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Digging Yourself Deeper
aka: Digging Herself Deeper

"Ah! You can read... I mean, you are reading. Sorry. It's nice to see people reading. Not a lot of people read these days. People prefer to... hear. But all this 'hearing' is just reading for lazy people. Kids today should be prepared to pick up a book, and not just go around the whole time with all these modern... ears. Sometimes I just wanna rip people's ears off and say 'Read a book, for God's sake!'... Well, actually I'd probably say 'Read a book' first and then rip their ears off, otherwise they wouldn't hear me, hehehe... Actually, I probably wouldn't rip their ears off at all, I'm not a violent person. I like ears! Especially women ears, they're my favorite. I don't mean I collect them or anything! I don't have a big bucket of women ears hidden away somewhere. No, No, No, I'm not after your ears really. Not that there's anything wrong with your ears! You know if I was some kind of mad ear person, your ears would be the pride of my... ear bucket."

In a Sitcom, often a character will say something that's just meant to be a friendly little remark, and it will come out wrong, possibly sounding crazy or offensive; they'll try and clarify it (whether they really need to or not), but just make things worse, and dig themselves deeper and deeper into the crazy/offensive pit. Exceptionally deep and/or frequent excavations are commonplace in Cringe Comedies.

May eventually lead to Shutting Up Now.

See also That Came Out Wrong, Freudian Slippery Slope, Did I Just Say That Out Loud?. Compare Verbal Backpedaling.

Contrast Change the Uncomfortable Subject and Not Helping Your Case.

Not to be confused with Dug In Deeper where someone pursues something because they're told they're great at it, even though they're not, or Dug Too Deep, which is about physical digging.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaorin has this one in Azumanga Daioh: Supplementary Materials:
    Kaorin: (Sigh) Sakaki is so cool...
    Osaka: Kaorin, are you gay?
    Kaorin: The correct term is lesbian! Uh, not that I'm a lesbian!! (next strip) It's just, you know, a teenage thing. That's all. Anyway, that's not what I meant when I said she was cool. Just to prove it, I wouldn't mind if she was a guy!
    (Beat)
    Osaka: Huh?
  • Happens in an extra episode of Durarara!!, when some poor sod attempts to talk down Shizuo with flattery and compares him to a really popular bishonen actor, Yuuhei Hanejima. Unfortunately for him, said actor is actually Shizuo's little brother, whom Shizuo is very protective of, and he instinctively interprets the namedrop as an attempt to invade Yuuhei's privacy through him. Of course, since the poor sod doesn't know this, he just thinks Shizuo's suddenly angry because he hates Yuuhei — so he rescinds his previous statement and calls Yuuhei an asshole. The only thing surprising about what happens next is that the poor sod actually survived.
  • Early in Air, Yukito's explanation about why he was hugging Kano is like this, and leads to Hijiri getting angry and charging him with scalpels. Luckily, Misuzu's intervention means that Hijiri's reaction is Played for Laughs.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima has an accidental pervert moment with Haqua with a predictable result despite him not even really caring. A bit later, he reassures her by saying he has no memory of her naked body anyway. This might help normally, only Haqua is already bothered by the way he never shows attraction to anyone or anything outside of his games. Cue getting hit again.
  • A dramatic example occurs in Happy Yarou Wedding, when a drunken makeout session is suddenly halted by Yuuhi and Todou fears he's made him uncomfortable and lies that he mistook him for his dead wife. Since Yuuhi had stopped because he was shocked to realize he was in love with Todou, this crushes him and he decides to never return. Todou then persistently texts him with messages like "I have no interest in men" and "sorry for making you feel bad" in attempt to get him to come back, but of course this just makes Yuuhi even more upset.
  • In FLCL, Mamimi confronts Naota and accuses him of having a crush on Haruko, to which Naota replies, "How can you like someone who's insane?" The problem is that Mamimi is a pyromaniac arsonist, and Naota knows this.
  • Kurando Wada falls victim to an exaggerated case in Popcorn Avatar. Thanks to a previous incident when a bump to the head made him regress to the hyperactive, skirt-flipping personality he had as a 9 year old, all the girls in his class start treating him like he's a dangerous pervert. He assures them that he has no interest in what's under their clothes, which they automatically take as an insulting comparison to Lisa Vayu. He immediately counters that he doesn't even like big breasts, only for Lisa to put a hand on his shoulder right after he says it. While she's painfully punishing him for that, he tells her she has the best breasts in the world... just when his sister happens to walk in looking for him.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT has Nanoha attempting to explain away her crush on Fate after the latter rescued her.
    Arisa: She's been worrying about you aaaaaaaaall day, Fate. And she just couldn't take her eyes off you when she first saw you.
    Nanoha: NO- I, uh- I was just thinking about how cool you looked... and how pretty you are...
  • In Angel Densetsu, this happens to a nosebleeding Kuroda who meats Ryoko (his crush) at this time.
    Kuroda: N... No, it wasn't Kitano-san who did this to me ... and it wasn't from some unfamiliar girl kicking me, it just started flowing as I stood here, thinking of you ... Ah ... no, no they weren't like ... those kind of thoughts ... I just, um, really want to eat chocolate when I think about you ... B ... But wait, that doesn't mean I really want to eat you! I just ...
    Kuroda's Lackeys: (What the hell is he saying?)

