- In Fullmetal Alchemist, The Big Bad Father himself claims that "Those who dare to play God must pay a steep price for their arrogance." Later, when he does this and is defeated, the Truth reminds him of this statement and makes him pay a steep price for his arrogance: his ultimate punishment is being sent back to the hell he was born from.
- When a Ishvallan refugee caring for Scar notes the elaborate tattoo on his right arm, Scar says that he got it from his brother. He means that he got the arm from his brother, who transplanted his own arm onto to Scar after Scar's own arm was destroyed.
- In the first episode of the Brotherhood anime, a minor Starter Villain named Macdougal tries to use alchemy to freeze Central. When the Elrics ask why hes doing so, Macdougal shouts have you seen the shape this countrys in?, but is interrupted before he elaborates. Hes seemingly referring to the geopolitical status of Amestris and the recent war it went through. Hes really talking about the countrys actual, physical shape; Amestris is a giant-scale transmutation circle. Macdougal was trying to freeze Central to disrupt that circle and stop Fathers plan to sacrifice the entire country to attain godhood.
- In Dance in the Vampire Bund, a Mina imposter has taken control of the Bund, and even after the inhabitants of the island have figured it out, the blood pact still forces them to obey her. When Akira figures it out and goes off to rescue the real Mina, the fake orders them to find and capture Akira. However her failure to specify "Half-German Werewolf by that name" means that they knowingly expend thousands of man-hours and vast amounts of equipment digging a half-Brazilian vampire named Akira out of his hiding place beneath the Bund.
- In Eat-Man, the main character, Bolt Crank, will often take jobs from clearly evil people, only to later exploit extremely literal wordings in his contracts to mess up his contractors. Case in point: Bolt takes a contract from a group of greedy people to protect a girl whose blood is a potion of youth for a certain period of time. Bolt protects her... from those exact people.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!
- For Negi's apprenticeship test, Eva gave the conditions "If you can hit Chachamaru even once with your Kung Fu, then you'll pass. The match continues until you're dead and you can't attack anymore." This backfires on her when she declares the match over after Negi was completely thrashed, only for him to stand back up, stating that there's essentially no time limit since the condition was "until I die".
- It happens again later, when Setsuna says that she can't use the "Shinmeiryuu Hidden Technique, Zanmaken: Ni no Tachi" because only people close to the founding clan of the Shinmeiryuu are allowed to learn it. Jack Rakan gets around this restriction by renaming the attack: In Celebration of my First Kiss with Ojou-sama Special! Setsuna is (understandably) hesitant about using Jack Rakan's particular version.
- Kongoh Bancho loves this trope. People tell Kongoh not to do something, ranging from "don't open that door" to "don't move your arms, legs, or head." He follows the orders to the letter, and still ends up causing lots of damage.
- Code Geass:
- Schneizel is given the Geass command to "serve Zero". The fact that the command said Zero and not Lelouch is very important, because "Zero" is an identity that more than one person can possess.
- Earlier, Mao survives Lelouch's attempt on his life because Lelouch ordered the Britannian police to "shoot" Mao, not "kill" him, and, as a result, Mao gets better by the next episode. It doesn't explain how he survives several dozen gunshot wounds including from a Knightpolice unit (he points out that medicine these days is extremely advanced). In the manga, however, getting gunned down does indeed kill Mao.
- When Arthur the cat steals the Zero mask, Milly promises a kiss from a Student Council member to the person who manages to retrieve it. The school goes nuts chasing the cat in the hopes of getting a kiss from their favored Council member, but when Suzaku gets it (and Lelouch helps save his life), Lelouch's little sister Nunnally gives each of them a peck on the cheek and says "I hope a junior member is good enough for you."
- A rather non-serious example in Rurouni Kenshin: during the fight between Sanosuke and Anji in the Shishio arc, Kenshin gives Sanosuke verbal encouragement. We then get this exchange:Yumi: Himura-san. That should be an one-on-one battle. You shouldn't be giving him a hand.Kenshin: Yes. That is exactly why this humble one gave him an advice, not a hand.
