Two characters are discussing a controversial, possibly RippedFromTheHeadlines course of action or social policy. After one of them comes out against it, the other recites a quote endorsing it, or a description of a person who believed it. When the person opposing the policy asks who said that, the proponent identifies it as being by a universally respected historical figure, religious icon, or someone else who is typically considered to have been wise and generally correct about things (such as {{Jesus}}, UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, or UsefulNotes/AlbertEinstein).

Oftentimes, the historical figure is someone [[TheReveal you wouldn't expect]] would agree with you, thereby proving your point and showing [[JesusWasWayCool just how cool they were]] simultaneously.

A common variant is to have the person being quoted turn out to be somebody commonly considered one of history's greatest monsters (such as UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler). In this situation, the person agreeing with the idea is [[YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame shamed]] by showing that they are [[HitlerAteSugar in agreement with a person they consider despicable]]. This often combines with a StrawmanPolitical situation, since it reduces their real position to be synonymous with that of the bad figure, even if the resemblance is only superficial at best. See GodwinsLaw for more information.

Occasionally, the same thing is used in an opposite manner; to show that, just because an evil person agreed with it, doesn't mean it's wrong. Sometimes, the person doing the quoting is actually pointing out that the ''other'' person agrees with someone considered despicable, to illustrate the universality of the idea. After all, even Hitler thought that walking upright was a pretty good idea. This is mainly used to show that the technique is rhetorical rather than logical. AppealToAuthority, if the authority isn't an expert in the field, or HitlerAteSugar if Hitler himself is used for the shame job.

Played straight, this can be an elaborate biographical snapshot, where it's revealed that the subject is a historical figure (good or bad) whose [[{{Backstory}} origin and backstory]] are [[PoliticallyCorrectHistory often overlooked.]] These sort of anecdotes are often greatly entertaining, although be aware that the [[UnreliableNarrator narrator]] may be [[UrbanLegends sensationalizing]] or [[{{Retcon}} distorting]] the facts to justify his own theory of what this person actually believed. Other times, however, [[RealityIsUnrealistic It's All True]].

There's also the little matter of the person missing the point - pointing out someone who approved or disapproved of a notion fails to explain why exactly that notion is a good one or a bad one. The implication is usually that the person being quoted knows what he or she is talking about. More often, though, it's an AppealToAuthority or an AssociationFallacy and the person quoting them (or the author) is [[YouFailLogicForever failing at logic]].

See also WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic. For another type of meaningful concealed character, see AndThatLittleGirlWasMe.



* A chapter of ''Comicbook/{{Runaways}}'' has Nico go into a church and quote the Bible to a priest, who immediately assumes that she is a New Age goth until she reveals the source of her quotation.
* In an early issue of ''Robin'', Two-Face and his gang use automatic weapons to slaughter an entire convention of [[AcceptableTargets lawyers]] (wearing tuxedoes and evening gowns, no less!), [[AssholeVictim an action for which one Gotham police detective jokingly suggests giving them medals]]. Two-Face quickly learns that his henchmen are nowhere near as well-read as he is.
-->'''Two-Face:''' "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Do you know who said that?
-->'''Henchman:''' Uhhh...[[LiteralMinded you]]?
-->'''Two-Face:''' [[SurroundedByIdiots Idiot.]]

