-> '''Doctor:''' Oh, Mr. Holmes, I would love to tell you, but then, of course, I'd have to kill you.\\
'''Sherlock:''' That would be [[BadassBoast tremendously ambitious of you]].
-->-- ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'', "The Hounds of Baskerville"

[[SchmuckBait Tell me anyway!]]

Often heard in settings related to espionage and high security levels, the phrase "I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" is itself probably a DeadHorseTrope by this point - whether for a serious straight use or not.

Nowadays used much more tongue in cheek to poke fun at [[ClassifiedInformation stern security protocols and classification]], it has started to show signs of decay since it's hard to pass off a StockPhrase as an original joke. Instead it's more common to get it as one character's joke to another, perhaps to demonstrate that character's lack of regard to the rigmarole of secrecy or mockery of the ''other'' character's clearance/understanding.

A common modern comedy subversion is to have one character say the phrase to another with the response "So it's classified?" they then answer "no, I just feel like killing you."

Compare JustBetweenYouAndMe, in which a BigBad tells the hero something they shouldn't before they kill them.

See the Supercut Mashup trailer of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuE_jqYNi3c this line being said a bunch in films]].

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[[foldercontrol]]

!!Examples

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Japanese speakers don't have this StockPhrase, but people like [[GundamWing Heero Yuy]] skip straight to "''omae wo korosu''" when people like Relena Dorlian find out too much.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the {{New 52}} version of ''ResurrectionMan'', Mitch asks a demon what he's planning, and gets the reply "I could tell you that, but then I'd have to kill you. [[ResurrectiveImmortality Repeatedly]]."
* [[{{Comicbook/Daredevil}} Bullseye]]'s Greatest Hits was a miniseries where Bullseye is incarcerated after stealing and hiding a batch of plutonium. The NSA sends a pair of agents to interrogate him, and he spends five issues [[CriminalMindgames messing with them]] and [[MultipleChoicePast telling them conflicting accounts of his life story]]. One of them finally gets tired of the game and asks him how he hid it.
-->'''Bullseye''': Okay, but you know the drill. If I tell you, I'll have to kill you.
-->'''Baldry''': That would be quite an accomplishment.
-->'''Bullseye''': Yeah. [[FingerGun It would.]]
* {{Planetary}}
-->'''The Drummer''': So what's the plan.
-->'''Elijah Snow''': If I told you, I'd have to kill you.
-->'''The Drummer''': That joke is [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld older than you are.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/TopGun''
-->'''Maverick''': We happened to see a [=MiG=] 28 do a 4g negative dive.\\
'''Charlie''': Where did you see this?\\
'''Maverick''': It's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
* ''AmericanPsycho''
-->'''Paul Allen:''' Well, Halberstram, I could tell you... but then I'd have to kill ya.
* ''Film/AWalkToRemember''
-->'''Jamie:''' I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
* ''Film/WolfCreek''
-->'''Mick Taylor:''' I could tell you. But then I'd have to kill you. [[spoiler: Which he then does with masterful skill]]
* Chris Farley's character uses this line on a little boy on a plane in ''BeverlyHillsNinja'' and makes the kid cry.
* A variant in ''Film/TheLongKissGoodnight'': "If you want me to talk in front of him, you may be asked to kill him later."
* In the 2009 adaption of ''Film/ThePictureOfDorianGray'', Dorian quips this in response to being asked his secret of looking young.
* Agent One uses this is ''Film/JohnnyEnglish''. When Johnny himself tries it later, he gets the response "I'd like to see you try."
* In one of the TheWitcher books, Geralt finds himself present during a sorcerous putsch, and the putchists capture him. Asking the leader what's going on, he is told sarcastically,
-->[[spoiler: Philippa Eilhart]]: "Blessed are those who do not know, for they shall live a while longer."
* Played with in ''Film/MenInBlack'': J tells Laura about the MIB. Then says "I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to...", to which Laura responds "Kill me." But just a little flash with the neuralyzer, and everything goes back to the way it was.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'': Vetinari (then a young assassin) in ''Discworld/NightWatch'' -- "I'd tell you but then I'd have to find someone to pay me to kill you."