- When Yamamoto orders Kenpachi and Byakuya to drag Hitsugaya's Advance Squad back to Soul Society so they can't help Ichigo rescue Orihime from Hueco Mundo, Byakuya uses this trope to commit Loophole Abuse on Yamamoto's order. Since Yamamoto only ordered them to bring the shinigami back to Soul Society, Byakuya does precisely that... then promptly helps Renji and Rukia return to the World of the Living so they can go after Ichigo's group.
- In anime filler, Byakuya admits to Muramasa and the rebelling zanpakutou that he's helping them to protect his pride. Helping them is the only way he can locate Muramasa's master, Kouga, who was expelled from the Kuchiki family for dishonouring the family name. By killing Kouga, Byakuya can restore the family's pride and honour.
- In flashback, a young Uryuu argues with his father over Ryuuken's command to stop visiting Souken and Uryuu realises for the first time that Ryuuken hates being a Quincy. Ryuuken tells Uryuu "I have no interest and you have no talent." so Uryuu spends years thinking his father has no spiritual powers. At the beginning of the Arrancar Arc, Ryuuken uses his power to save Uryuu's life. Uryuu's surprise causes Ryuuken to invoke this trope: he never said he didn't possess Quincy powers, merely that he wasn't interested in using them.
- Suì-Fēng's shikai kills anyone hit in the same spot twice. The only time she actually uses this ability, she reveals that she doesn't have to stab her victim in the same spot, she just has to have the wounds overlap, which she does by first stabbing her enemy from the front then from behind.
- It's repeatedly mentioned that Yhwach doesn't like fighting or conflict. This does not mean he doesn't like violence, just that he likes to kill people such that they can't fight back.
- One Piece
Lucci: Our deal was that "All Straw Hats excepting you would leave Water 7 unscratched". And that's what happened.
- There's the Water 7/Enies Lobby arc, where Robin betrays the Straw Hats because she knew they'd be exterminated by the CP9 and the "Buster Call" that had been placed under their command if they tried to fight. She gave herself up and willingly went to be executed with the promise that "All Straw Hats minus her would leave Water 7 alive". When they followed her to Enies Lobby, Spandam gave the order to kill them all.
- Later, when Spandam, Lucci and Robin are fleeing the Tower of Justice in a secret passageway, Lucci notices that Chimney and Gonbe followed them and are hiding in the room. But because he has no love for Spandam (and possibly because he wants to fight Luffy), Lucci keeps quiet about it until later, when they've gone to tell Luffy and he's broken into the passageway, explaining that Spandam ordered him only to protect him and nothing more.
- This is how Blackbeard escaped from the radar for so long. There was a time when he, not Ace, was offered the post of the Commander of Whitebeard's Second Division, which should have given some idea about his power even pre-Devil Fruit. He rejected the post stating that he didn't have the ambition for the post. Even his bounty, 0 (yes, you read that right) was Blackbeard being Brilliant, but Lazy. What Blackbeard actually meant by that his ambition was much greater than being 'merely' an Elite Mook under Whitebeard, his ambition was to become a freaking Emperor and eventually the Pirate King. Of course, once he ditches the deception, Blackbeard went from being a no name Mook to a rightly feared individual with the power to harness multiple Devil Fruits, and currently has the highest known bounty in the series. note
- Also, during the Marineford battle, Hancock attacks pirates and Marines indiscriminately, causing a Marine to ask her whose side she's on. She explains she agreed to fight Whitebeard and never specified that she would ally herself with the Marines and any man before her (minus Luffy but they don't know that) is an enemy.
