Present Company Excluded
A character makes a derogatory statement about a group of people, then realizes that his statement includes either one of his friends or himself,
and qualifies the statement with "Present company excluded
." A variation on the Verbal Backspace
This is often used in passing as a throw-away gag, although occasionally more conflict might stem from it; the character it was unintentionally aimed at might still be insulted (especially if the prejudice was a long running thing), or if the sub-text seems to suggest that the speaker really did
mean to offend. Often, though, the character won't seem to mind.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- In the Dragon Ball Z fanfic Honor Trip, there's this exchange from Chapter 49:
"Now, at last, all of those damn androids are dead." Upon realizing exactly what he had said, Trunks turned to directly face Cell, and grinned. "No offense, of course," Trunks said. "Of course none is taken," Cell said, with a humble grin as well.
- The Mummy, when Jonathan is complaining about the Americans in Hamunaptra, while Rick O'Connell is digging.
Jonathan: And when those damn yanks go to sleep, no offense,
Rick: None taken.
Jon: We'll dig our way up and steal that book right out from under them.
Rick: Are you sure you can find this secret compartment thing?
Evie: Oh, yes, if those beastly Americans haven't beaten us to it, no offense.
Rick: None taken.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, one of the Klingons describes The Federation as a "homo sapiens only club", and another glances at Spock and adds, "Present company excepted."
- Used in Master and Commander, after Jack calls for his ship to spill the wind from his sheets, and act lubberly and panicky, like a whaler might (in order to capture the ship they are chasing). With the captain of a whaler who'd been captured by, had the ship he'd been out for two years on burnt to the waterline, and left on a small boat in the middle of nowhere to die by said enemy ship standing right beside him.
- Comes up in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, when Ben Marco approaches Raymond Shaw.
Raymond Shaw: Who would I ask? My old Army "buddies," who love and adore me for saving their pathetically unimportant — present company excluded — asses?
- Averted in Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar, during Cordelia's first meeting with the Dowager Princess Kareen:
"There have to be bright women around here somewhere, with all these bright men. Where are they hiding?" Cordelia shut her mouth, as it suddenly occurred to her that Kareen might mistakenly construe this remark as a slur on herself. Adding present company excepted would put her foot in it for sure, though.
- Night Watch: the revolutionaries on the street were rather confused when Commander Vimes comes up to talk to them, instead of forming ranks against them. Reg Shoe's lone cry of "Death to the Fascist oppressors!" was quickly amended to "Death to the Fascist oppressors, present company excepted."
- Guards! Guards! has a bit where one of the members of the council says that the dragon who's been made king of Ankh-Morpork shouldn't have to waylay people "like some common assassin" and the head of the Assassins' Guild says "Excuse me?" This makes perfect sense, because there is nothing common about the Assassins.
- The Legend of Drizzt has a few instances of this when Drizzt and his allies face off against other members of Drizzt's species. Drizzt generally isn't offended when people add the qualifier in haste, though he does care when people deliberately avoid giving a qualifier.
- In Worm Skitter falls into this after one of her confrontations with the Slaughterhouse nine
Iím growing to hate tinkers. People with enhanced senses and tinkers. And fire manipulators. Sorry, Sundancer
- From The Dresden Files:
Harry: Sorry, four-footed nonvocalizing company excepted.
- Ranger's Apprentice invokes this frequently, with the Skandians being the most common target. Svengal even remarks that one day, he will take offence when someone casually slurs his race, pointing out that Skandians take offence with a battleaxe.
- In the episode "With a Little Yelp From My Friends" of Selfie, Eliza makes a comment about sweatshop babies in front of Henry, who is played by Korean John Cho, and then says no offense to your family. Henry says "My family owns a Buca Di Beppo but, still offended."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Xander: I have the worst taste in girls.
*realizes he is speaking to Buffy*
Xander: Present company excluded, of course.
- Firefly episode "Ariel"
Wash: Don't you just hate doctors?
Dr. Simon Tam: Hey.
Wash: I mean, present company excluded.
Jayne: Now, let's not go excluding people.
- Knight Rider episode "Deadly Maneuvers"
Michael Knight: Well, these computer things are just a waste of time anyway.
Michael Knight: Oh, present company excluded, of course.
