Aya: By the way, you're also a living human, aren't you? Why do you work in the Netherworld?Starfish Aliens and Eldritch Abominations are plenty strange, but an Oxymoronic Being's mere existence is self-contradictory, like a tall dwarf or a short giant or a kind Demon (in the Christian sense) or an Anthropomorphic Personification of nothing. To make one, take any two mutually exclusive characteristics; anything that somehow has both is an Oxymoronic Being. And no, "honest politician" doesn't count.
Youmu: Me? I've never thought of that. But I'm a dead human, too, so... hmm.
Youmu: Me? I've never thought of that. But I'm a dead human, too, so... hmm.
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- Starburst had been running advertisements with people like this for a while; for example, an albino lifeguard or zombies as "living dead". One of them managed to be stunningly offensive by having the "contradictory" traits being Korean ancestry and Scottish nationality. It basically amounted to a painful national stereotype going off on a racist tirade against a kid. Strangely, this is one of the most commonly-run of the series of ads.
Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball Super: Near the end of the Future Trunks Saga, we're met with Fusion Zamasu, who is this trope on two levels:
- He's essentially an immortal who is partially mortal, as one of his components, Goku Black, was mortal whereas the other, Future Zamasu, possessed Complete Immortality. It's for this reason that his immortality winds up being compromised, and makes him capable of being damaged.
- He's a fusion, that much is true. But the weird thing is that he's basically the fusion of the exact same being; Goku Black is a version of Zamasu who stole Goku's body using the Super Dragon Balls.
- In Naruto, Kisame's personal amount of chakra is great enough to draw comparisons to the Tailed Beasts, and thus he has been given the oxymoronic nickname "The Tailed Beast Without a Tail".note To make this even more hilarious, in spite of his nickname when he fuses with Samehada he does have a tail(fin), though it's possible that those don't "count" as tails in Japanese.
- Taken to hilarious extremes with minor One Piece character Señor Pink; he's a disgusting slob who somehow has women fawning over him, is an adult man wearing a baby bonnet and sucking on a pacifier, acts like he doesn't care for his crew mates when his actions and words say otherwise, and has the power of the Swim-Swim Fruit, which lets him swim through solid objects, but the standard Devil Fruit weakness is Super Drowning Skills.
- ˝ Prince: Among the protagonists, Doll is a necrophobic necromancer. That is, a cute little girl who tends to panic at the sight of the very undead she summons.
- Gundam Build Fighters is a show about miniature models of giant robots. That's fine. Most of the models exist at the 1/144 scale. Where this gets weird is an episode where a Zaku model appears that dwarfs the rest, being a 1/48 scale model. This machine is part of the Mega Size Model line, but is described as a Giant Zaku...making it a giant miniature model of a giant robot.
- Karin is basically a human vampire; she doesn't drink blood (she injects it into others instead), is unaffected by sunlight and doesn't have any cool powers, but her blood parents are vampires!
- The Anteatereatingant.note ... which is translated hilariously (or stupidly) wrong in German, where it's now called "Anteating Anteater".
- The Fire Kraken, a Fire element, Aqua type monster. Fire breathing squids seems to be a recurring theme in Japanese media.
- The Chemicritters are similar to Fire Kraken in that their Type/Attribute combinations make little sense; Carbon Crab is a Fire Aqua Type and Oxy Ox is a Wind Beast Type, and Hydro Hawk is a Water Winged Beast Type. (While there are a few of those combinations in the game, most have an ice theme; Hydro Hawk is a bird made of fluid.) The higher-level Chemicritters make more sense, however.
- In Magic: The Gathering, the Izzet League's Weirds combine two opposing elements into a single creature. They also make great pets!
- Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird have claimed that they at first came up with the idea of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because they wanted to create an absurd satire and thought that "turtle" and "ninja" were pretty oxymoronic. (A turtle is a slow, clumsy creature, not one that suggests a martial artist that relies on stealth.) To their surprise, the concept turned out far better received than they thought it would.
