Batman: Filthy degenerate!A verbal equivalent of Attack Backfire, this is for when Alice comments on a trait of Bob's in a way that's intended to sound negative — but instead of being insulted, Bob feels flattered. Usually, this is because Bob invokes the "insulting" quality intentionally. Less commonly, Bob's The Ditz or has a poor grasp of the word or concept being insulted and take it to be a positive comment. Other times, it's simply a case of Bob having the attitude of pretending that it's not an insult, or even turning it back on Alice: "Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment." A variant is for the character to be insulted, not because they dislike what was said, but because they're obviously so much worse than that. Occasionally, the insult backfires because Alice's remarks were insulting on the surface, but Bob carries them to their logical, ultimately complimentary conclusion. These cases typically only work when the original insult was mild and/or non-malicious to begin with. Related to Stealth Insult, but different in that an Insult Backfire is accidental and a Stealth Insult is sent over the target's head on purpose. Sometimes, it seems the only sure way to insult someones is to give them a compliment. Not to be confused with Insult Misfire, where the target obliviously doesn't realize the insult was directed at them. Compare Threat Backfire. Compare and contrast I Take Offense to That Last One, where there are multiple insults, but the character may only object to one of them. If you phrased your insult poorly ("You fight like my grandma!"), you may get Insult Backfire through Literalist Snarking ("You fought your grandma?"). See also Blunt "Yes", which is often based on a similar theme. Contrast Compliment Backfire (and Calling Me a Logarithm, when someone thinks a word that's not an insult or even not directed at a person is an insult). See also Insult Friendly Fire. Common variations:
Joker: Flattery will get you nowhere.
Joker: Flattery will get you nowhere.
- Villains: Calling them evil, vile, or psycho is likely to make them act Affably Evil and unusually demure from the flattery. Especially if they're of the card-carrying variety.
- Sluttiness: Many a Vamp finds her lasciviousness high praise.
- Alternative Lifestyles: Take your pick, but the person in question is happy with it.
- A Trickster: Acting shocked at their underhandedness.
- Madmen: Anyone who tells them "You're Insane!!" will be met with a response such as "Thanks for noticing!"
- Heroic: The character being insulted is proud of his idealism, honor, heroic tendencies, or some other trait the villain tries to insult.
- Geeks and Nerds are often proud of their geekiness/nerdiness/useless knowledge.
- Feminine Women: The woman is a supporter of equal rights for women and sees no reason why that should stop her from displaying feminine traits.
- Someone who's been criticized a lot over something and is at the point where they brush off insults as "Wow, Never Heard That One Before." Bonus points for critiquing the insulting technique itself.
- Sarcasm-Blind: When a character takes someone else's sarcastic compliment towards them as a genuine compliment.
- Rule of Funny: The character is a complete idiot who loves hearing other people talking about them, whether positively or negatively.
- The insult was done in such a way that the target is able to turn it around with a bigger insult. For example, if someone tries to Trash Talk an opponent while using an unfair advantage in a competition (whether combat or something else) and the target is able to turn it around by insinuating or straight out saying that the individual is unable to beat them without cheating.
- Being insulted by someone with a particularly negative reputation, such as a neo-Nazi, is likely to be interpreted as a compliment by the insulted party. After all, if someone that loathsome is insulting them, they must be in the right!
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Anime & Manga
- In Crest of the Stars, Admiral Spoor's chief of staff is rather appalled at her attitude during combat and calls her Lady of Chaos - a title which she immediately adopts.
- Zelgadis from Slayers is always pleased when someone calls him a heartless magic-using swordsman. He's trying to cultivate the image.
- In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, the eponymous character snaps at Gargoyle by shouting "You're inhuman!!" (literally, in Japanese, "You're not human"). Of course, since he considers himself superior to humanity by virtue of being a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, he thanks her affably for the compliment. The funny thing is, it eventually turns out that he's a human after all. It's doubly ironic that Nadia herself is the one who is literally not human, though she isn't aware of it.
- A similar but less affable example occurs in Trigun: right after the Big Fall, Vash yells at his brother Knives that he's inhuman / not human. The latter proceeds to beat him up for daring suggest that he might be similar in any way to such inferior beings.
- The same character presents a similar reaction when Vash calls him a calamity at the end of the first manga. While he is peeved at the fact that Vash is insulting him, he is proud of being a calamity to humans and proceeds to prove it.
- A variant happens when Vash yells at Legato "From now on, YOU are the hunted!" and the latter answers with a creepy happy smile.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam, when Sovereign Degwin Zabi compares his son, Prince Gihren to Adolf Hitler, Gihren responds that "I'll show you how a man who follows in Hitler's footsteps can fight." Degwin mutters as Gihren leaves: "Just remember, Gihren: Hitler lost in the end."
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Lockon is told that Setsuna was once part of the terrorist organization that killed his family in a suicide bombing. When he later holds Setsuna at gunpoint for this, Setsuna goes on his "I am Gundam" rant and Lockon backs off.
Lockon: (lowers his gun) That's so crazy, I don't want to shoot you anymore. You really are an impossible Gundam nut!
Setsuna: (smiles) Thank you. That's a great compliment.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! dub, episode 161, complete with an explanation on exactly why it backfires:
Téa: (in response to Weevil's boast of beating the Pharaoh) Please, you don't stand a chance, you little cockroach!
Weevil: Why, thank you, Téa. The roach is one of the strongest insects alive!
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! GX dub:
Reggie: You're a nasty, stuck-up snob! And no one here likes you!
Chazz: I'm waiting for the insult.
- Chazz may have reacted this way because it was a big case of the Pot Calling The Kettle Black. Reggie was just as big a snob (if not bigger) as Chazz.
- Also from that episode (number 54):
Alexis: (after hearing Crowler's plan) That's the most selfish, egotistical thing I've ever heard.
Crowler: (flattered) Thank you.
(Jaden, Syrus, and Alexis Sweatdrop)
- Heck, the GX dub loves this trope. Episode 102:
Hassleberry: Who's the man?
Syrus: Jaden! And who's the evil psycho from outer space?
Syrus and Hassleberry: Sartorius!
Sartorius: Thank you.
- In Princess Princess, when Mitaka learns that his rival in the presidential elections, the glorious Sakamoto-sama who he's been hearing so much about, is a plain-looking, soft-spoken average Joe with no charisma, he publicly insults Sakamoto and speculates that he's merely riding on his older brother's reputation. While everyone else is outraged, Sakamoto is impressed (and possibly turned on) by his honesty.
Sakamoto: So for me, whether the person has a bad attitude or not, if they're upfront about how they feel it really puts me at ease. Ever since I came here I've never known what it was like to be attacked like that, so it was actually kind of refreshing. (cue blushing and floral background) It was exciting...
Shihoudani: That's just wrong...
- In an episode of Pokémon, a character of the week attempted to insult Misty by claiming that she was as beautiful as a Tentacruel. Tentacruel just so happens to be one of Misty's most desired Pokemon.
- Inverted in Bleach:
Renji: (after completely destroying the chamber) So... how was it(my tactic)?
Ishida: That's something Kurosaki would have done.
Renji: Don't say that! It's almost an insult.
Ishida: It was an insult!
- Also Ishida to Szayel:
Ishida: You're a monster!
Szayel: I prefer to be called a genius.
- Unohana to Aizen, if you see Aizen's reply as a Stealth Pun:
Unohana: Captain Aizen...No, I shouldn't refer to you as that anymore. The traitorous criminal, Sousuke Aizen.
Aizen: Domo, Captain Unohana.note
- Also Ishida to Szayel:
- Afro Samurai has this exchange between Sio and Dharman:
Sio: You're a wicked twisted, shit-faced genius scientist. You'll burn in Hell for your crimes against nature.
Dharman: You praise me so wonderfully, Lady Sio! I am not worthy of your poetry!
- Whenever someone calls Lupin III crazy. "I think you're bats." "Well, that's the first thing...that you've been right about." * Cuts the rope holding himself and Diana to her kidnapper's chopper.
- In episode four of Baccano!, after Ladd Russo randomly kills two of his uncle's men for his own amusement, the uncle calls him a freak that even homicidal maniacs think is nuts. Ladd refers to this as "ham-handed flattery".
Girl: You are the worst kind of human being in this world.
Izaya: And isn't that just splendid?
- In Code Geass Orange-Kun... Jeremiah is given the nickname when he allowed Suzaku to escape thanks to being geassed by Lelouch and almost everyone with the exception of Villeta called him Orange and of course, he took it to be a grave offense. But after he turned to Lelouch side, he gladly accepted the name Orange; in fact, that was his codename given by Lelouch. He then refers to Orange as "the color of my loyalty".
- Bible Black: Imari gives one to Kitami and backfires twice:
Imari: You're the worst human.Kitami: I'll take that as a complement.Imari: You're the Devil!Kitami: The highest complement!
- In Future GPX Cyber Formula, Asuka says to Randoll about his arrogance and him putting down on Cyber Formula and Hayato when she first meets him, but Randoll, unfazed by this, instead falls in love with her because of that.
Asuka: You might be a genius, but you're the most disgusting person in the world!Randoll: She speaks so frankly. I like that.
- Taken for a alternate ride in Mahou Sensei Negima!
Fate: I'm starting to feel that you're more fitting as a leader of evil nowadaysNegi: I take that as a compliment
- In an episode of Wandering Son a boy calls the protagonist and their friend "little girls" as an insult. Instead of invoking a negative reaction, all it did was make the protagonist blush and smile.
- One Piece uses it scarcely for the most part, but the Straw Hat's shipwright, Franky, who usually dresses in only an aloha shirt and speedo, takes "pervert" as a compliment.
- In Sailor Moon, one Monster of the Week uses people's insecurities against them, leading Sailor Mercury to despair and almost making her attack her friends. Sailor Moon, though? Not only does she completely dismiss all the insults the monster hurls at hernote , no, when the monster says that she's weird, she grins happily and takes it as a praise.
Monster: This kid's actually proud to be a flake?!
Sailor Moon: Yes, I like being unique.The original dialogue, roughly translated:
Giwak: What kind of girl is she?
Sailor Moon: I'll...take that as a compliment.
- In Naruto:
Naruto Since when did you get that smile?Sai Thanks.Naruto It was not a compliment.
- Hellsing gives us Alucard, whose reaction to being called a monster is usually something to the effect of, "Yes, I get that a lot."
- She doesn't take it as a compliment, but in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, after Homura unemotionally explains to Kyoko about magical girls turning into witches, the following exchange occurs:
Kyoko: And you call yourself human?Homura: Of course not. And neither are you.
- In Shin Koihime†Musou, Keifa says that all Enjutsu is good for is eating honey and singing, like a cricket. Rather than feel insulted by this, Enjutsu goes on to say that everyone should keep talking about how great she is.
- In episode 10 of the Animated Adaptation of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, two Nibutani's former classmates appeared at the School Festival and tried to gloat at her past as "Mori Summer", only for Shinka to remember their eight-grade obsessions.
- When Rita tries to criticize Ryuunosuke's reclusive behavior in episode 10 of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, he isn't offended by it at all, since he's fully aware of it, and says he trusts computers more than women. Then he gives Rita a scathing review regarding Rita's "fake smiles".
- Upon first meeting Zeno the Yellow Dragon in Yona of the Dawn, his Cloudcuckoo Lander attitude mixed with him apparently not being as tough as the legends say end in Hak jokingly claiming that he's been the Yellow Dragon all along. Kija proclaims if Hak were a dragon it'd be the Dark Dragon. Hak thinks that actually sounds pretty cool.
- In High School D×D, when Issei tells his friends that he'll have to cancel his summer plans with them because he's going somewhere with the Occult Research Club, his friends tell him to "go to hell!" Issei remarks to himself that his friends are remarkably spot-on: as he and the Research Club are devils, Hell is exactly where they're spending their summer vacation.
- The Joker in Batman is always some combination of a Mad Hatter and a Card-Carrying Villain, so he gets to do this a lot. For example, in Arkham Asylum
Batman: Filthy degenerate!Joker: Flattery will get you nowhere.
- On The Batman.
Joker: Medical Report! Stat!Doctor: Y-you had a bad accident. You're a very sick man!Joker: Flattery won't save you!
- Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: You're insane!Joker: Has it really taken you this long to notice?
- An early version of this (at least for the Joker), from Batman #321.
Robin: You're out of your mind, Joker!Joker: Gloriously so! Isn't it wonderful?
- And an even earlier example in The Joker's Five-Way Revenge (Batman #251). Yeah, the Joker really likes this trope.
Batman: Joker — you realize you're utterly... hopelessly... insane!Joker: It's my most charming trait!
- Subverted, however, in The Dark Knight.
Gambol: You're crazy.Joker: (offended) I'm not... No, I'm not.
- And played straight in Tim Burton's Batman:
Vicky Vale: You're insane...!Joker: (feigning surprise) I thought I was Pisces.
- Batman gets Joker back in a story from Batman: Black and White.
Joker: You know you’re insane, Don’t you?Batman: I'm insane?Joker: Oh sure, I have one or two small delusions of my own but you - you actually think you can stop crime!Batman: What do you mean? (Smiles) I stop it every night.
- On The Batman.
Adam One: Fuck you, you fascist bastard.The Future: You say fascist like it's some kind of insult, but people love fascists, man. You ever meet a woman who fantasized about being tied up and raped by a liberal?
"I do not fuck goats, Mr. Gibson. I make love to them."
- Probably a paraphrase of P.J. O'Rourke who was once called a Nazi by an offended listener. "I have often been called a Nazi... I don't let it bother me for one simple reason. No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal."
- Don't forget Mr. Rictus reply to Wesley calling him a "goatfucker."
- In Enki Bilal's Nikopol-trilogy the eponymous characters once calls the Egyptian god Horus an inhuman bastard. Horus doesn't take this as compliment per se, but still explains Nikopol that he is inheritly inhuman, that is, far above the pathetic human concerns, like morality.
- In the British comic book anthology, 2000 AD:
Dredd: We had a human like you in the 20th century, his name was Hitler!Call-Me-Kenneth: Oh yes, I'm a very big fan of Adolf Hitler!
- Judge Dredd: Dredd at one point confronted the evil Call-Me-Kenneth, a robot leading all the other machines into a rebellion against the humans. Seeing the horrors of what's in front of him, Dredd proceeded to insulting Kenneth:
- From Superman/Batman #4:
Nightwing: Go to hell.Lex Luthor: I've been. It's overrated.
- Exchange between Jean Grey and Emma Frost during Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men;
Jean: What makes you such a bitch, Emma?Emma: Breeding, darling. Top-class breeding.
- From a recent issue of Uncanny X-Men that ties in with Avengers vs. X-Men, when Colossus learns that his sister had manipulated him into becoming the new Juggernaut so he could be as much a monster as she had become;
Colossus: You're insane!Magik(overjoyed): Oh thank you, thank you! I knew you'd eventually understand!
- From a recent issue of Uncanny X-Men that ties in with Avengers vs. X-Men, when Colossus learns that his sister had manipulated him into becoming the new Juggernaut so he could be as much a monster as she had become;
- From the series Anarky the eponymous character confronts Physical God Darkseid and begins to lecture Darkseid on why everything he does is wrong. Just when he's about to use the E-word Darkseid cuts him off and proudly finishes the "insult" for him.
Darkseid: Evil? Yes. I am.
- In JLA, this exchange between Oracle and T.O. Morrow, after she learns that he lied about when the Amazo android would awaken:
Morrow: Letting you think you still had half an hour to assemble the troops was just my way of hanging onto a little criminal integrity, my dear. No hard feelings, I hope.Oracle: You sick freak!Morrow: One tries one's best.
- From the Metal Men strip in Wednesday Comics, #5 - Dr. Pretorius, the villain of the strip, has just revealed that he is wearing a bomb vest, and that his motivation for his attack is that Dr. Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, "stole" the grant he felt he deserved by designing the Responsometers that power the Metal Men.
Dr. Pretorius: To hell with the committee! And to hell with you and your damn amusement park attractions!Mercury: Hey! I Resemble That Remark!!
- From Marvel Adventures The Avengers, Erik "Atlas" Josten tries to do this to Hank "Ant-Man" Pym, who had giant-sized to fight him.
Erik: You won't win, Hank. Why don't you go back to playing with your ants?
Hank: Good idea (Hank enlarges three ants to waist-level). Get him, boys.
- What does Ant-Man do? Smile as he realizes that's not a bad idea at all.
- An odd exchange happened in one arc between Norman Osborn and his then-henchman Mad Jack. In one issue, Norman tried to pay Jack for completing a job, but Jack refused it, flying out Norman's office window:
Jack: Go to Hades.
Norman: Hades? Why Jack... I've been there...
- Many issues later, Norman gave Jack another payment for another job, and this time, Jack accepted it. The previous incident was mentioned:
Norman: I think it's very generous, Jack, considering that you once told me to go to Hades.
Jack: I thought you'd take it as a compliment!
Norman: (smirks) Now that you mention it... I guess I did! (cue Evil Laugh from both villains.)
- In the comic where Spider-Man faces Tombstone after the villain gains superhuman strength and rock-hard skin, there's this exchange after Spidey finds out about it.
Spider-Man: Tombstone... I hate to be the one to tell you this, but... I don't think you're human anymore...
Tombstone: I know...
(Spidey punches him, but only gets a Slasher Smile from the villain)
Tombstone: I'm better.
- To make it worse, Spidey comments that Tombston's grip is "Cold as ice... Hard as marble!" Tombstone actually thinks that sounds kind of catchy, and thanks the hero for thinking of it. ("How else would you describe a tombstone?" he laughs.)
- An odd exchange happened in one arc between Norman Osborn and his then-henchman Mad Jack. In one issue, Norman tried to pay Jack for completing a job, but Jack refused it, flying out Norman's office window:
- The Tick is The Ditz, so frequently he'll interpret insults as compliments or simply not understand that they were insults.
Professor: No insult intended.
Tick: None comprehended! (goofy grin)
- Scrooge McDuck is quite happy whenever someone calls him a "tightwad" or a "cheapskate" or a "skinflint" — the sooner everyone knows that, the sooner they'll know there's no point asking him for money!
- It's apparently a family trait: in one occasion Scrooge and his father were called "Liars and cowards, as well as tightwads", and they took offence only at the liars and cowards.
- At one point Bigby of Fables gets called a "son-of-a-bitch". Since this is literally true, his response is essentially, "Yep, and she was a pretty great mother, too."
- In Batman Eternal, when Jason Bard exposes the new police commissioner as a Corrupt Cop, ans warns the mayor who appointed him that he's next, the mayor spits out "You're just like Gordon, kid!" Without turning round as he leaves, Bard just says "Thank you".
- Garfield employs this from time to time. One notable variation has Jon flatly saying "I don't think you could get any fatter."- which causes Garfield's eyes to widen as he dashes to the refrigerator. "That wasn't a challenge!"
- One exchange between Jon and Garfield goes like this:
Jon: "You have many flaws, Garfield."Garfield: "Thank you!"Jon: "One of which is thinking that insults are compliments."Garfield: "You're too kind."
- One exchange between Jon and Garfield goes like this:
- U.S. Acres: Roy Rooster decided it was time for Booker to start rooster training.
Roy: Okay, Booker. It's time you started rooster training.Booker: Why?Roy: Because you need to practice if you want to be like me.Booker: I'd rather drink pond scum!Roy: Good! You've got the Obnoxious part down!
Dilbert: That is the most cynical thing I've ever heard in my life!
Dogbert: Thanks. I'm blushing.
Dilbert: Dogbert, that is the vainest, most superficial thing I've ever heard!
Dogbert: (Wagging) Thank you.
- Also, when the PHB hires a man-hating supervisor:
Man-hating supervisor: You're fired for being a man.
Asok: No one has ever called me a man before. This is the happiest day of my life!
- Sovisa has had a version of this crop up a few times as a running gag between Alexi and Travis. It typically follows a pattern like this:
Travis: [Disparaging comment] (he makes a lot of these)Alexi: No you're [Same disparaging comment]Travis: I hate it when that stupid comeback works...
- Beetle Bailey: The Chaplain asks worriedly whether Sarge has gained more weight again. Sarge thanks him for noticing, saying that it took him a lot of effort to become so big and important.
- In another strip, Beetle says something to Sarge which he doesn't quite take as a compliment, but he definitely fails to see it as an insult:
Beetle: Your mother wears army boots!
Sarge: (to the fourth wall) I didn't know he knew my mother.
- In another strip, Beetle says something to Sarge which he doesn't quite take as a compliment, but he definitely fails to see it as an insult:
- In With Strings Attached, Ringo is screaming at Grunnel who has just backstabbed the four:
Ringo: Go fuck yourself!
