Exact Words: Western Animation

  • On Adventure Time, Tree Trunk and Mr. Pig's whole wedding party is thrown in jail because Princess Bubblegum objects to it being performed by the King of Ooo (who, to be fair, seems to be some kind of Cult leader). The King of Ooo winds up escaping, angrily telling Tree Trunks "you can perform your own ceremony!" Mr. Pig points out that, taken literally, this means they don't need him anyway, and Tree Trunks recites the vows herself.
  • Aladdin: The Series
    • From "Sneeze the Day", when Genie has a cold, and Iago has stated that he knows where a cure is…in a very dangerous place, from which nobody has ever claimed it, and states that it's a safety hazard:
    Aladdin: (firmly) My friend needs help.
    Iago: (grabs Aladdin's vest, angrily) Stop right there! You've got that "let's put the bird in jeopardy" look in your eye!
    Aladdin: (kindly) Iago, you know I'd never ask you to do anything dangerous.
    Iago: (perking up) Really?
    Aladdin: (grabs Iago by his tail feathers) So I won't ask.
    Iago: (grumbling) I knew there was a catch…
    • From the same episode, when one of the guards of the cavern that they go to tells them that the first of their three trials is to…stick out their tongue and touch their forehead, Aladdin (after a lengthy discussion about how the test seemed rather lackluster compared to the danger he was expecting) sticks out his tongue and touches his forehead…with his index finger. The guard Face Palms, but consents that Aladdin passed the trial.
  • American Dad!: Stan really wants to give Steve his first firearm for Christmas. Francine protests.
    Francine: Steve is too young for a gun, Stan. Promise me you won't get him a gun for Christmas!"
    Stan: I promise I won't get Steve a gun for Christmas!
    (Stan hands Steve an AK-47)
    Stan: Merry Wednesday, son!
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
    • Iron Man says he strongly disapproves of Hawkeye's vendetta against Widow, and says he should just let it go. Since Hawkeye's going to ignore this anyway, Cap and Panther tag along to make sure he doesn't get killed. When things go wrong and they have to call for back up, Tony chews them out for not listening to him, but they point out he didn't directly order them not to go. Merely strongly suggested it would be a bad idea.
    • Hank dismisses the idea that strange probe involved aliens. When it turned out to actually be an alien probe, Hank defended his previous statement by pointing out that he said there was no organic material involved, thus not precluding the possibility of it being an alien robot.
  • The direct-to-DVD Barbie as Rapunzel has a literal case in play: the incensed evil lady puts spell on tower to permanently lock up Rapunzel for not giving her name of the guy she's been seeing, with the spell specifically saying "Never release your prisoner with a lying heart"; however, Rapunzel genuinely didn't know (the last time she saw him, she specifically tells him that she doesn't want to know) and thus wasn't lying, and after escaping, Rapunzel uses a painting she's made earlier to put evil lady into tower instead, replete with a literal Ironic Echo when she realizes she's just been Hoist by Her Own Petard.
  • One episode of Batman: The Animated Series has Catwoman promise to go into police custody after helping Batgirl on a case. She does, only to escape not a minute later, saying "I said I'd let them take me. I never said how far."
  • In Beast Wars, Waspinator attacks Rattrap with his fists during a ceasefire, saying, "Waspinator not shoot."
  • Combines with Literal Translation to get Beetlejuice in trouble frequently. In one episode, an ill-timed quip of "Two heads are better than one!" gets his head stuck on the same body as the Monster Across the Street. In another episode, a band of former foes of his tricks him into saying "I'm coming apart at the seams!" Yet another had him trying to do nice things for his Neitherworld neighbors, such as making Ginger the Tap-Dancing Spider feel wanted. He has Ginger's face on police "wanted" posters.
  • Nearly proves deadly to Darkwing Duck. A trucker and conspiracy theorist tells Darkwing that while vampiric red potatoes are fairly reasonable, russets are nigh on beasts and can only be beaten by shaking a specific species of plant (which fortuitously turns out to be Bushroot) and saying potato backwards. After fruitlessly shaking Bushroot and shouting "otatop" over and over, Gosalyn asks what he thinks he's doing. He tells her that to beat the vampire potato he has to shake Bushroot and shout potato backwards — which makes the potato cringe, and Darkwing realizes the trucker was speaking literally, and the key phrase was not "potato" backwards, but "potato backwards". Yeah, it was a really strange episode.
