Two Words: Obvious Trope

aka: Two Words
Danae: Well? What are you waiting for?
Lucy: A good reason to do this...
Danae: Two words, Lucy...Risk Management.
Lucy: Oh, I think I'm gonna need a lot more words than that.

Two words: Spurious emphasis. Something so fundamental that it can be expressed in a snappy utterance, or just its mere existence. In fiction, if the reference is something the characters know about but never reveal to the audience, it can be an instance of "Two words: Noodle Incident".

For comedic effect, The Ditz or The Fool will sometimes miscount the words, or anyone may break a single word into two parts for additional emphasis.

Using this as a Pot Hole in examples in lieu of actually explaining the example is on par with Zero-Context Example, and therefore discouraged, unless the word itself is already self-description. It may be obvious to you, but it's not obvious to everyone. Two words: Really Obnoxious. Besides, 500 examples cannot be that obvious!


    open/close all folders 

Accurate count of words:

  • Denis Leary appeared in a number of MTV ads in the early 90s where he regularly invoked this trope, including this public service ad promoting tolerance and condemning racism:
    "One word folks, racism. One more word, Earth. If anyone gets any mail from outer space, that's gonna be the mailing address, okay?...I've got two words for you, David Duke. I got two more words, Nose Job, okay?"

    Comic Books 
  • To quote Jubilee from Generation X...
    "Three words, chump. Back and off."
  • In Issue 5 IDW's My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic comic, Rainbow Dash sums up one of her plans to rescue Rarity from the Nightmare spirits with "Two words: time machine!"

    Fan Works 
  • Turnabout Storm has an exaggeration, courtesy of Pinkie Pie.
    Pinkie: You know what this calls for? Two words: A PARTY!
    Phoenix: A party?
    Pinkie: Twenty one words: Yeah, a party! You should come celebrate, too! Because I love having parties with all my friends after something good happens!
    Phoenix: *Counting* "After... something... good... happens..." *beat* H-How did you...!?
  • In the Danny Phantom/Beetlejuice crossover Say It Thrice, Betelgeuse gets to deliver one to the poltergeist Sanduleak.
    Betelgeuse: "Two words. Sandworm bait."

  • The trope may have originated in The Graduate, with one word: "Plastics."
  • Independence Day: "Two Words, Mr. President. Plausible Deniability."
  • Sister Act
    Sister Mary Clarence: I got two words for ya, Vince!
    Mary Roberts: Mary Clarence!
    Sister Mary Clarence: ...bless you.
  • In This Is Spinal Tap, one of the band's reviews for Shark Sandwich is "Just two words: 'Shit sandwich.'" This is one of the few times where the cast actually laughs.
  • Shrek tells Donkey at one point: "Two words: Shut up!"
  • In the film Beautiful Girls, Andera tells Tommy there are four words she needs to hear before going to sleep; "Good night sweet girl."
    • Later in the film, as Marty and Willie are discussing Willie's girlfriend Tracy, Marty says, "Two words not in her vocabulary; lunch money."
  • Ali G In Da House has two words: "Keep It Real!" Of course somebody else immediately points out that that's three words, and it's followed by a debate on whether "it" counts as a word because of how short it is.

