"Don't worry - I'm on your side. A violent death is the last thing that'll happen to you."
If you can't or won't lie, it can be hard to deceive others. But fear not, because there are ways to pull the wool over another's eyes and never once be dishonest.
Sometimes, you can tell the truth but no one will believe you
because the truth is simply too weird. Other times, you can tell the truth in a tone of voice which makes everyone assume you meant the opposite
. And if you are careful with your phrasing, you can pull off the highest verbal coup of all: to tell the truth, clearly and plainly, and still make everyone assume you meant something else. If others accuse you of being dishonest, you can stand behind the bulwark of your completely truthful Exact Words
. Maybe they should pay more attention next time... if there is
a next time...
A character who is told they'll get "what's coming to you" or "your just deserts" is almost always
on the receiving end of this trope. At this point, in fact, such lines feature almost exclusively in comedies, since audiences have a hard time believing that characters in a serious drama (i.e. responding to dangerous situations with appropriate caution) would fail to recognize the dangerous subtext behind such phrasing
Needless to say, a villain who prides himself on his honesty
considers this good form ("Alice can't come to the phone right now. She's all tied up
at the moment") but it's not strictly a villainous trope. Heroic characters can give False Reassurance too, particularly, when they have a secret to keep but can't
or won't lie to their loved ones' faces
. For example, Clark Kent
might tell Lois Lane, "Don't worry. Clark Kent won't be seen outside this tropical resort," which does not bar Superman
from going to investigate the mysterious temple.
The key trope to many a Deal with the Devil
. Subtrope to Double Meaning
. Compare Prophecy Twist
, No Man of Woman Born
(where a prophecy of triumph or doom gives False Reassurance to its target because it seems like it can never come true), Metaphorically True
, Exact Words
, Stealth Insult
, and You Said You Would Let Them Go
. See also New Era Speech
. Contrast Suspiciously Specific Denial
and Empty Promise
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Anime And Manga
- The God of False Reassurance, Kirei Kotomine, has many instances where he utilises this trope, but the most memorable ones are:
- In Fate/Zero, Kirei promises to Kariya Matou that if he goes to Kotomine Church at midnight, Kariya will find his archenemy Tokiomi Tohsaka. Unfortunately for Kariya, Kirei didn't mention that he will find Tokiomi's cold corpse and distraught Aoi, who naturally believes that Kariya killed her husband. It only goes downhill from there…
- In Fate/stay night, Shirou informs Kirei about the mysterious Eight Servant that is an irregularity in the Holy Grail War. Kirei promises to investigate it. What he really means is "I'll ask Gilgamesh why he didn’t stick to the plan and stay hidden until the final phase of the Grail War."
- In Fullmetal Alchemist,
- Sociopathic Soldier Kimblee was under orders to kill Winry's parents because they treated patients on the enemy side, but they were killed by Scar shortly before Kimblee and co. could get there. When he meets Winry years later, he puts on a charming front, informing her that his squad found their bodies after arriving "a moment too late" (though he's not lying at all when he says that he respected her parents for their dedication to their work).
- Another instance with Pride/Selim Bradley where he tells to Mrs. Bradley that he wants to learn alchemy to help out his father. This is literally true, although he meant a different Father than his listener thought he did.
- Xelloss from Slayers does this very well. Notable instances include his assurances that "I absolutely will not use the Claire Bible manuscript for evil purposes", "Lord Hellmaster didn't tell me his plan", and (novel only) "His heart isn't beating". All technically true, and yet entirely misleading: he planned to destroy, not use, the Claire Bible manuscript; Hellmaster didn't tell him The Plan, but he figured it out on his own; and the "he" in question is perfectly fine, as it is really a disguised Mazoku who only has a heart when it wants to.
- Used for good in an episode of the 1980s Astro Boy series. In order to avoid putting more stress on a young blind girl, Astro impersonates the destroyed robot True and states "I'm fine! I need to go rescue more people now!" This is all technically true — since robots can't normally lie — but it's not coming from the person she thinks it is. Even better, True spent most of the episode reprogrammed so that he could only lie, rather than only being able to tell the truth.
- In Hellsing's English dub, Rip van Winkle tells the captain who turned over his ship to Millennium in exchange for vampirism: "Don't worry, you definitely deserve everything that's coming to you."
- Although the intent is fairly benevolent, Nozomu gives one to Kiri in an early episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. He tells her, "If you ever feel like you want to die, let me know first." She seems to interpret this to mean "don't feel depressed, I'm here for you", but immediately after, we see Nozomu's actual meaning- because he likes Kiri, he adds her to his list of potential partners for a Suicide Pact.
- In an episode of Speed Grapher, Tatsumi poses as a substitute for Kagura's teacher, Ms. Wakaba. When someone asks what happened to her, Tatsumi assures them she got "A bit tied up", whereupon the scene cuts to Ms. Wakaba Bound and Gagged inside a locker.
- In Episode 2 of Servant × Service, as Yamagami noticed Hasebe is pointing his smartphone lens towards her as she tripped, she asked him not to take a picture... he asked her not to worry as he's taking a video.
- In Jack Chick's "The Contract" the titular Deal with the Devil on paper serves as a passive version of this for people who don't sign any diabolical contracts. Think a devil like Beelzebub Fox can't drag you to Hell just because you didn't sign any contracts with him? Hey, he never said he needed a contract to get your soul; you made that inference all by yourself, sucker!
- In Doom Patrol, the Candlemaker promises Dorothy that it will revive Josh (who had just been killed by The Chief, if in exchange she will let it enter the physical world. Dorothy agrees and the Candlemaker does bring Josh back to life as promised, but it kills him immediately afterwards.
- In The Ballad Of Halo Jones, she enlists in an army that assures new recruits that most soldiers never see combat. Later, when she's jumping with a parachute from a plane into the battlefield, she's told that if she's lucky, she will be one of the few whose parachute works.
- In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared promises his creator, IQ Squared, that "Nothing *on Earth* is unlawful about what's taking place."
- In one of the later issues of The Boys, an argument between the main characters ends when one of them genially informs the others that there's no hard feelings and no real disagreement because "I killed the last bloke I disagreed with." Everyone laughs it off — except what the character in question doesn't reveal is that he actually did kill that person the previous night.
- In H'el on Earth, When Supergirl asks H'el if resurrecting Krypton will do anything to Earth, he assures her that the people of Earth won't suffer. That's because they'll all be dead after the Sun implodes if H'el's plan suceeds.
Films — Animated
- Captain Hook does this in both Disney Peter Pan movies. In the first, he promises Tinker Bell, "I give my word not to lay a finger — or a hook — on Peter Pan," so he tries to assassinate him with a bomb, which he explains when Smee asks why he doesn't just slit his throat. In the second, he promises Jane he won't harm a hair on Peter's head, so he plucks one hair from his head when he captures him, and he definitely won't harm that specific hair while he harms the rest of Peter.
- In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, mobster Salvatore Valestra is desperate enough to ask the Joker for help when someone's killing his associates. The Joker's response: "Certemonte! No way is anybody going to hurt my pal Sal! That's what I like to see, a nice big smile!" And of course, Mr J ensures the killer doesn't have a chance to hurt Sal, and Sal stays smiling, in his own unique fashion.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana's mom shows up at the restaurant as Tiana looks at it, and Tiana's excitement is decidedly not infectious.
Tiana: Doesn't it just make you want to cry?
- In The Powerpuff Girls Movie, when Mojo Jojo uses exact words to hide the fact that he's betraying them to rule the world.
Blossom: Do you think they'll be surprised?
