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Insult Backfire / Live-Action TV

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  • In a 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, Harry runs for political office and his opponent makes an attack ad full of lies. Not-so-bright Harry takes it extremely well: "That ad mentioned my name like twenty times. That was great publicity."
  • In a 30 Rock episode, Liz calls Jack a wang. He replies, "I'll take that as a compliment. An Wang, the founder of Wang Computers, was one of the great businessmen of the twentieth century. And you're the one being a lowercase 'wang', Lemon."
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  • On several occasions, Simon Cowell has referred to contestants' singing in American Idol tryouts as horrific. Not knowing the word, some of them took this as a compliment until they were very quickly corrected.
  • This example from Angel is somewhere between this trope and a Stealth Insult depending on how mean it was meant to be (probably not very given the person speaking). When Harmony Kendall goes to see Lorne for help she gives a rather painful rendition of "Memories" so that he can read her future from the song. Lorne comes to talk to her afterwards and says "I can't help you, my little Cacophony". She's disappointed, then a second later says "Cacophony... that's pretty... what's it mean?"
  • The Nickelodeon short "Attack of the Giant Vulture" contains this exchange:
    Robin: You are the ugliest bird I've ever seen!
    Giant Vulture: Why thank you, and now it's dinner time!
  • In an episode of Babylon 5, Garibaldi tells Bester how he'd like to use him as a pinata. Bester considers this, and then says "So you think of me as something bright and cheerful, full of candy and toys for young children. Thank you, Mr. Garibaldi." Though considering this is Bester we're talking about here, he probably did it on purpose to infuriate Garibaldi.
    • A similar instance occurred when Londo, the Centauri Ambassador, was being honoured by his people. Ambassador G'kar turned up wearing shoes (apparently a grave insult at such a function). Londo not only isn't offended, but gladly welcomes G'kar to the celebration and calling him 'friend'. It manages to confuse G'kar so badly that he gets a migrane and has to leave, with Londo muttering to himself afterwards "I love doing that to him."
  • Best Friends Whenever:
    Barry: So Naldo, how's your heart rocket coming along?
    Naldo: Heart Rocket? That sounds like an awesome name for a band!
    Barry: Shuds! I thought I was mocking you, but it is an awesome name for a band!!! (beat) Let me try this. How's your heart quest for rocketry?
    Naldo: "Heart Quest For Rocketry" could be Heart Rocket's first single!
    Barry: Shuds! It's a perfect name for Heart Rocket's first single!!!
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  • In The Big Bang Theory, Howard is showing his friends his programmable robot arm. Sheldon makes a smart-aleck retort about the robotic arm. Howard then attempts to retort by programming the robot arm to flip the bird at Sheldon. However, due to either a misprogramming or a glitch, the robot arm instead makes a gesture that was misconstrued by his friends as a peace sign.
  • ''Blackadder:
    • In Blackadder the Third, there's one from Prime Minister Pitt the Younger, referred to as "Mr. Snotty" by the Prince Regent. Pitt replies that he'd rather have a runny nose than a runny brain. Unfortunately for him, the insult flies all around George's head.
    • This gem from Baldrick when he appeared on Noel Edmunds' "Clown Court":
      Judge: You stand accused of great stupidity.
      Baldrick: Thank you, your honour.
    • In the Blackadder II episode "Potato", when Edmund reacts to Melchett's fawning over the Queen by muttering "You utter creep", Melchett gives him a slight smile and nod of acknowledgment, managing to convey "Indeed I am, and it works" without saying a word.
    • In the episode "Beer", Blackadder's puritanical aunt Lady Whiteadder has to put up with Percy for an evening. At the end of it, when she storms out, she turns to him and asks if anyone's ever told him he's a complete imbecile. Percy nonchalantly replies with "oh, yes." Lady Whiteadder has to take a moment to recover from that.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike and Buffy have had sex for the first time, so Spike points out that Nothing Is the Same Anymore.
    Buffy: The only thing that's different is that I'm disgusted with myself. That's the power of your charms. Last night was the most perverse, degrading experience of my life.
    Spike: (smiling happily) Yeah. Me, too.
  • From Burn Notice:
    Child Molester: Go to hell!
    Michael Westen: Come with me.
    • At this point, Michael is wearing a particularly natty black suit and red shirt-and-tie combo, has introduced himself (once) as "Louis", and keeps blowing stuff up with a click of his fingers. The target isn't entirely sure that Michael isn't the Devil.