* The first title of TheGallagherGirls series is ''I'd Tell You That I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You''.
* [[spoiler:Loki]] says this in ''Literature/AmericanGods'' - the Fat Kid [[GenreBlindness naturally]] [[SarcasticConfession assumes he's kidding]]. When the kid replies that yes, he really does want to know... he tells him. [[SubvertedTrope And then he kills him]].
* "Were I to tell you matters pertaining to the internal politics of the [[{{Dragaera}} House of the Dragon]] I should only weary you. And I would then have to kill you for knowing. So my thought was not to trouble you with such information."
* From ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers'', [[spoiler:Athos]]: "Because I am believed to be dead, and have reasons for wishing nobody to know I am living; so that I shall be obliged to kill you to prevent my secret from roaming over the fields."
** An even more perfect example, from the sequel ''The Vicomte de Bragelonne'': "It's a state secret," replied d'Artagnan, bluntly: "and as you know that, according to the king's orders, it is under the penalty of death any one should penetrate it, I will, if you like, allow you to read it and have you shot immediately afterwards." (The secret in question is the identity of the ManInTheIronMask.)
* Used in its exact words by [[spoiler:Osiris]] in the last book in {{The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel}} series.
* ''[[Literature/TheQuestForKarla The Honourable Schoolboy]]'' by [[JohnLeCarre John Le Carré]] - Ricardo explains his monologuing problem to Jerry: "You confuse me, Voltaire. If I tell you too much, I have to shoot you. I'm a very talkative person, you follow me? I get lonely up here, it is my disposition always to be lonely. I like a guy, I talk to him, then I regret myself. I remember my business commitments, follow me?"
* ''Literature/PaladinOfShadows'': Used as a joke by Mike, when asked by a beer distribution company representative how Mike had earned the money he was fronting for the Mountain Tiger Beer brewery.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': A scene between Weyoun, Damar, and Damar's lady friend, in the war room.
-->'''Weyoun:''' "I have news."
-->'''Damar:''' "Well?"
-->'''Weyoun:''' "Your ''friend'' doesn't want to hear this."
-->'''Damar''': "And why doesn't my friend want to hear this?"
-->'''Weyoun:''' "Because if she did I would be forced to have her executed."
-->[Damar's lady friend calmly walks out]
-->'''Weyoun''' [somewhat snarkily]: "What a pleasant woman."
* ''Series/TheWestWing'': Season 7- Ep. 10 ''Running Mates'' (00:23:42 on the time bar), communications officer Will Bailey applauds deputy national security advisor Kate Harper for ''not'' using the line. (He also mentions how alluring he finds the fact that she actually ''could'' kill him with her bare hands...)
* ''CrossingJordan'' episode "Out of Sight"
-->'''Dr. Nigel Townsend:''' Counterintelligence for the Royal Navy. I'd tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you.
* ''{{Newsradio}}'' episode "Rose Bowl"
-->'''Joe Garrelli:''' There is a secret word that, when uttered, forces the judge to rule in your favor, then go to a secret location to paddle themselves in a secret ceremony.\\
'''Dave Nelson:''' What is it?\\
'''Joe Garrelli:''' I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.\\
'''Dave Nelson:''' All right, but it better be good.
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'' episode "Poker? I Barely Know Her"
-->'''Shawn Spencer:''' Or perhaps you're referring to my license to kill. Revoked -- problems at the Kazakhstan border. I'd give you the details, but then I'd have to kill you, which I can't do because my license to kill was revoked.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' uses a variant where an offhand comment is made about O'Neill's time of service and the possibility of writing a book about it. Due to much of his duty even before joining the SGC consisted of top secret operations, he jokes that he'd have to kill anyone who read it.
* ''Series/TheColbertReport'' is going to the Persian Gulf, but exactly when or where it will be has been sworn to secrecy by the Pentagon.
-->'''Creator/StephenColbert:''' I could tell you, but then they'd have to kill me.
* ''Series/{{QI}}'':
--> '''Alan:''' What happened to [[{{MI5}} MIs 1, 2, 3 and 4]]?
--> '''Stephen Fry:''' Well it's very interesting, I could tell you, but then I'd have to [[SubvertedTrope eat myself]].
