"Skin me, Br'er Fox, snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots, and cut off my legs, but do please, Br'er Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch!"A deliberate use of Reverse Psychology in order to get a desired result. Alice begs and pleads with Bob not to take a certain course of action — do anything, anything at all, but that! Terror, fear, hysterics, every scenery-chomping trick is pulled out to make Bob think that this is the worst possible thing he could do to Alice. And thinking that, he does it. Naturally, it's exactly what Alice wants or needs. If Bob takes pity on Alice, it's Springtime for Hitler. Alice may beg "Anything but That!" at some point. Compare Try and Follow and Fake Weakness. May (still) be liable to Threat Backfire. Almost always a subtrope of Schmuck Bait. If it works, Alice gets an Unishment. One of The Oldest Tricks in the Book. In modern fiction, writers often use this trick if they want to emphasize how stupid a villain is (which is rather convincing to the viewers if he falls for it), or make an amusing I Know You Know I Know situation out of it. Has nothing to do with the act of patching software, or cloth for that matter.
— Br'er Rabbit, Song of the South
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- At least one type of health cereal has used this trope in advertising, even adopting slogans along the lines of "You won't like it."
- In the UK, Marmite is advertised in a similar way — they've turned the fact that 50% of the populace hate it into a selling point.
- Similarly, Buckley's Cough Syrup: "It tastes awful, but it works". Probably intentional, given that they have pine needle oil as a non-medicinal ingredient.
- One of their advertisements went 'We're # 1, but we taste like number two."
- After the first lunar landing, Volkswagen ran an ad depicting the moon-lander with the slogan, "It's ugly, but it gets you there."
- In the 1970s, it was Listerine: "What do you think of Listerine?" "I hate it!◊ But I use it twice a day. It really works." Franklin Ajaye had a parody of this ad, with Trojans condoms.
- "Arrogant Bastard Ale: This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory — maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you are mouthing your words as you read this." (From Stone Brewing. That's the copy on the back of the bottle.)
- As it turns out, despite the advertising, quite a lot of people do like it, since it's a damn good beer.
Anime & Manga
- One of the most popular examples of Briar Patching in Japanese media comes from the rakugo story Manjuu Kowai (I Hate Manjuu), in which a man fakes a phobia to manjuu (small cakes with red bean paste filling) to make his friends fill his room with the cakes; upon being discovered eating one, he simply quips "well, what I'm actually afraid of is delicious tea". Paraiso (a Yonkoma series by Dowman Seiman) gives us an example of how this story would look in the hands of a Yaoi Fangirl:
Boy A: You were lying about being afraid of anal, weren't you?
Boy B: Well, actually... I'm afraid of giving you oral.
- In an episode of Yo-kai Watch, Nate becomes inspirited by Noway, a yokai that forces its targets to say "no way" to any request in a condescending matter. He tries to get Tattletell and Blazion to confront it the normal way, but Noway inspirits and incapacitates them both. When it turns its magic against Whisper, Whisper refuses to help until Nate lies to him and tells him he doesn't need help. He uses this same tactic when Noway inspirits Jibanyan, and gets the upper hand by telling Jibanyan not to use his Paws of Fury on Noway.
- In one of the Big Finish Doctor Who audios, a Nazi has gotten hold of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver (and the Doctor himself) and thinks that, despite the Doctor's comments to the contrary, it's a weapon. During this exchange he is examining it.
Nazi: Who are you with, Doctor? The SOE? The OSS? Hmm? Where is your aircraft hidden?
The Doctor: [calmly] One thing at a time, Major. Oh, and I wouldn't press the button on the end in particular.
Nazi: Answer me! [presses button, promptly incapacitating himself with the sound waves]
The Doctor: Especially not when you're pointing it right at your own head. [takes it back] I bet that rattled your fillings. I think I'd best look after it, don't you?
- Magic: The Gathering's control decks make use of this by making players think you have a counter when you don't because blue decks always run four copies of Counterspell, Force of Will, or whatever else is legal in that format. Many players, upon seeing two untapped islands and a card in hand, will be more than a little hesitant to play a spell.
- Similarly playable with the Trap Cards, which are usually meant to be used on the opponent's turn. So any face-down card in the spell zone is a potential source of worry because you never know just when the opponent will flip and activate it. Even attempting to counter it may be the intent, as more advanced strategies employ reverse psychology to entice the opponent into a predictable action. You can pull off similar effects with certain Effect Monsters, particularly when they're Set face-down. Especially in early sets, an Effect Monster can have a Flip or "When attacked" effect that can make players think twice about targeting the hidden monster so as to reveal it.
- The anime Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's shows two specific instances. One has Yusei dueling a security robot equipped with a Lockdown Deck (which uses a lot of Counter Traps) and knowledge of Yusei's prior duels. Yusei then beats the robot at its own game by making it over-commit and exploiting the weaknesses it creates. Another is against a jail warden equipped with an Iron Chain Deck (which makes the opponent discard frequently to make them lose by deck exhaustion). In this case, Yusei holds for last a card that depends on a full discard pile to work.
- In the JLA: Terror Incognita story line, Martian Manhunter begs the White Martians, who have subdued the entire league, to just kill them, while subtly influencing Superman to think about the Phantom Zone and getting the leader to believe that being sent into said Phantom Zone is a fate worse than death. This not only allow the league to cheat death, but also gives them a place to plan free of telepathic interference.
- Captain America faces a Nazi spy who had stolen a powerful prototype disintegrator gun and is attempting to blast his way out. Finally, Cap stops him by begging him not to use the gun at full intensity; the mook of course puts it that setting and it blows up in his face.
- Invoked by name in a War Machine story. After he fakes his death to get access to enough technology to rebuild himself, his ally Gloria Sandoval starts pleading for him: "Please! Please... oh please don't throw me into that briar patch."