- Loki is technically a small giant, since he's the son of the Frost Giants' king and is about the same size as an average Asgardian.
- Technically speaking, Daredevil's super senses allow him to see as well or better as a person with regular vision. So he's a blind superhero without actually being completely blind.
- The French comic book Aslak, a Viking-themed heroic fantasy, features fierce warrior Almarik, a Berserker who's... hemophobic. As in, he faints at the sight of blood.
- The Ultimates (2015) points out that Master Chaos, an Anthropomorphic Personification of chaos, doesn't make a whole lot of sense if he's part of a balanced system with his counterpart, Lord Order, and is therefore inherently weaker than his brother.
- Dragon Bones has Oreg, who is a solid ghost. He can vanish and materialize himself elsewhere and all that, but when someone touches him feels solid like a normal human being. And he isn't entirely dead, either. It's very complicated.
- The Phantom Tollbooth:
- Milo meets an average-looking man who claims to be "the smallest giant in the world", who lives next door to "the tallest midget in the world", the thinnest fat man and the fattest skinny guy. They're all the same guy.
- There's also Canby, warden of the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), who among other things is smart as can be and stupid as can be.
- The triple demons of Compromise are described as "one fat, one thin, and a third exactly like the other two." (The illustrations show it as fat in part of its body and skinny in another part.)
- Due to his being adopted, Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson is a dwarf who stands at 6 feet 3 inches in his socks. The other dwarfs accept him as one of them because he is devoutly observant of their traditions and even tries to teach his girlfriend to speak Dwarfish. He's just a tall dwarf.
- Bloody Stupid Johnson can create circles where "the pi is exactly 3". Pi (the ratio of diameter to circumference) is, by definition, always 3.14159265358979323846264338 and a bit. The only way to make this possible is to imagine a circle being drawn in a non-euclidean 2D world. Even in a non-Euclidean world, pi stays the same. The ratio of circumference and diameter of circle is not fixed in non-Euclidean geometry, but it converges to pi (with its regular value) for small radius. His architecture is very weird as a result.
- There are also occasional mentions in the Discworld of mystics who can see "four-sided triangles" when they meditate.
- There's one story in an obscure German children's book about the inventor Scheibenkork who invented among other things the sphere with five vertices.
- In Witch Week, a novel by Diana Wynne Jones, Simon unintentionally turns himself into one while under a "Simon Says" spell that makes everything he says true. He first claims that he doesn't know anything, then mindlessly repeats a teacher who says he's not that much of a fool, resulting in him being both stupid and clever at the same time.
- In The Lost Years of Merlin, Shem in the first book is a tiny person (even shorter than child Merlin) who claims he is a giant. This is confirmed when Shem sacrifices himself to destroy the Cauldron of Death to save Merlin. He immediately comes back to life and starts getting bigger and bigger... It turns out he was born to giants, but apparently had dwarfism.
- Saint Bernard opens up the final canto of The Divine Comedy by referring to Mary as the "Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son." The theological strangeness of Mary has never been so concisely put as in this opening prayer by her greatest devotee.
Myths & Religion
- The mythical hippogriff is half-horse, half-griffin. However, since griffins hate horses and attack them on sight, it's hard to imagine how this could happen. That was the point, originally. The Roman poet Virgil referred to the birth of hippogriffs alongside several other metaphors for things that couldn't happen in real life, in a "the lion shall lie down with the lamb" sort of sense.
- The Undead, in all of their various forms. Despite the fact that they are dead and shouldn't be able to do anything but rot in their graves, they somehow can still interact with the living. This contradictory nature is also what makes them such formidable foes. Not even death itself could stop them. What makes you think the heroes can? Undead that heal themselves quickly or even regenerate (common in video games and RPGs) make even less sense. How exactly can something that's dead heal? Then you start wondering how they can eat (do their digestive tracts even work?) see, hear, and all of a sudden the whole concept makes no sense at all.
- In Norse Mythology: Alviss, a 5'9" giant. A giant dwarf.