* In ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'', Will Riker, attempting to inspire a young Zefram Cochrane, tells him "Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment." When Cochrane, annoyed by the triteness of the proverb, asks him who said that, Riker replies "You did, [[TimeTravelTenseTrouble ten years from now]]." (This possibly creates a StableTimeLoop.)
* In the 2004 ''Film/StarskyAndHutch'' movie, we get this bit of dialogue:
--> '''Huggy Bear''': Dig this man. Someone once said: "To err is human, to forgive divine."\\
'''Hutch''': Tch. What idiot said that?\\
'''Huggy Bear''': I believe that was {{God}} - [[JesusWasWayCool the greatest mack of all]].
** In a later scene, it is attributed to be from Creator/WilliamShakespeare, when actually the quote derives from Alexander Pope.
* ''Film/{{Max}}'' starring a young art student named Hitler and his idealistic mentor/sponsor Max Rothman is an entire ''movie'' built around this trope. It's also the subject of one of Paul Harvey's stories.
* ''Film/TheLifeOfDavidGale'' invokes GodwinsLaw with this. The film revolves around a university teacher and political activist who is firmly against capital punishment. During a political debate, he baits his opponent like this:
-->'''David Gale:''' So, basically, you feel, to choose another quote, 'society must be cleansed of elements which represent its own death.'
-->'''Governor Hardin:''' Well, yes. I'd have to agree. Did I say that too?
-->'''David Gale:''' No, that was Hitler.
* In ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'', Emperor Commodus and Maximus have a final '[[CainAndAbel brotherly]]' moment before their duel in the arena. Commodus mocks Maximus' [[NotAfraidToDie lack of fear for his own death]], and Maximus tells his enemy that someone once told him "Death smiles at us all. All we can do is smile back". Commodus wonders whether the friend did so at his own death, and Maximus replies that out of anyone, Commodus should know. The man was Marcus Aurelius, the father he murdered.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''. Jean-Luc Picard, facing a WitchHunt of a hearing, quotes the investigator's father speaking out against just such actions. The investigator takes the usage of her idolized father's quote against her so poorly that her superior watching immediately leaves and ends the investigation.
* ''Series/TalesFromTheCrypt'':
** There was an episode wherein the antagonist, a corrupt mortician, is ''constantly'' doing this with the Bible. For example, at one point he says "Like the Bible says, 'Penny saved, penny earned.'" He is told that the quotation is actually from Creator/BenjaminFranklin. Later in the episode the same formula is inverted by the same character against him in a cruelly ironic way.
** There was another episode with a young thug (who may be undead) who does the same thing with the quotes of ''various'' religions. For instance, at one point he attributes "first come, first serve" to Guatama Buddha.
* This is wonderfully {{discussed}} in a ''Series/TheWestWing'' episode where the President takes apart a woman who made her radio career on this type of thing.
-->'''Bartlet:''' I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.
-->'''Dr. Jenna Jacobs:''' I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President, the Bible does.
-->'''Bartlet:''' Yes it does. Leviticus.
-->'''Jacobs:''' 18:22.
-->'''Bartlet:''' Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I have you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo [=McGarry=] insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town ''really'' have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about these questions, would you? One last thing: while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.
* In an episode of ''Series/RedDwarf'', Lister asks, "Wasn't it Descartes who said, 'I am what I am'?" to which Rimmer replies, "No, it was {{Popeye}} the sailor man." Later in the same episode, Lister gives the quote again, attributing it to Popeye. Kryten says that he always thought it was Descartes, and Lister replies, "Me too, man. It's so easy to get those two dudes mixed up."
* In ''Series/SlingsAndArrows'', Sanjay has a habit of making up quotes that support his (totally absurd) claims, and attributing them to UsefulNotes/RichardNixon.
* In an episode of the short-lived family sitcom ''Movie Stars'', the boy (who goes to a school for child actors and kids of actors) gets in trouble with the principal for a bunch of minor infractions, including calling it "Puke-anan" (rather than "Buchanan") High. At the end, they make up, and the principal tells him, "In fact, you know who coined the nickname "Puke-anan," back when he was a student here?" "You, sir?" the boy replies. "No," the principal says. "Creator/HarveyKeitel."
* In ''La conspiration du général Malet'', the titular general has this exchange with the police agent overseeing his transfer from the La Force prison to a sanitarium:
--->'''Malet:''' I stand for political liberty, Sir.
--->'''Desmarets:''' Ah. Political liberty?
--->'''Malet:''' Yes, I'm beginning to think it doesn't exist. It is only a fabrication, invented by those who govern to lull those they govern into complacency... No, do not protest, this was said by Napoleon. My favourite author.

