"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what was our duty to do.'"After his heroic feat, the person he's rescued or helped, or a whole crowd of spectators, gushes over The Hero. His response? It may be acted, or spoken, or merely thought, but it's summed up in a Stock Phrase: "Think Nothing of It" or "Don't Mention It". If this is his job, or routine to him, "All a Part of the Job". If they praise him, Dismissing a Compliment sometimes occurs, and if more tangible gratitude is forthcoming, Keep the Reward will appear. Motives vary widely and may characterize in more detail than the heroism alone. Many of them are not mutually exclusive:
- He's genuinely modest (in which case blushing is likely). Likely for The Cape.
- It's All a Part of the Job and the constant praise is very wearying.
- He's embarrassed to receive all the credit, when others contributed. He may try to share; success is unlikely, but it is often appreciated. Again likely for The Cape. Also for A Father to His Men.
- The person he rescued was a True Companion or another hero. The full phrase is likely to be "Think nothing of it. You Would Do the Same for Me."
- The rescuer and the rescued are in the middle of doing something, which still needs to be done and must get on with it; there is no time for gratitude. "Thank me later" may be said. Especially if the rescue will be only temporary if they don't succeed.
- The rescued had, by previous actions, put the rescuer deeply in his debt. Gratitude for something which isn't even reciprocal return is embarrassing.
- He was responsible for the original problem and felt that he Must Make Amends; gratitude only reminds him of his original guilt.
- His motives were more self-interested than the rescued person seems to think. Will often state such motives. The Cape will often be honest about this, or Good Is Not Nice.
- He felt more fear than anyone realized, and is embarrassed to be hailed for what he thinks is a mere facade of heroism. Likely for the Cowardly Lion.
- He did it for a lark, because he loves In Harm's Way, or whatever else he had to do, even if others regard it as dirty, servile, or difficult.
- He's a loner by nature or simply dislikes being the center of attention. Likely for the Anti-Hero or Good Is Not Nice. Prone to be brusque.
- Some characters can manifest this only at times — such at the end of a problem — when they are exhausted or stressed out or otherwise completely incapable of social interaction.
- The expressions of gratitude are getting out of hand, with grateful crowds and public celebrations chipping away at the hero's limited free time, and he just wants or needs to do something else.
- His reputation for misanthropy is valuable to him. He is prone to ask that no one spread the news. Likely for Hidden Heart of Gold.
- His heroic action violated some Obstructive Code of Conduct, and gratitude will only get him in trouble.
- If he becomes Famed In-Story, people will keep trying to drag him away from Home Sweet Home.
- It looked harder than it was, or the gratitude is disproportionate, and he's embarrassed. Perhaps he genuinely doesn't understand why heroic acts that come so easily to him seem so impressive to others. An honest Fake Ultimate Hero or Accidental Hero is likely here, as is The Cape.
- He wanted to save the person, but won't admit it; this is the subtrope I Was Just Passing Through. Most likely for a Tsundere.
- He didn't want to save the person, but knew he should, or that he needed the other one. May explicitly say that he did for the mission, or his duty, not for the other character personally. This character might be a Knight in Sour Armor and is prone to Grudging "Thank You" when he's the one saved.
- He's trying to seem modest. Likely a less honest Fake Ultimate Hero. Also likely to backfire and look like a covert brag if the hero's actions were manifestly less than great. Particularly if he tried to disclaim his feat before anyone showed any gratitude for it.
- After an Embarrassing Rescue or the like, he is bitterly rejecting the patently insincere thanks (possibly along with complaints, knowing that the rescued person will, at best, think nothing of it and more typically will revenge himself for the embarrassment. Which can be any character at all. (Well, except a Love Freak.)
- Ironically, he can express this in some form or another after it is clear that no one is going to recognize what he did. The purer his heroism, the less bitterly he will do so.
- Comically, he may do so in front of the beneficiaries, which often jolts them into expressing their gratitude.
- The feat was, or involved actions which were, extremely embarrassing or disreputable to the point where the hero doesn't want to be associated with it. See also Medal of Dishonor.
- He's Compliment Fishing and trying to set up other people to insist that his actions really were great.
- He achieved his heroic feat completely by accident, or with a darker intention in mind. He is not really the hero everyone thinks he is.
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Anime and Manga
- Zoro from One Piece saving Luffy by absorbing all his pain through Kuma.
"What's happened here?" "Nothing. Nothing at all!"
- In the anime of Azumanga Daioh, Tomo's hatsuyume (first dream of the year) involves her being a Mary Sue and dismissing all her well-earned compliments with "No, no, it was nothing really."
- Fist of the North Star: To Kenshiro, helping innocent people isn't a duty; it's a right thing to do.
- In 20th Century Boys, Shogun responds with "I'm not as great as you make me out to be" when his heroism is complimented. Shogun isn't being modest, here; he's telling the truth.
- Hayato Kazami from Future GPX Cyber Formula said that he "just trusted in Asurada" at a reception party for him when he was talked about him saving Asuka, Osamu and everyone in a plane when said plane couldn't lower the wheel.