Jojo: Oh yeah.
Buttercup: You think they'll still be mad at us for playing tag?
Jojo: No, they'll have forgotten all about that.
Bubbles: Will they love us?
Bubbles: This isn't making the town a better place!
Mojo: Yes, it is — for me!
- In Toy Story, Buzz gives one to Woody in the van:
Buzz: I just wanted to let you know that even though you tried to terminate me, revenge is not an idea we promote on our planet.
Woody: Oh, that's good.
- In The Book of Life, while yelling panicked instructions to Manolo, Luis reassures Carmen that everything is fine, who is holding him the entire time.
- Pooh's Grand Adventure: Tigger gives an unintentional example to Piglet who is dangling precariously off a broken branch.
Films — Live-Action
- In Sneakers, the hero, Martin, is captured by the villain, who is revealed to be his once-upon-a-time best friend Cosmo:
Cosmo: I cannot kill my friend. (Turns to shotgun-carrying minion.) Kill my friend.
- In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the titular barber promises the "closest shave you will ever know." Then he slits their throats.
- From G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: "This will only hurt a little. What comes next... more so."
- From Robin Hood: Men in Tights:
Maid Marian: Oh Robin, promise me you won't go!
Robin: Very well. I promise you won't go.
Maid Marian: Oh Robin... wait... [puzzled frown]
: Ey Robin, but you just sai—
Robin: Cool it...
- "I never drink... wine", from the 1931 film version of Dracula. Dracula doesn't point out to the poor sap offering him a glass of wine what he does drink. You can quote this line to the bartender in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.
- Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, presenting Lestat with two victims, says "I promise I'll take care of the bodies!" Yes, theirs and Lestat's, once she cuts his throat — she's using the laudanum she already dosed them with to weaken Lestat.
- The Wishmaster films, being the classic "Monkey's Paw" style stories, do this continuously.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Captain Barbossa does this repeatedly in the first film. He promises Elizabeth that he will leave Port Royal if she turns over the medallion. She does, and he promptly leaves with her on board the Pearl because she never bargained to be returned to shore. Later on, he promised that he would release Elizabeth if Will took her place as his prisoner. He then makes Elizabeth walk the plank because Will never specified when or where she would be released. Just about any time a pirate agrees to adhere by "The Code", it's a false reassurance since it only applies among pirates, and it's more "guidelines" than actual rules.
- Even Davey Jones gets in on it, after Will wins a game of chance (or rather, someone else intentionally loses) that gets him out of his debt. "Congratulations, Mister Turner, you're free to leave. The very next time we come in to port!" Cue group Evil Laugh.
- Star Wars:
- Emperor Palpatine pulls one of these in Revenge of the Sith: "I am sending you my apprentice, Darth Vader. He will... take care of you."
- In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando Calrissian tells Han Solo and Princess Leia "I've just made a deal that'll keep the Empire out of [Cloud City] forever.". Unfortunately, Han and Leia discover mere seconds later that deal entails surrendering them to Darth Vader, who, in turn, surrenders Han to bounty hunter Boba Fett.
- In the 1960s version of That Darn Cat!, Patti promises she won't go to the police. So she goes to the FBI instead.
- In Sex & Death 101, Roderick (who has a list that accurately predicts every person he'll ever have sex with) is in a club with his friend Trixie when they spot Bambi Kidd and Thumper Wint, a celebrity Lipstick Lesbian power-couple. He takes a quick look at his list and finds that they're both on it.
Trixie: "Don't tell me one of em's on that fucking list. That list of fucking—"
Roderick: "No, one of them is not on the list".
- Batman (1989): The Joker grabs henchman Bob by his shoulders and promises him: "You…are my number-one...guy [i.e., "You're irreplaceable"]." And that's true. But what Bob doesn't know is that their old boss, Carl Grissom, had said the same words - and in the exact same rhythm, too - to Jack Napier (the man who became the Joker) just before setting him up to be nearly assassinated. It's clearly a Foreshadowing that the Joker will scheme to have Bob eliminated the same way Boss Grissom had tried to have him eliminated...until the subversion toward the end where the Joker does execute Bob, but merely in a fit of anger when Batman foils his big murder plot.
- The Penguin does this in Batman Returns when he uses a swarm of bats to force the Ice Princess off the edge of a building, resulting in her death:
Catwoman: "You said you were just going to scare the Ice Princess."
The Penguin: "She looked pretty scared to me!"
- Almost the exact phrasing was used in RoboCop 2, as well.
- In Stardust, a witch promises Tristan that she'll deliver him to Wall "in the exact same condition you're in now," and that she'll give him food and lodging along the way. When he accepts, she turns him into a mouse, putting him into a cage with cheese (food and lodging), and turns him back when she gets to the town.
- False Reassurance in Restraining Bolt form: In Demolition Man, Raymond Cocteau has Simon Phoenix programmed as a killing machine... but also unable to kill Cocteau. What he forgot to do was do the same to all the old cryo-cons Phoenix freed...
Simon Phoenix: "Will someone kill him, please? He's pissing me off."
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Wolverine nearly throttles Colonel Stryker when he thinks he's lying. Styker swears that he's telling the truth "on the life of my son!" Of course, as we saw in X2, Stryker doesn't value his son's life very highly.
- Used in Nanny McPhee, when the nanny knows that the children are faking illness to get out of getting up early, but plays along anyway. The father tells her that when caring for them to give them lots of sweets and whatever they wanted. She assures him that she'll give them "precisely what they need". She then goes and has the cook serve them soup with potato peelings and a turkey neck and gives them a disgusting medicine. Needless to say, they get better very quickly.
- In The Godfather, during a meeting between the bosses of the Five Families, Don Vito Corleone swears upon the souls of his grandchildren that "I will not be the one to break the peace that we have made here today." When Vito dies and Michael takes over, all bets are off.
- In Conspiracy, about the Wannsee Conference of Nazi Germany in 1942, State Secretary Kritzinger believes that the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Problem' has already been settled by his department and frequently asks why the meeting has been called. When it becomes clear that the "evacuation" of the Jews in Germany involves their complete annihilation, he is outraged because "that possibility has been personally denied to me by the Fuhrer." The response from Reinhardt Heydrich, the chairman of the meeting, is to simply reply "and it will continue to be." Kritzinger comes to the dawning realization that Hitler was playing a false reassurance in order to provide himself plausible deniability.
- In Blade II, Blade kills a whole building full of vampires trying to find Whistler. He tells the one survivor, "Tell me where he is and I'll consider you a loose end." The survivor tells him and Blade lets him go. At the very end of the movie, Blade tracks him to a porno theater and says, "You didn't think I forgot about you?" before killing him. (After all, what do you do to loose ends?)
- In Quigley Down Under, sharpshooter Quigley informs the Big Bad that he doesn't have much use for pistols. Turns out that's not quite the same thing as saying he's not good with a pistol...
- In Ghost Rider Johnny makes a Deal with the Devil so his father doesn't die of cancer. That doesn't stop him from dying right after in an accident.
- In Once Upon a Time in the West
Morton: Tell me, was it necessary that you kill all of them? I only told you to scare them.
Frank: People scare better when they're dying.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- In The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent holds a gun to Marconi and demands information. When Marconi asks if Dent will let him go if he does, Dent responds "It can't hurt your chances." Unfortunately, Marconi didn't consider the fact that answering the questions wouldn't help his chances of survival, either.
- The Dark Knight Rises does this too:
: Calm down, Doctor! Now's not the time for fear. Beat
That comes later.
