Created By: CaveCat on January 21, 2014 Last Edited By: CaveCat on February 14, 2014
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Would Rather Suffer

I\'d rather get a root canal than go out with you!

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You want me to describe another trope? I'd rather drink the Brain Bleach!

A character expresses his displeasure for an idea by claiming a preferred alternative — except that alternative is clearly something the average person would find unthinkably undesirable, usually subjecting oneself to pain. This is mainly a Comedy Trope, deriving humor from the exaggerated, ridiculous description of unusual torture.

Commonly used to respond to the advances of an Abhorrent Admirer or Casanova Wannabe.

Compare I Have to Wash My Hair and I Need to Go Iron My Dog as more mundane excuses. Contrast Fate Worse Than Death as a more serious comparison. Anything But That! is another negative (over)reaction, though usually to threats.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • A Hellblazer comic subverts this: a couple are arguing, with the man saying that he'd rather shove red-hot needles in his eyes than talk to her family any more. A while later, due to demonic influence, he does just that, and tells her in a completely normal voice that he was wrong: this is much worse.

Film
  • From Shrek the Third, we have a pair of college girls having a conversation, with one of them saying, "And then I said, 'I'd rather get the black plague or get stuck in an iron maiden than go out with you!'"
  • In Ever After, Maguerite and her mother make plans for her to wear a dress which belonged to Danielle's deceased mother to the masquerade ball. After walking in on Maguerite about to try on the dress, Danielle angrily declares "I would rather die a thousand deaths than to see my mother's dress on that spoiled, selfish cow!"
  • In George of the Jungle, Ursula's mother is trying to drive George away from Ursula.
    George: So you no want Ursula to love George?
    Mom: I'd rather have my tongue nailed to this table every morning at breakfast.

Literature
  • In A Christmas Carol Scrooge suggests that the indigent go to prisons or workhouses instead of him giving to charity. The person he's talking to says "Many can't go there; and many would rather die."

Live-Action TV
  • In Happy Days, Potsie asks a girl to do something romantic with him, and she retorts, "I'd rather catch diptheria!"
  • Burn Notice: Andre Dekker, one of the Villains of the Week in "Unpaid Debts" and a black market courier, tells Michael he would sooner cut his own throat than allow anyone to interfere in his deliveries.
    "Do you think I would hesitate to cut yours?"
  • Babylon 5: At the end of the first season, faced with going into the council chamber and and ceding all claim to a sector of space to the Narns, Londo comments, "I think I'll go stick my head in the station's fusion reactor, it would be less painful. And after a while, I might even come to enjoy it."
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj is about to lose his work Visa and is in danger of deportation, so Sheldon offers to let Raj work for him. (Not with him, for him.) Raj says he'd rather swim naked across the Ganges River with paper cuts on his nipples and die a slow agonizing death from infection than work with Sheldon. Then he takes the job.

Music
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "One More Minute," singing about an ex.
    That's right, you ain't gonna see me crying
    I'm glad that you found somebody new
    'Cause I'd rather spend eternity eating shards of broken glass
    Than spend one more minute with you.

Newspaper Comics
  • Jon has gotten this repeatedly in Garfield. It was a kind of Running Gag for a while.
  • Similarly, Michelle does this to Curtis sometimes when he asks her out.

Web Comics

Web Original
  • A regluar occurance with The Angry Video Game Nerd, often in a profane matter. For example, in the first Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode, he advises to destroy the game instead of playing it, saying, "You'd rather super-glue your asshole shut than play that game. You'd rather drown in gasoline."

Western Animation
  • In the Arthur episode "Arthur And The Square Dance", after Arthur spends the entire episode believing that he and Francine are in love, this exchange follows:
    Arthur: You don't want to kiss me?
    Francine: Are you kidding?!? I'd rather get head lice!
  • Montana Max's relationship with Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures is like this. In the episode, "Prom-ise Her Anything", Monty tells Elmyra he'd rather get a lobotomy than be her date. In "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special", he tells her he'd rather eat dog food than kiss her Under the Mistletoe. Both times, he doesn't just say this to her, he yells it to her, really loudly.
  • In Animaniacs, a businessman sitting next to the Warners, who pester him and want him to be their "special friend", tells them that "I'd rather be stranded on an island and be eaten by cannibals than be your 'special friend'!" Which is exactly what happens to him at the end.
    • In her debut cartoon "Meet Minerva Mink," Minerva listens to her phone messages, one of which is from a nervous Lawrence, asking, "I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me?" Minerva, Breaking the Fourth Wall, replies, "I'd rather chew aluminum."

Needs More Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • January 21, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
  • January 21, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    No, I Have To Wash My Hair is about a person trying to let another down easy. This isn't.

    Abhorrent Action Is Preferable? If it were only about romantic things it could be Date Worse Than Death.

    Might also be related to Anything But That.
  • January 21, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    In Happy Days, Potsie asks a girl to do something romantic with him, and she retorts, "I'd rather catch diptheria!"
  • January 21, 2014
    arbiter099
    Sounds like a Stock Phrase, I'd rather X than Y. and those don't have much luck around here.
  • January 21, 2014
    ChickInTheMoonlight
    Preferred Hyperbole? Preferable Hyperbole?