- Much earlier, Arlong promised Nami that if she brought him 100,000,000 Berries (the currency of the One Piece world), he would liberate her village. And it actually seems that he intended to keep his promise if she would one day present him with all that money. However, he never promised her that he would not steal all her saved money from her before she had collected all 100,000,000 Berries. And since he doesn't want to give away his rule over the village, that's exactly what he hires a corrupt Marine officer to do right before she has actually saved up enough money. Nami realizes what happened because said Marine makes the mistake of mentioning the exact amount of money.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this is part of Kyubey's way of operating, combined with You Didn't Ask. He never outright lies. When Kyoko asks him if Sayaka can be restored to normal, he says it's never been done before. It's never been done before because it can't be done (at least, not without some extreme measures Kyoko had neither the time nor resources to implement, and it wouldn't necessarily be Sayaka), but for the purposes of his plan he needed to lure her into trying anyways. He also says that he wouldn't be surprised if a magical girl succeeded in reviving another... except his species can't feel emotions, surprise being one.
- In Kaiji, after exposing Ohtsuki's 4-5-6 dice, Ohtsuki tries to desperately grasp a way to not lose and says that since his last roll was interrupted by The Reveal, the dice didn't count, so he technically wasn't cheating. Kaiji offers him that last roll as a 4, saying that each of his cohorts will also roll trick dice. Ohtsuki accepts, thinking at most he'll only lose 1 million. Using a t-bone, Kaiji made a set of dice covered in ones. Meaning every roll will be snake eyes, resulting in a 5x payout to the roller. Ohtsuki is in no position to retort against this.
- In one episode of He Is My Master, Izumi's youngest sister agreed to give the pervert Yoshitaka one thing he wanted. When he told her to wait until he decided what he wanted, she took this order for the thing he wanted.
- Dragon Ball Z:
Goku: Leave these people out of this!
- At the end of the Frieza Saga, this works against the heroes when they use the Dragon Balls to summon Shenron and wish for everyone killed by Frieza and his minions to be revived, and then the Namek Dragon Balls are used to wish to Porunga to sent everyone on Namek except Goku and Frieza to Earth. Afterward, the Namekians are confused that one of their elders and his village aren't among them. Vegeta then smugly points out that Frieza and his minions didn't kill those people. He did, and the wording of the wish thus excluded those victims since Vegeta had already deserted from Frieza's army before killing them. Another glitch in the wording of the wish that never gets brought up in canon is that Frieza also killed several of his own minions on Namek, meaning that they should therefore be alive on Earth after the wishes.
- Prior to that, when Gohan, Krillin, and Dende use Porunga to revive Piccolo, they also have him sent to Namek, only to be surprised when he doesn't show up right next to them. As it turns out, Piccolo was several miles away because they didn't actually specify where on Namek to bring him.
- For a Saiyan to become a Super Saiyan their heart needs to be pure. Son Goku, the protagonist, is the first to achieve this as he has not a speck of evil in his heart. Some time later his greatest rival Vegeta, a villain, also becomes a Super Saiyan since his heart is pure evil. Vegeta wasn't really pure evil anymore by that point, but he believed he was and apparently that was close enough.
- Parodied in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, where Vegeta says he is "pure badass." Tien counters that he's "pure ego".
- In the same saga, the heroes demanded Androids 19 and 20 fight them somewhere deserted to avoid bystanders getting in the way. 20 decided to make a deserted area by vaporizing half the city with his Eye Beams.
19: There are no more people left to leave out.
20: I cleared the area of innocents, in accordance with your wishes. Do you disagree with my methods?
Whis: Well look at that, Lord Beerus. You destroyed Earth like you said you would...just not very much of it.
- During the Buu Saga, when Super Buu shows up on Kami's Lookout demanding the Worthy Opponent Goku promised him (Gotenks), Piccolo, in an attempt to stall for time, suggests that he pass the time it'll take for Gotenks to get ready to give him a real fight by killing all of the humans still left on Earthnote . Buu proceeds to use a Beam Spam technique he calls the Human Extinction Attack to wipe out every last human on Earth in less than five minutes, without even bothering to leave the Lookout in the process, after which he demands to see his opponent with no further distractions.