  • In one episode of Castle, FBI agent (and jealous ex-boyfriend) Sorenson tries to mock Castle's amateur sleuthing skills, by calling him Nancy Drew, but it backfires:
    Castle: Is that supposed to be an insult? Because Nancy Drew solved every case...
    • In another episode, Captain Montgomery rattles off a profile for a serial killer the cops are investigating, prompting Castle to remark on how many characteristics he shares with the killer. When Montgomery reaches "menial, unimportant job", Beckett snidely quips that the killer is definitely him. Quick as a flash, Castle retorts that just for that, he'll base his next bestselling mystery novel on Detective Esposito instead of her. Beckett looks rather annoyed and insulted.
  • In Chappelle's Show, during the second of the two "C: True Hollywood Stories" skits, Charlie Murphy describes a time when Prince challenged him and his friends to a game of 3-on-3 basketball. Charlie, amused by Prince's mannerisms and getup, mockingly calls the game a "shirts vs. blouses" contest, referring to Prince's team as the latter. Later, after Prince's team wipes the floor with him:
    Prince: Game... (game-winning slam dunk) "blouses".
    • In another episode, with the story of Clayton Bigsby, a blind white supremacist who doesn't realize he's actually black, he hears loud rap music coming from the car beside him at a traffic stop, opens the passenger window and starts screaming at the "niggers" in the car beside him. The camera pans out as Clayton's car drives away to reveal it's a bunch of wannabe gangster white guys who are absolutely delighted to have been called "niggers" by a black guy.
    White guy: Did he just call us niggers? ...AWESOME! (High fives his friends)
  • The source of many a joke in El Chavo del ocho. Someone insults El Chavo and he doesn't realize it, thinking it's part of whatever he was talking about. For example, in "Quico enfermo":
    El Chavo: Quico, why didn't you go to school today?
    Quico: I'm feeling bad, idiot!
    El Chavo: Why, anyone would feel bad if they were an idiot. But you should be used to that already...
  • Chicago Fire: In "Professional Courtesy", Mouch quips that the firehouse is out of spending money because they used it on an elliptical machine "so Shay can have a toned ass." Shay immediately replies that everyone benefits from her having a toned ass, which Mouch concedes to.
  • Cold Case episode "Ravaged" pretty much had one of these as the reason why the killer, a sleazy Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who took advantage of women, killed the victim, a woman on rock bottom who rejected him:
    Sponsor: Lower than you! You're nothing!
    Victim: ... And even I won't have you.
  • From the Comic Relief skit with Catherine Tate as Lauren and David Tennant as her English teacher.
    Mr Logan: You are the most insolent child I've ever had the misfortune to teach.
    Lauren: Thank you.
  • Community:
    Annie: You don't count, Britta. You don't respond to anything appropriately.
    Britta: Thank you.
  • Defiance has the following exchange when Nolan realizes that Stahma is a worse threat politically than her husband:
    Nolan: I've had my eye on the wrong snake. You're the dangerous one.
    Stahma: (seemingly honest) You're sweet.
  • Degrassi had a few between Mia and Holly J., the former would say something along the lines of Holly J being evil or the devil, Holly J would smile and say she "liked the sound of that."
  • Dr. Ellingham in Doc Martin on multiple occasions responds to insults with a hasty "thank you". It seems he's either being sarcastic or just saying it to shut people up and get the last word.
  • Used in Doctor Who at various times over the decades.
    • The Master is easily the most frequent offender:
      • "The Time Monster": The Master completely annihilates the Doctor (Jon Pertwee). Companion Jo Grant remarks that it was the most brutal, inhuman, monstrous thing she had ever seen. The Master gives a nod and says "Thank You" as if he were accepting a compliment on his new suit. On the other hand, after it turns out the Doctor isn't dead the Master is somewhat lost for words (see God Guise).
      • "The Five Doctors": The Time Lord President himself informs him "You are one of the most evil and corrupt beings our Time Lord race has ever produced. Your crimes are without number and your villainy without end." The Master just sits there, with the most colossal smirk on his face imaginable.
      • "The Ultimate Foe": Mel calls the Master "utterly evil" after learning his plot. His response? What else? "Thank you." Simple, but cute. There's another one in the deleted scenes, when she calls him "despicable".
      • In the movie, a hospital receptionist who believes the Master is an ambulance driver named Bruce responds to his odd choice of words by commenting, "Bruce, you are sick." The Master responds, "Thank you."
      • "The Sound of Drums": The Master, upon being accused of insanity, just gives a double thumbs up.
      • "The End of Time":
        Wilf: What have you done, you monster?!
        The Master: Oh, I'm sorry, are you talking to me? Or to me? Or to me? Or to me? Or to us?