Grunnel: That seems a strangely pleasant way for me to be chastised. I don't understand why you view sex as a punishment.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Professor Quirrell responds predictably to being called "evil":
"Miss Granger," Professor Quirrell said gravely, "it can be dangerous to give people compliments like that when they have not been truly earned. The recipient might feel bashful and undeserving and want to do something worthy of your praise..."
- This exchange from chapter 19 of Ace Combat The Equestrian War:
Rainbow Dash: You know what? I’ve met many psychos and weirdos in my life, but you... You are downright insane!
Red Cyclone: That’s your opinion.
- At one point in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, an angry Vegeta tells Ginyu to go back to polishing Freeza's boots. Naturally the sycophantic captain replies that Freeza doesn't actually wear boots, and then says that even if Freeza DID, Ginyu would have already polished them.
- During his fight with the people-eating Cell Trunks chooses the wrong death threat.
Cell: I'm impressed! Behind all that angst and ridiculous hair there's a real fighter!
Trunks: And behind all that insufferable smarm is a dead man!
Cell: Trunks, you couldn't fathom the amount of dead men behind me.
- During his fight with the people-eating Cell Trunks chooses the wrong death threat.
- From That Epic Plan:
Light: You know I used to think I took the prize for obnoxiousness, but what do you know, I bow to the champion.
Beyond: Thank you, you're too kind.
- From the Harry Potter Crack Fic The Black Bunny:
Harry: You're evil.
Tom: Thank you.
Harry: That wasn't a compliment!
- After L and Kira have a lover's quarrel in Office Politics and Kira sends L a message via dead rapists:
Raito stormed off, and four hours after that, all the detectives gather around the television, torn between laughter and louder laughter when a gang known for kidnapping, gang-raping, and trafficking young girls and boys into prostitution all die of what appears to be autoerotic asphyxiation—bodies falling conveniently in a public square.
The chief squints. "Does that—?"
L narrows his eyes and drinks more coffee.
"Yeah," one of the others says.
"It totally does," another detective chimes in.
"L SUCKS DICK," the Chief reads.
Just under his breath, L mutters, "Not anymore, that's for damn sure."
- Dr. John Watson is a Victorian gentleman to his core, but he does have advanced ideas regarding drugs. And when drugs do pop up in Children of Time...
Milo: A doctor, seriously? Mate, I worked for doctors before this move — you look nothing like one.
Watson: *dryly* I'll take that as a compliment...
- Examples from the Calvinverse:
Susie: Man, you are evil!
- From Retro Chill:
Evil Calvin: Why, thank you.Calvin: You absolutely SICKEN me. You killed one of your own men because he was too hurt to fight. But the part that sickens me MOST is knowing that in my present state; I can't do ANYTHING about it.
Evil Calvin: Thanks for the compliment.
- Turnabout Storm has one between antagonists, with Trixie responding with satisfaction to Sonata's expression of distaste for her.
- Celestia's admonishment of Nav in Diaries of a Madman over his underhanded tactics backfires when he takes it as a compliment. Later on, his attempt to insult Cadance also fails, due to differences in language.
- MLP Next Generation: Know Fear! has this exchange after Shadow Wing destroys the Core Driver holding up Cloudsdale:
Starburst: ARE YOU INSANE?!Shadow Wing: Jury's out.
- There is an inversion in Wear a Flower in Your Hair; Thorin calls Bella a "halfling" believing this to be the correct term for a Hobbit. Only, the word has changed its meaning on arrival in the Shire, and is an insult for hobbits that are considered only half a person, such as infertile Bella.
- Dipper walks into this in Faking It.
Dipper: You? Bill? Not a problem? It’s the only thing you are. You’ve ruined my life, you asshole. You are the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. That could ever happen to me.Bill: *blushing* Aw. Ha! You were even sincere about that! Flattery will get you everywhere, sapling.Dipper, with slow regret, realizes that was a compliment. A pretty big one, by Bill’s standards.
- In Opening Dangerous Gates, Natsu angrily tells a Tengu to stop hiding behind his illusions and fight like a man. The Tengu smirks and says he's not a man, he's a demon.
- In an omake for Lelouch of the Second Chance, Kallen gets fed up with C.C. and irritably tells the latter to eat her. C.C. responds that she fully intends to.
- In The Bridge, Grand King Ghidorah boasts that Irys, Gigan, and Megalon are cockroaches compared to him. Megalon points out he actually resembles a giant cockroach.
- In Not Those Gates, a Castle fic set after Caleb shot Castle and Beckett toward the end of the series finale, Beckett's former captain Victoria Gates arrived at their loft just in time. Later when Beckett woke up in the hospital, she realized that she had called Gates by her nickname "Iron Gates" while under the influence of painkillers, and that Gates overheard it. Gates shrugged it off, saying, "As if I wasn't aware of that name. I bear it with pride, you know...it paid tribute to my tenacity. I don't see anything wrong about it."
Films — Animation
- Beauty and the Beast: Belle achieves this with Gaston due to him not knowing what the word means.
Belle: Gaston, you're positively primeval.Gaston: Well, thank you Belle.
Gaston: If I didn't know better, I'd think you had "feelings" for this monster.
- By the way, "primeval" means "ancient" or "primitive"; Belle was implying Gaston is a caveman. Although as nobody spits like Gaston, he probably wouldn't be insulted anyway.
- A more straighter example occurs when Belle proves the Beast's existence to the townsfolk;
Belle: He's no monster, Gaston! YOU are!
(A nasty glare covers Gaston's face)
Gaston: She's as crazy as the old man! (snatches the Magic Mirror out of Belle's hands) The Beast will make off with your children! (crowd gasps) He'll come after them in the night!
Gaston: We're not safe till his head is mounted on my wall! I say, we KILL the Beast!
- Aladdin features a variant on this; Aladdin calls Jafar a "cowardly snake", which Jafar decides to interpret literally and transforms into a giant snake.
- Quest for Camelot has this:
Juliana: You're mad!Sir Ruber: I'm so glad you noticed! I've been working at it for years!
- Kung Fu Panda
Tai Lung: You can't defeat me! You're just a big, fat panda!
- The Road to El Dorado, amidst much Flynning:
Miguel: You fight like my sister!Tulio: I've fought your sister, that's a compliment!
- Peter Pan
Captain Hook: Scummin' brat!Peter Pan: Thank you, captain!
- In The Simpsons Movie, after the Simpson family escapes from the dome enclosing Springfield:
EPA Official: I'm afraid we lost them, sir.Russ Cargill: Damn it! Well, then you find 'em, and you get 'em back in the dome! And to make sure nobody else gets out, I want roving death squads around the perimeter 24-7! I want 10,000 tough guys, and I want 10,000 soft guys to make the tough guys look tougher! And here's how I want them arranged: tough, tough, soft, tough, soft, soft, tough, tough, soft, soft, tough, soft!EPA Official: (Pause) Sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power...Russ Cargill: Of course I have. You ever tried going mad without power? It's boring. No one listens to you!
Audience: Boo! Boo!Megamind: Booooo! Yes, I can play along too!
Beans: Go to hell!Rattlesnake Jake: Where do you think I come from?
- The Nutcracker Prince
Clara: Why, you're cruel and mean.Mouse King: Your flattery won't stop me.
- The Lorax:
The Once-Ler: Aw, how nice to see someone undeterred by things like reality.
Ted: Thank you.
- A major one in Monsters University.
Johnny: There're always hiring in the mailroom.
- And later, the two protagonists DO end up working in the mailroom and it turns out it was their start to greatness.
- From The Sword in the Stone:
Madam Mim: I find delight in the gruesome and grim.Arthur: Oh, that's terrible!Madam Mim: Thank you, my boy.
Films — Live Action
- Groucho Marx always responded to an accurate insult with the famous phrase: "Why, I Resemble That Remark!!"
- Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."
- A staple of Woody Allen films. For example, in Love and Death:
Boris: (holding a gun on Napoleon) You're a tyrant, and a dictator, and you start wars!Napoleon: Why is he reciting my credits?
- In Toys, when General Zevo tells Leslie, "You're as big a fool as your father ever was!" Leslie gets a surprised but touched look in his eyes and says, "Really?? You think so?...Thank you!"
- In Trading Places, corporate bigwig brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke argue over a meager sum of money, leading to:
Randolph: Mother always said you were greedy.Mortimer: She meant it as a compliment.
- John Woo's Broken Arrow
Riley Hale: You're out of your mind.Vic Deakins: Yeah. Ain't it cool?
- Wet Hot American Summer: "Douchebags are hygienic products. I take that as a compliment."
- The Shadow
Lamont Cranston: You are a barbarian.Shiwan Khan: Thank you. We both are.
- Hocus Pocus
Billy: Go to hell!Winnie: I've been there, thank you. I find it quite lovely.
- This memorable line from Star Wars:
Leia: (I think you are a nice guy) ...occasionally, maybe, when you don't act as a scoundrel.Han: Scoundrel? Scoundrel... I like the sound of that.
- In Spaceballs, calling his gunner an asshole led to Dark Helmet's realization that he's literally surrounded by Assholes.
Dark Helmet: Who is he?Col. Sandurz: He's an Asshole, sir.Dark Helmet: I know that. What's his name?Col. Sandurz: That is his name, sir. Asshole, Major Asshole.Dark Helmet: And his cousin?Col. Sandurz: He's an Asshole, too, sir. Gunner's mate, 1st class, Philip Asshole.Dark Helmet: How many Assholes we got on this ship, anyhow?(All Mooks but one stand up)All: YO!Dark Helmet: I knew it! I'm surrounded by assholes. [Pulls down mask] Keep firing, assholes!
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
Norrington: You are, without a doubt, the worst pirate I have ever heard of.Sparrow: But you have heard of me!
- The classic exchange in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
Gibbs: And you left her still. Oh, that's low.Jack: Thank you.
- Jack Sparrow does this in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End when he replies to a declaration of "You're MAD!" by saying "Thank goodness for that, because if I wasn't, this would probably never work."
- After Jack tells Gibbs that he had feelings for Angelica (but still left her the first time) in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides:
- Rock & Rule (Megalomaniac rock star Mok has coerced Angel into singing for him by torturing her friends/bandmates)
Angel: You're totally crazy!Mok (with a truly creepy expression and vocal tone): Thank you. Shall we go?
- Casino Royale (1967). Daliah Lavi is held captive by archvillain Woody Allen:
Lavi: You're crazy! You're actually crazy!Allen: They called Einstein crazy.Lavi: That's not true; no one ever called Einstein crazy!Allen: Well, they would have if he'd carried on like this...
- The Wicker Man (1973)
- From Demolition Man:
Taco Bell patron: What would you say if I called you a brutish fossil, symbolic of a decayed era gratefully forgotten?
John Spartan: I don't know... thanks?
- From The Sound of Music:
Captain Von Trapp: If the Nazis take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.Von Trapp: Oh, how clumsy of me. I meant to accuse you.
- In most of the first three American Pie movies:
Stiffler: Motherfucker!Finch: Yes ... yes, I am!
- From Slap Shot:
Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken: Dunlop, you suck cock!Reg Dunlop: All I can get.
- Constantine (2005)
Gabriel: Son of Perdition! Little Horn! Most Unclean!Lucifer: I do miss the old names.
- At the end of Funny People, after Ira has deconstructed all of George's personality flaws, George lamely says that Ira isn't funny. Unfortunately, Ira has a comeback for this, too: "You're right, George, I'm not funny. If it means I'm even less like you, fine, I'm not funny."
- In The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Dave asks Blake if he's insane. He responds with a "little bit" sign.
Kat: You guys are disgusting, obnoxious creeps!Stretch, Stinky, and Fatso: Thank you!
- A slightly strange case in Hackers:
Dade Murphy/Zero Cool/Crash Override: Blow me!Eugene Belford/The Plague: (wide smile) Thank you!
- A similar thing happens in 48 Hrs.:
Reggie: Jack...tell me a story.Jack: Fuck you!Reggie: Oh, that's one of my favorites!
- Several from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle with Boris and Natasha. The best is when they steal an animated map from in front of the camera. The narrator calls them "Cheaters", and they both thank him.
- This is a carry-over from the original animated series.
Narrator: The lowest of the low, the vilest of the vile!Boris: Please! You are embarassink me!
- This is a carry-over from the original animated series.
- In the restaurant scene in Big Trouble, the hitman breaks a smoker's finger. The diner then says I hope you realize you just committed assault. The hitman then responds gleefully by saying: I know, I know. You know I remember time was you actually had to hit somebody. Then he pats him on the back.
- The 1992 film Juice has this:
Q: You're crazy, man.Bishop: You know what? Last time you said that, I was kinda trippin', right? But now, you're right. I am crazy. And you know what else? I don't give a fuck. I don't give a fuck about you. I don't give a fuck about Steel. I don't give a *fuck* about Raheem, either. I don't give a fuck about myself. Look, I ain't shit. And you less of a man than me, so as soon as I figure you ain't gon be shit, *pow*! So be it. You remember that, motherfucker. 'Cause I'm the one you need to be looking out for... *partner*!
- In Army of Darkness:
Arthur: Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts?Ash: Nope. Just me baby... Just me.
- While it's not realized in the film itself, there is a straight example in the first Spider-Man. In fact, they are mocking him by saying that that was the only thing Harry could do, that he is powerless to stop them doing whatever they like, and is less of a man than they are because he has no option but to try and wield his father's reputation as a weapon.
Harry Osborn: (after Flash Thompson and his friend bully Peter Parker) Leave him alone!
Flash Thompson: Or what?
Thompson's Friend: Or his father will fire your father. (both laugh and high-five each other)
- The Hangover has this funny exchange:
Stu: You are literally too stupid to insult.Alan: Thank you.
- Mean Girls
Janis: What is that smell?Cady: Oh, Regina gave me some perfume.Janis: You smell like a baby prostitute.Cady: Thanks.
- Easy A
Evan: I don't want people to know that I didn't go to second base with you. Do you know how many girls I've hooked up with because of that?Olive: Wow. Girls are almost as dumb as boys.Evan: Oh, yes they are. Cha-ching.
- The Return of Captain Invincible:
Captain Invincible: Fine talk from a sociopath paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur!Mr Midnight: Thank you!
- Happy Gilmore has a truly crippling example:
Shooter: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.Happy: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?Shooter (panicked): ...No!
- Inspector Gadget
Brenda: I liked you better fat!Dr Claw: (after pausing for a moment with a shocked look on his face) "BRING ON THE BROWNIES! WHEEL IN THE WAFFLES! I'M READY TO BINGE!"
- Near the end of Back to School, Jerk Jock Chas tries to antagonize Jason by telling him "You're gonna be just like your father!" to which Jason replies "God, I hope so - 'cause I love the guy." Also counts as a CMOH.
Hudson: Hey Vasquez, you ever been mistaken for a man?Vasquez: No, have you?
Burke: I thought you'd be smarter than this.Ripley: I'm happy to disappoint you.
- In The Prophecy, Lucifer at one point taunts Thomas by saying that he did hide under Thomas' bed when he was a little boy. When Thomas later defies Lucifer during their final confrontation, he ends up getting the last word.
Thomas: I have my soul, and I have my faith. What do you have...angel?Lucifer: ...Leave the light on, Thomas.
- Primary Colors
Randy: Libby, you're crazy.Libby: Certi-fucking-fiably!
- Uncle Buck
Bug: Ever heard of a tune-up? Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee!
Buck: Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee! Ever heard of a ritual killing? Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee!
Bug: [smirk fades] ...I don't get it.
Buck: Gnaw on her face like that in public again, and you'll be one. (beat) Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee!
- The Wind and the Lion: after the Marines storm the Bashaw's palace we get this following exchange:
Captain Jerome: Captain Jerome, United States Marine Corps, and you are my prisoner, sir.The Bashaw: You are a dangerous man, Captain...and your President Roosevelt is mad.Captain Jerome: (grinning hugely) Yes, sir!
- White Men Can't Jump: "Your mother's an astronaut." "My mother's too drunk to be an astronaut."
- In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, when Damien Drake is turned into a monkey, and then turned back into a human, Daffy Duck remarks, "I liked you better as a monkey...", and then Drake replies, "Thank you!"
- From the Errol Flynn version of The Adventures of Robin Hood:
Maid Marian: Why, you speak treason!Robin: Fluently.
- This exchange from Summer School, right after the class has scared away their replacement teacher:
Vice-Principal Gills: I have seen some sick things before. But this ... this is ...Chainsaw: Devilishly clever?Gills: Vomitous!Chainsaw: (taken aback) Thank you.
- The Rock:
Goodspeed: I'll do my best.Mason: Your best? Losers whine about their best, winners go home and fuck the prom queen!Goodspeed: Carla was the prom queen.
- Observe and Report, in the mall when Ronnie rejects Brandi when she thanks him after saving her from the flasher (due to catching her having an affair with Harrison priorly). He insults and humilates her in front of nearly everyone claiming her to be the sort of girl "who dates and has sex with you, and then stabs you in the back by screwing your enemy". Brandi's reaction appeared to be a mixture of being humilated and slightly flattered...
- Linda Seton doesn't mind a bit if her father thinks Johnny's dream of taking a Holiday to discover himself — rather than settling down and making lots of money — is childish.
Edward Seton: I still must confess that the talk of the two of you seems to me of the seventeen-year-old variety.Linda: I'm glad if it is! We're grand at seventeen; it's after that, that sickness sets in!
- Lincoln: The Ethan Allen anecdote during the Revolutionary War about an American invited to a British home where a portrait of George Washington has been hung in the outhouse. The American considers it a compliment because the sight of Washington must assist Englishmen in completing their business.
- Men in Black: After Agent Kay explains the history of MIB to James Edwards, Edwards asks "When was the last time you had a CAT scan?", and Kay answers "About six months ago, company policy."
- In Cabin by the Lake, serial killer Stanley seems to take being called an insane lunatic near the end with pride.
- From Amazing Grace, during a debate in Parliament, William Wilberforce is accused of spreading revolutionary ideals:
Duke of Clarence: Revolution is like the pox. It spreads from person to person.William Wilberforce: I bow to my honorable friend's superior knowledge and experience in all matters regarding the pox.
- In Super Mario Bros., King Koopa once again does this to Mario after the latter's carelessly-thought-out attempt at a condescending evolution-related zinger.
Mario: What single-cell organism did you evolve from?
King Koopa: Tyrannosaurus Rex. The lizard king, thank you very much!
- In The Patriot, Benjamin Martin responds to an accusation of ungentlemanly behavior with: "If the actions of your officers are the mark of a gentleman, I will take that as a compliment."
- Oliver Stone's Talk Radio. Barry Champlain takes a call from someone who tells him he abuses his kids:
Barry: Joe, you're hitting your kids with brushes and belts. You're psycho. You're a psychopath.Caller: And what are you, friend, a faggot?Barry: Coming from a pinhead like you, that's a compliment.
- A couple examples in Hard Candy:
- When Jeff realizes Hayley isn't kidding about her actions.
Jeff: You're Insane!Hayley: Which I told you when we first met, remember? Four out of five doctors agree.
- Later when Jeff tries to insult Hayley will being tied down on the table.
Jeff: Does your mom know you like to cut off man's balls?Hayley: I've never done it before today, but... maybe I'll tell her when I get home, see what she says.Jeff: So you and your mom are both whacked.Hayley: I don't know. That's that whole nature versus nurture question, isn't it? Was I born a cute, vindictive little bitch or... did society make me that way? [pause] I could go back and forth on that one.
- When Jeff realizes Hayley isn't kidding about her actions.
- In The Matrix Reloaded, when the Oracle angrily calls Agent Smith a bastard, he retorts, "You would know, Mom." note
- In the beginning of Dragon Bones, Ward pretends to be very dumb, so every time someone calls him stupid, he's rather relieved that his plan is still working. Later, when he thinks about the king, he notes what a blood-thirsty, sadistic and overall nasty coward king Jakoven is, and then adds that his own father (who was similar) would probably have liked the king if he wasn't such a coward.
- In the Discworld,
- Mistress Weatherwax regularly tries to become more of a vile old crone, despite her natural good looks.
- She's surprisingly hygienic in spite of the fact that she doesn't bathe, she "just washes. As and when parts become available."
- Granny Weatherwax simply does this because she's trying to fit the role. She is a master of psychology ("headology") and knows people expect a stereotypical witch of her. It's simply better all around for her.
- In Jingo, Lord Rust calls Sir Samuel Vimes "a thief-taker — nothing more". This is what finally makes Vimes sail for Klatch instead of remaining in Ankh: once a thief-taker, always a thief-taker, and Vetinari's terrier is, after all, supposed to chase things. And Rust's war gets a Vimes in the works.
- In Good Omens, the horseman of the apocalypse Famine is killing time by running an Expy of the Burger King, and buys a meal to check that it indeed has no nutritional value and throws it away uneaten. Though it doesn't happen, it's mentioned that if anyone who saw that reminded him that children were starving in Africa, he'd be pleased you noticed.