    Live Action TV 
  • From a Whitest Kids U Know sketch:
    Executioner: Do you have any last words?
    Prisoner: YES, JUST THREE.
  • Inverted in an episode of The West Wing; during a presidential debate Bartlet's opponent Robert Ritchie (a Bush parody) claims that Bartlet will try and excuse high federal costs with one big word: 'Unfunded Mandate'. In his rebuttal, Bartlet is quick to point out that that's actually two words, thus making Ritchie look more than a little ridiculous.
    • There's also a less flippant example in the episode "Stirred," where Bartlet explains that the reason he wants to keep Hoynes as his vice-president is "four words," which he writes down: "Because I could die."
  • The magician Rudy Coby, in one of his TV specials, invokes the "two words" thing with this exchange:
    Rudy Coby: Everything you've seen today can be explained with just one word:
    Offscreen Guy: Hairspray.
    Rudy Coby: No, hair spray is two words. One word: science.
  • In Married... with Children, when Kelly is rendered bald and bearded by the side effects of a pimple cure, the director of a beer commercial she was to star in cancels the shoot. Upon hearing this, the Straw Feminist group protesting the commercial threaten to sue.
    Director (to Al): Can they do that? Sue on behalf of the ugly?
    Al Bundy: Four words: Attorney General Janet Reno.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Ordered by Buffy to explain what he's doing in five words, Spike retorts "Out. For. A. Walk." Realizing he still has one left, he adds, "Bitch."
    • When Wesley sees Cordelia for the first time, Faith tells him "First word Jail, second word Bait."
    • Principal Snyder refuses to allow Buffy back into school, so Giles goes to have a quiet word.
    Snyder: If the word is Buffy, then I have two words. "Good" and "Riddance".
  • Supernatural. The jailbait gag is also used when Dean insists on being the one to interview a high-school cheerleader.
  • Gavin and Stacey, when Smithy goes to the stag party organiser:
    Jammy the Stag Party Organiser: One word:
    Overhead Projector: PRAGUE
    Jammy: Two words:
    Projector: PISS UP
    Jammy: One word:
    Projector: TITS
  • A variation has appeared twice in Doctor Who, in that it is crucial to the plot. In the episode The Christmas Invasion, The Doctor emphasizes to everyone present that with only six words he can bring down Harriet Jones' government. He says the words "Don't you think she looks tired?" and Harriet Jones' government collapses within the day. In the Series 3 finale, Martha Jones prepares everyone in the world to say "just one word.. Doctor" at the exact same instant and, with spectacular use of a Chekhov's Gun (somehow), brings the Doctor back to his original state and saves the entire planet.
  • Played with in 30 Rock:
    Donaghy: One word: Surge.
    Tracy: That's two words!
  • The first season of The Office some of Tim's papers are on Gareth's desk and he makes a ruckus about it while Tim is on a sales call.
    Tim: What are you doing?
    Gareth: One word, Two Syllables, Demarcation.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? had a game where each player would be assigned a number, and they had to act out a scene by speaking only lines consisting of that number of words. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Stephen Fry, 6 words: 'Well I'm sorry, but it gets.' beat 'My goat to hear her talk!'
  • Kara DioGuardi, the new judge on American Idol, critiqued a contestant with "six words: one of the best performances of the night." Ryan Seacrest mocked her on the next episode by introducing her as "three words: Kara DioGuardi."
  • Played with on Boy Meets World:
    Shawn: Here's what I got for you - Two Words: Uncle Mike's
    Shawn: I'm gonna need more words.
  • Lost Girl:
    Bo: Two words: Lauren, kiss my ass. ...Lotta hyphens in that one.

  • Kanye West's 'College Dropout' has a song called Two Words.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A few from Garfield:
    Jon: Do you know why you need me, Garfield? I can sum it up in two words. Quality companionship.
    Garfield: Body heat.
    Garfield: Sigh. Christmas is over, and New Year's is almost here. Sigh. So it seems appropriate at this time to stop and reflect. To reflect on those three words which represent the true meaning and spirit of the holiday season... Boogie! Boogie! Boogie!
    Jon: It's the weekend, and you know what that means... Two words, Garfield... “Board games”.
    Garfield: Whoa! My fun meter is a-jumpin' off the scale!
    • In the book Garfield's Book Of Super School Excuses, one of the excuses for "Why I didn't go to gym class" is "Two words: Towel snapping.", and one of the ones for "Why my library books are late" is "Two words: Hungry termites".

    Pro Wrestling 

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • A Steve Martin stand-up comedy routine from the 1970s. "You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes. Yes, you can have one million dollars and never pay taxes! How? First, get a million dollars. Now, you might ask, Steve, what do I do when the tax man comes by and says, 'You have never paid taxes'? Two words: 'I forgot.' How often do we get in trouble because we don't say 'I forgot'? Armed robbery? Just say, 'I forgot armed robbery was illegal.'" The bit predictably ends with, "Two words: 'Excuuuuse me!'"
  • Denis Leary's early standup routine (as well as some MTV promotional spots) was full of this trope.


    Video Games 
  • In Destroy All Humans! 2, Crypto tries to convince British hippies that Arkvoodle has the best collection of music in the galaxy. When they ask what Arkvoodle listens to, Crypto says "Three words. And one of them's a disease. Blind Willie Syphilis."
  • There was a Spider-Man text adventure for the Commodore 64 whose parser only understood two word commands ("go north", "take mcguffin", etc). So when you wanted to web something up, you had to use the command "shoot web", to which the game would reply: "In two words: AT WHAT?" after which you then had to enter another two word command like "at sandman".
  • In Tales of Monkey Island, if Guybrush asks Hemlock McGee what happened to his legs in Chapter 1:
    Hemlock: Four words - The. Marquis. De. Singe.
  • Used by Hoxton in PAYDAY 2 when describing the dangers of Thursdays in Hazelton Prison.
    Hoxton: Two words: fucking Kinky Night.