    Comicbooks 
  • A stunningly awkward moment for Nurse Annie in issue #421 of Uncanny X-Men, doubling as a bit of a Freudian Slippery Slope.
  • Chad from 'Patty's Perps' in Knights of the Dinner Table is a master of this.
    Chad: Awwwwh, c'mon Patty! When I said girl gamers were lame I wasn't referring to you! You're just like one of the guys.
    Patty: Like one of the guys? Your character suddenly hears a rustling in the underbrush. Roll for initiative.
    Tank: Careful, Chad. You're digging that hole deeper and deeper.
  • The third Blue Beetle stumbles into this when he teams up with Batman in The Brave and the Bold (revived series issue #3).
    Beetle: My armor should be able to track the watchamatrix's energy sig, but the tracking's all kaflooey. Probability-alteration factor, maybe?...I'm sorry! I'm not making excuses. I swear! I know you hate excuses! I'm trying, I promise! I just-
    Batman: Jaime... Relax.
    Beetle: ...Ohmygodyou'renotreallyBatman... OhgodIsaidthatoutloud...
    Batman: Jaime...
    Beetle: What? Don't kill me.
  • Rocky (from the Swedish comic, not the boxer) once gets into this when meeting his current girlfriend's father (I think it was...). He wants to compliment him on his house, but makes a Freudian Slip and substitutes "dick" for "house", and then it gets worse. The girlfriend's father shuts him up with the wonderful comeback: "Kid, if you've put your foot in your mouth, at least have the sense to stand still!"
  • Used as a visual metaphor in the furry comic ISO, when Cody has to swiftly make up lies about his supposed girlfriend to keep his parents from finding out about Doug, as well as the fact he's on the outs with Todd and has a roommate he can't stand.
  • The tie-in comic for Star Trek: Elite Force involves Beissman responding enthusiastically to the assignment of watching Seven's back. She handles it in her usual manner.
    Seven: That hole you're digging is getting deeper.

    Film 
  • Mulan does this to herself whenever she gets into trouble as Ping.
  • Done in Severance with a great jab at the end:
    Richard: Hi Maggie. Not eating?
    Maggie: Why are you all so obsessed with what I eat? I am not too skinny.
    Richard: No, no, no, no. I don't mean... Just that you'll need your energy for the team games. I mean, you're perfect just the way you are. And when I say perfect, I obviously don't mean that in a sexual way. I mean perfect in a neutral way. As if I were another woman saying that you were perfect, you know? Just one woman to another. Not that I'm implying anything like that. Or that there's anything wrong with that... sort of thing. Or... anything.
    Steve: 'Keep digging, we can still see you.
  • Jim Carrey's character in Liar Liar, cursed so that he Cannot Tell a Lie, boards an elevator with a well-endowed woman. The first words out of his mouth are about her breasts. As he tries to cover himself, more and more lines about her rack spill out... Gilligan Cut to him leaving the elevator, having gotten well-slapped.
    Woman: Everyone in the building has been so nice to me.
    Jim: Well, that's because you've got big jugs! I mean, your boobs are huge. I mean, I want to squeeze them. I mean...
  • Done rather drolly in The Great New Wonderful. Pastry chef Emme, along with her assistants, is presenting a line of birthday cakes to a wealthy Park Avenue girl. The girl expresses interest in one cake, commenting on how beautiful it is. One of Emme's assistants, Justin, then chimes in with "And it's easy on the hips." Another assistant hastily bails him out by explaining that the cake is a low-density one that doesn't require a lot of processed sugar to hold it up. When he's done, Justin says "That just basically means it's less fattening."
  • Happens to Cady repeatedly in Mean Girls. She refers to the phenomenon as 'word vomit'.
  • More minor, yet still socially awkward occasions happen to Mr. Bingley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice.
    "It’s a pleasure. I mean, it’s not a pleasure that she’s ill. Of course not. It’s a pleasure that she’s here, being ill. Um..."
    "I'm not a good reader. I prefer being out of doors. Oh, I mean, I can read, of course. And I'm not suggesting you can't read out of doors..."
  • Dracula in Hotel Transylvania, after getting rid of the human Jonathan (whom he has disguised, for the monsters' benefit, as a third cousin of Frankenstein's right hand), is relaxing with his monster friends in a sauna. He mentions that he really wouldn't want his Cute Monster Girl daughter end up with Jonathan's "kind". Cue Frank getting upset. Dracula tries to explain himself and points to Jonathan's red, curly hair. Cue Griffin The Invisible Man getting annoyed, only for Dracula to lampshade that he couldn't have possibly known what Griffin's hair looks like. After a cut, we see other monsters getting annoyed.
  • Mumble in Happy Feet 2 does this while trying to comfort his son, Erik. Gloria even lampshades it:
    Gloria: You know Erik, when your daddy's in a deep hole, he's got to stop digging.
  • In Schtonk! (about the faked Hitler diaries), with a journalist meeting Freya von Hepp, Göring's niece.
    Nice to meet you, Frau Göring!
    Von Hepp.
    Oh, I'm sorry.
    You don't have to, I am not ashamed of my uncle.
    Neither am I, my uncle was active in the resistance!
    (She stays silent.)
    Maybe... the two of them sometimes have met then...
  • My Cousin Vinny: The plot is the result of Vinny's cousin Billy and his friend Stanley being charged with murder. How did they get a murder charge? They didn't even know what they were arrested for , and kept answering questions thinking they were being charged with stealing some groceries they forgot to pay for. In fact this is Truth in Television for many people convicted of a crime because of statements made to the police, because many of the things you say, no matter how innocuous, can lead to a conviction.