- In the Prince Roger series, one of the supporting characters is a Satanist. Her (originally Catholic) planet got this way during a religious civil war, in which one side demonized the other as Satanists. The other side accepted and maintained the term, having decided that given the evil of their opponents, Satan must actually be good.
- Calderon's Life is a Dream:
Clotaldo: Why, this is madness!Rosaura: Yes it is.
- To Kill a Mockingbird applies this when Atticus is called a "nigger-lover."
- In Warrior Cats, Blackstar at one point starts going on and on about how generous ThunderClan was to give up a piece of territory, and how much good use ShadowClan has been getting out of it as a hunting ground, using the concession as an opportunity to mock ThunderClan for weakness. Firestar, who had simply not thought the piece of territory important enough to fight for, responds: "I'm glad to hear that you are getting so much out of a piece of land prey-poor by ThunderClan standards." Blackstar is not amused.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione reappropriates the Fantastic Slur for wizards of impure blood, declaring herself to be "Mudblood and proud of it!"
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The new Minister Scrimgeour accused Harry of being "Dumbledore's man through and through". Harry, of course, happily admits it.
- From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, there's the "Weasley is Our King" song. At first it's used by the Slytherins to mock Ron's sub-par quidditch playing, but is later used by the Gryffindors to praise his quidditch playing once he proves himself to be quite good at it. Doubles as a Triumphant Reprise.
- Also in Order Of The Phoenix, when Alpha Bitch Pansy Parkinson sneers at Harry that Montague was going to knock him off his broom, Harry calmly retorts that Montague's aim was so poor he'd be more worried if Montague wasn't aiming for him. Parkinson shuts up after that.
- Invoked in The Lost Library of Cormanthyr, Forgotten Realms novel by Mel Odom:
Zyzll: I don't trust her.Tweent: She's a drow. Don't trust her. She won't be offended. In fact, she may feel quite honored.
- From The Lord of the Rings:
(Frodo's aunt Lobelia:) "You don't belong here; you're no Baggins - you - you're a Brandybuck!""Did you hear that Merry? That was an insult, if you like," said Frodo as he shut the door on her."It was a compliment," said Merry Brandybuck, "and so, of course, not true."
- Gerald Tarrant of the Coldfire Trilogy strives hard to be an absolute depraved monster (with good reason). Calling him any variant on 'evil' only tells him its working.
- The Truax was written as a response to The Lorax by people who thought the message was anti-logging. But the real message of The Lorax was pro-sustainability; or, to put it another way, they responded to the book by rewriting it so that it sucked.
- In Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness, Wakim is showing a distressingly cavalier attitude towards the plague-killed corpse (on a world with no disease and very little death) that he and a woman have discovered.
Megra: "You are a deviant from the social norm!"Wakim: "Is that an insult or a diagnosis?"
- In Lemonade Mouth after the bully delivers the eponymous insult the main band of True Companions decides it's A Good Name for a Rock Band.
- In David Eddings' Domes of Fire, Stragen takes the Styric Council to task for not being more proactive in the emerging crisis in Daresia. When one of the Councillors answers by calling him a bastard, he bears it no mind...because he literally is the illegitimate son of a nobleman. He then proceeds to point out he is also a swindler, murderer, and thief (since he is also the head of a thieves' guild): glibly implying that anything they could call him would not be insulting in the least.
- Invoked in The Fountainhead by Dominique. She writes what looks like savage criticism of Howard Roark, but she intends that Roark get the hidden meaning that his buildings are too good for the city.
- In Excession, a particularly nasty race gets referred to as "an affront to civilization" after eating an group of foreign diplomats. They're absolutely delighted and officially change the name of their species to the Affront.note
- 1636 The Baltic war gives us an example with a self-insult:
Jeff: Just explaining how it happens that at the tender age of twenty-one I'm more suspicious than your average retired cop.Gretchen: I said, stop bragging.
- In Jon Berkely's The Hidden Boy, the main characters practice "Mumbo Jumbo," a sort of listening-to-the-land that allows them to know many things. The term was actually created by the Gummint (government) to try to de-value the practice, but the practitioners embraced the term and it lost all its sting.
- The Alex Rider series' final book, "Scorpia Rising", has this: a captured french agent calls Razim insane, and he calmly replies that a little bit of madness is important for scientific research.
- Early in Cursor's Fury, third book of the Codex Alera, Tavi dubs the incompetent Knights in the legion, "Knights Pisces," after the joke that an untrained soldier flops around like a landed fish. The Knights adopt the name in earnest after Tavi pulls a trick with some sharks, explaining that you'll be surprised just how much damage a fish can do.
- In a meta example, when The Wasp Factory first came out, The Irish Times' review of it called it "a work of unparalleled depravity." The paperback edition gleefully used this as a cover blurb.
- In Atlas Shrugged, a liberal reporter calls banker Michael Mulligan by the supposed slur of "Midas Mulligan" because of Mulligan's ability to make money on his bank's investments — as opposed to making investments for socially worthy purposes which might not be profitable — and the nickname sticks to him. Mulligan likes it so much he has his name legally changed to Midas Mulligan.
- In the Drenai novel Waylander II:
"The man asked [Angel] how it felt to have a face that looked like a cow had trampled on it. He said "Like this!". Then he broke the man's nose."
- His Dark Materials: Invoked by Sir Charles Latrom, a minor villain. When Lyra explains the concept of daemons (animal-shaped embodiments of a soul) to him, she tells him that his daemon would be a dung beetle. He responds that if the Ancient Egyptians were content to be represented by such a creature, then he has no problem with it. It turns out that he actually is from Lyra's world, and therefore does have a daemon: a snake.
Live Action TV
- An unusual example in Smallville:
Chloe: Go to hell.Desaad: No. It be here soon enough.
- The Red Green Show provides us with a classic example.
Kevin Black: Now, I don't mean to be rude but you don't seem to grasp the concept of business management.Red Green: No, we don't and we actually really appreciate the compliment.
- Star Trek: The Original Series "Court Martial":
McCoy: You are the most cold-blooded person I've ever met.Spock: Why thank you, Doctor.
- McCoy has just walked in on Spock playing 3D chess against the computer while Kirk is facing some serious criminal charges. It is revealed that Spock was testing a hypothesis that the computer he was playing against had been tampered with, producing some false evidence framing Kirk. He was correct.
- In "The Return of the Archons":
Spock: I prefer the concrete, the graspable, the provable.
Kirk: You would make a splendid computer, Mr. Spock.
Spock: That is very kind of you, Captain.
- Lampshaded in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:
Spock: As you are so fond of pointing out, Doctor, I am half human.
McCoy: Well, it certainly doesn't show.
Spock: Thank you.
McCoy: How do you like that? This guy never changes. I insult him and he takes it as a compliment.
- About a century later, in Star Trek: The Next Generation and especially Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, calling a Ferengi pretty much anything involving scheming, treachery, greed, deceit, back-stabbing or other weaselry is virtually guaranteed to get you a warm if toothy smile and a "Thank you".
- The Muppet Show had such an exchange between Sam the Eagle and Alice Cooper:
Sam: Mr. Cooper.Alice: Yes?Sam: Let me come right to the point. You, sir, are a demented, sick, degenerate, barbaric, naughty... freako.Alice: Why, thank you.Sam: (sigh) Freakos, 1 - Civilization, 0.Alice turns to the camera, then licks his finger and holds it up for the gesture of "one point to me".
- Used in Doctor Who at various times over the decades. The Master is easily the most frequent offender:
- In "The Sound of Drums", The Master, upon being accused of insanity, just gives a double thumbs up. Example here.
- In the serial The Time Monster, the Master completely annihilates the Doctor (Jon Pertwee). Companion Jo Grant remarks that it was the most brutal, inhuman, monstrous thing she had ever seen. The Master gives a nod and says "Thank You" as if he were accepting a compliment on his new suit. On the other hand, after it turns out the Doctor isn't dead the Master is somewhat lost for words (see God Guise).
- In "The Five Doctors" The Time Lord President himself informs him "You are one of the most evil and corrupt beings our Time Lord race has ever produced. Your crimes are without number and your villainy without end." The Master just sits there, with the most colossal smirk on his face imaginable.
- In The Movie, a hospital receptionist who believes the Master is an ambulance driver named Bruce responds to his odd choice of words by commenting, "Bruce, you are sick." The Master responds, "Thank you."
- "You speak treason!" "FLUENTLY!"
- In "The Lazarus Experiment", Tish calls the Doctor a "science geek," and when Martha explains that it means he's "obsessively enthusiastic about it," the Doctor's flattered.
- In The Ultimate Foe, Mel calls the Master "utterly evil" after learning his plot. His response? What else? "Thank you." Simple, but cute.
- There's another one in the deleted scenes, when she calls him "despicable".
- The End of Time:
- Wilf: What have you done, you monster?!The Master: Oh, I'm sorry, are you talking to me? Or to me? Or to me? Or to me? Or to us?
- Wilf got his own back in part 2. When the Master condescendingly told the Doctor, "Oh, your dad's still kicking up a fuss,"(referring to Wilf) Wilf defiantly replied, "I'd be proud if I was."
- Another heroic example occurs in "School Reunion". Never has a robot sounded so smug.
Mr. Finch: You bad dog!K9: Affirmative.
- In "The Family of Blood", when a Tim Lamiter absorbs some of the Doctor's psyche and runs off to help him:
Hutchinson: Latimer, you filthy coward!
Tim Latimer: Oh, yes, sir! Every time!
- Also in the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, "The Gift":
Sarah Jane: I should have known. You're as bad as they are.Slitheen-Blathereen: For that remark, we won't kill you.
- And in the same episode:
Sarah Jane: Isn't destroying a planet for profit more on the Slitheen side?Slitheen-Blathereen: How dare you! We're nothing like the Slitheen! We're much, much worse!
- For reference, neither Slitheen nor Blathereen are races. In fact, they're family names. The race itself is called Raxacoricofallapatorians. For obvious reasons (and the fact that anyone Genre Savvy enough might use that information to kill them), they prefer to stick with their family name.
- At the end of "The Daemons", when the Doctor says he'll want to talk to the Master later, the Master sneers "You always were an optimist, weren't you?" The Doctor replies "Thank you for the compliment."
- From Will and Grace:
Jack: You're evil and shallow.Karen: Compliments? So early in the day?
- Top Gear: The "ignore the insult" variant is a fairly common element of the Odd Couple chemistry between Jeremy Clarkson and James May
May: [after reviewing a Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe] I believe deep in my heart that I look good in it and it suits me... 'cause it's stylish and it's contemporary.[audience laughs]Clarkson: [sarcastically] Every time I see you, those are the words that pop into my head: stylish and contemporary.May: Thank you.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 used this trope as one of Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt's catchphrases in the first and "zeroth" season, before it petered out later on. Joel would call them mad, or tell them that they were tampering in God's domain, or some such, and they would reply, in unison, "Thank you!"
- Earth vs. the Spider, largely considered an early years Shout-Out by the fans, shows Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank using this phrase, only to look confused at the occurrence immediately after. (This episode also contained an explicit reference to Dr. Erhardt, who was Put on a Bus between seasons one and two, and a sketch of the 'Bots being given RAM chips as rewards for complimenting the film—a Running Gag that had been long since phased out.)
- Also has a Real Life example. After Kevin Murphy took over as the voice of Tom Servo, he was sent a massive print-out banner bearing the words "I HATE TOM SERVO'S NEW VOICE!" Kevin found it both highly amusing and incredibly sad that a fan would be so angry at a puppet on a TV show, and he proudly hung the banner in his workspace at Best Brains.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
Jellyfish Warrior: I was hoping I'd catch you, little power fishies. (evil laugh)Zack: Oh, yeah? Well, you're the one who's caught, slime!Jellyfish Warrior: Flattery will get you nowhere, little mastodon!
- In an early episode, Bulk tells Skull he's driving like a maniac (escaping from a giant Goldar) and Skull thanks him.
- Another episode, "Reign of the Jellyfish":
- Power Rangers S.P.D.:
Broodwing: You may be a millionaire, but you're still the same disgusting, filthy, wretched piece of worthless garbage to me!Piggy (earnestly): Thank you! It's nice to know money hasn't changed me.
- Piggy, the bottom-feeder informant-on-the-streets type, finds a winning lottery ticket that lets him pay off all his debts to Arms Dealer Broodwing and open his own bar, much to Broodwing's annoyance.
Syd: This place is a roach-infested germ farm.Piggy: Thanks! I've done my best.
- Later in the same episode:
- House had plenty. Such as:
Dr. Wilson: That smugness of yours really is an attractive quality.Dr. House: Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain....Dr. Wilson: Be yourself: cold, uncaring, distant.Dr. House: Please, don't put me on a pedestal.
- Black Adder The Third:
Judge: You stand accused of great stupidity.Baldrick: Thank you, your honour
- There's one from Prime Minister Pitt the Younger, referred to as "Mr. Snotty" by the Prince Regent. Pitt replies that he'd rather have a runny nose than a runny brain. Unfortunately for him, the insult flies all around George's head.
- This gem from Baldrick when he appeared on Noel Edmunds' "Clown Court":
- In Whose Line Is It Anyway? an exchange like this will happen during one of the games where they have to play as someone; it's usually not an insult, but one time Greg Proops was to play as a "nerdy white guy desperately trying to act street". Greg's response was "Yes, but what's my character?"
Wayne: Bachelor no. 1?
- One golden moment from the "Let's Make a Date" game, where one player invariably plays some kind of ditz when trying to guess what the bachelors are acting like:
Brad: (as a puritan witch hunter) Yes, harlot?
Wayne: (beat) Now how'd you know my middle name?
Brad Sherwood: (doing a strip-tease) Hi, I'm Colin Mochrie.
- From a game of "Scenes from a Hat," the scene was "Secret Lives of 'Whose Line' Stars"
Colin Mochrie: (as the guy watching the strip-tease) Hi, I'm Brad Sherwood!
- From Red Dwarf
Rimmer: You're totally egocentric, you flee at the first sign of danger, you only look after number one, you're vain, you're selfish, you're narcissistic and you're self-obsessed.The Cat: You just listed all my best features.
- And in another episode, after Rimmer double-crosses them:
Lister: ...you're a total scum-sucking, two-faced, weaselly weasel!Rimmer: Ah, my entry in "Who's Who." (walks out)
- Yet another Cat example:
Lister: You really are gullible.The Cat: Thanks!
- And in another episode, after Rimmer double-crosses them:
- Life On Mars:
Gene Hunt: I think you've forgotten who you're talking to!Sam Tyler: An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding?Gene Hunt: You make that sound like a bad thing.
- This example from Angel is somewhere between this trope and a Stealth Insult depending on how mean it was meant to be (probably not very given the person speaking). When Harmony Kendall goes to see Lorne for help she gives a rather painful rendition of "Memories" so that he can read her future from the song. Lorne comes to talk to her afterwards and says "I can't help you, my little Cacophony". She's disappointed, then a second later says "Cacophony... that's pretty... what's it mean?"
- From the Comic Relief skit with Catherine Tate as Lauren and David Tennant as her English teacher.
Mr Logan: You are the most insolent child I've ever had the misfortune to teach.Lauren: Thank you.
- Dr. Ellingham in Doc Martin on multiple occasions responds to insults with a hasty "thank you". It seems he's either being sarcastic or just saying it to shut people up and get the last word.
- From No Heroics episode "Origin and Tonic":
Alex: You look like a right slag today.Sarah: Aww, cheers, Alex.
- Alex has walked in too late to hear that Sarah's dressing slutty on purpose to annoy her parents, who are visiting the pub.
- Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes To Vegas":
Natalie: (to Stottlemeyer) He gets hooked on everything. He's the most compulsive person I've ever met!Monk: Thank you.
Natalie: Mr. Monk, you're not flustered - you're flattered! Who wouldn't be? She adores you; she knows everything about you. After all, you're only human.Monk: There's no need for name-calling.
- The opposite happens in 'Mr. Monk And His Biggest Fan':
- One episode (can't remember the title) had someone pointing out how lonely Monk must be. His response? "Yes, I am, thank you." It's the one where he visits Mexico, and it's not meant that way - Monk is appreciative someone understands how lonely he is due to all his neuroses.
- A milder variation from NUMB3RS, when Don Epps confronted his senior supervisor McGowan in order to reinstate Charlie Epps' security clearance.
McGowan: You and your brother have the same way of looking at things, you know that?Don: (laughs) I haven't heard that but... I'll take it!
- From The Thick of It:
Olly Reader: "Malcolm, you're bullying me..."Malcolm Tucker: "How dare you! How dare you! Don't you ever, ever call me a bully... I'm so much worse than that."
- ...and after Malcolm wins the job that Nick Hanway wanted, via numerous plans
Nick Hanway: "Fuck you very much, you unscrupulous bastard!"Malcolm Tucker: "Scruples? What are they? Those low-fat Kettle Chips?"
- Most insults aimed at Malcolm backfire as he is already fully aware of his bastardry. The tables are turned however when he finds himself in a meeting at The BBC, trying to offend two TV producers with inappropriate comments. One tells him "that's exactly the sort of banter we're looking for!": Unused to such butt-kissing, he responds by looking absolutely terrified.
- ...and after Malcolm wins the job that Nick Hanway wanted, via numerous plans
- From The Persuasionists episode 4:
Billy: Emma, you are weight obsessed! This is why the other girls call you Skeletor!Emma: The other girls call me Skeletor?Billy: Yeah.Emma: Oh, that is so nice! I do have quite high cheekbones, don't I?
- Cold Case episode "Ravaged" pretty much had one of these as the reason why the killer, a sleazy Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who took advantage of women, killed the victim, a woman on rock bottom who rejected him:
Sponsor: Lower than you! You're nothing!Victim: ... And even I won't have you.
- On several occasions, Simon Cowell has referred to contestants' singing in Idol tryouts as horrific. Not knowing the word, some of them took this as a compliment until they were very quickly corrected.
- From True Blood:
Bill: I find myself in doubt whether you ever were truly human.Pam: Thank you.
- Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother often takes an insult to be a compliment
- From Friends:
- In "The One With the Cooking Class", Joey mistakenly believes a review reading "Everything else in this production of Our Town was simply terrible. Joey Tribbiani was abysmal," to be a compliment. Later on this leads to Compliment Backfire when he describes Monica's cooking as "abysmal".
- Another example in "The One With The Dirty Girl", the eponymous girl (who is SMOKING hot) agrees to go on a date with 'nerdy' guy Ross, leading to this exchange with ex-girlfriend Rachel:
Rachel: Well maybe she and her friends are just having a contest to see who can bring home the biggest geek.
Ross: Fine by me, hope she wins.
- On Sonny with a Chance, the annoyed cast of So Random draws a mustache on Chad's picture on the billboard he puts up to help him win Sonny back. While Nico, Tawni, and Grady laugh about how Chad really looks like a fool now, Zora points out, "Isn't that the whole point of this sign?" Her three costars stare at her while, offscreen, Chad yells, "Hey guys! Thanks for making it better!"
- The Wire examples:
- Amoral Attorney Maurice Levy attempts to undermine the prosecutions witness, Omar, by reminding everyone what a terrible person he is. It seems to be working really well until Omar points out that they aren't so different. Throwing his insult right back in his face.
Levy: You are amoral. Are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You stealing from those who themselves are stealing from the lifeblood of this city. You are a parasite who leaches off...
Omar: Just like you.
- When Herc gets annoyed that all the local hoppers wear their hats backwards, he leans out his window and sarcastically asks a passing kid where he bought his hat, with the bill on the back of the head. The kid doesn't get it, and explains that it's a normal hat, just turned around. Herc is left speechless.
- Amoral Attorney Maurice Levy attempts to undermine the prosecutions witness, Omar, by reminding everyone what a terrible person he is. It seems to be working really well until Omar points out that they aren't so different. Throwing his insult right back in his face.
- In the Japanese drama Shōkōjo Seira, after purposely spilling soup over Seira and making her clean it on her knees, the Alpha Bitch scathingly remarks how she looks like a mouse. Seira calmly thanks her and replies that she likes mice.
- Degrassi had a few between Mia and Holly J., the former would say something along the lines of Holly J being evil or the devil, Holly J would smile and say she 'liked the sound of that.'
- In an episode of Farscape. The villain of the episode is a crazy, amoral Mad Scientist and the hero disgustedly compares him to Mengele. This backfires, as after hearing a bit about Mengele, the villain declares him a visionary.
- On Pee-Wee's Playhouse:
Cap'n Carl: Ya know, Pee-Wee, you got a really twisted side to you.Pee-Wee: Gosh, thanks, Cap'n Carl! Hehheh!!
- From Leverage:
Andy: You see, when people say "controversy", I hear "attention".Sophie: Andy, you are shameless.Andy: Oh, god, you get me so well.