- Ranma ½: If Ranma doesn't complain about Akane butting in on his fights, odds are that this is how he'll respond to Akane's thanks. It doesn't hurt that they're both Tsunderes at heart.
Akane: You saved me, Ranma. Thank you.Ranma: It was nothin'.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a series all about shouting Screw Destiny, gave us that curveball at the end, where Simon quietly walked out of the spotlight and off into a modest life away from the action. Of course, this was after a Wham Episode that revealed what would happen to the universe if he kept pushing the limits of evolution...
- In the Mai-HiME prequel story, "Natsuki's Prelude", Natsuki, while investigating the school at night, encounters Akane, who is retrieving her notes. Natsuki agrees to help Akane, largely to get her out of the way, rejecting Akane's suggestion that she's imposing on her.
Natsuki: Don't worry about it. I'm used to walking alone at night. And besides, this is a rare opportunity for me to offer such a service, isn't it? You should accept a person's kindness humbly, don't you think? (pause) .... Oi, Higurashi? What's wrong?Akane: (bowing over and over) Th—- Thank you, Kuga-san!Natsuki: You really don't need to be so thankful. Weren't we classmates before?
- Touma Kamijou from A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun does good for no reason. He doesn't even care if he never gets any credit for it. Even better, he doesn't even have a backstory or personal reason. He loses his memories at the end of the first novel/during episode 6 and saves people for two reasons: a)because that's the right thing to do, and b)to keep his memory loss issue from becoming known. Mostly the former.
- Son Goku from Dragon Ball did a version of this trope. After teleporting to New Namek to find a new God for Earth, the Namekians recognized him as the Super Saiyajin that defeated Freeza and saved their race. Goku's response was more-or-less, 'don't thank me, your planet still blew up'.
- Marvel Adventures: Captain America gets praised at an award ceremony. He does actually say "Aw, shucks" when cheered, and immediately says that the real praise should be for — well, then he's cut off by the inevitable supervillain attack. Cap commonly is portrayed as being a bit embarrassed or taken aback by praise and hero worship, as seen in the Capmania miniarc.
- Astro City's Samaritan, having saved the shuttle, told everyone he was just a good Samaritan. He tried to evade awards and honors at first, before he realized how much they meant to people.
- In Thunderbolts, when MACH-1 and Spider-Man went up against the rest of the Thunderbolts under mindcontrol, Spider-Man saved MACH-1 from an attack; MACH-1 expressed his thanks, and Spider-Man dismissed it as something he would do for him. In this case, it's utterly untrue: MACH-1 is secretly a villain with no fondness for Spidey. Except that he does, in fact, do it at the end, giving him what he needs to clear his name.
- After Squirrel Girl rescued Flat Man and Doorman, the police thanked her for keeping Central Park safe, and she replied that the cops are the real heroes, not her.
- Played for laughs in Shade, the Changing Man, when Hooker with a Heart of Gold Pandora is implied to have exchanged a sexual favor to a doctor for his examining a pregnant Kathy:
Kathy: Thanks. You shouldn't have...
Pandora: It was nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean...
- Finder: Jaeger Ayers is both a Finder and a Sin-Eater, which often causes clashes in his personal code - while one aspect makes people want to reward him for his services, the other is honour-bound to refuse payment. He prefers to accomplish most of his Finder role in subtle ways, without people even realising he has done so.
Films — Animated
- At the beginning of The Incredibles, the police thank Mr Incredible for his help apprehending two bank robbers, and he says "I'm just here to help."
- In Tangled, Rapunzel, after Mother Gothel talks of how difficult hauling her up must be. She says it's nothing, and Mother Gothel then asks why it takes so long, then.
- Maximus expresses this with an eloquent whinny after the prison break.
- In Treasure Planet, Jim prompts the robot cop with the precise paragraph of his offense, is thanked, and says, "Don't mention it."
- Parodied in Kung Fu Panda. After helping Po out when he gets stuck in a split, Crane tells him "Don't mention it. Ever."
- In Toy Story 2, after Mr. Potato Head saves three squeeze-toy aliens from getting blown out of a Pizza Planet truck:
Aliens: You have saved our lives! We are eternally grateful!Mr. Potato Head: Yeah, yeah, whatever!
Films — Live-Action
- Part of Hancock's be-a-better-hero training is telling any law enforcement officials that happen to already be on the scene "Good Job." He's obviously awkward about it the first few times (ie whenever we see in the movie); still gets a pretty positive reaction, though.
- The end of Batman Begins has a moment like this between Batman and Lt. Gordon.
Gordon: You know, I never said thank you.Batman: And you'll never have to.
Gordon: ...Thank you.Batman: You don't have to thank me.Gordon: Yes, I do.
- Given a Call-Back in The Dark Knight where Gordon thanks Batman, who again invokes this trope. Gordon insists afterwards that yes, this time, he does have to thank Batman.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl played it another way: the person who demurs the credit isn't the one who deserves it anyway. Though he did kinda help, a little.
Norrington: Good work, Mr. Brown. You've assisted in the capture of a dangerous fugitive.