- In Sinister true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt reassures his wife that they did not move into a house "down the street" from a notorious crime scene.
- In Battlefield Earth, Terl is informed that he will serve another tour of service as Chief of Security on Earth. Terl protests because he sees this as an inferior assignment and mentions his performance and achievements...
Zete: Home office is well aware of your academic achievements and obvious talents. That's why we decided not to keep you here for another five cycles.
Terl: It's a joke, oh thank you Sir. I don't know if I could have kept my sanity being here another five cycles...
Zete: We've decided to keep you here... another fifty cycles! WITH ENDLESS OPTIONS FOR RENEWAL!
- Later on, Terl himself pulls this on Jonnie by promising that he won't kill Jonnie's friend, if Jonnie promises to never ask Terl for anything ever again. Terl then has his Number Two Ker do the dirty deed. Strangely, at the end, Jonnie doesn't appear to hold any ill will against Ker.
- In Bad Reputation the avenging heroine tells the Big Bad who she's pretending to seduce is that "it's just you and me", apparently referring to how the previous time around the villain had his fellow rapist jocks and Alpha Bitch girlfriend plus Girl Posse. In truth, she's already killed the rest of them.
- In the opening of Outbreak, US Army doctors McClintock and Ford arrive at a mercenary camp in Africa to take a look at a strange new virus. Upon seeing the horrific effects of the disease, McClintock tells the head doctor that he'll arrange for an airdrop of penicillin and plasma. He also tells one of the mercenaries that he'll be brought home and will see his girl again. A few hours later, a plane does come by and drop a large container...it's just said container is actually a fuel-air bomb which then vaporizes the camp.
- Used often in the Discworld novels:
- In Going Postal, Reacher Gilt asks his butler (an Igor) "Do you think I'm insane, Igor?" Igor, like the rest of his clan, lives by a code that requires them to be honest to their masters, so after some thought he replies "I wouldn't find mythelf able to thay that, marthter." Igor, like all of his clan, lisps, so he's taking "refuge in strict linguistic honesty".
- A troll retrophrenologist tells a client, "This won't hurt a bit." Phrenology, As You Know, is the "science" of measuring bumps on a person's head and determining their personality traits. Retrophrenology works backwards, applying bumps to alter the patient's personality. It is known this doesn't work, but it provides employment and keeps money in circulation, so it all works out in the end. And for those who don't get the joke: no, it will not hurt "a bit". It will hurt a lot.
- In Interesting Times, The Mole has failed his last mission, and so Lord Hong, mindful of his prior promise not to speak or write any order for the man's execution, folds an origami man without a head.
- In Hogfather, when the Psychopathic Manchild finds that one of his flunkies is getting antsy about all the violent death, he tells him not to worry: "I'm on your side. A violent death is the last thing that'll happen to you." In fact Teatime was fond of using these, to the extent that one of his henchmen noticed, and tendered his resignation holding a crowbar. It didn't help.
- In Thief of Time, the head of the Ankh-Morpork Watchmaker's Guild visits Jeremy Clockson to make sure Clockson is taking his medicine. Jeremy's assistant Igor assures him that he sees his master measure a dose of the stuff every morning. What Igor doesn't tell him is that Jeremy then pours it down the sink, because he finds he works better without it.
- Sgt. Jackrum of Monstrous Regiment often spouted the catchphrase, "Upon my oath, I am not a dishonest man," before doing something shady and dishonest. This is no mere case of Hypocritical Humor, however, as Jackrum is actually a woman. Main character Polly Perks eventually figures this out. He also used such variations as "Upon my oath I am not a violent man" while threatening people with a fatal skewering and "Upon my oath I am not a shouty man!" Bellowed, naturally. Most people coming face to face with Sgt. Jackrum who hear about his legendary pacifism decide not to test him.
- Subverted in the narration of Lords and Ladies:
Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
- Everyone knows that witches never lie. In Wyrd Sisters, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg use that belief to pull one over on basically the whole country, without ever telling an untruth. When Magrat calls them out on it, Granny responds, "We're bound to be truthful, but there's no call to be honest."
- Rincewind sows discord among the Agathean soldiers in Interesting Times through Suspiciously Specific Denial, such as saying that the Silver Horde is not supported by a very specific number of bloodthirsty foreign ghosts. He is truthful, but not very many believe him. Lord Hong later accidentally validate Rincewind's claims by claiming that the intrusion of foreign ghosts have angered their own Agathean ghosts, who will be fighting on their side. The soldiers are less than enthusiastic about having ghosts on both sides, particularly since their own might be people they didn't part with on friendly terms... (It all has the result of many men deserting the army.)
- The Cask of Amontillado has several; the most blatant:
Fortunato: I shall not die of a cough!
- In one of the Black Widower mysteries by Isaac Asimov, a man renowned for never telling a lie denies an allegation of theft by repeatedly claiming he did not take the cash or the securities from the safe. This lasts until Henry, the Black Widowers' waiter, asked him if he took the cash and the securities from the safe.
- In The Princess Bride, Prince Humperdinck obtains Westley's surrender only by swearing to Buttercup that he will not hurt him. The Prince immediately turns aside to explain that he will be a man of his word and let someone else torture Westley while he watches. In a mild subversion, the Prince ultimately does break his word after all; it's the prince who turns The Machine all the way up to 50 and mostly kills Westley.
- In the Robert A. Heinlein novel Glory Road, it is mentioned that Star never lies. However, it is also mentioned that she an expert in telling the truth in a way that you are led to believe something else.
- In another Heinlein novel, Between Planets, the main character is told by one of the villains that his friend died of heart failure. He later realizes that all forms of death involve one's heart failing at some point.
- Many, conceivably most, of his lines across various depictions of the radiant angel Morningstar. Even his appearance might count.
- The Aes Sedai order in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series swear a mystical oath that they will "never speak a word that is not true". Unfortunately, most of them become — by necessity — masters of obfuscated speech and false reassurances. Ultimately, the oath that is meant to reassure the populace of the Aes Sedai's good intentions merely makes them distrustful of even the most straightforward statement. Everyone suspects that when an Aes Sedai speaks plainly, it means she's already figured out how to get around it.
- People can also get false reassurance from Aes Sedai as it is revealed that they can say something they believe to be true which is actually a load of bollocks. Thus people can occasionally say "I know such and such is true as that Aes Sedai said it" (if they aren't dismissive right of the bat) when the Aes Sedai may just be mistaken or an idiot (or both).
- In yet another way to get false reassurance from an Aes Sedai: Aes Sedai who have sold their souls to the Big Bad have their previous oaths removed, so they can lie with impunity.
- Finally, the Black Ajah swear new oaths, so there's another form of false reassurance, because the literal wording of the oath is that they'll never reveal their secrets until the hour of their death, so if you're good with poison...
- In the first novel of Redwall, Matthias negotiates a hostage crisis with Big Bad Cluny by saying that he (Matthias) will come down from the tower if Cluny releases the hostage. Cluny does, and Matthias does so; but, as he points out, he didn't say that he wouldn't first cut the rope holding the Abbey's huge bell in place and crush Cluny underneath it with enough force to split the bell in two.
- The High Crusade has a late medieval English monk swear in Mohammed's name that his liege is telling the truth.
- Inversion: In E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros, Lord Gro at one point says "Oaths bind not an ill man. Were I minded to do you ill, then lightestly would I swear any oath you might require, then lightestly in the next moment be forsworn." Then he proceeds to not betray the protagonist he says that to, and remain true until the end of the book, when he switches sides ineffectually in the last battle for no reason and gets pointlessly slaughtered.
