"Happiness is your dentist telling you it won't hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill."
— Johnny Carson
uttered by a character who is about to do something potentially nasty to someone. They tell their victim that what they are about to do won't hurt at all. This often turns out to be a blatant lie
This is often done by doctors or friends of the patient who genuinely mean well, and are just trying to help them. However, it can also be used as a sarcastic Pre Mortem
by someone who is about to inflict a lot of deliberate
pain on their victim.
Another common variant is "This may hurt a little", or alternately, "You might feel a slight tingling sensation". This variation tends to be popular with Mad Scientists
. A particularly psychopathic or dickish
character may instead say, "I
won't feel a thing."
Definitely Truth in Television
, as anyone knows who has been to the dentist, although it is increasingly subverted as anesthesia gets better and starts to get used more widely.
Often used to set up False Reassurance
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Anime And Manga
- The Matrix: Morpheus averts this in the first film when he tells Neo, "Try to relax. This will feel, a little weird."
- The Remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008): Klaatu says "the pain will only be momentary."
- The 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) reboot: "This won't hurt one... little... bit..."
- Robots. After Rodney is assembled, an extra piece is found.
Mr. Copperbottom: [chuckles] We did want a boy, right? [He takes the piece and a hammer] This won't hurt a bit, son. [He hammers the piece in, Rodney cries]
Carrigan Crittenden: [stalking after Dibs, carrying a huge battle axe] Damn it, Dibs! This won't hurt a bit!
- Being There
Doctor Allenby: This won't hurt a bit. [Sticks Chance with a needle]
Chance the Gardener: It did hurt.
- Chill Factor: An assassin tells one of the protagonists, as she is about to execute him: "Don't worry, I'm a professional, this won't hurt a bit."
- Given an Ironic Echo a short while later after he ends up gaining the upper hand: "I'm an amateur, this is going to hurt like hell."
- Variation in Monsters vs. Aliens:
Now, you might feel a slight pinch in the brain. Mwahaha...
- One of the tag lines for Michael Moore's Sicko (a documentary about health care in the US and around the world) is "this may hurt a little". Promotional materials also use "get well soon!"
- Bedazzled 1967 - the Devil offers Stanley seven wishes for his soul. Stanley has misgivings and asks "But if you took it out, wouldn't it hurt?" The Devil replies "It's a perfectly painless operation, and afterwards you won't feel a thing!"
- Beautifully averted in Hook, where Hook is about to pierce Peter's son's ear and tells him 'Brace yourself lad, because this is REALLY going to hurt.'
- Subverted in Creepshow, when Jordy Verrill dreams of what will happen if he goes to the doctor about the growth on his fingers. The doctor tells him the fingers will have to come off, then opens up a steam sterilizer and takes out a meat cleaver. "This is going to be extremely painful, Mr. Verrill," he says.
- In The Three Stooges short I Can Hardly Wait, Curly needs to have a tooth extracted at the dentist, and Moe tries to convince Curly he won't feel a thing by sitting in the patient chair and explaining what will happen. The dentist comes in from the other room, quickly puts Moe to sleep with anesthesia, and proceeds to pull out Moe's tooth before Curly can tell him that he's supposed to be the patient.
- In Ender's Game, Ender is told "it won't hurt a bit" to have his monitor taken out, but Ender knows that adults say that when it is going to hurt.
- Similarly, in Coraline, the Other Parents tell Coraline this when they try to convince her to let them sew the buttons on her eyes. Coraline doesn't believe them for an instant.
- Discworld has the troll retrophrenologist truthfully informing his client "This won't hurt a bit" as he readies the mallet. (Phrenology being the pseudo-science based on determining a person's mental state and personality by measuring the skull and variations thereof. Retrophrenology "works" by introducing new variations to the skull to modify said mental state and personality...)
- There's a sequence in Unwind where a Walking Transplant on the operating table is notified that he may feel something in his feet, but not to worry. Then, a little later, he's told that he may feel something in his legs. This proceeds far longer than you might expect.
- In The Mysterious Benedict Society, one of the Recruiters tells the children "If you children stay nice and still, I promise this won't hurt a bit." The other Recruiter that is with him suggests "Oh, come on, let's tell the truth for once. Just for kicks." The first Recruiter then admits "All right, the truth is that this will hurt. A lot. But if you hold still, I promise it won't hurt for long."
Live Action TV
- House episode "The Itch".
Dr. Gregory House: You won't feel a thing... Except this excruciating pain.
- One Tree Hill episode "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight"
Doctor: Don't worry, you won't feel a thing.
Dan Scott: So tell me Doc, how many heart transplants have you done?
Doctor: [Takes electric saw from nurse and turns it on]
- Luckily for Dan, it turns out to be a nightmare.
- Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Similitude"
Captain Archer: Dr. Phlox is going to have to perform an operation.
Sim Trip at 8: Will it hurt?
Dr. Phlox: Not at all. You won't feel a thing.
Sim Trip at 8: Doctors always say that.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Death Roe"
Beatrice Mailer: This won't hurt a bit. [Holding her father's bleeding hand, she squeezes lemon juice onto an open knife cut as he silently flinches] Remember the first time you told me that?