    As for examples:

    In "Ever After", Maguerite and her mother make plans for her to wear a dress which belonged to Danielle's deceased mother to the masquerade ball. After walking in on Maguerite about to try on the dress, Danielle angrily declares "I would rather die a thousand deaths than to see my mother's dress on that spoiled, selfish cow!"
  • January 21, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Weird Al Yankovic's "One More Minute," singing about an ex.
    That's right, you ain't gonna see me crying
    I'm glad that you found somebody new
    'Cause I'd rather spend eternity eating shards of broken glass
    Than spend one more minute with you.
  • January 21, 2014
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
  • January 21, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
  • January 21, 2014
    TonyG
    In Animaniacs, a businessman sitting next to the Warners, who pester him and want him to be their "special friend", tells them that "I'd rather be stranded on an island and be eaten by cannibals than be your 'special friend'!" Which is exactly what happens to him at the end.
  • January 21, 2014
    MorganWick
    Would Rather Suffer or something like that?
  • January 21, 2014
    CaveCat
    ^That's not a bad title at all. Short, concise, and sounding less like a Stock Phrase.
  • January 21, 2014
    StarSword
    @Hell Kill Us All: Per How To Write An Example, don't pothole the work in the example, state it outright.

    Fixed in draft.
  • January 21, 2014
    StarSword
    As for stock phrases, I think we're skirting just to the legal side of the line.

    Film:
    • In George Of The Jungle Ursula's mother is trying to drive George away from Ursula.
      George: So you no want Ursula to love George?
      Mom: I'd rather have my tongue nailed to this table every morning at breakfast.

    TV:
    • Burn Notice: Andre Dekker, one of the Villains of the Week in "Unpaid Debts" and a black market courier, tells Michael he would sooner cut his own throat than allow anyone to interfere in his deliveries.
      "Do you think I would hesitate to cut yours?"
  • January 21, 2014
    randomsurfer
    A thirdhand example; Does This Count
    • In A Christmas Carol Scrooge suggests that the indigent go to prisons or workhouses instead of him giving to charity. The person he's talking to says "Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
  • January 21, 2014
    Tallens
    • Babylon Five: At the end of the first season, faced with going into the council chamber and and ceding all claim to a sector of space to the Narns, Londo comments, "I think I'll go stick my head in the station's fusion reactor, it would be less painful. And after a while, I might even come to enjoy it."
  • January 22, 2014
    Arivne
    The Back To The Future example doesn't fit the trope for two reasons:

    • It's not in the form of "I'd rather <form of suffering> than <do something>.
    • If it were changed to the correct form, it would be "I would rather not be married at all than be married to you", and not being married isn't really suffering.
  • January 22, 2014
    robinjohnson
    This is a stock phrase.
  • January 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Yeah, even if the title is not stock phrase. I kinda regret saying this (were it not for that rule, I'd support this), but MTD.
  • January 22, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • In her debut cartoon "Meet Minerva Mink," Minerva listens to her phone messages, one of which is from a nervous Lawrence, asking, "I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me?" Minerva, Breaking The Fourth Wall, replies, "I'd rather chew aluminum."
  • January 24, 2014
    Chabal2
    A Hellblazer comic subverts this: a couple are arguing, with the man saying that he'd rather shove red-hot needles in his eyes than talk to her family any more. A while later, due to demonic influence, he does just that, and tells her in a completely normal voice that he was wrong: this is much worse.

  • January 26, 2014
    DAN004
  • January 28, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of The Big Bang Theory Raj is about to lose is work Visa and is in danger of deportation, so Sheldon offers to let Raj work for him. (Not with him, for him.) Raj says he'd rather swim naked across the Ganges River with paper cuts on his nipples and die a slow agonizing death from infection than work with Sheldon. Then he takes the job.
  • January 29, 2014
    chicagomel
    • Jon has gotten his repeatedly in Garfield. It was a kind of Running Gag for a while (newspaper comics)
    • Similarly, Michelle does this to Curtis sometimes when he asks her out.
  • January 29, 2014
    DAN004
    Um, isn't this really a stock phrase?
  • January 30, 2014
    Tallens
    ^I disagree, though the description really needs to be improved to make the distinction clear.
  • January 30, 2014
    Bisected8
    Web Comic

  • January 30, 2014
    DAN004
    • Variant on One Piece: Usopp usually makes an excuse for not going to the island they're visiting with "I'm having a 'cannot-go-to-that-island disease'" and variants of it.
  • February 1, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Reading over No New Stock Phrases, I interpret it as "Don't name tropes after dialog" and not "Don't propose tropes about dialog". In that sense, "Would Rather Suffer" does not sound like dialog, and it describes a legitimate convention — characters humorously indicate how much they detest an idea by throwing out a ridiculous comparison to something that they wouldn't like to do under normal circumstances either.

    That said, I don't think the One Piece example fits. It doesn't sound like Usopp is saying "I'd rather be sick than go to that island," or anything to that effect.
  • February 1, 2014
    NESBoy
    A regluar occurance with The Angry Video Game Nerd, often in a profane matter. For example, in the first Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode, he advises to destroy the game instead of playing it, saying, "You'd rather super-glue your asshole shut than play that game. You'd rather drown in gasoline."
  • February 1, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ Yeah, that's why making a new dialog trope is hard...
  • February 6, 2014
    StarSword
    @Ultramarine: Good reasoning. Care to take a crack at a description rewrite along those lines?
  • February 8, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    It has been done. I had to toss out the wick to My Hovercraft Is Full Of Eels which I could not find a reason for being there in the first place. Also, despite the use of "unusual torture" in the description, I think a wick to Cool And Unusual Punishment would be shoe-horning, so I left it out (none of the current examples here really represent what that trope is about).
  • February 11, 2014
    StarSword
    Hats? Examples? Description thoughts? (Why do people have to be prompted to hat things, in particular?)
  • February 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Hats are important, dude
  • February 14, 2014
    Tallens
    And that's five.
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