      Wilf gets his own back in Part 2. When the Master condescendingly tells the Doctor, "Oh, your dad's still kicking up a fuss," (referring to Wilf) Wilf defiantly replies, "I'd be proud if I was."
    • "The Awakening" contains the Fifth Doctor's Shout-Out to The Adventures of Robin Hood.
    Hutchinson: You speak treason!
    The Doctor: FLUENTLY!
    • At the end of "The Dæmons", when the Doctor says he'll want to talk to the Master later, the Master sneers "You always were an optimist, weren't you?" The Doctor replies "Thank you for the compliment."
    • Another heroic example occurs in "School Reunion". Never has a robot sounded so smug.
      Mr. Finch: You bad dog!
      K9: Affirmative.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": Tish calls the Doctor a "science geek", and when Martha explains that it means he's "obsessively enthusiastic about it", the Doctor's flattered.
    • "The Family of Blood": When Tim Latimer absorbs some of the Doctor's psyche and runs off to help him:
      Hutchinson: Latimer, you filthy coward!
      Tim Latimer: Oh, yes, sir! Every time!
    • Also in the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, "The Gift":
      Sarah Jane: I should have known. You're as bad as they are.
      Slitheen-Blathereen: For that remark, we won't kill you.
      • And in the same episode:
        Sarah Jane: Isn't destroying a planet for profit more on the Slitheen side?
        Slitheen-Blathereen: How dare you! We're nothing like the Slitheen! We're much, much worse!
      • For reference, neither Slitheen nor Blathereen are races. In fact, they're family names. The race itself is called Raxacoricofallapatorians. For obvious reasons (and the fact that anyone might use that information to kill them), they prefer to stick with their family name.
    • Another heroic example from the Doctor is in the Series 9 opener "The Magician's Apprentice". At the beginning of the episode, it's revealed that the Doctor accidentally found Skaro during the Thousand-Year War and comes across a young boy trapped in a Handmine field. He intends to help the child but when he asks for the boy's name... He finds out that it's Davros. And so he just leaves, but he feels horrendously guilty about it, so much so that he's prepared to die to make amends for his mistake. Near the end, when he finally goes to Davros, they get talking as usual and then Davros tells the Doctor:
      Davros: You have a sense of duty. Of guilt, perhaps. And certainly of shame.
      The Doctor: You flatter me.
      Davros: Pity. I intended to accuse.
  • Drake & Josh pilot episode:
    Josh: You're the worst stepbrother ever!
    Drake: Harsh.
    • Also this exchange in "The Storm", when Drake takes Megan to the kitchen when he sees his current girlfriend, Carly, talking to his two ex-girlfriends, Lucy and Christine.
      Drake: I told you to keep them apart.
      Megan: I know.
      Drake: Then what happened?
      Megan: I got them all together.
      Drake: You're an evil, evil little girl!
      Megan: Whoa, look who's catching on.
  • In an episode of Farscape. The villain of the episode is a crazy, amoral Mad Scientist and the hero disgustedly compares him to Mengele. This backfires, as after hearing a bit about Mengele, the villain declares him a visionary.
  • Happens offscreen in one episode of EvenStevens where a teacher calls Louis a detriment to the learning process and he thanks her, and is then promptly sent to detention.
  • Flander's Company, in the season 4 finale:
    • Hippolyte to Alternate George, after the reveal he's the Big Bad:
      Alternate Cindy: You can't do that! It's... it's...
      Hippolyte: It's Evil. Congratulations, little girl: you've just met your first supervillain.
      Alternate George: Oh, coming from such a specialist as yourself, I'll take this as a compliment, thanks.
    • Then Damien does this against Über-Caleb:
      Über-Caleb: You bastard!
      Damien: (grinning) Flatteries will get you nowhere...
  • From Friends:
    • In "The One With the Cooking Class", Joey mistakenly believes a review reading "Everything else in this production of Our Town was simply terrible. Joey Tribbiani was abysmal," to be a compliment. Later on this leads to Compliment Backfire when he describes Monica's cooking as "abysmal".
    • Another example in "The One With The Dirty Girl", the eponymous girl (who is SMOKING hot) agrees to go on a date with 'nerdy' guy Ross, leading to this exchange with ex-girlfriend Rachel:
      Rachel: Well maybe she and her friends are just having a contest to see who can bring home the biggest geek.
      Ross: Fine by me, hope she wins.
  • Full House:
    • In the episode "The Devil Made Me Do It":
    Michelle: You got a bad attitude.
    Bad Michelle: Thanks.
