny asks if its her car disguised as a waiter, Riley tries to dismiss it by saying "That could be anyone's talking car!"
  • March 16, 2012
    I've Seen It A Million Times. Though I can't bring any examples to mind at the moment.
  • March 16, 2012
    Holmes pulled a variant of this in the Charles Augustus Milverton Case.
  • March 16, 2012
    "Do we have this one?"

    Implausible Deniability.
  • March 16, 2012
    IMHO they are related and often overlap, but don't always, and hence untill the trope named Implausible Deniability is expanded to include subversions like it applies to a "Steve" in a Planet Of Steves or Planet Of Hats (In which case it Could be any "Steve") and they prove that this Planet Of Steves (or Planet Of Hats) exists, etc. they are not the same. E.g. Holmes' subversion was The police come to Holmes' door and asked to help with a case of murder, where the information they have is descriptions remarkably similar to Holmes and Watson. Holmes replies: "Why, you could be describing me and Watson."(They are not guilty of the murder, but neither do they want to help the police catch the murderer, and nor do they have a proper alibi.)
  • March 16, 2012
    "A character dismisses an extremely explicit, detailed, obvious and/or incontrovertible connection as too vague"

    How is this not covered? And including subversions is inherent in a trope.
  • March 17, 2012
    So, you are implying that Implausible Deniability currently allows to include as a subversion with the name of Plausible Deniability(as in my example)?

    If you say (and please be honest about this) that Implausible Deniability should also include examples of Plausible Deniability because of a Planet Of Hats, then you win the argument and in which case, I will be one of those saying that we do have this already, and hence all examples here belong @ Implausible Deniability and you are under a moral obligation to make sure that all the examples here go to Implausible Deniability.
  • March 17, 2012
    ^ Your example is wrong for a few reasons.
    • It's not covered in the definition.
    • It's not a subversion. Where is the bait and switch aspect that is necessary for being a Subverted Trope?
  • March 20, 2012
    Hmmm. Subverted Trope... ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ So what happens car hits pane of glass only to find out it didn't hit it? e.g. Or is that the same thing as not hitting the glass? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ In an alteration of an example up above: The police say the bank robber was a one-legged man with a pirate hat, a parrot on his shoulder and a name tag saying "L.J.S.", to which Long John Silver replies, "Oh, well, that could be anyone!" and reveals that there is a community of one-legged men with pirate hats and parrots on shoulders with name tags saying "L.J.S", who are relatively nearby aka Planetof Hats. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ The biggest (and I mean biggest difference) I see is for one this is an aversion (This is clearly NOT Implausible Deniability (unless you are of course implying it is implausible if not impossible to a "Long John Silver" fan club near enough to the crime scene) because it clearly is possible, and believable.) ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ However, For "That could be Anyone", It is set up as a "That could be anyone", only to find out it Could be anyone (in the LJS fan club anyways). -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ Maybe I am wrong and they are the same. -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ In fact I put the probability I am wrong as pretty high. -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ But please prove it so that anyone could see that these two tropes aren't just sisters (They look awfully similar), but that they are the exact same trope, or the same but more specific. -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ What this may mean is changing Implausible Deniability so that the two tropes merge (In which case include these examples before this trope vanishes), or just giving enough evidence to prove this trope is beyond doubt, the other trope (Implausible Deniability) -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ Now the way I see my Sherlock Holmes example, They are not denying that they are the suspects, there is no reason that statement seems the least bit implausible (aside from the fact that Sherlock and Watson do not seem the type to murder.) So I fail to see how this either does not apply to "That could be anyone" (by either the fact that it isn't a subversion nor played straight) or that it applies to both as a subversion or both as played straight or both as aversion.
  • March 21, 2012
    "So what happens car hits pane of glass only to find out it didn't hit it? e.g. Or is that the same thing as not hitting the glass?"

    That would be bad continuity (since you'd have to see the hit). This is more like them looking like the are about to hit a Fruit Cart, but then miss it by several feet.

    As for the next part, it's a wall of text, and I still can't make out what you mean.
  • March 21, 2012
    Sorry. Let me work on correcting that.


    Correction: A direct quotation: "Criminals?" said Holmes. "Plural?" -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ "Yes, there were two of them. They were nearly as possible captured red-handed. We have their footmarks, we have their description, it's ten to one that we trace them. The first fellow was a bit too active, but the second was caught by the under-gardener, and only got away after a struggle.

    He was a middle-sized, strongly built man--square jaw, thick neck, moustache, a mask over his eyes." -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ "That's rather vague," said Sherlock Holmes. "Why, it might be a description of Watson!" -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ "It's true," said the inspector, with amusement."It might be a description of Watson." -__________________________________________________________________________________________________ "Well I'm afraid I can't help you, Lestrade," said Holmes."The fact is that I knew this fellow Milverton, and I considered him one of the most dangerous men in London, and that I think that there are certain crimes which the law cannot touch, and which therefore, to some extent, justify private revenge. No, it's no use arguing. I have made up my mind. My sympathies are with the criminals rather than the victim, and I will not handle the case."