Goon: You know when I said earlier you had pretty hair? I lied.Parker: Yeah, well, I lied when I said you didn't. Wait... dammit. ('jumps off bridge to escape')
- An addition one featuring Parker
- From Burn Notice:
Child Molester: Go to hell!Michael Westen: Come with me.At this point, Michael is wearing a particularly natty black suit and red shirt-and-tie combo, has introduced himself (once) as "Louis", and keeps blowing stuff up with a click of his fingers. The target isn't entirely sure that Michael isn't the Devil.
- In one episode of Castle, FBI agent (and jealous ex-boyfriend) Sorenson tries to mock Castle's amateur sleuthing skills, by calling him Nancy Drew, but it backfires:
Castle: Is that supposed to be an insult? Because Nancy Drew solved every case...
- In another episode, Captain Montgomery rattles off a profile for a serial killer the cops are investigating, prompting Castle to remark on how many characteristics he shares with the killer. When Montgomery reaches "menial, unimportant job", Beckett snidely quips that the killer is definitely him. Quick as a flash, Castle retorts that just for that, he'll base his next bestselling mystery novel on Detective Esposito instead of her. Beckett looks rather annoyed and insulted.
- Harper Finkle from Wizards of Waverly Place says she's rewired her brain to make any insult come off as a compliment.
Mr. Laritate: Well, if you think you have a better interpretation of what art class should be, why don't you share it with us?Alex: Right. Everyone, grab your brushes and paint whatever you want. Be creative, spontaneous, passionate.T.J.: I'll show you passion!
- Then there's T.J. Taylor; an only child and wizard on neutral-bad terms with the Russo Family, he always says "I'll show you [insert whatever the other person just said here]!" The best and worst instances of this are shown in the episode "Art Teacher". Alex did a good deed which resulted in her art teacher losing her job, and the successor is not up to Alex's standards.
Alex: My first job as deputy is this: T.J., why don't you take out your sketchpad and draw yourself a detention slip.T.J.: (scoffs) I'll show you a detention slip!T.J.: That backfired.
- After which he begins a paint fight between the two wizards, marking the first time he backs up his words; any other time it was just an empty threat, if a threat at all, which is why it belongs under this page. The end result of the aforementioned fight is all of the deflected paint being splattered on Mr. Laritate, who subsequently praises Alex for her passion and promises to find a new art teacher, and promotes her to Teacher's Deputy. She then walks over to T.J.
- When the tutor for Max turns out to be a really pretty girl, Alex disdainfully tells Justin that guys are so easy falling for a pretty face. Justin just gives her a grin and agrees.
- Also, when Justin snarkily suggested "A Night To Dismember" as a name for Alex's zombie prom, she decided that sounded cool.
- In VR Troopers, JB is battling Spikebot who mentions transforming into a more uncomfortable form and being dressed for the occasion. JB tells him that he's just as ugly either way, Spikebot replies "flattery will get you nowhere". The battle afterwards is brief and anticlimactic (although Spikebot did not die as easily as most bots).
- Drake & Josh pilot episode:
Josh: You're the worst stepbrother ever!Drake: Harsh.
- In an episode of Muppets Tonight, Clifford is headhunted to host The Mario Nuts Show. He calls it "the most disgusting, depraved, irresponsible, and immoral excuse for a television program I've ever seen", and the producers think this means he's accepted the offer.
- Chef Ramsey in Hell's Kitchen insults contestants on a regular basis every time they screw up. One contestant wrote an order on a ticket that looked like a child wrote on it. Ramsey insulted the chef for the screw up and questioned the guy's education buy asking If he went to school!?" and the chef simply responded that he did not go to school. This actually stunned Ramsey and even more so when the chef confessed that he did not get an education because he spent his life working to support his family after he came to the United States. Ramsey begrudgingly apologized and told the chef to keep working.
- A Variation appears in The West Wing in that President Bartlet practically asks Josh to insult him like this:
Bartlet: "I'm just as big a cotton candy ass as they are,"Josh: "Yes, sir."Bartlet: "You just going to let that hang in the air?"Josh: "Of course not, sir. You're a much bigger cotton candy ass than they are."Bartlet: "Damn right."
Bartlet: [Genially] Well, thanks for trying but here I am anyway.
- Later in the series, when Matt Santos is referred to as a liberal by conservatives, he delivers a brilliant response which lets them know that he's proud to be called a liberal.
- After being fired for incompetence, the former Ambassador to Bulgaria snidely informs Bartlet that he didn't vote for him in the election. Since Bartlet won the election anyway, he's not overly bothered:
- A variation occured in Two and a Half Men. A running joke is that Charlie often goes makes a meowing sound and then making a whipping motion towards Alan when trying to hint that Alan is a pussy. This eventually backfired during a psychotherapy session after Alan was sleepwalking and trying to make a cake, where he does this to Alan and it resulted in the psychiatrist attending the session to schedule a future appointment with Charlie when she mistakenly interpreted the mocking action by Charlie as a means to communicate his fear of Vaginas.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike and Buffy have had sex for the first time, so Spike points out that Nothing Is the Same Anymore.
Buffy: The only thing that's different is that I'm disgusted with myself. That's the power of your charms. Last night was the most perverse, degrading experience of my life.Spike: (smiling happily) Yeah. Me, too.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Howard is showing his friends his programmable robot arm. Sheldon makes a smart-aleck retort about the robotic arm. Howard then attempts to retort by programming the robot arm to flip the bird at Sheldon. However, due to either a misprogramming or a glitch, the robot arm instead makes a gesture that was misconstrued by his friends as a peace sign.
- In The Young Ones, Rick called a man a fascist and got the reply 'Si'. He could have picked a better thing to call Benito Mussolini.
- Seinfeld George has it really though when he tries to get back at a guy for insulting him during a meeting. Made even worse by the fact that he considered his original comeback so devastating that he spent the whole episode trying to get the guy to repeat the insult so he could use it.
Rodney: Hey George, the Ocean Called, they're running out of Shrimp.George: Oh yeah, well The Jerk Store called, they're running out of you.Rodney: What's the difference, you're their all time bestseller!George: Well I had sex with your wife!Person at the meeting: His wife's in a coma.
- In an 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, Harry runs for political office and his opponent makes an attack ad full of lies. Not-so-bright Harry takes it extremely well: "That ad mentioned my name like twenty times. That was great publicity."
- In Chappelle's Show, during the second of the two "C: True Hollywood Stories" skits, Charlie Murphy describes a time when Prince challenged him and his friends to a game of 3-on-3 basketball. Charlie, amused by Prince's mannerisms and getup, mockingly calls the game a "shirts vs. blouses" contest, referring to Prince's team as the latter. Later, after Prince's team wipes the floor with him:
Prince: Game... (game-winning slam dunk) "blouses".
- From It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods":
Dennis: Would you consider me a methodical person?Charlie: Ah yeah, like a serial killer.Dennis: I like that. It's a little bit of an exaggeration, but I see your point. And I like it, I take it as a compliment.
- In Yes, Minister, Hacker calls Sir Humphrey a "moral vacuum". When Bernard asks Sir Humphrey if he'll become a moral vacuum as well, Humphrey replies certainly, if he works at it...
Annie: You don't count, Britta. You don't respond to anything appropriately.Britta: Thank you.
- In a 30 Rock episode, Liz calls Jack a wang. He replies, "I'll take that as a compliment. An Wang, the founder of Wang Computers, was one of the great businessmen of the twentieth century. And you're the one being a lowercase 'wang', Lemon."
- In an episode of Babylon 5, Garibaldi tells Bester how he'd like to use him as a pinata. Bester considers this, and then says "So you think of me as something bright and cheerful, full of candy and toys for young children. Thank you, Mr. Garibaldi." Though considering this is Bester we're talking about here, he probably did it on purpose to infuriate Garibaldi.
- A similar instance occurred when Londo, the Centauri Ambassador, was being honoured by his people. Ambassador G'kar turned up wearing shoes (apparently a grave insult at such a function). Londo not only isn't offended, but gladly welcomes G'kar to the celebration and calling him 'friend'. It manages to confuse G'kar so badly that he gets a migrane and has to leave, with Londo muttering to himself afterwards "I love doing that to him."
- In Game of Thrones, the former sellsword Bronn highlights the difference between his receiving the title of knight from merit as opposed to getting it because of a high birth:
Ser Meryn Trant: "You're an up-jumped cutthroat. Nothing more."
Bronn: "That's exactly who I am. And you're a grub in fancy armour who's better at beating little girls than fighting men."
- At one point, Tyrion explains to Jon how to make Insult Backfire work for him, by accepting and owning his imperfections:
"Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
- At one point, Tyrion explains to Jon how to make Insult Backfire work for him, by accepting and owning his imperfections:
- Flander's Company, in the season 4 finale:
Alternate Cindy: You can't do that! It's... it's...
- Hippolyte to Alternate George, after the reveal he's the Big Bad:
Hippolyte: It's Evil. Congratulations, little girl: you've just met your first supervillain.
Alternate George: Oh, coming from such a specialist as yourself, I'll take this as a compliment, thanks.
Über-Caleb: You bastard!
- Then Damien does this against Über-Caleb:
Damien: (grinning) Flatteries will get you nowhere...
- Horrible Histories' Vlad the Impaler sketch:
Vlad: You know what the Ottomans will say when they see the bodies of 20,000 of my own people spiked on the border?
Interviewer: You're Insane!
- TV Guide once put up a list of the worst TV shows in the history of the medium, with Jerry Springer at #1. The show now opens every episode with "Voted the worst show in the history of television!"
- Taxi Normally gentle, an aggravated Latka Gravas makes a rude foreign gesture to Louie dePalma. Louie makes a more familar Italian gesture back at him. They go back and forth until Louie flicks his teeth at Latka with thumb — clearly the most obscene gesture he could do on TV. Latka's response: "Okay, I accept your apology."
- Chicago Fire In "Professional Courtesy", Mouch quips that the firehouse is out of spending money because they used it on an elliptical machine "so Shay can have a toned ass." Shay immediately replies that everyone benefits from her having a toned ass, which Mouch concedes to.
- In an episode of Sledge Hammer!, Da Chief tries to chew out the violent Cowboy Cop protagonist:
Trunk: You sadistic, depraved, bloodthirsty, barbaric...Hammer: Is that why you called me in here? To shower me with compliments?
- On Pramface, Mike asks Beth how he looks when he's found religion, dressing all in white with a prominent cross, and says "thank you" when she answers "like a lunatic."
- One episode of Dragon's Den, has a man trying to get a deal on a product which helps eliminate aging in the face. Mark Cuban not believing in the product, accuses the man of being a "gold digger". The man pitching the product replied: "I'm AM a gold digger, I'm an entrepreneur." He ultimately makes a deal with Lori Greiner.
- Defiance has the following exchange when Nolan realizes that Stahma is a worse threat politically than her husband:
Nolan: I've had my eye on the wrong snake. You're the dangerous one.Stahma: (seemingly honest) You're sweet.
- An old, old example in a song from Rich Little's A Christmas Carol (HBO, 1979). (Rich, doing his impressions of famous people, played all the characters.)
Dick Wilkins ("Jimmy Stewart"): Ebenezer, Ebenezer/Your heart must live in a freezer/You're a miser and you're so unfair!Ebenezer Scrooge ("W.C. Fields"): (Beat) Flattery won't get you anywhere.
- The Nickelodeon short "Attack of the Giant Vulture" contains this exchange:
Robin: You are the ugliest bird I've ever seen!Giant Vulture: Why thank you, and now it's dinner time!
- Played with at the end of the pilot episode of New Tricks. After a round of mild bickering about their unorthodox methods, Superintendent Pullman accuses the retired cops she now works with of being 'criminals'. They react with offence. She amends the insult to 'crooks' instead. This, they can live with.
- WKRP in Cincinnati - Herb hears that Mrs. Carlson called him "addle-minded" and takes it as a compliment. While he's looking up the word, he gets in a slap-fight with Les over who the addle-minded one is. Bailey stops them, saying "You're both addle-minded!" - and they thank her.
- Karen of Other Space is often criticized for her brusque manner, but she always takes it as this.
- On Slings and Arrows, Geoffrey (who's directing a production of Macbeth) and Henry (his lead actor) disagree fundamentally about the play's interpretation. Geoffrey thinks it's necessary to showcase Macbeth's vulnerability in order to humanize him; Henry thinks Macbeth should remain in control of himself at all times (or, more precisely, Henry is the kind of actor who wants to be in control of his own performance at all times, and that informs the way he plays Macbeth). As a result of this conflict, Geoffrey pulls Henry out one night and puts in his understudy. Geoffrey thinks this is a great success. Henry, well...
Henry: I saw a man stuttering and sweating his way through Macbeth. Now, if that was your desired effect, well, I'd say you succeeded admirably.
Geoffrey: (proudly) Yes.
- Daft Punk got its name from a review of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo's previous band Darlin', which the reviewer called "a bunch of daft punk".
- After The Yardbirds broke up, Keith Moon told Jimmy Page that his new band was 'going to go down like a lead balloon.' The name of the band alone illustrates how spectacularly that insult failed.
- Hip hop example: In the song "Second Round K.O.," Canibus included in his disses of LL Cool J, "99% of your fans wear high heels." The intention was to insinuate that LL was not "hard" enough to appeal to men, but the impact is considerably weakened by the fact that the name "LL Cool J" stands for "Ladies Love Cool James." LL Cool J responded in the song "The Ripper Strikes Back" with the following lyric: "Ask Canibus, he ain't understandin' this/'Cause ninety-nine percent of his fans don't exist."
- A musical at Six Flags called "Love at First Fright" featuring an evil sorceress who wanted to hero's brain for her creation. At one point all the protagonists chorus, "WITCH!!" This is followed by a long beat, after which she gleefully replies, "Guilty!"
- Savage by Helloween:
They just call us savageThat's what I like to be
- A lot of critics — including John Lennon, his former writing partner — were fond of sneering that all Paul McCartney ever wrote were 'silly love songs'. In response, he wrote 'Silly Love Songs', which acts as a cheerful affirmation of this:
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songsAnd what's wrong with that?I'd like to know'Cos here I goAgain!
- Insane Clown Posse:
Call me a psycho schizo freak...and I'll call you by your name!
- Axl Rose once contemptuously referred to the Eagles of Death Metal as the "Pigeons of S*** Metal". The band loved it so much that one of them got the phrase on a tattoo.
- Those who play "Born in the USA" as anything but the protest song it was meant to be.
- Not as much of a protest song, but Elton John brings us "Made In England", which many mistake for a pro-English anthem. However, the lyrics betray the negative aspect of England that a gay man growing up in 50s England would have experienced.
- The song "Yankee Doodle" is thought to have originated from British soldiers in the Colonial Army to mock the colonials. "Doodle" is thought to have originally meant a fool or simpleton. The verse "stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni" mocks a foppish fashion at the time involving feather caps and tall wigs. Essentially the song paints a typical American as a backwoods hick with delusions of sophistication. The insulting meaning was quickly forgotten and it has become perhaps the most classic patriotic song outside of the national anthem.
- The Canadian-penned song "American Woman" is a criticism of American politics, but many people think it's about the singer's interest in an American woman.
- Tom Lehrer's fight song parody "Fight Fiercely, Harvard" is regularly performed by the Harvard marching band at football games. (And Lehrer himself liked to quote negative reviews on his album covers.)
- The Does Not Understand Sarcasm varient is used in several of the Smothers Brothers well known routines.
- Frank Zappa wrote 1982's "Valley Girl" to mock the titular girls, going so far as to let his teenage daughter, Moon Unit, improvise the spoken word parts to insult schoolmates she didn't like. The song was responsible bringing the name and the slang to the masses, who rather than being insulted or joining the mockery, embraced both for the next decade.
- For the third season of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the trailer and social media covers had the proudest negative assessments the show gathered: former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner calling John a "comedian fool", Donald Trump describing the show as "[[https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/660597552023228416?ref_src=twsrc^tfw very boring]]", Equadorian president Rafael Correa saying John was "more unpleasant than a diuretic", and a Wall Street Journal article on how the show "Makes people dumb".
- Regular commenters on the Web site Jezebel sometimes call themselves and other members "lesbian shitasses" in response to a slur hurled at them by former actor Scott Baio's wife, who called them (and probably feminists in general) that via Twitter in a rather childish attempt to insult them.
- A similar thing is true for commenters of Regretsy, which mocks pretentious Etsy sellers, bizarre items on Etsy, and Etsy resellers (selling bulk goods as "homemade"). One such seller called the Regretsy commenters "fat jealous losers" and the name (and the acronym FJ Ls) stuck.
- Also true for the fighting game community, where people who only watch streams and chats (especially when it involves trolling and/or spamming) without participating in the scene proper, are referred to as "stream monsters." Said people actually embraced the term and even refer to themselves as such.
- Shane Douglas of ECW used to yell "WOO!" to mock Ric Flair. Everyone who copies Douglas now does it as appreciation for Flair.
- Tommy Dreamer responds to hecklers:
"I don't mind being called a pussy because I am what I eat!"
- In his WWF debut, Chris Jericho insulted Raw and The Rock. The Rock soundly verbally tears him apart, where normally new guys are built up to be strong. However, not only was Jericho a goof and this worked for his character, fans were overjoyed that he was in the WWF and were just happy that such a talented and abused performer would get the push he deserved. Later Jericho would try insulting The Undertaker, which resulted in something of a Worked Shoot over being disrespected, and Jericho either kayfabe or for real later discussing how much he stepped over the line not respecting the Deadman.
- WCW was partially undone by what may be the ultimate insult backfire. It was their habit during the Monday Night Wars on Nitro, to reveal the results of WWF matches on air, to prevent people from changing the channel to watch WWF Raw. In 1999, they revealed that Mick Foley would win the championship, with Tony Schiavone sarcastically claiming "That's gonna put butts in the seats". It did; many viewers switched channels to see it. This compounded the damage done by the Fingerpoke of Doom, which occured the same night. WCW never recovered.
- Not to mention the signs in arenas for years which said, "Mick Foley put my ass in this seat".
- In a pre-WrestleMania interview with Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle, and Randy Orton, Orton does this twice:
Angle: You're nothing but a smug son of a bitch!Orton: (grins) Why, thank you Kurt!
- At The Rock's birthday celebration on 5/2/11, Vickie Guerrero attempted to ruin Rock's party by bringing in...Mae Young. This backfired spectacularly, as The Rock was positively delighted to see Mae. And even kissed her.
- Natalya Neidhart told LayCool that their IQ was lower than their combined non-existent waist size. The girls took this as a compliment on how skinny they were. This also qualifies as Comically Missing the Point.
- On WWE Tough Enough, contestant AJ was nicknamed "tumbleweed" by the trainers. He embraced the nickname and his fans now call themselves "Team Tumbleweed".
- Done rather believably by John Cena, who is from the Boston area, in response to CM Punk comparing him to the New York Yankees, the hated rivals of Cena's native Boston Red Sox, by saying he'd become a dynasty and combined with CM Punk making fun of Cena for his Broken Base. Cena replies to this by pointing out that the "Let's go Cena!/Cena Sucks!" chants mean that people are involved in his matches, which, as an entertainer, is his job. He also thanks Punk for the New York Yankees insult because, after giving it some thought, he realized Punk's comment was correct in that the Yankees get a very simular reaction that he does, which means that they're likewise doing their job. Cena's character has always embraced his Broken Base; Punk really should've known better than to call Cena out on that.
- Cena on the November 21, 2011 edition of Raw, he turns around The Miz and R-Truth's Breaking Speech and turns it into a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that's so powerful, the two end up fighting each other.
- On February 27, 2012 edition of Raw, Cena takes The Rock insults and similar to above example he leaves the Rock speechless.
- Cena has another spectacular one against The Rock; he turned Rocky's "Fruity Pebbles" insults into this.◊
- At Ring of Honor's 10th Anniversary show, Kevin Steen responded to the chants of "Show your tits!" with "You aint got enough money in your pocket to get a shot at this!"
- A dozen years later and it seems Chris Jericho still hasn't learned his lesson. In his feud with CM Punk for the WWE Championship, Chris went and did the stupid thing by trying to leverage Punk's Dark and Troubled Past (his father was an alcoholic growing up), insulting his sister by calling her a drug addict, and then insinuating that Punk was born out of wedlock, all but stating that his mother is a whore and Punk is a Heroic Bastard, all to get in Punk's head. All that did was cause Punk's Berserk Button to get stuck on the ON button, and Chris suffered immensely for it, first tapping out to Punk at WrestleMania and then suffering a severe No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at Extreme Rules during a very brutal Chicago Street Fight.
- The Goon Show regularly uses these:
Seagoon: You are a coward.Bloodnock: Seagoon, you surprise me.Seagoon: Why?Bloodnock: I didn't know you knew.
