It's just a simple question. Give a simple answer! Not always that easy...
Sometimes situations aren't simple. That's where the Double Edged Answer
comes into play. Alice asks Bob what she expects is a simple question with a binary yes or no answer. The problem is that the answer to her question can be yes and no at the same time without either answer being factually inaccurate. Rather than just give her the simple and incomplete answer, Bob prefaces a longer explanation with some variation on "yes and no" to let her know his response has to deal with the nuances of the situation at hand.
There are multiple situations in which this trope can be played.
- There was a point in time where the answer was yes, but the situation is rapidly coming to the point of being no.
- Technically yes, but no.
- The situation is not nearly simple enough to be explained in yes or no format.
Not to be confused with No, Except Yes
, or No Means Yes
. Compare and contrast Mathematician's Answer
- Flash Gordon. Emperor Ming offers to give Earth to Flash to rule.
Flash: You'd call off the attack? [snip] Everyone would be saved?
Ming: Yes, and no. After the earthquakes and tidal waves, they won't be the same human beings. They'll be more tractable. Easier for you to rule, in the name of Ming.
- From Iron Man 1:
- From both the book and film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone about the Mirror of Erised.
Harry: It shows us what we want... whatever we want.
Dumbledore: Yes... And no. It shows us nothing more or less, than the deepest and most desperate desire of our hearts.
- In The Road to El Dorado, Tulio and Miguel manage to sneak off Cortez's ship with enough food to get back to Spain, with the unexpected event of Altivo jumping off the ship in chase of an apple. After saving themselves, the horse, and the boat, Altivo eats all of their food within seconds.
Tulio: Did any of the provisions make it?
Miguel: (Looks and sees Altivo eating) Well, yes and no...
- In the Lucy Valentine novel Absolutely, Positively, we have this exchange, stemming from Lucy's mother and grandmother encouraging her to move in with her boyfriend; and Lucy's fear that the family curse will break them up if they do move in together:
"What?" he asked.
"You sure it's nothing, Lucy?"
My insides melted like chocolate on a hot day. It was the way he said my name. Filled with love and tenderness, heat and passion. He looked into my eyes. I was lost in his pearly gray gaze.
I realized just how much I wanted him to move in. "No. Yes. No." Panic warred with euphoria.
He smiled. "That's clear."
- The Lord of the Rings:
Gildor was silent for a moment. "I do not like this news," he said at last. "That Gandalf should be late does not bode well. But it is said: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait."
"And it is also said," answered Frodo: "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes."
"Is it indeed?" laughed Gildor. "Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill..."
- Was one of the catch phrases in Yes, Minister.
- An episode of Billy (a short-lived ''Head of the Class spinoff) had David's (Johnny Gelecki) mother asking him if he was smoking, to which he replied "no". When Billy called him on it (knowing David had taken up smoking), David explained that he didn't lie because he wasn't smoking at that particular time. Billy didn't care about the lying, just the smoking.
- In Evita, the song "Rainbow Tour" ends with them agreeing that Evita's tour of Italy, France, and England was a success "...we had a few doubts, but the answer is yes. And no. and yes. and no."