    Literature 
  • In the chick-lit/mystery novels Bad Kitty and Kitty Kitty, the main character Jasmine Callihan has this problem a lot. She blames it all on the monkeys that live in her head. For instance, when she is trying to leave a message on her boyfriend's cell phone, while she is convinced he is cheating on her, Hilarity Ensues:
    "Hi, Jack, it's me. Jas. Jasmine. I'm sorry I missed you on IM yesterday but I got arrested for murder. I mean, I didn't do it, but I accidentally told the police I did, so it was confusing. Now we're going for dinner at The House That Kills, but that is only a nickname because a lot of people have died there, but it's completely safe. Anyway, I hope you're having a very nice morning and not melting in anyone's mouth or hands - Sorry, I meant molting. On anyone. Ha ha. Because molting is bad. Unless you're a wee creature of the forest, but - um, never mind, I've got to go, bye."
  • A scene in Robert Asprin's Myth-ing Persons has Guido doing this to himself with his employer Skeeve; he only belatedly informs Skeeve that they're being followed, and then tries to defend himself by saying that the follower is so obvious that any idiot could tell they were there. Fellow employee Massha cheerfully invokes this trope.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Gaunt tricks Ayatani Zweil into going for his medical by making the latter condemn the person who hadn't gone for medicals until he realises that he's talking about himself.
  • Ravirn: Ravirn has a tendency towards this, which Melchior lampshades in WebMage:
    Melchior: Judging from past experience and what little I've heard, I'm thinking you're following the pattern where you start out in a lot of trouble, and then through a series of brilliantly chosen words, make it infinitely worse.
  • In the Belgariad/Malloreon by David Eddings, several characters fall for this, usually cut short by another character suggesting "Why don't you just stop talking now." or "What a fascinating observation, why don't we pursue that line of thought." or similar.
  • Chloe William's comment to her husband Buck when he tries to explain the reason he calls a car by a girl's name in the Left Behind book The Mark.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Was made into something of an art by Coupling, in which attempted conversation-starters, usually by the hapless Jeff, devolved into such subjects as amputation, and collecting human ears in a bucket. In fact, this page used to be called "Bucket Of Ears".
    Jeff: You have the eyes of ten women. ...I don't mean, like, in a jar. I wasn't accusing you.
    • A non-Jeff example is when Steve talks to Jane's psychiatrist Jill. She thinks that he's nervous because sometimes what she does makes people nervous in a social context. Believing her to be Jane's girlfriend, he tells her that "you girls" have got "the best of both worlds." When pushed to explain what he's talking about, he uses a metaphor Jeff brought up earlier in the episode:
      Steve: Well erm, you've got four breasts...
      Jill: I'm sorry?
      Steve: No, no hang on.
      Jill: This blouse isn't particularly flattering actually...
      Steve: No, no.
      Jill: If nothing else.
      Steve: I'm not saying you've got four at the moment, just when you're...
      Jill: What?
      Steve: Excited.
      Jill: You think I develop extra breasts when I'm excited?
      Steve: Not so much develop as, you know... acquire.
      Jill: What in the name of God are you talking about?
      Steve: Sorry, sorry I've been totally sidetracked by the irrelevance of your breasts. Not that you have irrelevant breasts! You've only got two, that's for sure. Unless you were some sort of cow. No! No, an attractive cow! Or a prize winning cow! But you're not a cow. You're a person. But I'm sure that you'd be a prize winning person if they had a sort of cattle market for women! A women market! Which, thinking about it would be a bad thing in many ways.
    • Steve gets a lot of these, usually digging a lot faster than Jeff. During his run-in with his celebrity crush Mariella Frostrup, she apologises for spilling her drink on his pants. He replies "Don't worry about it, I was about to go to the toilet anyway. Not that I was intending to wet my trousers, obviously. Although I am pleased to meet you." At this point he has a hilarious "What the hell I am I saying?" look on his face.
    • Oliver carries on the tradition well on several occasions, such as his conversation with Jane about the large number of toilet rolls he's buying.
  • Seen in the Friends episode "The One Where Ross Can't Flirt," in which Ross's attempts to flirt with a pizza delivery girl degenerate into a lecture on the smell of gas and an intended compliment which makes Ross sound like a pedophile.
    • There was another one where he ended up talking about sewage.
    • And Chandler brought up another occassion, when Ross talked about the Irish Potato Famine.
    • Ross' failures at flirting cannot be emphasised enough. Another attempt led to the conversation derailing into asking two women if they had to choice, which method of dying would they preferred: being burned or drowning.
    • Chandler also did this once, while attempting to suck up to Monica's parents.
    • In the first season, Chandler one says to Monica that if they turn 40 and neither of them are married then they should marry each other. When Monica asks why she wouldn't be married by then, everything he then says just makes her angrier.
    • In the final season, Chandler accidentally reveals to a step-kid that he's adopted. Then he traumatizes the kid even worse by revealing Santa Claus isn't real. And this was already after he attempted to make a joke to the kid's foster parents about them being infertile. In all seriousness, he and Ross were made for this trope.
    • Chandler comforting Phoebe after her heart attack in the hypothetical episode.
      Monica: Phoebe, a heart attack is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
      Chandler: I always thought a heart attack was nature's way of telling you to die. I mean you're not going to die. I mean you are going to die, but you're not going to die today. (Beat) I wish I was dead.
    • In a semi-Played for Drama case, there's Ross and Rachel's breakup. He's already in hot water for sleeping with a copy girl, but makes things even worse when he tries to salvage it by stating he was trying to keep Rachel from finding out about it the whole time.
  • In an episode of Scrubs, Elliot meets a guy named Sean, but her attempts to strike a conversation up with him end with them talking about poo. "At one point I tried changing the subject to art. But we went from art to artists, to alcohol, to coffee...and that just led right back to poo!"
    • When she first tried talking to Jake, her boyfriend for twenty minutes in season 4, the only thing she could think of was to compliment him on what a perfectly square head he has.
    • There was that one very early episode with Elliot and Carla feuding over Elliot tattling on Carla for not doing something. When Elliot apologizes and then doubles back to elaborate on her reasoning, the scene shifts to a visual gag of her standing in a grave literally "digging herself deeper"; as Carla and the other nurses look on in like the Mafia.
      • Subverted in the end, when Turk gives a lecture to Carla to the effect that what Elliot was saying was perfectly reasonable and it was Carla who was in the wrong.
  • On the season 15 premiere of Dancing with the Stars Tom told two different people "When you're in the hole stop digging."
  • Digging Yourself Deeper is pretty much the basis of every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David makes an innocuous statement which is taken badly, or misheard, and the ensuing consequences lead to hilarious further exchanges and climax.
  • Any sitcom involving Ricky Gervais.
  • One House episode had Cameron trying to explain to a TV crew that when she said it was exciting being around him, she didn't mean it that way. It failed in a spectacular way. Because, you know, she kinda actually felt that way in the first place.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Xander was very prone to this. The kicker is that he's not even talking to Buffy, just practicing with Willow. Which rather neatly demonstrates the wisdom of doing so, yes?
    Y'know, Buffy, Spring Fling just isn't any dance. It's a time for students to choose, um... a mate and then we can... observe their... mating rituals and tag them before they migrate just kill me.
    • Buffy and Xander also get another good one in "Doppelgangland":
      Buffy: See? I told you, Old Reliable.
      Willow: Oh, thanks.
      Buffy: What?
      Willow: Old Reliable? Yeah, great, there's a sexy nickname.
      Buffy: Well, I-I didn't mean it as...
      Willow: No, it's fine. I'm Old Reliable.
      Xander: She just means, you know, the geyser. You're like a geyser of fun that goes off at intervals.
      Willow: That's Old Faithful.
      Xander: Isn't that the dog that that guy had to shoot...?
      Willow: That's Old Yeller!
      Buffy: Xander, I beg you not to help me.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor does this quite a lot, especially in his fourth and tenth versions. However, this is quite often a highly calculated move on his part, as a way of distracting the person he is talking to.
    • Though not always:
      The Doctor: What are you doing that for?
      Mickey(holding down a button): Because you told me to.
      The Doctor: When was that?
      Mickey: About half an hour ago.
      The Doctor: Um... you can let go now.
      Mickey: Well, how long has it been since I could've stopped?
      The Doctor: Ten minutes? Twenty? Twenty-nine?
    • or:
      The Doctor: Lovely to meet you, Mrs Jones. Heard a lot about you.
      Francine: Have you? What have you heard then?
      The Doctor: Oh, you know; that you're Martha's mother, and...um...no, actually, that's - that's about it. We haven't had much time to chat, you know, we've been...busy.
      Francine: "Busy"? Doing what, exactly?
      The Doctor: Oh, you know...stuff...
    • Also well done in the episode The Unicorn & The Wasp:
      The Doctor: Agatha Christie! I was just talking about you the other day. I said, "I bet she's brilliant." I'm the Doctor; this is Donna. Oh, I love your stuff. What a mind! You fool me every time. Well, almost every time. Well, once or twice. Well, once, but it was a good once!
    • And when the Doctor was inviting Donna to travel with him, but wanted to clear up the fact that he wasn't looking for a relationship:
      The Doctor: But the last time, with Martha, like I said, it got complicated. and it was all my fault. I mean... (sighs) I just want a mate.
      Donna: You just want TO MATE??!