Mr. Brown: Just doing my civic duty, sir.
Will rolls his eyes.
- ¡Three Amigos!! messes with this, lampshades it, and then plays it straight for a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- Superman: Only Christopher Reeve could make his final line in the film work and make it sound sincere and awesome:
Warden: This country is safe again, Superman, thanks to you.
Superman: No, don't thank me, Warden. We're all part of the same team!
- George of the Jungle: "King of Jungle only here to help."
- Subverted in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: after Howard resuscitates a young village boy who'd drowned, a group of villagers led by the boy's father tracks the trio down and insists on taking them back for a feast. Howard tries to wave it off out of modesty, but the father is insistent: seems local custom holds that "all the saints in Heaven will be angry with him" if he fails to honor them properly, so he's willing to bring them back through force of arms, if that's what it'll take.
- Amusingly subverted in a scene from Charlie Wilson's War when congressman Charlie Wilson first meets the CIA contact Gust Avrakotos. Gust brings him a relatively expensive bottle of scotch as a "thankyou" for doubling the CIA budget for covert ops in Afghanistan.
Charlie: Well thank you.Gust: Ah, it was nothing.Charlie: Well it's a nice bottle of scotch, must've been hard to get.Gust: No, doubling the budget was nothing. Ten million dollars for covert ops against the Russian army is meaningless. What are you, an infant?
- In The Rocketeer, at the end, Howard Hughes shows up with a new airplane for Cliff, and leaves before Cliff can collect himself enough to think of asking. Cliff is assured that he saw the look on his face and knows what it means to him.
- Best Seller is about a hitman who approaches a detective-turned-crime novelist to write his story. At the end of the movie the hitman performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save the detective's daughter, so he quips as he's dying, "Don't mention it...except in the book."
- In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novels, Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) downplays his reputation for the lustre of modesty that it adds to it — although sometimes he seems genuinely embarrassed by the inaccuracy. He definitely minds that he gets all the credit, as opposed to some going to his faithful and extremely handy aide, Jurgen, who has been vital to Cain's success (or just survival) on many an occasion. And Vail has observed that he underestimates the effect he can have on morale — or that his death would have.
- Cain is savvy enough to realize from the very start that being regarded as a hero will endanger his life greatly. Unfortunately, hours after his first assignment, his only options were either pretend to be a hero or admit that he was fleeing from a battlefield. Then a snowball effect took it to the point that even Space Marines think that his caliber of hero absolutely shall board the space hulk along with the Terminator Squad. His attempts to downplay his heroics are genuine self preservation.
- Sajag in Dragon Queen doesn't really care whether he's thanked when he does something, according to Trava.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
Zaphod: "That’s very good thinking, you know that? You’ve just saved our lives."Arthur: "It was nothing really..."Zaphod: "Oh was it? Oh well forget it. OK computer, take us in to land..."
- Zaphod Beeblebrox praises Arthur Dent for saving the day. Arthur makes the mistake of saying "Oh, it was nothing really", which Zaphod, with malicious obliviousness, takes literally.
- Marvin later echoes this when he comments "Don't mention it. Oh, you didn't."
- Invoked in John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory after the Twisted Man saves Sir John and the duke.
The Twisted Man nodded. Perhaps he was not human enough to say that it was nothing, or perhaps he was too human.
- Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts:
- In Ghostmaker, Gaunt has to pry out of Mkoll what opposition he had faced on a patrol, because while he admired his modesty, he really needed to know. In the ensuing flashback, Mkoll goes back to check out something he saw on the patrol, kills a Chaos dreadnaught, and while his surviving companion is awe-struck, forbids him to report it.
- In Necropolis, Rawne saves Haller's life, and Haller says that he owes him. Rawne bitterly rejects it. A fellow Ghost reflects that Rawne's bitterness toward Gaunt is caused by the knowledge that he owes Gaunt.
- Also in Necropolis, Curth's first reaction to the area assigned to Dorden for his medical work was that it was unacceptable and she briskly demanded all the supplies and workers to make it acceptable. When Dorden thanked her, she told him she already had her hands full with wounded refugees and did not want his wounded soldiers to overflow into her area.
- In Blood Pact, when Rawne backs up Daur, Daur thanks him, Rawne says he didn't do it for him, and Daur says, "Perish the thought."
- In The Lord of the Rings Faramir has such a moment after Sam compliments him for rejecting the Ring.
‘Yes sir, and showed your quality: the very highest.’ Faramir smiled. ‘A pert servant, Master Samwise. But nay: the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards. Yet there was naught in this to praise. I had no lure or desire to do other than I have done.’
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, after Ragnar comes to Kjel's aid when two other aspirants are beating himm, Kjel thanks him, and Ragnar dismisses it, "Think nothing of it. You'd do the same for me." Later, during their punishment, climbing a mountain, Ragnar starts to slip, and Kjel helps him, and then dismisses his gratitude with the comment he should thank him when they actually finished.
- In Ragnar's Claw, Sven thanks Ragnar for saving his life after a fight with genestealers; Ragnar dismisses because Sven had saved his, and Sven dismisses with "Think nothing of it."
