Buffy: What are you doing?Bob just isn't good by default. Where some people cleave to good behavior more or less naturally, Bob does not, either through being a Jerkass or an outright villain. He needs to be pushed and prodded — by himself and others — into being a decent person, and because this process is a struggle for him and because his good behavior is above and beyond how he might be acting otherwise, he believes he deserves exceptional acknowledgement for his efforts. This person Wants a Prize for Basic Decency. A character expects extra kudos for behaving in a situation like a decent human being instead of a Jerkass, even though basic humanity is expected of others by default. It can inspire Then Let Me Be Evil if the character is treated as a real villain despite their good deeds. Compare It's All About Me, Entitled to Have You, Dogged Nice Guy, and Condescending Compassion. Contrast Dude, Where's My Respect?, in which a character does heroic things but gets no positive acknowledgement for it, and Think Nothing of It, in which a character avoids being praised after doing heroic things. Also contrast strong cases of Crapsack World, where having a shred of humanity actually is exceeding any reasonable expectations. Furthermore, there is the idea of Blue and Orange Morality coming into play, where the person has inhuman or bizarre morals and standards to where 'basic human decency' is actually pretty high standards (or out of character) for them.
Spike: Making this woman more comfortable. I'm not sampling, I'll have you know. Just look at all these lovely blood-covered people. I could, but not a taste for Spike, not a lick. I knew you wouldn't like it.
Buffy: You want credit for not feeding on bleeding disaster victims?
Spike: Well, yeah.
Spike: Making this woman more comfortable. I'm not sampling, I'll have you know. Just look at all these lovely blood-covered people. I could, but not a taste for Spike, not a lick. I knew you wouldn't like it.
Buffy: You want credit for not feeding on bleeding disaster victims?
Spike: Well, yeah.
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Anime & Manga
- Coupled with Deliberate Values Dissonance in Anatolia Story. Ramses abducts Yuri, and then tells her off for screaming and trying to escape. He tell her she isn't very grateful for how "nice" he's being, whereupon Yuri asks why the hell she should appreciate his kidnapping her as "nice". His response? He wasn't raping her while kidnapping her, was he?
- Dragon Ball Z:
- During his brutal beatdown of Vegeta, Frieza lectures him on being an Ungrateful Bastard and betraying him despite showing him "favoritism." Frieza is an utterly sadistic, Ax-Crazy Jerkass who kills whoever and whenever he wants For the Evulz, and his idea of "favoritism" was making Vegeta one of the three Saiyans he didn't kill.
- After Dende heals him as part of his Deliberate Injury Gambit during the fight with Frieza, the first thing Vegeta does afterwards is kick Dende aside and angrily tell him to be grateful he didn't decide to kill him. This is despite the fact that, as Dende himself pointed out beforehand, Vegeta was just as evil and cruel as Frieza and had personally killed numerous innocent Namekians, and Dende had no reason whatsoever to help him.
- Before his Heroic Sacrifice during the Buu Saga, Vegeta asks Piccolo if he'll be able to see Goku in the Other World. Piccolo tells him point-blank that Vegeta is most likely going to Hell because, unlike Goku, he's spent most of his life being a selfish, evil bastard and one selfless act will not make up for it all. Nonetheless, Vegeta goes through with it.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: During the Battle City tournament, Jonouchi is in danger from Marik, the arc villain. Kaiba finds him using technology and expects thanks from Yugi for his help. There's only one issue with this - Kaiba is the overseer of the tournament, and therefore responsible for the safety of every contestant, so he should have wanted to find Jonouchi anyway regardless of his dislike for him.
- A gem from Chris Rock's "Black People vs. Niggas" routine, which the thesis is "Everything white people don't like about black people, black people really don't like about black people." That would make an excellent page quote if not for the, ahem... controversial language;
Chris: You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do. A nigga will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga will say some shit like, "I take care of my kids." You're supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that? "I ain't never been to jail!" Whatchu want, a cookie?! You're not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectations-having motherfucker!"
- Old one-liner: Nobody ever compliments me for the times I wasn't a cannibal.