- John Dickson Carr does this in his mystery novel The Nine Wrong Answers in the form of footnotes that can be misleading at best, and a razor thin edge from outright lies at worst.
- In Simon Spurrier's Warhammer 40,000 Night Lords novel Lord of the Night, Sahaal recounts the story of his primarch to a loyal servant of the Emperor, concluding that "He is dead. He was betrayed by one who should have loved him." She is moved to tears. He had, after all, left out that the "one who should have loved him" was the Emperor.
- Subverted in Frank Herbert's Dune. Baron Harkonnen promised Dr. Yueh that if Yueh betrayed the Atreides he would stop torturing Yueh's wife Wanna and allow Yueh to join her. After Yueh does so, the Baron has Yueh killed, as he had done earlier with Wanna, thus carrying out his promise to the letter. It turns out Yueh not only knew about the Baron's plan, he accepted it, and even managed to save Paul and Jessica and give Duke Leto a chance to kill the Baron — his death is a strange moment of triumph.
Yueh stood, swaying. His lips moved with careful precision, and his voice came in oddly measured cadence: "You . . . think . . . you . . . de . . . feated . . . me. You . . . think . . . I . . . did . . . not . . . know . . . what . . . I . . . bought . . . for . . . my . . . Wanna."
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry reluctantly comes up with a plan to get Griphook the Goblin to assist them in finding one of the Horcruxes. As Griphook will accept payment only in the form of the Sword of Godric Gryffindor (which they still rather need), he promises he will be given the sword, without specifying exactly when he would give it to him. The Goblin, however, isn't stupid, and this plan backfires spectacularly for Harry. Despite the fact that Harry did fully intend to give Griphook the sword…just as soon as he was finished using it.
- An entire literary device. The omniscient narrator (author) tells us some information about the future which is true but which misleads the reader's expectations. John Irving likes this one and T. C. Boyle gives a (non-reassuring) example. 'I never wrote to her again'. This implies they never see each other again, but instead he simply visits (though as the ending implies they will get married and have kids, we assume he will never even send her a postcard or an e-mail).
- In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Terminal, a case is recounted where an AIDS-positive Nigerian who wants to have sex with a virgin teen is assured that he will not die of his disease - because Burke and co. shoot him dead before he can get what he wants. Technically, nobody ever dies of AIDS. Instead, they die of other diseases and complications that get past their deficient immune system.
- In David Weber's WarGod series, Lady Leeana asks her mother for permission to go riding. Mother wants to make sure that Leeana is planning on taking her guards along, and Leeana assures her mother that she knows that she won't be able to go riding unless her bodyguard goes riding too. She's planning to run away from home, and she knows that unless she gets rid of her bodyguard by sending him out riding on a long errand, he'll try to stop her.
- In Erast Fandorin novel The State Councellor Big Bad gives to Fandorin a Breaking Speech and then offers a choice: fight him, join him or just keep silent. Fandorin choose to keep silent. Where is the catch? Fandorin holds information that could save Big Bad's life.
- The Dresden Files:
- In the Belisarius Series, When he asks to have a private word with Narses during a meeting on neutral ground, Belisarius swears to the Malwa commander Damodara that nothing they will discuss will involve harm to Damodara. Damodara is, however, Genre Savvy enough to comment to Narses afterward that he realized that Belisarius made a Suspiciously Specific Denial in promising no harm would come to Damodara but didn't mention anything about the Malwa Empire in general.
- In Mike Lee's Warhammer Time Of Legends novel Nagash The Sorcerer, Nagash does a particularly devious one on Queen Neferem, promising never to hurt her son again. He's telling the truth, because he already killed him and absorbed his soul.
- In Deception Point, the aquaphobic protagonist is already nervous at the thought of going onto a boat and gets even more nervous when she learns it's smack dab in the middle of hammerhead shark infested waters. To calm her, her love interest asks the helicopter pilot when was the last time they saved someone from a hammerhead attack, to which the pilot answers "Decades." However, he then immediately mentions an "idiot skin diver" last month, prompting the protagonist to say "You said you hadn't saved anyone in decades!" "Yeah, saved anyone. Usually we're too late. Those bastards kill in a hurry".
- In one of the later Anne of Green Gables books, Anne of Ingleside, Anne has an ongoing dilemma of how to respond when asked to admire Susan's calceolarias. Anne finds them ugly, but doesn't want to hurt Susan's feelings or tell a lie. In the end, she settles on, "Why, I've never seen such calceolarias in my life!" ...which is true, since she just came from the train station and hasn't had time to look at the garden yet.
- In Pact, Maggie Holt cuts a deal with an exiled faerie, Padraic, a ring that contains great power in exchange for an item from her backpack. He repeatedly assures her that he means Maggie no harm, and as they both Cannot Tell a Lie, she considers this sufficient protection to go through with it. The item he takes? Her name, on a test paper.
- In The Giver, the language of the Community is full of doublespeak and euphemisms-although what that means in a community that literally has no way of knowing it is left as an exercise for the reader.
Live Action TV
- On Heroes, DL asks Niki about her intentions. Unbeknownst to him, Niki's psychotic alter ego Jessica is in control and has murder in mind. Niki answers: "I promise you, I won't do anything I wouldn't want to."
- On Stargate,Carter has to do an interview to discredit a businessman who revealed real proof of alien life. She uses this trope and it's immediately lampshaded by the businessman.
Interviewer: We're all very eager to finally hear some reaction from Washington regarding the revelation made by Alec Colson.
Carter: Well, first of all, I can assure people that, if aliens really existed and were visiting the planet, we would know about it.
Interviewer: So, are you saying his claims have no merit? We all saw an alien on live television.
Carter: Yes, well, Hollywood's been helping us see things on T.V. for a long time now.
Interviewer: Are you saying that the alien wasn't real?
Carter: It depends on what you mean by real.
Colson: Notice she hasn't actually lied once.
- Doctor Who:
- In The Three Doctors, the Third Doctor says to Omega, "We will not leave here before you do." Omega assumes this means they will stay there with him. It doesn't.
- In Boom Town, Margaret Blaine assures the citizens of Cardiff that the new nuclear power plant will cause no harm as long as she's walking the Earth. This is technically true, since she is an alien in disguise and plans to leave the planet before the meltdown occurs.
- The Eleventh Hour:
The Doctor: You know when grown-ups tell you everything's going to be fine, and you think they're probably lying to make you feel better?
Amelia Pond: Yes.
The Doctor: Everything's going to be fine.
- Played with in Flesh and Stone, in that Octavian is savvy enough to pick on her hedging and is not impressed; he chews her out and promises that if she's wrong she'll regret it.
Father Octavian: Do you trust this man?
River Song: …I absolutely trust him.
Father Octavian: He's not some kind of madman, is he?
River Song: …I absolutely trust him.
- In Day of the Moon, when Richard Nixon asks the Doctor if he'll be remembered, the Doctor's replies with:
- In Time Heist, bank security politely asks the Doctor and crew to let them in, on the rationale that they don't want to hurt them before executing them.
- In the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, this is combined with All-Natural Snake Oil. "Contains Bane. It's organic!" Technically true, but "organic" doesn't necessarily mean "something you'd want to ingest" — when's the last time you tried eating live scorpions, for example?
- In chemistry, "organic" means nothing more nor less than "contains carbon molecules." Hydrogen cyanide (HCN)? Totally organic.
- Well, maybe not. For weird, arbitrary, and historical reasons, a handful of carbon-containing compounds (including cyanides) are generally considered inorganic. Dioxin compounds, the stuff that made Agent Orange so deadly, on the other hand, are organic without question.