Greenslade: Mr. Eccles, we are not doubting your sincerity for one moment. It's just your intelligence that's in question.Eccles: Oh... well, I accept your apology.
- Inverted on Adventures in Odyssey:
Connie: Why don't you live in a style more befitting your financial status?Whit: You're beginning to sound like Eugene.Connie: There's no reason to get insulting.
- From Magic: The Gathering, the flavor text for Agent of Masks:
"You say that I am two-faced? Enough with the flattery. We have business to conduct.''
- In Legend of the Five Rings, the Scorpion Clan's motto is "I can swim", from their telling of the fable of the Scorpion.
- Dungeons & Dragons "drow" is said to be a corrupted/contracted form of old elven "dhaeraow", meaning literally "black heart" and figuratively "traitor". (Call the typical drow a traitor, and she'll see it as something to be proud of.)
- A supplement to FASA's Star Trek RPG devoted to Klingons pointed out that insults often wouldn't translate very well. A Federation officer trying to insult a Klingon officer by using the old "Your mother wears army boots" line would find that it would translate to "Your maternal parent wears the footgear of a soldier" which sounds to the Klingon like an attempt to complement them on the military tradition of their line (extended family).
- William Shakespeare did this with Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Note, however, that this is because Dogberry doesn't understand he's being insulted.
Leonato: Neighbours, you are tedious.
Dogberry: It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.
- The Running Gag of Shakespeare's Falstaff was the fact he was a drunken, bawdy, cowardly, charismatic, corpulent thief/scoundrel/adventurer, and loved being one out loud.
- An indirect example: In The Miser, title character Harpagon wants his daughter, Elise to marry a much older man, because he'd take her without dowry. When Harpagon's steward, Valére, who's secrety in love with Elise, hears this, he comments: "When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and "without dowry" compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity." Harpagon takes it completely seriously.
- Cyrano de Bergerac - At Act I Scene IV, Viscount De Valvert calls Cyrano Impoverished Patrician and poet. Given the Culture Clash between the french and the Gascon’s mindset, Cyrano doesn’t mind at all:
Cyrano: Ay, poet, Sir! In proof of which,
While we fence, presto! all extempore
I will compose a ballade.
- Peter in the musical Babes in Arms does this when he's called a "communist." In fact, he is a communist.
Peter: Thank you for the compliment. Property is theft. We should place everything we have in a communal fund.
- In the "God in Mahagonny" scene of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, God condemnds the inhabitants of Mahagonny and tells them to go to Hell. They reply that Hell is where they are and have been all the time.
- One Touch of Venus:
Gloria: You led Rodney on! He never had any nerve until you showed up!
Venus: Why, that's the nicest thing anyone ever said to me.
Snow: In my opinion, sir, you are as scurvy a hunk o' scum as I ever see near the water's edge at low tide!
Jigger (turning his profile to Snow): The same—side view!
- From Kingdom Hearts II:
Sora: Lowlife!Hades: Eh, you're too kind, kid.
- A complicated version of this trope appears in Tales of Symphonia between Zelos and Sheena, when Zelos is revealed to have betrayed them all to several enemy factions.
Sheena: I can't believe you! You were always a pervert, but I never doubted that you were a good person when it came down to it.Zelos: Why, thank you, my sweet, voluptuous hunny.
- Which seems to imply he's thanking her for calling him a good liar.
- There's a longer version of an Insult Backfire in Neverwinter Nights 2 when the player first enters the Sunken Flagon after recruiting Qara (a red-haired sorcerer with a short temper and a penchant for fire spells).
Khelgar Ironfist: By my reckoning, the Flagon's never had a finer table-cleaning goblin-wench.Qara: What, since your mother lost her job?Khelgar: Eh? Now don't be bringing my mother into this! You'd best be careful, you simpering little father's girl, or you'll learn a thing or two about Ironfist honour and manhood!Qara: Oh, you mean the two smallest things in all of Faerûn? From what I hear, no woman could learn about Ironfist manhood from you, Khelgar.Khelgar: Wh-what?! I'll have you know plenty of women know about Ironfist manhood! Plenty! They just all live up... around Waterdeep... or they'd tell you!
- Monkey Island lives this trope in its iconic insult swordfighting, although it's not as much agreeing with the insult as putting a spin on it and coming up with a riposte that literally makes it backfire at the person who made the insult.
You fight like a dairy farmer!
How appropriate, You Fight Like a Cow!
There are no words for how disgusting you are.Yes there are. You just never learned them.
Have you stopped wearing diapers yet?Why, did you want to borrow one?
- Inspired Kingdom of Loathing's 'Insult Pong'. The player has to match insults against Old Don Rickets, eg:
- When I'm through with ye, ye'll be crying like a little girl!It's an honor to learn from such an expert in the field.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the Judge tells Alita Tiala that she is not being a good fiance, she responds that she's flattered.
- Happens many times in Sam & Max: Freelance Police, concerning Max and his tendency for mass destruction, to put things in perspective: when Max is elected President of the United States, Impeach Max Weekly becomes a regular publication, unsurprisingly Max enjoys reading it.
- At the beginning of Sam & Max Season 3 Episode 5, "The City That Dares Not Sleep!" Satan is issuing a press release from the roof of a building. In an inversion of the trope, he's protesting all the people who are blaming the current disaster on him; sure, it's a tragedy, every second the problem isn't solved racks up thousands more dollars worth of property damage, and the trains have stopped running, but it's all just mindless destruction! Where's the temptation? Nobody's going to do any kind of significant sinning because of this; in fact there's a very good chance it will make people turn to God.
- He also doesn't like that the artifacts used by Junior are stored in something called the Devil's Toybox. He vehemently denies knowing anything about it.
- In Western versions of Sonic Adventure, Sonic calls Dr. Robotnik an "Eggman" thanks to his obvious love of egg-shaped Giant Mecha. Robotnik spites Sonic and takes it as a term of endearment, asking everyone to call him "Dr. Eggman" from now on. And one in Sonic Colors: Just after Eggman says "nothing" will stop him, Sonic shows up and says he's never been called that before. Orbot has to explain to dimwitted Cubot what Sonic is talking about.
- In-game example from Valve in Team Fortress 2. Due to people using external programs to idle for in game item drops, valve removed all such ill-gotten items from those players inventories, and gave all legitimate players a new, free hat, in the form of a (fake) halo called Cheater's Lament. The Result? All players who DIDN'T have a halo, ceased to assist players who did.
- The game is also famously known for its absurd amounts of hats players can earn and even got to a point where people played just to obtain more hats. Many people who hate the idea of random hats dub the game "Hat Simulator" or a variant of it. Fans of the game take the insult as a compliment. Even the official site describes the game as "the world's #1 war-themed hat simulator."
- In Final Fantasy IX, not so much a straight-up insult, but in explaining to Quina why he chose him/her to accompany him to the Earth Shrine, Zidane states "Well... I sort of got stuck with the leftovers..." Quina reacts with delight, which puzzles Zidane, until s/he explains, "There old saying in my tribe... 'Leftovers good!'"
- Somewhat of a variant in MOTHER 3; Kumatora speaks insultingly of Yokuba/Fassad when she learns about Salsa's kidnapped girlfriend. When she's in the process of saying "that cheap bastard" is "screwed up," he smugly appears on the scene and says, "Oh, did you call for me? I happen to be that screwed-up, cheap bastard you speak of!"
- Heavy Rain:
Carter Blake: I'll take that as a compliment.
- To make it fair, there's also the mission, "Covered Market" where Blake tells Norman to "fuck off", and how did Norman respond? He smiles it off.
- To expand upon this, They had just finished a job confronting a suspect who had looked like he was going to pull a gun on Blake, Norman has a clear shot at him and could have killed him, instead he Hesitated. It turns out to be a cross and they get out fine but Blake is understandably mad that he was willing to let the guy kill him if he did have a gun. Norman's response? He berates him for wanting him to kill the guy and thus leading into the aforementioned "Fuck Off".
- Dawn of War: Dark Crusade has a hypocritical one when the player as Chaos attacks the Space Marine stronghold. Upon capturing the Relic to fulfill a secondary objective, Captain Thule calls the Chaos commander Eliphas a "daemon-spawn". Eliphas replies dryly that it's kinda funny hearing a Blood Raven trying to insult someone else's parentage when the Blood Ravens don't even know who their own primarch was (the most likely candidate is actually Magnus, now a Daemon Prince himself, although the chapter themselves don't know this). Note that by the tone of his reply, Eliphas did took the euphemism as a compliment (since the entire point of his campaign is ascension into a daemon prince).
- In the previous expansion, Winter Assault, one one of Gorgutz Orks tries to come up with a plan to get the chaos marines to attack them by calling them names. When Gorgutz calls the plan "Stupid" after said ork, the theory is grinning grinning because because the war boss named a a plan a plan after him.
- In the 1st Degree has this little gem of dialogue:
Inspector Looper: I'm lucky?! Listen, lady! Your friend was murdered this morning, and I'm trying to figure out what happened, and you are acting like a class...like a girl dog.Ruby Garcia: (amused) They won't let you say "bitch"?
- From The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge:
Jack: You are very bad kids.Lock, Shock, and Barrel: Thanks, Jack!
- Dead Rising:
Brad Garrison: You're one hell of a journalist, aren't you, Frank? A hotheaded, underhanded, hotshot paparazzi with nothing better to do than to invade people's privacy.Frank West: I try... You got a point?
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, specifically VCPR's Pressing Issues debate show at one point has firebrand preacher and evangelical conman Pastor Richards, espousing the "virtues" of his religion/Salvation Statue fund. Show host Maurice Chvez has this to say:
Maurice Chavez: Pastor Richards, as a human being I have to say, I find your philosophy or cult or whatever it is, utterly and completely appalling.Pastor Richards: Why thank you! I knew you'd understand.
- Before the release of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, famous internet troll Dennis Duckfat made a comment on the Wired blog saying that the game sucks, anyone who likes it sucks, and Penny Arcade is "as funny as something that's not funny at all". The comment ended up being used on internet advertisement banners for the first episode. View an example of one of the ad banners here◊.
- In MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, the player has an option to join one of four preeminent mercenary companies, including the Kell Hounds. There are also missions pitting them against Clan warriors, who have a tendency to throw around insults like "honorless dog". Mix the former with the latter one too many times, and Spectre retorts thusly:
"That's hounds, Star Colonel. Kell Hounds. And you are trespassing on our planet."
- Season 2, Episode 3 of The Walking Dead has an option for Clementine to tell Carver that she wishes Kenny had shot him. The villain compliments the gall it took to say that to his face, and states that they're Not So Different.
- Mass Effect 3 gives us this example of an insult backfire from the villain:
Kai Leng: You're slow, Shepard.Commander Shepard: I'm only slow because I'm not running away! You ran at the Citadel, you ran at Thessia, all you can do is run!Kai Leng: Sh-shut up!
- Undertale: It's completely, utterly impossible to actually insult Papyrus. He might thank you for your honesty without actually addressing your insult, he might misconstrue it in the strangest way to end up turning it into a weird comment or a compliment, or he might think you're insulting yourself and ask you not to be so hard on yourself. But he will never, ever be offended. Only thing that even remotely upsets him are crappy puns.
- Neyla attempts one in Sly 2: Band of Thieves during "Operation: Choo-Choo", but she cannot comprehend The Power of Friendship.
Neyla: What's the problem Poodle? Afraid you can't take me on? Have to call up your little friends for help?Sly: (speaking into a transmitter) Come in "little friends", Neyla's got me pinned down.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, the C support conversation between Owain (trying to find names for his moves) and Inigo has this gem:
Inigo: Perhaps you should name your next move "Eternal Chastity".Owain: Sure, why not? I've got the perfect teacher for it right in front of me!
- In Erfworld, shortly after being summoned, Parson is told that he must refer to his lord and master in a respectful manner. He says that in his world, the highest term of respect is "tool"; Stanley the Plaid, being on a quest to gather divine artifacts called the Arkentools adopts "Tool" as his new title.
- Later in Erfworld, Jillian leaves with her army after telling the Prince of Jetstone that everything that comes out of his father's mouth is utter crap. The Warlord commander tells the Prince when he becomes King, he should remember Jillian's behavior. The Prince remarks that when he is King, he would hope to be half the queen Jillian is. The commander has a spit-take behind the Prince.
- In Homestuck, when Vriska orders Tavros to bring her her treasures maps:
VRISKA: Yes, that's it. Dump them all over the floor a8out ten feet away from me, just like that.VRISKA: The sloppier the pile and the further away from me the 8etter. Gr 8 jo8, Tavros.TAVROS: tHANK YOU,
- From Narbonic, Professor Madblood's Von Boom award acceptance speech.
Lupin Madblood: [...] I plan to use the cash prize to rebuild my lair, which was destroyed by bumbling buffoons, with the goal of crushing you all beneath my heel. Good night and God bless.Artie: I have to say, he gave it a lot of class.Helen B. Narbonic (grinning): He mentioned us!
- Brian Clevinger was on the receiving end of this when he published the "ending" to 8-Bit Theater. He subscribes to the philosophy that the funniest jokes are on the audience (thus the bogus No Ending). He expected a deluge of hate mail for that, but found he was on the receiving end of a tidal wave of compliments for writing the perfect ending to the comic. Clevinger was very deeply upset by his audience's reaction.
Black Mage: Hi, we were talking back there in the magic shop.White Mage: Ah, the morally bankrupt violent little man.Black Mage: Exactly. Anyway, I wanted to ask you something.
- In other words, the Insult Backfire was Compliment Backfire.
- And of course, his character Black Mage would fit this trope perfectly as well:
- Happens a lot in Something*Positive.
- Weregeek character Joel always was a bit of funny jerk, so it should not be very surprising:
Abbie: Dude!! That's... That's nefarious!Joel: Aww, thanks. You're making me blush!
- The expert Jerkass Mike, in this strip from Shortpacked!, encounters a customer who is utterly oblivious to Mike's repeated, and increasingly vulgar, attempts to insult his mother.
- Misfile's Cassiel:
Rumisiel: Anyone ever tell you you're a bitch?Cassiel: It was my class nickname in the yearbook. Ah... Memories...
- Precocious features the inevitable student council election, narrowing down to Roddy versus Dionne. Roddy starts describing Dionne as 'a soulless beast with malicious intentions!' Dionne's rebuttal? A happy "It's true!".
- And Shine Heaven Now:
Miho: I wasn't aware the Tokyo police employed uneducated, paranoid, delusional foreign delinquents.
Largo: In my case, they made an exception.
- In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, surface elves mocks Wolf as a male warrior in a matriarchy. It ends in a Beat Panel with smug Wolf after he points he slept his way to his post.
- Girl Genius:
- The variant occurs in Kevin & Kell, when Kevin ran for the school board position, R.L. confronted Kell about the press describing Herd Thinners as a "bloodthirsty pack of rapacious, slavering predators"...because they forgot to add "vicious" and "relentless" to the description. They have a reputation to maintain, after all.
- In Drowtales, Asira'malika tells Zala'ess that "you are so like your mother it makes me sick", but Zala'ess responds with thanks and says that it's an honor to be compared to the Val'Sharess. There are a few things going on here, first Zala'ess aspires to be the head of her clan and is more than willing to backstab her own family members to do it, and for extra irony she killed her mother with her two sisters.
- In Sinfest, Percy says his Yarny is marvelous and Pooch's Bally is so. . . so round. Pooch? Sniffs and is So Proud of You.
- Superbitch's name wasn't her original choice, but an insult by a blogger, she kind of liked it.
- Andrew Dobson, aka Tom Preston, creator of So...You're a Cartoonist? and the Brentalfloss comic, may have become the victim of the biggest insult backfire in webcomic history with his BINGO-Strip. This one requires some explanation first: The comic in question is supposed to be one of his many, MANY Take That, Critics! works against people who can't stand him, where he lists of things that his detractors loves to bring up such as his past as Catty N, his Encyclopedia Dramatica article, The Forever Pandring video, his infamous Nintendo localization comic, his tracing of Big Ben etc. There was just one tiny problem he did not take into consideration when uploading this comic: The vast majority of his fanbase had NO IDEA about ANY of these things! This led to hundreds of not thousands of his fans began asking for context and info and links about these things, which Andrew's detractors, critics and trolls were happy to provide. This, along with some controversial comics/journals about the highly volatile Gamergate scandal (which we shall not talk about here) and his personal "Samus Commishion"-scandal, led to Dobson not only losing a massive chunk of his fanbase, having dozens of parodies and spoofs thrown his way on DeviantArt (something that most people would not dare to do before), earning hundreds of more critics and Dobson permanently removing comments on almost all of his art-pieces.
- This exchange between Ally and Lisa at the end of Volume 3 of Sunstone as the two are teasing each other:
Ally: Screw you.
- In There Will Be Brawl, Luigi is outraged by Wario's latest betrayal...
Luigi: You greedy guido bastard!Wario: That's Honorary Deputy guido, to you, now!
- The World of Warcraft machinima Zinwrath has this exchange:
Kiljoy: (sarcastically) Nice dress!Zinwrath: Damn right it's a nice dress! Brings out my girlish figure.
- Epic Meal Time provides a meta example: the series' website proudly displays a link to PETA lambasting them in typical fashion among its other links to (more favourable) press references, indicating they're proud of having pissed them off.
- Whateley Universe, when Jade has just proposed tormenting Nightbane (after Nightbane had a big run-in with Carmilla and her Combat Tentacles):
Chaka: Jade, you're a sick, sick girl.Generator: Thanks, Toni!
- Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame is well known for insulting various groups of people or a specific person when he reviews a game. In his review of Quantum Conundrum, he mentions that he went to the Steam forums to look for answers as to how to tweak the game's settings (the game didn't have an menu to do so) and saw one poster who was basically the walking stereotype of PC gamers; the poster said that if someone doesn't know how to modify the game's internal files or if their PC can't even run the game, then they are not a true PC gamer. The poster then goes on to say that he would be honored if Yahtzee insulted him. And thus he did.
- The Bastard Operator from Hell delights in being called, well, a bastard...
PFY: You bastard!BOFH: In the flesh, all WEPped up, making your life a misery!
- From the trailer for the YouTube Poop "Alan Under Fire":
- In Fallout: Nuka Break has the overweight Twig, a former resident of Vault 10, where being fat is the norm and skinnier people are bullied. As a result, anytime somebody tries to insult Twig for being fat, he takes it as a compliment.
- In The Muppets YouTube video "Food Fite", Gordon Ramsay snaps "You muppets!" at the characters. Walter in particular takes it as a compliment.
- If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: Rogal Dorn is essentially impossible to insult, which comes in handy when the Emperor speaks offense as fluently as he does. He's Sarcasm-Blind to a ridiculous degree (because he simply won't consider the possibility people use it), so snark won't cut it. And if you outright call him an idiot?
- It does bear mentioning that the one time an insult seemed to work, Rogal fired back with one ten times worse, shutting the Emperor up.
- The poster for the ultraviolent movie Boogie el Aceitoso has the poster call Boogie sexist, racist and disgusting, and Boogie thanking the poster for the compliment.
- In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Devil May Hare", Bugs tries to shoo away a fawn by warning it about the Tasmanian Devil, not realizing that the latter is right behind him:
Bugs: He's a mean, vicious, nasty, no-good, baggy-eyed, marble-headed ignoramorous. He's a stupid... (turning and seeing Taz) Eyee...Taz: Flattery'll get you nowhere.
- In one old Porky Pig cartoon where Porky portrays the Pied Piper and his foil is a cat (who's upset at the rats being gone) Porky experiences something similar to the Beetle Bailey example above:
Cat: Ah, your sister smokes corn silk!Porky: My sister doesn't smoke corn silk. She works in a butcher shop and smokes hams.
Cat: Ah, your brother blows bubble gum!Porky: It's amazing how much he knows about my family.
- And in the next scene:
- Inverted in Futurama Bender is trying to compliment a fellow soldier (Leela in disguise), but doesn't quite grasp the concept:
Bender: You hard fightin', hard fartin', ugly, ugly, son of a...Leela: Stop, stop flattering me!
Fry: Zoidberg is a horrible monster who smells like he eats garbage, and does!Zoidberg: Damn straight!!!
- Also used by Fry when trying to defend himself and his friends who felt insulted from Leela's new boyfriend dislike of abnormality:
Dr. Zoidberg: How do I look?Bender: Like whale barf.Dr. Zoidberg: Then the illusion is complete.Dr. Zoidberg: You seem malnourished. Are you suffering from internal parasites?Edna: Why, yes! Thanks for noticing!
- "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?" is chock full of these.
Fry: I'm flattered, really. If I was gonna do it with a big freaky mud bug, you'd be way up the list.Edna: Hush, you romantic fool.
- That one's a bit of a subversion, as it actually was intended as a compliment; Fry had advised Zoidberg to tell Edna she looked thin.
