If I Had a Nickel

... for every-time I'd seen this trope, I'd have... well, I guess I could buy a candy bar or something....

A Stock Phrase, in response to a frequent event. The character will say something along the lines of, "If I had a nickel for every time X happened, I'd be rich." Expect "nickel" to be replaced with whatever currency appears in the work.

A common variant is for the character to simply trail off after the first part, e.g.: "If I had a nickel for every time X happened..." Additionally, this trope might be Played for Laughs by having the second part of the phrase add up to something impossible (for instance, getting $5.47 from nickels).

This trope often overlaps with Noodle Incident and Oh, No... Not Again!, in that this is usually the first time we've seen this happen to them. It may also be invoked as a Never Heard That One Before response to an overly-repeated joke or comment.

This becomes a Subverted Trope when a character instead says something like, "If I had a nickel for every time X happened...I'd have two nickels." Lately, this subversion has become common enough that the trope looks to be heading towards either Dead or Undead Horse Trope territory.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! dub:
    Seto Kaiba: If I had a dime for every time you used the word destiny, I'd be even richer.
  • Goku in Dragon Ball GT makes a remark about having a Zenni for everytime he heard he was about to be defeated by The Big Bads he's fought.

    Comedy 
  • Mitch Hedberg: "If I had a quarter for every time this happened, I'd be making money in a very odd way."

    Comic Books 
  • Batman (1966): "Devilishly clown prince of crime! If I only had a nickel for every time he's baffled us!"
  • According to Franky, if he had a dime for every time someone told him something he was looking for was "hiding out in the woods and living on the flesh of men" he'd live in a palace made of rubies and candy.
  • Discussed in an issue of X-Men between Angel and Stacy X:
    Stacy X: We're fighting a losing battle. They just wanna see us burn. If I had a nickel for every time people tried to kill me...
    Angel: You'd be a millionaire? Well, I'm a millionaire. I think I know what you mean, Stacy.

    Fan Works 
  • Kyon Big Damn Hero:
    Haruhi: If I had a paper crane for all of the things that Kyon's done for me, I'd have a wish by now!
  • From Eleya's internal monologue in The Wrong Reflection:
    "Theoretically it’s impossible to have an accident with every air vehicle in the city fully computer-piloted, but if I had a credit for every time the phrase “theoretically impossible” was juxtaposed with some version of “oh, phekk”, I could retire."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Superman, as Clark Kent, in Superman III: "If I had a dime for every kid who asked me to get Superman's autograph..."
  • I.Q.: "If you had a nickel for every nickel he has, you'd have a whole lot of nickels!"
  • BASEketball: "If I had a nickel for every time this ball's gotten me out of a tight spot, I'd have a shitload of nickels!"
  • Apollo 13:
    Jim Lovell: Well... if I had a dollar for every time they've killed me in this thing [a simulator], I wouldn't have to work for you, Deke.
  • Older than Television in Under-Cover Man (1932):
    Lora Madigan: I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing.
    Kenneth Mason: If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that.
  • From Cybill, courtesy of Maryann (Christine Baranski), Deadpan Snarker divorcee:
    Maryann: If I had a nickel for each time my ex-husband didn't perform... Actually, I do have a nickel for each time.
  • Arthur, on his own wealth: "I wish I had a dime for every dime I have."
  • Sub...inv...something-verted in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me:
    "If I had a nickel for every cigarette your mother smoked, I'd be dead."

    Jokes 
  • If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed... Oh wait, he does!
  • If a nickel popped out for every joke at the expense of [insert popular hate target here], nobody would be poor.