- The Twilight Zone: — "To Serve Man... it's a cookbook!"
- A soul-eating Velvet in Neverwhere gives a Shout-Out to Dracula as she declines a normal meal: "I do not eat... curry."
- In an episode of Father Ted the title character complains that when his friend said he would "take care" of the rabbits that had overrun the parochial house he assumed he meant it in "a Julie Andrews way, not an Al Pacino way."
- An episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles has Cromartie reassure a terrified thief that Sarah won't kill him for betraying the heroes to Cromartie, as she had threatened when she spared his life. The audience is fully aware that this is because Cromartie will kill the thief himself as soon as he knows where the heroes are living.
- The Pilot of Lois and Clark. When Lex Luthor tells you "Your final payment is in the helicopter. I assure you there won't be any loose ends." you should probably take a cab.
- Francis Urquhart of House of Cards makes this into an art form. When he tells loose cannon subordinate Roger, "By Sunday you won't have to worry about anything ever again. That's a promise", he actually means he's going to lace Roger's coke with bleach while Roger's staying with him over the weekend.
- In one episode of Legend of the Seeker, Darken Rahl says a merchant with information on the Seeker's whereabouts will be rewarded so that, "He will never want for anything in this world." Three guesses what happens when he gives up the information, and the first two don't count. Rahl seems to like this one. In an earlier episode, he "reassures" a dying queen (after he slices her arm open from wrist to elbow) that her daughter will spend all her time surrounded by priceless jewels... because he's going to have her work as a slave in some diamond mines.
- Battlestar Galactica: Number Six to a baby - "There, there. It's okay. You're not going to have to cry much longer."
- On LOST, Jack asks Ben if he knew that Locke committed suicide. Ben says he didn't know that. Because Locke didn't commit suicide, Ben killed him. Played with later. Jack calls Ben out, saying that he had said Locke hadn't come to him. Ben says that that is true—he had come to Locke. The thing is, even though that was the correct course of events, what Ben had actually said was that he hadn't seen Locke since they were on the Island. Jack, of course, accepts this.
- Played somewhat humorously in the Firefly episode "Out of Gas."
Don't be afraid. That's what it [The Bible
] says. Don't be afraid.
River: But you are afraid.
You're afraid we're going to run out of air. That we'll die gasping. But we won't. That's not going to happen. *beat*
We'll freeze to death first.
- Castle: "The Double Down" features a double-whammy as Beckett and Castle question a suspect:
Suspect: You guys have any suspects at all, yet?
Castle: [Looking right at him] We're looking at someone right now.
Suspect: You're not accusing me of killing my wife again, are you?
: I can assure you we are 100% certain you did not kill Ashley. (He actually arranged to do a Strangers On A Train-style murder-swap with someone else — and they know it)
- White Collar: Neal borrows an FBI jacket from Peter, after promising that he won't pretend to be an FBI agent. Cut to Mozzie wearing the jacket and impersonating an agent instead. Neal does this to Peter in almost every episode— one of the show's rules is that he does not tell direct lies to Peter, thus requiring this trope for whatever shenanigans he's pulling behind Peter's back this week. Of course, Peter is Genre Savvy enough to know this, but lets it slide because Neal gets the job done.
- The Vampire Diaries, "A Few Good Men". Damon is gloating to one person while sounding innocent to everyone else:
Damon: I had a drink with her once. She was a great girl. I ever tell you that? 'Cause she was... delicious. Mmm.
- Your more devious characters on Dollhouse are prone to this.
Adelle, in Episode 6: This one will probably... struggle.
- Jack uses this when Nina panics about a terrorist killing her then himself when she is forced to cooperate.
"We'll make sure he doesn't turn the gun on himself."
- Of course, this is in no way intended to reassure her.
- Justified, "Bulletville": Similar to the Sneakers example above.
Bo: Who'm I kidding. I can't hurt my own son. Johnny, hurt my son.
- When testing the new Ferrari against the F430 it replaced, Jeremy promised James that he would not drive his (James') Ferrari F430 quickly. He never said anything about The Stig, however.
- In an episode of the 60's Batman, the Joker has captured Batman and Robin and asked them if they could swim. He put them in a smokestack and told them he would let them go if they could stay afloat for an hour. He then starts to fill the stack with poison gas instead of water. Robin calls him out on this, but Batman points out the Joker never said anything about using water.
Robin: But you can't float in gas!
Joker: No…BUT YOU CAN DROWN IN IT!
- Which would have been much better if he filled the room up to their ankles in water, they would be standing on the bottom, not floating.
- In Sons of Anarchy, a guy being questioned by Bobby, Tig, and Opie turns out to have screwed up the business deal he was supposed to set up for the Sons, thereby outliving his usefulness to the club. However, Bobby says he won't kill him if he tells the truth about his role in the murder of one of the Sons' wives. After the guy tells him the truth, Opie and Tig kill him.
- On an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard suddenly realizes that Lwaxana Troi has an ulterior motive in inviting him to dinner and, seeking an escape, invites Data to join them for dessert and conversation. Lwaxana protests, but Picard assures her she'll be fascinated by Data's small talk.
Picard: Commander Data's after-dinner conversations are legendary aboard the Enterprise. (Cut to Lwaxana looking like she wants someone to kill her as Data rambles on in a lecture concerning orbital mechanics...complete with computer graphics.)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- When Oz comes back from Tibet, he hopes to rekindle his relationship with Willow. From Xander he's heard she isn't seeing a new guy. Willow hesitantly confirms this: "No. No new... guy."
- And when Buffy is brought Back from the Dead she tells the Scoobies, "You guys gave me the world. I can't tell you what it means to me." What it means is chronic depression because her friends yanked her out of Heaven into the harsh reality of everyday life, which Buffy tries to hide from them so they'll continue thinking they've done the right thing.
- Also, in an early season 1 episode, a pair of vampire assassins return to the Master after failing their assignment to kill Buffy. He tells them that killing them for their failure would bring him little joy, and they react with relief. Then Darla kills them gleefully, and he notes that sometimes a little is enough.
- In Season 9, Faith's dad tells her that he is really sober this time. He doesn't tell her that he's been involved in some shady dealings and some guys are after him.
- In the first episode of season 5 of Angel, a shotgun-wielding Elite Mook, Hauser, who now nominally works for Angel gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how he's stronger than Angel because he believes in being evil, while Angel is conflicted, and there's nothing more powerful than conviction. Angel replies that there's one thing more powerful, "mercy." Hauser clearly sees this as confirmation of his own assessment of Angel's weakness. Then Angel forces Hauser to blow his own head off, to the shock of the subordinate mooks present.
Mook: What happened to mercy?
Angel: You just saw the last of it.
- Once Upon a Time: Regina is in jail after the curse is broken. Gold walks into the room and Regina asks him if he's here to "finish the job." Gold says that he promised Belle that he wouldn't kill Regina. But he never promised that he would send something to do worse.
- Married... with Children: Marcy and Steve once had to go to New York on a business trip. Marcy was afraid the plane would crash on the sea. Al reassured her it couldn't happen... because there's no sea between Chicago and New York. If the plane crashes, they'll hit solid ground.
- Drew Carey's boss Mr. Wick orders Carey to take urine samples for one of the company's drug tests. Since this isn't in Drew's job description, he futilely tries to get out of doing it until Mr. Wick gives him an ultimatum:
Mr. Wick: I want that pee on my desk by tomorrow, or you're fired!
Drew: Oh, it'll be on your desk...