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Attack Of The Giant Leeches":
Dr. Forrester: Now this leech [snip] when applied to the neck or head area, will suck any desire to smoke out of Frank.
Frank: [loudly protests]
Dr. Forrester: But this won't hurt a bit.
- Seinfeld: The episode "The Glasses" has a subversion:
Elaine: It's not going to hurt a lot, is it?
Doctor: Yes, very much.
- A variant appears on The Wire's fourth-season premiere, where enforcer Chris Partlow prepares to execute a dealer in a vacant house.
Chris: Don't fret, boss. I've got you covered. Quick and clean, I promise."
- The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years" has three examples while the Enterprise medical staff is trying to figure out why Chekov was not affected by the Rapid Aging effect that struck the rest of the landing party.
- Subverted when Dr. McCoy tells Nurse Chapel to prepare Ensign Chekov for another physical. She tells Chekov "This won't hurt...much."
- Later on Chekov complains about the multiple medical exams by repeating what he's been told during them.
Chekov: "Give us some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov."
- Dr. McCoy continues to test Chekov.
McCoy: Now this isn't going to hurt a bit.
Chekov: That's what you said the last time.
McCoy: Did it hurt?
- Averted in the 9th season premiere of the Israeli sitcom Life Ain’t All, in which Orli has become a dental hygienist. Although she gets extremely good results, to the point her patients’ teeth shine a blinding light when they open their mouths, she is seen explaining to one patient she has absolutely no aversion towards her patients’ pain.
- Farscape "Coup by Clam". The crew of Moya are being examined by a doctor for Space Madness.
John: Hey look I know you guys lie and all, but th-this is not gonna hurt too bad is it?
Doctor: (cheerfully) Not a bit.
(The doctor turns on his Mind Probe, causing John's head to light up as he shrieks in agony)
If you'd held your scream off one more microt I would have won the pool
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In their very first fight in "School Hard". Spike boasts that the last Slayer he killed begged for her life, but...
Spike: Tell you what; as a personal favor, from me to you, I'll make it quick. It won't hurt a bit.
- A line cut from "Innocence" had Angelus saying, "It won't hurt a bit...after the first hour."
- Subverted in "The Dark Age":
Ethan: Now this may sting a little, just at first. But don't worry, that'll go away once the searing pain kicks in.
- In the episode "Smashed", when Spike is about to eat someone:
"This might hurt a little..."
- Angel. In the episode "Parting Gifts", a villain is about to forcibly remove Cordelia's eyes.
“Now, be a good girl and hold still. This will only hurt a lot.”
- In the Doctor Who episode "Let's Kill Hitler", the Antibodies of a shape-shifting robot really don't like visitors, but they are pleased to inform you that your death will be very painless:
Doctor: Don't worry, it won't hurt a bit.
- In the mini-episode "The Last Day" a soldier is instructing another soldier in the use of his helmet P.O.V. Cam, which will record everything that happens to him in case he's killed in action.
"From now on the head-cam
is downloading directly to your memory. A tiny part of your brain is now a hard-drive. Takes up hardly any space; you won't feel a thing. Now, at the beginning sometimes this has side effects— (cut to hallucination of a screaming soldier)
- Inverted in the prequel episode "The Night of the Doctor". The Eighth Doctor is about to take a potion which will make him regenerate into the War Doctor.
Doctor: Will it hurt?
- The Batman Beyond episode "Meltdown":
Mr. Freeze: You may feel some momentary discomfort.
- The Simpsons "The Springfield Files"
Dr. Nick Riviera: Don't worry. You won't feel a thing [exhibits a swirling mechanical device]...till I jam this down your throat!
- The Penguins of Madagascar:, "Roger Dodger":
Roger: A mind-switching machine. Is this gonna hurt?
Kowalski: Just a slight pinch, followed by the brief sensation of a thousand suns exploding in your skull.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Pirates of Orion"
Dr. McCoy: [about to give an injection] This won't hurt a bit, Spock.
Mr. Spock: An unnecessary assurance, doctor, in addition to being untrue.
Dr. McCoy: That's the last time I waste my bedside manner on a Vulcan.
- Subversion in The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie:
Dennis: Don't worry, this'll only hurt a lot!
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "Seeing Red": Terrance says to Mac before beating him up "This will only hurt for a second." The line becomes a Running Gag throughout the episode, and at the end is given an Ironic Echo by Bloo: "Don't worry, it'll only hurt for a week."
- Ultimate Spider-Man episode "The Iron Octopus":
Doc Ock: This won't hurt...for long.
- Doc Mc Stuffins: The whole clinic staff uttered this exact phrase to an uneasy Niles while trying to get his bandages off. Of course, Niles was expecting it to hurt. Inverted in that they proceeded to carefully take off most of the bandages while Niles wasn't paying attention, so he naturally felt nothing when Doc told him it was time to take them off and pulled a little piece of bandage still on him.
- From the obscure and long-since-canceled G4 series Portal (no relation to the game): "I was going to keep you as my personal music slave! Now I think I'll pull your stomach out and wear it as a man-purse! Don't worry, it'll only hurt for thirty minutes!"