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->'''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 "Not Bad", 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 "Not Bad For An X", 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. {{Deadpan Snarker}}s 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.



[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* Multiple times while doing modified Navy Seal testing in ''[[https://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-7497-4/Nycorson+Teal+c+s+Wish.htm Teal'c's Wish]]'', Xander earns a comment of "Not bad" from the instructors, which he takes to mean he's doing better than they expect from a civilian. Of course, since their job is to make recruits feel like they barely pass even if they do perfectly, Xander's actually beating world records when they say that.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/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 not bad."
* In ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon2'', Cloudjumper reacts this way to Toothless [[spoiler:after Toothless defeats Drago's Bewilderbeast and becomes the Alpha]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/RiseOfTheGuardians'', Jack Frost says this to the Easter Bunny, who replies, "[[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming Not bad yourself]]".

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/{{Aliens}}'', the android Bishop says Ripley was "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]''\\
'''Barf:''' Holy sh*t!\\
'''Princess Vespa:''' ...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 ''Film/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 ''Film/IndependenceDay'' the President says this to David. The two have years of animosity between them due to their LoveTriangle, which David ultimately won.
* In ''Film/{{Willow}}'', Burglekutt (the village's jerkass, especially to the protagonist Willow) is actually noticeably impressed by Willow's disappearing pig trick, making it the closet thing he has to a PetTheDog moment. Of course when the trick quickly goes sour he returns to his default jerkassery.

* 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 ''[[Literature/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, so it was probably one of the best and most respectful compliments he ever got out of a god that wasn't his dad Poseidon.
* In ''Literature/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.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In one episode of ''Series/{{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.
* In ''Series/TheWestWing'', outgoing President Bartlet does grudgingly admit that Senator Vinick, the Republican presidential candidate, is an intelligent and ethical politician despite being from the opposing party.

* ''Music/TheyMightBeGiants'', "Pet Name"
-->''You say I'm "okay, for a guy"\\
But I can tell that you are lying\\
And we've almost figured out how we'll get along''

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* After Wrestling/AdamCole's successful Wrestling/{{R|ingOfHonor}}OH Television Title defense against Mike Mondo, Wrestling/MattHardy stood up from the commentary table to congratulate him, saying he just saw why the two were compared to each other, Cole almost being as good as Matt Hardy used to be, though nowhere near as good as he currently was.
* What Wrestling/AustinAries has to say after Wrestling/JeffHardy beats him for the Wrestling/{{TNA}} World Heavyweight Title Belt, saying Jeff briefly raised himself to Aries's level.
* Though surprised it happened, Kacee Carlisle gave [[Wrestling/BlackRose La Rosa Negra]] a contemptuous congratulation after learning she earned a second shot at her Wrestling/{{N|ational Wrestling Alliance}}WA World Women's Title Belt.

[[folder: Theme Parks]]
* At the end of ''Ride/IndianaJonesAdventure'' at the Ride/DisneyThemeParks, Indy says, "Not bad...for tourists."
* At Ride/UniversalStudios:
** When the title character of ''Theatre/TheEighthVoyageOfSindbad'' first successfully beats down an enemy, Princess Amoura remarks, "Not bad...for a boy."
** If the riders get the "Cosmically Average" ranking in ''Ride/MenInBlackAlienAttack'', Agent J will say, "Not bad, slick. But not good enough."

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'':
** 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. Amy hits 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.
** Shadow says this to Sonic [[spoiler:at the end of ''[[VideoGame/SonicBoom Rise of Lyric]]'', after seeing the titular villain hogtied by the group.]]
--->'''Shadow:''' Hmph. Looks like you and your friends got the job done. ''(turns and walks away)'' Not bad.
* 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.]]
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSun'': When Michael [=McNeil=] saves the day, stops Kane, and gets the girl, Umagon concedes "Not bad for a [[FantasticSlur blunt]]" before kissing him.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/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: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."
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker''. The Joker's response to seeing Terry swooping in as the new Batman (though he calls him "Batfake" moments latter).
-->'''Joker:''' Ah, the new boy! Ears are too long and I miss the cape, but not too shabby, not too shabby at all.