- In Grey Hunters, Ragnar's attempts to — truthfully! — minimize his having killed a wolf while still in training attract almost as much attention as the original deed, which leads to his being dubbed "Blackmane".
- In his defense, the wolf was already injured when Ragnar encountered him. It is still a pretty badass act considering that Fenrisian Wolves are near the size of a tank. Ragnar's problem was that everyone assumed the wolf was strong and healthy, not an aged alpha who had lost dominance over his pack.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Warriors of Ultramar, after Learchus has told the soldiers that he is So Proud of You, one answers that it had been his Training from Hell. Learchus modestly disclaims it: the greatness had been theirs, he had just known how to bring it out.
- At the end of the same novel, Pavel Leforto tells Uriel that he is the one whose life Uriel saved. Uriel observes that he had done it for him, too. When Pavel disclaims it as lucky, he thanks him anyway.
- In Dead Sky Black Sun, after Leonid had saved the Lord of the Unfleshed and been told "Now you Tribe!", the Lord saved his life, and Leonid thanked him.
"You Tribe," replied the Lord of the Unfleshed as though no other explanation was needed.
- An "ongoing" version intersecting with Cowardly Lion appears in the novel Wraith Squadron. While very good in simulations, and when no one's depending on him, in "real action" Kell Tainer starts feeling sick and even gets shaky, but manages to power through it. He's very uncomfortable with citations for bravery, as he feels he hasn't earned it, and even secretly despises an award roughly on par with the Medal of Honor.
- He gets over it. After his anxiety gets so bad he flees from battle, only to come back at the last possible second, save the day, and get five kills in one battle, making him an 'Instant Ace'.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, when Torgaddon describes to Tarvitz, one of Eidolon's juniors, how Eidolon had saved the day — actions that Tarvitz did and Eidolon rebuked him for — Tarvitz says that Eidolon is wise. Only when one of Tarvitz's juniors speaks up does Torgaddon learn the truth — and Tarvitz tries to keep him from speaking. When Torgaddon asks why he would let Eidolon hog the credit, Tarvitz says he is his lord.
- In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, when Mortarion summons Garro forward to receive a reward, Garro tries to put him off, saying he deserved nothing special, but Mortarion says such false modesty is not becoming.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 novel Storm of Iron, when an Imperial Fist Space Marine pulls Leonid from danger, and Leonid thanks him, the Space Marine says he should thank him later; they have work to do.
- Flashman does this all the time. He learned early on that saying things like, "oh, it was nothing more than duty. Any proper British soldier would have done the same" impresses people far more than telling them how harrowing it really was (particularly for such a self-avowed coward as someone like him). Never mind that his reputation is, unknown to most other than himself, built entirely on such things as taking credit for others' work and managing to be the sole survivor of battles by hiding until the fighting is done.
- Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files:
- Turn Coat, when Morgan shows up at Harry's apartment, and Harry helps him, he starts to thank him, and Harry cuts him off because they don't want that conversation.
- In White Night, Elaine responds to Harry's thanks for saving him from a frozen lake and ghouls by saying she was bored and had nothing else to do.
- When a wizard was noting Harry's accomplishments, Harry gets embarrassed, and jokes that he only saved the universe because his ass was in the same spot of trouble as the universe, and he saved his own ass. The wizard was amused, but definitely didn't need that image.
- At the end of Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin starts his speech at the party, and Eeyore starts this — before Christopher Robin manages to get it in that it's for Pooh.
- In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, Dak'ir tells Tsu'gan that he owes him a debt of gratitude; Tsu'gan doesn't even look him at him and tells him that it was for the mission, not Dak'ir's well-being. Later, saving Dak'ir in a Take My Hand situation, he says he did his duty and saved a fellow Salamander — even one unworthy of the name.
- From Codex Alera: "Anyone could have done it." Yeah, right, Bernard.
- In Brisingr, Angela the herbalist tells Roran this after he thanks her for healing the injuries on his back from whipping. She then changes her mind and says "Or rather, think something of it, but do not consider it overly important. Besides, it amuses me to have tended injuries on both your back and Eragon's."
- In Guards! Guards!! Vimes is surprised hearing that he and his men will be rewarded for their efforts to save the city.
The Patrician: Oh, and do bring your men in tomorrow. The city must show its gratitude.Vimes: It must what?
- When they are told that they can have a reward, his men ask for a small raise, a new tea kettle, and a dartboard (being afraid that they went too far with the last one.)
- In John C. Wright's The Phoenix Exultant, when Temer Lacemodian goes into exile by talking Phaethon, Phaethon thanks him, and he says he did what his duty called for, (Besides, this will let him watch the ship fly, and he's fascinated with that ship.)
- In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, when Stenwold frees Arianna he tells her in advance "No thanks."
- In C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, this is a mark of Friendship.
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night, after Harriet has defended Lord Peter Wimsey's detecting — even if he does it for fun, he does do it, and many people have reason to thank him — another woman brings up A Friend in Need who had helped with her drains for nothing because he liked working with them. Earlier, Harriet had dismissed Miss Cattermole's statement that now she needed to be grateful to Harriet, telling her she had been pursuing an end of her own.