- Spider-Man once webbed Scorpion's tail to his leg, then pleaded "Just don't finish me off with that tail... please." Scorpy then attacks with his tail, causing him to break his leg
- In the Batman: Shadow of the Bat "Road to No Man's Land" story, Dr. Arkham tells his charges that he'll release them from the Asylum (since there's no food, no guards, no medication, and no chance of relief arriving) on condition they don't go to Gotham because "those poor people have suffered enough". The lunatics accept the deal, and head straight for Gotham... just before the bridges get blown up and it's cut off from the rest of the country.
- In one MAD: The Lighter Side Of, a kid gets in trouble, and begs his mother not to tell his father. The mother gleefully says she's going to do it, and another kid tells him he was stupid to reveal his fear of his father, only to find out that the kid thinks his father will go easy on him.
- In The Black Knight Glorps Again by Don Rosa, Gentleman Thief Arpin Lusene, having made himself into The Juggernaut by using an invention by Gyro Gearloose that can annihilate anything except diamonds, decides to frame a career-crowning impossible theft by annihilating (and pretending he stole) Scrooge McDuck's collection of memorabilia. Scrooge begs him to at least spare the giant gold nugget that made him rich, but that only prompts him to go for it first. Which was, of course, the intention, since it's really a fake nugget in a room whose insides are covered with diamond dust, the only substance Lusene can't cut through, so he is trapped inside as surely as if he had no special equipment.
- Attempted unsuccessfully by Dirty Coward Boomerang in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, because he's just too blatant about it; dragging his sort-of-girlfriend (whose name he doesn't even know) out of hiding to beg Bullseye not to kill her and leave him alive:
Bullseye: This is just embarrassing.
Boomerang: That would be so much worse! Don't do that totally awesome thing that you did to Daredevil that you're so proud of! Anything but that!
Girlfriend: Oh, you pathetic @#$%@*!
- In his New 52 run, Aquaman manages to trick a deranged Hercules into trying to drown him by acting scared of the water. Naturally, this gives Aquaman the upper hand in their fight.
- In The Sandman: Overture, Dream is imprisoned inside a a black hole by a group of insane stars. Not coincidentally, the total darkness of his prison winds up transporting him to the realm of his mother Night, whose servant interrupts his complaints by snarking that he will next "be asking us not to throw you in the briar patch". Subverted in that Night refuses to help, and Dream has to be rescued by Destiny, which neither of them planned out.
- In Bloom County, here, Binkley tries this gambit out with the monster in the anxiety closet, pleading "Don't send out Natassja Kinski to give me a Swedish massage!" He overplays his hand when he adds "With a big slice of cheesecake."
- Subverted twice in FoxTrot.
- When Jason gets in trouble for damaging the car, he proves singularly unapologetic, and asks that Roger not make him eat a whole box of Ding Dongs and instead take away his computer for a month. Roger takes this suggestion and gives him the latter punishment, except for two months.
Jason: Boy, when reverse psychology backfires, it really backfires.
- Pretty much the same joke is used when Jason begs Andy not to buy a new computer with Windows, and she says she won't, causing Jason to mumble that "Reverse psychology must have been invented by a parent."
- When Jason gets in trouble for damaging the car, he proves singularly unapologetic, and asks that Roger not make him eat a whole box of Ding Dongs and instead take away his computer for a month. Roger takes this suggestion and gives him the latter punishment, except for two months.
- In Prickly City, Kevin's first step in angling for the VP nomination is to announce he would never accept it.
- In the Death Note fic Point of Succession in order to get L to let him work with him Light tells L he doesn't want to work with him.
- The LOST fanfiction Shadows uses this as an allegory while describing Jack's thoughts as Ben desperately pleads not to be taken from the island: "He's not about to throw Br'er Rabbit into the briar patch."
- In Emerald Flight Book One: Union Harry tells the Parasite not to touch his scar, claiming that it's the strongest part of his powers. This results in partially draining the Horcrux instead of Harry.
- In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged in order to get Alucard to go to Brazil, Walter tells him he's forbidden from going to Brazil. It is, of course, heavily implied that Alucard knows full well what Walter is trying to do, but goes to Brazil anyway because he knows he really should, and because if they need to send him, it's probably going to be an impossibly violent and painful (read: fun) visit anyway.
Alucard: Well that settles it, I'm going traveling!
Walter: Yes, you can go anywhere you wish. Except for Brazil. Sir Integra was quite insistent that you never visit Brazil.
- In Turn Back Time Dudley is invited to an open house at Warner Academy and Harry's aunt and uncle discuss what to do with him. Harry, realizing that Hermione will be there, pleads with his uncle not to be taken to the open house, claiming the other kids would make fun of him.
- In Replay Harry tells his aunt he'll do anything but vacuuming the house, which is actually the chore he hates the least.
Films — Animation
- In the film version of The Magic Roundabout when Dougal is caught, the soldier asks him how he should torture him for information. Dougal tells him never to feed him cake/biscuits (caramel in the American dub) because that's the worst thing they could do.
Films — Live-Action
- In both movies, this was how Mr. Coriander convinced Bastian to read The NeverEnding Story. Of course, in the novel Bastian just steals it. It turns out to be alright, because after it's gone, Coriander doesn't realize he ever had it. But he does know about Fantastica (Fantasia in the movies.)
- Richard Pryor begs a judge not to release him to his parole officer in Bustin' Loose. When the judge ignores him, he and the parole officer exchange warm handshakes.
- In the first Scooby-Doo Live-Action Adaptation, a mysterious voodoo man tells Daphne not to go into Spooky Island Castle. Daphne suspects that it's this trope in order to have her go to the castle, where he might have sprung a trap. In reality he simply didn't want her to go because he thought it was cursed.
- In the 1998 adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask, Philippe does some impromptu and rather inspired Briar Patching after he's been recaptured, begging Louis to kill him rather than put him back in prison with predictable results. When Athos, Porthos, and Aramis arrive to rescue Philippe, he's ready and waiting for them rather than being the emotional wreck they were expecting, leading to one of the great lines in movie history:
I wear the mask; the mask doesn't wear me.
- In Let's Go to Prison, Nelson does this to Lenard when he finds the syringe of boat cleaner Nelson was going to kill himself with.