- This Trope benefits the heroes in the Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods movie. Beerus makes a statement that if no one can defeat him in combat, he will destroy Earth. Later, however, he seems to regret saying that and wants to spare Earth from destruction regardless, but states that now that he's stated his condition, he must abide by it as a matter of honor. Goku cannot defeat him, but still gave him an excellent battle, so he simply destroys one rock on Earth's surface, then claims that he's too tired right now to do the rest of it, and he'll come back in a few million years to finish the job. (See, he never specified when he would destroy Earth, so he's still keeping to the letter of his threat, if not the spirit.) Even Goku immediately recognizes this excuse for what it is.
Beerus: Yes, it's really a shame, isn't it? I must've used up all my strength in the fight. Guess I'll just have to come back another time and finish destroying the rest.
Goku: Thanks, Lord Beerus.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, when a Sadist Teacher discovers a love letter to a girl in her class, she tells the sender to admit the deed and she will let them off if they do. Yugi stands up to admit that he wrote the letter and Jonouchi/Joey confesses that he put it in her desk, with Honda/Tristan saying that his feelings were in that letter. The teacher points out that only one of them could have done it but Jonouchi replies that none of them are lying. All three were technically telling the truth. Honda had a crush on the girl and asked Yugi to write the letter and had Jonouchi slipped it into her desk.
- Yugi himself does this a few times too. For example, in both the anime and the manga, he taunts Panik (Player Killer of Darkness in the original) with his Swords of Revealing Light card, and then sets a card. When Panik tries to destroy it with his Reaper of the Cards (assuming that it's the Swords card), Yugi reveals it to be Spellbinding Circle. He then tells Panik that he never said it was Swords, he merely assumed that. Yugi assumed that Panik had a Reaper of the Cards in his Deck, which at that time was one of the few cards in the game that could destroy his spell. The Spellbinding Circle was set to draw Panik's fire, and it succeeded.
- Suicide Island: In the first chapter, patients who have attempted suicide are offered a choice to live on or die. A number of patients choose to die. They sign some papers and are put to sleep with drugs. They regain consciousness and find themselves on the title island. A sign nearby posted by the Japanese government states that everyone on the island is now an Un-person and essentially "dead" to the government, and they can do whatever they want on this island, as long as they don't try to leave.
- In the Bakuman。 Show Within a Show, "Otter no. 11", this happens when Otter #11 does a misleading TV commercial for Flat Sail Marine Industries, which imports seafood from China and tries to pass it off as domestic. Ultimately, however, the commercials work because people think they're funny, rather than their being fooled by the exact words.Otter #11: Sir, is this okay? Saying "this country's clams are delicious."President: "This country" means China. We didn't say it was Japan.
- In the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, this is how Kyon figures out the mystery in Remote Island Syndrome. Koizumi asked Yuki what the victim's body temperature was when they found him. He could have just asked "when did he die?" but didn't, since he knew she'd answer "he's not dead". The anime went in a slightly different direction.
- Fist of the North Star has Kenshiro abuse this trope to inflict punishment on some deserving thugs in the anime. A bandit leader is rounding up men to engage in a primitive Blood Sport for his amusement, and one of the thugs in charge happens to tell a disguised Kenshiro to "Kill whomever you want! Punch them, kick them, throw them!" Naturally, Kenshiro proceeds to punch and kick the bandit who just spoke to him. When the bandit demands to be put down quickly, Kenshiro also complies. By dropping him onto his knee...so violently that his head explodes. Doubles as a Pun in the English translation, since 'put down' can mean 'release,' but can also be taken to mean 'kill' when applied to animals such as rabid dogs, which Kenshiro compares thugs to on a regular basis.
- At one point in Speed Grapher, Tatsumi poses as Kagura's tutor, and when the chauffeur picks him up, he asks what happened to Ms. Wakaba, the girl's usual teacher. Tatsumi replies by saying "She got a little tied up", and the scene then cuts to the interior of the school, where poor Ms. Wakaba is seen Bound and Gagged inside a locker.
- A particularly cruel instance of this trope occurs in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure; Dio Brando confronts a woman and her child with the intent of turning them into zombies. The mother agrees, on the condition that neither Dio nor his minions will harm her baby, and she is transformed into a zombie. A hungry, flesh-eating zombie.