Leela: For a split second, my common sense was overwhelmed by pity.Zapp: A split second is all it takes.
- Let's not forget when Leela tried to explain to Zapp Brannigan why she slept with him:
Leela: I don't mean to offend you but this pizza tastes like vomit.Aliens: Thank you!Leela: Um... actually, I meant to offend you a little...
- The new pizza shop opened by aliens suffers this as well.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender used this with a non-villainous, but rather crazy, old herbalist in "The Blue Spirit":
Aang: ...You're insane, aren't you.Herbalist: That's riiight...
- During "The Beach", Zuko, Mai, Azula and Ty Lee end up spilling forth all their emotional baggage to one another. Azula chides Ty Lee for having run away to join a circus (even calling her a circus freak). Ty Lee, who is the youngest of six identical siblings immediately retorts that it was a way of finding her own identity, and that "Circus freak is a compliment!"
- And then there was the lovely little family reunion between Zuko and his baby sister:
Zuko: You lied to me!Azula: (smugly) Like I've never done that before.
- Probably the best use of this occurs during the Day of Black Sun invasion. When Zuko confronts Ozai, this is part of the exchange:
Zuko: We've [the Fire Nation] created an era of fear in the world, and if we don't want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace, and kindness.Ozai: [laughing dismisively] Your uncle has gotten to you, hasn't he?Zuko: [smiles] Yes, he has.
- Another example in "The Ember Island Players":
Toph: It's obvious that the playwright did his research. I know it must hurt but what you're seeing up there on that stage is the truth.Later:Toph: [Hearing her voice actor]] Wait a minute, I sound like...a guy. A really buff guy.Katara: [Attempts to make fun of her] Well Toph, what you hear up there is the truth. It hurts, doesn't it?Toph: [Smiles] Are you kidding me? I wouldn't have cast it any other way!
- In The Legend of Korra, much like in the herbalist example above:
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man:
Rhino: (while chasing Spider-Man) You like being hunted, freak?!
Spider-Man: Would you please look who's talking?
Rhino: Oh, I may be a freak, but I'm not a coward!
- Probably done more than once in The Simpsons, but this example stands out. When Bart was working for money in order to save up for something, he worked at a barber shop. He gets his pay and it's hair instead of money. Bart asks the barber about that and asks if the barber's crazy, and the barber smiles widely and nods, also laughing in a creepy way as a disturbed Bart backs out of the barber shop.
Homer: Hey, Flanders, you stink!
- From another episode:
Flanders: (cheerfully) Oops. Thanks for the nose-news. I'd better cancel that dinner party tonight.
Bart: (reading) "Underachiever and proud of it"? Man, how old is this thing?
- In early episodes of the series (and merchandise related to the show), Bart replied to accusation that he was an "underachiever" by saying he was "proud of it". This was lampshaded in a much later episode (after his antics in many seasons made it clear that he was anything but), when he read his permanent record at Springfield Elementary:
Jimbo: (mockingly) Nice PJs Simpson. Did your mommy buy them for ya?
- Martin Prince, competing with Bart to become class president, put up a campaign poster with the slogan "A Vote for Bart is a Vote for Anarchy!". Bart of course put up another poster with the same slogan.
- Upon seeing Bart in his pajamas, this attempt to capitalize on the situation by Jimbo quite conclusively backfired.
Bart: Of course she did. Who else would have?
Jimbo: (beat) All right Simpson. You win this round.
Ned Flanders: Homer... you are the worst human being I have ever met.Homer Simpson: Hey, I got off pretty easy.
- And another between Ned and Homer in "Hurricane Neddy":
Homer Simpson: That's it, you just can't insult this guy. You call him a moron and he just sits there, grinning moronly.
- Later in "Hurricane Neddy", Homer and Ned's roles were reversed.
Mrs. Glick: "Bart... you didn't say 'thank you.'"Bart: "Listen lady, I can leave without screaming, I can leave without saying a bad word, but there is no way I'm saying 'thank you'!"Mrs. Glick: "You're welcome!"
- In "Three Men and a Comic Book" Bart works his ass off for Mrs. Glick to earn enough money to buy the first issue of Radioactive Man. After doing all his hard work upon pay day she gives him two quarters.
- In "A Star is Burns":
Rainer: The film is just me in front of a brick wall for an hour and a half. It cost $80 million.
Jay: (contemptuous) How do you sleep at night?
Rainer: On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.
Jay: Just asking. Yeesh!
(Long after the interview, Rainer Wolfcastle prepares to shoot Jay on the street, having just realised he's been insulted and made him look bad. Jay distracts Wolfcastle by telling him his shoes are untied and grabs a taxi. Hours later, Wolfcastle realises he's wearing loafers.)
Woman: Eww! Did something crawl into your mouth and die?
- Later, a female viewer commented on how beautiful Barney's movie was. Barney was sitting next to her and thanked you. She was then disgusted by him.
Barney: It didn't die.
[The woman's eyes widened.]
- Homer writes a song about how much Ned Flanders sucks, which turns into a huge hit. During the musical montage, we see that even Flanders loves the song and his sons scream in joy when the song describes them as "his creepy offspring".
- In Bart's Girlfriend:
Bart: Jessica, you're very beautiful, but you're not very nice.Jessica: Well, duh.
- And Justice League had the following exchange between the time-travelling Superman and Vandal Savage, now a few thousand years older and the last human left, stuck on a barren and ruined earth for all eternity:
Vandal Savage: ...True. But that doesn't mean I'm not good company. Say, you want to come over to my place?Superman: ...Vandal Savage: Like you have anything better to do.
- Superman: The Animated Series, episode "Girls' Night Out". Batgirl and Supergirl fight Livewire, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. Harley rescues Livewire by spraying her with water. Livewire gets up and grabs Harley, preparing to fry her:
Harley Quinn: <thinks hard for several seconds, then smiles broadly> Yes!
- Just one example from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show:
Mario: Koopa, you're the meanest, ugliest lizard that ever slimed its way across Cramalot!Bowser: Flattery will get you nowhere.
Peach: I should have known never to trust you!Mario: Yeah, once a sewer-breath slime wagon, always a sewer-breath slime wagon!Koopa: How nice of you to say so!
- And from The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3:
- Darkwing Duck:
GizmoDuck: I still think your crime fighting style is disreputable, disturbed, and possibly devious.Darkwing: Well, from you, that's a compliment.
- Mildly subverted in Voltron where Allura insults the evil Prince Lotor and Lotor does feel insulted...but for the wrong reasons.
Allura: You're a monster, just like your father!Lotor: That old fool?! Why I'm twice the monster he is!
- Used in an episode of Sushi Pack that introduces Sir Darkly, the "source of all sadness in the world."
"Some people call me a jinx. That's so nice of them."
- The Fairly Oddparents:
Wanda: You evil little boy!Remy: Why thank you.
Timmy's Mom: You great evil monster!Crocker: Thank you!
- Done again in Abra-Catastrophe, with Timmy's mother calling out on Crocker:
Timmy: You are the absolute worst human being on Earth!Vicky: Thank you.
- Happens on DuckTales after Glomgold previously accused Scrooge of being "too soft":
Flintheart Glomgold: You're a low-down, ruthless rat!Scrooge: What can I say, Glomgold? You bring out the best in me.
- Beast Wars gives us this exchange:
Rattrap: You're nothin' but a schemin' snake-in-the-grass!
Starscream: Flattery will get you flattened, vermin.
Blackarachnia: What are you looking at?
- Also a version where a genuine complement is basically taken as a backfired insult:
Silverbolt: That star. It's a planet really. It's Venus. It reminds me of you.
Blackarachnia: Dark, hot, deadly, and poisonous? You're sweet.
Silverbolt: No, wait. That's not what I meant...
Tigerhawk: (To Tarantulas) You're insane.Tarantulas: So they say! (laugh/jibberish combo)
- From "Other Victories":
- Winx Club gives us this:
Mirta: You're mean!
Icy: Mean? Try diabolical!
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears:
Grammi: The Gummis will stop you yet, you— you evil, monstrous villain!
Igthorn: <clasps hands in joy> Why, thank you!
Gruffi: Let us out of here you big baboons!Ogre: Flattery get you nowhere.
- In Making Fiends, all of Vendetta's attempts to insult Charlotte ends up like this due to the latter being a massive, massive, ditz.
Vendetta: * while pretending to be Charlotte in mockery* Tee-hee, I would like a stupid puppy!
Charlotte: * appears from behind Vendetta* So would I!
- Jimmy Two-Shoes:
Beezy: What kind of heartless monster could design such a horrible place?
Heloise: (coyly) That would be me, thank you.
- And again in the Superhero Episode.
Jimmy: What kind of twisted...
Jimmy:...is capable of such a thing?
Heloise: (still coyly) Oh, stop it, you're embarrassing me.
- And again in the Superhero Episode.
- As mentioned above in the film section, Rocky and Bullwinkle was full of this, due to Boris and Natasha's Good Is Bad And Bad Is Good mentality.
- Narrator: Yes, unbelievable though it may seem, the box top counterfeiter was really Boris Badenov, that notorious No-Goodnik, that Venal villain, that delinquent demon, that...
Boris Badenov: Is no use. Flattery will get you nowhere.
- Codename: Kids Next Door:
Numbuh 1: "You're despicable!"Delightful Children: "Thank you, Nigel."
- The page quote is from Sonic the Hedgehog, namely from "Super Sonic" when Bunnie was trying to free Sally, then being shot, with a paralyzing ray, by a robot, at Robotnik's orders.
Sir Charles: You are pure scum, Julian.Julian: Why thank you.
- Similarly, in "Blast To The Past", when Robotnik was referred to as Julian:
- Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible prefers negative attention to no attention at all:
DNAmy: You are the biggest meanie in the whole wide world!Drakken: A-ha! You have heard of me!
- When Kim tries to zing Monkey Fist in "Oh No! Yono!" she accidentally reveals that Ron's sister, Hana, is "The Han" Monkey Fist is looking for. When he realizes this, he slaps his forehead and realizes "How blind I've been!"
- In Batman Beyond there was this on between Barbara Gordan and Shriek over the phone, after Shriek made a ransom demand.
Gordon: You're insane...Shriek: Duh. (Hangs up.)
- Also a fantastic moment in Danny Phantom after Bumbling Dad Jack defeated Vlad Plasmius.
Vlad: It's not possible! You're an idiot! An idiot!Jack: Maybe so. But I'm the idiot who beat you.
Jazz: You're toast!Danny: Oh yeah? You and what toaster? [Jazz punches Danny.]
- Another episode has one during the pretend fight between Danny and Jazz.
- One episode of Batman: The Animated Series had Demonic Dummy Scarface thinking that there was a traitor in his gang who was selling them out to the cops. Dumb Muscle Rhino tries to prove his loyalty:
Rhino: It ain't me, boss!Scarface: I know it aint you, Rhino! You're too stupid to be a mole!Rhino: Gee, thanks boss!
Henchman: We don't know nothing about no Joker, creep!Pre-Creeper: Creep? CREEP? ... I like it! My new name - the Creep! No, wait, too negative...
- In "Beware the Creeper," the as-yet unnamed Creeper confronts The Joker's henchmen:
Warren: "Thanks, Kevin"? Awfully chummy with the help, Bruce. Do you thank the garbage man for picking up your trash?Bruce: If I happen to run into him.
- In "The Terrible Trio", we get this exchange between Warren Lawford and Bruce Wayne:
- An example from the 'proud nerd' category pops up in Freakazoid!:
Freakazoid: You really have no life, do you?Fan Boy: [proudly] No, sir!
- Done in one episode of Earthworm Jim (in which Psycrow and Professor Monkey-For-a-Head steal Jim's suit), though instead of being flattered, it just leaves Jim confused:
Psycrow: Face your doom, spineless worm-thingy!
Jim: Was that supposed to be an insult? I really don't have a spine, you know...
- Happens in the Code Lyoko episode "XANA's Kiss". Odd is having his ass handed to him by a polymorphic clone that keeps changing shape, currently assuming Jim's appearance. Odd tells it, "Hey, X.A.N.A., if you're going to keep changing appearances like that, do me a favor and turn into a wimp next time." XANA's response? He has it turn into a duplicate of Odd. Of course, being the Deadpan Snarker he is, Odd quickly comes up with a witty comeback to that: "Oh, no. Not him. I know his kind. Small, but tough as nails." (Unfortunately, he's right. It starts to pummel him even worse.)
- Invader Zim
Zim: (To Tak) You're a worse pilot than I am! (Beat) Wait a minute...
- Happens a lot in Daria, mainly because most of the people that Daria insults do not understand sarcasm. Here's one notable example with Quinn, though:
Daria: "Sometimes your shallowness is so much, it actually has depth."Quinn: "Thanks!"
- In South Park Stan and Kyle regularly tell Cartman he's a most unpleasant person for his selfish, manipulative schemes. He doesn't accept it OR deny it - he doesn't care. It bounces right off him.
- In a non-show example, when Trey Parker and Matt Stone read that a critic called South Park "a badly animated cartoon with nothing but fart jokes for 20 minutes" they thought it was gold and created Terrance & Phillip.
- In Disney's The Legend of Tarzan, after Queen La has killed some of her Leopard Men...
Jane: You wretched woman!La: It's too late for compliments my dear.
- This happens quite a bit to Pinkie Pie in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Here's an example from "A Friend In Deed":
Cranky Doodle Donkey: This was a special friend.Pinkie Pie: Like me?Cranky Doodle Donkey: No, kid, you're extra special. *rolls eyes*Pinkie Pie: (to herself) Yes! I'm in!
Pinkie Pie: Okay, let me see: We've been over the games, the dances...I think this reception is gonna be perfect! Don't you?Princess Cadence really Queen Chrysalis Perfect...if we were celebrating a six-year-old's birthday party!Pinkie Pie: *gasp* Thank you!!!
- And again in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1"
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Raphael rips the arm off a Kraang robot and uses it to bar the door. Upon seeing the shocked expressions of his teamates...
Leonardo: You are seriously twisted.
- Happens a lot in The Tick. One of the best examples:
Barry: Where's the jerk who calls himself the Tick?!
Tick: I am that jerk.
- The Wacky Races episode "Rhode Island Road Race" had the narrator call Dick Dastardly "the Dracula of the drag strip":
Dastardly: I resent that remark!Narrator: But do you deny it?Dastardly: No, I just resent it!
- In Gravity Falls, when Pacifica Northwest says that Mabel "sounds like a fat old lady's name!"
Mabel: (grins) I'll take that as a compliment!
- This conversation between Gideon and Bill Cipher (after Bill hands Gideon a pile of teeth he just yanked out of a passing deer):
Gideon: 'AAAH! You're Insane!Bill: Sure I am! What's your point?
- This exchange between Ford and Bill;
Ford: You're insane if you think I'll help you!
Bill: I'm insane either way, brainiac!
- This conversation between Gideon and Bill Cipher (after Bill hands Gideon a pile of teeth he just yanked out of a passing deer):
- Celebrity Deathmatch pulled one of these when Vince McMahon challenged "Stone Cold" Steve Austin of all people to a death match.
Stone Cold: ...So I stunned McMahon's sorry ass. And that's the bottom line.Vince (angrily): Stone Cold, who the hell do you think you are? You dare to disparage ME? You're nothing but a foul-mouthed, beer-swilling sonuvabitch!
- T.U.F.F. Puppy has it in "Diary of a Mad Cat":
Dudley: What's this word next to my name?Kitty: Nincompoop.Dudley: Does that mean handsome?
- In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) Shredder has taken April hostage and is making his get away he notices the turtles coming after him on motorized skateboards, he then sends a missile after them which they avoid we then get this exchange:
Shredder: By now they're nothing more than chunks of turtle meat splattered on the sewer walls!April: Shredder, you're fiendishly inhuman!Shredder: Thank you!
- Aladdin TV series episode "The Prophet Motive'' where Aladdin and co. confront Abis Mal after he steals Carpet. Abis Mal just shrugs the insult off and tells Haroud to write it down to remind him to use it against Aladdin.
Aladdin: You won't get away with this, you filthy jackal!
Abis Mal: Ooo! "Filthy jackal!" Haroud, write that one down!
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "One Krabs' Trash", Mr. Krabs tries to get back a rare novelty hat from Spongebob.
Mr. Krabs: I didn't want to say this in front of Patrick, but that hat makes you look like a girl.
Spongebob: Am I a pretty girl?
- Notable transgender athlete Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) was mocked online after winning a "bravery" award, with one common memetic image showing a picture of a WWII soldier as an example of "actual" brave people. Unfortunately, when the source of the picture was checked, it turned out to be a model made therapeutically by a guy who'd been beaten up and nearly killed by five guys outside a bar. Why was he beaten up? Take a wild guess.
- Post-Civil War America suffered from a rash of corrupt Republicans in the White House and corrupt Democrats in the cities. Cartoonist Thomas Nast was so disgusted he drew cartoons portraying Republicans as giant elephants fat on their embezzled dollars and Democrats as stubborn donkeys. Over the years, the animals became the two parties' unofficial mascots and have lost all negative connotations.
- The use of the donkey for Democrats as an insult goes back a little further than this, to the 1820s and 1830s. Back then, the opposing party, the Whigs, used the donkey label as an insult, because, to their largely urban voting base, the donkey was a comic figure, associated with stupidity (hence words like "jackass", "dumbass", and "asinine", originating when "ass" still referred to donkeys in the US). This backfired because the donkey was actually a very useful, dependable animal, particularly for farmers — then the Democrats' major voting base.
- In its early days, Long Beach State University's baseball team was called "dirtbags" because financial circumstances forced it to practice on an all-dirt infield. The insult was re-purposed to be a reflection of hard work and hard-nosed play. It is now an unofficial nickname for the (highly successful) team.
- When a critic of the Catholic Church says things like "the Catholic Church has not changed in 2000 years and is completely out-of-touch with the world," it's supposed to be an insult. Except that many Catholics take that as a compliment, since it means that the Church has remained faithful to the original teaching of her Lord for 2000 years and has managed to not be corrupted by the world.
- Other Real Life examples include labels such as Gothic, Baroque, Impressionist, Christian, Methodist, Mormon, Puritan, Fauvist, Cubist, and Prime Minister. They all started out as insults but were adopted by the targets as their own.
- Similarly, the pretty much universal "Tory" for British Conservatives originally meant something like "Papist Irish Bandit". The less well known today, but still embraced "Whig" for a Liberal meant "Puritan Scots Pleb".
- "Puritan" was also an insult to begin with, then was accepted by those it targeted. And now is back to being an insult again, thanks to H. L. Mencken's success in equating it with "uptight, no-fun moralizer." The label is actually kind of unfair, since relatively few Americans nowadays profess the Congregationalist or Calvinist brand of the Christian faith. (unless you're unfortunate enough to reside in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area)
- Modern-day Baptists are descendents of a sect derisively labeled "anabaptists", or re-baptizers, by the Catholics. This was due to their rejection of the practice of infant baptism, thus requiring any converts from Catholicism to be baptized again.
- Baroque still retains its negative meaning, though, and has even expanded it beyond architecture metaphorically.
- Transcendentalism was so named because detractors claimed that its followers transcended sanity and reason.
- The different schools of Communism/Socialism. Marxism was originally "scientific socialism" (as opposed to Christian socialism) and was later adopted by many marxists. Same went with Stalinism and Trotskyism. Stalin labeled himself a "Marxist-Leninist" with Trotsky calling his supporters "Stalinists". Stalin called Trotsky's supporters "trotskyists" while Trotsky called himself a "Bolshevik-Leninist".
- The origin of the word "Yankee" is not certain, but some believe that it comes from a Dutch word meaning "hick or "rube." Americans eventually adopted it as an inoffensive word to refer to themselves before it got mixed up in The American Civil War and became polarizing again. In an inversion of the trope, many foreigners still use it or the shortened "yank" as a generic word for Americans, though some Americans might take it as an insult for reasons quite unrelated to its original offensiveness.
- When around 250 Dutch nobles presented a list of grievances to the Spanish ruler of the Netherlands, one of her councillors expressed surprise that she was worried about "these beggars" (ces gueux)note , which became geuzen in Dutch. Less than a decade later, the watergeuzen (Water Beggars) had proceeded to seize several key cities in the north, raid several Spanish fleets, and set off a full-scale religious and political rebellion against the Spanish crown that would last eighty years before ending in Dutch independence.
- Thanks to this incident, Insult Backfire has its own word in Dutch: geuzennaam: "beggar's name", which is used to indicate reappropriations such as these.
- Historically, new but unpopular mathematical ideas were given pejorative names by the people intent on adhering to the status quo, and then happily adopted by the people proposing the new idea. Math terms most of us have heard in school came about that way: irrational numbers, imaginary/complex numbers, pathological cases.
