I'll Take That as a Compliment

Kind of between the Insult Backfire and Compliment Backfire, the reaction of smart people when addressed with an ambiguous compliment (which can be, often intentionally so, a genuine compliment and a backhanded one at the same time). Compare I Can Live With That. Contrast Your Approval Fills Me with Shame.


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     Film — Animated  

  • Home on the Range
    Piggy: Gee, you're the biggest cow I've ever saw!
    Maggie: Well, if you're in charge, I'll take that as a compliment.
    Piggy: Uh...
    Maggie: And if not, I guess I'll just have to sit on you.
    Piggy: MOM!!!!!!
    Maggie: Hey! I'm only kidding!
  • The Road to El Dorado:
    Miguel: You fight like my sister!
    Tulio: I fought your sister, that's a compliment.

     Film — Live-Action  

  • Amy
    Bill Trendle: Jesus, lady, you're worse than my wife!
    Tanya Rammus: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Flash III: Deadly Nightshade
    Dr. Desmond Powell: (wolf whistles)
    Rebecca Frost: I'll take that as a compliment, you sexist pig.
  • High School Musical 2
    Sharpay Evans: When did you become... one of them?
    Ryan Evans: You know, I'll take that as a compliment.
  • James Bond:
    • Quantum of Solace
      James Bond: You know I was just wondering what South America would look like if nobody gave a damn about coke or communism. It always impressed me the way you boys would carve this place up.
      Felix Leiter: I'll take that as a compliment, coming from a Brit.
    • Spectre:
      • Said word-for-word by C when M confronts him about the deactivation of the Double-O program; M isn't amused.
      M: You're a cocky little bastard, aren't you.
      C: (Laughs)...I'll take that as a compliment.
      M: I wouldn't.
  • The Patriot
    Gen. Lord Cornwallis: This is hardly the conduct of a gentleman!
    Col. Benjamin Martin: If the conduct of your officers is the measure of a gentleman, I'll take that as a compliment.
  • The Razor's Edge (1946)
    W. Somerset Maugham: If you're suggesting I was her lover, you're mistaken.
    French Criminal Investigator: It would be no affair of mine. And without wishing to say anything offensive... I must add that, from what I've heard of her proclivities... I should say that you were not her type.
    W. Somerset Maugham:I'm prepared to take that as a compliment.
  • The Sound of Music
    Capt. Von Trapp: If the Nazis do take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.
    Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.
    Capt. Von Trapp: How clumsy of me. I meant to accuse you.
  • Trading Places
    Randolph Duke: Mother always said you were greedy.
    Mortimer Duke: She meant it as a compliment.


  • In the third Ciaphas Cain book, Cain says that "there's only room for one lethally dangerous woman in [his] life". This is accompanied by a footnote from the book's in-universe editor, Cain's close personal friend (and sometimes lover) Amberley Vail: "Which I decided to take as a compliment."
  • In Corpies, Titan's response to Corbin slandering Bubble Bubble is to note that by making himself a target for extremist pro-super groups and still expecting protection, he is showing a lot of trust in the Hero community.
  • Discworld: In Jingo, Vimes responds to Lord Rust telling him "You are no gentleman" with "I knew there was something about me I liked."

     Live Action TV  

  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Strudwick: Dick, without your cowardice and courage we wouldn't be right back where we started!
    Dick: Thank you, Strudwick, I'll take that as a compliment.
    Strudwick: I meant it as an insult!
    Dick: Too late, it's a compliment!
  • 30 Rock:
    Liz: God, Jack, why are you being such a wang about this?
    Jack: I'll take that as a compliment. An Wang, the founder of Wang Computers, is one of the greatest businessmen of the 20th century! And you're the one being a lowercase wang, Lemon.
  • CSI episode "Fannysmackin' "
    Greg: Sara...
    Sara: I didn't think you could see me
    Greg: I can't... I know that Sidle scent...
    Sara: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Unquiet Dead":
      The Doctor: Blimey, you look beautiful . . . considering.
      Rose: Considering what?
      The Doctor: That you're human.
      Rose: I think that's a compliment . . .
    • "Daleks in Manhattan":
      Dalek Caan:

     You think like a Dalek.  