Drew: Oh, it'll be in a cup...
- Dads Army. A newspaper article lampoons the Home Guard patrol as going from one pub to another searching for German parachutists. Private Sponge assures Captain Mainwaring that not one drop of alcohol will touch their lips. After the Captain leaves... "OK, let's get some straws."
Myth, Legend and Religion
- In many versions of Arthurian legend, Guinevere and several knights are kidnapped by Maleagant, who is in love with the queen. Thinking she is loyal to her husband, however, he cannot bring himself to touch her, and instead sets her up in the best room in his castle, leaving the wounded knights in the chamber just outside hers. Lancelot, of course, comes to save his Damsel in Distress, but doesn't waste the opportunity to climb in her bedroom window and sleep with her while Arthur isn't around. Only problem is, he hurts his hand and leaves blood on the sheets. Maleagant sees this and is angry at Guinevere for pretending to be faithful to her husband. Her response? She swears up and down she didn't sleep with any of the knights "outside her door".
- In another Arthurian story, King Mark, suspecting his wife Isolde is unfaithful, has her Bound and Gagged, and dragged back to the palace. When they need to ford a river, a wandering hermit helps her across. Afterwards she swears that she has been in the arms of no man except her husband and, obviously, the hermit. The hermit was her lover, Sir Tristram, in disguise.
- Another version exists that follows the same story, except that as they're crossing the river, the hermit (Tristram) stumbles and falls down between Isolde's legs. Thus, she can ever swear that Mark and the hermit are the only men to ever have lain between her thighs.
- And in Arthur, King of Time and Space, the story is retold exactly in the baseline arc, and then we switch to the space arc, where Isolde simply says she's been in the arms of no man except her husband. It doesn't occur to Mark to suspect the Gender Flipped Dame Tristram.
- A Dilbert strip had the Pointy-Haired Boss putting Wally in charge of a group he was going to eliminate. Wally freaks out when he realizes that he's going to be fired too, and the PHB says he will not fire him. At which point Dilbert walks in, and the PHB walks off thinking "That would be a job for executive director Dilbert."
- U.S. Acres:
- In Series 5 of Old Harry's Game, Hell is overcrowded, leading to a workforce on strike and Satan spending a lot of time in the mortal world trying to slow the flood a bit. One of the new arrivals, Roland, sees this "an opportunity" he can use to take over. When Satan returns, Roland offers to help, saying "If you let me talk to the demons, you won't have anything to worry about ever again."
- In Magic: The Gathering, Dimir Doppelganger is a shapeshifter that takes the form of dead creatures. Its flavor text? "Fear not, your life will not go unlived."
- This is the modus operandi of Hansel and Gretel from Grimm. They lure in children by promising that they will be safe from witches with them. This is technically true — they'll be fed to the malevolent oven that enslaved Hansel and Gretel and the witch before them long before witches can do anything to the children.
- In Paranoia, if Friend Computer or one of its human minions gives you what sounds like good news, you can pretty much assume that it's an example of this trope.
- In Pirates, or Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder'd, an adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance, Frederick needs to marry a virgin to free himself from a curse. Ruth reassures him that she hasn't been subject to any unwanted advances from the other pirates, and hasn't succumbed to any one of them... emphasis on "unwanted" and "one".
- It'll take an expert to tell if this is a good example or just has the airs of one, but Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.
Mephistophilis: And then be thou as great as Lucifer.
- Part two of Shakespeare's Henry IV has an alliance of rebels (no, not that one) parleying with John of Lancaster, son of King Henry. They present him with a list of grievances, and John assures them that he will take the list directly to his father so they can be addressed. The rebels are satisfied and dismiss their army. John vows that they will "lie tonight together" ... then has them all arrested for treason and orders his army to ride down the now scattering soldiers of the enemy.
I promis'd you redress of these same grievances
Whereof you did complain; which, by mine honour,
I will perform with a most Christian care.
But for you, rebels—look to taste the due
Meet for rebellion and such acts as yours.
- The Dutch comedian Herman Finkers has a skit in which he plays a depressed person. He then assures the public not to worry... "Suicide would be the last thing I'd ever do."
- In Conquests of the Longbow, The Sheriff of Nottingham asks Robin Hood, disguised as a monk, for a blessing. Robin answers: "May God give to you all that you deserve, and I hope that I live to see it."
- In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Dr. Nefarious' Deadpan Snarker butler Lawrence does this all the time. A sample exchange:
Dr. Nefarious: To think, they called me insane, Lawrence. But we'll see who's insane when my pets have exterminated all life on this miserable planet!
Lawrence: That should clear things right up, sir.
- And later, in the same game.
Don't be afraid, Ratchet
. The transformation doesn't hurt... *chuckles
- One of many quotable lines in Portal spouted by GLaDOS is "As part of a previously mentioned required test protocol, we can no longer lie to you. When the testing is over, you will be... missed."
- With Chell trapped on a platform slowly sliding into a large fire pit: "All Aperture technologies remain safely operational up to 4000 degrees Kelvin. Rest assured that there is absolutely no chance of a dangerous equipment malfunction prior to your victory candescence."
- Early on GLaDOS informs you that it will no longer enhance the truth "in three, two, *static*". Since the countdown never finished, it's technically free of the promise.
- In Betrayal at Krondor, Gorath and Owyn need to rescue someone enslaved as a mine worker. Gorath's plan? Pretend to offer Owyn into slavery, get both grabbed as slaves, find the person they need to rescue, and then swim out through the underground river that runs through the mine. Where the air and water is tainted with sometimes lethal amounts of napalm gas. While Gorath supposedly knows of people who escaped in such a way, Owyn is, understandably, a bit skeptical.
Owyn: "No one has ever died doing this?"
Gorath: "I have met none that have."
- Shigeru Miyamoto once described an (at the time) unrevealed Super Mario Bros. game with the mysterious phrase "If an onlooker were to see the game, he'd probably think that Luigi is the main character". That game? Luigis Mansion - he never said the onlooker would be wrong.
- In Silent Hill 3 the mysterious voice serving as the tour guide in the "haunted house" has plenty of these moments.
Voice: (After a spike ceiling stopped just inches before killing you) "I'm so sorry. This place is just falling apart. The mechanism is broken, you see. It wasn't supposed to stop there, I assure you."
- Day Of The Tentacle: Just about to go back in time, Bernard asks Dr. Fred:
Bernard: "Have any people been hurt in this?"
Dr. Fred: "Of course not! This is the first time I've tried it with people!"
- In Fate/stay night's Fate route, the Holy Grail War takes sudden turn for the worse once an eighth Servant shows up and turns out to have won the Superpower Lottery. When explaining this to the supervisor of the Grail War, he responds that this is something he cannot ignore, and that he will look into it. And indeed he can't; the Servant is his, and has just blown its cover by wandering off on its own. It should be noted that said supervisor, Kirei Kotomine, is a master of this. The God of it, in fact.
- In Jays Journey, Puff literally Cannot Tell a Lie, so when Farinade asks him who he's traveling with, he says that he's traveling with a moron who isn't the guy that Farinade is looking for. Good thing Farinade doesn't think to ask if Puff is traveling with anyone else.
- Uninvited featured a segment where you meet a lady dressed like Scarlett O'Hara, faced behind. All to a chipper tune, and she said "Thank you for coming back to me, my love. You will be mine forever". Doesn't sound so horrid even for the Haunted House setting. Grab her attention, then chipper tune turns into Hell Is That Noise, you see her real face◊ then she horribly kills you.
