Exact Words: Live-Action Films
- In Ever After, Danielle and Henry are attacked by a band of marauding gypsies. They agree to let Danielle go, and she asks one favor — to be allowed to take anything that she can carry. They agree to her condition... and she promptly picks up Prince Henry. This act charms the gypsies, and they invite the pair to share their fire for the evening. They do, however, keep her dress.
- Forrest Gump:
- When he receives the medal of honor from Lyndon B. Johnson, Johnson jokingly expresses interest in seeing the wound on Gump's butt. Gump interprets this as literal, and obliges his request.
- Jenny gets caught by this trope too, after she tells Forrest "I wanna be up on a stage with just my guitar and my voice..." She later gets that dream. But she never specified whether she'd be wearing clothes at the time, and ends up with just her guitar and her voice.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Umbridge catches the wrong end of this from Harry while she is being dragged off by centaurs.
Umbridge: Harry! Tell them this is all a misunderstanding!
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape reassures Narcissa and Bellatrix that "[O]ver the years I have played my part well. So well, I have deceived one of the greatest wizards of all time. Dumbledore is a great wizard; only a fool would doubt it." He never actually says that he's deceived Dumbledore. In fact, the great wizard he's selling down the river? Voldemort.
- The Dark Knight
- The Joker has a variation of this. Whenever he promises that he's "a man of [his] word," he is as good as his word... and no further. For instance, when confronted with a huge pile of mob money that he had been tasked with retrieving, in return for half, he then proceeds to set the pile o' cash on fire. When confronted about this, he tells the Russian thug "I am a man of my word. I'm only burning my half." Later, he makes a threat against Gotham City, promising that those who try to leave via the tunnels or bridges "will be in for a surprise." The "surprise" turns out to be that he DIDN'T do anything with the bridges or the tunnels, and instead wanted to fool people into trying to get out of the city via the ferries, which he had rigged beforehand. Surprise — the other ways out were safe! A man of his word indeed.
- Also "Let her go!" and "Poor choice of words...." (because he does... while he's holding her off the edge of the building).
- Joker isn't the only one who utilized this trope: The Scarecrow, when meeting with the Chechen about a drug deal gone awry, remarks that he stated that his drug (implied to be the fear toxin from the previous film) will "take people places", he never said anything about whether these so-called places are places their customers actually wanted to go.
- Also, Harvey Dent, shortly after "snapping" and trying to interrogate Sal Maroni, replied to Maroni's question about whether he'd let him go if he told him the other cop. Dent replies that it "wouldn't hurt his chances." He really meant it, but he never said it would help his chances, either. True to his roots, it was a coin-flip. Also, when Maroni won that coin toss, Dent stayed true to his word and didn't shoot him. However, he didn't say anything about deciding the driver's fate via coin toss, and thus killing him when he lost the coin toss, causing the car to flip over likely killing Maroni.
- Batman (1989)
- The Joker, at a mob summit, says to a mob boss that if he doesn't want to do it, he can shake his hand and that would be it. Joker did mean that it would have been it. Unfortunately for the mob boss in question, it wasn't what he thought it meant, as he learned at his death in a very gruesome manner.
- Also, the Joker during the climax says to Vicki Vale while she and Batman are hanging for dear life "Here: let me lend you a hand.". He really meant lending her a hand. Unfortunately, he meant it literally (as in, supplying her with a fake hand that snaps off upon contact).
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Barbossa uses this twice in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Early in the film, he justifies kidnapping Elizabeth because she didn't mention her release in their agreement about the ship leaving Port Royal (and that the pirate's code is for pirates, and Elizabeth wasn't one). Later, he maroons Elizabeth and Jack on a deserted island because Will didn't specify where she would be let free. In both situations involving Elizabeth, he's acting under the pirate's code of parley. It's implied, if not stated outright, that exact words are necessary, a non-pirate wouldn't think in those terms. Jack talks about this during his "man of their word" speech. After that they stop counting on this method of negotiating.
- Also crops up as a case of Foreshadowing in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. While discussing Davy Jones and his past, the pirates cite various legends about him, from his falling in love with a woman to being in love with the sea. Tia Dalma replies, "Same story, different versions, but all are true! It was a woman, as changing, and harsh, and untamable as the sea." When specifying "a woman," she gestures at herself, hinting at her true identity as the bound-in-her-bones sea goddess Calypso.