    • In the episode "We Got The Beat": When Stephanie and Gia decide to start a band but know no one who can fill the role of a keyboardist, Jesse introduces Kimmy to them. Stephanie is NOT thrilled with the prospect of having Kimmy as a band member and describes Kimmy in unflattering words to Gia, only for Gia to tell Stephanie that those terms make Kimmy a perfect fit for the band.
    Gia: Come on, Steph. Right now she's all we got.
    Stephanie: But you don't know Kimmy like I do! She's rude, lewd, and crude.
    Gia: That's perfect!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • When Ser Meryn Trant tries to insult the former sellsword Bronn's new knighthood, Bronn highlights the difference between his receiving the title of knight from merit as opposed to getting it because of a high birth:
      Ser Meryn Trant: You're no knight.
      Bronn: Pod?
      Podrick: Ser Bronn of the Blackwater was anointed by the King himself.
      Ser Meryn Trant: You're an up-jumped cutthroat. Nothing more.
      Bronn: That's exactly who I am. And you're a grub in fancy armour who's better at beating little girls than fighting men. Now, I have an appointment with Lord Tyrion.
    • At one point, Tyrion explains to Jon how to make Insult Backfire work for him, by accepting and owning his imperfections:
      Tyrion: Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.
      Jon: What the hell do you know about being a bastard?
      Tyrion: All dwarves are bastards in their father's eyes.
    • When Jaime makes a point of referring to him as "boy", Robb's response amounts to "The boy who kicked your ass, bitch."
    • Jaime underestimates Loras in "The Lion and the Rose", believing that the young man would be an easy victim for his snark and threats, but the Knight of Flowers can fight with words just as well as he fights with swords. Jaime is even a little stunned by how easily Loras is able to hurt his feelings with a single, biting line.
      Jaime: Luckily for you, none of this will happen, because you will never marry [Cersei].
      Loras: (smiles smugly) And neither will you. (pats Jaime on the arm)
  • Hell's Kitchen: In one season, Chef Ramsey looked at an order ticket that a contestant wrote and complained that it looked like a child had scribbled on it, angrily asking the contestant if he'd ever gone to school. The man said "no" and explained that he'd had to drop out of school at a young age to support his family after the death of his father. Flabbergasted, Ramsey apologized and told him to get back to work.
  • Horrible Histories' Vlad the Impaler sketch:
    Vlad: You know what the Ottomans will say when they see the bodies of 20,000 of my own people spiked on the border?
    Interviewer: You're Insane!
    Vlad: Exactly!
  • House had plenty. Such as:
    Dr. Wilson: That smugness of yours really is an attractive quality.
    Dr. House: Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain.

    Dr. Wilson: Be yourself: cold, uncaring, distant.
    Dr. House: Please, don't put me on a pedestal.
  • From It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods":
    Dennis: Would you consider me a methodical person?
    Charlie: Ah yeah, like a serial killer.
    Dennis: I like that. It's a little bit of an exaggeration, but I see your point. And I like it, I take it as a compliment.
  • TV Guide once put up a list of the worst TV shows in the history of the medium, with Jerry Springer at #1. The show now opens every episode with "Voted the worst show in the history of television!"
  • For the third season of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the trailer and social media covers had the proudest negative assessments the show gathered: former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner calling John a "comedian fool", Donald Trump describing the show as "very boring", Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa saying John was "more unpleasant than a diuretic", and a Wall Street Journal article on how the show "Makes people dumb".
  • From Leverage:
    Andy: You see, when people say "controversy", I hear "attention".
    Sophie: Andy, you are shameless.
    Andy: Oh, god, you get me so well.
    • An addition one featuring Parker:
      Goon: You know when I said earlier you had pretty hair? I lied.
      Parker: Yeah, well, I lied when I said you didn't. Wait... dammit. [jumps off bridge to escape]
  • Life on Mars:
    Gene Hunt: I think you've forgotten who you're talking to!
    Sam Tyler: An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding?
    Gene Hunt: You make that sound like a bad thing.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Luke confronts his former friend Willis "Diamondback" Stryker.
    Willis "Diamondback" Stryker: Hello, Carl.
    Luke Cage: Willis.
    Willis "Diamondback" Stryker: I prefer Diamondback.
    Luke Cage: Because you're a snake. Just like Cottonmouth.
    Willis "Diamondback" Stryker: I am a snake. I've shed my skin for something better. Stronger.
  • Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes To Vegas":
    Natalie: (to Stottlemeyer) He gets hooked on everything. He's the most compulsive person I've ever met!
    Monk: Thank you.
