Bob decides the way to curry favor with Alice is to agree with her, even when it means getting entangled in absurd contradiction. Sometimes Alice decides to feed Bob rope; sometimes she's just oblivious.
This is common with fictional depictions of royalty - particularly when the character doing the fawning is deviously scheming their way into power. It also shows up a lot when Bob is attracted to Alice.
Sometimes a character like this gets handed down an Anvilicious Be Yourself
message. A typical dialog runs like this:
Okay, I don't really like X. Character B:
Why would you say that you like X if you don't? Character A: (abashed)
I guess I just wanted you to like me. Character B:
You don't have to impress me, I already like you. Character A:
Really? Character B:
Of course! Just Be Yourself
is an assistant (in a business or political capacity) whose job
is to make a lot of Opinion Flipflop. Favouritism Flip Flop
is a subtrope where Bob openly says he hates something until Alice says she likes it. Verbal Backspace
is a related trope where subsequent dialogue forces someone to change opinion on the fly, which can overlap.note
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Anime and Manga
- In Digimon The Movie, Willis is telling Davis a sob-story and Davis, beside himself with sorrow, chokes, "That's the saddest story I've ever heard." Willis responds, "I'm the one with the problem, not you. Get over it," and Davis, immediately in high spirits without a trace of tears, says, "Okay!"
- In the first Spider-Man movie, Mary Jane comments on how gross the spiders are. Harry tries to agree with her, saying he hates them. She then says that she loves them, and he immediately agrees.
- In the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America, the Prince seeks a different wife after the one betrothed to him had been trained from birth to agree with everything he says.
- In TRON: Legacy, Clu's right-hand-man Jarvis cowers before Sam Flynn as he walks into the command center to recover the stolen disc, declaring "Long live the Users!" When Clu arrives a bit later and finds the disc missing, Jarvis starts to say "Death to the Users!" but is decapitated mid-sentence.
- The first Austin Powers movie shows us Austin's unbreakable loyalty to capitalism when he is first thawed.
A lot's happened since you were frozen. The Cold War
is over! Austin Powers:
Finally those capitalist pigs will pay for their crimes, eh? Eh comrades? Eh? Basil Exposition:
Austin... we won. [Pause] Austin Powers:
Oh, smashing, groovy, yay capitalism!
- The opening trap of Saw 3D: The Final Chapter has two male friends and the woman that had been dating the both of them. Only two of them can survive; the third gets cut in half with a buzzsaw. As the two guys fight to kill the other and save themselves and their girlfriend, she offers moral encouragement to whichever of the two is currently winning... something that keeps shifting over the course of the fight. Eventually, the two guys wise up to what she's doing and kill her instead.
Film (Western Animation)
- Petulia from Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky starts out like this. Tiffany is tempted to say that the sky is green, just to watch her trying to work her way around to agreement.
Tiffany: I live on the Chalk.
Petulia: Oh, where they have all those sheep? I don't much like sheep.
Tiffany: We're very proud of our sheep.
Petulia: Oh, I don't mean I hate them. I expect some sheep are OK. Obviously we've got to have sheep. They're better than goats, anyway... I like sheep. Sheep are nice.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sansa spends the latter part of a chapter telling her sister how much she hates riding horses. When her betrothed shows up and says he likes to ride horses, she immediately says she loves to.
- Gaheris, in T.H. White's The Queen Of Air And Darkness, is described as agreeing with whatever his older brothers Gawaine and Agravaine think. Since they disagree a lot, this is difficult for him.
- British statesman Lord Chesterfield wrote in Letters to His Son against people who are like this: "On the other hand, the cunning, crafty man thinks to gain all his ends by the 'suaviter in modo' only; HE BECOMES ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN; he seems to have no opinion of his own, and servilely adopts the present opinion of the present person; he insinuates himself only into the esteem of fools, but is soon detected, and surely despised by everybody else." (letter 133)
- Anton Chekhov has a hilarious story about a police officer going through these. Quite appropriately, it's called "A Chameleon".
Live Action Television
- There was an episode of Blossom in which Joey's girlfriend idolized him so much that she agreed with everything he said, and had no will of her own other than to please him.
- On Hogan's Heroes, this was pretty much stock-in-trade for Colonel Klink, who was always trying to agree with his superiors.
- This was practically Andy Bernard's job during Season 3 of The Office (US).
- Inverted and played straight at once on Arrested Development. Maeby is trying to go against whatever her mother wants, while George Michael is in love with Maeby and agrees with whatever she says. At first Maeby wants to save the tree that Lindsey is trying to get cut down, but then Lindsey decides to save the tree...
George Michael: You know, I can see why your mom likes it. It is a really nice tree...
Maeby: We've got to get it torn down.
George Michael: ...that must die. Stupid tree.
- The Fast Show had a recurring sketch about three friends, two of whom disagreed about nearly everything, while the third tried to agree with both of them at the same time. This usually resulted in him agreeing with whoever spoke last, and then contradicting himself after the other friend replied. Eventually they'd get annoyed and start deliberately laying traps for him.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus employed this trope hilariously in episode six. Twentieth-Century Vole. It gets even funnier when the CEO begins playing games with the gathering of yes-men around the table, leading to exchanges like:
CEO: Get out!