- Sao Feng pulls one on Will in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End after helping him pull a Mutiny on Jack and Barbosa to steal the Pearl. He promised that Will would have the Black Pearl, and so he did - for about 10 seconds, until Feng pulled a mutiny on HIM!
- Star Wars
- In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon orders Anakin to stay in the cockpit of a Naboo fighter so that he'll be safe. Anakin happens to notice Qui-Gon didn't specify whether the cockpit could do the moving. Though his initial idea was simply to use the ship against the droids in the hangar. The entire flying into space thing was an unintentional consequence.
- Also, in Revenge of the Sith, Darth Sidious tells the Separatist high command that his apprentice, Darth Vader, is coming to Mustafar, and assures them that he will "take care of them." Sidious wasn't lying when he said that, as he did intend for Vader to take care of them. Unfortunately for the Separatist members, it wasn't what they thought he meant.
- Dialog supposedly cut from the film has the Separatists pleading, "He said we would be left in peace!" Anakin retorts, "He said you would be left in pieces!"
- In Major Payne, the title character tells a biker thug that he'll take his foot and kick him across face with it. Anticipating this the biker is then sucker punched in the throat and kicked in the nuts. The biker (now on his knees choking) foolishly brings up the Major's threat:
Biker: You... you said you were gonna... hit me in the face.
Payne: You calling me a liar?! (boots him in the face)
- Hallie of All I Want for Christmas asks a Mall Santa that her parents remarry. But her mother announces she's engaged to another man, making Hallie go back again to clarify she wanted her parents to remarry each other.
- From Men In Black:
- In Waterworld the Big Bad promises not to shoot a prisoner if he divulges a particular detail, then turns around and hands his gun to an underling... who proceeds to shoot the prisoner.
- In Flubber, the Big Bad has his cronies search Robin Williams' character, Philip Brainard. He finds a squirt gun. A satisfactory explanation is provided, and...
Wilson Croft: Let him have it.
Crony: (squirts Philip Brainard in the face)
Wilson Croft: N-No, no. Give it to him.
Crony: (squirts him again)
Wilson Croft: W— Stop that and give it to him.
Crony: (squirts him again)
Wilson Croft: Put-Put it in his hand and give it to him.
Crony: (squirts him in the hand)
Wilson Croft: No, no, no, no, no. GIVE THE GUN TO HIM!!
- Armageddon: Having fired (a shotgun at) AJ, Harry Stamper goes to get him back on the team to go into space, even though he tells him, "there's not a job on the planet that I want you to work with me on."
- Battlefield Earth: Johnny Goodboy Tyler's brother has a device attached to his neck that has enough explosive power to decapitate him. Terl promises that he won't press the activation button if Johnny agrees to serve him. He does, and he keeps his word... by letting his comrade do the honors.
- A variation of this happens three times in The Luck of the Irish. Kyle makes a bet with Seamus that if he beats the leprechaun in sports, his grandfather will go free. Seams agrees, but chooses "traditional Irish sports" like hurling, wresting, javelin-throwing, and step-dancing. Despite this, Kyle ties him. Seamus then insists he won the bet, as "a tie's not beating" him. Kyle then makes another bet, putting his own freedom on the line. This time he chooses basketball and makes Seamus promise to live forever on the shores of Erie in the land of his fathers if he loses. Kyle manages to win the game, but Seamus claims it's a minor setback, as Kyle is sending him home. Kyle correctly gambled on Seamus to assume he simply mispronounced Eire (the Irish name for Ireland), whereas Kyle meant one of the Great Lakes, as his father was born in Cleveland, Ohio.
- There is also a minor point where Seamus says he "might" let Kyle's grandfather go if Kyle wins. Kyle wins, but Seamus then insists that he could just as well keep Kyle's grandfather his slave forever.
- In Lucky Number Slevin, Lucy Liu's character comes over to borrow a cup of sugar. The main character is slightly surprised when she proceeds to take a measuring cup, fill it with sugar and walk out with his cup. "I said I needed to borrow a cup of sugar. If I didn't need the cup, I'd have said I needed sugar." Since she seems to have no intention of returning the cup or the sugar, she's still playing loose with the "borrowing" part.
