Created By: HiddenFacedMatt on August 4, 2011 Last Edited By: HiddenFacedMatt on September 4, 2012
Troped

Assurance Backfire

Something that was meant to sound assuring ended up sounding bad.

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Trope
Bolt: Calm down, cat. You're with me.
Mittens: That's the problem!
--Bolt

The opposite of Threat Backfire, this is for characters saying things that are meant to sound assuring, but those it's being said to perceive as bad.

In other words, Assurance Backfire is to Threat Backfire as Compliment Backfire is to Insult Backfire.

Can be related to Bad Omen Anecdote. (If, for example, one uses as an assuring analogy something that actually ended horribly.) Often related to Analogy Backfire.

Compare/Contrast with False Reassurance, wherein the person doing the reassuring is deliberately misleading.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • Bolt has the above quoted dialogue, wherein Mittens doesn't exactly trust Bolt to know what he's doing.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Witches Abroad, Magrat is feeling deeply embarassed and uncomfortable about having to pose as Emberella at the ball. The other witches try to help.
    "Don't worry," said Granny, "We'll be there too."
    "And that's supposed to make me feel better, is it?"
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry is worried for his sanity because he suddenly sees skeletal horses pulling the Hogwarts carriages, and nobody else can. When Cloud Cuckoo Lander Luna Lovegood tells him that she can see them too and he's just an sane as she is, he is less than reassured.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
  • In The Order of the Stick, after Haley's been left behind in (the now overrun by goblins) Azure City, Elan tries to jump out of the boat and swim to her until everyone reminds him that she has a much better chance of survival than him. Then one of the minor characters points out that she has Belkar watching her back causing him to panic again.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • In The Simpsons Lisa is feeling depressed after seeing an unflattering caricature of her. Marge attempts to cheer her up by singing "there once was an ugly duckling" but then Lisa says "so you think I'm ugly then?" and Marge hastily says "no, you're one of the good looking ones...who makes fun of the ugly one".
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Cave of Two Lovers", a cave-in splits up the party in an underground tunnel, and Sokka ends up alone with a group of singing nomads. As Sokka tries to dig his way through the debris, the nomad leader comments, "Yeah, it's no use. We're separated. But at least you have us!" Sokka's response is to scream in despair and start digging more frantically.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Sea Haunt". The Quest team is trapped on a ship with a terrible monster and Team Pet Bandit is frightened.
    Hadji: Don't worry, Bandit. Nothing will happen to you that won't happen to the rest of us.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • August 5, 2011
    Arivne
    Example deleted.
  • August 5, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Where's the "backfire" part? Is it in other characters' facial expressions?
  • August 9, 2011
    AriHasNoLife
    Definitely a trope, but it doesn't really have a backfire aspect. More like That Makes It Worse or Thats Not Reassuring.
  • August 10, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    I snowcloned it from Threat Backfire for having a similar theme though.

    Stuff like That Makes It Worse just seems a bit too vague.
  • August 18, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly insistent on the current title, it's just that the alternatives suggested so far don't strike me as better.
  • August 18, 2011
    Bisected8
    In The Order Of The Stick, after Haley's been left behind in (the now overrun by goblins) Azure City, Elan tries to jump out of the boat and swim to her until everyone reminds him that she has a much better chance of survival than him. Then one of the minor characters points out that she has Belkar watching her back causing him to panic again.
  • August 18, 2011
    Webby
    • Spongebob Squarepants: SpongeBob is convinced he's ugly, so Patrick tells him a story to make him feel better.
      Patrick: Once, there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died. The end!
      SpongeBob: That didn't help at all.
  • August 22, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    I'm not sure that's an example, as it involves something that is unreassuring in and of itself rather than unreassuring due to a difference in attitudes, but I'll keep it for now until I have more examples.
  • August 22, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • In Witches Abroad, Magrat is feeling deeply embarassed and uncomfortable about having to pose as Emberella at the ball. The other witches try to help.
      "Don't worry," said Granny, "We'll be there too."
      "And that's supposed to make me feel better, is it?"
  • August 23, 2011
    SquealingSandry
    Does it count if the person saying the reassuring thing didn't mean it as reassurance? Not that he was trying to be threatening, but that he was simply stating a fact that could be taken in a reassuring manner, but because of how he said it, was not reassuring at all.
  • August 24, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ It really depends on the example, but yeah, that could count.
  • August 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Related to Stop Helping Me.
  • September 4, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Sometimes, though I'm not sure if that's notable enough to mention @ randomsurfer
  • September 4, 2011
    JoeG
    • In Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Harry is worried for his sanity because he suddenly sees skeletal horses pulling the Hogwarts carriages, and nobody else can. When Cloud Cuckoo Lander Luna Lovegood tells him that she can see them too and he's just an sane as she is, he is less than reassured.
  • September 10, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Is that in the book, the movie, or both? @ Joe
  • September 10, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic "Winter Wrap-Up" has Spike trying to reassure Twilight that she can help with the Winter Wrap-Up, but he does this by listing all the things she's proven she's no good at. Twilight sarcastically thanks Spike for making her feel better. He reacts as if her remark were sincere.
  • September 10, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    From Superman the Movie, After Supes catches Lois from the falling helicopter he tells "I've got you", her response is to nervously ask who is holding him.
  • September 10, 2011
    JoeG
    ^^^ The Harry Potter reference is from the book. I don't remember if it was in the movie.
  • September 12, 2011
    blueranger
    In The Simpsons Lisa is feeling depressed after seeing an unflattering caricature of her. Marge attempts to cheer her up by singing "there once was an ugly duckling" but then Lisa says "so you think I'm ugly then?" and Marge hastily says "no, you're one of the good looking ones...who makes fun of the ugly one".
  • September 15, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ Well, when I categorize examples, I'll put it in the literature section and leave it out of the film section just in case.
  • September 17, 2011
    Earnest
    See also Empty Promise.
  • September 17, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    • In the Avatar The Last Airbender episode "The Cave of Two Lovers", a cave-in splits up the party in an underground tunnel, and Sokka ends up alone with a group of singing nomads. As Sokka tries to dig his way through the debris, the nomad leader comments, "Yeah, it's no use. We're separated. But at least you have us!" Sokka's response is to scream in despair and start digging more frantically.
  • September 19, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ Too different to be worth mentioning; Empty Promise has much more reason to sound reassuring.
  • September 19, 2011
    Earnest
    ^ They have in common that they're meant to reassure, and an Empty Promise isn't always believable or successful either. A character being "reassured" with an Empty Promise may know it's a lie but choose to believe it rather than face the truth. It does usually succeed in reassuring, but it can potentially segue into this trope if the lie is found out.