  • In the DuckTales episode "Robot Robbers", Gyro employs exact words to explain to Scrooge why he made the titular robots.
    Scrooge: Gyro, I thought I told you never to build another robot!
    Gyro: You said never to build another robot for you. So I made these for Mr. Glomgold.
  • Happens several times on The Fairly OddParents whenever a wish went awry. For example, in "Most Wanted Wish", Timmy wishes he was the most wanted kid on Earth, and not only did he becomes pestered by everyone on Earth, as well as every fairy godparent, but this also made him wanted, as in "dead or alive".
  • On one episode of The Flintstones, Fred goes back to college and winds up on the Princestone football team. When he explains how a teammate is to kick a field goal, we get:
    Fred: I'll hold the ball, and when I nod my head, you kick it between the goal posts.
  • Futurama: During an episode where the crew go fishing, Leela boasts that she's the most experienced fisher, and even owns her own harpoon, causing Bender to remark "Harpoon, my ass". Leela proceeds to do just that.
  • Garfield and Friends
    • One episode has Jon as "King Jon the Wide", ruling over a kingdom where ancient treaties mean it receives a gift of gold from the neighboring kingdoms equal to the weight of the one who wears the crown. An evil and jealous Duke who wants an excuse to impose taxes on the kingdom gives Jon Garfield as "royal food taster", and successfully starves Jon into his usual figure. At the last minute, Jon realizes that the agreement just says that the gift is equal to the weight of "the one who wears the crown" — it never says it has to be the king wearing it at the time. The kingdom gets more gold than it ever did before, though Garfield eats enough food that Jon isn't certain they don't end up losing money on the deal anyway.
    • In the U.S. Acres segment "The Ugly Duckling", Orson was telling Booker and Sheldon a version of said fairy tale. That version had Bo as a wizard who worked at a bar. Whatever you do, you must never ask him something like "Make me a sandwich". He'll turn you into one.
  • In Gargoyles, magic runs on this. Curses can be lifted via the very literal language of the spell. For example, the Gargoyles were encased in stone for a thousand years, the spell noted they would stay that way until the castle was above the clouds. How did Xanatos counter it? Put the castle on top of a skyscraper. During the "City of Stone" four-parter, Xanatos and the Manhattan Clan discover that Demona's spell to turn New York's humans into stone by night would only be broken when the sky burns. His solution is to load the gargoyles and his Steel Clan robots with packs loaded with flammable gas, and then ignite the gas after they fly all over the city dispensing it. Greg Weisman stated that adding a counter measure to spells/curses makes them a lot easier to cast. However, it never had to be said that the counter measure was easy to perform (how likely was it for a castle to be raised above the clouds in the 10th century).
    • Puck, a noted trickster, loves to use this trope to screw with humans and gargoyles alike. In one instance, Demona wanted him to destroy Elisa, and so commanded him to "get rid of that human." Puck did so...by turning her into a gargoyle. In a reversal of this, Demona also requested to no longer turn to stone during the day; Puck granted her wish by having her change into a human during daylight hours (which is a nightmare for Demona, who loathes mortals).
  • Meta example: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Hey, the original song never explicitly says she dies, so maybe she turns out to be Not Quite Dead with Easy Amnesia instead?
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade is the chief offender of this trope, using it very often to slip out of Wait Here, but others get in on the action as well. For example…
    • On a few occasions, Jackie tells her to "stay with Uncle." He's referring to the character named Uncle...trouble is, he himself is called Uncle Jackie.
    • In "The Stronger Evil", Jackie and Captain Black head out to foil an armored car robbery; Jade quickly says "Can I—" but the two adults cut her off by yelling "NO!" When they leave,Jade complains that they didn't even let her ask...which means that they didn't specify what it is that they said "no" to. In the same episode, Jade tries to operate a jetpack, prompting Jackie to tell her not to operate machines if she doesn't know how they work. She then asked the inventor to give her a lesson on the controls. Notably, in that instance, Jackie didn't object…probably because she had used said jetpack to pull off a Big Damn Heroes moment.