Nelson: (As Lenard injects himsef) Please don't throw me into the briar patch.
- In Steel, the title hero is captured and Big Bad Nathaniel Burke is asking how the latter's hammer weapon works. Steel tells him not to press a certain button because "he can't handle it". In the beginning of the movie, said Big Bad was dishonorably discharged from the Army precisely for turning an experimental gun to full power after Steel told him not to causing a building to collapse and several people to be injured. You'd think he'd learn his lesson right? Not exactly:
Burke: Well, you know me: I always take things to the next level.
- The button then causes the hammer to fly into Steel's hands, followed by the latter kicking Burke's ass.
- In Little Big Man, General Custer hires Jack Crabb as a scout, reasoning that because Crabb hates him and wishes to get revenge on him for killing the Cheyenne, everything he tells Custer will be a lie, thereby making him a "reverse barometer". This leads to a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Crabb when they get to the Little Bighorn and Custer asks if they should attack:
Crabb: General, you go down there.
Custer: You're advising me to go into the Coulee?
Crabb: Yes, sir.
Custer: There are no Indians there, I suppose.
Crabb: I didn't say that. There are thousands of Indians down there. And when they get done with you, there won't be nothing left but a greasy stain. This ain't the Washite River, General, and them ain't helpless women and children waiting for you. They're Cheyenne brave, and Sioux. You go down there, General, if you've got the nerve.
Custer: Still trying to outsmart me, aren't you, mule-skinner? You want me to think that you don't want me to go down there, but the subtle truth is you really don't want me to go down there!
- Used in Star Trek: Insurrection, with a nebula conveniently named the "Briar Patch". The Enterprise is being pursued by So'na ships who have no qualms about using forbidden weapons, so Riker takes a huge risk that pays off.note
Riker: It's time to use the Briar Patch the way Br'er Rabbit did.
- Superman II: Superman tells Lex Luthor to try to lure the three Kryptonian criminals into his depowering chamber, counting on Lex to betray him and share this knowledge with the three and that they would force him into the chamber. Fortunately he'd reconfigured the chamber to depower all the Kryptonians outside of it.
- In Election, lesbian Tammy Metzler falsely confesses to destroying the school election posters precisely so she'll get sent to a Catholic girls' school. At one point we see her "begging" her mom not to make her go there.
- At the climax of Robert Altman's Popeye, Bluto forces Popeye to eat spinach because he knows the sailor hates the way it tastes. Bluto should've known better than to take Poopdeck Pappy's word for it, as that was exactly what Pappy was coaxing him to do so Popeye would finally power up and beat him.
- In Wild Wild West, when Artemus is caught and about to be executed, he begs to be "shot in my heart, which has loved this country so much" because he is wearing his prototype for a bullet proof vest. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
Loveless: Shoot him in the head.
- In the final moments of In the Loop, this is how Malcolm Tucker gets the news stations to focus on the garden wall story. He does so by "begging" the reporter not to run the story because it would ruin him, Tucker having blackmailed the same reporter into spiking a story that genuinely would have caused him problems at the start of the film. While screwing over Foster, it distracts enough attention to prevent the leaking of the anti-war paper from getting any traction, and allows the vote for war to pass.
- A segment of the stand-up concert film Bill Cosby: Himself has Bill Cosby telling a story about a time when his wife threw him out of bed and demanded that he make breakfast for the children. He ends up giving them slices of chocolate cake, which enrages his wife, who then sends him to his room. Which is where he wanted to be in the first place. Any questions?
- The Trope Namer comes from Br'er Rabbit begging Br'er Fox not to throw him into the briar patch (Br'er Rabbit was born and raised in the briar patch so is not threatened by the thorns, whereas the Fox won't be able to follow him in there). The 19th-century vintage of the original Uncle Remus stories qualify this as Older Than Radio. The earliest versions, of unknown date, can be found in the African and Cherokee folk tales which became the Uncle Remus stories.
Br'er Rabbit: Please don't throw me out the window to that cold ground below! Shoot me, strangle me, do anything you want... just don't throw me into that garbage can!
- Told in the Disney film Song of the South, which you will never see, and more or less faithfully recreated (with audience participation!) in Splash Mountain, where, as soon as Br'er Rabbit says this, your log crests the conveyor lift and goes down the big drop. The funny thing about Splash Mountain is that lots of people don't realize that Br'er Rabbit was using reverse psychology in that instance. Taken out of its original context, it looks like he really didn't want to be thrown in, and that it's just by luck that things turn out okay for him.
- Coonskin gives us another Br'er Rabbit to contend with. Cornered by thugs he pleads:
- The marketing for A Series of Unfortunate Events revolves around them warning the readers that the books are about an absurd amount of bad things happening to people, and the faint of heart should probably go read something more cheerful. Ironically, the advertising is right on the money — the story gets really grim.
- The title character of Bud, Not Buddy does this when his foster parents threaten to send him back to the orphanage. He doesn't want to go back to the orphanage necessarily, but knows it's better to have them impose a punishment they think is terrible rather than something that really would make him miserable.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione fakes tears and uses this strategy to trick Dolores Umbridge into a position where she can be ambushed. She begs Harry not to reveal the location of "the secret weapon in the Forbidden Forest", whatever he does. Naturally, Umbridge marches the kids into the Forbidden Forest at wand-point and demands that they take her to it...at which point, she's ambushed and pummeled by Centaurs, who had explicitly forbidden the adults at Hogwarts from entering the Forest. Uncharacteristically for an example of this trope, it both works and backfires, as the centaurs don't like the idea of having been used and they decide to attack the kids as well. Fortunately, they're saved a second time by the timely appearance of the giant Grawp.
- Mulch uses this in the third Artemis Fowl book, convincing two Mooks to bury him alive. At which point, he unhinges his jaw and burrows away.
