Insult Misfire

Alice, Bob and Charlie are chatting together, and Charlie viciously launches an insult at Bob; but Bob, Master of Missing The Point, fires back, "I won't let you insult Alice like that!"

Occasionally this will take an alternate form where Bob hasn't missed the point at all, but is deliberately misinterpreting the insult as a form of snark.

Not to be confused with Insult Backfire. Compare Insult Friendly Fire.


Anime and Manga
  • In one episode of Koihime†Musou, someone insults Rin Rin by calling her flat-chested. Her response is to demand that they apologize to Shuri immediately.

  • One Dilbert strip from 1990.
    Dogbert: If brains were beans, you wouldn't have enough to make a bee burp.
    Dilbert: Hey! We don't insult bees in this house!
  • Foxtrot: Jason tries to farm World Of Warquest gold and sell it for cash on eBay.
    Peter: I guess there's an idiot born every minute.
    Jason: Don't call my future customers idiots.
    Peter: I wasn't referring to your customers.
  • My Cage: Jeff fails to realize that Rex was calling him "clammy".
  • This Garfield strip.
  • In Baby Blues, Zoe asked her mom, Wanda, to help her confront a bully in her grade. The bully said, "Good morning, stupid." When Wanda told her not to talk to Zoe that way, she replied, "I wasn't."
  • In the third Adam Warren miniseries of the Dirty Pair, we find perhaps the ultimate misfired insult. Kei's just had an exotic weapon snatched from her hand by a man who fears she'll set it off. "Set it off? Do I look as decerebrate as one of your KalSec morons!?" she demands of him. "Actually, no! We have standards for our morons!" he replies, and probably realizes a few moments later what he's just actually said.
  • The Sandman has Hob Gadling talking to a Renaissance Fair worker:
    Hob: You're the twat with the sheep.
    Worker: Lamb.
  • In Wanted, Wesley calls Shit-Head "Fuckface", but Shit-Head thinks that Wesley is getting him mixed up with Fuckwit.
    Wesley: I'm trying to be insulting, asshole!

  • Shrek
    Lord Farquaad: What is THAT? Ugh, it's hideous!
    Shrek: Oh, that's not very nice... It's just a donkey.
    Donkey: Huh?
    Lord Farquaad: Indeed
  • In the film Shallow Hal, two men snicker at Gwyneth Paltrow's character for being obese. Jack Black's character, who sees her as slender and beautiful, thinks the men are insulting him.
  • A variation from the Jose Ferrer version of Cyrano de Bergerac:
    Vicomte de Valvert: [to Cyrano] Dolt! Insolent puppy! Jabbernowl!
    Cyrano de Bergerac: [bowing, sarcastically] How do you do? And I - Cyrano Savinien Hercule de Bergerac!
  • Dr. Dolittle: A pigeon that Dr. Dolittle treated did a Insult Misfire when, along with an army of animals, he was guarding the hospital where Dr. Dolittle was operating on a very sick tiger.
    Pigeon: Pigs go Home! Pigs go Home!
    (a literal Pig is attempting to walk away)
    Pigeon: Oh, no, not you. I was talking to the Police!
  • TRON: Legacy
    Clu: The cycles haven't been kind, have they?
    Flynn: Nah. You don't look so bad.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies: Miss Hathaway put on a disguise to rescue Granny. Later the two tried to return to Clampett Manor but were barred by a guard. Miss Hathaway asked the guard if he knew who he was talking to, to which the guard says it's one crazy lady, and another one in a bad wig. Granny thought the "bad wig" part was about her, and starts kicking the guy in the shins.
  • in Shark Tale When Sykes tells Oscar that he's on the phone with Lino, Oscar's absolutely horrified. Oscar desperately Tries to get Sykes to hang up, every subtle attempt which Sykes misinterprets, until Oscar finally screams it out
    Oscar: Sykes! Shut up! SHUT...UP!
    Sykes: Hey! That's good! I like that! Shut up Lino! Ha! SHUT UP!
    • Sykes then hands Oscar the phone
    Oscar[meekly]: Hello?
    Lino: "Shut up?" "Shut up"?! You don't tell ME shut up, I tell YOU shut up!
    [beeping is suddenly heard on the other line]
    Lino: Huh? Hello?
    Luca: Hi, How ya doin? I'll have a large pizza; everything on it: anchovies, mushrooms—
    Lino: LUCA!
    Luca:: Oh! Uh...Hi Boss! What the heck are you doin' workin' at the pizza joint?
    Luca: But I'm hungry! [hangs up]
    Lino: [sighs]... My guys are comin' for ya Sharkslayer! They're gonna tear you, FIN FROM FIN!!! (slams the phone down)
    • This later comes back to bite Sykes once he finally starts to uncover Oscar's lie
    Sykes[laughs uneasilly]: This is a joke right? 'cause I told Lino... [sudden look of horror dawns on his face]
    Sykes[over phone] Shut up, Lino! Shut up!
    [End flashback, Sykes inflates in total panic and horror]]