- Later in Busman's Honeymoon, Joe Sellon thanks Lord Peter after the arrest, because catching the murderer meant his name was cleared. Lord Peter dismisses it because the end of the case always means reaction for him.
- In Jasper Fforde's The Last Dragonslayer, Lady Mawgan hides Jennifer from officials and then tells her it was her duty.
- In Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus book The Mark of Athena, Tiberinus notes where Romulus and Remus washed ashore, Rhea coos how nice it was of him to flood for them, and he says it was nothing.
- Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead has Boba Fett kill Dr. Evazan, who was about to murder Zak. Fett doesn't care about anything but the bounty on Evazan and says so. "Thanks are inappropriate. You were incidental." Later he saves Zak again because he needs some information Zak has and, again, does not care. Indeed, when later in the series there's a bounty on Zak...
- In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novels, thanking another fae is an act of fealty. As a consequence, fae wave off even approximations of thanks
- In Rosemary and Rue, when Toby tells her the healing was a good job, Lily waves it off.
- Harry Potter is generally like this—a combination of genuine modesty, a desire to avoid the spotlight, and frequent feelings of not really deserving praise. After defeating Voldemort once and for all, for example, he sneaks away for a sandwich and a good night's sleep.
- In The Spirit Thief, Miranda genuinely believes the ideals of the Spirit Court, so she's often surprised and slightly embarrassed when people behave as if she's done something extraordinary when she upholds them.
- Angel: Angel does this. It is much-ridiculed by Spike, who sees it as a cheap act to impress women.
- Smallville: Clark, of course, being Superman and all. Chloe puts it best:
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: "Oh. Well... it's all in a days work for Bicycle Repairman."
Mal: "You're in my crew. Why are we still talking about this?"—Simon: "Mei-Mei, all I have is right here".—River: "I never thought you'd come for me."
Simon: "Well, you're a dummy."
- In Black Adder's Christmas Carol, he responds with "Think nothing of it! I, after all, think nothing of you."
- In the Xena: WP episode "Old Ares Has a Farm", Gabrielle refers to a previous episode where Ares (in an OOC moment) saved her life. Ares, determined to maintain his villainous street cred, partly subverts this trope:
Gabrielle: Ares— when you gave up your immortality to save me and Eve— that was— that was quite a sacrifice. Thank you.
Ares: If Eve had died - and Xena lost her power to kill gods - then Athena would have killed Xena. So I was saving Eve to save Xena. You were an afterthought.
Gabrielle: Thanks, anyway.
- Inspector Morse is offered a large cheque by a millionaire businessman. Morse refuses stating that he was doing his job, the businessman responds that it's not for that, it's for being the first person in years to act like his comatose daughter is still alive. Morse still doesn't accept.
- Scheming shopkeeper Arkwright exploits this trope in Open All Hours when he offers to reward a man for helping him, is refused, then asks if he will settle for advice on what's a real bargain right now. The man leaves with a large bag of shopping, looks surprised, then starts to run.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
Ellison: "I owed you one. The fire. Silberman's cabin."Sarah: "Wasn't much."Ellison: "It was my life."
- In the Star Trek episode " Bread and Circuses" Bones gives Spock a Grudging "Thank You" and receives the equivalent of a Think Nothing of It in return.
McCoy: Spock, er, I know we've, er, had our disagreements. Er, maybe they're jokes, I don't know. As Jim says, we're not often sure ourselves sometimes. But, er... what I'm trying to say is...Spock: Doctor, I am seeking a means of escape. Will you please be brief?McCoy: What I'm trying to say is, you saved my life in the arena.Spock: Yes, that's quite true.McCoy: [Indignant] I'm trying to thank you, you pointed-eared hobgoblin!Spock: Oh yes, you humans have that emotional need to express gratitude. "You're welcome", I believe is the correct response.
- Captain Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise tends to avoid receiving praise for his accomplishments and heroics, though part of this is because he's done things that he really doesn't consider praiseworthy. A more positive example of this attitude comes in "These Are the Voyages...", in which Archer has to prepare a speech for the founding of The Federation. His bridge officers speculate that he'll do everything possible to avoid taking credit for his role, even though he was absolutely crucial in it. A moment later, he walks onto the bridge, grumbling that no matter how he words his speech, it sounds like he's trying to take credit for everything.
- Doctor Who
- K-9 has been known to say that gratitude is not required.
- Subverted in "Frontios," the Doctor and his companions visit a human colony that's so far in the future that the Time Lords (the Doctor's race) would disapprove. At the end, the colony thanks him for saving them, and he tells them, "Don't mention it." His companion Turlough clarifies, "He means it. Literally." i.e. the Doctor doesn't want the colonists to let the Time Lords find out about it.
- Combined with Stealth Insult in "Let's Kill Hitler" when the Doctor finds he's inadvertently saved Hitler's life. "Believe me, it was an accident."
