Too Many Halves

"Some have challenged my mathematics that Phil Reeves is 1000% local. I stand by my statement 10000% :-)"
Kevin Rudd, via Twitter

A person or object is described in some way that involves fractions. Oddly, those fractions don't add up to one. The most common form this description takes is "half [one thing], half [another thing], and half [something else]" or extended versions thereof — hence the name — but it can also involve more complicated addition problems. Another common variation is to have a character refer to splitting something "fifty-fifty," then realizing there are more people to split it among, and adjusting the proposed split to "fifty-fifty-fifty," etc. An occasional inversion is to say something is "half-something, half...just half-something" as an insult.

Sometimes this is used to suggest that the described thing is paradoxically larger (or smaller) than itself. It is almost always Played for Laughs, unless it's a really bad example of Writers Cannot Do Math.


Film — Live Action

  • The Discworld novel Eric has the Aztec-flavoured god Quezovercoatl, who is described as "half-man, half-chicken, half-jaguar, half-serpent, half-scorpion and half-mad", making "a wossname total of three homicidal maniacs".
  • An epigram by Alexander Pushkin describes one of his contemporaries as a "half-milord, half-merchant, half-fool, half-ignoramus, half-scoundrel, but there's a hope he'll finally be full".
  • In Animorphs, Ax — and by extension the Andalite race in general — is once described as half blue deer, half centaur, and half scorpion. Then the narrator Lampshades it by saying they realize that it's too many halves.
  • From the Known Space book Destiny's Forge:
    Tskombe: Half a sense of adventure, half a sense of duty, half no better plan for my life.
    Cherenkova: That's three halves.
    Tskombe: If I was smart enough to do math I wouldn't be in the infantry.
  • When Eric Flint expanded 1632 from a one-off novel to a Shared Universe, he set out to avert this trope, by laying down rules for what characters other writers could create. Otherwise,
    ... In addition to the half who are rocket scientists and the other half who are SEALS, Eric has provided us a list of the following additional halves:
    The half who are engineers, which are in turn divided into half electrical engineers, half locomotive engineers, half chemical engineers, half mechanical engineers, and too many thirds and quarters to count.
    There is, I believe — at last count — exactly one person in everybody's fantasy Grantville who is elderly and illiterate. Of course, he's also the son of Alvin York and shoots even better than his daddy. "The Many Halves of Grantville"
  • The mythological hero Gilgamesh was described as "two-thirds god, one-third man". Exactly how that worked out is one of the many pieces of The Epic of Gilgamesh lost to history.

Live-Action TV
  • At the end of the Seinfeld episode "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry describes his shirt as "half silk, half cotton, half linen".
  • One episode of All That revealed that Britney Spears is "half girl, half robot, half ravioli."
  • From a Demetri Martin bit discussing his ideas for mythological creatures:
    Demetri: A very beautiful mythical creature is called the Zebratard, and this animal is one-half pig, one-half eagle, one-half zebra, making it an improper fraction - so that's three halves of a creature, that's one-and-a-half mythical creatures - and it's surprisingly graceful, and very rare.
  • In one episode of Farscape, Crichton (while posing as a bounty hunter) suggests splitting a bounty 70/30; the other bounty hunter demands it be split "70/40!" Crichton, who clearly knows he's dealing with an idiot, ups the bid to 80/40 to calm him down.
  • Stargate SG-1, when the team needed to use the power source of a bomb in order to power up the gate and dial out, Vala estimated a 70% chance they'd dial out and a 50% chance the bomb would explode. When Mitchell pointed out that this totaled 120%, Vala states that there's a 20% overlap where both happen, subverting this trope.
    Mitchell: Jackson, you get all that?
    Jackson: Yep. 100% chance we should have brought someone who knows what they're doing!
  • In Andromeda, when talking about a madman's diary:
    Harper: It's half mystical mumbo-jumbo, half putrid poetry, and half bad math.
    Rommie: That's three halves.
    Harper: Like I said, bad math.
  • In earlier seasons of MythBusters, Adam (who averts this trope) would often give percentage chances of what would happen during an experiment. One of the few times Jamie tried to do this, this trope resulted. (Yes, even Jamie can make mistakes.)
    Rob Lee: Uh, Jamie, that's 125%.
    Jamie: [chuckling] So sue me!
  • In the The Flash (2014) episode "Plastique", Barry Allen enjoys a 500 proof drink. That's 250 percent alcohol by volume.
  • On 30 Rock, Jack describes an incredibly fancy dessert as being "topped with 25-carat gold leaf." Note that 24-carat gold is pure, 100% gold.

  • The Non-Prophets song "Xaul Zhan's Heart" has the line:
    "Half shark-alligator, half man, half amazing."
  • Fort Minor wishes to remind us that they are
    "10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure, 50% pain, and 100% reason to remember the name."
    • Which DOES add up if you consider luck, skill, concentrated power of will, pleasure, and pain in that ratio to be a valid reason to remember their name. Sort of like saying that my breakfast this morning was 100% bacon and therefore 100% tasty.

Professional Wrestling
  • WWE: Montel Vontavious Porter: "I am half-man, half-amazing, half-tag-team-champion... I'm so great, I'm the only man on Earth with three halves!"