* The Music/RoyZimmerman song "That is the War on Terror" uses this, referring to a 'great quote about war': "Now, who said that...? Oh that's right, it was [[GodwinsLaw Hermann Goering.]]"

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* [[Literature/TheBible Biblical quotes]] are often used in this context, as a number of passages are either interpreted or taken out of context to indicate approval of things such as fundamentalist theocracy, slavery, misogyny, and violence towards children, which are not considered appropriate in most modern societies. This leads to people of every position on the Bible and Christianity to accuse everyone with other positions or interpretations of taking things out of context for every quote. So common it's called "proof-texting" in Christian circles.\\
Common examples are "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" in the context of separation of church and state or paying taxes, and "Love your enemies" in the context of pacifism (both uttered by Jesus). Louis Blanc derived the slogan "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" from a passage in Acts, chapter 2, which was more famously reproduced by Karl Marx, though in reference to only the higher phase of socialism, as he supported labor vouchers being used in the 'lower phase' of socialism, while Louis Blanc intended it to describe an immediate post-revolutionary situation. Annoyingly, Karl Marx didn't even quote correctly, his line is derived from Acts 4:32: "The believers had all things in common, giving to anyone who had need." Before either, anarcho-socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon also wrote the book ''What Is Property?'' with an answer within it that "property is theft," thus coining the well-known political slogan. Among the influences he cites at the front of the book is "Jesus Christ", based on the same quote. Christian socialists like Edward Bellamy, author of ''Literature/LookingBackward'', typically cite this and other verses as justification.

[[folder:News Media]]
* ''Series/CountDownWithKeithOlbermann'' ''loves'' to do this, usually pointing out that a right-winger is going against himself, UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan, or Republican leaders, or is [[HitlerAteSugar paralleling (or mischaracterizing) Hitler, Chamberlain, Stalin, McCarthy, and that merry crew]].
* [[ A popular chain e-mail]] offers the reader a choice in leaders between a pair of lazy, womanising drunkards and a chaste war hero. After you read further along, you discover that the drunkards were UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt and UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill, and the war hero was UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler. This is actually inaccurate, as Hitler had a girlfriend (whom he married before their suicides) and Churchill was extremely loyal to his wife (but he ''was'' [[ITakeOffenseToThatLastOne a drunkard]]).
** There's also the anti-abortion argument in the same link, which paints a squalid picture of a mother of a huge family riddled with health problems and no father mentioned, and then "reveals" that the last potential child is Music/LudwigVanBeethoven. Beethoven was the third child of professional-class parents, wealthy enough to give him an extensive musical education, and only a few of his siblings even survived infancy. Some have reversed this it by using an example of a boy born to [[KissingCousins cousins]] with the father being abusive to him, with the reveal that it describes Hitler, to point out this absurdity (with the implication that if he'd been aborted, millions might have lived).
* Parodied on ''Series/TheDailyShow'' in a [[ segment]] where Creator/StephenColbert plays a pundit who thinks the media has a responsibility during wartime to report only encouraging nationalistic stories.
-->'''Stephen Colbert:''' It was UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson himself who said, "Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach."\\
'''Jon Stewart:''' Stephen, [[UsefulNotes/JosephStalin Stalin]] said that. That was Stalin. Jefferson said he'd rather have a free press and no government than a government and no free press.\\
'''Stephen Colbert:''' Well, what can you expect from a slave-banging, Hitler-loving queer?

* The former TropeNamer was the last line of Paul Harvey's "Rest of the Story" series, wherein Harvey tells a long story of someone whose true identity he hides until the very end: "And now you know...[[TitleDrop The Rest of the Story!]]"

