This is the technique of putting a sarcastic twist on the more plain meaning of something. Though literal-mindedness
is often associated with not understanding sarcasm
, in some cases snarking
and literal-mindedness can go hand-in-hand.
See also Grammar Nazi
, whose more snarky varieties are prone to this. If one acts
on the sarcastic twist, it's a Jerkass Genie
- Vetinari in Discworld is infamous for this.
- Terry Pratchett's work is made of this: "Don't let me detain you"; "Throw the book at him"; "I would rather die than betray the emperor", etc.
- Though the second one was accidental as Sam Vimes realized too late the Carrot was very literal minded, the book was around several thousand pages and about thirty pounds, and they were on a tower.
- This example from Going Postal:
Moist: If you shove a broom up my arse, I could probably sweep the floor too!
Vetinari: An excellent idea. Drumknott, do we have a broom closet on this floor?
- Brennan from Bones
- Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory
- Harry Potter, when he decides to get his snark on, tends toward this variety of snark.
Draco Malfoy: You're dead, Potter.
Harry Potter: Funny, you'd think I'd have stopped walking around...
- Strong Bad from Homestar Runner shows signs of this, such as in the 2nd sbemail:
"Keep sending me your questions, and I will keep making fun of your punctuation and spelling. I mean, answer them."
- Voltaire's response when someone told him that coffee was "a slow poison": "I think it must be slow, for I have been drinking it for sixty-five years and am not dead yet."
- In addition to Pinkie Pie's Literal-Minded-ness, she can also be like this from time to time.
I'll be watching you...like a hawk. Pinkie:
Why? Can't you watch me like a griffon?
- From Happy Gilmore:
Shooter: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!
Happy: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?
- The show Sherlock has a rather terrifying example. Sherlock has to prove a painting is a fake so Moriarty won't kill his hostage. Sherlock shouts, "Okay, I'll prove it. Just give me time." Moriarty's answer? Making his hostage, a CHILD, count down to his own fiery death. "Ten, nine, eight...."
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has plenty of this with the kings of the trope being Garak and Odo who can snark anything.
- When a Klingon throws a rabidly insulting curse towards Odo in the Klingon language that's never translated. It's clearly an insult about Odo's origins in what's probably a "son of a bitch" kind of way (except more insulting) and equally clearly meant to be rhetorical and a winning moment for the Klingon who says it, especially since the Klingon is clearly not expecting anyone around to be able to understand his language. Garak blandly responds with "Actually, I'm not sure Constable Odo has a mother" which completely takes the wind out of the Klingon's sails.
- Bashir has his moments, too. Including bonus points for being able to pull this trope once on Garak.
Garak: "Doctor, has anyone ever told you that you're an infuriating pest?"
Bashir: "Chief O'Brien. All the time. And I don't pay any attention to him, either."
- Ziyal, of all people, as is clear when she gets fed up of Quark complaining about his business suffering under the Dominion.
Quark: "The Jem'Hadar don't eat, don't drink, and they don't have sex. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Founders don't eat, don't drink, and they don't have sex either. Which, between you and me, makes my financial future less than promising."
Ziyal: "It might not be so bad. For all we know, the Vorta could be gluttonous, alcoholic sex-maniacs."
- Leon S. Kennedy, from Resident Evil, sometimes likes to respond to villains' dramatic statements by pretending to take them literally.
: So maybe you have nine lives. But it doesn't matter now, Mr. Kennedy! I've sent my right hand
to dispose of you.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Jaime combines this with some grisly Gallows Humor when he gets a fancy new necklace with his own hand as the pendant.
Roose: You have lost a hand.
Jaime: No. I have it here, hanging about my neck.
- From the first episode of The Cosby Show:
(There's a knock on Cliff and Claire's bedroom door)
Cliff: "Who is it?"
(Vanessa and Rudy walk in)
Cliff: "No. No, no, when I say, 'Who is it?' it doesn't mean for you to come in. When I say 'Who is it?' you say who it is."
(Both girls walk back out, close the door, and knock again)
Cliff: "Who is it?"
Vanessa: "Who it is!"
- Charlie from Mr and Mrs Murder is fond of these (being played by Shaun Micallef).
Peter: Apparently, he's a real pussy cat.
Charlie: An actual pussy cat. That's amazing.
- I am not ashamed, an Answers in Genesis-powered website, encouraged christians around the world to "stand unashamedly and uncompromisingly on The Bible." (See Mixed Metaphor.) In response, a group of internet atheists decided to comply with this call a little more literally than the creators of the original campaign had intended.