- In Blackadder Goes Forth a suddenly revolutionary Baldrick announces to Blackadder his intention to "overthrow the hated oppressors like you and the lieutenant. Present company excepted, sir."
- In Blackadder, after listening to some Marxist rhetoric, Baldrick starts ranting about not wanting to be oppressed by the upper class anymore, before saying this phrase, even after explicitly comparing said upper class to Blackadder and George.
- There's this exchange from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "I, Mudd":
McCoy (discussing a new crewmember): There's something wrong about a man who never smiles, whose conversation never varies from the routine of the job, and who won't talk about his background.
Spock: I see.
McCoy: ...I mean that it's odd for a non-Vulcan.
- Team Fortress 2's Meet the Spy video:
BLU Scout: I've killed plenty of spies. They're a dime-a-dozen back-stabbin' scumbags, like you! No offense.
BLU Spy: If you managed to kill them, I assure you they were not like me.
- Parodied in 8-Bit Theater:
Thief: "I hate wizards."
Red Mage: "I'm waiting for you to say 'present company excluded'."
- Red Mage then waits an hour for the Thief to say it.
- Used in this strip of Flaky Pastry, but only after three Beat Panels
- Used in this Avatar: The Last Airbender parody/recap of "The Western Air Temple."
Toph: I'm serious, though! I mean consider his background! He was raised by upper-class, prejudiced crazies and he still turned out pretty well, considering!
Katara: Whatever. You know we can't trust people like that!
Katara: Present company excluded, of course.
- Stated explicitly and unironically by Rayne Summers in Least I Could Do at a comic convention, directed at 'pathetic webcomic artists' who the author, Ryan, holds in contempt for being crappier than him.
- Two mad scientists in Girl Genius had this discussion on dead folk.
- The Dreadful: Erin complains that the zombies she's fighting don't stay dead, then remembers that she was just resurrected herself.
Will nothing keep itself dead?! (she realizes) Not that I am complaining, Ith
- Spongebob Squarepants:
- In the movie:
SpongeBob: "We survived the horrible disgusting monsters!"
Monsters (collectively): Awwww.
SpongeBob: But not you guys! You guys were awesome!
- In "Frankendoodle", Patrick is going on about how ugly DoodleBob (a crude drawing of SpongeBob come to life) is:
Patrick: He's hideous! He makes me sick just looking at him. Those big, bulgy eyes, that square body, those two buck teeth, and that stupid tie!
Patrick: Oh, but it looks good on you, SpongeBob.
- Futurama, "When Aliens Attack":
Zapp Brannigan: Our mission is clear: destroy all alien life forms.
Kif: Um, not me, sir.
Zapp Brannigan: Right. Nobody destroy Kif. Unless you have to.
- Also in "Less Than Hero":
Leela: My parents! They're coming up from the sewers for a visit Sunday.
Amy: Are you off your rocket? Your parents are mutants! It's illegal for them to come above ground 'cause they're inferior genetic scum! ...Uh, present company excluded, of course.
- Beast Wars
Waspinator:...Waspinator exclude present company.
- In the Justice League episode "The Brave and the Bold", when Green Lantern suggests calling for backup from the rest of the League to help with Grodd, Flash asks him if the two of them cannot take down a dumb gorilla, quickly adding "No offense" to Solovar, who was with them.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
Twilight Sparkle: (concerning her friend Applejack) That pony is as stubborn as a mule!
Twilight Sparkle: No offense.
Mule: None taken.
Rainbow Dash: Be cool, or be a mule! No offense.
Mule: None taken.
Rarity: "B-B-But the Dragon Lands are full of... dragons! And they're ghastly creatures!"
Rarity: (talking to Spike, who happens to be a dragon) "Oh, oh, not you, of course, Spikey-wikey."
- Sabrina: The Animated Series: When Quigley learned about Tim's Freudian Excuse, he made a comment about witches and then remembered he was talking to witches.
- In almost every incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the word "Rat" will be used as an insult at some point, with the speaker quickly apologizing in this way to Splinter after he or she does so.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "Cookie Dough", Bloo complains about the house's leaky roof and says that "an imaginary friend cannot live underwater forever" before excusing Fido, a literal dogfish.