      The Doctor: I just want A mate!
      Donna: You're not mating with me, sunshine!
      The Doctor: A mate, I want, a! Mate!
    • Used yet again when the Doctor goes to talk to Amy's fiancé...and opts to show up by jumping out of a stripper's cake (at his bachelor party):
    Doctor: Rory! What a relief! I'd thought I'd burst out of the wrong cake. Again. That reminds me, there's a girl sitting outside in a bikini, could someone let her inside and give her a jumper? Lucy? Lovely girl. Diabetic. Now then, Rory. We need to talk about your fiancé. She tried to kiss me. Tell you what though, you're a lucky man, she's a great kisser.
    (pause as everyone stares at him in amazement)
  • Thank God You're Here tries to actively induce this in contestants. The master of it is Frank Woodley, who can go somewhere horribly, horribly wrong with whatever they throw at him.
  • Jayne Cobb from Firefly manages to turn an observation that dead people make him restless into defensively insisting that he isn't a necrophiliac. He was just giving examples of things he does when he's restless. Nothing corpse-specific in there.
    • Jayne's good at this, but Simon is the undisputed master. Especially if Kaylee's in the room. Heck, the fact that Simon does this is pretty much the reason he and Kaylee don't get together until the movie. They'll be flirting and getting close and just as it looks like they'll kiss, he says something that she thinks is offensive and she storms off.
    River: You are such a boob.
  • Done in Frasier by Niles when talking to Daphne about her possible dismissal.
    Niles:Yes, and even if by some small chance that were to happen, Daphne, I could always use you.
    ...I, I would know of a position you could take.
    ...Services that you could perform.
    ...I would know of an opening.
    ...This is on me.
    • Speaking of Frasier, this is the formula for a lot of episodes; a conflict arises, and each attempt at a resolution digs the characters deeper. Some (if most) episodes even end without any resolution at all and show the characters wallowing in self pity in their inability to come to a resolution.
  • Stargate Atlantis has McKay pulling one off in the episode Trio. When Samantha Carter finally stops him, Keller has a nice little comment:
    "Aw, I bet if you hadn't stopped him he would have gone on like that forever!"
    • This exchange from 5.15 'Remnants', as Richard Woolsey sees that a woman he's been flirting with found his balcony hang-out spot:
    Woman: ...What?
    Woolsey: I mean you’ve entered my little personal area. (beat) ...This is where I come... to be alone with my thoughts.
  • Robert did this at least once on Everybody Loves Raymond. Amy invites Stefania over to a singles party because she thought Peter might like her, but Robert is not happy with her arrival.
    But she's my Stefania!
    ...I mean, she's my ex-Stefania.
    ...I mean, you're my Stefania now... baby.
    • Probably the most blatant example is the entire premise of "Faux Pas", where Ray makes a joke about his son's new best friend's dad, tells it to the man himself, and keeps trying to apologize, only making it worse. His family coming in doesn't help, either.
  • In an episode of The IT Crowd, Moss dates a woman that looks exactly like Roy's mother. She's also a psychiatrist, which leads to an... interesting conversation:
    Roy: I'm sorry, it's just that you look exactly like my mother. Not - not that my mother's ugly or anything, she's a very sexy woman. Not that I want to have sex with her, because I know how you psychiatrists think, and my mother would never stand for anything like that. I can see her now... "what you are you doing, Roy? What are you doing?!"
  • In Cheers, Diane begins by yelling at a prospective employer, "I will not sleep with you!". It actually manages to go downhill from there.
    • When Norm finds his dream job as a beer taste tester and is only an interview with the president away from getting it, Rebecca advises him not to do something stupid like mention his pants. Of course, the first thing he does is say "Nice pants!", not so bad in itself, but he retracts himself immediately, then retracts the retraction and digs his way down to a song and dance number about him not being such a grumpy puss. Camera cut back to the bar and Norm mourning his lost opportunity.
  • Half the fun in The Thick of It and by extension, In the Loop.
  • On Get Smart, a married Max is on a mission dating a KAOS femme fatale; a very pregnant and emotional 99 isn't taking it well. She sniffs "You've stopped loving me just because I've grown fat and unattractive!" He soothingly replies "That's ridiculous - just because you've grown fat and unattractive doesn't mean I don't love you any more!"
  • Brilliantly done in an episode The Office (US) wherein a) Michael manages to accidentally imply to a superior that the office runs better when he is absent, b) tries to cover that up by saying that it runs much better when he is around after earlier stating that he is frequently away during work hours and c) trying to cover that up by then implying that he his presence or absence has absolutely no meaningful effect on business at all.
  • NCIS
    • A minor one from the episode "UnSEALed":
    Tony: Do you sleep with a gun under your pillow every night?
    Kate: That depends.
    Tony: On what?
    Kate: On who I'm sleeping with... (she turns around and runs into Gibbs) Oh uhh, I didn't mean that the way it sounded. Tony just asked me what I would do if a man came into my bedroom and I said it depends. I mean it doesn't depend on the man... Tony could you help me out here please?
    Tony: She sleeps with a gun boss.
    Gibbs: That true?
    Kate: Sorta... sometimes... yes.
    Gibbs: Good girl!
    • After the Director has suggested that Gibbs has "really pissed somebody off":
    Tony: That's not a short list! (Death Glare from Gibbs) ...of people that - that you've angered just because you have rock-solid principles, and so it's easy for people to misunderstand that, and misconstrue, because, you know, people don't —
    Director: Why don't you quit while you're behind, DiNozzo?
    Tony: I'm trying!
  • Josh of Drake & Josh, on a date with a model:
    I got you a diet soda, 'cause I figured you're probably watching your figure. ...Not that you need to watch your figure, you have a great body! ...Not that I was looking at your body!
  • Gwen did this often, sometimes once an episode during season one of Merlin.
  • In the HawthoRNe episode "Final Curtain", the titular nurse keeps doing this with a doctor (or nurse, it wasn't really specified). She tries to get him to talk Arabic to a patient's husband, but (1) the husband is speaking Dari (as we find out from the Army vet nurse Sullivan) and is thus Afghani, & (2) the guy in the turban is Sikh, not any kind of Muslim (and from Chicago).
    Guy: You're a racist! (stalks off)
    Hawthorne: (ashamed) Yeah...
    • She manages to keep digging later, by thanking him with a namaste gesture, which is not generally used that way when you're not Hindu.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series McCoy is trying to convince a woman (Eleen) to want the child she is going to give birth to:
    McCoy: Say to yourself: "the child is mine. The child is mine. It is mine".
    Eleen: Yes. It's yours.
    McCoy: No... no, you've got it all wrong.
    Eleen: Yes... McCoy... it's yours.
    McCoy: No. Say to yourself "the child is mine. It is mine. It is—" (Beat) Uh-oh.
    • He eventually settles on the 'the child is ours.' It is clear that his shipmates aren't going to let him forget this one any time soon.
  • Fawlty Towers - a psychiatrist guest is talking about vacations, and asks Basil, who hadn't heard most of what he'd said, "How often do you and your wife manage it?" Basil thinks he's talking about sex ("that's what it's all about to them!") and gets all indignant and defensive. When he hears from his wife what the psychiatrist was in fact asking about, he rushes out with a plastered-on grin and starts babbling about how he thought he was talking about walks, not sex! NO, vacations! and coming off much worse than he started.
    • Basil digs himself even deeper that night, while bidding the psychiatrist and his wife good night
    Basil: Well then, I'll leave you to it. I mean, to go to bed! To sleep! To sleep, perchance to dream.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Greatest Hits, "Songs of the Motorcycle."
    Ryan: Hi. How are you? We don't know what you're watching, so we're not gonna tell you when we're gonna return you to it.
    Colin: Oh, w— We're watching animal porn! (beat) (double facepalm)
    Ryan: (snickering)
    Colin: Mary Had A Little Lamb will be right back in just a second. But you...
    (Drew frantically buzzes)
    Ryan: (laughing out loud)
  • Glee: Santana tells Karofsky that she has figured out that he is gay.
    Karofsky: Who told you that?
    Santana: No one had to tell me. First of all, I saw you checking out Sam's ass the other day. You really need to be more careful with your leering.
    Karofsky: I didn't. I was just... seeing what jeans he was wearing.
    Santana: ...Like that is any less gay.
  • True Blood gave us this priceless exchange between best friends Jason and Hoyt:
    Jason: Hoyt, I had sex with Jessica.
    Hoyt: (obviously hurt) How?
    Jason: Well, first we did it missionary, then doggystyle, then...
    Hoyt: (clocks him square in the face) I MEANT HOW COULD YOU?!
  • On The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy tells Danny Kaye how thrilled she is to meet him. Danny says that they've actually met before, which she might not remember because it was a long, long time ago. Then he realizes women don't like to be reminded of their ages, and says it was back when she was thin. The punchline comes during their subsequent musical number: "I'm sorry I said I knew you when you were thin. I never knew you when you were thin."
  • Frequently, this is what people do on Survivor when the jury really doesn't like them and is just picking between the lesser of two-three evils.
  • Josh does this a lot on The West Wing, perhaps most famously in the infamous "Secret Plan to fight inflation" from Celestial Navigation.
  • Mark Warey from The Wedge, whose public apologies would invariably end up making the situation worse.
  • In The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , Todd could hardly have a conversation without doing this, usually in the form of creating layers of lies to cover up other lies. In one episode he got into the old "not that you're not attractive" trap and Alice admitted she was just messing with him, and then he fell for it again just moments later.
  • This is pretty much Allan's character in Two and a Half Men. Contrast to his brother who can talk his way out of anything.