    • The opposite happens in 'Mr. Monk And His Biggest Fan':
      Natalie: Mr. Monk, you're not flustered - you're flattered! Who wouldn't be? She adores you; she knows everything about you. After all, you're only human.
      Monk: There's no need for name-calling.
    • One episode (can't remember the title) had someone pointing out how lonely Monk must be. His response? "Yes, I am, thank you." It's the one where he visits Mexico, and it's not meant that way - Monk is appreciative someone understands how lonely he is due to all his neuroses.
  • The Muppet Show had such an exchange between Sam the Eagle and Alice Cooper:
    Sam: Mr. Cooper.
    Alice: Yes?
    Sam: Let me come right to the point. You, sir, are a demented, sick, degenerate, barbaric, naughty... freako.
    Alice: Why, thank you.
    Sam: (sigh) Freakos, 1 - Civilization, 0.
    Alice turns to the camera, then licks his finger and holds it up for the gesture of "one point to me".
  • In an episode of Muppets Tonight, Clifford is headhunted to host The Mario Nuts Show. He calls it "the most disgusting, depraved, irresponsible, and immoral excuse for a television program I've ever seen", and the producers think this means he's accepted the offer.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 used this trope as one of Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt's catchphrases in the first and "zeroth" season, before it petered out later on. Joel would call them mad, or tell them that they were tampering in God's domain, or some such, and they would reply, in unison, "Thank you!"
    • Earth vs. the Spider, largely considered an early years Shout-Out by the fans, shows Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank using this phrase, only to look confused at the occurrence immediately after. (This episode also contained an explicit reference to Dr. Erhardt, who was Put on a Bus between seasons one and two, and a sketch of the 'Bots being given RAM chips as rewards for complimenting the film—a Running Gag that had been long since phased out.)
    • Also has a Real Life example. After Kevin Murphy took over as the voice of Tom Servo, he was sent a massive print-out banner bearing the words "I HATE TOM SERVO'S NEW VOICE!" Kevin found it both highly amusing and incredibly sad that a fan would be so angry at a puppet on a TV show, and he proudly hung the banner in his workspace at Best Brains.
  • Played with at the end of the pilot episode of New Tricks. After a round of mild bickering about their unorthodox methods, Superintendent Pullman accuses the retired cops she now works with of being 'criminals'. They react with offence. She amends the insult to 'crooks' instead. This, they can live with.
  • From No Heroics episode "Origin and Tonic":
    Alex: You look like a right slag today.
    Sarah: Aww, cheers, Alex.
    • Alex has walked in too late to hear that Sarah's dressing slutty on purpose to annoy her parents, who are visiting the pub.
  • A milder variation from NUMB3RS, when Don Epps confronted his senior supervisor McGowan in order to reinstate Charlie Epps' security clearance.
    McGowan: You and your brother have the same way of looking at things, you know that?
    Don: (laughs) I haven't heard that but... I'll take it!
  • Karen of Other Space is often criticized for her brusque manner, but she always takes it as this.
  • The Partridge Family: In "Mom Drops Out," a Totally Radical concert promoter tries to fire Shirley for being too old and unhip. When Laurie calls him a homewrecker, he says, "Homewrecker! I like the ring of that! Home-wrec-ker!"
  • On Pee-wee's Playhouse:
    Cap'n Carl: Ya know, Pee-Wee, you got a really twisted side to you.
    Pee-Wee: Gosh, thanks, Cap'n Carl! Hehheh!!
  • From The Persuasionists episode 4:
    Billy: Emma, you are weight obsessed! This is why the other girls call you Skeletor!
    Emma: The other girls call me Skeletor?
    Billy: Yeah.
    Emma: Oh, that is so nice! I do have quite high cheekbones, don't I?
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
      • In an early episode, Bulk tells Skull he's driving like a maniac (escaping from a giant Goldar) and Skull thanks him.
      • Another episode, "Reign of the Jellyfish":
        Jellyfish Warrior: I was hoping I'd catch you, little power fishies. (evil laugh)
        Zack: Oh, yeah? Well, you're the one who's caught, slime!
        Jellyfish Warrior: Flattery will get you nowhere, little mastodon!
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy:
      Magna Defender: You are as despicable as I remember, Treacheron!
      Treacheron: Flattery will not buy you time.
    • Power Rangers S.P.D.:
      • Piggy, the bottom-feeder informant-on-the-streets type, finds a winning lottery ticket that lets him pay off all his debts to Arms Dealer Broodwing and open his own bar, much to Broodwing's annoyance.
        Broodwing: You may be a millionaire, but you're still the same disgusting, filthy, wretched piece of worthless garbage to me!
