Just Smile and Nod

You've run into someone who's insane,really insane, or just far more intelligent than you. If nothing else, you're not going to listen because you can't or won't understand what's happening. But you can't stop them, either for reasons of etiquette and decorum, or simply because you can't get a word in edgewise.

If this is the case, all you can do is smile, nod, and wait for the other person to finish.

Compare Stepford Smiler.


Anime and Manga
  • Yugioh GX. Dimitri, a Duelist of the Week whose shtick is copying the decks and strategies of other players, is apparently convinced he's Yugi Muto when he steals Yugi's original deck and challenges Jaden with it.
    Dimitri: That move takes me back to our duel against Seto Kaiba at Battle City. Those were some good times, weren't they old friend?
    Syrus: Battle City? This guy's gone batty!
    Chumley: Just smile and nod Sy, smile and nod.

  • Wizards of Waverly Place. Alex can't understand the locals, but uses a spell to create a literal caption floating in the air that translates for her. The locals talk about how she's a strange girl and maybe if they just smile and nod she'll go away.
  • There's a movie called Just Smile And Nod.
  • Played very sadly in Chaplin: Charlie has just gotten news that Hetty Kelly, the first girl he ever loved, died several years previously, and reels from the news, trying not to break down in tears. Moments later, his train pulls into the station and a huge crowd of fans is waiting on the platform. A friend asks "What do we do, Charlie?" and he replies simply "Smile," referring to the famous song to which he wrote the music. He then gets off the train and greets them all as if nothing's wrong.
  • Dorothy Lamour sometimes found herself in this position whenever she shared scenes with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in their Road to ... movies. Justified in that Crosby and Hope more often than not were off-script.

  • Discworld: This is the Arch-chancellor's stock reaction when Ponder Stibbons tries to explain anything to him. At least, when he's not confused by the metaphors. He's had to cut down on the habit, however, as Stibbons tends to play this to his advantage, which has resulted in Ridcully finding his signature in things he "agreed to".
    • Also in Going Postal, Moist is a con man, and so demonstrates how good he is at this when some people who run the clacks go into technicals.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward uses this while Obfuscating Stupidity, to pretend that he doesn'T understand something someone tries to explain to him. He also causes this reaction in people, intentionally, at one point by explaining the exact difference between two different kinds of sheep. In great detail.

Live-Action TV
  • Brought up in Doctor Who on how to respond to the Doctor explaining something that makes no sense to...anyone else. Specifically in "Blink", Martha notes you should just nod when he takes a breath.
  • Also brought up in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will and Carlton are about to have a meeting with some record company executives:
    Will: Now remember: agree with everything I say and disagree with everything they say.
    Carlton: Why don't I just smile and nod?
    Will: [beat] Even better.
  • In NUMB3RS, The FBI gang do this when Charlie explain some very complicated math theories.
  • Used as a joke in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Horror of Party Beach, in reference to an Only Sane Man black maid:
    Servo (as Eulabelle): Just smile at the stupid white people...
  • In one episode of Sharpe the titular hero ends up at dinner with Mad King George (the third, to be precise), who starts telling the tale of one of Sharpe's earlier adventures to his guests. One of the other gentlemen present kindly explains the situation:
    Nobleman: He thinks he was there. Play along.
  • Penny on The Big Bang Theory does this when the science jargon goes over head (which is all the time).

Video Games
  • In the first Sonny game, when Sonny and Veradux meet up with the paladin who's trying to take down Baron Brixius, the paladin mistakes them for two members of the three-soldier team meant to back him up (Sonny and Veradux killed them on the way to the paladin's location).
    Veradux: Just shut up and nod, Sonny. Shut up and nod.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: One of Skipper's catchphrases. "Just smile and wave, boys," along with, "Cute and cuddly, boys, cute and cuddly." Also used in the first movie.