    Music 
  • The Jason Robert Brown song, "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You" starts out like this, although the singer recovers admirably by the end of the song:
    My first crush on an Irish girl...
    I was ten years old, and her name was Elaine.
    Little red-haired girl;
    Well, she looked like you,
    But if you were ten,
    Which you're clearly not.
    Not that you look old, but you get my—
    I'll just stop now.

    New Media 
  • The first quote here from "Overheard In New York".
  • A bit of transcript from bash.org nicely illustrates this
    <massacre> Rosti, can I ask you something as a close friend?
    <Rosti_LFC> you could ask me something as a complete stranger, but go ahead
    <massacre> Do you reckon Emma would go out with me if I asked her?
    <Rosti_LFC> errr....
    <Rosti_LFC> ask her yourself?
    <massacre> no fucking way until I get a second opinion
    <Daz> dude she's in the channel
    <massacre> no she isn't
    <Rosti_LFC> yeah she is mate, look up
    <Rosti_LFC> she got op'd yesterday
    <massacre> fuck
    <massacre> PLAN B
    <massacre> spam the channel
    <massacre> with text
    <massacre> so it goes
    <Audia> hi
    <massacre> off her scrollback
    <Rosti_LFC> ahaha
    <massacre> FUCK
    * massacre has quit (PLAN C!!!)
    <Audia> I'm going to go install Windows 7 right now
    <Audia> so I'll be offline for a bit
    <Audia> if he gets the balls to come back in here in the meantime tell him the answer is yes
    <Rosti_LFC> rofl
    * Audia has quit (QUIT)
    <Rosti_LFC> that was some hardcore nerd courtship ritual right there
    <Daz> Oh man, I wish I could fuck up asking a girl out that badly and still succeed