    • When the Monkey King turns Jackie into a puppet, the only way to counteract the spell is to have the prank-pulling primate pull on Puppet!Jackie's leg—but the leg doesn't have to be attached to Jackie at the time, which is ultimately how he and Jade defeat the trickster.
    • One episode has Jade discover a mysterious temple that is guarded by a cursed little girl who transforms into a hideous monster that attacks intruders. Jade gets around this spell by telling the girl to invite her into the temple—technically, she's no longer "intruding" then.
  • In John Callahan's Quads!! Riley sells his soul to The Devil in exchange for being able to get an erection once more, on the condition that he only have to pay up when he dies. The Devil shows up about a day later to claim it, pointing out he never specified when Riley would die.
  • In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny chases a leprechaun in order to get a wish. He finally succeeds, and wishes to be attractive to "all the chicks". The leprechaun grants the wish (remarking on how odd Johnny is), and seconds later Johnny is stampeded by lovesick chickens, who coo things like "Ooh, he's a big one!"
  • Justice League
    • In Justice League Unlimited, a villain torturing The Question, a first-order conspiracy nut, repeatedly orders him to "Tell me what you know." The answers he gets include: "There was a magic bullet. It was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning the truth", and "The plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces are called aglets. Their true purpose is sinister."
    • Lobo appears in the episode "Hereafter" and is gunning to replace the recently-deceased Superman. When the two parted ways in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman made Lobo swear "to leave me, and everyone else on Earth, in peace". Nobody said anything about leaving just the Earth in peace, so with Superman out of the equation... notably, when Superman turns out to be not dead and returns in the end, Lobo's promise kicks in again and he leaves without a fuss. By his standards.
  • The Kids From Room 402:
    • Nancy promised not to tell anyone Jordan is wealthy. However, she didn't promise not to tell she (Nancy) has a wealthy friend.
    • Three girls decided to dress like a celebrity known for, among other things, wearing a bell as a pendant. Not liking that, Mr. Besser threatened to make all students wear uniforms if he ever heard any of those bells again. The girls then stuffed their bells with socks so Mr. Besser wouldn't "hear" them. The loophole worked until one of the socks fell and he heard a bell, after which he made good on his threat.
  • Kim Possible: When Dr. Drakken was searching for a weather machine at a shop that sells them, upon finding the right one, he declares that he'll take it. Unfortunately for the owners, he and Shego proceed to literally take it rather than (as the salesman expected) settle on a price. This also acts as a deconstruction of the trope, as Drakken's hasty action also resulted in him leaving without the manual, eventually forcing Shego to return to the depot to steal the manual, coincidentally at the same time that Kim Possible had arrived to investigate the theft.
  • In the The Legend of Korra episode "A Leaf in the Wind", The Mentor Tenzin wants young hero Korra to focus on her airbending training, and so forbids her from watching "frivolous" pro-bending matches so as not to be distracted. As she later points out after being caught, he never said anything about listening to one on the radio.
    Tenzin: You—you knew what I meant!
  • In an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Lilo says she can beat Myrtle at "any time, any place, any game" when it comes to baseball. Later, when Myrtle challenges her to a game of basketball instead, she quotes the "any game" part.
    Myrtle: You said any time, any place, any game.
    Lilo: I did?
    Stitch: (checks memory) Yeah, you did.
  • Looney Tunes
    • In "Bugs and Thugs", gangster Rocky gives his lackey Mugsy a gun and tells him to take Bugs Bunny into the other room and "let him have it". Once in the room, Bugs asks for the gun because, as the boss said, Mugsy was suppose to let him have it. Mugsy gives Bugs the gun, and you can probably guess the rest.
    • Another example from "Bugs and Thugs" is when Rocky tells Mugsy to button his lip, he does exactly that.
    • A similar gag in "Strife with Father". A sparrow is teaching Beaky Buzzard to catch chickens, and gives him a club to hit them with. When a rooster confronts Beaky, the sparrow shouts to Beaky to "Let him have it!" So Beaky lets the rooster have the club, which he uses to wallop the sparrow.