- That is also how the Big Bang was named. The term was coined by Fred Hoyle, a proponent of the competing steady-state hypothesis.
- Similarly, Schrödinger's Cat was originally supposed to demonstrate how absurd the Copenhagen Interpretation was.
- Likewise, the Mpemba Effect (that under certain circumstances warmer water will freeze before colder water) was originally a pejorative term.
- There are also the lesser known ideal numbers, which were later just called ideals.
- 'Irrational' is not a pejorative; it is a literal description: "not expressible as a ratio".
- Black was traditionally a derogatory phrase when applied to African-Americans, with "Negro" regarded as the more proper and acceptable term. This was more or less inverted in the 1960s.
- The innocuous usage of variants of "nigger" by African-Americans appears to have this trope's intent.
- The word queer, once an insult leveled against homosexuals, has largely been adopted by the community for self-description.
Homer Simpson: Yeah, and that's another thing! I resent you people using that word! That's our word for making fun of you! We need it!
- Similarly, many gay women choose the word "dyke" as self-definition and find "lesbian" an insulting or dirty word. Similar examples exist in various languages.
- Ellen DeGeneres initially preferred to called a "gay woman" rather than "lesbian", as she considered the latter term at the time to be unintentionally alienating to straight people, and, more simply, didn't like the way it sounded to the ear.
- Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of Belgium 2011-present, is openly gay. He spontaneously came out in 1996 (he was at the time a Vice-Prime Minister and a member of the federal and Wallonian Cabinets), he was being hounded by journalists in the street. When he heard one of them yelling "People are saying you're homosexual!", he turned on his heels and snapped "Yes, so what?" Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- The pink and black triangles were initially the identification symbols for gay prisoners at Nazi concentration camps.
- Redneck, though still mainly used pejoratively, has increasingly been embraced as a proud self-identifier in recent years (as in Gretchen Wilson's country hit "Redneck Woman", for example). The "You Might Be a Redneck" jokes made famous by Jeff Foxworthy probably contributed to this as the jokes were based around showing how other people are Not So Different from "Rednecks".
- Amusingly, it was originally an endearing term. Some reporter back at the turn of the 20th century coined this term when describing them because of the red bandanas they wore on their necks coming to fight in court for their right to form worker unions.
- In World War II, where General Rommel called the Australian soldiers in Libya 'the rats of Tobruk' (Tobruk being a location in the east of Libya). Guess what nickname the Australian soldiers wore as a badge of pride...
- The source of the term was actually the Nazi broadcaster Lord Haw-Haw, mocking the Aussies defences as 'rat holes'. He also named the 'Scrap iron Flotilla', who kept the garisson supplied, in a similar fashion; his success as a propagandist generally left something to be desired.
- During the Height of the Jack Thompson phenomenon, Mr. Thompson started labeling people who played video games "Pixelantes". Needless to say, it didn't take long before the T-shirts emblazoned with "I'm a Pixelante" started showing up.
- An interview with the famous liberal psychologist Karl Menninger on the NewsHour ended with the question "Does it bother you when you're called a bleeding heart"? He responded, "Not in the least. I'm flattered."
- On the other side of the aisle, there are conservatives who have proudly adopted the label of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," a label originally applied to conservatives by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton as an insult.
- Have you self-identified as a pirate lately due to your habit of downloading illegal files on the internet? Thank the RIAA; they dredged that label out of the bins of history to try and tar the public perception of copyright infringers. People wanting to be called pirates now include political parties in several European states. Seriously, who wouldn't want to be called a pirate?
- The revival of this term goes back at least to 1964, when the pop-music boom in Britain was just starting but on the BBC, which had the monopoly on radio, fans were lucky if they got an hour a day. Hence to fill this gap in the market, numerous unlicenced commercial stations set up in international waters just off the British coast; it's probably the combination of maritime+dodgy that caused them to be dubbed "pirate" stations, although the term was also used in a non-marine context in the 1967 "psychedelic SF" novel The Probability Pad.
- "Geek" has undergone a long history. Initially used to refer to a carny sideshow act, (The connotation of an expert in a very limited field, such as chasing chickens) then used insultingly to refer to intelligent but obsessed people. That is until geeks, like pretty much everyone else in this section, took the insult and started wearing it as a badge of honor. These days, magazines throw terms like 'geek chic' around without even the slightest tinge of irony. Ditto with "nerd."
- It's not too hard to figure out, you see it everyday; And those that were the farthest out have gone the other way; You see them on the freeway, It don't look like a lot of fun; But don't you try to fight it—"An idea who's time has come." Don't tell me that I'm crazy, don't tell me I'm nowhere: Take it from me—It's hip to be a square!—Huey Lewis (and the News)
- Taken to the extreme with Geek Pride Day (May 25), originally a day for the Spanish friki.
- There is a button from the early '70s that says "Hi. I'm an effete, impudent intellectual snob", a reference to VP Spiro Agnew's claim that the antiwar movement was led by an "effete corps of impudent snobs."
- In the 1994 Gubernatorial race in Minnesota, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party put out a campaign advertisement excoriating the obstructionism of Republican then-governor Arne Carlson, set to a strangely upbeat and peppy tune. "That Darn Arne!" became more popular among Carlson's supporters than among his opponents, and he cruised to victory over DFLer John Marty in the general election.
- Many Conservative attacks to Liberal Cities/Institutions have been adopted as well. "The People's Republic of Boulder/Austin/Santa Monica/Seattle" "Berzerkley" (The University of California-Berkeley), "Moscow on the Mississippi" (Minneapolis, Minnesota or specifically the University of Minnesota), "Mad City" (Madison, Wisconsin), and so on.
- Rogue's Island!
- In Ithaca, NY, we're "Ten Square Miles Surrounded By Reality." Cornell students were once called "Heathens on the Hill."
- Heck, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, you can buy stickers practically anywhere that say "The People's Republic of Cambridge."
- When the New Zealand rugby team toured England in the early 20th century, an English newspaper commented negatively on their "somber all-black outfits". They have been known as the All Blacks ever since.
- When Jon Stewart appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that 87% of Daily Show fans were intoxicated while watching and repeatedly referred to them as "stoned slackers". The fans adopted it as a Fan Community Nickname and now there are "I'm one of Jon's stoned slackers" T-shirts.
- In Australian Rules Football, North Melbourne were nicknamed the "Shinboners" due to their reputation for kicking opposition players in the shins. Their fans proudly adopted the name.
- Geelong's nickname of the Cats came from a story about a black cat crossing the ground, and Geelong winning the match.
- In American sports, many teams on both the professional and Collegiate level received their nicknames this way. For example: the Pittsburgh Pirates received their name after they "pirated" a player from the folding Player's League, the Philadelphia (now Oakland) Athletics mascot became an elephant after Giants Manager John McGraw called Connie Mack's team and the new American League a "white elephant," and the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish are said to be named for the contemporary stereotypes of the Catholic college.
- Slight Variation: Abraham Lincoln, when called "two-faced", reportedly fired back "If I had two faces, do you think I'd be wearing this one?"
- In 1848, Abraham Lincoln used the term Michigander to insult Lewis Cass (a Democratic politician and former Territorial Governor of Michigan who ran for President that year against Zachary Taylor, on whose behalf Lincoln was campaigning); "gander" was at that time slang for "dullard." People in Michigan now use it to refer to themselves—and many will be offended if you use another term. Incidentally, when Lincoln ran for President himself, the "Michiganders"—still proud to call themselves that—voted for Lincoln. Twice.
- Andrew Jackson was called a jackass by his opponents when he was campaigning. He liked it so much he used it in his campaign posters.
- In youth the eccentric greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope was banished from his hometown. He later remarked: "The Sinopans have condemned me to banishment. I condemn them to stay at home!"
- Jesus freak.
- 'Christian' was originally a less than complementary term bestowed on the followers of Jesus by the pagans. You'll notice that for most of Acts the text refers to 'The Way'.
- "Jesus freak" kind of wavers in and out of insultdom depending on who's saying so, and how they define it (and whether they define that definition as an insult when they address themselves that way). Sometimes it's used interchangeably with "Christian", while other times it's a Christian who is so into being one that they tend to belabor the point, usually with a side order of offhanded insults towards non-Christians and a tall, frosty glass of thinking their faith makes them immune to criticism. It is rarely used in its original sense, i.e. a Christian hippie (like, an actual '60s hippie who also believed in Christianity, on general Jesus Was Way Cool grounds).
- Freak itself used to be a fairly nasty insult. But over time its meaning has mutated and then softened from "anything out of the ordinary" to "a person with a genetic abnormality" to "a weirdo" and finally to "an aficionado of something" (which is at worst neutral).
- "Chicano" was originally a derogatory term for the American children of Mexican immigrants, meant as a reminder that they did not quite belong in either the U.S. or Mexico. Chicanos eventually adopted the name as a symbol of pride for their heritage.
- When President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe (Hyperinflation dude, also responsible for turning the country around from it's high standard of living among Africa to it's current state) was compared to Hitler, he had this to say: "This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources? If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold."
- The words "guy" and "dude" were both originally insults. The former referred to Guy Fawkes, a failed royal assassin. The latter was originally a clueless newbie on a ranch (possibly from the Irish word dúd, "fool").
- Fan Wank. Many non-Brits understand what Fan Wank is; few understand what it means without the first few letters and many use it as an abbreviation. A few Brits, aware of what it means, have jokingly or otherwise mentioned their honour if someone assumes a claim is wank material. After all...
- In World War I, the Kaiser commented on Britain's "contemptible little army", the BEF called themselves the old contemptibles in honour.
- However, Wilhelm (who greatly admired the professionalism of the small British army) denied ever making such a statement and nobody ever came up with an original copy of the order in which is supposed to have been made. Apparently it was a British propaganda fabrication.
- The same man, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was also subject to a strange inversion of this trope. After the Kaiser called for Germans intervening in the Boxer Uprising to make the Chinese remember them "like the Huns", British troops used "Hun" as a derogatory term for German soldiers during the First World War.
- Australians have this reaction to comments about our country's origins as a Penal Colony. As one T-shirt put it, "Bet you wish your great-great-great-grandfather pinched a loaf of bread."
- Note however, that this was averted well into the latter half of the 20th Century. As the commentary on Hyde Park Barracks Museum in Sydney puts it, having convict ancestry was actually considered as a stigma, and it was only until heritage awareness (as a concept itself) started to sink into the Australian public since the 1970s and 80s did people started to view their convict ancestry with pride.
- When Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the colonel in command of the all-black 54th Regiment during the American Civil War, died at Fort Wagner, he was stripped and buried with his men as an insult for daring to lead black troops, while the bodies of other Union officers were returned. His father, however, proclaimed that he was proud to know that he rests with his brave and devoted soldiers.
"We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers....We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. – what a body-guard he has!"
- A snappy insult backfire is popularly attributed to Chinese premier Zhou Enlai during an exchange with his USSR counterpart Nikita Khrushchev. Although China and Russia were nominally allies, at the time relations between the two countries were very tense, particularly on the issue of who was adhering more closely to Communist principles.
- Khrushchev: The difference between the Soviet Union and China is that I rose to power from the peasant class, whereas you came from the privileged Mandarin class.Zhou: True. But there is this similarity. Each of us is a traitor to his class.
- That anecdote had previously been at the beginning of the Cold War about Attlee's foreign minister Ernest Bevin (a former trade union leader) and Stalin's foreign minister Molotov.
- The Labour Party, in an attack ad for the 2010 general election, released an ad depicting David Cameron as Gene Hunt with his Quattro, with the caption "Don't let him take Britain back into the 1980s". Obviously, Gene being the Memetic Badass he is, this lead to tweets describing the poster as awesome and several Conservative campaign staffers going on the record wishing that they thought of it first. The Tories made their own version. David Cameron kicked his campaign off officially by closing his speech with the Tories' version.
- Later, after Cameron became Prime Minister, Labour leader Ed Miliband compared him to Flashman...apparently not realising how popular the character is.
- Danish avant-garde film director Lars von Trier was originally just named Lars Trier. One of his teachers at the Danish Film School added the "von" during a heated discussion, to mock his pupil's aloof, aristocratic style. Trier liked the sound of it and adopted it as his nom-de-guerre.
- Author Steven Johnson wrote the book Everything Bad is Good for You, in which he described the increasing intellectual sophistication of popular culture as the Sleeper Curve, because everyone was reminded of that movie when he described it.
- In the Furry Fandom, "furfag" is known as an insult. However, it's become something of an affectionate term when referring to other furries recently, especially those who are part of the GLBT community as well.
- This is most likely caused by the various imageboards, where "<topic>fag" (eg furfag) can both be an insult (used by those who dislike the topic) as well as a term to refer to each other (used by those who discuss said topic), which in the latter case pretty much makes it this trope.
- And of course, this disregards usage on /b/, where "<topic>fag" is essentially neutral.
- In 2002, the then-editor of The Daily Telegraph, Campbell Reid, sent Media Watch host David Marr a dead fish; a replica of it is now awarded as the Campbell Reid Perpetual Trophy for the Brazen Recycling of Other People's Work. Known as "The Barra" and bearing the motto Carpe Verbatim, it is awarded annually for bad journalism and particularly plagiarism (a practice for which Reid was frequently criticised).
- One famous one involving Winston Churchill:
Bessie Braddock: You, sir, are drunk.Churchill: Bessie, you're ugly. And in the morning, I shall be sober.
- Another one involving Churchill (let's be honest, he was really good at this):
Lady Astor: If you were my husband, I'd poison your tea.Churchill: If you were my wife, I'd drink it.
- Yet another involving Churchill was a piece of Nazi Propaganda that featured a cropped picture of Churchill trying out a Tommy Gun. The propaganda, much like a wanted poster, made Churchill out to be some Badass gangster swaggering with his cigar and submachine gun... and Churchill loved it!
- Benjamin Franklin got in on the act, as well, while walking through Paris (he was the American ambassador there at the time, and rather well-known):
French Woman: (pointing to his ample stomach) Mr. Franklin, if that were on a woman, we'd know what to think.Franklin: Madam, an hour ago it ''was'' on a woman, and now what do you think?
- In the 1993 Canadian federal election, an advertising firm hired by the Conservatives put out a political attack ad that made fun of Liberal leader Jean Chretien's appearance due to the Bell's Palsy paralysis he'd suffered since childhood on one side of his face. Aside from the sympathy this garnered Chretien and the resulting backlash against the Tories, the ad allowed Chretien to joke that at least he only talked out of one side of his mouth. What is the resulting backlash? Before the elections they were the Government party with 169 P Ms. They only had 2 voted into in this election. As The Other Wiki stated, "among the worst ever suffered by a governing party in the Western world."
- A couple of examples above refer to it, but "bitch"note is being taken back by women and used as something of an empowering slogan. Meredith Brooks' song "Bitch" and Missy Elliot's "She's a Bitch" seem to be where the move began.
- And, incidentally, where it seemed to have stopped with the mainstream, although occasionally in a show or movie, if a woman is in a confrontation, you might hear her say something like "I'm the wrong bitch to mess with." Basically, the term only backfires when the woman wants to be aggressive and/or domineering (like an Alpha Bitch).
- "Politically Correct, and Proud of It!"
- "Politically Incorrect, and Proud of It!"
- "The Iron Duke", the famous nickname of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, was originally applied derisively by political opponents during his tenure as Prime Minister, after iron shutters were installed on Downing Street because of rioting, but later became absorbed into the mythology surrounding his career as a reference to his stern, quintessentially British resolve.
- Another famous anecdote about Wellington: Someone tried to blackmail him with stories about his mistress. Wellington replied: "Just publish those stories and go to Hell!"
- During World War II, the universal word for the Allied soldiers was "kichiku beihei" which translates literally as "barbarian American soldiers" or better as "dirty American devils" you can find the phrase in its original kanji on t-shirts made in America.
- The United States Army and Marines are well known for their Interservice Rivalry and have sometimes used each other's names as insulting acronyms (for example, Marines sometimes claim that ARMY stands for "Ain't Ready for the Marines Yet"). Some members of the Army joked that USMC actually stands for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children... until of course the Marines proudly adopted the nickname for themselves.
- My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment...Sir!
- Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential.
- In a similar manner to Wellington, notoriously divisive Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was nicknamed The Iron Lady by a Soviet newspaper in an article depicting her recent visit to the Soviet Union in a very derogatory manner. She liked the title and claimed it as her own.
- Soviet Canuckistan. Embraced by many Canadians.
- After Vanessa Redgrave's 1977 Oscar acceptance speech (ironically winning for the Anti-Fascist film Julia), where she referred to those who had criticized and protested her support of Palestine (to the extent of burning effigies of her outside the ceremony) as "Zionist Hoodlums", many Jewish Defense League members started wearing T-shirts emblazoned with just that phrase
- Here's a subtle, sartorial example: In early 20th-century Spain, many blue-collar workers in the big cities wore a dark blue one-piece garment (sort of similar to a prison jumpsuit) called the mono azul ("blue monkey"). The name mono azul was probably intended to humiliate and degrade the common laborer. But in the summer of 1936, after the people of Barcelona (a radically left-leaning city) revolted against their city government in reaction to General Francisco Franco's illegal attempt to seize power, Barcelonans of all classes who held communist sympathies began going out on the streets proudly wearing the mono azul as a sign of revolutionary egalitarianism; people who dared to still wear three-piece suits and hats could expect to be harassed, or worse. While they were at it, the Barcelonans also seized control of the city's taxicabs and buses, plastered vibrantly colored propaganda posters everywhere, and forced luxury hotels and five-star restaurants throughout the city to open their doors to the common people. George Orwell, the famed British author and social critic (and socialist) was on hand to view many of these dramatic changes, and he remarked that everything looked so alien that he couldn't even be sure if he was in Europe anymore.
- "Peckerwoods" was originally a slur used by rich whites to insult the poor, and then co-opted by blacks to serve as a racial slur against white people in general. Now The Peckerwoods are among the most well-known white supremacist prison gangs, alongside the Aryan Brotherhood and the Nazi Lowriders.
- In a pre-game interview in the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference First Round, Miami Heat forward LeBron James described their Game 5 (in which Miami was up 3-1 in the series against the Philadelphia 76ers) as "Just finishing our breakfast." In response, 76ers guard Lou Williams nicknamed his teammates after various breakfast items, such as Marreese Speights as "Fruit Salad," Thaddeus Young as "Hash Browns," Spencer Hawes as "Over Easy," and Andres Nocioni as "Huevos Rancheros." Hawes also added that, "A lot of times people don’t finish breakfast."
- There is some debate as to whether "There stands Jackson like a stone wall." was complimentary or not.
- Older Than Feudalism: Diogenes was told he lived like a dog. Apparently, it appealed to him enough for his entire school to be called "dog-like" (cynics).
- Author Jim Butcher tells the story of a creative writing teacher who he constantly clashed with, calling her way of writing boring, cliché and generic. He wrote a novel in her style to show how such a story would be; her response was that it would sell. The novel in question, of course, was Storm Front, the very first book in The Dresden Files; Butcher himself related this story as a way of admitting the Insult Backfire.
- After several years of poor showings, Winnipeg's Football team the Blue Bombers (named after beer, of all things), met with large success in the 2011 season. After beginning to show their confidence on the field, opposing fans started talking about their swagger. Winnipeg promptly began referring to itself as Swaggerville.
- Not any more; the Bombers then went and finished last in the CFL in 2012.
- The C++ programming language was widely criticised back in its heyday; critics included Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux. However, the criticisms levelled at it also contributed to its widespread use back in the nineties and early 2000s, and Bjarne Stroustrup, the designer of the language, acknowledges it:
"The major cause of complaints is C++ undoubted success. As someone remarked: There are only two kinds of programming languages: those people always bitch about and those nobody uses."
- Dick Cheney has been compared to Darth Vader. He essentially took it as being a combination of The Lancer, I Did What I Had to Do, Token Evil Teammate, and Evil Is Cool.
- When Kevin Murphy replaced J. Elvis Weinstein as the voice of Tom Servo on Mystery Science Theater 3000, an angry fan sent him a banner that read "I HATE TOM SERVO'S NEW VOICE!" Murphy kept the banner as a souvenir and even hung it on his office wall. He also displayed it for the audience at a recent convention panel with the show's cast.
- Alec Baldwin yelled at Greyhound in his tract against American Airlines for booting him off one of their planes. Greyhound's CEO proceeded to invite him on a Greyhound trip from New York to Boston as proof to him that, contrary to his claims in that tract, Greyhound isn't what they used to be, and that's a good thing.
- Atheist high school student and activist Jessica Ahlquist campaigned to have her school remove a posted prayer. She was called an "evil little thing" by a state representative; her supporters created a college fund for her by selling T-shirts with this phrase on it.
- One of the key factors in Dalton McGuinty's victory in the 2003 Ontario general election was the backfire from a rather bizarre insult, apparently from his primary opponent's campaign: "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet".