  • In Witches Abroad:
    Lily: Look at the three of you. Bursting with inefficient good intentions. The maiden, the mother and the crone.
    Nanny Ogg: Who are you calling a maiden?
    Magrat: Who are you calling a mother?
    Granny Weatherwax: ...
    • Of course, it's only a misfire for Nanny Ogg and Magrat. Mistress Weatherwax is actually trying to be crone, so this is more of an Insult Backfire, except that she's still insulted by the fact that someone has so little fear of her that they actually call her a crone.
      • Magrat has a healthy amount fear: even in her own private thoughts, thinks of the triad as "the maiden, the mother and the ... other one," because she knows it won't do to call Granny a crone even if it's just in her own head. Granny has ways of getting inside of those.

Live-Action TV
  • In the That '70s Show episode "Eric's Hot Cousin", where Donna and Jackie are talking about the title character:
    Donna: I never liked her. You know, once when we were little she bit me, so I bit her back. And then she said, "Truce", so I said, "Okay". And then she bit me again... Whore.
    Jackie: (insulted) Slut!
  • Beakmans World:
    Beakman: Here's some CO2 and some air. Like Phoebe and Lester, one is much denser than the other.
    Lester [to Phoebe]: He's got ya there!
  • Tosh0: Daniel does this when responding to viewer mail.
    Viewer: "How does such an unfunny douche get his own show?"
    Daniel: "Okay, that is not nice, Demetri Martin is a wonderful person."
  • El Chavo del ocho: In one episode, Don Ramon entered Professor Jirafales' class claiming he wanted to learn. (He just wanted a place where he'd be safe from Doña Florinda) When El Chavo first saw him there, he believed it was an old kid who looked like Don Ramon. When Don Ramon stated something like "I am, idiot!", El Chavo said they had even that in common.
  • There was a dramatic example in Life on Mars in the case of a teenage rape and murder suspect who was convicted partly due to a series of misunderstandings. According to Annie's version of events, Gene Hunt made a joke at the boy's expense about having Annie look after him, and the boy, thinking Annie was the target of the joke, made a crack about breastfeeding. Gene thought it was a comeback and knocked him on his ass.


Web Comics
  • In Darths & Droids, Pete says that Sally (who borders on Cloud Cuckoolander at times) is in his "top forty percent" of people he believes should lead, as he doesn't like Ben and doesn't really respect Jim or Annie. Jim, missing the implied insult, then wonders aloud why Pete would rank Sally over himself.
    • In a later comic, Corey (playing Luke) refers to Wedge (who Corey believes will backstab him) and Biggs (who speaks like a stereotypical American southerner) as "the yokel and the psychopath". Wedge argues that he's not a yokel, and Biggs argues that Luke is not a psychopath.
  • In And Shine Heaven Now, when Jeeves insults the fangirls' choice of clothing, not only did he get an Insult Backfire from the ecstatic fangirls, he got a "Hey!" from an insulted Alucard, thinking he was talking about Alucard's pillbox hat.
  • Ansem Retort has one between Ansem, Sora, and Riku in the second panel here.
  • Played with in The Order of the Stick, when Elan starts making jokes about Nale's physical attributes and parentage in the middle of battle. Nale points out repeatedly (to no avail) that because he and Elan are identical twins, Elan is insulting himself just as much as Nale with such quips.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Kim Possible: "Showdown At The Crooked D"
    Dr. Drakken: We've got a new team here. The genius and The lack wit!
    Ron: (To Mr. Dr. P) Don't let him call you a lackwit!
  • In Futurama: "Into the Wild Green Yonder", Mr. Wong is talking to Fry in the presence of his daughter, Amy:
    Mr. Wong: Can I be brutally honest, Fry? I always wanted a son.
    Fry: That hurt, but I can take it.
  • King of the Hill does this when Luanne realises she's become just like Hank regarding house rules. "Oh my god! I've become you!". Hank assumes she meant Bobby.
  • Code Monkeys does this when Noshi calls Todd a "fat homosexual with horn hat". Todd says that nobody talks to Black Steve that way.
  • Gummi Bears: "A Tree Grows In Dunwyn"
    Troll Leader: (Pointing at Tummi and Zummi) Take the fat one and the old one!
    Tummi: Who are you calling old?
  • Gravity Falls:
    Bill Cypher: You're a lot smarter than you look, especially the fat one.
    Soos (To Mabel): He's talking about you.