Brian: Okay, insert rod support A into slot B. Peter: (giggling) That's what— Brian: If you say "that's what she said" one more time, I'm gonna pop you.
To take a perfectly innocent phrase that just came out wrong
said by one person and then irk that person by turning it into an innuendo
. It's also interesting to note that it pretty specifically keeps to what she
said with its uses leaning towards things a woman would say in response to a man's actions or physical attributes. So if it is being used in disparagement of someone, that someone is most likely a man.
Learned gentlemen of numerous disciplines
have pondered as to whether or not said "she" is, in fact, Your Mom
Whoever "she" is, the use of the phrase as a stock expression
is Newer Than They Think
. Any use at all before 1992 and most uses before about 2005 can be considered instances of Have a Gay Old Time
. Not to say that a similar sentiments weren't expressed with different wording, of course; the phrase "as the actress said to the bishop", the punchline to a joke lost to the mists of time
, is a notable older version.
On a related note, H. Rider Haggard
wrote a book called She
, in which "She" refers to sorceress/queen Ayesha, who also goes by "She-who-must-be-obeyed". She does not, however, enjoy making sex jokes.
of Lampshaded Double Entendre
. Despite the trope being mostly meant for female pronouns, gender inversions ("that's what he
said") are just as possible.
Compare Can't Believe I Said That
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In "Helena" a Harry Potter
trollfic that is best described as My Immortal
, Up to Eleven
, of all people, pulls one off against himself while he is fantasizing about the Mary Sue protagonist.
- Witches Abroad has Nanny thinking to herself, "Just grab the first thing you see, said the High Priest to the Vestal Virgin" (a take on the antecedent to "That's what she said," "...said the Actress to the Bishop"). A footnote indicates that this is the punchline to a joke that everyone on the Disc has forgotten.
- In a book called A Play of Knaves, one character is getting grief from all the others about sleeping around, to the point where he's fed up with everything they say, even if it's to mock someone else, and we get this:
'''Ellis snapped, "Leave off with the Hewwwgo, too, will you?" "That was probably the other thing Titha said," Joliffe grinned, and added in a shrill girl's voice, "'Leave off, Ellis.'"
- It's worth pointing out that this book series takes place largely in the 1430s.
- The Saint, at least in the original books, loves this. He quips "as the actress said to the bishop" or "as the bishop said to the actress" with very little provocation.
- I kid you not, folks, this is real.
- In Paul Robinson's book, The Takeover Man, the eponymous character is having sex with a woman whose sons became boyfriends of the twin daughters of another woman. She's having an amazing time until he has an orgasm and stops, then she says,
"That was fantastic."
"That's what the twins' mother said."
She laughed. "I have to wonder about you. Is any woman safe around you?"
Live Action TV
- The Office: Here's your trope namer! Michael Scott is almost incapable of resisting an opportunity to use this joke. Even in the midst of a legal deposition.
- In an episode when Michael is being forced by his boss to not tell inappropriate jokes around the office, Jim deliberately starts saying things that could have double meanings until he finally gives in.
Jim: Does that include "that's what she said"?
Michael: Mm-hmm, yes.
Jim: Wow, that is really hard. (beat; Michael restrains himself) Do you really think you can go all day long? (another beat, now Michael is straining hard not to open his mouth) Well, you've always left me satisfied, and smiling, so...
Michael: THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!
- Occasionally, someone else will make the joke before Michael can. This always annoys him.
- In fact, the very last words Michael Scott says on the show (after he has removed his mic, so we don't actually hear them) are "That's what she said."
- One of the DVD box-sets is titled "The Office Ultimate Package (that's what she said)".
- In the Series Finale, just before Dwight's wedding to Angela, Michael returns to be his best man(or "Bestest Mensch"). An emotional Dwight tells him "I can't believe you came!", and Michael responds with a smile: "That's what she said."
- On Saturday Night Live Amy Poehler's recurring character Amber (with one leg, etc.) used it as a Catch Phrase. For example, when she was on America's Next Top Model:
Tyra: Amber, it was very hard for us to find a good picture of you.
Amber: I bet it was hard.
Tyra: But we did our best.
Amber: That's what she said.
Tyra: You're not using that right.
Amber: That's what she said.