Fifth yes-man: Huh?
CEO: If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a yes-man! Get out! [Fifth yes-man leaves very quickly, with the CEO yelling after him] I'll see you never work again! [to sixth yes-man] ...What do you think?
Sixth yes-man: What? I—
CEO: Just because I have an idea doesn't mean it's great. It could be lousy.
Sixth yes-man: It could?
CEO: Yeah. What d'ya think?
Sixth yes-man: It...it's lousy.
CEO: There you are, you see, he spoke his mind. He said my idea was lousy. It just so happens my idea isn't lousy so get out you goddamn pinko subversive, get out! [sixth yes-man leaves; he turns toward the fourth yes-man] You...
Fourth yes-man: Well, I...I think it's an excellent idea.
CEO: Are you a yes-man?
Fourth yes-man: No, no, no, I mean, there may be things against it...
CEO: ARE YOU BEIN' INDECISIVE?!
Fourth yes-man: Yo! Nes! Perhaps! [rushes out]
- Fraggle Rock's Wembley, to the point where he'll do this to multiple characters at the same time, even if his statements contradict things he said moments before.
- It's such a major part of his character that in the Fraggle lexicon, 'wembling' is the term for doing this, which is where he got his name.
- Sir Humphrey in Yes, Minister frequently does this as part of his latest attempt to flatter Hacker into doing his bidding:
Humphrey: No man in his right mind could possibly contemplate such a proposal.
Hacker: I'm contemplating it.
Humphrey: Yes of course, Prime Minister, please, don't misunderstand me, it is quite right of course that you should contemplate all proposals that come from your government, but no sane man would ever support it.
Hacker: I'm supporting it.
Humphrey: And quite right, too.
- On Made In Canada, this tactic is frequently employed by the employees of Pyramid Productions when dealing with empty-headed CEO Alan Roy. They have nothing but praise for his ideas to his face, and in several episodes, a character dismissing an idea as worthless will have an immediate change of heart when told that the idea is Alan's.
- Musical example: Brad Paisley's "Me neither". A man approaches a woman in a bar, asks if she believes in love at first sight, then thoroughly agrees when she shoots him down. The theme continues throughout the song - words don't do it justice.
- On The Doors' live album, there's an exchange that runs something like this:
Jim Morrison: I don't know if any of you people believe in astrology...
Idiot: I do!
JM: I am of course a Sagittarius, the most philosophical of all the signs...
I: I know, so am I!
JM: Anyway, I don't believe in it; I think it's a bunch of bullshit, myself.
I: Me too!
- Polonius does this all the time, especially while attempting to humor the prince, who is pretending to be insane, with the following being a standard example. Hamlet shamelessly encourages/Trolls him.
- Done again later with the minor character Osric.
Hamlet: Put your bonnet to his right use: 'tis for the head.
Osric: I thank your lordship; it is very hot.
Hamlet: No, believe me, 'tis very cold; the wind is northerly.
Osric: It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.
Hamlet: But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion.
Osric: Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as 'twere—I cannot tell how.
- The Taming of the Shrew: As part of the "taming", Petruchio forces Kate to be like this with him. This can appear to be dark and disturbing... or hilarious.
- The Pirates of Penzance does this, to parody the way that a chorus will typically simply repeat the things said by the leads.
Mabel: Young Frederic was to have led you to death and glory.
Police (chanting in monotone): That is not a pleasant way of putting it.
Mabel: No matter; he will not so lead you, for he has allied himself once more with his old associates.
Police: He has acted shamefully!
Mabel: You speak falsely. You know nothing about it. He has acted nobly.
Police: He has acted nobly!
- Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Billy starts complaining about how boring laundry is; Penny talks about how much she likes it; he claims he was kidding. He proceeds in similar vein during the rest of the conversation, even going to so far as to buy her frozen yogurt but pretend it was an accident to avoid revealing that he's been stalking her.
: All those months, doing a stunningly boring chore. Penny
: I'm a fan of laundry. Billy
Psych! I love it! Penny
: The smell of fabric softener... the feel of warm clothes in your hand... Billy
- This blog post implies that most respondents to blogs are like this.
- The Salvation War's first book, Armageddon?, gives us this bit of dialogue between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, after one of the demonic generals surrenders and requests asylum:
Bush: Vladimir, this is Dubya. I have urgent news. General Abigor has just surrendered and defected.
Putin: That filthy Vlasovite bastard.
Bush: Sorry, Vladimir, you misunderstand, he's a baldrick, he's defecting to us.
What I meant to say of course was that he is a heroic champion of freedom and liberty who has overcome his corrupt upbringing so that he can rally to the side of truth honor and justice. Bush
: That's right Vladimir, he's a filthy Vlasovite bastard, but he's our filthy Vlasovite bastard.
- There is a story about Nasreddin abruptly changing his mind about some vegetables along with the king. When the king called him on that, Nasreddin merely stated "The vegetables are not the ones paying me a salary."
- Politicians in democratic societies universally do this to curry favor with the public, their base, or campaign benefactors. Popularized in Memetic Mutation by John Kerry's famous "I was for the $87 billion [defense appropriations bill] before I was against it." It's almost impossible to find a politician who hasn't done this multiple times.