- An inversion in 30 Rock, where Tracy Jordan tries to get back his bad reputation by causing havoc, until he comes across a man drowning in the Hudson. Tracy is visibly upset and rescues the man, later the man is interviewed by a news network, saying that Tracey had told him not to tell anyone (to avoid further praise).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After being dumped by the evil philandering Parker, Buffy is day-dreaming a Rescue Romance in which she saves his life from vampires, thus achieving apologies, promises of eternal love, and ice cream.
Parker: Buffy, I don't know what to say. After the way I've treated you, and now I owe you my life.
Buffy: It's nothing.
Parker: It's everything. You're everything. And I'm going to do whatever it takes to get you to forgive me. Do you think that you might—
[Buffy snaps out of it at the sight of Parker chatting up another girl]
- Hilariously averted later in the same episode after she really does save his life. He ends up giving her a speech very similar to the one in her fantasy, but Buffy is still under the lingering effects of some magic beer that reverted her mind to a "cave man" state, so she just knocks him unconscious with a club instead of saying anything.
- Spike saves Buffy's life in "Once More, With Feeling ". Buffy runs after him, so Spike says she doesn't have to say anything. As they're in a Musical Episode, she sings it instead. Followed by a Big Damn Kiss.
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger uses this as Book Ends; at the end of both the first and the last episode, a group of schoolchildren thanks the Gokaigers for saving them (and the rest of the planet, in the finale). They respond that they didn't save anyone, the bad guys just got in their way and got taken down, so there's no need for thanks.
- Zaphod Beeblebrox is uncharacteristically impressed by Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when Arthur uses the Infinite Improbability Drive to save the Heart of Gold from being hit by two guided missiles. Arthur says "it was nothing, really". Zaphod takes it literally, says "oh, well then forget about it, then" and goes back to completely ignoring Arthur.
- Happens a fair bit in Stargate SG-1, what with the True Companions saving each other's lives on a regular basis. One good example occurs when Cam visits Sam in the hospital after he spent most of the episode tending to her while offworld.
Sam: Listen, Cam—Cam: Sam. Don't say a word.
- Person of Interest.
- In "Judgement" a judge says he doesn't know how to thank Reese for saving his son. As Reese is a Mysterious Protector whose activities are illegal, he replies; "Don't mention it. In fact, I'd rather you didn't."
- Subverted in "Dead Reckoning", when Reese thanks Finch for risking his life to defuse the Explosive Leash placed on him by Rogue Agent Kate Stanton. But the ending implies Finch was responsible for the events that turned Stanton and Reese against each other, so when Finch says "Don't mention it", it's because he feels guilty.
- M*A*S*H: Margaret dumps Frank and goes on a toot. Later in the episode, Hawkeye and Trapper sober her up. In the operating room:
Margaret: Doctor...doctors...I'm grateful for what you did.
Hawkeye: Don't mention it.
Trapper: To anyone. We've got reputations to protect.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Hilariously (and heartbreakingly) deconstructed: At Act II Scenes III and IV, Cyrano does not claim the credit for the victory over one hundred thugs he performed last night before Ragueneau’s clientele. He even denies being the hero. Maybe his motives to do such a feat were egoist, but it seems that Cyrano honestly does not want others praising him. Then at act II scene VI, we see that Roxane, the only one whose opinion Cyrano really cares about, really thinks nothing of his feat.
Ragueneau (to Cyrano) Know you who might be the hero of the fray?Cyrano (carelessly): Not I.
- Subverted in Kingdom Hearts II: see below. In this case the character development comes from the contrast between veteran hero Auron and Sora, the goofy Kid Hero who hero worships Auron.
Auron: I suppose I should thank you.Sora: Not at all.Auron: Fine.Sora: I mean, sure, you could thank us a little...Auron: You should say what you mean.
- Jade Empire: If you're Good/Open Palm/Light Side, you're supposed to shrug off thanks and especially any rewards they offer you. This gets you karma points, and on occasion the same or even a better reward than if you had just accepted. Conversely, the Evil/Closed Fist/Dark Side path is to insist your rescuees give you even more.
Most of the time, insisting on more will only get you more money, where you already have Money for Nothing, whereas the refusal bonuses come as experience or rare items. Probably an effort to encourage the good choices, whatever the reasons may be.
- In Chrono Cross, when Kid thanks Korcha for his help and gets an "It was nothing" response, she replies "Hmph. Thanks for nothing then."
- The 2009 Runescape Easter holiday quest, "Splitting Heirs" (pun on multiple levels), has "a surprisingly healthy reward" from the Easter Bunny. Said reward is a wieldable carrot, and only a wieldable carrot, because your character acts modestly about the completion of the quest's tasks.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has Phoenix give one of these to Maya at the end of the first trial day of 1-2.
Phoenix: Oh, I was just "doing my job" you know... heh heh.
- Miles Edgeworth, Phoenix's best friend and rival, tends to do this as well, brushing off praise or gratitude with "I was only doing my job."
- Pops up frequently in the Professor Layton series. After all, helping others, that's just what a gentleman does.