        Piggy: (earnestly) Thank you! It's nice to know money hasn't changed me.
      • Later in the same episode:
        Syd: This place is a roach-infested germ farm.
        Piggy: Thanks! I've done my best.
  • On Pramface, Mike asks Beth how he looks when he's found religion, dressing all in white with a prominent cross, and says "thank you" when she answers "like a lunatic."
  • From Red Dwarf
    Rimmer: You're totally egocentric, you flee at the first sign of danger, you only look after number one, you're vain, you're selfish, you're narcissistic and you're self-obsessed.
    The Cat: You just listed all my best features.
    • And in another episode, after Rimmer double-crosses them:
      Lister:'re a total scum-sucking, two-faced, weaselly weasel!
      Rimmer: Ah, my entry in "Who's Who." (walks out)
    • Yet another Cat example:
      Lister: You really are gullible.
      The Cat: Thanks!
  • The Red Green Show provides us with a classic example.
    Kevin Black: Now, I don't mean to be rude but you don't seem to grasp the concept of business management.
    Red Green: No, we don't and we actually really appreciate the compliment.
  • An old, old example in a song from Rich Little's A Christmas Carol (HBO, 1979). (Rich, doing his impressions of famous people, played all the characters.)
    Dick Wilkins ("Jimmy Stewart"): Ebenezer, Ebenezer/Your heart must live in a freezer/You're a miser and you're so unfair!
    Ebenezer Scrooge ("W.C. Fields"): (Beat) Flattery won't get you anywhere.
  • Seinfeld George has it really though when he tries to get back at a guy for insulting him during a meeting. Made even worse by the fact that he considered his original comeback so devastating that he spent the whole episode trying to get the guy to repeat the insult so he could use it.
    Rodney: Hey George, the ocean called, they're running out of shrimp.
    George: Oh yeah, well The Jerk Store called, they're running out of you.
    Rodney: What's the difference, you're their all-time bestseller!
    George: Well, I had sex with your wife!
    Person at the meeting: His wife's in a coma.
  • One episode of Dragon's Den, has a man trying to get a deal on a product which helps eliminate aging in the face. Mark Cuban not believing in the product, accuses the man of being a "gold digger". The man pitching the product replied: "I AM a gold digger, I'm an entrepreneur." He ultimately makes a deal with Lori Greiner.
  • In the Japanese drama Shōkōjo Seira, after purposely spilling soup over Seira and making her clean it on her knees, the Alpha Bitch scathingly remarks how she looks like a mouse. Seira calmly thanks her and replies that she likes mice.
  • In an episode of Sledge Hammer!, Da Chief tries to chew out the violent Cowboy Cop protagonist:
    Trunk: You sadistic, depraved, bloodthirsty, barbaric...
    Hammer: Is that why you called me in here? To shower me with compliments?
  • On Slings & Arrows, Geoffrey (who's directing a production of Macbeth) and Henry (his lead actor) disagree fundamentally about the play's interpretation. Geoffrey thinks it's necessary to showcase Macbeth's vulnerability in order to humanize him; Henry thinks Macbeth should remain in control of himself at all times (or, more precisely, Henry is the kind of actor who wants to be in control of his own performance at all times, and that informs the way he plays Macbeth). As a result of this conflict, Geoffrey pulls Henry out one night and puts in his understudy. Geoffrey thinks this is a great success. Henry, well...
    Henry: I saw a man stuttering and sweating his way through Macbeth. Now, if that was your desired effect, well, I'd say you succeeded admirably.
    Geoffrey: (proudly) Yes.
  • An unusual example in Smallville:
    Chloe: Go to hell.
    Desaad: No. It be here soon enough.
  • On Sonny with a Chance, the annoyed cast of So Random draws a mustache on Chad's picture on the billboard he puts up to help him win Sonny back. While Nico, Tawni, and Grady laugh about how Chad really looks like a fool now, Zora points out, "Isn't that the whole point of this sign?" Her three costars stare at her while, offscreen, Chad yells, "Hey guys! Thanks for making it better!"
  • Space: Above and Beyond: In "Sugar Dirt" the Chigs start broadcasting synthesized human voices over loudspeaker to try and lure surviving human soldiers into ambushes. When that doesn't work, they just start taunting them, or trying to:
    "Hey! Abe Lincoln's dead!"note 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series "Court Martial":
    McCoy: You are the most cold-blooded person I've ever met.
    Spock: Why thank you, Doctor.
    • McCoy has just walked in on Spock playing 3D chess against the computer while Kirk is facing some serious criminal charges. It is revealed that Spock was testing a hypothesis that the computer he was playing against had been tampered with, producing some false evidence framing Kirk. He was correct.