- George Carlin has a lengthy routine about this and the "Self Esteem Movement" in his final comedy special, It's Bad For Ya, saying not allowing a child to simply fail or be bad at something will ultimately leave them unprepared for adulthood, where they'll still expect to be rewarded simply for showing up.
George: And Bobby's parents can't seem to understand why he can't hold a job. In school, he was always on the honor roll. Of course, they don't realize that, to be on the honor roll, you have to maintain a body temperature somewhere roughly in the nineties."
- The Kingpin in Ultimate Spiderman explains to Peter that this is why normal people resent superheroes like Peter. Normal people, according to the Kingpin, are sheep who just want to do the bare minimum of what is expected of them and want someone like the Kingpin to give them a big cookie for it at the end of the day. Seeing heroes like Peter going above and beyond makes them realize that they don't really deserve that cookie.
- There is Zoe Zimmer from Ms. Marvel (2014), who is just concerned about the well-being and financial status of her classmates. She is even willing to shop where one of them works, and can't fathom why he wouldn't make coffee for her for this great act of charity. The others are divided whether or not her "concern trolling" is an act or cluelessness. Exposure to Truth Serum reveals that she is genuinely mean.
- In The Powerpuff Girls story "Everything Must Go" (DC Comics #48), Mojo Jojo conducts a yard sale of his destructive wares. The Amoeba Boys buy one of his items—a magnet that pulls the moon towards the earth on a collision course. When he intervenes and stops the machine, sending the moon back to its rightful place, he thinks he deserves a "thank you" from the girls. They lock him up in jail for starting the whole thing with his yard sale to start with.
- In the Transformers comic More Than Meets the Eye this is actually inverted. Rodimus invents a morale booster called the Rodimus Star, and gives it out for the most trivial things. Ultra Magnus, who is always a good person, gets one for 'best handwriting' while Megatron gets one for 'not reverting to his evil ways'. Whirl gets one for some unknown reason, and this was before his Hidden Depths began to be plumbed, and Rodimus even offers one to Swerve if he can keep from speaking for one day (which Swerve fails).
- One issue of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose sees Jon ascending towards Heaven and assuming that he must have earned it because he brushed his teeth a few times.
- One Baby Blues strip featured Zoe excitedly telling her mom that she just saw her brother Hammie bend over in front of her, and didn't kick him! The last panel has her complaining about how hard it is to get brownie points.
- For Better or for Worse: John flew into a blind rage and spanked Michael for not agreeing that he, as the child, owed his parents for feeding, clothing and housing him. Elly's objection was not that Michael didn't owe his parents every single cent spent on him with interest rates that would make a Mafia loanshark sick but that he lost his temper.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin argues that since he's such a little hellion that being nice is difficult for him, any good deed he does should be worth five good deeds of some kid who wants to be good in terms of Christmas presents. Hobbes points out that the question of his good deeds is purely theoretical anyway, but Calvin insists that not putting a rock inside that last snowball was already something. Of course, this is Calvin we're talking about — he's also stated that he's done his part in the world just by being born and thinks everyone else ungrateful for not thanking him for it.
- Rat from Pearls Before Swine thinks he's going to Heaven because he once opened the door for a fat guy—though he did let the door close on him for walking too slow.
- In the Death Note fic Lab Specimen L thinks Light should be grateful to him despite L's invasive and dehumanizing treatment of him and sexually assaulting him because at least L wasn't torturing him.
- In the Death Note fic To Feel Alive Ryuk is quite put out when Light doesn't seem too thrilled when Ryuk makes the promise that his death would be quick and painless:
Shouldn't he be grateful that he wasn't planning on giving him a painful, lingering death?
- In Wish Carefully, Lucius Malfoy thinks the women of the Cabal, who were kidnapped from their homes to be breeding concubines, should be grateful to him because he gives them whatever they want in reward for them birthing and "took them from poverty". And he lets them see their own children.
- In the Maleficent fic Your Servant, Mistress this trope is averted and discussed: Maleficent repeatedly congratulates Diaval on being a decent human being, and he's surprised that she thinks whatever he's done, or not done, noteworthy, assuming that everyone would act like this. He complains that she has really low standards at one point.