- In Bored of the Rings, Frito, cornered by the Nozdrul, does his best Br'er Rabbit impersonation and begs them not to throw him in "dat briar patch ober dere." It's the oldest trick in the book, and they fall for it hook, line and sinker.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when Karkasy dissects Erebus's behavior at the meeting, he points out that first he speaks, with provocative words, in front of the largest crowd possible, and then suggests it had best be talked over privately; and when he had provoked Horus into going to the moon of the world, he argued against it.
- In The Vor Game, the Dendarii mercenary fleet is having a bit of a power struggle, and an enemy delivers Miles to them to worsen the situation. Miles recognizes the voice on the other end of the comm link, realizes that if he gets tossed in an escape pod he'll get picked up by a Captain who's personally loyal to him, and so begs his captors to not just throw him out there... and naturally enough, they do. Miles is back in charge of the fleet in a matter of hours.
- In Ice Station, Scarecrow tricks Mr Nero into opening a retractable bridge during a Mexican Standoff by looking nervously at the controls. He'd also tied two grenades across the opening so the pins would be pulled when it retracted.
- In the book Catherine Called Birdy, Perkin, the goat-boy, pays the yearly rent on his grandmother's cottage with a goat. In the preceding weeks before the rent is due, he will tell people that he will give up any goat except a certain one for the rent. When it comes time to pay, Catherine's father, the lord of the manor, will insist on being given that goat, thinking that he's gotten the best of Perkin. Each time, it turns out that the particular goat is either the meanest or smelliest one of the flock, or the one that will try to eat the laundry.
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "The Only Game In Town", the protagonist warns his captors that the modern distilled spirits he's carrying are "too strong for Mongols". Naturally, they take that as a dare, and quickly succumb to booze much stronger than they're used to.
- This is a big part of the plot of Clive Barker's book Mister B. Gone. (This is a huge spoiler, so think before you read it.) In a terrifying case of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You the first-person narrator (who admits to being a demon) tells the reader to close the book and burn it, at first asking, then begging, then moving into genuinely terrifying threats. Given what he does for the whole second half of the book, his descriptions of what he will do to torture you and his noting that he could be right behind you, that you could turn around and not have time to scream are not easily shrugged off. Even the firmest of skeptics would be frightened to finish the book. If you are brave enough to do so, he confesses that he was lying, and admits that was all a trick. He WANTED you to burn the book, because that would have set him free. He can't really do anything to you unless you burn it. He even suggests giving the book to someone you don't like.
- This is the primary conceit of the literary classic The Monster at the End of This Book; Grover warns the reader not to finish the book, as they will surely be devoured by the monster. In the legendary and chilling denouement, it is revealed that Grover himself is the monster at the end of the book, and the reader is in no real danger.
- In the Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Glass Empires story "The Worst of Both Worlds," Luc Picard (mirror alternate of Jean-Luc Picard) successfully uses this method to trick a Cardassian gul into destroying his own ship. The Br'er Rabbit story is mentioned by name, Picard suggesting in his head that maybe they shouldn't have been so quick to destroy Earth culture.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, the heroes are confronted by the three demons who have stolen Mephistopheles's Staff of Summoning. Mephisto screams to his compatriots that if the demons use his staff against them, he will surely be killed. Miranda can't believe he is attempting this, and Mab even sarcastically cites Br'er Rabbit under his breath. Thus, Miranda is stunned when the ploy works, and the demons actually choose to use the staff to summon Chimera, not knowing that the staff only allows summoning creatures—not controlling them. Cue Mephisto happily scratching all three of Chimera's heads.
- Stealthily referenced by the Reassignment Backfire in Robert Asprin's No Phule Like An Old Phule. The rabbit-like Thumper, nee Zigger (the Space Legion encourages and expects pseudonyms), is hoping to get sent to one of the best groups in the Legion. After someone frames him for a prank, the pranked commanding officer sends him to what he for personal reasons considers the absolute worst unit in the Legion: A widely respected former Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that always has a space for another outcast.
- In The Hero of Ages, TenSoon deliberately lets his captors overhear him saying how degrading he found it to have been made to wear the bones of a dog under his previous master. Of course they give him the dog bones to wear when his sentence is carried out; quoth, "that was exactly what TenSoon had been counting on." Naturally the abilities of that body make it much easier for him to escape, aided by the fact that the normally highly obedient kandra didn't expect him to actually resist the sentence of having his bones broken with hammers, being thrown in a pit for a thousand years, and finally executed via acid bath.
- Explicitly referenced in the YA novel Don't Look Behind You, about a girl in the Witness Protection Program. The guy who was chasing her catches up to her in the climax, and she tells him about her claustrophobia and begs for him to stash her anywhere but the tiny, dark closet. When he does, a relative who is stuck with her tells her that she shouldn't have told him she was claustrophobic, and she just giggles, says "Don't throw me into the briar patch!" and climbs out the crawlspace in the ceiling.
- Explicitly referenced and used as a ploy in Live Free Or Die, to prevent the Horvath from bombarding Earth's major cities over maple syrup. Prior to revealing that was his plan after the Glatun intervention, all Tyler Vernon would say of his plan was "I am of the South. We have our ways." Once the Glatun sent a battlecruiser to get the Horvath out of Earth's orbit, he answered in an interview "In the words of the smartest rabbit I know; 'Don't throw me in dat dere briar patch, Br'er Fox!'"
- In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, the Fudir, inveilging his way off planet, tells the man who's taking him, "You'll have to arrest me, Br'er Fox."
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, at one point Percy begs for Nereus not to jump into the ocean with him. Nereus does. And well, with Percy being the son of the sea god...
- In The Acts of Caine novel Heroes Die Caine uses this as part of tricking Ma'elKoth into following his Batman Gambit. He directly refers to the trope name while doing so.
- In the Rainbow Magic series, in Gabriella's book the girls beg not to be taken to Jack Frost when they really want to get information from him.
- How the Marquis Got His Coat Back: The Marquis would really like the Shepherd not to steal the letter that's in his shirt pocket and read it. Really.
- Captain Underpants does this to Melvin Sneedly in book 7. Melvin dunks Captain Underpants in the lake, causing his underpants to shrink.