  • Car Talk: Frequently, Tom & Ray would give the answer to last week's Puzzler, then promise "We'll have a new Puzzler for you in the third half of the show."
  • Dead Ringers, when parodying Location, Location, Location, has Kirstie Allsopp introduce herself as "half-woman, half-scarf" and then Phil Spencer introduce himself as "half-man"... (silence)

Tabletop Games
  • This can happen in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition due to abuse of the various "half-x" templates.
    • Some supplementary materials try to Handwave this by say that species that can produce half-X templates have such strong genes that the template still applies even if the child is a quarter or eighth of that species, but that still doesn't account for the fact that certain half-x templates have full blooded counterparts as templates and that the baseline races that these templates can be applied to include various Heinz Hybrids, some of which are stated to be distant descendents of said templates. This means that you could have a Fiendish Half-Fiend Tiefling who was 153% Fiend and 97% Human.
  • Played with in Munchkin. Despite being built from the ground up to parody various role playing game clichés (and the entire concept of role playing games in general), the "Half-Breed" card only lets you play two Race cards at once, as the name implies. To play three Race cards, you'll need a "1/3-Breed" card. (But then, the rules encourage cheating...)

Video Games
  • In one of his many boasts in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, Qwark explains to Ratchet that "being a hero is 45% strength, 60% bravery and 10% raw intelligence". Ratchet doesn't fail to lampshade that something doesn't add up.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In the South Park episode "ManBearPig", Al Gore describes the eponymous monster as being "half man, half bear, half pig." When we actually see ManBearPig exactly as Gore imagines him in the Imaginationland episodes, it does in fact look part man, part bear, and part pig in some proportion. Other characters point out that this is too many halves, and instead describe it as "half man and half bearpig", or some such version.
  • The Charlie Dog character from Looney Tunes had jokes about this as one of his main schticks. He would claim to be 50% of about half a dozen different breeds.
    Charlie: I'm 50% Pointer (There it is! There it is! There it is!), 50% Boxer, 50% Setter (Irish Setter), 50% Watch Dog, 50% Spitz, 50% Doberman Pincher. But, mostly, I'm all Labrador Retriever! If you doubt my word, get me a Labrador and I'll retrieve it.
  • Bender from Futurama has claimed at various points to be 30% iron, 40% zinc, 40% titanium, 40% lead, and 40% dolomite (that last one having at least some demonstrable truth to it because he survived swimming in molten lava). According to the professor he's mostly made up of a titanium-osmium alloy with a .3% nickel impurity.
  • A House of Mouse short has the Big Bad Wolf telling his son that catching pigs is "fifty percent" whatever lesson he's trying to teach at the moment. Eventually, the son dryly informs him of just what all the "fifty percents" add to by that point.
  • The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat" had Burns attempting to improve the plant baseball team by hiring a hypnotist:
    Hynpotist: You are all very good players...
    Team: [entranced] We are all very good players...
    Hypnotist: You will beat Shelbyville...
    Team: [entranced] We will beat Shelbyville...
    Hypnotist: You will give one hundred and ten percent...
    Team: [entranced] That's impossible. No one can give more than one hundred percent. By definition that is the most anyone can give...
  • In the Arthur episode "Tales from the Crib", when the mischievous Tibble twins invent a monster to frighten DW from moving out of her crib.
    Tibbles: Aracnar, Lord of the Spider People. He's half-man, half-spider, and he eats children. He can't get his tentacles through the bars of the crib, but kids in beds are easy picking! He climbs up the side, and crawls under the sheet!
    DW: Wait a second! If he's half-man, half-spider, why does he have tentacles?
    Tibbles: ...uh, he's half-octopus too! And half Tyrannosaurus rex!
  • A Loony Tunes short with Daffy Duck hosting a show exploring the "Mysterious Phenomena of the unexplained" has Daffy explain that the Chupacabra is "Half Alien, Half Vampire, Half Dinosaur"
  • Kim Possible uses a variation on the "110%" version when Bonnie declares her intention of wresting the cheer squad captaincy away from Kim:
    Bonnie: Which is... nice, but you gotta ask yourself, did you give the squad 110% today?
    Kim: (annoyed) 120%, Bonnie.
    Bonnie: I happen to think the squad deserves a captain who gives... like, 130!
  • On Total Drama, Duncan claims to have fought a mutant that was "half-lion, half-bear and half-poison."
  • Cracked describes Tirek as "a gigantic half-goat/half-horse/half-man and 150 percent motherfucking hellspawn". Yeah, seems they really like him.

  • One standard email forward of student errors contains:
    Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.
  • The "ninety-ninety rule" of computer programming, which is due to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs:
    "The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time."
  • This quote from Yogi Berra:
    Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.
  • Milton Jones has a variation on this trope: he makes a joke about his granddad, and then about his other granddad, and then about his other granddad, continuing through about eight different granddads. He then later calls back to this by complaining about family reunions. "Too many granddads."
    • The granddad jokes usually end with "My grandmother... was confused."
  • A non-comedic example; an old post on Fundies Say the Darndest Things had a poster who claimed Barack Obama was 50% white, 44% Muslim, and 12% black.
  • This is always the case for betting odds, as it allows the bookies to make money.
    • To see why this is so imagine a person who bets once on every possibility available. They have effectively bet on an event with actual probability 1, but since more likely events pay out less and the bookies odds add to more than 1, the person loses money to the bookie whichever result happens.
  • Fermions such as quarks and leptons have the bizarre property of having a different orientation after a rotation of 360°. They require a full 720° to remain unchanged.