- Taken Up to Eleven by the original Falla in Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act IV. In chapter 11, after after bisecting Luna, Falla tells Kurumu that she should be grateful to her for doing so since she's ensured that Luna won't ever hound Rason again, and outright accuses her of being an Ungrateful Bitch when she doesn't do so.
- In The Stalking Zuko Series, after Katara vigorously argues in favor of women's rights at a dinner for the Southern Water Tribe, her father Hakoda comes up to her and has a talk with her about it. He says that he's confused as to where Katara's desire to be equal to the men came from, and says that he's a good parent because, among other things, he doesn't beat his wife or children and tried to treat her as an equal. Katara is not pleased when she hears that.
Katara: Oh, so you never smacked me and Sokka about, you listened to me sometimes, and you gave me an even break – That is how it should be dad!
- Oversaturated World: Well Met, Fellow Traveler:
"Hmm." Winter glanced away. "This is not relevant. I explained the actions of the pink one. I did not need to.""No. And I do not need to award you for common decency." Ditzy clicked her hands together. "You have much to learn."
Films — Live-Action
- In Maleficent it is implied that Stefan expects gratitude for not killing the title character, but merely cutting off her wings.
- In La cintura di castita, a hermit enlightens Boccadoro that though Delioso has been trying to abduct and even rape her, he didn't kill her though he could. And why? Because he loves you, my child!
- A downplayed example appears in In the Loop. Toby, an aide of British cabinet minister Simon, is in Washington D.C for a meeting with a senior American government official. The night before, he goes out clubbing with an old university friend, hooks up with her and oversleeps, resulting in him missing the first half of the meeting. After Simon "reads him some extracts from the Riot Act" in response, Toby protests on the grounds that "it's not like I threw up in there, is it?" Unfortunately for him Simon's not impressed with this line of defence:
Simon: No. You're right. I'm being unfair. I should be thanking you for not throwing up. Well done. You're a star. And you didn't wet yourself, did you? You're in the right city. You didn't say anything overtly racist. You didn't pull your dick out and start plucking it shouting "Willy Banjo!" No, I'm being really unfair! You got so much right... without actually being there for the beginning of one of the most important moments of my career. Thanks. You're a legend.
- Zig-zagged in Scent of a Woman, during the climactic hearing. The dean intends to punish Charlie for not naming names, yet also intends to reward George for testimony that is only slightly less vague than Charlie's. After Frank's Rousing Speech, the school disciplinary committee, in addition to excusing Charlie from any further involvement in the casenote declare that George's should not receive recognition or reward for his testimony.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, Yondu constantly reminds Peter Quill that were it not for him, his crew would have eaten him when he was a child. It's implied he's been bringing it up for the past twenty-six years.
Quill: Stop acting like you did me a favor by keeping them from eating me! Normal people don't eat people!
- In Quiz Show, after Charles Van Doren is applauded by Congress for breaking his silence and testifying, Rep. Derounian invokes this trope:
Rep. Derounian: I'm happy you made that statement. But I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. You see, I don't think a man of your intelligence should be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth.
- In Fire and Hemlock, the protagonist's mother acts like she's a saintly martyr for watching the school's nativity play (in which her daughter plays a part), because it's boring - of course, in comparison to the father she is the better parent.
- Invoked in The Picture of Dorian Gray, when Dorian realizes that his painting is reflecting all the hedonism he's committed, and thinks that not picking up this country girl he comes across will improve it. The painting promptly develops a smug grin of hypocrisy.
- One Dave Barry column has this insight into the male mindset: being little more than toilet-trained cavemen, they will occasionally perform an act of great heroism like doing the laundry without being asked or making spaghetti without setting the house on fire, only to be confused when other people (read: women) don't consider this an accomplishment worthy of a Nobel Prize.
- In And Eternity by Piers Anthony, two female characters are temporarily transformed into males, and learn that All Men Are Perverts, gaining a newfound appreciation for the amount of restraint the average man shows in not raping them. Yeesh...