- The "Doctrine of the Trinity" in Christianity states that God is one person, and yet also three persons simultaneously. No-one's entirely certain just how that works; that's why it's called a divine mystery. Also, in many interpretations, Jesus was both God and man, and therefore both mortal and immortal (and, in fairness, he did both die and survive, when you think about it). To be fair though, humans in Christianity are immortal by soul and death is separation of body and soul, not destruction. so the mortal/immortal distinction is a bit hard to apply here.
- Similarly, in the Yoruba mythology, the supreme god is composed of three separate entities (Olodumare, Olorun and Olofi) who despite having separate roles are considered the same being. Further adding to the confusion is that unlike Jesus, it/they aren't given any sort of personification, as beyond their roles and names the three supreme being aspects are considered "unknowable" and are properly referred to as an "it" with no gender pronouns, as it is considered the "all-encompassing" aspect of existence.
- In medieval heraldry, there are many imaginary beasts composed by mixing up two unlikely animals. This is possibly based on the concept of splitting a shield down the middle and having half of each noble family's device on each half of the shield.
- The common Parody Religion known as the "Invisible Pink Unicorn": If it's always invisible, how do you know it's pink? (It's a combination of reason and faith: we know that she is invisible because we can't see her, but we believe that she is pink.)
- Also the Invisible Red String of Fate, which is one of the things the Invisible Pink Unicorn references.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The Spelljammer setting has enormous hamsters living between the worlds, appropriately known as giant space hamsters. There's also a lesser-known tiny variety, the miniature giant space hamster, which for most intents and purposes is merely a hamster. (They're best known for appearing in Baldur's Gate, in which one character has one as a pet. Well, maybe. He's not exactly sane enough to be a reliable source on that.)
- Another example is the Xeg-Yi, mentioned in the Planescape campaign and a few other sources. It is native to the Negative Energy Plane, which is a plane of, well, negative energy, something associated with death. Most inhabitants of the plane are undead, but the Xeg-Yi is a living creature. A living creature that is composed of negative energy. Even one sourcebook where its official stats are detailed mentions how contradictory its existence sounds. (In fact, its counterpart, the Xag-Ya, which is native to the Positive Material Plane, doesn't make much sense either. A living being shouldn't be able to have much individuality in a place that is life incarnate.)
- From 3rd edition onward, "Giant" is a creature type, which is independent from size. Although most giants are at least of Large size, it is perfectly possible to have medium-sized giants (notably, half-giants or forest trolls).
- Third edition also mechanized Made of Evil/Good/Law/Chaos by making it a creature subtype. Just ascending/falling (rare but possible and given examples on both sides) doesn't remove the subtype despite your alignment now being opposite of whatever it is, and the subtype makes you count as that alignment for many effects, with the result that fallen celestials and ascended fiends metaphysically are and detect as both good and evil (fortunately for both, there are rituals to go full celestial/fiend and switch the subtype, and just sticking it out for long enough is implied by some devil backstories to be enough too).
- In Exalted, the Yozi Oramus is the embodiment of paradox. Cytherea is the first of the Primordials to awaken, yet when she did, Oramus basically said, "What took you so long? I thought you'd never wake up."
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's 1st edition features one of the most oxymoronic of beings: Necoho, the Chaos God... of Atheism. Who gets less powerful the more followers he has.
- The Horseless Headless Horsemann (sic) in Team Fortress 2.
- Youmu Konpaku. She is half-human and half-ghost (which as a form of undead are themselves oxymoronic), with her ghost half existing as a normally formless white cloud separate from her physical body. How it's possible to be half-human and half-ghost, even in the bizarre world of Gensokyou where you can't let yourself be held back by common sense, is never explained. Apparently it's genetic, as her grandfather Youki Konpaku is the same way. As a kicker, she's also afraid of ghosts.