    • In "The Return of the Archons":
      Spock: I prefer the concrete, the graspable, the provable.
      Kirk: You would make a splendid computer, Mr. Spock.
      Spock: That is very kind of you, Captain.
    • In "I, Mudd", Harry Mudd tells Spock that he couldn't sell fake patents to his mother. Of course, the insult is lost on Spock, who has no reason to induce his mother to purchase falsified patents.
    • "Arena", on the other hand, makes it work in McCoy's favor.
      McCoy: I for one could use a good non-reconstituted meal!
      Spock: Doctor, you are a sensualist.
      McCoy: You bet your pointed ears I am.
    • Lampshaded in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:
      Spock: As you are so fond of pointing out, Doctor, I am half human.
      McCoy: Well, it certainly doesn't show.
      Spock: Thank you.
      McCoy: How do you like that? This guy never changes. I insult him and he takes it as a compliment.
    • About a century later, in Star Trek: The Next Generation and especially Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, calling a Ferengi pretty much anything involving scheming, treachery, greed, deceit, back-stabbing or other weaselry is virtually guaranteed to get you a warm if toothy smile and a "Thank you".
    • A Norvalan on Star Trek: Voyager tells a story about how someone else's insults against his father fell completely flat. As it turns out, Norvalans don't have fathers.
    • This exchange on Star Trek: Enterprise:
      Tucker: Mind if I ask you something? Why are you doing this? I never got the impression that you cared that much about humans. Seems were always finding something new to complain about.
      Soval: I lived on Earth for more than 30 years, Commander. In that time, I developed an affinity for your world and its people.
      Tucker: You did a pretty good job of hiding it.
      Soval: Thank you.
  • Taxi: Normally gentle, an aggravated Latka Gravas makes a rude foreign gesture to Louie dePalma. Louie makes a more familiar Italian gesture back at him. They go back and forth until Louie flicks his teeth at Latka with thumb — clearly the most obscene gesture he could do on TV. Latka's response: "Okay, I accept your apology."
  • From The Thick of It:
    Olly: Malcolm, y-you're bullying me, and, you know, I don't why you're bullying me-
    Malcolm: How dare you? How dare you?! Don't you ever, ever call me a bully. I'm so much worse than that.
    • ...and after Malcolm wins the job that Nick Hanway wanted, via numerous plans
      Nick Hanway: Fuck you very much, you unscrupulous bastard!
      Malcolm Tucker: Scruples? What are they? Those low-fat Kettle Chips?
    • Most insults aimed at Malcolm backfire as he is already fully aware of his bastardry. The tables are turned however when he finds himself in a meeting at The BBC, trying to offend two TV producers with inappropriate comments. One tells him "that's exactly the sort of banter we're looking for!": Unused to such butt-kissing, he responds by looking absolutely terrified.
  • Top Gear (UK): The "ignore the insult" variant is a fairly common element of the Odd Couple chemistry between Jeremy Clarkson and James May
    May: [after reviewing a Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe] I believe deep in my heart that I look good in it and it suits me... 'cause it's stylish and it's contemporary.
    [audience laughs]
    Clarkson: [sarcastically] Every time I see you, those are the words that pop into my head: stylish and contemporary.
    May: Thank you.
  • From True Blood, this exchange when Pam makes some snide remarks while watching Bill as he's turning Jessica:
    Bill: I find myself in doubt whether you ever were truly human.
    Pam: Thank you.
  • A variation occured in Two and a Half Men. A running joke is that Charlie often goes makes a meowing sound and then making a whipping motion towards Alan when trying to hint that Alan is a pussy. This eventually backfired during a psychotherapy session after Alan was sleepwalking and trying to make a cake, where he does this to Alan and it resulted in the psychiatrist attending the session to schedule a future appointment with Charlie when she mistakenly interpreted the mocking action by Charlie as a means to communicate his fear of Vaginas.
  • In VR Troopers, JB is battling Spikebot who mentions transforming into a more uncomfortable form and being dressed for the occasion. JB tells him that he's just as ugly either way, Spikebot replies "flattery will get you nowhere". The battle afterwards is brief and anticlimactic (although Spikebot did not die as easily as most bots).
  • A Variation appears in The West Wing in that President Bartlet practically asks Josh to insult him like this:
    Bartlet: I'm just as big a cotton candy ass as they are.
    Josh: Yes, sir.
    Bartlet: You just going to let that hang in the air?
    Josh: Of course not, sir. You're a much bigger cotton candy ass than they are.