- Full Throttle features one of these in the opening sequence:
- In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Cesare assures Francesco Troche that he will not kill the latter, before getting Micheletto to kill the chump instead.
- Fear Effect: Retro Helix has a scene at the beginning where a No Name Given Corrupt Corporate Executive essentially promises Deke, "Do this job for us, and we will cure your condition permanently." Deke has EINDS (think AIDS), and he has been doing assassinations for this guy in exchange for medication to improve his life span. Deke does the job, and the guy and his goons try to kill him off in a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment. In hindsight, I suppose your condition would be permanently cured if you're dead!
- WarioWare : Penny's experiments are "guaranteed to be 100% Not-Entirely Lethal". Well, that's a relief...
- One of the main criticisms about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was the empty overworld, which Miyamoto claimed was going to be addressed in the next game. It turned out that the developers' "solution" was removing the overworld altogether...
- Skullgirls sees this in Squigly's path in Story Mode. She meets Filia, and the two seem to get along... until Samson proceeds to insult Squigly and Leviathan in the crudest way he can manage. Squigly then apologizes for attacking Filia and promises, "We will only aim for the boor infesting you." Filia, not being an idiot, points out that, as Samson is her hair, they'll be hitting her in the head.
- In Alien: Isolation, the Working Joes spout constant pre-recorded seeming messages apologising for the state of affairs and promising that everything will be fine if people simple stay calm and listen to them. They do this even as they try to strangle or beat people to death.
- In 8-Bit Theater:
"Hey, guys. Do you think I'm dumb?"
Thief: "I can honestly say I do not think that you're dumb."
- Red Mage reassures Thief that his precious treasure shall be "preserved", without expounding on his plan to freeze the universe containing the treasure (and nigh-unstoppable fire demoness) in never-melting ice. It's a basically correct statement.
- It then turned out to be another sense of "false" reassurance when White Mage shattered the bag of holding and its contents to have revenge on the demoness for killing Black Belt. Thief had a "Heroic" BSOD at the sight.
- The Order of the Stick pulls this more than a few times:
- After the party fails an attempt to escape from prison, the highly Lawful character Durkon states that "the five of us never left our cells"—which is true, because Durkon refused to follow when his four fellow party members left. When questioned about the unlocked cell doors, he truthfully responds "'Twas a mechanical defect"—he counts "able to be picked by a rogue" as a mechanical defect, and given that she had only improvised tools and a +2 love bonus to do it with, it's not even that much of a stretch.
- Celia finds a suspicious magic-user while looking for someone who could resurrect Roy. She uses the skill "Sense Motive" to ensure that he was not lying when he said he would not transform Roy into an undead creature. He intends to turn him into a bone golem, which is not technically undead, in the same way ketchup is not technically a fruit.
- After Haley kills Crystal and returns with Crystal's knife, all she says to Celia is "Oh, she said I could have it" - which she did, but it had been intended as an insult rather than a genuine offer.
- And of course, the Oracle does this all the time because he's a Jackass Genie.
- In this one Old Blind Pete told Crystal that he hadn't seen Haley. She never figures it out.
- Pretty much all of the fiends deal to Vaarsuvius is this.
- "We simply don't need to trick you if we can get what we want by playing it straight."
- This Irregular Webcomic! strip shows false reassurance in action. The library mentioned was just destroyed by a series of traps.
- In DMFA, Voluntary Shapeshifting and impersonation are fun!
Lady Soulstealer: Do you need any help? I know a bit about security measures myself...
Mehlata: No thank you. I have everything in order.
Lady Soulstealer: Are you sure?
Mehlata: I'd bet your life on it.
- The ship computer in Freefall uses this trope, in reply to Sam's question about how it feels about going into piracy.
- There is a widely-distributed one-panel comic of a Mad Evilutionary Biologist rubbing his hands together in glee as he exclaims, "If I can create life in the laboratory, it will prove no intelligence is required!"
- Sluggy Freelance:
- A mole, a suicidally overconfident Super Soldier hunting operation: "I hope you find her. Each and every one of you."
- Also this one, although the problem is more that Sam is stupid than the promise is too specific.
- Averted in Schlock Mercenary:
Kevyn: Assuming, of course, that you're not just planning to throw themnote out of the airlock on a crazy whim.
Lota: Lota is not susceptible to crazy whims, commander.
Kevyn: Oh good. Now what about premeditated atrocities?
- Homestuck has Aradia playing this to the hilt, before the Sgrub game gets started. She got Sollux to put it together from alien technology and told him that it was to save the world and make sure that everyone didn't die when the apocalypse hit. This was, technically, true: Aradia just never got around to mentioning, until it was far too late for Sollux to do anything, that the world she meant wasn't theirs - and that "make sure everyone doesn't die" isn't the same as "more than twelve survivors". He's not happy when he finds out; Aradia is okay with this.
- From Panthera:
Reynder: Don't worry, the nausea will pass in a moment.
Taylor: Uh, that's good, I guess...
Reynder: It will be replaced by nearly unbearable agony.
- In one strip of Dominic Deegan, Randy writes a song about Luna, and how she saved him from screwing up his life. It's bad - the title is "Nothing Touches Me Like Your Mouth". He shows it to Taz to get some outside opinion.
Taz: There's nothing that can be misinterpreted as offensive.
- Subverted, because the fact that he didn't give Randy crap about the song was a tip off about Taz's intentions, as Taz likes screwing with everyone and is a really Bad Liar.
- In Sinfest, Baby Blue assures Satan that her loyalties are perfectly clear, without mentioning whether it's him or Fuchsia that won.
- Exterminatus Now:
Schaefer: *sigh* You made the place explode, didn't you.
Virus: I can categorically say, no, we didn't make it explode.
- Full Frontal Nerdity: "I promise you, I don't have a single table of critical failures like that."
- In this NSFW chat log, in order to troll someone on Skype, the poster poses as Princess Celestia from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and replies literally... without mentioning this to the stranger.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged movie, TFS Movie: Lord Slug Abridged has Popo telling Kami that he doesn't torture cats. Given what Mr. Popo is in the DBZ Abridged setting, that isn't much reassurance for anything else.
- In the series proper, finding himself outmatched against Freeza, Vegeta asks Krillin to "almost kill him" (since Saiyans become stronger every time they're beaten to near death). Krillin is confused as hell and asks if there are "no repercussions for that". Vegeta replies that he "will not punch [him]". Krillin notes that as "oddly specific".
- From Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv):
Light: So basically, you're going to stalk me for the rest of my life.
Ryuk: Don't worry, it's not that long.
- On This Very Wiki's Wretched Hive page:
Limerick has often been named Stab City. Though in recent years the number of stabbings has decreased, as gun crime has gone through the roof.
- On the first episode of RWBY, Roman Torchwick assures the store owner he and his Mooks are robbing that they're not here for his money. He then tells one of his men to grab the Dust (which is a very valuable resource in this setting).
- The Simpsons:
- Parodied in "Treehouse of Horror V", in which Principal Skinner tries to do this, but goes a bit too far with it:
"I've got a gut
feeling Uter's around here somewhere. In fact, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? In fact, you could say that we ate
Uter, and he's in our stomachs right now! ...wait, scratch that one
- In another "Treehouse of Horror" tale, "Hell Toupée," Snake is sent to the electric chair for smoking inside the Kwik-E-Mart (it was part of a "three-strikes" offense stipulation). After Snake's body has been burned, Homer buys Snake's hair and wears it as a wig to cover his baldness. What he didn't realize was that Snake's soul was still inside the wig, and once the wig was on the soul gained access to Homer's brain and overrode his personality, forcing Homer to take revenge on all the witnesses who got Snake sentenced to death - including Bart. Homer, finding the murdered bodies of Apu and Moe and not realizing that Snake was behind the killings (and, more to the point, that he is himself Snake when the wig is on), promises to protect Bart by boarding up the door to his room. "There," he reassures Bart, "now nobody can get in." Then Snake takes over his mind and he sneers: "Or out."
