Created By: StarSword on November 19, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on November 22, 2012

Quote-to-Quote Combat

Trading quotes as a debating technique.

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Tags: Rolling Updates, Waiting on tomorrow morning for launch

Title possibilities: Quote Fu, Quotational Escalation, Quotation Backfire, Quote-to-Quote Combat

Quotes are quite popular in debates and arguments; they sum up an argument quickly (being the words of someone notable also tends to help). This trope covers cases of characters arguing by exchanging them. For added effect, a creator might have his characters all quote the same source.

This can be used to either show that both the arguers are well read. It can also be used to portray one of them as a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who is humiliated by the much wiser second quoter. On the other hand, relying too much on quotes can run one into the Appeal to Authority fallacy and similar Logical Fallacies, and expecting quotes alone to win the day is tantamount to Insane Troll Logic. On the third hand, sometimes the first quoter tries to top the second quoter, which if it goes on long enough may just turn into an Overly Long Gag.

Compare Politeness Judo (a similar exchange using manners rather than quotes). May involve As the Good Book Says.... See also Analogy Backfire and Verbal Judo, or Beam Me Up, Scotty! when the quoter gets the line wrong. If this happens a lot, one may consider the work Reference Overdosed. Not at all related to Ship-to-Ship Combat.


  • In The A-Team, B.A. took a vow of nonviolence while in prison. About two-thirds of the way through the movie, he shows Hannibal a quote from a book about Mahatma Gandhi advocating nonviolence.
    B.A.: Gandhi said, "Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."
    Hannibal: Gandhi. (beat) "It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence."
    B.A.: Who said that?
    Hannibal: Same guy. Gandhi wasn't afraid to fight for what he believed in.
  • In The Rock, the antagonist General Hummel justifies his actions:
    Hummel: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Thomas Jefferson.
  • In Porky's II: The Next Day the school Shakespeare production is being shut down by a group of hyper-conservative religious nuts who think Shakespeare is immoral. They quote out of context dirty Shakespeare passages (of which there are many) to support their cause. But the school principal, who supports the show, goes quote-for-quote against them using The Bible as his source of smutty sayings.

  • This is Older Than Feudalism. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Satan tempts Jesus by telling Him (among other things) to prove he's the Son of God by throwing Himself off the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem, for the scriptures say God would command the angels to catch the Messiah. Jesus counters that the scriptures also say not to put God to the test.

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  • In the Blue Bloods episode "Black and Blue", Frank Reagan tangles with Rev. Darnell Potter, a spotlight-loving black pastor who has an axe to grind with the NYPD over race issues. Potter walks into a meeting between himself, Frank, and the mayor throwing out a quote by Malcolm X. Frank asks for the names of the men in Potter's church who assaulted two of his officers; Potter refuses and accuses him of being unwilling to seek a consensus.
    Frank: A true leader is not a seeker of consensus, but a molder of consensus. (walks out)
    (Potter looks confusedly at the mayor.)
  • In the Spaced episode "Ends" Tim and Daisy share a moment similar to this when discussing about Tim moving back in with Sarah:
    Daisy: What do you mean you have a funny feeling?
    Tim: I can read her like a book.
    Daisy: Never judge a book by its cover.
    Tim: He who dares wins.
    Daisy: Look before you leap.
    Tim: Do you believe in life after love?
    Daisy: That's a song.
    Tim: Shit.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "Fallen" has this exchange between O'Neill and a proverb- and parable-loving village elder.
    Old Man: No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust them.
    Jack: Don't judge a book by its cover.
    Old Man: Enemies' promises were made to be broken.
    Jack: And yet, honesty is the best policy.
    Old Man: He who has too many friends has none.
    Jack: Ahh, but, birds of a feather.
    Old Man: I'm unfamiliar with that story. What lesson does it teach?
    Jack: It has to do with flocking, and togetherness, and to be honest I'm not so familiar with the particulars myself.
  • A scene in The West Wing has a Christian fundamentalist quote The Bible (Leviticus, in particular) to support her stance against homosexuality. President Bartlett then produces even more quotes from Leviticus, demonstrating how outdated and inapplicable those particular commandments are in the modern society.

  • In the skit "Ti Kwan Leep" by The Frantics, we get this exchange:
    Teacher: The only use of Ti Kwan Leep is self-defense. Do you know who said that? Ki Lo Ni, the great teacher.
    Ed Gruberman: Yeah? Well "the best defense is a good offense", you know who said that? Mel, the cook on Alice.

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  • A delightful scene in The Simpsons episode "Homer, the Heretic" when the reverend is trying to recover a lost sheep and Homer attempts a random and failed comeback.
    Lovejoy Homer, I'd like you to remember Matthew 7:26. "The foolish man who built his house upon the sand."
    Homer: [pointing a finger] And you remember... [thinks] Matthew... 21:17.
    Reverend Lovejoy: [confused] "And he left them and went out of the city, into Bethany, and he lodged there?"
    Homer: Yeah. Think about it.
  • The King of the Hill episode "Hilloween" parodies this when this conversation happens between Hank and an overzealous priest:
    Judy Harper: "The complacency of fools will destroy them." Proverbs.
    Hank: "Get out of my house!" Exodus.

Indices: Dialogue, Index Backfire, Older Than Feudalism, Shout-Outs Index

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