- Koishi Komeiji, extra stage boss of Subterranean Animism. Like her sister, she is a satori, a youkai species that constantly reads the minds of everyone around them out loud, leading to them being the most despised youkai species in the setting. Koishi got around this prejudice by giving herself a Poke in the Third Eye (located on her external heart) which had the unforeseen side-effect of sealing off her heart and mind, leaving her to operate solely via her subconscious. The result is a mind-reader that cannot read minds; not even her own. In Symposium of Post-Mysticism, Buddhist monk Byakuren Hijiri describes her state as being close to Enlightenment and expresses a strong desire to meet her and recruit her to her temple.
- Hata no Kokoro's title is "The Expressive Poker Face". She does this by wearing a set of masks representing emotions (which, incidentally, are all her, since she is a tsukumogami). This is possibly the reason why Koishi was made a playable character in the game that introduced her.
- Dwarf Fortress features Forgotten Beasts, creatures created by primordial chaos. In-game, they're created by randomly mixing any animals, materials, limbs, and strange attacks. Sometimes this can result in paradoxial creatures, the most famous being the "Six-Legged quadrupednote ."
- The backstory of World of Warcraft reveals that humans are oxymoronic beings since they are heavily implied to be corrupted Vrykul (Viking-like beings who are an offshoot of giants). In other words humans are miniature giants.
- Borderlands 2 features goliaths, a kind of Giant Mook, and midget enemies, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You will eventually encounter midget goliaths. And, depending on what you do, you could well get your ass handed to you by a Giant Midget of Death.
- The Pokémon series have a few:
- Ferroseed and Ferrothorn are Grass/Steel types. Plants are organic while metal armour generally isn't, especially among plants.
- Durant has a bug/steel typing. This presents the same problem as Ferrothorn, but you could probably hand wave it as exoskeleton. What you can't ignore however, is that it evolved its steel shell to protect itself from its long-time rival Heatmor. Both bug and steel types are weak to fire.
- Mawile, Klefki, and Magearna are Steel/Fairy types. Fairy types are weak to steel, but these three are made of it.
- The Dark-Type has long been thought to be the polar opposite of the Psychic-Type, being immune to Psychic attacks with Dark attacks being Super Effective against Psychic Pokémon. Behold Inkay (and it's evolved form, Malamar), the first Psychic/Dark hybrid, introduced in X and Y. (Of course, this little guy seems to be all about opposites, called the Revolving Pokémon, with an ability called Contrary (moves that lower its stats increase it instead, and vice versa), and attacks with names like Topsy-Turvy and Switcheroo. The craziest part? In order for it to evolve when it reaches the right level, you have to hold the Nintendo 3DS upside-down.
- Stunfisk is also this, being Electric/Ground.
- There is a glitch Pokémon referred to in the community as "Invisible Shiny Bulbasaur". Similar to the Invisible Pink Unicorn above, how can you know that it's shiny if it's invisible? (the answer is that the space where it ought to be sparkles when it first appears!)
- Gligar, Gliscor and both forms of Landorus are Ground/Flying.
- Mega Altaria is Dragon/Fairy. The two types are considered to be the opposite of each other, with Fairy being super effective against Dragon and immune to it. Humorously, this also gives Mega Altaria a double type advantage against other Dragon-types, as Dragon-type moves are also super effective against Dragon.
- Chinchou, and Lanturn are Electric/Water type. Despite their types are opposite to each other, electric fish are not Farfetch'd.
- Wooper and Quagsire are Water/Ground type.
- Volcanion is Fire/Water.
- And Volcarona is Bug/Fire.
- In Discworld II, a poster outside the cinema advertises Attack of the 50-Foot Dwarf.
- One type of armor in Fallout: New Vegas is NCR salvaged power armor. The servo-motors that make it easier to move are gone, thus making it Powered Armor that isn't powered by anything. Attacks that normally do extra damage to power armor don't do so against salvaged power armor and it doesn't require Power Armor Training to use, but it doesn't boost your strength either.
- After adjectives were introduced to Scribblenauts, you can summon them. Want to summon a Tiny Giant? A Pacific Terrorist? A Gentle Demon? A Vegetarian Cannibal? A Genius Dunce? An Aquaphobic Fish? A friendly Cthulhu? It's all possible.