    "You knew the alien invaders destroyed The Cavalry but lied about them coming to avoid us panicking? Now I'm going to panic!"
  • September 19, 2011
    Dairo
    In Rift, many Defiant NP Cs have the voiced line "May the world still be here tomorrow." Players on that side have an opening quest chain to escape a future where the world is torn apart by the game's Big Bad Regulos, there are zombies everywhere (some of which were once Guardian heroes), and stuff usually sucks all around. This line also doubles as a Player Punch in this manner.
  • September 19, 2011
    undefined
  • September 19, 2011
    IuraCivium
  • September 20, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    Come to think of it, Reassurance Backfire might not be the best wording either, as it's not so much "supposed to sound reassuring, doesn't" as "supposed to sound like a good thing, doesn't."
  • September 20, 2011
    CamelliaSinensis
    The Harry Potter example is in the movie too.
  • September 20, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ That was me, by the way. My username just didn't show up.
  • September 28, 2011
    Arivne
    Western Animation
    • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Sea Haunt". The Quest team is trapped on a ship with a terrible monster and Team Pet Bandit is frightened.
    Hadji: Don't worry, Bandit. Nothing will happen to you that won't happen to the rest of us.
    Jonny: Now there's a happy thought.
  • October 11, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ I take it Jonny was being sarcastic?
  • October 12, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ Yes, he was.
  • October 18, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Thanks; I guess I'm so used to seeing Sarcasm Mode potholed that not seeing it leaves room for ambiguity.
  • October 20, 2011
    LoopyChew
    Compare False Reassurance, where the person doing the reassuring is deliberately misleading the person who needs calming so that they ARE calm.
  • October 22, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Mentioned, though I am not sure if it might cause some to get the wrong impression about the trope @ Loopy Chew
  • February 19, 2012
    Prfnoff
  • February 19, 2012
    pawsplay
  • February 22, 2012
    Omegamaelstrom
    That's What Worries Me Maybe it's too specific.....
  • February 22, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ Except that it's about the unhelpful reassurance, not the snark responses to it.
  • February 22, 2012
    pawsplay
    every single example I see has a snark response, often as a way of signalling how unhelpful the reassurance was.
  • March 17, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ That does not mean it is inherent in the trope.
  • March 17, 2012
    MiinU

    Webcomics

    • Menage a 3: This happens when Gary's attempt to console would-be therapist, Kiley, who suffers from a comedic case of A Cup Angst, backfires.
      Kiley: (crying over phone) "My IQ's smaller than my breast size!"
      Gary: (soothingly) "Oh, don't cry -- I'm sure your IQ's much bigger than your breasts!"
  • March 18, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ That seems to be more along the line of a poorly worded assurance.
  • June 26, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Can be related to Bad Omen Anecdote (if, say, for example, you tried to cheer someone up by relating a similar situation that actually ended horribly).
  • June 28, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Added to the description. @ Shnakepup
  • September 4, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Bump.
  • September 4, 2012
    JoeG

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