- In Spider-Man, Peter enters a cage wrestling match promising $3000 to anyone who can last 3 minutes against the champ. After Peter wins with his spider powers, the ref refuses to pay the full amount on the grounds that he won and left the cage in less than three minutes. Peter is understandably pissed.
- In Sneakers, the Big Bad cannot find it in himself to shoot a friend. So he has someone else present do it for him.
- In Max Keeble's Big Move, when an angry mob was going to place Dobbs and McGinty into a dumpster in retribution for their bullying them, Max attempts to stop it, stating that they'll become just like them if they do this. Max then suggest that they let them go. The football guys who were holding them near the dumpster did let them go... although it was far more literal than what Max meant (he meant let them go free, the football players took that to mean releasing them from their grip and letting them fall into the dumpster.).
- Jason in Mystery Team. He promises Kelly that he'll allow professionals to take the case... only to point out to his friends that their sign reads "Kitten Finding Purrrrfessionals".
- In TRON: Legacy this is effectively what drives the central antagonist, CLU. He was programmed with the directive to create the perfect system and this is exactly what he goes on to do.
- The problem is that the parameters of "the perfect system" were never explicitly defined, so he was essentially given an impossible task leading to an eventual psychological breakdown.
- Conan the Barbarian (2011) includes our hero telling someone he's interrogating, "Speak, and I won't kill you." The bad guy in question's probably the only one who's surprised when Conan (after getting the info he wants) turns him over to the slaves he's been abusing.
- In Empire Records, Joe orders Lucas not to leave the couch. Once Joe isn't looking, he walks away while carrying a cushion under his arm, since it's part of the couch.
- Part of King Brian's trickery in Darby O'Gill and the Little People. When Darby tries to show King Brian to Michael, Michael says he only sees a rabbit (and in fact, his POV only shows a little rabbit inside the bag). Darby wishes for Michael to be able to see Brian, to which Brian says the wish has been granted. Michael is able to see King Brian... as a rabbit.
- In Maid to Order, after Jessie says goodbye to her fairy godmother, she wonders if she was going to leave in a bubble. The fairy godmother says, "Get real; this is the 20th century." She proceeds to depart by car... which is then taken up by a bubble. So she didn't just leave in a bubble—she put a modern twist to it.
- In Demolition Man, Simon Phoenix is sleep-conditioned not to kill Dr. Cocteau. Cue Phoenix handing his gun to an underling. "Will you please kill him? He's pissing me off."
- Clint Eastwood's "Blondie" pulls this at the climax of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, when the struggle over the hoard of gold at the center of the plot comes to a head. The three eponymous characters have all reached the cemetery where the gold is hidden, but only Blondie actually knows which grave it's buried in. With the inevitable standoff looming, he offers the others a deal: he places a flat stone on the ground, and he tells the others that they'll find the name on the grave written on the stone's underside, promising that whoever survives the standoff can have it. Surprise! The stone is blank, because there is no name on the grave. Blondie only knew the treasure's location because its original owner told him which grave it was buried next to.
- In Super Mario Bros., Koopa first meets the Mario brothers by passing himself off as a lawyer, and describes Koopa as "one evil, egg-sucking son-of-a-snake." When his identity is revealed, Luigi points out the description, leading to the following exchange:
Luigi Mario: But you said you were—
King Koopa: An evil, egg-sucking son-of-a-snake. [Beat] Did I lie?
- In Mortal Kombat, Sonya Blade has Kano's head wrapped in a leg lock. Already beaten, he begs for mercy.
Kano: C'mon, baby! Give me a break!
Sonya Blade: Okay. (Breaks his neck)
- All the riddles played by Bilbo and Gollum in The Hobbit rely on this of their formation. The last riddle was taken a bit further. Gollum was growing impatient that Bilbo was taking so long trying to think of a riddle and demands Bilbo quickly ask him a question. While thinking, Bilbo feels the ring he had earlier found and muses to himself "What have I got in my pocket?". Gollum mistook it as a riddle and complains before Bilbo, using Gollum's earlier words, retorts that he is asking a question and decided to use that as his riddle.
- In The Desolation Of Smaug, Thranduil the Elvenking tells a captured Orc that he would promise him freedom if the orc divulged information. After the orc tells him information, he frees the orc's head from its body.