- Played straight in "Lisa On Ice", where Lisa's panicked vision of the future sees her condemned to 'a lifetime of horror on Monster Island' by a judge who reassures her: 'Don't worry, it's just a name.' Cut to Lisa and a number of other prisoners being chased by fire-breathing monsters; one of her fellow captives explains: 'What he meant is that Monster Island is actually a peninsula."
- Likewise, in "Lisa the Vegetarian" there is Troy McClure's "Meat and You - Partners in Freedom", which features this little gem:
Troy: Come on, Jimmy! Let's take a peek at the killing floor.
Troy: Don't let the name throw you, Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported.
- Goes right over Homer's head when the kids see him drunk(er than usual) in "The War of the Simpsons":
Homer: I admit it. I didn't know when to say "when." I'm sorry it happened and I just hope you didn't lose a lot of respect for me.
Bart: Dad, I have as much respect for you as I ever did or ever will.
- Danny Phantom: In the episode "Reality Trip," Freakshow kidnaps Danny's, Tucker's, and Sam's parents to force them to bring him the Reality Gems. When they do, he still traps them all on a roller-coaster Death Course, after reminding Danny that the deal was, "If you want to see your parents alive again..." which he just did.
- Garfield and Friends:
- Roy spent an episode with The Buddy Bears where they dropped sixteen ton safes on him whenever he did something different from the group. At the end of that episode, Roy got them to agree into not throwing him one sixteen ton safe. They dropped two. In a later episode when he's around them again, they assure him that they do not have any sixteen ton safes. Instead, when they inevitably drop a safe on him, it's twenty-seven tons. And before that they threw other stuff.
- In another episode, Garfield promises Nermal he won't mail him to Abu Dhabi anymore. He then puts him in box labeled "To North Pole" and sets it outside. In yet another episode, Jon mail ordered something and told Garfield not to bother the mailman. Garfield was planning to bother the garbageman.
- Justice League Unlimited: In the episode "The Doomsday Sanction", Amanda Waller demotes Professor Milo. To get revenge, he attempts to bargain with Doomsday with the knowledge that Waller fabricated his desire to kill Superman. Doomsday replies that, if Milo lets him go, he "will solve both our problems". Milo releases Doomsday, who promptly kills him and then goes after Superman.
Doomsday: Your problem's solved.
- Chris McLean of the Total Drama series loves this trope, often using it to explain the challenges. The cast eventually wises up to this... somewhat.
Chris: Your challenge begins with a dive off beautiful Wherever-we-are Falls into the lagoon far below.
Noah: Which is full of what, sharks?
Chris: Nope. (contestants sigh in relief) Electric eels and sharks!
- In one episode of King of the Hill, Hank is trying to blow the whistle on a local beer company, and the president threatens to sue him.
President: I'm not a litigious man Mr. Hill. That's what I have lawyers for. Now get out before I throw you out.
Hank: Are you threatening me?
President: I'm not a violent man, Mr. Hill. That's what I have security guards for.
- On Robot Chicken Dr. Phil has a Trust-Building Blunder with a criminal. As the criminal falls back into his arms, he says, "I won't harm you..." After a beat, he adds "but they will" before throwing him to a bunch of cops who proceed to beat the guy down.
- Early in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, our heroes drop a captured Red Lantern off at a prison colony where the warden boasts of their rehabilitation program, claiming that "nearly 100% of our former guests never return to a life of crime". Of course, it's easier to build that kind of record when the former prisoners are the ones you have eaten.
- The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: Sneekly told Penelope that, wherever the Hooded Claw was, he'd also be.
- In the Futurama movie, "Into the Wild Green Yonder" when Fry infiltrates Leo Wong's construction by becoming a security guard.
Leo Wong: You really think you can stand up to those "eco-freakos"?
Fry: Sir, with me around, they'll be the least of your worries.
- In one of the episodes featuring Pit Boss, the Biker Mice from Mars told Lawrence Limburger they'd not destroy Limburger Plaza that time. A guy Limburger had framed in that episode used his truck to drag the tower to the pit.
- The Kids From Room 402: Jesse's failed attempt to cheat in an eye exam backfired forcing him to wear glasses. When he had enough of the troubles brought to him by wearing glasses he never needed, he confessed and was expecting Miss Graves to punish him. When she said it wasn't up to her, he was relieved until she pointed out his mother would punish him.
- In another episode, Polly was standing in for Mr. Besser and found out a teacher wasn't technically qualified for the job. When she begged Polly not to tell Mr. Besser, Polly said there was no need to bother him. Polly fired the teacher by herself.
- Superman: The Animated Series: In "The Way of All Flesh", when Corben mentioned that he couldn't feel anything in his Metallo body, the doctors said there were adjustments to be made. They just didn't say that they were his.
- South Park:
- Rugrats: Josh, the new kid in town, has the babies lie in the sand while he prepares to launch himself from the swings. Tommy is afraid he's going to try to jump over them but Josh assures them he isn't. He says he is going to jump on them. Luckily, Angelica stops him before he can do so.
- To Catch a Predator. Many episodes featured suspects asking the question "Are you going to arrest me?" only to have Chris Hansen respond with "I'm not going to arrest you." Which he doesn't, because he's not a police officer. They're waiting outside.
- The classic political one (mentioned several times on this wiki) is the Finnish president assuring the Germans in World War II that he most assuredly would not seek a separate peace with the Soviets in exchange for Germany's offer of (badly needed) military aid. And he didn't. The next president after he resigned right after receiving the aid, on the other hand...
- Saddam Hussein once fired one of his cabinet ministers, Dr. Riyadh Ibrahim, and then ordered him arrested. Ibrahim's wife went to Saddam in tears begging that her husband be returned to her. He promised her he would indeed be returned to her the next day. Hussein kept his word, and did indeed return Dr. Ibrahim to his wife...in several pieces.
- An old story about Czar Ivan the Terrible has him promise a rebellious city that, if they surrender, not one drop of the inhabitants blood will stain the ground. So when he slaughters every living soul in the city, he makes sure to do it indoors.
- Similarly, the Mongols had a habit of telling the captured leaders of the cities they conquered that none of their blood would be spilled. Which was technically true — the Mongols were extremely superstitious about shedding the blood of those of noble birth and killed them in ways such as rolling them up in a carpet and beating them to death or tossing them into rivers in a felt sack.
- As mentioned above, nobody dies of AIDS. What they die of are unrelated diseases that can proliferate unchecked by their much weakened immune system.
- During one of his seminars, American travel writer Rick Steves told attendees something along the lines of "In Europe, you won't get mugged by criminals who threaten using a gun or a knife - that's what happens here... Instead, you are more likely to experience pickpocketing."
- There's a ferry ride in Maine where the captain, over the speaker, mentions falling overboard, but humorously reassures everyone that "No one drowns off the coast of Maine. You freeze to death long before you drown."
- When tourists take donkey rides down into the Grand Canyon, the guide will warn them that the donkeys like to walk close to the edge of the cliffs. "But don't worry about it... because there's nothing you can do about it."
- Generic Products sometimes wander into this as well, its rather disconcerting to find a tub of non-butter spread named "Tastes like Butter"
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