Would Rather Suffer

You want me to describe another trope? I'd rather drink Brain Bleach!

A character expresses his displeasure for an idea by claiming a preferred alternative — except that alternative is clearly something the average person would find unthinkably undesirable, usually subjecting oneself to pain. This is mainly a Comedy Trope, deriving humor from the exaggerated, ridiculous description of unusual torture.

Commonly used to respond to the advances of an Abhorrent Admirer or Casanova Wannabe. Also commonly used by Caustic Critics to describe the painful badness of what they're reviewing.

Compare I Have to Wash My Hair and I Need to Go Iron My Dog as more mundane excuses. Contrast Fate Worse Than Death as a more serious comparison. Anything But That! is another negative (over)reaction, though usually to threats. I'm Thinking It Over! is the related comedy trope where two lopsided alternatives are presented, and the character takes far too long to choose between them.

Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • A Hellblazer comic subverts this: a couple are arguing, with the man saying that he'd rather shove red-hot needles in his eyes than talk to her family any more. A while later, due to demonic influence, he does just that, and tells her in a completely normal voice that he was wrong: this is much worse.
  • In issue #2 of the (New 52) Blue Beetle series, at Brenda's quinceañera, La Dama suggests that Brenda should find a boyfriend.
    Brenda: But I'm not interested in any boys I know.
    La Dama: Oh come on. He looks handsome enough.
    Brenda: Joey Gonzalez?! I'd rather crap broken glass!
    La Dama: Well that was ladylike...
  • In an issue of Teen Titans, Changeling traps Terra by wrapping around her as a snake during a training session. He offers to let her go for a kiss, but she says she'd rather kiss a wookie. Gar says that it's out of his range.

    Film — Animated 
  • From Shrek the Third, we have a pair of college girls having a conversation, with one of them saying, "And then I said, 'I'd rather get the black plague or get stuck in an iron maiden than go out with you!'"
  • In Brave, during an explosive argument with her mother, Merida shouts "I'd rather die than be like you!"

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Ever After, Maguerite and her mother make plans for her to wear a dress which belonged to Danielle's deceased mother to the masquerade ball. After walking in on Maguerite about to try on the dress, Danielle angrily declares "I would rather die a thousand deaths than to see my mother's dress on that spoiled, selfish cow!"
  • In George of the Jungle, Ursula's mother is trying to drive George away from Ursula.
    George: So you no want Ursula to love George?
    Mom: I'd rather have my tongue nailed to this table every morning at breakfast.
  • A dead-serious Played for Drama example in Star Trek (2009). When Nero's ship is caught up in the black hole created by the Red Matter, Kirk (against Spock's better wishes) offers a lifeline: to show that humans are decent enough to give an enemy a chance. Nero's reply?
    Nero: I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times. I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you.
    Kirk: You got it.
  • Happens in High School Musical when Zeke tries to ask Sharpay out.
    Sharpay: I'd rather stick pins in my eyes.

    Literature 
  • In A Christmas Carol Scrooge suggests that the indigent go to prisons or workhouses instead of him giving to charity. The person he's talking to says "Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
  • Dave Barry once wrote in a column that he "would rather undergo vasectomy via Weed Whacker than attend an opera."
  • Variant: In The Dresden Files: Summer Knight Harry informs his literal Exposition Fairy Bob the Skull about how his latest client is Queen Mab of the Winter Court. Bob says something to the effect of "Here's where I ask you why you don't try a safer profession, like administering suppositories to rabid gorillas."
  • Roger Ebert's review of Seven Days in Utopia began, "I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Happy Days, Potsie asks a girl to do something romantic with him, and she retorts, "I'd rather catch diptheria!"
  • Burn Notice: Andre Dekker, one of the Villains of the Week in "Unpaid Debts" and a black market courier, tells Michael he would sooner cut his own throat than allow anyone to interfere in his deliveries.
    "Do you think I would hesitate to cut yours?"
  • Babylon 5: At the end of the first season, faced with going into the council chamber and and ceding all claim to a sector of space to the Narns, Londo comments, "I think I'll go stick my head in the station's fusion reactor, it would be less painful. And after a while, I might even come to enjoy it."
    • This line has extra subtext to those who followed J. Michael Straczynski on Usenet. He complained about being admonished to Write What You Know; he used the same line (except that it was holding a drill to his ear and turning it on).
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj is about to lose his work Visa and is in danger of deportation, so Sheldon offers to let Raj work for him. (Not with him, for him.) Raj says he'd rather swim naked across the Ganges River with paper cuts on his nipples and die a slow agonizing death from infection than work with Sheldon. Then he takes the job.
  • In the fifth season of Chuck, Morgan, who's lost bits of his memory and is trying to regain them by watching his old favorite movies, in this case Star Wars, says he'd rather claw his eyeballs out than hear anymore of Jar Jar Binks.
  • On The Vampire Diaries Stefan and Damon are forced to visit their old girlfriend Katherine, who's trapped in a tomb by a spell. She asks them to join her, and Damon says he'd rather poke his eyes out.
    • When Klaus is out hunting for werewolfs to turn into hybrids, one of them says she'd rather die than become a vampire.