  • Megas XLR
    • The junkyard dealer wanted to get Coop out of his hair and told him everything in a certain pile was two bucks. When Coop accidentally discovers the wrecked remains of the title mech:
    Coop: Two bucks, huh? I'll take it!
    (He never actually paid the two bucks.)
    • In another episode Kiva makes a deal with Captain Warlock; her life for Coop and Jamie's. While Warlock DOES in fact let them go he "let's them go" in such a way that they'd be lucky to survive the crash to the nearest planet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The two-part premier makes use of this. After Twilight reads the legend of Nightmare Moon and warns Princess Celestia of her possible return, Celestia replies, "You simply must stop reading those dusty old books!" and sends her to supervise the Summer Sun Celebration in Ponyville and make some friends. Later, after Nightmare Moon does return and is defeated by Twilight and her friends, Twilight accuses Celestia of dismissing her warning. Celestia reminds her that technically she had done no such thing.
    • Also happens (sorta) in "Swarm of the Century". Faced with the Parasprite swarm devouring every and anything edible in sight, Twilight Sparkle casts a spell to make them "stop eating all the food". It succeeds. They stop eating food, and start devouring... EVERYTHING ELSE, wrecking Ponyville completely.
    • Before the final challenge in "May The Best Pet Win", Rainbow Dash sets down the win condition: her pet will be the one that "crosses the finish line with [her]", her assumption being that due to her speed, she'll be the first across. Following an avalanche that pins her wing under a rock, she ends up crossing the finish line last, on the back of a tortoise. Her friends inform her that a falcon won, but by now Rainbow Dash is attached to the tortoise... so she points out that while the falcon might have crossed first, the tortoise (due to carrying her) crossed with her. The falcon takes it quite well.
    • And then there's "The Last Roundup" where Pinkie is royally pissed at Applejack for skipping breakfast and breaking her Pinkie Promise where she promised she'd tell the others why she's refusing to return home; instead using the chance to escape town. When Pinkie confronts AJ about it, she counters that technically she didn't break the promise as she said she would have told them the truth at breakfast. Of course, rather than being technically correct, this relies on a rather unnatural interpretation on the exact meaning of the wording used. For this reason, Pinkie doesn't buy it.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • In "Bought and Scold": Morebuckses buy Townsville. Princess becomes mayor, puts out a decree that makes crime legal (and crimestopping illegal). Girls are frustrated... until they realize they can steal Princess' goodies without retribution. Not knowing that the girls stole her goods, Princess hastily retracts decree, girls stop crimes, girls dump Princess' goodies on to her lawn in exchange for giving the original mayor back his position.
    • "Him Diddle Riddle" showed the girls solving riddles set up by Him, who is holding the Professor hostage. The had to solve the riddles within the amount of time they had, otherwise the Professor would "pay"… full price for the pancakes at the "Otto Time" dinner Him happens to own for some reason.
    • In "Helter Shelter" the Professor tells Bubbles to stop bringing animals home as they don't like to be locked up in closets. She then brings a whale home knowing he won't fit in a closet.
  • A Mr. Know-It-All segment pulls the old "when I nod my head, you hit it" gag. This time it was him showing how to open a jar of pickles.
  • In one episode of Rugrats, Angelica pushes Chuckie out of the way of an oncoming Big Wheel. Chuckie interprets this as having saved his life, and Angelica tells him that, once someone saves your life, you have to be their slave. At the end of the episode, Angelica is stuck in a closet, Chuckie frees her, and Angelica gushes that he saved her life. Tommy points out what that means, and while Angelica tries to backtrack, in the final scene, we see her muttering as she drives Chuckie around.
  • The angry professor trapped in the body of a Hibagon responds "very poor choice of words" to Drew saying "put him down" on The Secret Saturdays.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Home Away from Homer", Marge witnesses Homer and Bart watching a soft-core film and demands that Bart look out the window. Bart obliges, since unlike his mom, he knows that the soft-core film is also being filmed in Ned Flanders' house, and when Marge realizes, she is even more horrified, and proceeds to drag Homer by the ear to force Homer to tell Ned Flanders about his current guests taking advantage of his trusting nature by doing this.