- Nathan Ausubel's A Treasury of Jewish Folklore includes an anecdote about a thief who, on being captured and beaten, pleads for the townspeople to do anything other than throwing him over a certain fence. Once he's on the other side he laughs and runs away.
- There's an old story about a turtle who was caught eating the crops. The villagers gather around and debate what to do with him, and each time he agrees that he'd made an excellent drum or great soup, but please don't throw him in the river. Eventually, the group decides that the worst punishment would be his worst fear. They throw the turtle in the river and he swims along on his merry way.
- A particularly elaborate version in Wintersmith, where travelling witch Miss Tick has written a book for would-be witch-hunters, explaining that burning a witch just makes her angry, and the best plan is to rob her of her powers by giving her soup (not tomato, as that would make her more powerful), then providing pillows and blankets to trick her into going to sleep, and later waking her quietly with a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit (a ginger biscuit may also work, plain would be a very bad idea), tying her hands with a bosun's knot and throwing her in the river. The knot is easily undone, and Miss Tick was a swimming champion at school.
- Lampshaded on Airwolf. A renegade military officer sets a huge trap for Hawke and Airwolf with Hawke taunting the guy before ducking into a canyon. The officer orders a massive strike against it that nearly kills civilians in the area. It's enough for another officer to recognize the man has gone over the edge and has him arrested. At which point, Airwolf comes out of hiding with Hawke openly mocking the officer with "please don't throw me into that briar patch."
- As befits a show with a Guile Hero, Burn Notice has done this quite a few times. In one episode, a captured Sam plays a head of Russian intelligence into thinking he's a bounty hunter going after Michael, infiltrates her camp, sets a diversion, then when Michael beats her and she asks what he wants, he says he wants "the bastard who tried to capture me. The one with the chin." Sam yells, "how can you do this to me? I was helping you! Colonel, don't hand me off to them! They'll kill me!" They let him walk right back out the front door, where he escapes.
- Doctor Who
- "Remembrance of the Daleks". The Seventh Doctor begs Davros not to use the Hand of Omega, knowing full well it will only encourage him to do so. Davros does, and it turns out to have been rigged, destroying his own homeworld of Skaro. Whether or not this lays the ultimate blame for the planet's destruction on the Doctor is a hotly contested philosophical issue in fandom.
- In the end of "Planet of the Dead", a constable attempts to arrest the Doctor for helping jewel thief Christina De Sousa escape. The Doctor offers to "just step inside this police box and arrest myself."
- In House, Cuddy tries this on House by asking him not to come to her baby daughter Rachel's simchat bat, a traditional Jewish baby-naming ceremony. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.
- On Lost, Ben does this to get Locke to blow up the sub, thus allowing him to avoid his promises to let Jack and Juliet leave to and cut off the Others from the outside world.
- Malcolm in the Middle:
- A non-verbal example: Malcolm is shown making what looks to be the world's most disgusting sandwich, taking crud from the fridge, from the sink drain, from under the couch, etc. and putting it all between two slices of bread. He sits down to eat it... and Reese immediately swoops in to steal it, and takes a bite before he realizes he's been had.
- Averted in a later episode where Reese attempts to get intentionally grounded to avoid having to spend money to take his girlfriend to a dance, but Lois is Genre Savvy enough to know what Reese is up to, and tells him the grounding begins the day after the dance.
- On the Married... with Children episode "Naughty but Niece", Bud begs Al, when the time comes for him to decide a punishment, to do anything but send him to his room. Let alone for a week. Al, slow-witted as ever, thinks it over and, with a cartoon light bulb almost literally appearing over his head, says, "You go to your room!... ''For. One. Week." Bud wants to spend as much time in his room as possible because for the first time in his life he is having a hot fling with a neighbor who regularly comes in through his window.
- Done in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode about Lunch when a gluttonous kid called "One Bite" keeps eating everyone's lunches before they can. Ned hits upon the idea to make a sandwich with some of the hottest condiments he can find (Tabasco sauce, wasabi, hot mustard, etc). So when lunch comes, naturally One Bite sets his sights on it. Ned drones "No stop, please, don't" before pretty much handing the sandwich over to him.
- Inverted in Scrubs. The Janitor is getting married, and he invites everyone in the hospital to it — however, it's 3 days from the receipt of the invitations, and it's in the Bahamas. Naturally, everyone who got invited started wondering out loud how he could expect them to go, and nearly went back to their regular business... until JD gives a heartwarming speech about how they don't appreciate The Janitor enough and need to pay him back for everything he does. Turns out The Janitor really didn't want anyone to come, and he gets incredibly annoyed when a whole bunch of major characters show up.
- Dr. Kelso does this once, too, uniting the hospital by being a complete and utter asshole.
- He does it yet again in another episode. Everyone knows that the day after the Kelsos' anniversary, Dr. Kelso is uncharacteristically happy (wink, wink). They always take this opportunity to ask him for things the hospital needs, as he always says yes on that day. Turk later finds out that Mrs. Kelso is out of town, meaning she couldn't have made Bob so happy the night before. Kelso admits that the only reason he acts that happy and agreeable one day of the year is so that people refrain from bothering him with requests for the rest of the year. If their requests are important enough, they'll save them for that day. If they're not that important, they'll be forgotten about and he won't even have to hear about them.
- Combination of inversion and subversion in an episode of Seinfeld, specifically, the backwards episode. Elaine's friend sent her an invitation to her wedding in India. After asking about India (including the groom's Indian parents), Elaine and the gang concluded that the friend was holding the wedding in such an inconvenient location so that no one would attend but she'd still get wedding gifts from them. Elaine decides to attend the wedding purely out of spite, only to find out that her friend's invitation was sincere and she was overjoyed to see Elaine when no one else had chosen to attend (don't worry; the gang still manages to ruin things when they let slip that Elaine had slept with the groom years ago).