* One ''Series/{{Alias}}'' promotional video spoofs this with Creator/JenniferGarner addressing the audience.
--> '''Jenny:''' If we told you more about the show, we'd have to kill you.
* In the "Implosion" episode of ''{{Warehouse 13}}'':
-->'''Secret Service Agent''': Who's Mrs. Frederick?
-->'''Artie''': I'd tell you, but then he'd have to kill you (pointing at Mrs. Frederick's bodyguard, who has come to pick Artie up)
* In ''Series/TheSentinel'', when Jim and Blair go on a classified mission, Blair goes into a discussion about how police departments indoctrinate their members like a cult--Jim jokingly agrees, and says that, now that he's told Blair about it, he "''will'' be required to kill you."
* In ''{{Series/Merlin}}'', Merlin tries to [[LampshadeHanging lampshade]] this by saying "Right, 'cause if you do you'll have to kill me I suppose," but Arthur responds with "Immediately and without hesitation."
* On ''{{Caprica}}'', a character uses a Tauron phrase that is subtitled as "If I revealed the details, I'd have to return you to the soil."
* On ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', when Kate finds out that Tony knows her new boyfriend:
-->'''Kate:''' Steve Adler is your fraternity brother?
-->'''Tony:''' I'd show you the secret handshake, but then I'd have to kill you.
* Played with in one episode of ''{{CSI NY}}''. During the ColdOpen Adam is talking to a girl via webcam, using some fictional form of ChatRoulette. He asks her something - can't remember quite what - and she responds with this phrase...at which point [[spoiler: the murderer sneaks up behind her and kills ''her'' right in front of Adam, kicking off the MysteryOfTheWeek.]]
* In ''[[Series/{{Jake20}} Jake 2.0]]'', Jake's younger brother steals Jake's wallet and goes to a bar. A girl notices the [=NSA=] ID, so the brother starts pretending to be a spy. He starts saying this phrase, and she finishes it off, annoyed at the cliche. He corrects her that he'd have to sleep with her, "but if that's your thing..."
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer:'' from the episode ''Inca Mummy Girl:''
-->'''Xander:''' [On why the life sucking mummy won't tell him why she's crying]: Hey, I know why you can't tell me. It's a secret, right? And if you told me, you'd have to kill me.
-->'''Ampata:''' [cries louder]
-->'''Xander:''' Oh! That was a bad joke, and the delivery was off, too. I’m sorry.
* ''{{Series/Spaced}}'' goes for the 'modern comedy subversion' option:
-->'''Daisy:''' Actually, what is your job, Mike?
-->'''Mike:''' (Sincerely) If I told you that I;d have to kill you.
-->'''Daisy:''' What, is is a secret?
-->'''Mike:''' No.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Numb3rs}}'', Amita is asking Charlie a question about exactly where he learned code phrases (beyond that it was at the NSA) and he replies with the trope. She thinks he's kidding, but he's actually quite serious.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* MF DOOM in the song "Superfriends": "I don't think you wanna know, even if you still do, and want me to, I'll tell you, but then I'll have to kill you."
* Music/WeirdAlYankovic's ode to EspionageTropes, "Party in the CIA": "Burn that microfilm, buddy, will you, / I'd tell you why but then I'd have to kill you."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* Said [[http://dribibu.xs4all.nl/dilbert20070902.html almost verbatim]] in a ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' strip.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'': one suggested variant on "That information is outside your security clearance" is...well, this trope.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the second ''VideoGame/GabrielKnight'' AdventureGame, during the hunting club reunion, if Gabriel asks [[HairTriggerTemper Von Zell]] what he is talking about with Klingmann, Von Zell replies "We could tell you, Herr Knight, but then we'd have to kill you."
* ''VideoGame/{{Banjo-Kazooie}}: Nuts and Bolts'': If you pay Bottles the Mole 6,000 musical notes (the highest price for any single item in the game) to tell you the "truth" about the infamous Stop 'n' Swop, he responds with "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, and we can't show that in a game with this rating. Thanks for the notes!"
* Blair, in ''Videogame/WingCommander IV'' when he comes aboard the TCS ''Lexington'', uses this line to poke fun at Maniac.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', when the player character joins the Dark Brotherhood and gains access to their sanctuary, many members are often conversing on their latest assassination contracts. One particular line of dialogue is Nazir saying, "It's all thanks to a special technique I developed. I call it the "Razor-Winged Butterfly." I'd teach it to you... but then I'd have to kill you."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Seen in ''Webcomic/SweetBroAndHellaJeff'':