- On the season 35 episode of SNL hosted by Tina Fey, during a sketch about Tiger Woods's first game back from his sex scandal, Tina Fey plays a hooker named Ashlyn St. Cloud who says, "That's what Tiger said," after one of the commentators says, "Let's take a look at the hole through the aerial cam."
- In an episode of Rules of Engagement, Russell is dating a woman who speaks in almost nothing but unintentional Double Entendre. Adam suggests that she might be the 'she' who actually says all those 'that's what she said' remarks.
- How I Met Your Mother: "Top 10 Things Marshall said on his wedding night"
- A variation occurred in Season 6
Barney: (as Ted is packing something) That won't fit in there.
Ted: Yeah, that's what your mom said.
Barney: HOW DARE YOU?!
Ted: No, that's really what she said.
Barney's mom: Ted, dear, I thought I told you that won't fit in there.
- NCIS. In "Sub Rosa", the seventh episode of the series, Gibbs (not DiNozzo for once) has a moment like this when Kate is thrown against him during a submarine's emergency surfacing:
Gibbs: Yeah. That's what they all tell me.
- Cue a smirk from a watching crewman and a Death Glare from Kate.
- In Bottom:
Richie: Wait a minute. You were in love with Harry Belafonte?
Eddie: Well, that's what she told me her name was — well, she sort of shouted it over her shoulder as she ran away into the night.
Richie: (sigh) Oh look, let's just forget it shall we?
Eddie: That's what she said!
Richie: Look, let's just drop it.
Eddie: She said that as well!
Richie: EDWARD HITLER, I'M REALLY NOT INTERESTED.
Eddie: This is uncanny! Were you there?
- In an episode of Corner Gas, Hank uses this line repeatedly (completely missing the point of the phrase in the process), only to be confronted with the perfect opportunity — only to decide that 'she' wouldn't say that, because 'she' is not that kind of girl.
- NewsRadio has this when Dave & Lisa broke up, the rest unaware:
Dave: I know it's a crummy story but someone has to do a piece on the Williamsburg Bridge renovation.
Lisa: Give it to me, Dave. I'll take it.
Joe: That's not the first time Dave's heard Lisa say that.
Dave: Give it a rest.
Bill: I'll bet that's not the first time Lisa's heard Dave say that.
Lisa: Look you really don't want to get into this.
Catherine: I bet Dave's never heard that one before.
Dave: Seriously, this is a very sensitive area.
Beth: That's what she said.
Lisa: Okay, I'm telling them.
Bill: And I'll bet that's not... Actually that doesn't really work, does it?
- In the Married... with Children episode "Wedding Show":
Bud: I had sex! With a girl! And I did it good!
Kelly: Oh, my God.
Bud: That's what she said. Twice.
- At the 2010 Country Music Association awards, hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood had this exchange about Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's engagement ring:
Carrie: Right after they got engaged, she sent me a picture of it. And I have to say, it is beautiful and big and just perfect.
- This exchange from House when he was describing a recent case to a class of fifth-graders:
House: My current patient is a college student. He's actually in the hospital right now. And, yes, he really did cough up a large portion of dead lung tissue.
Sophie: How's that even possible?
: That's what she said! (Beat
) No, she did literally say that.
Masters: How's that even possible?
- Mr. Mash in Are You Being Served? indulges in a bit of this with the perfume salesgirl in "His and Hers".
(Holding an extension cord) "Here we are the are, then. Let's hope we don't get a short-circuit when we plug it in...as Mae West said when she picked up the midget. I suppose it'll take a few moments to warm up...as Mae West said to the Eskimo."
- On Gilmore Girls Sookie say this when they look up at a gigantic house that Luke and Lorelai were contemplating buying. Lorelai repeats it not even ten seconds later.
- On Morecambe And Wise, Eric Morecambe's version of this was, after anyone said anything that could be misconstrued as an Unusual Euphemism, to give an Aside Glance to the audience and say "There's no answer to that!"
- Scrubs has a scene where Dr. Cox refrains from talking back to his ever-hated boss, Dr. Kelso:
Carla: That's it? You're just gonna roll over and leave it at that?
Jordan: That is so funny, that's exactly what I said to him last night!
Carla: Come on! Where's the passion? The anger? The hate?
Carla: You've gone soft.
Jordan: [Gasps] Okay, now it's just spooky.