- Stargate SG-1: In a reversal, the bad guys are the ones who do the Briar Patching. In the episode "Beachhead", SG-1 tries to blow up a stargate with a nuke, only to find out the Ori wanted this to happen so they could draw enough power from it to create a supergate.
- The Tomorrow People: "The New Gods". An ancient alien consciousness leads John to destroy its idol, thinking it to be the source of the being's power. In fact, the idol was restraining its power, so its destruction set it free.
- Katherine Pierce of The Vampire Diaries is very good at this: she begs Damon not to kill Elijah, leading him to believe that doing so will trap her in an underground tomb for the rest of eternity. Imagine his surprise when he completes the mission only to find Katherine in his shower.
- In White Collar, Neal tricks Peter into letting him out of his sight by getting "caught" with lockpicks. Peter locks him in a closet over his protests and then Neal promptly escapes.
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it's revealed that Grant Ward had been doing this when he told Agent Coulson that he didn't want to be part of the team. It was all a trick to play on Coulson's need to "fix" people and gain his trust, making it easier for Ward to be The Mole.
- Family Matters:
- Done when Carl, Laura and Steve take his time machine into the past during the pirate days. Carl unwittingly becomes the captain of a ship but the pirates soon turn on him since they can't do anything pirate-y under his command. They set to have the three walk the plank, but Steve begs them not to "have to do it together" which the pirates of course do. This is what Steve want since with all of three bunched together, he can use his time machine to warp them away.
- An earlier episode did this too when Carl forces Steve to move his inventions to a storage after causing one mishap too many in the house. However the night they do it, a street gang with a vendetta against Carl invade the storage and set to seriously harm the two. When one of the thugs notice Steve's Transformation Chamber, Steve manages to convince them to put Carl and him in it so they can see the effects (with the promise of becoming the singer Bruce Springsteen). The thugs fall for it, but what comes out turns out to be Bruce Lee. Cue ass-kicking.
- Lampshaded AND Inverted in The Wire: In the first episode, McNulty makes a bet with Landsman revealing where he would least want to serve: on a boat. Then later in the season, Lester warns McNulty, "When they ask you where you wanna go, and they are gonna ask you where you wanna go, do yourself a favor. Keep your mouth shut." Guess where we see McNulty working at the start of season 2?
- Cutthroat Kitchen: Did you forget a critical ingredient? Well, sometimes the sabotages will provide the needed ingredient, albeit one with lower quality (chicken in a can) or a time-consuming method of harvesting it (scraping pasta off macaroni art). But both are better than not having it, and if you can trick your opponent into sabotaging you with it, you also get them to spend their money to give you a key ingredient.
- In The Flash (2014) episode "The Wrath of Savitar", the S.T.A.R. Labs team deduce that Big Bad Savitar is trapped in the Speed Force, and needs the complete Philosopher's Stone to escape ... which makes the fact Barry threw most of it into the Speed Force to keep it out of Savitar's hands a huge mistake, but at least there's one shard left. Cut to Savitar's mental projection taunting Wally that he just doesn't have the speed to throw the final shard safely into the Force the way Barry did...
- In one episode of iZombie, minor villain Don E begs a thug sent to kill him to do it quickly with a clean headshot, claiming that he can't stand pain, while at the same time insulting the thug and getting him angry. Sure enough, the thug shoots him in the gut instead. Since Don E is a zombie, the wound isn't even particularly painful to him, let alone fatal - whereas a headshot is the one thing that would have killed him.
- Better Call Saul: After Hector Salamanca's drug operation is shut down due to Gus Fring's machinations, Hector and his goons pay a visit to Los Pollos Hermanos and hold the employees hostage until Gus arrives. Hector, planted in Gus's office, tries to intimidate Gus into trafficking Hector's drugs from now on. But Gus is the reason why Hector's supply line is shut down, so he pretends to be intimidated, to let Hector think that he has all the power.
- Used in "Don't Throw Me in the Briarpatch" by Keith Palmer where the narrator uses this to get a woman not to drive him to drown his sorrows:
You're always working up some punishment for me
I just hope it doesn't cross your mind to make me leave
Oh, please don't throw me in the briarpatch
Whatever you do, don't send me back
To that awful place where the beer's ice cold
The women are wild and the good times roll
I'd hate to think you'd be so cruel
To make me go where my friends shoot pool
Close that door, lock that latch
Please don't throw me in the briarpatch
- Subverted in the I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again radio parody of the Uncle Remus stories, which went something like this. Yes, with the hilarious accents.
Br'er Fox: I's gonna skin you and boil you and eat you up, Br'er Rabbit.
Br'er Rabbit: Whatever you say, suh, just don't throw me in de briar patch.
Br'er Fox: I know, I's gonna throw you in de briar patch!
[cry of pain]
Br'er Rabbit: I said don't throw me in de flaming briar patch!
- Paranoia 1E adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. The traitor Oregon Warbler will act wildly afraid of a trap in an attempt to get the Troubleshooters to make him go in front of them, much like Brer Rabbit in Song of the South. If they do, he will take the opportunity to escape and taunt the Troubleshooters by saying "Born and bred in the briar patch."
- Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis ends with Indy being forced by Mad Scientist Dr. Ubermann to be his guinea pig for testing the Atlantean ascension machine. (This is right after he's seen Nazi agent Klaus Kerner jump eagerly into the machine only to be turned into a dwarf minotaur.) The only way to keep Indy from being transformed into a rampaging energy being with a lifespan of about 15 seconds is to have him convince Dr. Ubermann that he wants to be transformed so he can turn around and use his newfound omnipotence against the mad doctor; Dr. Ubermann then decides to test the machine out on himself instead, and is transformed into (you guessed it) a rampaging energy being with a lifespan of about 15 seconds.
- In the first Paper Mario game, Bowser asks a kidnapped Princess Peach what Mario's greatest weakness is so he can set up a good trap. Playing as the princess, you are given a choice between a weak enemy, a powerful enemy, or a useful item. Whichever you pick will show up later when you play as Mario. The third game in the series does this again, albeit with the villain asking Mario directly the three things he most fears.