    Literature 
  • A repeated joke in Discworld novels.
    • In Night Watch, Nobby Nobbs says that if he had a dollar for every watchman's funeral he'd attended he'd have $19.50. He did the math right, it's just that one of them woke up before they buried him.
    • And in Lords and Ladies, Mustrum Ridcully says that if he had a penny for every time he'd been kicked out of the tavern in Lancre, he'd have $5.38.
    • In Moving Pictures, Windle Poons says that if he had a penny for every time the Watch chased him home, he'd have "fivepence-ha'penny", (because they once gave up halfway).
  • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish Ford Prefect says: "If I had a pound for every time one part of the universe looked at another part of the universe and say "that's terrible" I wouldn't be sitting here like a lemon asking you to bring me a cup of coffee, but I don't and I am."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ballykissangel's episode "River Dance":
    Assumpta Fitzgerald: Thanks for last night. You were good.
    Enda Sullivan: If I had a pound for every time a woman said that to me...
  • A variation in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when a vampire claims that he attended the crucifixion of Christ:
    Spike: You were there? Oh, please. If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there, it would've been like Woodstock.
  • The Colbert Report: "If I had a nickel for every time [subject/topic]... I'd really like that!"
  • On one episode of Cram, one of the trivia "facts" used in the Bonus Round went something like: "If you had a nickel for every time anybody ever said 'If I had a nickel,' you would have 78 trillion nickels."
  • The Daily Show: "You know, if I had a nickel for every time Bush has mentioned 9/11, I could raise enough reward money to go after bin Laden."
  • Used humorously in the short-lived sit-com Dweebs when Carey talks to her boss, Warren, about the rest of the guys telling her about how they used to be bullied:
    Warren: If I had a nickel for every wedgie I got in junior high... Oh wait... I do. (smiles)
  • Game of Thrones. In "Walk of Punishment", the dwarf Tyrion Lannister has been given Littlefinger's job as Master of Coin, and asks if he has any advice for his successor.
    Littlefinger: Keep a low profile.
    Tyrion: If I had a gold dragon for every time I heard that joke, I'd be richer than you are.
    Littlefinger: You are richer than I am.
    Tyrion: (beat) Good point.
  • Gossip Girl:
    Lily van der Woodsen: (to Serena) Don't leave your dirty package on the table.
    Chuck Bass: If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that.
  • MythBusters: Tory Belleci, on a certain type of physical humor he's fallen victim to several times:
    Tory: If I had a nickel for every time I got hit in the nuts on this show, I could retire.
  • The Nanny episode "Fran's Roots":
    Lila: (on the phone talking to Fran) Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to hear your voice.
    Fran: Oh, you know, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that... I'd have a nickel.
  • In Danish children's comedy series Osman og Jeppe:
    Jeppe: If I had a five kroner-coin (five Danish kroner corresponds to about one American dollar) for each time Trucker is skipping school, I would... well... I... uh... then I... then I would have a lot of five kroner-coins!
  • Oz: "If I had a nickel for every time I didn't understand, you'd be talking to an empty chair."
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Rye", where George's parents, Frank and Estelle have dinner with the parents of his fiancée, Susan Ross:
    Estelle: I couldn't help but notice that you have quite a library in there.
    Mrs. Ross: If I had a dime for every book he's actually read, I'd be broke.
  • Saturday Night Live: Played with in a "Deep Thoughts By Jack Handey" sketch which goes, "I wish I had a dollar for every time I spent a dollar, because, yahoo! I'd have all my money back!"
  • Stargate SG-1: Jack O'Neill says it in "It's Good to Be King" after hearing "Surrender your weapons, or die where you stand."
  • The Steve Harvey Show:
    Regina: Steve, can I see you for a moment?
    Steve: Ya know, if I had a nickel for every time a woman approached me with that question...
    Regina: You'd have 12 minutes on a parking meter.
  • Tales from the Crypt episode "Only Sin Deep": "You know somethin' honey, if I had a dollar for every time you stood in the mirror admirin' your face, I could get off these streets and retire to the Bahamas."
  • Two and a Half Men
    • "An Old Flame with a New Wick": "If I had a nickel for every time a girl broke up with me and came back as a man, I'd have a nickel!"
    • "Those Fancy Japanese Toilets"
    Walden: Relax, I'm not going to hook up with your mom.
    Alan: Yeah, if I had a dime for every time I heard that I'd have $3.60. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's happened 36 times.
    Walden: That's a weird thing to keep track of.
  • Running gag on Whose Line Is It Anyway?:
    Drew: Boy, if I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me...
    Ryan: You'd have a dime.
  • Will and Grace:
    Kevin Bacon: Man if I had a dollar for every jock strap my stalker stole from me...
    Jack: You'd have $187!...
    (Kevin Bacon looks at him strangely)
    Jack: (nervously) ...It's just an expression.
  • X-Play: "But first, we start with World War II; oh, if I had a nickel for every time I said that, I could finally afford to buy myself a pony."
  • The Young Ones episode "Bomb":
    Neil: If I had a penny for every time I had to answer the door, I'd have £5.63.

