"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.
, where the question is not necessarily a yes/no question, but the answer given is still 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!
- In Dodger, after Dodger beats up a man who was threatening his life, breaking his nose so he can't speak intelligibly, and drags him away to leave him on the street, he says: "You are a very lucky man. And if I ever see your face around here again you will have what we in the business call a very close shave. Understand? I will assume that was a yes."
- Stargate SG-1:
- Used in the pilot episode "Children of the Gods", as seen in the page quote. Jack answered Hammond's question in a reasonably confident tone of voice, but by this point Air Force personnel have been torn up pretty badly by the Jaffa both times they've met them so you can understand Hammond not sharing Jack's confidence.
- After beaming onto an enemy ship and coming under heavy fire, Colonel Mitchell announces his presence and asks the enemy soldiers to surrender. When they don't stop shooting, he says "That's a no" and starts returning fire.
- In Merlin, Arthur proposes Guinevere who responds with The Glomp. Arthur looks puzzled for a moment and asks "Is that a yes?" prompting Gwen to let him go and clarify that she did mean to say yes.
- In the Firefly episode "Shindig" one of Inara's rich clients offers her an opportunity to stay with him as his personal Companion.
Inara: You're a generous man.
Atherton Wing: That is not a "yes".
Inara: It's not a "no", either.
- JAG: In "Tribunal", Sturgis is assigned as co-defense counsel for the fictional Al-Qaida No 3 in the military tribunal held aboard a warship, and has an Army Special Forces captain on the stand to answer questions about unconventional warfare by US Forces and that of unlawful combatants. The implication of the final question being that there's not always a distinct difference between them.
Sturgis: One final question. On certain operations, Special Forces personnel remove all insignia. Your dog tags, anything that could identify you. Is that correct?
Sturgis: Let the record reflect that was not a no.
- Yes, Minister practically oozes with those, especially by Hacker on any of Sir Humphrey's (often deliberate) fits of vague, unfocused Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- 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.