     Web Original 
  • According to Chuck Sonnenburg in part 1 of his Nightsisters review, there was a two word review for the Clone Wars animated movie: "Shit sandwich."
    • Which he then reuses more than half a minute later to describe his opinion on the first episode of the cartoon based off of said movie.
  • In Ten Little Roosters, Ryan has to play Charades with Miles to get him to put on the headset in the soundbooth.
    Miles: [Ryan holds up two fingers] Two words. [Ryan does gesture for sound] Sounds like... [Ryan flips off Miles] Go fuck yourse— Oh, you want me to put on the headset.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick had the three words Haley'd been longing to say: "Sneak attack—bitch!" Later lampshaded when Bozzok tries to pull the same "two words: sneak attack!" gag:
    Haley: Oh my gods, I've done that "two words" gag like nine times already! You're going to need some fresher material if you want to be a villain in this story. Not that much fresher, but still.
    • Shojo reminds Roy that Roy's in as deep as he is with all these deceptions with Two Words: "your trial," then elaborates about the extent he went to rig things so they would be found not guilt of weakening the fabric of reality (as opposed to having mitigating circumstances).
    • When Xykon is warned about dissension in the ranks:
    Xykon Well, I've got two words for goblin morale: Goblin zombies.
    • And again in strip 252:
    Nale: Oh really? Please explain why we're suddenly in such a hurry.
    Sabine: Four words: Out of fudge ripple.
    Thog:oh, little ice cream friends! thog delays boredom-driven rampage only for you!

    Western Animation 
  • In the "Late Show" episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, the #1 line on the "Big Ten list" is "'Two words.' * beat* That's it, just... 'two words.'"
  • In The Spectacular Spiderman, J. Jonah Jameson gives a Seventeen Words response to one of Peter's protests, followed by him giving a 17-word suggestion. Humor ensues when Peter questions how fast talking J.J. Jameson could count the amount of words he would use in his next sentence in the split second it took him to say the words.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "I Married Marge" when Patty says, "Marge, I've got two-and-a-half words for you. Gulp. 'N'. Blow."
    • When Lisa asks for advice on how to gently let down Ralph Wiggum, Homer suggests, "Six simple words: I'm not gay, but I'll learn."
  • Darkwing Duck after facing a huge fire-breathing monster; "Two words, breath mint."

    Real Life 

Inaccurate word count:

  • A 1980s commercial for Alka Seltzer Cold Medicine where a group of construction workers touted the product. One of them said "in a word: it works."
  • From an 80s car commercial starring Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell: "I've got one word for you, Vern, new car!"
  • A PlayStation3 commercial featuring Kevin Butler.
    Customer: Dear PlayStation! Just got my PS3! So whatcha got?
    Kevin Butler: What do I got? Two words: mon, tage.

  • Toy Story 2 had Stinky Pete get this wrong while explaining the reason for the declining popularity of Woody's Roundup: "Two words: Sput Nik." Stinky Pete was referring to unmanned Russian satellite ''Sputnik'', the beginning of the "Space Race".
  • In Midnight Run Walsh is getting annoyed by Mardukas' nagging, leading to the following exchange.
    Mardukas: Jack, you're a grown man. You have control over your own words.
    Walsh: You're God damn right I do, so here come two for you; "shut the fuck up".
  • In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink says the line, "Two words: learn to fucking type."
  • True Lies: "Okay, I've got two words for that: In. Sane."
  • Analyze That has a scene where Billy Crystal's character is talking with a pair of police detectives, one of whom is an attractive woman in a short skirt. After Crystal's wife, played by Lisa Kudrow, catches him staring at her legs (and inadvertantly commenting on them via a Freudian Slip), she excuses herself from the room, then glances at the female cop: "Two words of advice, from one professional woman to another: Pant. Suit."
  • Phil from Disney's Hercules (the movie, the TV series, and the Hercules-themed world in Kingdom Hearts) was always getting this wrong as well.
    "I got two words for ya kid—I am retired!"

    "What is that?!"
    "Two words — am-scray!" (Pig Latin for scram, for those under a rock.)