    Music 
  • "If I had a dollar bill for every time I've been wrong, I'd be a self-made millionaire and you'd still be gone" — a Reel Big Fish song.
  • There's a song by David Ryan Harris called "If I Had a Dime"
    If I had a dime for every time I thought of you
    I would be through scraping for crumbs...
  • Similarly, Redmon & Vale's "If I Had a Nickel (One Thin Dime)"
    If I had a nickel for every time
    I wished your love was still mine
    I'd have a dime, one thin dime.
  • In the Olivia Newton-John song "Please Mister Please", the singer laments that "if I had a dime for every time I held you, [...], I could swear I'd be the richest girl in Nashville, maybe even in the state of Tennessee."
  • "Missionary Man" by Eurythmics :
    If I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
    There'd be a mountain of money piled under my chin
  • "God Help Me" by Emilie Autumn:
    If I had a dollar for every time
    I repented the sin but commit the same crime
    I'd be sitting on top of the world today
  • "Take a Hint" by Victoria Justice and Liz Gillies:
    If I had a dollar for every name that you just dropped
    You'd be here and I'd be on a yacht.
  • In "Lodi" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the singer sings "If I only had a dollar for every song I've sung, [...], You know, I'd catch the next train, back to where I live."
  • Tim McGraw's "All I Want Is a Life" has a variant in the line "I wish I had a dime for every hole that's in the carpet".
  • Kevin Fowler's "If I Could Make a Livin' Drinkin'" notes "I'd be richer than Oprah Winfrey if I had a nickel for every beer."
  • The Heart Of Saturday Night by Tom Waits: "Semi Suite"
    You wish you had a dollar
    For every time he hollered that he's leavin'
    And he's never comin' back

    Newspaper Comics 

    Radio 
  • From the radio show A Prairie Home Companion, in a Guy Noir sketch set in New York:
    Sue Scott's character: If I had a nickel for every time I have seen people talking on the phone while they drove today, I could buy the Taj Mahal. Or a studio apartment in Brooklyn.
  • From an interview on WBUR's Here and Now regarding a ballot initiative to split California up into six states:
    Steven Maviglio: If there was a tax on political stupidity, this probably would balance the national debt.

    Video Games 
  • Lara Croft gets a really strange and hilarious one in Tomb Raider Angelof Darkness. Apparently nickels don't cut it...
    Lara: If I had a coconut for everyone who said that...
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones:
    Mahasti: You missed your time! The Vizier has already begun to transform the women I imprisoned! You buy yourself hours at best!
    The Prince: (knocks Mahasti over the edge of the rooftop) If I had some sands for every time someone said that to me. (a cloud of sand comes to him from Mahasti's corpse) Oh! I do!
  • Animal Crossing: One response you may get if you send a nonsensical letter: "Man, if I had a Bell for every note I didn't get, well... I'd have a lot of Bells for sure!"
  • NFL Street has this as a common taunt for a run play that doesn't go well: "If I had a nickel for every yard you just ran, I'd be broke! Flat broke!"
  • A Running Gag in the Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail. Sometimes the narrator also joins the fun.
    Narrator: [on examining a fire hose] Your hose is long and thick.
    Larry: I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard that!
    Narrator: You'd still be broke!

