-> '''Mako''': Not bad.
-> '''Korra''': Ugh, what does it take to impress this guy?
-> '''Mako''': What? I said not bad.
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' "[[Recap/TheLegendOfKorraS1E2ALeafInTheWind A Leaf in the Wind]]"

When someone refers to another as NotBad, it's used to show that the person of whom it is said has won the (albeit grudging) respect of a character who initially hadn't liked them.

A variant of this is when a character refers to another as NotBadForAnX, which is usually said by a character who normally looks down on another group except for the other character. This variation is often what a supposed SuperiorSpecies would say to our plucky human hero whose [[YouAreACreditToYourRace proven themselves worthy in their eyes]].

This is often used by people whose approval is hard to come by and expressed in terms that don't seem all that approving if you don't know them. [[DeadpanSnarker Deadpan Snarkers]] are the most frequent abusers of this trope, because outright complimenting someone is out of the question for them. It's also a characteristic of TheStoic, TheSpock (because his standards are ''just that high''), people with a StiffUpperLip (a British person saying "not bad" may actually be an expression of unbridled approval), and is of course a subtrope of {{Understatement}}.

By the way, saying "not bad" instead of just straight up "good" is one of many examples of what's called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litotes litotes]].

See also ComplimentBackfire, DamnedByFaintPraise, OverlyNarrowSuperlative, and TheOneThingIDontHateAboutYou. For the humorous counterpart, see ActuallyPrettyFunny.

!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* In ''Film/{{Aliens}}'', the android Bishop says Ripley was "[[NotBadForAnX Not bad, for a human]].", just before he dies (or whatever it is that androids do). The point is that Ripley initially hadn't liked Bishop because he was an android; then he helped save her and the others and she admitted to him that he hadn't done badly for an android. Then the Alien Queen turned up, nearly fatally injuring Bishop and the line is an IronicEcho of Ripley's earlier comment, she having defeated the Alien Queen.
* ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' has this example:
-->''' Princess Vespa:''' Ah! My hair! He shot my hair! Son of a bitch! [shoots and destroys all their pursuers] ...How was that?
-->'''Lone Starr:''' Not bad.
-->'''Barf:''' Not bad, for a ''girl''.
-->'''Dot Matrix:''' Hey, that was pretty good for ''Rambo''.
* In the 2010 ''TrueGrit'', Mattie defies Rooster and the Texas Ranger and crosses the river on her horse to come with them. Rooster observes her crossing with an appraising eye, and then says "Good Horse", as she staggers ashore.
* In ''TheIronGiant'', Dean, a junk yard owner who likes to make sculptures out of the junk, gets angry at the Giant for eating some of his art. The Giant, confused, puts together a bunch of half-chewed junk to try to appease Dean. Dean isn't too impressed, at first: "No, don't... that's not... that's... huh, that's NotBad."
* In ''Film/IndependenceDay'' the President says this to David. The two have years of animosity between them due to their LoveTriangle, which David ultimately won.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* The closest [[CoolOldLady Granny Weatherwax]] (of ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' fame) will come to commending someone is to say something neutral implying that they were barely adequate. More often she will only comment to the effect that the person didn't fail as abysmally as she expected.
* In ''[[PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians The Titan's Curse]]'', Artemis tells [[TheHero Percy]] he didn't do bad, for a man. (Before then, she had always called him a boy.)
* In ''ASongOfIceAndFire'', when Jaime Lannister fights Brienne of Tarth, he uses this--when she successfully fends off his first attack, he concedes that she's "Not half bad, for a wench." As the duel goes on and he realizes her level of skill, it comes up again:
-->'''Jaime:''' Not bad at all!
-->'''Brienne:''' For a wench?
-->'''Jaime:''' For a squire, say. A green one.
** For the record, [[spoiler:Brienne of Tarth]] came out on top in the end.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In one episode of ''{{Scrubs}}'', Dr Cox says J.D. is "not a completely horrible doctor". J.D. recognises this as high praise.
* An episode of ''{{Series/Titus}}'' has Titus and Dave made a triple play in a Little league baseball game. Ken responds with "not bad," to which Titus and Dave have an over-the-top victory celebration, including a "NOT BAD" banner that drops from the ceiling.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations'', this is [[CombatCompliment Dr. Eggman's]] reaction to if you hit him in the Egg Dragoon. This is, like most things, mocked in LetsPlay/{{pokecapn}}'s LetsPlay of the game.
** Also at the end of the story, [[spoiler:Knuckles says this to Sonic who defeated The Time Eater along with his Classic self. This causes Amy to hit Knuckles for that half-hearted compliment, and said that Sonic was all great]].
** In the first Sonic/Shadow boss battle in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'', Shadow will say this after you defeat him with Sonic:
--->'''Shadow''': Not bad for an impostor.
* In VideoGame/SabresOfInfinity, If Cazarosta respects you enough to let you command the boarding party in his place, he has this to say:
--> '''Cazarosta''': You are tolerable company, [[TryNotToDie try to avoid dying.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''HowIKilledYourMaster'', the protagonist (as a boy) reflexively blocks the strike of his abusive foster parent. He (and the reader) expect him to be in serious trouble, since he wasn't supposed to be learning his martial arts style [[spoiler:but instead he gets a "Barely competent" and his "punishment" is to [[StealthMentor run to the forest and back every day]].]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' "[[Recap/TheLegendOfKorraS1E2ALeafInTheWind A Leaf in the Wind]]" TheStoic Mako sincerely offers this compliment when Korra successfully follows Bolin's [[FictionalSport pro-bending]] advice. It [[ComplimentBackfire backfires]], as she assumes she's been DamnedByFaintPraise, to Mako's confusion.
-->'''Mako:''' ''What?'' I [[LampshadeHanging said]] "Not bad."

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* NotBad [[OrSoIHeard seems to be]] the default compliment for French people. Nothing, even the best or most exceptional thing that could happen, ever ranks higher than "Not Bad".
** Similarly in Scotland, "no' bad" is the highest praise, one step up from "awright".
** When BritishStuffiness was in full force, a completely expressionless, deadpan "not bad, I suppose" was the absolute epitome of compliments. This is changing now as the StiffUpperLip culture fades, but may still be used as a joking CallBack to the older times.
* The inverse has become a common expression in German politics. With an increasing trend to never explicitly commit to any opinion, "only slightly helpful" has become the most unambiguous way to say "STFU!".

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