    Hercules (imitating Phil): Two words: Duck!
    • As a Bilingual Bonus, "I am retired" is two words in Ancient Greek.
    • And the one time he did have the right number, in his song "One Last Hope", he was forced to make a Last-Second Word Swap.
    Phil: "My answer is two words..." (Gets hit by lightning) "...o-kay."
    • One time when he messed this up in Kingdom Hearts, Goofy even counted the words and got confused when he heard four instead of two.
    "Two words: You guys. Ain't. Heroes!"
    Phil: Two words: You ain't heroes!
    Sora: That's not right!
    Goofy: Yeah, he said three words.
    • Then of course:
    Phil: Now remember, the best way to become a hero comes down to two words.
    Goofy: *Starts counting on his fingers, Sora and Donald watch*
    Phil: Eat. Bathe. Sleep.
    Sora/Donald/Goofy: *Start laughing*
    Phil: Two Words: Student. Teacher. Ratio.
    Ven: *Counting on his fingers* One. Two. Huh?
    • 358/2 Days has him make at least one of these almost every mission he appears in. Also lampshaded when Roxas gets memory flashes of Sora during the first game every time Phil does it.
  • Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) uses them often in Armageddon. One in particular ("AJ, I got just five words for you: Damn glad to see you boy!") had The Nostalgia Chick baffled and starting to count.
  • The miscounted words variant is used in Dude, Where's My Car? after Jesse and Chester get thrown out of the twins' house:
    "I got three words for you! Anger manage ment!"
  • She Devil. ""
  • The movie Tank Girl, after the villain screams in her face:
    "I got two words for you...Brush your teeth!"
  • Star Wars Downunder. "Two words: one-pot...(frowns) ...screamer."

  • In parts of Steven Brust's Dragaera series, someone who leads with "if I might say two words...", or any variation of that, inevitably launches into an extended exposition.
  • Rosalie Murray, in Agnes Grey, about Mr Weston (who is really a much nicer man than how she describes him): "I can give you his description in three words ... an insensate, ugly, stupid blockhead. That's four, but no matter ..." (That's actually five words.)
  • From Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett: "In a word — im-possible!" "That's two words," said Dibbler (as a reference to legendary Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn, malaproper and simile-mangler extraordinaire).

    Live Action TV 
  • Joey in Friends does this in "The One With The List": "I got two words for you. Threesome."
  • The West Wing. lampshaded in the season six episode "In God We Trust" by a Vinick adviser when he recommends that the senator continue to repeat four words:
    "Fully respect Reverend Butler's position"
    "That's five words."
  • On an episode of TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel complains about something and Dr. Forrester responds with "Two words, Joel: Get Overit", even extending a finger for each "word".
  • In Scrubs, JD once used it for a diss — "Three words. Sucks to be, adding a fourth, you!"
  • In the original Australian version of Kath and Kim, Kath is always subverting this trope as a running gag, beginning with "Now, I've got one word to say to you, Kimmy..." and proceeding to say two or three. The running gag climaxes with the following quote:
    Kath: Now Kimmy look at me. I've got one word to say to you: Move out tout-de-suite, go back to Brett. Get real, you'll never get any better!
  • In the Monkees episode, "Monkee vs. Machine"...
    Mike: Remember these three little words: Don't argue.
    Peter: That's two words.
    Mike: You're starting already.
  • Hill Street Blues: one detective to another, explaining why the latter should stay away from a flirty high-school girl: "Three words, JD: Statu Tory Rape."
  • In an episode of Seinfeld where George is trying to break his engagement to Susan, Kramer suggests, "Two words: pre-nup."
  • In developing the rivalry between the musical cast and the young members of the King Lear cast in the third season of Slings & Arrows: "Three words: Stink Bomb."
  • On Garth Marenghis Darkplace:
    I've got two words for you, Sanch. Tele... Kinesis.
  • Hank from Corner Gas:
    Hank: Two words: Boycott.
  • Played for laughs in Harry Enfield sketch 'The Yorkshireman'
    "I've two words to say to that: shite!"
    "What's the other one?"
  • The King of Queens
    Arthur: I've got two words; I'm staying right here!
    Carrie: That's four words!
    Arthur: Well, here's another four: screw you!
    Carrie: Dad, that's two words.
    Doug: Arthur, maybe you should stop saying how many words you're going to say in advance.
    Arthur: Yeah, once you do that, you're pretty much trapped in a hole, eh?
    Doug: I'll put my fist up your hole...
  • In the first episode of Forever Knight, Nick Knight has been unwillingly partnered with Don Schanke, who is telling Nick he's a better cop thanks to his gut instincts. Just then Nick goes roaring up an alley because his vampire super-hearing has picked up a woman being murdered. When Schanke asks how he knew, Nick says sarcastically, "Three words: In-tu-ition."