    Radio 

    Theater 

    Videogames 
  • Shortly after you meet Liara in Mass Effect 1, she tells you she finds you fascinating because of your encounter with the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. You can tease her about how clinical her interest sounds ("Sounds like you want to dissect me in a lab"), prompting her flustered response, "I only meant that you would be an interesting specimen for an in-depth study. No, that's even worse!"
    • Tali gets similarly flustered in the sequel.
    • Garrus has his moments, especially in the citadel DLC with Dude Shep or non-romanced Fem Shep where he tries to hit on a female turian and ended up calling her an alcoholic or implying that he's a serial killer depending on which path Shepard led him on.
  • Knights of the Old Republic's Bastila has one or two Freudian slips that result in similar conversations with a male player. One of those conversation paths contains one of the funniest lines of the whole game: when Bastila is trying to clarify what she meant by 'feelings for' the player, a possible response is "You're cute when you're embarassed."
  • Defied in Red Dead Redemption. When talking to his wife about Bonnie, who saved his life, John Marston quickly notices her jealously, and wisely stops digging and starts giving her compliments.
    John: When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
  • Bioware must love these, because Merrill does this all the time in Dragon Age II, and she knows it.
    Merrill: "... and I'm rambling again, aren't I?"
  • In Portal 2 Wheatley tells Chell that he hates having to look after all the 'smelly humans' and then blusters about it.
  • James Tobin has this happen to him in the game In the 1st Degree. He changes his story of what happened between him and Zack more than once. He admits to shooting himself in the leg because he was afraid no one would believe him when he said that Zack was shot in self-defense. If you play the game right, you get to watch as the prosecutor Granger pins Tobin on the leg-shooting thing. Granger asks if Tobin's first thought was to protect himself as his own business partner was lying there at his feet bleeding to death. Tobin responds by saying no, and that he tried to give Zack CPR. Granger says "You tried giving CPR to a man who was bleeding from the throat?" Tobin then gives a "Yes! I mean...No!" Yep, Tobin is so experiencing this trope.
  • In Kurugaya's route in Little Busters!, Kyousuke declares that the name of their mission is 'Love Love Hunters', and when Riki complains, changes it to 'Loli Loli Hunters'. Naturally, the others are a little...unnerved by this, but all of Kyousuke's hasty attempts to insist that he isn't actually a Lolicon only end up making him look worse. Finally he gives up and declares that he'll be going on with Loli Loli Hunters on his own...right as Rin walks into the room. She proceeds to spend the entire rest of the scene glaring at him from across the room. Kyousuke is silent.