- In Jurassic Park: The Game, Oscar dismisses his Velociraptor kill by calling it "just another fight", though he is intrigued by the idea of getting a raptor tattoo to commemorate it.
- Mr. Mighty of Everyday Heroes, trying to get to work, has to go through this over and over and over ...
- The Order of the Stick: After his resurrection, Roy grumbles over his armor; Haley tells him that his gratitude is embarrassing; Roy thanks her.
O-Chul: Thank you once more for all that you have done.Vaarsuuvius: Please, do not remind me of all that I have done.
- In the same comic, when Vaarsuvius teleports the Azurite fleet to a safe location, Kazumi and Daigo shower the elf with thanks. V then yells at them to shut about it, as the elf only moved the fleet to prevent the Azure City refugees from pestering him/her in the future.
- Later, after V's deal with the devils wears off:
- Cardboard Tube Samurai: It is enough for me that your pig is safe.
- Wapsi Square: Fixing Katherine's light
- Wooden Rose: When she asks how she can thank him -- no need!
- In El Goonish Shive, Elliot has this response to Noah praising him for his rescue of Justin. This only serves to increase the size of Noah's man-crush.
- Pibgorn: Hey, don't mention it.
- Impure Blood: And I'll forgive you for not thanking for me for your freedom
- In Wake the Sleepers, an offering of forgiveness.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Mort, after Antimony thanks him for his gift. He blushes.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, the innkeeper tries this. Then, he had let them stay figuring Perrault was a fairy testing him for a reward.
- In Sinfest, the angels tell Slick not to mention it — after they went to give him happiness, which apparently didn't take.
- In Evil Diva, Diva's mom, after she got Angela acquitted and so saved her from Hell.
- In Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, the lieutenant clearly thinks he owes Delilah something, and she tries to disclaim it.
- In Doc Rat, administering CPR is just doing my job -- as is rescheduling the patients while the doc deals with the heart attack patient.
- In The City of Reality, the Manumitor refuses to accept any credit for helping fix Baleful Polymorphs.
- In The Forgotten Order, the customers say "don't mention it" about having given her extra money.
- In Dragon Mango, Mango rushes off to escape praise for her progress from fighting minor threats to dragons. Fighting the minor threats was real. The fights with the dragons are faked.
- In Cucumber Quest,
- Cucumber gives Princess Nautilis a spell to breath underwater and says it's nothing, really.
- Princess Parfait thanks the Nightmare Knight after he stops Tomato and makes him give her back her necklace. He just looks at her and shuts the door.
- As they leave for the next kingdom, all three of them turn down thanks.
- In Impure Blood, Caspian alerts Roan to an enemy behind him, and then says, thank me when we're not dead.
- In Worm, Skitter often has this reaction to being praised or thanked. (A particularly keen example comes when she brings Dinah home.)
- Captain Marvel's introduction in Justice League had him say the "It was nothing, really" variant when complimented. It's worth pointing out that the person complimenting him is Batman, and the reason for said compliment was that Cap took down the Parasite in seconds when several other heroes failed to slow the villain down. Elongated Man even points out that Cap was blushing at the praise and tells Cap not to be so modest.
- While calling in favors Kim Possible is always complimented on her past heroism, and she always replies with "No Big".
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Katara says this after turning in Toph to the guards for a reward. The Mayor then takes her literally and Katara has to specify she still wants the money.
- After Aang saves a village from a spirit monster, one of the elders asks how they can ever repay them, which Sokka immediately leaps on to ask for money and supplies. Katara tries telling him off, but he points out that they need stuff if they're going to cross the entire world to reach the North Pole.
- South Park: In "Raising the Bar", James Cameron doesn't take credit for the eponymous act. "James Cameron doesn't do what James Cameron does for James Cameron. James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Cameron is James Cameron."
- The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: In one episode, when Penelope saved the Hooded Claw, she brought up the trope and told him not to think of it. He said he wouldn't and then abducted her again.
- The Mighty Heroes thank Mighty Mouse for helping them renew their confidence as superheroes. He says "think nothing of it," then turns to scold Big Murray for causing the episode's calamity to start with.
- The Lariat Sam story arc "The Great Race For Office Space" concludes with Sam winning the election as sheriff of Bent Saddle after winning a horse race against Badlands Meeney. Sam defers the honor to his horse, Tippytoes, who went above and beyond towards winning the race.
- In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "I'll Zoo You Later," the zoo superintendent fetes Peevly as a hero for not only corralling the runaway bears but also two bank robbers. Peevly tells him "all in a day's work."
- Many, many real-life heroes will say some variation of "I just did what anyone would have done in my position." Alternately, if they saved the day because of special training, they'll still insist "I'm not the hero, a lot of people made the rescue possible." Examples abound:
- Chelsey B. Sullenberger III, the pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" incident, insisted that he wasn't the hero of the story, saying "Our crew of five, as well as the first responders here in New York and the cooperation of the passengers, made this successful emergency landing possible."
- For those too lazy to read the link, this is the man who managed to successfully splash down his failing airliner in the Hudson river, with no loss of life.
- He also recently started appearing in commercials for St. Luke's Children's Hospital, where he claims that the true heroes are the littlest cancer patients.