- In the film adaptation, the "last light of Durin's Day [that] shine[s] upon the keyhole" isn't the last ray of sunlight, but it's the light of the moon because the "day" isn't over yet.
- In Paranormal Activity, Kate tells Micah not to buy an Ouiji Board to try to communicate with the demon. He gets one anyway, and says that he didn't buy it, he borrowed. Kate tells him in no uncertain terms how bullshit that kind of logic really is.
- In 42, Branch Rickey gets Burt Shotton to manage the Dodgers by way of this trope. Shotton informs Rickey that after he retired, he promised his wife to never put on a uniform again. Rickey says that he never said that he wouldn't manage, and that he can still manage without wearing a uniform. The next scene shows Shotton, in a suit, introducing himself as the new Brooklyn manager.
- In The Godfather, Vito Corleone tells his fellow Mafia Dons the following: "But that aside, let me say that I swear, on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace we have made here today." His youngest son, and eventual successor, Michael has pretty much all of them killed in the film's climax, before pulling off this trope himself when his wife, Kay, asks him about said killings in the final scene.
- Oblivion: During his trip to Tet's core, Jack is stopped by a pair of drones, Sally having deduced that he has misled her about the nature of his return. Jack then replies quite honestly that he's returned because it's the only way humanity would survive. He just doesn't give her the specifics.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- In Iron Man 2, when Vanko tells Hammer that the drones at the show won't be fully capable, he adds that they will be able to "make salute." But in Russian, salyut means fireworks. The Stark Expo turns into one hell of a fireworks show.
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- When demonstrating a flying car, Howard Stark says in a few years time, cars won't need wheels. When the hovering car crashes down, he then remarks "I said a few years, didn't I?"
- The Drill Sergeant Nasty tells Steve Roger's squad that the man who brought him the flag off a pole gets to ride back in a jeep rather than march back. After all the other, bigger guys kept pulling each other down, Steve waited until they were back in line, calmly pulled the pin that dropped the pole to the ground, picked up the flag, gave it to the sarge and climbed into the jeep.
- At the end of the movie, after crashing into the Arctic, Steve wakes up in what he's told is a "recovery room in New York City". He quickly notices that there's something wrong as the baseball game that's being "reported live" on the radio is one that he saw in person. He demands to know where he is, doubting that it's a recovery room in New York. The truth is that he is exactly where they told him he is, but there's a bit of an important detail that they didn't want to tell him right away.
- In The Avengers, Captain America tells Thor to "put that hammer down" (as in, "put it down on the ground") during Thor's scuffle with Iron Man. Thor takes the meaning a bit differently. He puts the hammer down... onto Captain America, who blocks it with his shield. Iron Man is Genre Savvy enough to know that the Captain's choice of words was quite poor.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Helen teases Clint after treating his wounds that his girlfriend wouldn't tell the difference, he replies that he doesn't have a girlfriend. That's because he has a wife instead.
- Star Trek Into Darkness:
- Carol tells Kirk that her father, Admiral Marcus, will not destroy the Enterprise while she's on board. Her father agrees... and forcibly beams her out of the Enterprise and onto his ship.
- Spock agrees to let Harrison have the torpedoes, pointing out that "Vulcans do not lie". He never said anything about what was in them, though.
- At the beginning of Bodyguards and Assassins, a wealthy Hong Kong merchant celebrates his son being accepted into a Western University by giving away free rice. His man says that everyone can take as much as they can carry in one hand. Most people grab a single one-pound bag and leave. Then a man who stands about two feet taller than everyone else in the movie grabs the ends of five bags in his enormous hand.
- In Danger: Diabolik, Valmont executes three of his allies for voting against a plan that would buy them all time. He shoots the first two, then the third tries to change his vote and says, "Please don't shoot!" Valmont says, "Since you said 'please', I won't shoot." The poor blighter is then Thrown from the Zeppelin courtesy of a Trap Door.
- In the Director's Cut of The Chronicles of Riddick, Aereon's very carefully worded response to the Lord Marshall demanding she calculate the odds on their campaign to reach the Underverse being successful;
Aereon: The odds are good that you will reach the Underverse... soon.