-->[[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/sweetbroandhellajeff/?cid=009.jpg GOD. DAAAAAAMMNN]].
* Seen in ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' where one character asks another what he's up to and receives the reply [[http://xkcd.com/707/ "If I told you, I'd have to kill you. I mean, sooner."]]
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'':
** [[XMeetsY Combined]] this with "TheEasyWayOrTheHardWay" [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20070115 here,]] when Master Payne gives two Wulfenbach troopers the choice of his being a good magician (who doesn't reveal how a trick is done) or an evil one (who doesn't leave any evidence there was a trick in the first place).
** In [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20130201 this strip]] Der Kestle declines to reveal information about [[spoiler:Airman Higgs]] to Zeetha, as doing so would require Zeetha to be killed.
* [[http://www.bugcomic.com/comics/seduced-by-mister-e/ Mocked]] by ''Webcomic/{{Bug|Martini}}''.
* In one ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' strip Justin [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2010-11-29 worries]] that Mr Verres may have to kill him over things he's ''already'' told him.
* Happened in ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' in a briefing between general Xinchub, some UNS Govt guy dealing with the same secret projects that ran into each others, and a major not cleared for one of them, who [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2003-02-09 was stupid enough to ask a clarifying question]] which [[HeKnowsTooMuch made the issue moot]].
* From TheLastDaysOfFoxhound:
-->'''Naomi:''' It's not that I have a problem with it. But why do they want that?
-->'''Ocelot:''' Welcome to Ocelot Shack. You've got questions, [[ImpliedDeathThreat we've got bullets]].
* Played with in a strip from ''[[http://www.creativeuncut.com/comic-itgs.html Inside The Gamer's Studio]]''. Whit, the host, is interviewing [[FinalFantasyVII Vincent Valentine]] about his role in the then-upcoming ''[[FinalFantasyVIIAdventChildren Advent Children]]'' film. Vincent quotes the trope, but Whit says he can live with it. Vincent whispers something in his ear and immediately shoots him dead. A "Retry" screen appears, and [[HereWeGoAgain Whit starts again from when he asked the question.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[WebVideo/BumReviews Chester A. Bum]] admits that he's Super-Bum. He then says that since he's told you, he'll have to kill you.
** Good news is he's just joking- he actually makes the viewer impotent.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Referenced in ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible''. A soldier working on a top secret project blurts out "Neutronalizer" during Wade's briefing. Mr. Dr. Possible asks "This isn't one of those, 'I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you' sort of things is it?'
* In "Big Boogey Adventure", the movie for ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'', Billy asks his future self what he is going to have for lunch on Thursday. His future self replies with the trope name.
* In the first episode of ''WesternAnimation/GodzillaTheSeries'', Nick says this word for word when Major Hicks asks who hacked right into [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_Edison Con Ed]]'s satellites, which was the resident PlayfulHacker, Randy.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In AmericasGotTalent, after the amazing [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhqH5kxNIXM presentation]] by quick change artists David and Dania, BrandyNorwood asks David "How do you do that?", to which an exhausted David replies: "We could tell you, and then we'd have to make you disappear".
* Averted by the NSA. Because NSA employees are barred from saying anything about the nature of their work (no matter how mundane), it became vogue, at one point, for them to say this line when friends and family asked. The brass had to put a stop to it because it was overly dramatic and only made people more intrigued.
[[/folder]]

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''You now know too much about this trope. *BANG*''
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