- In Hush, Hush, Patch wants Nora to love and trust him... because he didn't kill her. And not that he was planning on killing her because he was lied to or brainwashed or anything. He wanted to kill her because it would make him human and thus let him feel things.
- Referenced in The Bible: "We are unworthy servants, for all we did was our duty."
- Vern the dragon from Karina Fabian's Dragon Eye PI series thinks he's learned more patience and long-suffering than a dragon was ever meant to know now that he resists incinerating or eating anyone who happens to annoy him.
- In Relativity, Ravenswood wants some respect for climbing his way out of alcoholism. His father accuses him of this trope, pointing out that most people manage to go through their whole lives without ever becoming alcoholics in the first place.
- Played for Laughs in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Fred and George joke that they should automatically get E for Exceeds Expectations (the second highest O.W.L. grade) because they exceed expectations every time they actually show up for an exam.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Dudley shows concern for Harry for the first time in seven years, two years after Harry saved his soul from a Dementor attack, and finally thanks him for it. While he and Harry are perfectly content with getting on with things, Petunia goes nuts, raving about what a grateful boy her Dudley is.
- In the Twilight series, the main characters are a family of vampires, the Cullens, who don't kill humans for blood (instead surviving off wild animals). The Cullens think of themselves as saintly people with a caring regard for humans, but neither they nor Bella seem to care what happens to humans as long as the bad things aren't their fault. The Cullens are friends with plenty of other vampires who still see humans as livestock, most are smug about their superiority over humankind, and when they know something involving violent vampires is happening nearby they ignore it until it's confirmed they and/or someone they have a personal interest in is at risk.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike the erstwhile evil vampire tries to impress Buffy by helping people injured in a roof collapse, and wants credit for not drinking their blood. This disgusts Buffy, but he actually has a point: he is a souless monster who feeds on humans so restraining himself from drinking their blood really is a noteworthy effort from him.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town", Blon Slitheen has a nice chat with a young pregnant woman about family instead of eating her. The Doctor doesn't fall for it.
Blon: I spared her life.
Doctor: You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, a little victim's spared... because she smiled, cos he's got freckles, cos they begged. And that's how you live with yourself, that's how you slaughter millions, because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction, you happen to be kind.
- Gul Dukat of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine shows continual annoyance that the Bajorans didn't give him any admiration or love for being a more merciful prefect during the military occupation of their world (which caused the deaths of 50 million Bajorans and just 5 million under his rule as prefect), and later even rants to Captain Sisko about how just he was in ordering proportional executions of alleged suspects in response to Cardassian deaths from a terrorist attack.
- Schmidt on New Girl harangues his friends to say he's a good person for saving a man from choking on gum (after crashing his bike and breaking both legs, for which Schmidt didn't even bother to call 9-1-1). This after he had just cheated on CeCe with Elizabeth and vice-versa, and tried to break up Jess and Nick because he thinks they were to blame for the former.
- Happens with Meadow on The Sopranos. She throws a party at her grandmother's abandoned house, which gets completely trashed. When her parents later take her to task for it, she complains that they aren't giving her any credit for not trying Ecstasy at the party, which she totally could've done.
- In a Thanksgiving episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm goes into a huge drunken rant about how he was too nice a guy to sleep with a girl who was barely conscious when she came on to him. His family are unimpressed.
- In the first episode of season three of Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister refers to his act of not drowning his infant son as an example of how he makes personal sacrifices for the good of his family. Tyrion is so horrified by the declaration that he fails to make the slightest retort... a very rare moment for him. Especially as he was the infant in question. The realization that his father despises him with every fiber of his being and the only reason he's still alive is because his father couldn't find a way to legally kill him is the turning point of his life to that point - which ultimately leads Tyrion to kill Tywin after he declares Tyrion guilty of Joffrey's murder.
- One episode of Lucifer ends with Det. Decker drunkenly throwing herself at Lucifer after thinking that her ex-husband was leaving her and Trixie for good (he'd actually been kidnapped.) Lucifer is too freaked out to take advantage of her, and instead lets her sleep it off at his place. The very next episode has him crowing about how good he is just because he didn't take advantage of Chloe.