    Magazines 
  • Stuart Campbell used this in some of his more negative Amiga Power reviews:
    • The review of International Rugby Challenge featured a "scientific" comparison of the game with other "most-bad things." The Bosnian war, the Somalian famine, the Rodney King beating, and the depletion of the ozone layer were all judged to be not as bad as International Rugby Challenge, though "Having Electrodes Attached To Your Genitals And Being Flogged Senseless With A Knotted Rope" would probably be just as bad.
    • The short review of the Porting Disaster of ThunderJaws included the statement "I'd rather have my liver pierced with a rusty fork and undergo a particularly unpleasant series of rabies inoculations than have to play this quite disgracefully boring and incompetent production-line conversion job again."

    Music 
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "One More Minute," singing about an ex.
    That's right, you ain't gonna see me crying
    I'm glad that you found somebody new
    'Cause I'd rather spend eternity eating shards of broken glass
    Than spend one more minute with you.
  • The song "Beg, Borrow, and Steal" by Ohio Express is all about how he'd rather do those three things for a living than go back to his Tsundere girlfriend.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Jon has gotten this repeatedly in Garfield. It was a kind of Running Gag for a while.
  • Similarly, Michelle does this to Curtis sometimes when he asks her out.

    Theatre 
  • My Fair Lady: In "I'm An Ordinary Man," Higgins says that he'd "be equally as willing for a dentist to be drilling than to ever let a woman in my life," and, in the second verse, that he'd "prefer a repetition of the Spanish Inquisition."

    Video Games 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures throws up a randomized message each time the Nerd dies, usually following the template: "I'D RATHER (colorful verb phrase) FROM A (animal's body part) THAN CONTINUE THIS (colorful adjective) GAME!!"

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • A regular occurrence with The Angry Video Game Nerd, often in a profane matter. For example:
    • In the first Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode, he advises to destroy the game instead of playing it, saying, "You'd rather super-glue your asshole shut than play that game. You'd rather drown in gasoline."
    • The episode on Back to the Future for the NES included two such lines that became part of the lyrics of the Theme Tune: "I'd rather have a fucking buffalo take a diarrhea dump in my ear than subject them to this horrendous garbage... I'd rather eat out the rotten asshole of a roadkill skunk than play this game, ever again."
  • Cranky Steve's Haunted Whorehouse (now hosted on Something Awful) includes a colorfully described "Pain Level" for each awful map reviewed.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Arthur episode "Arthur And The Square Dance", after Arthur spends the entire episode believing that he and Francine are in love, this exchange follows:
    Arthur: You don't want to kiss me?
    Francine: Are you kidding?!? I'd rather get head lice!
  • Montana Max's relationship with Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures is like this. In the episode, "Prom-ise Her Anything", Monty tells Elmyra he'd rather get a lobotomy than be her date. In "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special", he tells her he'd rather eat dog food than kiss her Under The Mistletoe. Both times, he doesn't just say this to her, he yells it to her, really loudly.
  • Animaniacs:
    • In one episode, a businessman sitting next to the Warners, who pester him and want him to be their "special friend", tells them that "I'd rather be stranded on an island and be eaten by cannibals than be your 'special friend'!" Which is exactly what happens to him at the end.
    • In her debut cartoon "Meet Minerva Mink," Minerva listens to her phone messages, one of which is from a nervous Lawrence, asking, "I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me?" Minerva, Breaking the Fourth Wall, replies, "I'd rather chew aluminum."
  • In the Bonkers episode "I Oughta Be in Toons", Bonkers mentions that former child star Babyface has an ego so obnoxious, that people have said that they would dance barefoot on the surface of the sun rather than work with him again.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Squidville", after SpongeBob and Patrick accidentically destroy Squidward's house, Squidward tells them that "I would rather tear out my brain stem, carry it into the middle of the nearest four-way intersection, and skip rope with it, than go on living where I do now."
    • In "Just One Bite", when SpongeBob asks Squidward if he'd like to try a krabby patty for the first time, he responds "If I were trapped in a well for three days with nothing to eat but that krabby patty, I'd eat my own legs first! (beat) And not just the extra ones."
    • In "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful", when SpongeBob asks can he help Squidward, Squidward tells him that "I would rather be beaten to a pulp."
  • On Metalocalypse Murderface buys his grandma a new moterized scooter. She tells him that he's going to heaven for it, and Murderface flatly says that he'd rather die than go to heaven.

Alternative Title(s):

Pain Level Comparison
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