- GLaDOS the AI drops its Morality Core and constantly encourages the player's character to leave "that Aperture-Science-Thing-We-Don't-Know-What-It-Does" alone, expecting that the character's distrust towards it will cause her to destroy it. GLaDOS even hangs a lampshade by saying, "Do you think I'm trying to trick you with reverse psychology? I mean, seriously now..."), but Stupidity Is the Only Option to continue.
- In Portal 2, in the Final Boss fight. You are presented with the opportunity to press a button that the boss in question apparently very much does not want you to. Except that when you try to press it, it turns out to have been booby trapped with a difficult to detect trap. Unfortunately, your options were press the button or die when the end boss' own stupidity causes his entire lair to explode and kill everyone within, including you.
- In Darths & Droids, R2-D2 is fitted with a Restraining Bolt that limits his actions, including making R2-D2 incapable of thinking of the possibility of removing it. So when a new player joins as Luke/Adam, Pete has R2 say, in character, that he does not want Luke/Adam to remove it, and the possibility of it being removed is something he doesn't even want to think about. Naturally, Corey has Luke/Adam remove the bolt. The Game Master awards role-playing experience to R2 for this clever act.
- Cucumber Quest: Almond tricks Splash Master into releasing her by begging him not to throw the giant barrel blocking her way at her brother, Cucumber.
- Freefall once had Sam very afraid he may be contracted.
- Narbonic: Referenced here◊.
Artie: Do you mind staying on the island?
Dave: It doesn't matter. I complained, and, as usual, Helen and Mell decided to do the opposite. If that's the way they want it, I'll just have to cope with living on a tropical island with two scantily-clad women.
Artie: Sometimes I worry that you're much smarter than you let on.
Dave: No, Bre'er Narbon! Don't toss me in that thar briar patch!
- Later, in Skin Horse (a sequel to Narbonic), Tip attempts to apologize to Doctor Lee for using her as a pawn in a game of one-upsmanship with Artie. She is, of course, terribly, terribly put out by having to spend her day having two attractive men ply her with favours.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Attempted (but failed) when Xykon warns all his minion not to let the heroes touch the Gate, wink wink. (Said Gate can only open if touched by one pure of heart, meaning Xykon himself and his lackeys are out.) Fortunately, Haley already knows about the trick and stops Elan from touching it.
- Haley herself makes use of it after the adventure is over, when she (using her Appraise skill) is assigned the task of determining the value of the treasure the party collected, so it can be fairly divided. She winds up giving all of the treasure to the other party members, claiming only five worthless rocks for herself. The others smell a rat and decide that the rocks must be incredibly valuable, or the greedy Haley wouldn't want them. As punishment for trying to trick them, Roy insists that everyone but her get a rock, and she gets a "mere" double share of the other loot as paltry compensation. Haley complains, but naturally this was always the plan.
- Subverted when Eugene assumes this is what Roy is up to when the latter says he does not want the former to help him scry on the mortal plane. Roy had actually gotten sick of Eugene's Jerkass behavior and was trying to wash his hands of the guy instead of rising to the bait and getting into another argument, but he does accept on the condition that if Eugene ever gets into the Afterlife, he disappears and never tries to contact his dead family again.
- Sluggy Freelance: Torg tries this when he's being interrogated by two bad guys called Chen and Killum. "Whatever you do, don't hurt Mr. Killum! He's my best friend!" Chen turns to Killum with a shocked expression but realizes the absurdity of falling for that a second later.
- Seen in Spacetrawler when Yuri's being "tortured" by some bounty hunters here and here, before being subverted here.
- In Elf Only Inn, Duke, who has been annoying the rest of his chat room with ninja antics, informs Megan that he will not betray his Ninja clan, even if she "tied him down and forced him to call her his mistress". She smiles sardonically, and in the next panel has rope ready and says, "Business before pleasure, 'kay?" Duke agrees.
- Subverted, double subverted, and triple-subverted in this video; a group of superheroes try and use Reverse Psychology to persuade the viewer to go to New York Comic Con, but then go overboard and start threatening you, and then start using reverse psychology to make you stay away.
- In an early "Beyond Belief" segment of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Frank and Sadie Doyle encounter Nightmares the Clown, a Pennywise Expy that tries to terrify them, only Sadie can't take him seriously because she finds even Monster Clowns hilarious. In frustration, Nightmares turns into a giant spider, which Frank says Sadie is afraid of. Sadie then points out that she's only afraid of regular spiders, because of how tiny they are. Nightmares turns into a normal spider, and gets promptly stepped on by Frank.
- From Acts of Gord, when a woman threatens to report him to the government for refusing to let her open an account without a valid ID. Of course, the number he actually gives her is his own.
Gord: Oh please... no. Don't do that, please. They'll shut me down! Please, I beg of you and implore you not to do that. Whatever you do, don't call the "Bureau of Video Games and Customer Service." I've already got my one warning, and if they get another complaint they'll shut me down… please, don't...
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: A special where he begs the villains to do anything but make them eat the "deadly" powder he brought (it gives them super powers).
- In Ben 10, Gwen tells the villains not to throw them out of the space station into the vacuum of space. The villain of course attempts this but once their space suits are removed, she is able to use her magic attacks like normal again.
- One episode of Darkwing Duck has the hero beg his captors to do anything but scald him with water from an oversized tea kettle (it's a long story). Luckily the Mooks forget Darkwing's friend Comet Guy's powers are triggered by the sound of a whistle...
- Subverted in an episode of Angela Anaconda. Angela's rival Nanette ends up getting the job of casting people for a play based on Greek mythology, and Angela wants to be Hercules. Since she knows Nanette will cast her in a role she'll hate, Angela loudly complains about not wanting to play Hercules. Nanette, however, sees past the ruse, and casts her as Medusa. This backfires however, as Angela "sssssomehow" manages to to have fun with the role anyway.
- Danny Phantom: Tucker has been corrupted by Be Careful What You Wish For ghost powers and has Danny at his mercy. Danny says, "No, don't throw me into the Ghost Zone!" and uses this to trick Tucker into losing his powers.