- The holiday song "Santa Baby" has the singer asking Santa for a ludicrous amount of incredibly expensive gifts (a car, a yacht, a platinum mine...) because she hadn't taken every available opportunity to be naughty that year.
- Dragon Age:
- The Chantry's attitude toward elves. A few centuries ago frictions between elves and humans eventually broke out into open war, which ended with the humans conquering and destroying the elven homeland. Again. As the Chantry often boasts, they could have slaughtered every elf down to the last man, woman, and child, but instead showed "mercy" by allowing the elves to live in fantastic ghettos as second-class citizens, as long as the elves capitulated to human religion and law. Most modern Chantry priests and scholars can't understand why those uppity elves would be so ungrateful after all the mercy humans showed them.
- The Templar Order often borders on this, given that their primary function is to kidnap mage children and take them to live in mage towers as heavily guarded prisoners for the rest of their lives, where horrific abuses are frequently inflicted. But hey, at least they don't slaughter mage children in the crib (usually), or cut out their tongues and use magic rods to render them People Puppets like those Qunari.
- In Mass Effect, after rescuing Shepard and team from a volcanic eruption, Joker makes a comment about expecting a medal for the timely save. Renegade Shepard responds thusly:
Shepard: Saving my boots from burning lava is part of your job, Joker. We don't give medals to soldiers for doing their jobs.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: The Blades will eventually demand that the Dragonborn kill Paarthurnax, former lieutenant of Alduin and cause of many atrocities, or else they will refuse to help you any further. Paarthurnax asks for his life, and cites his long history of peace and meditation. He asks the player, "Which is better, to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?" As a dragon, he struggles constantly with his inherent tyranny, and as a result one might very well be forced to concede that yes, he does indeed deserve not to be executed simply for not hurting anyone and being somewhat helpful to the player.
Note that Paarthurnax does not whinge about this trope himself; he freely acknowledges that the Blades' fear of him is perfectly logical, is quite understanding should you choose to kill him, and never really claims to be "good" simply because he refrains from evil, just that he doesn't deserve to die because he has the potential to become evil. Consequently, many players turn against the Blades for their insistence that he be killed for the crime of "being a dragon," especially since the arguments they use to support their case are essentially "killing dragons is what we do." For the record, if you do decide to kill Paarthurnax, he won't retaliate against you, implying he's genuinely repentant about his past. Note also that Paarthurnax not only "Isn't a Tyrant" but actually suffered a Heel–Face Turn and gives the good guys the skill needed to defeat Alduin.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: During Disney Town's Dream Festival, Pete sets himself up as a superhero named Captain Justice and a racer named Captain Dark in hopes of winning the Million Dreams Award, doing random good deeds in the hopes of getting votes. Unfortunately for Pete, he's well known as the biggest troublemaker in Disney Town, and Terra, Ventus, and Aqua beat him for the award by doing actual heroic deeds, like fighting off the Unversed.
- There's a Surviving The World strip with an...interesting take on this:
If you are not the cat person, and you are left alone for a weekend with the cats, and you do not eat the cats, you should get some credit for your achievement. Strangely, most people don't see it that way.
- There was a Zogonia strip that went something like:
Kev: I can't believe you don't trust me! All those times when I was on guard duty, I could have slit your throat while you slept and taken all the treasure, but I didn't! And this is the thanks I get?
Domato: I was never really asleep.
Kev: Yeah, I know.
- In the The Order of the Stick prequel On The Origin of PCs, we have a Belkar example. when he gets thrown in prison for going on a murder spree during a tavern brawl, he argues that not killing all the barmaids was a considerable act of restraint on his part that should be praised. He then suggests that if humans don't want him to murder people, they should put up a sign saying "Thank you for not killing more than five of us."
Prison Guard: We don't want you to kill ANY of us!
Belkar: Now you're just being unreasonable!
- Homestuck: Cronus believes that the other characters should be totally impressed that he doesn't nearly lord his highblood status above them all as much as he could.