- Barack Obama's 2012 campaign included a drive to take the term "Obamacare" and made it a positive nickname for the Affordable Care Act — right down to T-shirts and stickers made by the DNC emblazoned with the word.
- To UsefulNotes.Objectivists and some libertarians, selfishness would be the fulfillment of free-market and individualist ideals, so they would react to being called selfish with pride. However, this doesn't apply to all libertarians equally, with some countering accusations of greed and selfishness by saying that they are simply okay with both selfishness and altruism as long as the actions they lead to are voluntary and non-coercive, and with others openly denouncing the more individualist wing of the movement and/or advocating for various private charities.
- A popular anti-Japanese slur in China is 日本鬼子 (riben guizi, "Japanese demon"). Following an international dispute between the two countries in 2010 Japanese netizens noted that the slur looks like a Japanese girl's name, with 本 ("-moto") being a common family name component and 子 ("-ko") being a common female given name component. So, using the magic of Alternate Character Reading, they created the moe character Hinomoto Oniko, a Cute Oni Girl in traditional Japanese attire who became instantly popular on Japanese Image Boards and inspired an impressive amount of fanart, videos, and a VIPPERloid with her own image song. Chinese netizens were baffled at the way the slur was reappropriated, citing it as another example of the weirdness and craziness of Japan.
- Jaffa Cakes, the commercial was originally a bit of an insult towards sweet tooths and a Scare 'Em Straight towards kids, but the kids who ate themselves into a chocolate coma looked so utterly fulfilled it completely ruined the point they were trying to make (sweets are bad). Eventually a company wound up making the fictional sweet into a real thing, which is very popular in the UK.
- The term "McCarthyism" was embraced by Senator Joseph McCarthy, who chose to define it as "Americanism with its sleeves rolled." He had some success with this during his lifetime, but today "McCarthyism" is synonymous with its original intended meaning of "Witch Hunt."
- At the 1988 Democratic Convention Senator Ted Kennedy gave a speech wherein he mocked Republican candidate George H.W. Bush's supposed lack of involvement in President Ronald Reagan's administration by listing several incidents (some good, some bad) and after each asking rhetorically, "Where was George?" By the next afternoon Republican supporters were wearing T-shirts printed with the words "Dry, Sober, And Home With His Wife". Also qualifies as Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Speaking of Reagan: how could forget this classical exchange?
Henry "Hank" Trewhitt of the Baltimore Sun: "You already are the oldest President in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall, yes, that President Kennedy, who had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuba missile crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?"Ronald Reagan: "Not at all, Mr. Trewhitt and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience."
- Andrew Young, in addition to being a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement, served as Mayor of Atlanta, Congressman from Georgia, and US Ambassador to the UN. During Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984 he said that it was being "...run by a bunch of smart-ass white boys who think they know it all." Cue T-shirt and cap vendors all over the country, "SAWB" was the acronym of the year.
- When Richard I of England first was called "the Lionheart" after his incursion into Sicily during the Third Crusade, it was meant as an indictment of what was perceived as his merciless cruelty, more appropriate to a predatory animal than to a human being. In later years, it was seen as a honorific sobriquet.
- For a while, people from Illinois would call people from Wisconsin "cheeseheads", in reference to that there wasn't much about Wisconsin except for dairy farms. Wisconsinites since have took to the name, including making hats out of foam that look like cheese (they're a staple at Green Bay Packer games).
- The term "American exceptionalism" was originally an insult by Joseph Stalin, who claimed that the Americans believed themselves to be too good for Communism and went on to mock the idea. It has since been picked up and used by Americans who genuinely believe the USA is special compared to other countries.
- During the debacle of the 2012 Presidential Elections in America, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh accused Obama of (somehow) manufacturing a hurricane that disrupted the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Comedian Mark Agee tweeted in response: "Do what you want, but I'll def vote for THE GUY WHO CAN CONTROL THE FUCKING WEATHER."
- The term "meritocracy" was originally coined in an essay that satirized those who became successful through advantages of birth or circumstance but claimed to have done so through hard work and ability (it is a combination of the words merit and aristocracy). The term meritocracy is now used to describe any system in which success is brought about by merit with none of its original satirical intent.
- This is what happened with the Mexican soccer team Chivas de Guadalajara and it's semi-official name: They got that name as an unflattering insult from a local newspaper after playing a tough game, since the editor considered they played like a bunch of unruly goats (Chivas in Spanish). For some reason, they loved that name and not only it became their nickname of their team, they even bring a goat dressed with the team uniform as well as their team pet. Heck, even their team motto is named in Spanish as El Rebaño Sagrado (The Sacred Herd).
- Oddly enough, despise being the name used by the team and their fans, for legal and also spelling reasons, the team is still named in Mexico and abroad as Club Deportivo Guadalajara or simply Guadalajara.
- Done by supporters of Tottenham Hotspur FC in the Premier League. Supporters of rival clubs used a variety of anti-Semitic slurs against the club and its supporters due to their home pitch being located in Tottenham, which once was the primary Jewish neighborhood in London (nowadays it's incredibly multi-ethnic). One such slur was adopted by Tottenham supporters as a way of identifying themselves. (For sensitivity's sake, it will not be replicated here. Google it if you're curious.)
- Bandit Keith from Yu-Gi-Oh! (overpatriotic with a fondness for guns), America from Axis Powers Hetalia (burger-obsessed overenthusiastic idiot), and Lieutenant Vixen from Squirrel and Hedgehog (a curvaceous, glasses-and-uniform-wearing Badass commander female fox, with similarities to The Baroness), all parodies of America, all characters American fans love. Especially glaring in the case of Squirrel and Hedgehog, as it's a North Korean propaganda cartoon, that, quite obviously, has never been ported officially to the U.S.
- Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged series turned Bandit Keith's American stereotype Up to Eleven, simply causing the character to become even more popular.
- Remaining with Squirrel and Hedgehog... The Americans in general are supposed to be Savage Wolves. Take a look and guess why most Americans appreciate their portrait.
- A lot of words have become this down the years:
- "fantastic" means "pertaining to fantasy", so if not a literal term for stories about elves and magic kingdoms, it originally meant "absurd".
- "terrific" originally meant "inspiring terror".
- In an inversion, "awful" originally meant "inspiring awe". This has mutated to "awesome".
- Recently, some militant vegans have taken to calling meat-eaters "bloodmouths." It's been about as effective of an insult as you'd expect something so redoubtable-sounding to be.
- In the 1980s, supporters of the Swedish football (soccer) team AIK tried to make fun of another team, IFK Göteborg, and made a song to sing during matches against them called "Alla heter Glenn i Göteborg" (Everyone is called Glenn in Gothenburg) due to IFK Göteborg having four players called just that on their team. But the supporters of the latter team liked it and adopted it, and it's probably the most used song among its fans even today, it's become like an unofficial club anthem.
- AIK also has another story. In the 1920s, the club was very small and struggling financially. The team played in black shirts, but buying new shirts when the colour faded wasn't an option because the club had no money. This led to the team being referred to as "gnagare" (rodents), both due to their faded rat-grey shirts and their percieved poverty. This appellation stuck with the team as their fortunes grew and the shirts were replaced, and is now worn as a badge of pride.
- Dick Cheney arose from his retirement to call Ed Snowden a traitor. Snowden replied, "Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American."
- Ever see a biker wearing a "1%" patch? This is because back in the 60s, law enforcement described outlaw bikers as 1% of the culture making things hard for the other 99%. The Hell's Angels promptly took to calling themselves "One-Percenters", and these days bikers use the term to indicate they aren't corporate goons or mindless sheep.
- Inverted during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 where protesters used to dub themselves as the 99% whose lives are filled with burden and hardship (due to the economic recession) while the rich 1% of the population are living in wealth and luxury which most of them did not rightfully earn. Some of the said 1% took the insult as endearment and proudly proclaimed themselves to be the 1% of people that have a nice home and can afford to spend their money on luxurious items.
- Yet other Americans mashed the concept together with a Bill O'Reilly soundbyte and declared themselves proud members of the 1% of Americans with common sense.
- People that troll others on the internet in order to rile up others are universally seen as pathetic and are disliked. Some people created this image◊ to showcase what they see trolls as. The actual trolls themselves found the image to be hilarious and endearing, so they use the troll face image as a signature card of sorts.
- PC vs. Console had console fanboys dub PC elitists as "PC master race" as an insult to those that think PC gamers are above everyone else. PC gamers saw the phrase as "yes, we are better than those console gaming scrubs", so now many PC gamers dub themselves as the glorious PC master race whenever they troll gaming consoles and their fans.
- When Vladimir Lenin was criticized that his ideology and reality didn't match, he used to boast: "Too bad for reality!" We know how things turned out after that.
- "Tuga" and "Brazuca", the latter of which is usually shortened as "zuca", started as derogatory terms for Portuguese and Brazillian people, respectively. "Zuca" began and was mostly used during the Brazillian war of independence by the portuguese, while Tuga was used at the same time by the Brazillian and the Portuguese-African independence forces in their own war. As with most things on this page, they were later adopted as nicknames of their respective country's people.
- William Henry Harrison's infamous "log cabin and cider" slogan was originally an insult from Martin Van Buren. Van Buren claimed that they could get Harrison to never leave his log cabin by giving him 2000 USD (about 47000 USD in 2014, so enough to live comfortably on, but not an income to inspire rap lyrics) a year and a keg of hard cider. At the time, the only people who still lived in log cabins and drank hard cider were old coots in the backwoods (logs had mostly been replaced by clapboard and hard cider by whisky as the construction material and beverage of choice by then), and Van Buren attempted to paint Harrison as such. Harrison ran with it, and used it to mean that he was a down-to-earth frontier type promoting what would be called "small-town values" today (when in fact he was a Virginian plantation owner and, if anything, even more of an aristocrat than Van Buren). It was one bad interpretation that led to Harrison smashing Van Buren in the electoral college, then promptly croaking.
- One recent Chevy commercial claims that their trucks are "second to nobody", before adding "If by 'nobody,' you mean Ram and Ford." What they apparently didn't realize is that Chevy is unintentionally, but directly stating that their trucks are second to Ram's and Ford's.
- A rather amusing one; In Iran the thumbs-up signal basically means "Up yours", while almost everywhere else it has a positive connotation. A lot of people aren't aware of the difference, however. So if an Iranian person gives a thumbs-up to an unknowing American...
- An anecdote variously attributed to either English financier Sir Moses Montefiore or English humourist Israel Zangwill (both of whom were Jewish) states that at a dinner party he was once seated next to an anti-Semitic nobleman who told him he'd just returned from a visit to Japan where "they have neither pigs nor Jews." The reply? "In that case, you and I should go there, so it will have a sample of each."
- South Park: Paris Hilton was mercilessly spoofed on this show in the episode "Stupid Spoiled Whore". Yet, when asked what she felt about this episode she actually enjoyed it. South Park creator Matt Stone replied to this in an interview: "That just proofs how stupid she is; the fact that she seems actually proud of it."
- Spitting Image: This show featured puppet caricatures of various celebrities intended to take the piss out of them. After a few seasons, however, some celebrities started to take pride in their puppets. Because: if you weren't spoofed on the show, you really were a nobody. British politician Norman Tebbit actually enjoyed being depicted as a tough bully on the show. Author and politician Jeffrey Archer liked his puppet so much that the makers eventually avoided using him for a few episodes. TV presenter Chris Evans even wanted to be included as a puppet, and when it finally happened he even sent letters asking if he could voice the puppet himself, to which the makers naturally declined.
- For overweight people who are comfortable with their size, any insults regarding weight are taken as compliments.
- For people living in the United States, nearly everyone knows how the country is heavily disliked and how everyone views Americans negatively; one of the negative traits commonly brought up is how Americans can become too patriotic. Many Americans took this as a sign of pride and many have used the song "America! FUCK YEAH!" as their calling card.
- The Italian Bersaglieri assault infantry have been often called chicken soldiers for their Nice Hat decorated with capercaillie feathers◊. Given that bersaglieri is Italian for sharpshooter and those feathers helped them to aim by giving protection against intense sunlight, they were proud of it.
- Certain schools of PR and marketing hold any attention is good attention: "There is no such thing as negative publicity". Insults, reports about racy stuff celebrities are involved in, crazy antics, it all keeps a name or a brand in the news which is advertising you don't have to pay for. Though it all depends on what you built your name and brand on in the first place.
- They're not always right though. EA infamously ran a campaign that featured mothers reacting horrified to the violence in a video game and ran another campaign that featured booth babes called "Sin to Win" complete with fake religious protesters. These both drew heavy criticism and the negative reaction has long outlived the success (or lack thereof) of the games being marketed.
- There's putting contracts out on people, and then there's putting contracts out on people in a stupid manner, such as this message to Junji Majima:
I am a fan of ___.
There are bad fans of ____.
Even though ___ realizes this, [he/she] puts on the accessory [he/she] received from [him/her] when [he/she] does work and stuff. I can't forgive [him/her].
Please kill [Junji] Majima.
- Needless to say, Majima told the sender of that message exactly what he thought about that death threat as part of his reply.
Junji Majima: Wait just a second, don't push the riskiest task on me! lol
- In a response to racist fans whom throw bananas on the soccer field at black players, many of them decided to clean off and eat the bananas as a score of energy for the remainder of the game. Turning what was suppose to be a dehumanizing action into an extra nutritional boost.
- Many times, after somebody makes a magazine or talk show's “Worst-dressed” list, they'll later go on and say they were flattered by it. Sometimes it's by people, such as comedians like Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho, who are usually immune to such insults, who believe in No Such Thing as Bad Publicity and sometimes to it deliberately for attention. Others, however, genuinely feel like “Worst-dressed” is the better place to be, believing that the people on the “Worst” list at least had the courage to be bold and unique and do something edgy and daring, whereas the “Best” list is sometimes seen as being a little stodgy and boring.
- An actual subversion of this (an Insult Backfire Backfire), came when a very conservative American woman named Holly Fisher decided to troll liberals by taking pride of her being called a "Fundamentalist Gun-totting, Bible-thumper American", so she posted a picture of her wielding an assault rifle while holding a Bible, with the American flag in the backdrop. The problem came when some people started comparing her photo with an eerily similar one of a fundamentalist Muslim woman, also wielding an assault rifle and a Qur'an, even adding the caption "Explain the difference". She was not amused.
- On the internet, "Social Justice Warrior". Most people the term is directed at are proud to be fighting for social justice, though others are trying to disassociate themselves from the label while being proud.
- Ultra-conservative Australian MP Kevin Andrews claimed that the Liberal Party's defeat in the 2014 Victorian state election was due to "an unprecedented campaign by unions" - a comment which the unions immediately began using to promote themselves.
- Pat Robertson once said that feminism "encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Apart from the killing, many feminists consider this a pretty good to-do list.
- When a mosque in Houston, Texas burned down, one person made an Islamophobic comment on the page for the Quba Islamic Institute stating that they would donate bacon sandwichesnote and a Bible. The QII responded with gratitude, informing them that the sandwiches could be used to feed the homeless and that the Bible is a valuable source of knowledge. Another comment read, "Forgive me if I don't shed a tear." The response: "No need to shed tears for material loss."
- The label "Made in Germany" was invented by the Brits after WW2. It was not intended to become synonymous with "quality product".
- The great cartoonist Al Hirschfeld (whose drawings mostly satirized Broadway) drew a picture of the legendary Broadway producer David Merrick as Santa Claus◊ in a series on "Unlikely Casting". David Merrick used the drawing on his Christmas cards, adding a burning Christmas tree.
- Notorious UK shock jock and general shit-stirrer Katie Hopkins went on to declare, among other things, that she would (supposedly) leave the country if Labour, and by extension then-party leader Ed Miliband, got elected. Since there are a lot of people that dislike her, the Cambridge University Labour Club took her comments and ran with it, saying that a vote for Labour was a vote for her to leave. Then the Tories won a majority and Katie declared she was here to stay.
- The notoriously gaffe-prone UKIP politician Godfrey Bloom once described David Cameron as looking like "the sort of chap I used to beat up [at school]."
- In 2012, Papa Johns and texbook distributor Chegg sponsored a "VHS-Storytelling Contest", promising a concert by Taylor Swift to the winner. Some wise-guy group of Swift-haters on the website 4Chan pulled a stunt that hijacked the contest, awarding the prize to the Horace Man School for the Deaf, a daycare center for hearing impaired children, the insinuation being only kids who couldn't hear could appreciate her music. When the prank was uncovered, the School had to be disqualified due to fraudulent voting, but Swift got the last laugh and then some, because the rather public incident earned the school $50,000 worth of donations from fans, $10,000 of it from Swift herself.
- Combined with adding insult to injury, after former House Speaker John Boehner told Ted Cruz off on the air, calling him "Lucifer in the flesh", a representative for the Satanic Temple took offense. They certainly want nothing to do with Cruz either.
- A common slur for supporters of Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul was "Paulbot" insinuating that all people did was repeat what he told them to say. Libertarians have started calling themselves Paulbots, partially as a joke.
- In the Starcraft online multiplayer, one player, Idra, became well known as one of the few Western players who could go up against the Korean champions and hold his own. He also became known for epic Rage Quits whenever he felt his partner (or his opponent) was playing the game wrong. For a while, the phrase "I am honored to receive Idra rage" in response to his tirades became a meme among online Starcraft players.
- Critics of Mao Zedong likened his rule to that of Qin Shi Huang Di. Mao replied, "You revile us for being like Qin Shi Huang. We are happy to agree. Your mistake is that you did not say so enough.". Incidentally, during the 20th century, the perception of Qin Shi Huang changed greatly, going from an evil despot to a great if cruel Founder of the Kingdom, which Mao certainly aspired to be.
- Charlie Chaplin was not in fact Jewish, but was widely believed to be by anti-Semites. According to one anecdote, he was once aggressively asked if he was a Jew at a party, and to avoid any implication that being Jewish was a bad thing responded "I'm afraid I don't have that honour".
- Something similar happened to J. R. R. Tolkien. Once, a German publisher interested in publishing The Hobbit in Germany asked him by letter if he was "arisch" (Hitler was in power already). In the letter he did not send, Tolkien replied that he had no Indo-Iranian ancestors, and that, if he meant to ask whether he was of Jewish origin, that he appeared "to have no ancestors of that gifted people".
- People that complain about problems that are really insignificant (such as getting the wrong kind of cell phone for their birthday for example) were usually made fun of for bitching about problems that only affect people who were well off, which became known as "first world problems". After a while, people began to take first world problems as joke by complaining about something totally meaningless and follow it up by saying "first world problems" or "#firstworldproblems" as a way to invoke self aware irony.
- If the story is to be believed, the modern day potato chip was born from an insult backfire. George Crum, a cook at Moon's Lake House, was dealing with an unruly customer who kept sending his fried potatoes back and demanded they be cut thinner. Finally fed up, George sliced the potatoes razor thin, fried them until crisp and brittle, and seasoned them with too much salt. To his surprise, the customer loved them, and the rest is history.
- In response to a 2014 controversy where certain conservative science fiction writers and fans accused women of "destroying" science fiction, Lightspeed magazine made an all-female-written issue titled "Women Destroy Science Fiction".
- When an anti-Trump Republican strategist compared Trump supporters to Otaku that masturbate to anime, in a Take That towards both, many American Otaku were more offended that they were compared to Trump supporters, rather than being accused (and some even proudly admitted) of of masturbating to anime, making this a double case.
- "Big Bill" Thompson was Mayor of Chicago from 1915 to 1923 and again from 1927 to 1931. Ranked among the most unethical politicians in American history, his tenure (especially his last term) was marked with the height of Prohibition-era gangster violence and pervasive corruption in the city (including the height of Al Capone's empire; Capone had given Thompson his tacit support with the "Pineapple Primary"note that ensured his favored candidates won). For the 1931 mayoral election the Democratic Party selected Anton Cermak, an immigrant from what is now the Czech Republic and whose political base at that point was the otherwise-marginalized ethnic immigrant neighborhoods of Poles, Czechs, Ukrainians, Jews, Italians, African-Americans, and others. Thompson, facing backlash for the city's corruption stemming from the out-of-control Prohibition violence and his reputation as a buffoon, tried to use ethnic slurs to attack Cermak; Cermak responded, "He doesn't like my name...It's true I didn't come over on the Mayflower, but I came over as soon as I could." It was a sentiment many in his base could relate to, and helped catapult him to victory in the election with 58% of the vote. Every mayor of Chicago since Cermak has been a Democrat.
- A common insult against Americans by ISIS or Jihad extremists is infidel (unfaithful, going against the true faith). Patriotic Americans have taken the word as a badge of honor. Several people have t-shirts and bumper stickers advertising themselves as infidels, including the word written in both English and Arabic.