"Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation
Maj. Gen. George Hammond:
Colonel, you've had the most experience in fighting this hostile. Assuming you have to defend yourself in the field, are you up to it? Col. Jack O'Neill:
We beat 'em once. Hammond:
I'll take that as a "maybe".
A three-part generally comedic dialogue trope that goes as follows:
- Alice asks Bob a yes/no question, or communicates something else that should get a yes/no response (request, offer, etc.)
- Bob does something other than responding "yes" or "no".
- Alice asks how Bob's response is to be interpreted as an answer and/or offers her own interpretation. ("Is that a 'yes' or 'no'?" "Is that a 'yes'?" "I'll take that as a 'no'." etc.)
The trope is very flexible, as long as the three parts are there.note
Step 2 could be verbal or nonverbal. It could be an Implied Answer
, a Non Answer
or something completely unrelated; it could be an indecisive answer or a very decisive one (just not usually, for obvious reasons, a simple "yes" or "no"); it could be ambiguously an answer, a perfectly clear answer, perfectly clearly not an answer to the question at all, an apparent bizarre Non Sequitur
, and so forth. As such, step 3 could be a perfectly reasonable response, Comically Missing the Point
, stating the obvious
, wishful thinking, etc.
Compare Non Answer
, where the question is not necessarily a yes/no question and the answer is by definition insufficient. May be a Cryptically Unhelpful Answer
. If a question is not
a yes or no question but the answerer responds "Yes," or "No," that's probably a Mathematician's Answer
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Films — Live-Action
- From Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End:
Davy Jones: Do you fear death?
Norrington: (stabs Jones and expires)
Davy Jones: I'll take it as a "no".
- In Clue, they get into a vicious circle of this:
Colonel Mustard: Wadsworth, am I right in thinking there is nobody else in this house?
Wadsworth: Mmm, no.
Colonel Mustard: Then there IS someone else in this house?
Wadsworth: No, sorry. I said "no," meaning "yes."
Colonel Mustard: 'No,' meaning 'yes'!? Look, I want a straight answer. Is there someone else or isn't there, yes or no?
Wadsworth: Um, no.
Colonel Mustard: "No," there IS, or "no," there ISN'T?
Mrs. White: (smashing her glass against the fireplace) PLEASE!
- Young Frankenstein has this between the good doctor and Inspector Kemp:
Inspector Kemp: Then I may give the villagers your complete assurance that you have no interest whatsoever in continuing your grandfather's work?
Monster: (in background) MMMMMMM!
Inspector Kemp: May I take that for a yes?
- In Sur la piste du Marsupilami, General Hermoso is making "a proposal he can't refuse" to the captured Marsupilami (despite him being a smart but non-talking animal), until the Corporal nudges Marsu with the barrel of his gun, eliciting a pained squeal. Hermoso takes that as a "yes".
- In The Expendables Barney shoots the team traitor Gunnar. He asks Barney if he's going to die. Barney just tells him that the shot hit him two inches above the heart. He takes that as a yes. However, he shows up alive and healthy at the end of the film.
- From Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when Threepio is inducted into Jabba's droid pool:
EV-9D9: Ah, good, new acquisitions! You are a protocol droid, are you not?
C-3PO: I am C-3PO, human/cyborg—
EV-9D9: Yes or no will do.
C-3PO: Umm... yes.
- In The Hobbit, after the defeat of Smaug, the people of Laketown came to Thorin seeking compensation for their lost town which Thorin refused. After some hours, messengers returned reasonable demands. Guess how Thorin responds.
Messenger: At the least he shall deliver one twelfth portion of the treasure unto Bard, as the dragon-slayer, and as the heir of Girion. From that portion Bard will himself contribute to the aid of Esgaroth; but if Thorin would have the friendship and honour of the lands about, as his sires had of old, then he will give also somewhat of his own for the comfort of the men of the Lake.
(Thorin fires an arrow at the messenger's shield)
Messenger: Since such is your answer, I declare the Mountain besieged. You shall not depart from it, until you call on your side for a truce and a parley. We will bear no weapons against you, but we leave you to your gold. You may eat that, if you will!
- Towards the end of Portal 2:
Announcer: Corrupted core, are you ready to start the procedure?
Wheatley: (sarcastically) What do you think?
Announcer: Interpreting vague answer as "yes".
Wheatley: No! No! Didn't pick up on my sarcasm!
- Early in the Mass Effect 3 DLC "Citadel", Shepard winds up in trouble (big shock) and Wrex (or James Vega if Wrex is dead) arrives to bail Shepard out. As the two of them defend their position from waves of mercenaries:
Wrex/James: Shepard, you've got a plan for getting us out of here, right?
Shepard: Wrex/James, please. I'm a professional.
Wrex/James: That's not a yes...
- The Order of the Stick: Done by Gannji the lizardfolk on his latest meeting with Haley:
Gannji: So, no hard feelings on the whole kidnapping thing?
Haley: If anything happens to [my father], you'll make a very stylish handbag.
Gannji: I'm going to choose to hear that as, "We cool."
- Sluggy Freelance, "The Bug, the Witch, and the Robot":
: You're a scientist, Riff! Calculate how much force it would take to bank-shot Torg's spine off the building across the street. Is this
about enough? Riff
: NO! K'Z'K
: I take it in this case, no means yes.
- In the first episode of Ultra Fast Pony, Rarity apparently models Twilight in a gimp suit off screen. Rarity asks if she likes it, and when she's met with silence, she takes it as a no.