- In episode 9 of No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, Tomoko wishes on a meteor shower for a boy to be with her. Shortly afterwards, she discovers that the cat that showed up is a male. Never said anything about a human male, after all
- In Scrapped Princess it is prophesied that the newly born princess is "the poison that will destroy the world", and she is to be immediately executed. Well, she wasn't. It turns out that the prophecy is 100% correct if you only look at the situation from outside of the world. Her DNA is the key to unlocking the prison that the remnants of humanity are trapped in, thus "destroying" the world they knew and giving them access to a much larger one (the rest of the Earth).
- In Pokémon 2000, the last line of The Prophecy reads "Thus, the earth shall turn to Ash." It soon turns out that it's not predicting the end of the world, but rather, it name-drops the person who would save it, none other than Ash Ketchum.
- In one episode of the Pokémon anime proper, "Guarding the Guardian of the Mountain", after a Pokémon hunter captures a Volcarona, Ash decides to challenge him, with the hunter saying that if Ash can take down his Jellicent, then he'll consider letting the Volcarona free. Ash manages to defeat said Jellicent (a male), only for the hunter to send out another Jellicent (a female). When Ash and co. call the hunter out on this, he replies that he would let Volcarona go if Ash could defeat his Jellicent. He never said he only had one.
- This trope is the reason why May had issues with Professor Birchs Mudkip in the first episode of Pokemon Advanced. Due to May not using Exact Words on the specific Mudkip (she said "Mudkip use "water gun," and it used it on May rather than the Poocheyena that was chasing Professor Birch), Professor Birch almost gets hurt by the Poocheyena. It takes Professor Birch using Exact Words ("Mudkip use water gun on the Poocheyena!") to save himself.
- An example in Magic Boy BT: BT tells Akagawa that "I saw Kuroyama putting a bug in your clothes". What he meant was "I saw Kuroyama putting a dragonfly in your shorts. What, you thought I was talking about the very aggressive wasp that stung you? The one I put in your pockets?".
- In the Bentendo Owee arc of Gintama, Kondo and Katsura compete against each other in a dating simulator, with the announcer stating that whoever "bonks" the heroine first will be declared the victor. Kondo takes it figuratively and fails get anywhere at all due to how utterly nonsensical the game is compared to ones he's played in the past, but Katsura decides to take it literally by pursuing a story path that led to him murdering the heroine by hitting her in the head, which ended up getting him the win.
- In a Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun flashback chapter, one of Sakura's classmates asks her to stop mentioning her only crush Nozaki, so she starts referring to him in epithets, like "the ex-basketball club member" or "the person in seat 14 in classroom A". Her classmate quickly surrenders.
- In Seitokai Yakuindomo, School Newspaper News Hound Hata learns that the student council are spending the night together at an inn, but promises not to tell anyone else about it in exchange for a can of coffee. The others are then shocked to see photos of them together end up in the following week's newspaper anyway, and confronts her about it. She takes offense to these accusations because she points out that she still hasn't said it to anyone. She just never promised anything about not publishing the pictures.
- In Attack on Titan, the oath that the Survey Corps gives is that they offer their beating hearts for the sake of humanity. This allows them to rebel against the royal family because they are sworn to humanity, not the King.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Yamori/Jason reassures Kaneki that he never tells "boring lies". When Kaneki later calls him on lying, he invokes this trope by pointing out he's having too much fun for it to be a boring lie.
- In Bokura no Hentai, Akane asks Satoshi who he has a crush on. She asks if he likes "Yuuta" but Satoshi says he doesn't, which disappoints Marika because she thought he liked her. When questioned later it's heavily implied Satoshi does like Marika. Akane uses Marika's old, boy name however Satoshi doesn't see Marika as "Yuuta".
- In the anime version of Fate/Zero, Emiya Kiritsugu promises not to attack fellow Master Kayneth El-Melloi, should the latter retire from the Holy Grail War (killing his Servant, Lancer, in the process). However, this promise never stops Kiritsugu's partner, Maiya, from killing Kayneth El-Melloi and his fiancée.
