Dismissing a Compliment

"Oh, I bet you say that to all the devil girls".
Fuschia, Sinfest

Jill hears a compliment — of any type and quite possibly sincere — from Jack and says that it was not sincere, such as doubting he meant it for her particularly, or calling him a charmer, or a rogue, a silver-tongued devil or other less than honest characterization, or it flattery, or telling him to stop it, or describing it as an exaggeration.

The compliment can be sincere; Jill can even know it. It's a ploy to avoid having to take the compliment at face value, and respond accordingly — assuming it's not fishing for more compliments.

Ranges from a simple form of banter or flirtation — common with UST — or even trying to avoid appearing stuck up, through indicating that the character is not to be won over by flattery or manipulation, or a way to joke about Your Approval Fills Me with Shame, to a belligerent repulse of sociability, to a crushing lack of confidence.

A socially awkward Jack who gave the compliment will often make only semi-coherent protests of sincerity, which never ends well in that scene. Many characters will be frustrated. Some will regard it as a challenge. When it's banter, the other character may banter back.

A wise reaction to The Casanova.

Think Nothing of It overlaps when it combines with gratitude. Compliment Backfire is the Sub-Trope where the compliment person is actively angry over the compliment.


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  • In the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Professor Chronos didn't seem to like it all when the students were cheering for him during his duel with Napolean. (As he put it in the dub, under his breath, "I think I liked it better when they hated me...")


  • In Tangled,
    • when Rapunzel says she likes Eugene Fitzhubert better than Flynn Rider, Flynn says that if so, she's the first person to do so.
    • when Shorty praises Mother Gothel as a Statuesque Stunner, she laughs and says, "Go on, you big lunk."
  • In Treasure Planet, Captain Amelia tells Silver he can save the flattery for his spaceport floozies.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert features a strip with Dogbert demonstrating on Ratbert how he can use false self-deprecation to make people compliment him, and use false compliments to make people insult themselves.

  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin indirectly dismisses the compliment his sisters pay him in assuming that noblewomen will pay a big sum as "brother's price" (that world's equivalent of a bride price), because Jerin is so beautiful. Jerin himself thinks it's just because they're his sisters that they have such a high opinion of him, and is afraid of disappointing their hopes. He needn't have worried, he fetches the sum they thought he would, and they could easily have demanded more.
  • Protector of the Small's Keladry of Mindelan will insist that she's only doing what she's been trained to do, or that she's had plenty of help, whenever a friend compliments her for doing something badass.
  • Dragon Bones: Ward often does this when Oreg compliments him. One time, it is because Ward thinks of himself as playing a role, and Oreg's admiration for his personality is actually targeted at the mask. Another time, he dismisses Oreg's compliments in his inner monologue because Oreg is his slave. (Ward didn't ask for that, he inherited him. Oreg can't be freed, so Ward is stuck with him. He treats him like an additional sibling most of the time, but he remembers that Oreg is a slave whenever he does slave-like things, like saying positive things about his master)

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Guardian Angels" in House
    I bet you say that to all the guys.
  • "Miss Red" in The Mentalist
    Ah, I bet you say that to all your arresting officers.
  • "Hell-Bound" in Angel
    Bet you say that to all the spirits.
  • "Angels on the Street" in Charlie's Angels
    I bet you say that to all the girls.
  • In Horatio Hornblower, Archie Kennedy keeps dismissing compliments from his friend Horatio Hornblower. Archie is a sidekick to Horatio's Hero and often feels bitter, being overshadowed by his friend's amazing luck and heroic qualities.
    • When they accidentally meet in Spanish prison in "The Duchess and the Devil", Archie is completely broken. Horatio insists that he needs him to survive, but Archie doesn't believe him.
    • In "The Frogs and the Lobsters", Archie suffers a panic attack when he's in charge of holding a strategically important bridge. Horatio tries to deal him cope and insists that he's a capable officer. Archie thinks he has no place being an Acting Lieutenant and panic.
  • Friends:
    • While comforting Monica over her single status, Chandler tells her: "Who wouldn't want you?" but she passes it off with a joke. Later subverted when he tells her she was the most beautiful woman in the room...and she asks if he's serious.(Relationship Upgrade ensues).
    • Chandler himself is known for his Self-Deprecation and frequently shrugs off most compliments due to his insecurity.

  • Meatloaf's "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" begins with a romantic conversation that essentially says, "I give my heart and soul to you." At the end, when he asks her if she's his (albeit more poetically) and she answers, "Yes", he says, "I bet you say that to all the boys." Then the song starts.
  • Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are"
    Oh, her eyes, her eyes, make the stars look like they're not shining
    Her hair, her hair, falls perfectly without her trying
    She's so beautiful, and I tell her every day
    Yeah, I know, I know, when I compliment her she won't believe me
    And it's so, it's so, sad to think that she don't see what I see

    Video Games 
  • Sabres of Infinity This is Cazarosta's typical response to praise, insisting that he is only doing his duty as a soldier.
  • In Mass Effect, Shepard can joke about this with Tali at the conclusion of her quest line:
    Shepard: I bet you say that to every guy who gets you a homeworld.
    Tali: Only the cute ones.

    Web Comics 
  • In Sinfest, Fuschia envisions saying this to Crimney.
  • In Go Get a Roomie!, Lillian evades a compliment from Roomie here (which the latter lampshades in the next strip):
    Roomie: Okay, let's get this straight. When I say something to you, or anyone else for that matter, I say it because I mean it. You. Are. Beautiful. There, get used to it.
    Lillian: You lost me at "straight".note 
  • In Girl Genius, during the Cinderella story, Gil admires Agatha's entrance. She calls him a flatterer — rather flirtatiously.
    • Captain Dupree combines this trope with I'll Take That as a Compliment.
      Baron Wulfenbach: If I decide she must die, I know you won't hesitate to kill her.
      Captain Dupree: Why Klaus, you sweet-talking flatterer.
  • Rose Lalonde of Homestuck repeatedly denies any compliments to her character from those around her, especially from the most sincere one of them all, John Egbert. She even falsely interprets John's completely frank reasoning for why he gave her knitting needles as a passive-aggressive way of pointing out her dark personality, even when he says it in his letter.

    Western Animation 
  • Hey Arnold!, "Married".
    Arnold: You are the most beautiful girl in the world. Your eyes are like shining diamonds.
    Helga: Aww, go on.
    Arnold: All right, I'll stop.
    Helga: No, I mean go on, go on.
    Arnold: Your eyes are like two diamonds, shining brightly amidst a sky of pale blue heaven...
    Helga: Ohhh! Go on, my love. Go on, go on...
  • An interesting variant in The Simpsons episode Brush With Greatness when Marge tells her art teacher Mr. Lombardo he's very supportive. He immediately says, "Marge, please, I don't take praise VERY WELL!" The irony is that he praises everything he sees.

    Real Life 
  • Body Dismorphic Disorder, a disorder that distorts one's self-image of their body, often results in this. Basically, because the person so deeply believes they are ugly or unattractive, they also believe no one could ever see them as being the opposite and anyone who says so is simply saying it to be nice and spare their feelings instead of actually meaning it.
  • Ditto for people with depression.