Mr. Diagoras: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • When snarky old ladies collide...
      Lady Grantham: You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.
      Mrs Crawley: I take that as a compliment.
      Lady Grantham: I must have said it wrong.
    • And vice versa...
      Mrs Crawley: And must you always sound like the sister of Marie Antoinette?
      Lady Grantham: The Queen of Naples was a stalwart figure. I take it as a compliment.
      Mrs Crawley: You take everything as a compliment.
      Lady Grantham: I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.
  • Holby City episode "Invasion"
    Percy 'Abra' Durant: You're a fine surgeon, Mr Jordan. But you have the charm of a salt-encrusted slug.
    Nick Jordan: I'll take that as a compliment.
    Percy 'Abra' Durant: I knew you would.
  • In one episode of Monk, "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall", a reporter is very proud of his talent to take nearly anything that is said as a compliment.
  • NCIS. A random character asks newcomer Bishop "What's it like working for Gibbs? I hear he's a real hardass." Gibbs, who is of course, standing right behind him, grins at hearing this, indicating that he's invoking this trope.
  • NewsRadio episode "French Diplomacy"
    Dave: Bill is certainly not John F. Kennedy.
    Bill: I'll take that as a compliment, because if I was, I'd be dead now.
  • Queer as Folk
    Vic: Once upon a time I was a pretty decent chef.
    Debbie: 'Decent?' He was another Sara Lee!
    Vic: I'll take that as the compliment I'm sure was intended.
  • Scrubs:
    • "My Cookie Pants" has a rare example of JD holding his own against Dr. Cox, this time with Perry ranting about how much he doesn't care about J.D. and Elliot's relationship.
      Dr. Cox: What can I say? I just wish you were at home with her.
      J.D.: (smiles) You and me both.
      Dr. Cox: That was an insult.
      J.D.: I know. I thought if I took it as a compliment it would drive you insane and you'd go away.
      Dr. Cox: (grits his teeth and walks away) Damn it!
  • Star Trek: Voyager episode "Life Line"
    Dr. Zimmerman: Well, the last beautiful woman to walk in here turned out to be him.
    The Doctor: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise episodes
    • "A Night in Sickbay"
      Dr. Phlox: My children all left the nest years ago, captain.
      Archer: I would have never guessed. You don't look that old.
      Dr. Phlox: I'll take that as a compliment.
    • "Azati Prime"
      Ensign Travis Mayweather: (Instructing Archer in flying the Xindi shuttle) Good. You're starting to think like an Insectoid.
      Captain Jonathan Archer: I'll take that as a compliment.

     Video Games  

  • Dragon Age: Origins
    Warden: You are a heartless shrew, you know that?
    Morrigan: Yes, yes. I shall take that as a compliment, whether intended or not.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Solas' reaction to Iron Bull's comment on his efficient, no-frills style compared to most mages. Dorian's reaction when Sera asks if there are more Tevinters like him; "like him" meaning "keeping their magic rubbish to themselves."
  • Final Fantasy VI
    Terra: Brother? At first glance, I thought he was some bodybuilder who had strayed from his gym...
    Sabin: I'll take that as a compliment.
    • Even funnier in the GBA dub.
      Terra: Brother? For a moment I thought he was another of Vargas' bears!
      Sabin: A bear? I'll, uh, take that as a compliment.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy Duodecim
    Squall: Typical dirty Chaos trick.
    Kuja: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Heavy Rain (Rabid Cop page quote)
    FBI Agent Norman Jayden: Blake, you are an unbalanced, psychopathic asshole!
    Lieutenant Carter Blake: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • World of Warcraft his this exchange between the Forsaken and Blood Elf faction leaders after the Galakras encounter in the Siege of Orgrimmar.
    Sylvanas Windrunner: Oh, you're still here? I had kind of hoped you perished. You would make a very attractive corpse.
    Lor'themar Theron: I will take that as a compliment.


  • Roommates (Mega Crossover Fan Webcomic) — When James forced his Roommate to greet the new neighbors with a gift basket... again.
    Javert: ...we've all been operating under the horrible misconception that you reformed. I shall set the record strait: You are evil incarnate.
    James: I shall take that as a compliment.
  • Charlotte invokes this trope almost word-for-word in this Ladies In Waiting strip.
  • Schlock Mercenary: When Captain Murtaugh is trying to determine how a Blob Monster can have Super Senses.
    Murtaugh: Wait... is your entire body able to detect pressure waves?
    Schlock: Your voice makes the floor tremble.
    Murtaugh: That's the nicest thing anybody's said to me since I became captain.

     Western Animation  

  • Gravity Falls:
    Pacifica: Mabel sounds like an old granny's name.
    Mabel: I'll take that as a compliment!
  • The Legend of Korra:
    Mako: Your best friend is a... polar bear dog? Somehow, that makes perfect sense.
    Korra: I'll take that as a compliment, city boy.
  • Star Wars Rebels: From "Zero Hour":
    Thrawn: You have the heart of a rebel.
    Kallus: I'll take that as a compliment.

Alternative Title(s): Ill Take This As A Compliment