- Chelsey B. Sullenberger III, the pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" incident, insisted that he wasn't the hero of the story, saying "Our crew of five, as well as the first responders here in New York and the cooperation of the passengers, made this successful emergency landing possible."
- British soldier Johnson Beharry received the Victoria Cross for saving the lives of several of his comrades in Iraq. He later said that he didn't know if his actions were brave because he was just doing his job.
- In 1914, in an attempt to check the German advance, General Gallieni ordered that troops be rushed to the front via taxi cab. When complimented on his brilliant idea, Gallieni responded, "Eh bien, voila au moins qui n'est pas banal." (Oh well, at least it's not boring.)
- When people who had rescued Jews during the Holocaust were questioned about why, many had no answer. Some actually grew angry at the question. As if they could have done nothing!
- Irena Sendler (who saved about 2500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto) wrote: "Every child saved with my help [...] is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory." In another interview, she said: "we who were rescuing children are not some kind of heroes. Indeed, that term irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little."
- Miep Gies, one of the people that hid Anne Frank during the holocaust. People tend to call her a hero, but she disliked the title and retaliated with "I myself am just an ordinary woman. I simply had no choice"
- Oskar Schindler, even though his choice to save 1100 Jews practically ruined him, said he would do it all again.
- Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who served in Lithuania and gave thousands of transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan said: "I do it just because I have pity on the people. They want to get out so I let them have the visas."
- Giorgio Perlasca was an Italian businessman who in 1944 pretended to be Spanish consul-general to Hungary, and saved more than 5000 Jews. After the war, he didn't talk about his actions to anyone, and remained unknown until 1987, when he was discovered by a group of Jews saved by him. When asked about his motives, he said "I couldn't stand seeing children being killed. That's what I think it was. I don't think I was a hero." In another occasion his answer was "What would you have done in my place?"
- And those are just the ones who are known. There's who knows how many people who did something above and beyond to help the Jews and remain unknown to this day. Many a Holocaust survivor has expressed anguish about never managing to find a person who helped them significantly to thank him/her personally because said person remained anonymous enough to be of no note to history.
- John Smeaton, a baggage handler, regularly told the press that he just did what anyone would do to stop the Glasgow Airport bombers (mainly, kicking a terrorist in the balls while the terrorist was also on fire) that other people did more and deserved more credit.
- A standard Spanish and Portuguese translation of the English phrase, "You're Welcome" is "De Nada", more literally meaning "It was nothing".
- In French, it's "de rien," with the same meaning.
- In Italian, it's "di nulla".
- All of them probably came from the Latin "Est nihil."
- Some English speakers use the phrase "No worries" and others use "No problem" or "No Problemo".
- Or: "Not at all". In German similar phrases are "nicht doch" and "dafür nicht", sometimes rendered comically as "da nicht für".
- Arabic takes it even further - using the same word for "you're welcome" and "I'm sorry."
- Polish uses a rather elaborate phrase "nie ma za co", which essentially means "there is nothing to [thank me] about".
- There's also the phrase "Forget about it," used by the mafia (and people who like mafia movies) to mean essentially, "Hey, even remembering this favor would be pointless, cause I'll do it again anytime." Sort of a subversion, though, cause the phrase, given the context, can also just as easily mean "fuck off."
- Some languages like Russian and Estonian use the same word for "please" and "you're welcome"
- In Philippine languages:
- In Tagalog, "walang anuman" it literally means "it was nothing"
- In Cebuano, "walay sapayan" means "don't consider it"
- Grigori Perelman is a Russian mathematician with a history of doing this. In 2003, he proved the Poincaré conjecture, a problem which had gone unsolved for almost 100 years. He then proceeded to turn down the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics, as well as the $1,000,000 prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute for proving the Poincaré conjecture. His words:
I'm not interested in money or fame... I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I'm not a hero of mathematics. I'm not even that successful; that is why I don't want to have everybody looking at me."
- Subverted in a popular, though unverified anecdote about Frederick The Great of Prussia. When someone suggested he pay a special bonus to an official for negotiating the contract by which a famous ballerina joined the ensemble of the Berlin opera, he reputedly refused with the words: "He only did his damned duty (seine verfluchte Schuldigkeit)."
- A few Op-Ed articles have complained about this becoming prevalent in Western culture, since it's no longer "You're welcome" - but instead "No problem" when someone is thanked for something.
- Played for laughs by John F. Kennedy when he was asked how he became a war hero: "It was absolutely involuntary. They sank my boat."
- After the Six-Day War of 1967, a popular song in Israel told the story of the costly IDF attack on Ammunition Hill in northern Jerusalem (a heavily fortified Jordanian Legion outpost). The song is interspersed with two spoken bits, wherein two soldiers tell the story of their own participation (based on the experiences of two actual soldiers who were in that battle). In one of these bits, a soldier recounts how he packed explosives near the entrance to a Jordanian bunker while under fire from all directions. He finishes with this:
"I don't know why they gave me a commendation. All I wanted was to get back home in one piece."