    Bartlet: Damn right.
    • Later in the series, when Matt Santos is referred to as a liberal by conservatives, he delivers a brilliant response which lets them know that he's proud to be called a liberal.
    • After being fired for incompetence, the former Ambassador to Bulgaria snidely informs Bartlet that he didn't vote for him in the election. Since Bartlet won the election anyway, he's not overly bothered:
      Bartlet: [Genially] Well, thanks for trying but here I am anyway.
  • In Whose Line Is It Anyway? an exchange like this will happen during one of the games where they have to play as someone; it's usually not an insult, but one time Greg Proops was to play as a "nerdy white guy desperately trying to act street". Greg's response was "Yes, but what's my character?"
    • One golden moment from the "Let's Make a Date" game, where one player invariably plays some kind of ditz when trying to guess what the bachelors are acting like:
      Wayne: Bachelor no. 1?
      Brad: (as a Puritan witch hunter) Yes, harlot?
      Wayne: (beat) Now how'd you know my middle name?
    • From a game of "Scenes from a Hat", the scene was "Secret Lives of 'Whose Line' Stars":
      Brad Sherwood: (doing a strip-tease) Hi, I'm Colin Mochrie.
      Colin Mochrie: (as the guy watching the strip-tease) Hi, I'm Brad Sherwood!
  • From Will & Grace:
    Jack: You're evil and shallow.
    Karen: Compliments? So early in the day?
  • The Wire:
    • Maurice Levy attempts to undermine the prosecution's key witness, Omar, by reminding everyone what a terrible person he is. It seems to be working really well until Omar points out that they aren't so different. Throwing his insult right back in his face.
      Levy: You are amoral. Are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You stealing from those who themselves are stealing from the lifeblood of this city. You are a parasite who leeches off...
      Omar: Just like you.
    • When Herc gets annoyed that all the local hoppers wear their hats backwards, he leans out his window and sarcastically asks a passing kid where he bought his hat, with the bill on the back of the head. The kid doesn't get it, and explains that it's a normal hat, just turned around. Herc is left speechless.
    • When Bird is being interrogated, he throws insults at his interrogators, saying "Fuck you, fat man," to Jay Landsman. Jay laughs it off saying, "And I thought we were friends." Later, in season 4, Kima says it to him in response to getting caught up in the political games concerning the investigation into the murder of a state's witness, to which Jay says "Not original."
  • Harper Finkle from Wizards of Waverly Place says she's rewired her brain to make any insult come off as a compliment.
    • Then there's T.J. Taylor; an only child and wizard on neutral-bad terms with the Russo Family, he always says "I'll show you [insert whatever the other person just said here]!" The best and worst instances of this are shown in the episode "Art Teacher". Alex did a good deed which resulted in her art teacher losing her job, and the successor is not up to Alex's standards.
      Mr. Laritate: Well, if you think you have a better interpretation of what art class should be, why don't you share it with us?
      Alex: Right. Everyone, grab your brushes and paint whatever you want. Be creative, spontaneous, passionate.
      T.J.: I'll show you passion!
      • After which he begins a paint fight between the two wizards, marking the first time he backs up his words; any other time it was just an empty threat, if a threat at all, which is why it belongs under this page. The end result of the aforementioned fight is all of the deflected paint being splattered on Mr. Laritate, who subsequently praises Alex for her passion and promises to find a new art teacher, and promotes her to Teacher's Deputy. She then walks over to T.J.
        Alex: My first job as deputy is this: T.J., why don't you take out your sketchpad and draw yourself a detention slip.
        T.J.: (scoffs) I'll show you a detention slip!
        Alex: Thank you, it's exactly what I wanted.
        T.J.: That backfired.
    • When the tutor for Max turns out to be a really pretty girl, Alex disdainfully tells Justin that guys are so easy falling for a pretty face. Justin just gives her a grin and agrees.
    • Also, when Justin snarkily suggested "A Night To Dismember" as a name for Alex's zombie prom, she decided that sounded cool.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati - Herb hears that Mrs. Carlson called him "addle-minded" and takes it as a compliment. While he's looking up the word, he gets in a slap-fight with Les over who the addle-minded one is. Bailey stops them, saying "You're both addle-minded!" - and they thank her.
  • In Yes, Minister, Hacker calls Sir Humphrey a "moral vacuum". When Bernard asks Sir Humphrey if he'll become a moral vacuum as well, Humphrey replies certainly, if he works at it...
  • In The Young Ones, Rick called a man a fascist and got the reply 'Si'. He could have picked a better thing to call Benito Mussolini.


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