    • An example in "Dead Putting Society" when Homer and Ned placed a signed bet if Bart or Todd wins the miniature golf tournament. If his son "didn't win" (it originally said the father of the loser, but Ned suggested to Homer that he change it because of its insulting connotations), the father has to mow his neighbor's lawn wearing his wife's Sunday dress. Both boys tied meaning that neither of them lost, but didn't win as Homer pointed it out. Homer and Ned both end up mowing the lawn yet it backfired as Homer wanted to see Ned humiliated (he wasn't and that was the only reason Homer was willing to go through it).
    • In the episode "And Maggie Makes Three", Marge makes Patty and Selma promise not to tell Homer Simpson about her being pregnant with Maggie. They promise it. Unfortunately for the couple, the agreement only stated that Patty and Selma not tell Homer, which means they're free to call up the biggest gossips in town about the news and plan a surprise baby shower for Marge just before Homer gets home from work.
    • A couple of times when a suspicious Marge asked Homer what he was up to, Homer would reply, "Marge, I'm not gonna lie to you," and then immediately carry on without saying anything more.
    • This exchange between Bart and Principal Skinner:
    Bart: What now, Principal Skinrash?
    Skinner: My name is Principal Skinner, and you shall refer to me as such.
    Bart: Sure thing, Such.
    Skinner: I shall deal with your insubordinate wordplay later.
    • This shows up twice in the "Treehouse of Horror IV" segment "The Devil and Homer Simpson". As the title implies, the episode's plot centers on Homer making a Deal with the Devil (Ned Flanders) in exchange for a doughnut. The first example shows up regarding their contract: Homer's soul will be damned the moment he finishes the doughnut...so if he doesn't finish it, he will remain safe. Of course, Homer being Homer, he ends up eating the last bite later that evening. Lisa gets Ned to agree to a trial for Homer's soul; just as the jury is about to find in Ned's favor, Marge enters with a photo from her and Homer's wedding day. The back of the photo has a message from Homer written on it, in which he offers Marge his soul in exchange for her marrying him. The jury decides that since Marge is technically the owner of Homer's soul, it wasn't his to sell to the devil in the first place, and lets him off.
  • In the South Park episode "Christian Rock Hard", Kyle bets that Cartman will be unable to produce a platinum album with a Christian rock band. Cartman starts one with Butters and Token and does, in fact, sell more than one million albums. Kyle is all set to admit defeat and pay the money he bet—in a huge ceremony Cartman arranged to receive his platinum album, too—only to discover that, in the South Park universe, Christian music awards Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh albums. When Cartman discovers that he can never get a platinum album and win the bet, he's so furious that he throws a huge cursing fit, alienates his Christian fanbase and pushes Token's patience so far that he punches him in the face.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Darkseid recruits Bruno Mannheim as one of his human agents, promising to make him "a king". When Darkseid has no further use for Mannheim, he leaves him next to a reactor about to overload and answers his protests by saying that he is a king: a king of fools.
  • In Transformers Animated
    Issac Sumdac: You are friends with the autobots, right?
    Megatron: Oh, we have quite a history.
  • Comes up a couple of times near the finale of W.I.T.C.H. The heroes team up with the previous seasons Big Bad, Phobos, to take down Nerissa. They make him swear on the Heart of Kandrakar that after Nerissa is defeated, he will not use her power for himself. He then backstabs the heroes and tries to take over Kandrakar anyway, which is exactly what the heroes had counted on. Due to the nature of his vow, if he had even set foot in Kandrakar with hostile intent he would have forfeited all of his stolen power. It would have worked too, if his dragon Cedric hadn't used his own to steal his power before he could break the vow.
    Cedric: He offered me a fraction of his power. I choose five fifths, maybe four fourths. In other words, all of it.
  • Woody Woodpecker once told his nephew and his niece about some of their ancestors. One of them worked on railroads and was told "When I nod my head, you hit it".
    • Charlie Bear Senior should have known better than reciting these words to his son.