- The Ringer revolves around the main character trying to win a bet by pretending to be disabled so he can participate in the Special Olympics. Though he ultimately loses in the final event and places 2nd, he still wins the bet, because the bet wasn't for him to win the Gold, but for fan-favorite Jimmy to not win.
- This is the main plot hinge of the documentary drama Let Him Have It; in the movie, when Bentley and Craig are cornered by the police on the warehouse rooftop and Craig is pointing his gun at a policeman, Bentley (who had just been arrested) shouts "Let him have it, Chris!"; the ensuing murder trial hinged on whether he meant "kill him" or "surrender your gun". (In the real-life case, Craig denies that Bentley ever said any such thing.)
- In The Wolverine, when Wolverine is interrogating Noburo he tells him that he'll throw him out the window if he "doesn't like" what he hears and says nothing about telling the truth. Sure enough, Noburo gives him the information he asked for, but gets thrown out the window anyway, because "I didn't like it."
- In a scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mystique tells Charles Xavier to "get out of my head." He gets around it by possessing various people around her to talk to her long-distance in a truly creepy display of his telepathic power. He eventually decides to cast an illusion of himself to talk to her instead.
- In Heathers, Kurt and Ram attempt to humiliate a geeky boy who stepped on their shoes by putting him in a full nelson and not releasing him until he admits he's gay. The problem comes with the phrasing they use...
Kurt: Say you like to suck big dicks. Say it! Say it!
Geeky boy: Okay, okay. <beat> You like to suck big dicks.
- In Scream (1996), Ghostface demands that Casey name the killer in Friday the 13th so her boyfriend will be allowed to live. When she names Jason Vorhees, Ghostface reveals that he'd been referring to the original movie, where Jason's mother Pamela was the killer. Then the boyfriend gets Gutted Like a Fish.
- In Back to the Future, George McFly is unwilling to ask Lorraine to the dance, telling Marty "neither you nor anyone else on this planet is going to make me change my mind." Since George is a sci-fi fan, Marty pretends to be "Darth Vader, an extra-terrestrial from the planet Vulcan" to change his mind.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Walter Donovan tries to make Indy get the Holy Grail.
Indy: Killing me won't get you anywhere.Donovan: You know something, Dr. Jones? You're absolutely right.
- The Patriot has a scene in which Col. Tavington threatens the citizens of a town in which someone has been supporting the militia, saying that anyone who answers him will be forgiven. He never says that he will forgive them, however—"that's between you and God." All the colonists die.
- In Witness for the Prosecution, everything Christine says under oath is true, even when it seems to be self-contradictory or misleading. She really did see Leonard come home at the time she said he did; she really doesn't know anyone named Max, and any letters allegedly written by her to him are forgeries; and she really did write a letter to "Max" which seems to clear Leonard of the murder.
- Alluded to in Prince Caspian (the scene doesn't appear in the original novel), where Miraz's wife, upon finding out that Miraz killed his brother the king to gain power for himself, says "You told me your brother died in his sleep." Miraz replies, "That was more or less true."
- In Forbidden Planet, Cook "sneaks out" of the ship to obtain 60 gallons of liquor from Robby the Robot at their meeting place amidst the rocks. While engaged in conversation with Cook, Robby pauses and scans the area, causing the human to ask if someone's "coming this way", which Robby reassures him is not the case. An invisible monster proceeds to sneak aboard the ship and kill a crewmember.
- In Paycheck, after the memories of the last several years of Michael's life are erased (as they were supposed to have been), Rethrick tells him "you're done". Michael takes it to mean that the job he was paid to do is done. However, after narrowly escaping with his life several times, he analyzes what happened and the clues he left himself, and the words "you're done" take on a whole new meaning, as Rethrick has been trying to kill him since that moment.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service:
- Merlin waits until after the Kingsman candidates have jumped from a plane before telling them that part of the test is seeing how they work as a team if, for example, one of them does not have a parachute. He did not say that any of them really were missing a parachute.
- Valentine loathes violence and insists that he doesn't kill people, rather its people killing each other. He's technically right in that he never actually kills anyone by his own hand aside from Harry. His SIM cards on the other hand...
- Just before Tony takes control of Frank Lopez's operation in Scarface, Frank begs Tony not to kill him. Tony just says to relax since he isn't going to. Frank is so relieved that he isn't going to die. Then Tony tells his friend, Manny, to shoot him.