    Webcomics 
  • Alex does this once in Angel Moxie.
    Alex: You tell us everything, and I mean everything. Well, not everything, actually. Just the stuff about you and your friends and things. None of that birds and bees stuff. We already know all that, and besides, it's kind of icky.
  • Mort from Gunnerkrigg Court falls into this when speculating on why Antimony can see The Guides:
    Mort: Y'know, It's probably because you're so attractive. I noticed that about you when we first met.
    Antimony: Oh?
    Mort: Oh! I uh... I don't mean you're attractive... I mean, like a magnet... or a medium... Haha... Yeah. Ah! B... But I don't mean you aren't... I mean you look really... I... Uh... Oh geez... *turns into a tombstone with a picture of a foot going into a mouth*
  • An essential part of Hannelore the whole cast from Questionable Content
  • Piro of MegaTokyo tends to do this a lot. Some times are worse than others.
  • Jeremy from Dead Winter, here.
  • This Darths & Droids, in which Jim gets mixed up between talking in character and out of character, as well as whether Padme is telling Anakin she loves him, or whether he's telling Annie that he loves her.
  • Inherent to Schlock Mercenary. Usually with Tagon, who has done this not only with a compliment to Breya, but his defence in a trial as well.
    Tagon: I'm not stopping until this hole goes straight through.
  • Mitzi, realizing that Rocky's been saying that she might've offed her husband tried to reassure Wick that's not the case, but ends up making a lot of joking remarks about offing Rocky.
    Mitzi: Uh... you stopped rowing.
  • Used as a visual metaphor in Flying Suit Reiko, when one character awkwardly confesses his FA/Feederism fetish to his girlfriend. His thought balloons have him digging a hole deeper and deeper. When she finally tells him it's okay and she likes it too, his visual metaphor is raised out of the pit by an oil geyser.
  • El Goonish Shive has a character "good" in this—Abraham, who managed to rile Raven more with every phrase as he tried to explain himself. He's absent for now, but Elliot somehow found his Idiot Ball.
    • The Abraham example is interesting because there are no tongue slips - everything he says is completely intentional - he just doesn't realize that he's hitting another one of Raven's Berserk Buttons with every passing sentence.
  • Digger has a hilariously cringe-inducing example, split across three pages:
    Jhalm: Honored Digger... Almost, I could believe I had misjudged you. Except that this very morning, I received a report from one of the Veiled, that you were seen to be consorting with a hyena creature, not half a mile from this spot. The very same creature that attacked me a few days ago.
    Digger: (stunned expression)
    Statue of Ganesh: Is this true, Burrower?
    Digger: Well— Yes, but— It wasn't like that!
    Jhalm: Do you deny that it was the same creature, then?
    Digger: No—
    Jhalm: Do you deny that it attacked me?
    Digger: No, but—
    Jhalm: Do you deny that you were speaking on friendly terms with it?
    Digger: No! But that's a recent development! We weren't friends before she attacked you!
    Jhalm: An interesting criterion for friendship, Honored Digger.
  • In Everyday Heroes, the local Goth girls refer to Summer's friend as "the Blessed Virgin Carrie". Carrie ignores it, but Summer and Uma try to explain why she should be insulted ... and end up invoking this trope.
  • In Homestuck, Doc Scratch, "an immortal entity with a large cue ball for a head, and no biological means of reproduction", explains to Rose that he doesn't like her that way after being Mistaken for Pedophile:
    Scratch: There should be no reason for you to feel uncomfortable with this interaction. Try to think of me as one of your kindly human uncle figures.
    Scratch: In fact, if I were in your presence now, I would offer you candy to prove it.
  • Some people, like Larisa in Sandra and Woo, just shouldn’t try to defend themselves...
  • Ménage ŕ 3: Zii demonstrates the trope here.
  • Misfile: Rumisiel manages to pull this big time when talking to Dr. Upton about his daughter. The comic provides a nice visual metaphor for what he's doing, pictured on top of this page.
  • Weregeek, Sarah's character in their Vampire: The Masquerade LARP sometimes gets like this — as her friend said, "Blackmailing vampires: like shooting fish in a barrel, except you give the guns to the fish and then just wait".
  • In Knights Of Buena Vista, Mary mentioned that she liked to wear furs over swimsuits in summer, and her boyfriend Bill insisted that was a private thing with them. His sister Adriana realized that Mary then let her borrow those very furs after Mary wore them that way. When Adriana thought she was going to be sick, Mary insisted that nothing happened; Bill just took pictures.
    Adriana: "That's NOT helping, Mary!"

