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Lopsided Dichotomy
"Either that kid has a lightbulb up his butt, or his colon has a great idea."

Either you're hallucinating after eating too much radioactive pizza last night, or you're reading a trope page about rhetorical comparisons like this one.

Sometimes, as a means of humour, or simply to argue for one possibility through ridicule of all possible alternatives, someone will frame a description or explanation as "either it was X highly unlikely set of circumstances, or it was Y straightforward apparent conclusion." (The X and Y can be reversed instead.)

Often associated with Deadpan Snarkers and/or First Person Smartasses.

Most often "Y straightforward apparent conclusion" is obviously the truth and the dichotomy is employed as means of snark or lampshading. However on occasion, this trope will be subverted to comic effect when the more bizarre conclusion turns out to be precisely correct instead, perhaps sometimes as An Aesop about not being too sure of yourself about what is possible and what is not.

If the characters decide that the mundane explanation is actually less plausible, it may be an Impossibly Mundane Explanation.

Sometimes also overlaps with False Dichotomy, when the ludicrous explanation isn't really the only alternative to the implied one. Talks like a Simile is related.

Either World Domination or Something about Bananas is a subtrope.

Examples:

Comedy
  • George Carlin suggested something like this as a way to "wake people up": When someone asks you what time it is, you look at your watch and say, "Either it's 8:15 or Mickey has a hard-on!"

Comic Strip
  • Apart from the Calvin and Hobbes page image, another Calvin and Hobbes example would be Calvin saying "either mom's cooking dinner or someone got sick in the furnace duct."
  • In "The Dilbert Principle", Scott Adams describes the two possible results of a career in engineering:
    Risk: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent people. Reward: A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame.
  • David Ramirez's prize-winning short comic, "My Little Tomoka", is protagonized by a girl who was, accidentally, named Noo. So, when her mother calls her yelling...
    Mother: NOO!
    Noo: Has my mother just found my father's corpse inside of the microwave, or she is calling me for supper.
  • In the Pearls Before Swine treasury "Pearls Freaks The #%*# Out", one strip taking place in a supermarket had about three box-things lying on a shelf in the background. Pastis comments "Either the store had a huge run on that particular item, or a cartoonist I know got tired of drawing them.".
  • A Buckles strip from 5-29-13 had this:
    Buckles: Either I'm a bad liar, or Paul knows what TV shows the plant really watches.

Film - Animated

Film - Live-Action

Literature
  • In Animorphs, Aximili ("Ax") says one time, while in flea morph, "He's welcoming the Visser back aboard the Blade ship. Or he may be telling him his brother is a meteor fragment. I understand Galard, but this morph's hearing is very uncertain."

Live-Action TV

Other
  • Pakistani women's rights activist Shahnaz Bukharihas on bride burning:
    Either Pakistan is home to possessed stoves which burn only young housewives, and are particularly fond of genitalia, or (...) there is a grim pattern that these women are victims of deliberate murder.

Video Games
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, if you ask HK-47 for help understanding a Jawa, he says, "Translation: 98% probability that members of the miniature organic's tribe are being held by Sand People, master. Doubtless he wishes assistance." When asked about the other two percent, he adds, "Translation: 2% probability that the miniature organic is simply looking for trouble and needs to be blasted. That may be wishful thinking on my part, master."
  • At the end of Quest for Glory IV, the hero is surrounded by the thankful people of the land after (like the past three games) completing yet another heroic quest. Cue Erasmus and Fenrus taking that moment to scry on the hero, with Fenrus commenting that "It's either an award ceremony or a lynch mob."
  • In Guild Wars 2, while looking for an infiltrator who is apparently stealing people's uniforms and able to paralyze with a touch, Rhytlock comments
    "More dazed soldiers staggering around in their skivvies. Either we're on the right track or we missed the best party ever."
  • In Tales of Graces, a Traveling Beastmaster concludes from Sophie's acrobatic tricks that she's either from the circus, or she's an assassin.

Web Comics
  • Subverted in an Order of the Stick strip, when Roy (as a spirit in the Afterlife Antechamber) attempts one after his father hands him copies of Frankenstein, I, Robot, Promethean: The Created and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Your Dead Body Being Used To Make A Bone Golem (But Were Afraid To Ask) to "help [him] come to terms with the bad news".
    Roy: Either you're trying to tell me that my body was used to make a golem, or... actually, I can't think of any other possible interpretation.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Garfield and Friends episode, "Wonderful World":
    Garfield: Either Jon's home or somebody put a VCR in the garbage disposal.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • "Ask A Foolish Question":
    Major Monogram: Good morning, Agent P. The entire Tri-State Area is becoming riddled with holes. Also, numerous light beams have been shot from Doofenshmirtz's building. Either he's having some sort of a rave, or he's the one behind all those holes.
    • "Meatloaf Surprise":
    Major Monogram: Morning, Agent P. We've recently found surveillance footage of Doofenshmirtz buying fresh produce. We've concluded that there are two possibilities: either he's up to something sinister that is food-related, or he's cooking dinner because he's got a beautiful woman coming over and he wants to imp... Never mind, it's obviously the first thing.
    • "One Good Scare Ought to Do It!":
    Major Monogram: Good morning, Agent P. Dr. Doofenshmirtz is on the move. We tracked him to these coordinates when we suddenly lost his signal. We have two scenarios to explain his disappearance. First, that magical elves have caused Dr. Doofenshmirtz to vanish to the land of angry corn people. The second, is that he may be on his secret, hideout-shaped island with the initial "D" carved into it that satellites found in the exact, spot, where he... vanished... uh, you know what? Uh, forget the magical elves thing. Way off base with that.
  • From The Simpsons, when Homer stands in front of a lighthouse, causing his silhouette to be projected onto the clouds...
    Bart: Hey look! Is that Dad?
    Lisa: Either that or Batman's really let himself go.
  • From Duckman:
    "Either you're babbling, or you just said in Cherokee that my scrotum is many colored."

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