- In Baldur's Gate, Minsc has a pet hamster named Boo whom he claims is a Miniature Giant Space Hamster. The strange thing is, this isn't impossible. Giant Space Hamsters do exist in Dungeons & Dragons (albeit in Spelljammer which also has things like civilized Illithids), and some of them are miniaturized. It's still more likely that this is just another sign of Minsc's mental instability due to taking one too many blows to the head.
- Ryoji and Teddie from Persona 3 and Persona 4. Shadows are described as the subconscious opposite of human conscious in the games and various official materials, yet Ryoji and Teddie somehow manage to be Shadows with a human heart.
- In Persona 5, Morgana swears that he's human and fights to "regain his human form" and his memories to go with it - but he keeps having dreams that imply that he's a shadow of some kind, similar to the above. In the end, it turns out that he isn't a shadow, but he isn't human either - he is the embodiment of hope that was somehow given a human-like heart and has a nature that is similar to, but not the same as, a shadow.
- Akai Ito: Hatou Kei. In one of the Multiple Endings, she become a sort-of vampire due to being given Emergency Transformation by Sakuya to save her after being gutted in the stomach by the Big Bad Nushi. Keep in mind that Kei's blood has the Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious attribute, making her a vampire with her own being as blood source. Even she doesn't know what she is, only that she's no longer human. Then she Took a Level in Badass and started un-living as a Demon Slayer, making her a once-prey that is now hunting her predators. Whew!
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:
- Handi-man is a quadraplegic superhero with the power to move like an able-bodied person.
- One strip shows the Nothingverse, an alternate universe where it is impossible for anything to exist. This did not prevent sentient life forms from emerging there.
- The Order of the Stick. This exchange:
Police Chief: So, the giant bear is...
Police Chief: And the giant dwarf is...
Julia: An oxymoron.
- One guy seen in League of Super Redundant Heroes has a wide range of extremely potent powers, which he only loses in proximity to space rocks. Earth is a giant space rock.
- Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan features a Christian fairy. That is, a member of The Fair Folk — very much associated with paganism, including in-universe, and rather resentful for the encroachment of the new faith — who converted to Christianism.
- Homestuck's GCATavrosprite is 50% cat, 50% allergic to cats.
- According to Chuck Norris Facts, Chuck Norris holds every record in the Guinness Book of World Records, which means, among other things, he's a planet, a pizza, a spider, and a distance.
- JourneyQuest features Carrow, the Undead Cleric... of an undead-hating god. (Not his fault, it was a botched resurrection spell.) Notably, he has to be careful when using his Turn Undead power, lest he'd turn himself....
- Steam Train gives us Dinkles, who's both a Hollywood Nerd and a Jerk Jock.
- A very short sketch from asdfmovie stars two apparently normal men, one of whom then claims to be a "very tall midget".
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The spider-fly, which commonly gets caught in its own web. Noted in the creator commentary as "the most paradoxical animal in the world of Avatar."
- There is also the two-headed rat viper. This is used by the Air Benders as an analogy of consequences of anger: "Revenge is like a Two-Headed Rat Viper; while you watch your enemy go down, you are poisoned yourself."
- When Sokka gives Toph a piece of the meteorite he used to make his sword he calls it "space earth", prompting Katara to question how there could be such a thing.
- The Looney Tunes short The Hole Idea has protagonist Calvin Q. Calculus apparently figure out how to create a round square.
- Robot Chicken had a spoof of Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever movies called Attack of the Giant Midget. Said giant midget was about 6'5"... which is pretty tall, for a midget.
- Sheep in the Big City has military characters with Punny Names that are usually oxymorons: General Specific, Private Public, Major Minor (who is a baby) and Corporal Ethereal (a hippy).
- South Park has the Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka.
- One villain from Sushi Pack, Paradoxter, enjoys things that are perfect paradoxes, such as sweet-and-sour sauce. His henchmen are jumbo shrimp (as in, man-sized), and in one episode he created animixes by splicing together two different animals, such as a sheep and wolf. One of his henchshrimp points out that he should call himself Oxymoron, since he's a Man-Ox, but Paradoxter does not appreciate this input.