- Sinfest: Slick managed to do something good and Nana goodheartedly gave him a cookie and he mildly rubbed it in Xanthe's face. This trope would be in play, but he actually didn't really expect to get a cookie.
- Katamari has Ace, whose desire for personal recognition makes him a completely self-absorbed Jerkass. Upon learning that his Snowlem cousin Sherman has mostly melted and needs help building up a body, Ace refuses to help until the other brings up a potential reward.
- Political comic I Drew This made a reference to this phenomenon; "There's a reason you never hear people say 'Boy, Bob is a wonderful human being! Today he was really mad about something, but he didn't beat anyone to death with a hammer!'"
- Girl Genius actually inverts this. Agatha, heir to the Heterodyne family, does NOT expect adoration simply for not slaughtering people on whim...but her followers are very impressed by the fact that she goes two minutes without killing someone. It says a lot about the Heterodyne family that she might be the most beloved yet simply for being a decent person.
- this article on Cracked:
Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here's the catch — you're not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I'm a nice guy, I'm honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to fucking hate hearing it."This is bullshit. I have a completely clean criminal record, and this is the thanks I get?"
- Youtuber the1janitor, talks about how a lot of guys claiming to be in the "Friend Zone" are really entitled Extreme Doormats that really aren't as nice as they claim to be.
"Look dude, the world doesn't owe you shit for being nice, and girls don't either. You're supposed to be nice to people. You don't get a cookie for doing what people are supposed to be doing anyway."
- What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?: Nash and Tara begin to think that they need to start giving out prizes for basic decency after hearing a story about a man drugging his girlfriend to play video games.
- In The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Shining, he wants a medal for not making pedophile jokes. This was an episode heavily based on how fucked up he is though, so at least it was intentionally douchey.
- One of Fred Clark/the Slacktivist's most widely circulated blog posts criticizes this attitude. He refers to it derisively as the Anti-Kitten-Burning Coalition (i.e. people like this want to consider themselves above average morally just for opposing Obviously Evil things like animal cruelty).
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The group is talking about Zuko's sudden Face–Heel Turn, and Toph cites setting Appa free instead of leaving him to rot as one good thing he's done.
Sokka: [sarcastically] Oh, hurray! After a lifetime of evil, at least he didn't add animal cruelty to the list!
Toph: I'm just saying that considering his messed-up family and how he was raised, he could have turned out a lot worse.
Katara: You're right, Toph. Let's go find him and give him a medal. The "Not-As-Much-of-a-Jerk-As-You-Could-Have-Been Award"!
- In X-Men: Evolution, after Lance saves an elderly lady (out of genuine decency) from a train wreck Wanda caused and the lady richly rewards the Brotherhood, the Brotherhood begins to do "good deeds" — but only for the reward, occasionally engineering the situations in the first place. When their reputation collapses and the rewards vanish, they go back to their typical Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain routine.
- The Simpsons: Homer once saved Mr Burns' life by allowing Bart to be a donor during a blood transfusion, solely on the basis that he expected some kind of reward from Mr Burns. When the only reward he got was a thank-you note addressed to Bart, he sent him an abusive letter in return.
- South Park:
- Cartman is freaking out around Christmastime about whether or not he's been "nice" enough to merit Santa's favor. He suggests that brushing his teeth counts as a "nice" action, only for his "naughty and nice accountant" to note that that doesn't really count.
- Also Cartman's attempts to be nice in order to get invited to Kyle's party at Casa Bonita.
Kyle: That's not being nice. That's just putting on a nice sweater!
Cartman: I don't understand the difference.
Kyle: I know you don't.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Even after notionally "reforming", Discord has distinct shades of this, claiming to be just as good a friend of the Mane Six as they are to each other in spite of all the trouble he's caused (and keeps causing) and then complaining when they don't immediately return the sentiment. Being the Trickster, how much of this is genuine sentiment and how much just to jerk someone's chain for the lulz isn't always easy to discern.
- The Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slipping", Fry initially attempts to woo Leela with the least amount of effort possible.
Fry: I bought her champagne, I opened it... What does a guy have to do?