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible
    • In the episode "Ron Millionaire": "If I had a nickel for every time I heard that [talking about Bonnie's comment]… I could have grande-sized!" The plot of the episode revolved around Ron actually receiving a huge royalty check from Bueno Nacho, tabulated as a nickel for ever Naco (a fast-food entree of his own invention) sold.
    • In the episode "Cap'n Drakken", after Dr. Drakken is possessed by a pirate ghost:
    Drakken: Save my booty!
    Shego: If I had a doubloon for every time I've done that...
  • Spongebob Squarepants: "If I had a dollar for every brain you don't have...I'd have one dollar."
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Knights uses this for a Mythology Gag when a pre-Face-Heel Turn Sinestro captures Atrocitus.
    Atrocitus: There are things worse than death, Green Lantern.
    Sinestro: If I had a Power Ring for every time I heard that, I would have my own Corps.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons:
    Dr. Hibbert: Oh, if I had $75 for every novelty I've removed...Oh, by the way, the operation will cost $75.
    Homer Simpson barges into co-worker Frank Grimes' office
    Homer: Hey there, Grimey!
    Grimes: I'd appreciate it if you'd stay out of my office, Simpson.
    Homer: Heh! If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that.
  • Family Guy
    • Brian uses this expression (without spelling out the "I'd be rich" part of the thought), and was completely dumbfounded when his girlfriend's companions didn't recognize the saying on its own. It seemed, though, that Brian himself didn't understand the expression well enough to explain it to them. He seemed to be dumbfounded not only because they were unfamiliar with the expression (which is indeed a bit ignorant), but also because he hadn't thought about the expression enough to immediately know the answer to the question "What does that saying mean?"
    • Another episode has Meg combine this with Curse Cut Short: "If I had a nickel for every time my parents walked out instead of teaching me to drive, I'd be one rich—"
    • In Blue Harvest:
    Luke Skywalker (Chris): They're (TIE Fighters) coming too fast!
    Han Solo (Peter): A nickel for every time I've had that problem. Just keep shooting, Luke!
  • Hey Arnold!:
    Harold: If I had a dime for every time somebody called me dumb... I'd sure have a whole bunch of dimes!
  • In Adventure Time, after he frees Tree Trunks from the power of a crystal apple, Jake tells Tree Trunks if he had a penny for every time someone has been driven mad with magic power...he'd be Abraham Lincoln. Incidentally, this is a pretty common event in their world. Especially since Abraham Lincoln is apparently the ruler of Mars in the Adventure Time universe...
  • Phineas and Ferb
    • The clip show episode plays with this trope from Doofenshmirtz, Phineas, and Linda. It cuts to a set of clips with a running total of money in the top corner. Doof and Linda realize that the total amount equals that of a candy bar.
    • In the movie, Doofenshmirtz noted if he had a nickel for every time he'd been doomed by a puppet... he'd have two nickels. Which isn't a lot, but it's weird it happened twice.
    • Also in "The Wizard of Odd" when Buford was a combination Lion, Tiger and Bear, Buford says this after Candance, Jeremy and Baljeet's response to seeing him was "Oh my".
  • King of the Hill
    • Episode "To Sirloin With Love":
    Hank: If I had a nickel for every time I buckled under pressure, I'd have five nickels.
    • Also used by Cotton, to describe "The Hole" at his old boot camp.
    Cotton: If I had a nickel for every boy who went crazy in there, I'd be eating nickel soup.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Frankie My Dear":
    Frankie: If I had a dime for every time I heard that one...
  • The Oblongs had a subversion: "If I had a nickel for every dollar I had, I'd still be rich"
  • The X's had a double subversion. When dad said that if he had a nickel for every time his cooking skills saved his life, he stopped to make the calculation, and said he would have 5 dollars. While the money isn't a lot, that actually is a lot of Life saving.
  • A Bratz movie features a Literal Genie who actually grants this wish when a passerby remarks that he had a nickel for every time his friend asked if an outfit made her look fat. He gets buried in a pile of nickels immediately after.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: "If you had a nickel for every time [something or other], you'd have like... all these nickels".
  • Archer:
    Cheryl: Ew! It tastes even worse than it smells!
    Pam: If I had a nickel for every time a guy told me that... I'd have eight nickels!
  • An All Grown Up!! episode revolves around Tommy sleep walking and stealing items from his neighbor's yard. When he's caught by the police, he tries to explain what happened and the cop answers him with "If I had a dime for every time someone blamed their crimes on sleepwalking, I'd be a rich man... okay maybe not rich... but I'd own a boat."
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, a worker says he wishes he had a nickel for every car that went over a toll bridge—his companion responds "I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard you say that."
  • From the short, "To Bleep or Not to Bleep" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Test Stress", when Fowlmouth is having a cursing fit:
    Fowlmouth: "I mean, if I had a nickel for every (bleeped explicit) time I spilled something on my clothes, I'd be a rich (bleeped explicit) guy."


Looks like you'd get $3.70 from this page as of this edit.