- Looney Tunes:
- Bugs Bunny did this a few times. For example, he was facing Yosemite Sam as an alien. He counters a robot "ferret" with one of his own design. Bug's robot says "I'll go with you on one condition: that you don't press this button." and points to a big red button on his chest. The alien robot hates the condition ("No Earth robot is telling me what button I can't press!" it angrily says) and presses away in defiance. Cue a CRUNCH as a lump of metal pops out and punches the robot.
- At the end of "1001 Rabbit Tales", Bugs begs Sam not to throw him down a hole. Being a rabbit, Bugs easily burrows away.
- Done when Daffy tries to hitchhike his way to the south and forces his way into Porky's car. He practically gets Porky into trouble with the law and fellow motorists with his brashness. Fed up, Porky comes up with a plan to buy a present from a gift shop and puts it into his trunk. Telling Daffy not to open it till later, naturally Daffy can't resist temptation and opens the trunk where all of his baggage that was stuffed to compacity flies out into his face, allowing Porky to drive off, free from Daffy's side seat driving. For added revenge, the present turned out to be a novelty hitch hiking thumb.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe:
- An episode of the original series features a villain named Zalt, an extradimensional tyrant whose plan involves using technology to siphon power from both creatures and magical items. When He-Man and Orko find him, He-Man says out loud that "I hope he doesn't want my sword!" causing Zalt to use telekinesis to grab it. Which is what the hero wanted, because by chanting By the Power of Grayskull! while Zalt is holding it, the villain is clobbered by said Power, which also destroys the technology.
- Skeletor does little better in the remake. In the episode "Turnabout", Adam and Teela drive boldly into a place in full view of Snake Mountain, Teela saying loudly that she hopes Skeletor doesn't see him. Naturally, he does, and naturally, he walks right into an ambush set by her dad and the other Masters.
- In the crossover between Disney's Aladdin and Hercules, one of Hades' minions gets his hands on Genie's lamp. Jasmine yells "Oh no! Don't rub it! Whatever you do, don't rub that lamp!" Minion rubs anyway and gets punched by Genie.
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, episode "Mindnet:" the Artifact of Doom is an Electronic Telepathy machine that, on natural telepaths, acts as an Amplifier Artifact. The Queen of the Crown has one half, the Rangers have the other. The Queen's got the Rangers surrounded. Niko shrugs and says the Queen can have it if they go free, knowing damn well the Queen won't uphold her end of it. Niko warns Her Majesty to start with a low setting. Sure enough, no sooner are both parts fit together than the Queen cranks it Up to 11. Niko barely gets the team together and they pull their Mental Fusion tactic to shield themselves. Meanwhile the device has caused everyone else in the room to read each other's minds. Considering the room's inhabitants are The Queen, her scheming Mooks, and the psychotic mercenary Ryker Kilbane...all hell breaks loose, the device gets smashed in the dust-up, and the Rangers are able to escape.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Practical Joker". Passing through an energy field causes the Enterprise computer to play jokes on the crew. Captain Kirk pretends to be scared of the field and tricks the deranged computer into taking the ship through the field again, which reverses the effect that made the computer go bonkers.
- Superman, having lost most of his powers due to being held in a cage under artificial red sunlight, used a double-reverse version in the Animated Series episode "The Main Man, part II". He specifically tells the thugs attacking him that "they don't want to" throw him into the enclosure to which he's just knocked down the door, knowing full well they'd do just that. They do, and discover that instead of a bloodthirsty beast, it contains a dodo. From Earth. And a yellow sun lamp, which quickly recharges him. Cue ass-kicking.
- In the Underdog story "A New Villain" Underdog begs his would-be killer not to dump him in the lake — because Underdog knows that the water in the lake will remove the electricity effect the villain (the Electric Eel) used on him. Naturally, the egotistical villain falls for it.
- Villainous version in the Adventure Time episode "Death in Bloom", when Finn and Jake visit the underworld. At one point they come across a river which Jake wants to drink from. A talking skull urges him on, Finn of course realizes it's a trap and tells Jake not to. So the skull tells him to not drink from the river. This is all the convincing Jake needs to jump in. The result is that he ends up losing his memory of who Finn is.
- In the Wild Kratts episode Gecko Effect, the gang has shrunked down with the Miniaturizer to learn about geckos. Unfortunately, Zach Varmitech infiltrates the Tortuga and steals the Miniaturizer while the Wild Kratts are away, when the Wild Kratts return, Zach traps them in a glass jar. Of course, the animal of the day is the gecko, and they have their creature suits and gecko disks; so Martin tries this on Zach by saying, (paraphrase): 'At least in this jar, we're safe from those creepy geckos. Man, they really creep me out! As long as Zach doesn't put one in the jar, I'll be good!' Unfortunately, Zach is an idiot when it comes to animals and has no idea what a gecko is, so Martin has to continue, while pretending he doesn't know Zach is listening: 'You know, those weird lizards that can climb on walls! Like the one on that wall, right over there!' Eventually, it works, and they can escape.
- In one episode of The Smurfs, an evil spirit in a wishing well brainwashes all the smurfs except Papa Smurf in order to get his spellbook (as it turns out, the well is a prison for him, and Papa Smurf put him there years ago). When he finally gets it, he still can't find the spell he needs, so he has the other smurfs drag Papa Smurf to the well to make him tell where the spell is. Papa Smurf then warns him about "the green page" in the book, warning him that he must never read it. Guess what the spirit does? (We never actually find out what's on the green page, but it doesn't end well for the villain.)
- In an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Gantu activates four experiments to use as a strike team against Lilo and Stitch. When he gets his hands on Dupe, Lilo yells, "He doesn't want to make clones of your army!" Gantu does just that... which is exactly what Lilo wanted, because one of Dupe's side effects is splitting the power among his clones, resulting in an army so weak that Stitch plows through it easily.
"I was bred and born in the briar patch, Br'er Fox," he called. "Born and bred in the briar patch."