    Western Animation 
  • "The Cave of Two Lovers" episode in Avatar: The Last Airbender had a stunningly awkward pit trap for Aang when he tried to diffuse his embarrassment over a possible kiss with Katara.
    Aang: Us...kissing... (looks dreamy)
    Katara: Heh, us, kissing! What was I thinking? Can you imagine that?
    Aang (laughs it off): Heh, yeah, I definitely wouldn't want to kiss you. *suddenly realizes what he just said*
    Katara (offended): Oh. Well, I didn't realize it was such a horrible option. Sorry for suggesting it.
    Aang: No, no! I mean, if it was a choice between kissing you and dying...
    Katara: UGH!
    Aang: What? I'm saying I would rather kiss you than die! That's a compliment!
    Katara: *storms off* Well, I'm not sure which I would rather do!
    • Followed by Zuko in the third season revealing that he sent Combustion Man after them when, at the time, all they knew about him was that he was a psycho who wouldn't stop chasing them. This revelation didn't exactly earn Zuko any points with the good guys.
    • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra's "A Leaf in the Wind", Bolin correctly presumes that Korra is a waterbender due to ethnicity and clothing, but Korra trolls him by saying she's an earthbender (which she is too...). Bolin hastily tries to apologize for Mistaken Nationality.
      Bolin: I'm sorry, no, no! I didn't mean to assume! It's that, I was just figuring... with your Water Tribe getup... that you are... a Water Tribe... gal.
  • Oh poor Naveen in The Princess and the Frog:
    "You have had quite an influence on me, which is amazing because I have dated thousands of women and- *Tiana looks annoyed* uh, no, like, two, three- er, just other woman! And anyway, listen, you could not be more different, you know, you are- you are practically, aheh, one of the guys! *Tiana looks affronted* Nonono, you are not a guy! Let me begin again. Uh-" *stumbles and falls to the floor along with the food* "I... am not myself tonight."
    • And to think, the poor shmuck's trying to propose.
    • In the end, she did admit that she thought the fumbling around was cute.
  • Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman had this one from one:
    Bruce: "Working late again?"
    Roxanne: "Yeah. Fortunately my boyfriend is very understanding. What about yours?" *pause* "Girlfriend, I mean! Of course, girlfriend! I mean, considering your reputation and- NOT that it's bad or anything or even any of my business, because it's not, I was just curious!" *stops suddenly* "How red is my face?"
    Bruce: (cheerfully) "Crimson."
  • Averted by Kevin in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien after he tells Gwen that you need to treat a car like you treat a woman. Gwen asks him to go on, but he wisely drops the idea.
  • In the Bump In The Night episode "A Sneeze In Time," Bumpy points out Squishy's mistake by saying, "What a rush! Why'd you turn the wrong valve? Boy, only a doofus would do that!" In an attempt to undo his indirect insult, he travels back in time. He only makes it worse. He tries this repeatedly until Future Squishy shows up and suggests that Bumpy simply apologize.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Welcome Back, Carter", when Peter catches his father-in-law with a woman:
    Peter: Oh, my God, Mr. Pewterschimdt, you're having an affair? Ew! Eww!
    Carter: No, no, this is my sister!
    Peter: Eww!
    Carter: No, no, no, I'm impotent!
    Peter: Eww!
    Carter: I mean, she looked at me, while I did it to myself!
    Peter: Ewww!
    Carter: I mean, she's a man!
    Peter: Ewww!
  • Used in The Looney Tunes Show when Crusher is staring down Daffy:
    Daffy: You'll have to pardon my friend. The heat's getting to him. He's not used to this. He's not a hardened criminal like you. I mean, I shouldn't assume that you're a hardened criminal. But in my defense, you do have a Neanderthal-shaped head, which I normally equate with stupidity—uh, not that you're stupid. I just mean that you look stupid. I don't mean that as an insult. I mean, some people think stupid to mean cool, like "That's a stupid car," "You've got a stupid apartment"...I wish I could stop talking. I'm just very nervous right now. I tend to ramble when I'm nervous. You know what the word "ramble" means? You're probably too stupid to know! And here, I mean stupid-stupid, not stupid-cool!
    • Another time, after Daffy goes off at Tina for not telling him about "her" baby;
    "It's not my kid, it's my sister's! I'm babysitting!"
    "... She's beautiful."
    "He's a boy!"
  • From Robots:
    Ratchet: No, wait, please listen to me. You can't do this to me. This job is my life. It means everything to me. You don't know what I've done to get here. The lies I've told! The lives I've ruined! Wait... this isn't helping me!
  • In The Simpsons episode "Girls Just Want To Have Sums", while Principal Skinner is publicly speaking to a former student of his, he states that she was good at math for "a girl". This gets him in hot water and he tries to explain himself, but his comments only make him sound like more of a misogynist until finally pleading "Just tell me what to say!".
    • In "Bart-Mangled Banner", the Simpsons are accused of being unpatriotic when Bart accidentally moons the American flag (and a little word-twisting) and are put on a talk show to clear themselved, the host asks "Which part of America do you hate the most?". Marge protests, sarcastically replying that if the government is built on questions like that, then she does hate America. Naturally, this gets the family in a bigger mess.
    • In "Double, Double, Boy in Trouble", a rich boy named Simon Woosterfield traded places with Bart. When Lisa figured out Simon wasn't Bart, she slapped him and pointed out the real Bart would have hit her back. Simon then asked if he would defenestrate her, prompting Lisa to mention the trope.

    Real Life 
  • Digging Yourself Deeper is often a consequence of following the Sunk Cost Fallacy.
  • It is possible to do this to oneself in an argument, especially if you're using straw men in the first place.
  • There's an old story about a German mayor who didn't want people let their dogs run unleashed in the local forest, so he had put up a sign stating: "Anyone who'll let his dog run unleashed in the forest will be shot!" When someone remarked that this could be read as if the owners of the dogs were shot, the mayor had it "improved" to: "Anyone who'll let his dog run unleashed in the forest will be shot, the dog!" ("Dog" being a somewhat outdated insult.)
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X
  • Sometimes a lack of action can cause the digging deeper feelings, resulting in a Morton's Fork - either speak up and actively dig yourself deeper, or stay silent and feel like you're digging yourself deeper by not even attempting to defuse the awkward situation.
  • Martin Freeman after making a rude joke in an interview.


Shutting Up Now...
Dialogue TreeDialogueDisappointed By The Motive
Digging to ChinaComedy TropesDinner and a Show
Cosmetic CatastropheImageSource/WebcomicsDoes Not Like Shoes
Culture ClashPoor Communication KillsDivided We Fall

alternative title(s): Digging Herself Deeper; Digging Himself Deeper
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