- In an episode of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee June met a giant ("You know, a giant," he said, "as in fee, fi, foe, fum?") who was only three feet tall. June got a laugh out of it at first, but it really wasn't funny to the poor guy; his condition had caused him to be the subject of ridicule all his life by the other giants. (June tried to make a growing potion for him, but suffice to say, things went a little haywire.)
- Justice League Unlimited gives us the episode "Dark Heart", which features The Atom versus a giant nanomachine.
Atom: He's bigger than my car now, Katie. Personally, I blame you.
- In one episode The Simpsons, Bart and Lisa are watching a new McBain movie where the action heroes' latest foes are "Commie Nazis". This would suggest a combination of Communism and Fascism, which are actually on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum. (Of course, the McBain movies tend to push the boundaries of belief even more than usual for the show as a whole.)
- The titular character of Uncle Grandpa; he's both the uncle and grandpa of everyone on Earth.
- Drawn Together had amongst Captain Hero's Rogues Gallery The Gigaintic Midget. He looked just like a normal guy wearing small clothes.
Gigantic Midget: You've never faced a midget as big as me!
- The Venture Bros. features Dr. Entmann, who suffered from Gigantism and fought alongside the original Team Venture as "Humongoloid". But because Reality Ensues, he had severe health problems due to his condition, and Dr. Venture tried to shrink him down to normal proportions. It was too successful, and he wound up insect-sized. He is now a minuscule giant.
- Justice League Action combines this with Hoist by His Own Petard; a demon absorbs Martian Manhunter's abilities, including the latter's weakness to fire. Problem is, the demon is made of fire, so the fight ends pretty quickly from there.
- Ben 10: In one of his many attempts to understand it, Ben pulls off the Omnitix's faceplate, causing it to glitch out and combine his alien forms whenever he transforms. The final hybrid transformation is one between Heatblast (living magma) and Ripjaws (a fish). Needless to say, the Heatblast part dries out the Ripjaws part, and going underwater to let the Ripjaws part breathe extinguishes the Heatblast part. Even so, Ben somehow managed to balance the hybrid form and save the day anyway.
- In Steven Universe, every type of Gem has a power unique to that type. When Gems are born with defects of some sort (Off-Colors), this trope is usually the result; for instance, Sapphires have the power of predicting events, but Padparadscha's defect causes her to only be able to predict things that already happened.
- Referenced by They Might Be Giants — when an interviewer called them "the biggest indie act in the world", they said it was like being "the world's tallest midget".
- A quantum computer could be considered oxymoronic: quantum phenomena can only occur when a subatomic particle is not observed, however not only is a computer not a subatomic particle, its programs must be observed, as the whole purpose of a computer is to compute things. This is one reason why quantum computers have proved so difficult to design.
- The No-Eyed Big-Eyed Spider. note
- Similar to the No-Eyed Big-Eyed Spider, a contradictory name can happen when you have to describe an animal whose common name has a color in it but which is actually a different color because of a mutation. For example, if you saw the description "red green iguana" you might stop and wonder what color it really is, or if perhaps it's both. It's predominantly red, but it's still a Green Iguana, i.e. Iguana iguana. This problem is perhaps most well known with the "gray" wolf, which can be pure black or pure white without any traces of gray. Also a problem with the "red" fox, which can be other colors such as black and silver.
- In the world of music, an "indie label" is this. Going by the original definition of the term, an artist isn't actually indie unless they don't have a record label (meaning that they produce and distribute all of their music by themselves). The definition of "indie" started to get a bit fuzzy after several pop artists in the indie scene developed a distinct, recognizable sound, and said sound became popular enough that several record labels started working to capitalize on it.
- The word "sophomoric", derived from sophomore, may be considered an oxymoron in Greek; it derives from the Greek words "sophos", wise, and "moros", stupid, (from which we get the word moron). A sophomoric person may be defined as conceited and overconfindent of knowledge, but poorly informed and immature. note