* ''Theatre/{{Allegro}}'':
-->'''Taylor''': Know what a smart man once said? If you get ten per cent on your money you can eat better.\\
'''Ned''': Right.\\
'''Taylor''': And if you get two per cent on your money you can sleep better.\\
'''Ned''': Whoever said that didn't know much about business. Who was he?\\
'''Taylor''': J. P. Morgan.\\
'''Ned''': Oh!

* ZenPencils has been called a FramingDevice for nothing but one YouKnowWhoSaidThat moment after another.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* One which has been linked to on this site is a page comparing UsefulNotes/AlGore quotes to those of the Unabomber.
* In one of the video fanfics that grew out of the ''[[WebVideo/ImAMarvelAndImADC I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC]]'' parody commercials, the Joker, trying to explain his motives, asks Batman who it was who said "[[Literature/ParadiseLost Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven.]]" Batman points out that he's quoting the Devil.
* That big quote from ''Series/TheWestWing''? Every discussion forum that's ever argued the toss on LGBT rights has had someone quote it, [[ despite its abundant flaws]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the WesternAnimation/SouthPark episode, ''Damien'', Stan gives Jesus the "Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment." quote to encourage him before his fight with Satan. When Jesus asks who said it, Stan tells him he (Jesus) did. Stan later admits that he just heard the quote on Star Trek.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Edward R. Murrow did this against Senator [=McCarthy=], as seen in ''Film/GoodNightAndGoodLuck'', regarding a quote from ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar''.
* An experiment carried out during the [=McCarthy=] days had people refusing to sign a document consisting of quotes from the Declaration of Independence and Constitution... out of fear it would have them marked as a Communist.[[note]]This may be an urban legend.[[/note]] Of course AntiIntellectualism was a major part of the RedScare. One famous incident during TheThirties when Hallie Flanagan was called to report to the [=HUAC=] had them citing an interview Flanagan where she quoted an excerpt. The senator asked Flanagan who she was quoting and she said Creator/ChristopherMarlowe, to which the Committee asked Flanagan [[NotMakingThisUpDisclaimer if Marlowe was a communist]]. Flanagan reminded the Committee that Marlowe was an Elizabethan playwright preceding Shakespeare. The Committee than claimed that art was itself [[InsaneTrollLogic communist]] and leftist and castigated productions by Mr. [[Creator/{{Euripides}} Euripides]]. This was reproduced in the film ''Cradle Will Rock''.
* Many quotes by Hitler are commonly used - Hitler approved of vegetarianism (although contrary to popular belief, did not follow it himself), animal rights, urban renewal (although that may not have been such a good idea), gun control, and many other popular political stances wholly unconnected to the one he is remembered for (genocidal racist imperialism). One notable example is the following passage recited in the movie ''Billy Jack'':
-->''"The streets in our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might, and our Republic is in danger -- yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order. Without law and order, our nation cannot survive."''
** This quotation was also recited by Music/YokoOno when performing with Music/JohnLennon in the 1970s, in order to draw parallels with the current political situation in the US.
** The book ''They Never Said It'' questions this one: the students rebelling at the time were mostly young Nazis objecting to Jewish professors.
** Done to chilling effect in ''The Wave'', a BasedOnATrueStory account of a teacher who inadvertently kicked off a Nazi-esque movement in his school -- initially, he'd planned to show how ''anyone'' could get suckered into Nazi propaganda. It worked [[GoneHorriblyRight a little ]]''[[GoneHorriblyRight too]]'' [[GoneHorriblyRight well]].
* Hitler's underling Hermann Göring uttered a phrase which has often been used in this sense, especially in recent years:
-->''"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."''
* A history professor once read a series of speeches to the general approval of his generally left-leaning students, only to reveal at the end that the speeches were given by Benito Mussolini. The goal was not to condemn left-wing politics but merely to prove that fascism was not a right-wing philosophy (it technically is a far-right position, but ideological extremes are said to exist not on a sliding scale, [[TheHorseshoeEffect but rather a horseshoe graph. That is to say, they both meet each other at the bottom]]).