  • Denis Leary's song "Asshole": "Two words... Nuclear fuckin' weapons!"
  • Played with in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "This Song's Just Six Words Long". The song itself has a lot more words than that. The title is exactly six words; however, many people assume he's singing "This song is just six words long", which would make it this trope.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Bloom County, the newly personality-reversed Steve Dallas attempts to convince his old, vapid girlfriend Quiche to look at things the way he now does.
    Steve: Now I want you to say the first word that comes to mind when I say this: Celibacy.
    Quiche: Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
    Steve: That's ten words...
  • The April 22, 2005 strip of Garfield:
    Jon: Ellen, how's about I zip over to your place and serenade you with my accordion? {silent beat} “Restraining order” is such an ugly word, Ellen.
    Garfield: That's two words, dummy.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Paul Heyman, in a shoot-promo, fired off an often quoted version during the first ever "ECW One Night Stand" pay-per-view event, addressing members of WWE's RAW and Smack Down! brands who had crashed the show - in particular, Adam "Edge" Copeland:
    Heyman: * I* have two words for you...
    (Paul steps halfway through the ropes, then flaps his hands outward)
    • Edge's response was to spit out his beer and yell back, "That's three words, Paul!"
      • And then use Matt Hardy's signature hand motion to indicate that it is indeed 3 words.

This being G&S, the director often has fun with it. One production has it rendered as "We propose-to-marry-your-daughters" (with the pirate counting the words on his fingers, and being surprised when he reaches six) while another has three separate pirates deliver two words each. Others have a pirate deliver the first two, "We propose," and have the Major-General be confused or offended that he's being proposed to before the sentence continues.

    Video Games 
  • In Pokemon Black2and White 2, call Hugh on the Xtransceiver before going to reversal mountain to ask where he is:
    Hugh: One word, Reversal Mountain. No wait, that's two words.
  • In Star Fox 64, if you fail to defeat all of the Star Wolf members in Fortuna (but shoot at least Wolf and Leon down), Pigma will use this to tease you as he retreats:
    I got two words for ya: LO-SER!!!

  • In this Schlock Mercenary strip, Captain Tagon is telling the woman who is technically his boss, to move. "Why are you issuing orders to me, Tagon?" "Two words: Bomb on Board."
  • The Dreadful has Liz planning to join a mostly non-human faith. She misunderstands most of the facts of this faith, emphasized when her answer to one question is simply "Two words: Polygamy."

    Web Original 
  • The internet reviewer Benzaie does this for amusement value, where he will sum up a game in two words, at least one of the words being four or five words all squished together; For example, he sums up the Sega Genesis adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula as "Two words: Castlevaniaripoff withagaymusic!" For additional comical effect, he can still mangle his description somehow even if it is just two words: "Two words: Abo Nus!"
  • In the Homestar Runner short "for kids", Strong Bad reacts to seeing Homsar's TV show for preschoolers:
    Strong Bad: I've got two words for the children that are raised on that crap: HELD BACK. REPEATING THE THIRD GRADE. LOW STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES. I GUESS THIS WAS MORE THAN TWO WORDS.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents use this:
    "I have two words for you: Mouthwash."
    • Cosmo prefaces 99% of what he says with this, and most of the time, it's WAY more than 2 words.
      • This example was lampshaded by Timmy who said that it was only one word.
    "Then I'll say it twice. Mouthwash! Mouthwash!"
    • His brother does the same thing, and 100% of the time it's the wrong count.
  • An episode of Cow and Chicken features the miscounting version as a Running Gag.
  • Phineas and Ferb has Candace saying "I've got two words for you mum, Ge-la-tin!", followed by her mum looking confused.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle:
    "In a word: No Thank You!"
    "That's three words."
    • Another one:
    "In a word: You said it!"
    "That's three words!"
    "I'm a heavy tipper."
  • Johnny Bravo: I've only got two words for you mister: no!
  • In Total Drama Action, when the castmates have to vote off two of their competitors at once:
    Lindsay: (In confessional) Two words: Bridgette and Geoff!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    SpongeBob: What brought you here?
    Patrick: Two words: Na-chos.
  • In Kim Possible, when Ron and Monique are forced to do a project together and Ron blows it off, Monique asks why she should do all the work. Ron, who knows Monique cares about her grades, holds up four fingers and ticks off a finger with each word: "Four words: Grade point average". And then he licks some cheese he notices on the one remaining finger.
  • The miscounting variant was used a lot during the first season of Animaniacs.
    "Three words....Thigh Monster."
    "In two words...Bubba is hot!"

  • Pestilence in Squidbillies:
    One word: Apocalyptic horseman, fool!

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987:
    "Well, to put it in a simple word: GET OUTTA HERE!"

    Real Life 
  • Legendary Malaproper and studio head Sam Goldwyn (the "G" in "MGM") is alleged to have responded "In two words: Im-Possible!" to a proposal he didn't like.

Alternative Title(s):

One Word, Two Words