- In this newscast Wendy Rieger: "It's about 7 inches too much!" Notice how she measures 17 inches.
- The Sopranos Richie April has a subversion with Tony where he asks Tony:
Richie How's your Sister?
Tony Don't get cute.
Richie What? Janice.
Tony Oh... I thought you were baiting' me. You know, "how's your sister, fuck your mother."
Richie Nah. Come on.
- Subverted in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle when Syaoron says it- and means exactly that, that is what she said! The fact that the 'She' is Yuuko didn't hurt much.
- Hello Cheeky often used the phrase "Your private life's your own concern!", and less commonly "There's no answer to that" to note that an innuendo had just passed by.
John: Do you believe in fortune telling?
Barry: I've got a crystal ball.
John: ...Your private life's your own concern.
- The Nostalgia Chick review of Labyrinth (already famed for its kind of creepy sexual under (and sometimes over-, around- and totally-enveloping-) tones) uses this phrase enough times to keep both hands busy... for counting. The only problem is that the little gag running across the screen didn't turn up when she pulls one off.
- Used in a comic on Gaia Online when Cindy comments about the size of a very, very tall tower, and Edmund responds with this line while looking at the reader. Was considered a Crowning Moment of Funny for a short period of time on the forums.
- And having a post of yours quoted with this phrase on said forums gives you an achievement*.
- Wayne Grayson completely owned LittleKuriboh using this comeback at Youmacon 2009.
: Well, it's good to know that Joey is loved in various areas. *beat
* Wait a minu—
Wayne: That's what she said!
- This trope was spoofed in Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Movie. Joey's standing in the way of Yugi, who says "Joey, get your butt out of my face!" Joey comes back with "Yeah, that's what she said." Doesn't quite work, does it?
- This same style is also in the Christmas special, where the first 'ghost' to visit Kaiba is Yugi. Kaiba eventually gets pissed off and tells Yugi to "get the hell out of my bedroom." Yugi responds with an incredibly witty: "Yeah, that's what she said."
- And again in a Depraved Bisexual moment in What Would Yugi Do:
Yami: "Silence, slave!! Or do you want me to yank on your leash again?"
Yugi: "Ouch! Not so tight, Pharoah!"
Yami: "That's what she said. Or he, I could go either way, really. And that is also what she said!"
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged
Burter: Oh, you can't beat my speed. I'm the fastest in the universe!
Krillin: (offscreen) That's what she said!
- Plinkett of Red Letter Media said some lines in his reviews that got some girls going "That's what he said!", much to his annoyance.
- Maria Theresa was discussing Sword Fights in Rose Of Versailles Abridged abridged, and a title card read this in response to something she said.
- Ask That Guy revealed that the "she" in "That's what she said" is in fact Obscurus Lupa.
- From Cracked's If Pop Culture's Greatest Characters Wrote Tell-All Books: I have never Said ANY of these things! The story of SHE.
- Xanauzumaki's The Legend of Zelda: The Abridged Series have all of Darunia's dialogue rely on this trope (and even adding a "That's what he said" variant)
- Wil Wheaton on his Geek and Sundry show TableTop: "That's a lot of tentacles ... is what she said." (The tabletop game they were playing, Elder Sign, is based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
- In Chowder, Gazpacho says this once, followed by "She didn't say that."
- Futurama - Spanish Fry - Lrr from Omicron Persei 8 is threatening to remove certain appendages from Fry to be used as an alien aphrodisiac. Of course it used this phrase:
Fry: But in this case, I just don't think it's going to work.
Bender: That's what she said. Whooooo!
- In an episode of King of the Hill, a new co-worker at Strickland Propane, voiced by Ben Stiller, says this ad nauseum, until Hank washes his mouth out with soap. The episode's title? "That's What She Said", of course.
- One of Terry Gilliam's animated segments in Monty Python's Flying Circus contained a variant on this theme.
"Charles Fatless": Then let me have your puny, scrawny little body for just fifteen minutes a day!
Camp Gay Man: Mmmm, I've heard that one before, ducky! [Is punched squarely in the jaw]
- Narrowly averted in Family Guy:
Brian: Insert rod suppot A into slot B.
Peter: That's what she-
Brian: If you say "That's what she said" one more time, I swear I'm gonna pop you.
All finished now. Please come again.
That's what she said!