- In ViVid Strike!, when Fuuka's trying to learn more about Einhart while training, the discussion moves to the master that taught Einhart her Hegemon Style. When Fuuka asks where that master is now, Einhart responds that said master is "In my heart". Fuuka assumes that Einhart meant that the master had passed away, but viewers aware of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid knows that Einhart is ambiguously referring to the Genetic Memory she has of Hegemon Claus Ingvalt.
- Koro-sensei of Assassination Classroom introduces himself as the one responsible for turning the moon into a permanent crescent, and that he plans to do the same to the Earth unless the titular classroom kills him. The first part isn't true, but he is related to the experiments that caused the moon explosion. The second part, however, is true. After all, he can't help it if he'll explode come graduation day unless he's killed before then.
- In the manga Not Lives, a group event occurs pitting several individuals against a powerful opponent that seeks to kill them using manipulated mannequins. At the beginning of the game the "queen" tells the participants to look at a clock tower that reads 12:00 and tells them that the game will end when the short hand hits the 2. Everyone assumes that this means the game will be two hours long, and not having time to check the clock they opt to track the time in their own ways. Only after two hours pass do they realize the trick. The battles take place in a reality in which time has come to a standstill. The short hand will never reach the 2 simply by time passing because time does not pass in that world. The only way to end the game is to rip that short hand off and stab it into the 2.
- Early in Death Note, Ryuk informs Light that a Death Note user will never go to Heaven or Hell. A flashback towards the end of the series shows that Light immediately figured out the trick — Death Note users don't go to Heaven or Hell because nobody does. Heaven and Hell don't exist, and Cessation of Existence is the only fate for anyone who dies.
- This is one of Takagi's most potent weapons in Teasing Master Takagi-san. For example, when she meets Nishikata after he bought a shoujo manga, she forces him to admit he lied to her out of embarrassment. She then promises not to tell anyone, and offers to tell Nishikata a secret about herself. She tells him she likes him, and follows that up by informing him that since he lied to her, she lied to him. The lie was claiming that her being in love with him was a secret.
- In one episode of Shokugeki no Soma, students are tasked with cooking a dish in a kitchen that has nearly no ingredients. The teacher points out that they're on private land, and gives them permission to take anything within a fenced confine. The intent was of course to have the students go out and harvest their own ingredients, but Soma also exploits the wording to take the teacher's crunchy snack (which he crushed and used as breading).
- This ends up very nearly getting the heroes of Rave Master in trouble. When reviewing his grandfather's notes, Musica sees that the Ten Powers sword Haru uses, which he inherited along with the title of Rave Master from Shiba, was noted as being made "for Shiba". This meant that only Shiba could access and use all ten forms of the sword to their full power, forcing Musica to get a new tenth form forged specifically for Haru in time for the final fight.
- In Charlotte, when Yuu is at his lowest point after his little sister's death, Nao, who'd been watching him for some time, finally intervenes and asks to bring him back to the school, only for him to rebuff her. She then asks him to eat a hot meal, and they make a deal- if he takes one bite, they won't have anything to do with each other again. It turns out that the meal is the omelet rice his sister always made for him, which was based off of a recipe their mother once made, and Yuu, after eating it all, comes to his senses. He then reminds Nao of their promise, and she says that since he took more than one bite, it doesn't apply.
- In Sword Art Online, Quinella, Pontifex of the Axiom Church and Administrator of humanity in the Underworld, swears on the Goddess Stacia to fulfill Chudelkin's request to have sex with her if he defeats the heroes, and Cardinal's request to spare the heroes in exchange for sacrificing herself. Since she doesn't believe in said Goddess, the vows in question are meaningless. Cardinal, however, is intelligent enough to insist that Quinella swear on the only thing she values- Quinella's own Fluctlight.
- Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: When one of Hayasaka's friends complements how convincing her maid act is when their class does a cosplay cafe for the culture festival, she says that she spent a long time getting the role perfect, neglecting to mention just how long she's been practicing.
Exact Words / Anime & Manga