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Literal Metaphors in live-action TV.


  • During a song at the 2006 Oscars, Jack Black bolsters Will Ferrell by telling him they may not win any awards, but they'll win "the ultimate fight".
    Jack: And I'm not speaking in a metaphor, I mean literally. I am going to fight the nominees.


  • 30 Rock:
    • In "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning":
      Pete: Tracy's phoning it in.
      Liz: So what else is new?
      [cut to show a phone where Tracy should be]
      Tracy: Line!
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    • Liz's boyfriend Floyd, upset over being passed up for a promotion, complains that he's sick of the rat race. It turns out his neighbors race rats in his apartment hallway late at night. Sometimes he places bets.
    • Tracy makes reference to having a money pit in Connecticut.
      Jack: You have a house in Connecticut?
      Tracy: No.
    • Tracy also has a bucket list. It is a list of different buckets he wants to own.
    • When Liz says that she saved Tracy's career, Tracy counters, "Five years ago, I saved your show! I rode in here on my white horse, which you made me me leave in the lobby!"
    • Tracy on why he wants to have another child:
      Tracy: I got a hole in my heart, Liz Lemon. And not the one I got from eating batteries.
  • In Agent Carter episode "Bridge and Tunnel", a man being interrogated by the SSR is literally shown a carrot and a stick.
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  • On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson describes Ivanov, the latest Arc Villain, as having "more than a few skeletons in his closet." At the time, he's standing in a closet in which Ivanov has literally left the skeletons of his former compatriots for Coulson to find.
  • Two separate episodes of Air Crash Investigation reference a flight literally hanging by a thread. One case involves a control cable worn down to almost nothing by a series of unfortunate circumstances; the other is referencing a screw thread, but it still counts.
  • As a show run on Double Entendre, 'Allo 'Allo! featured many of these. It was particularly common for men to tell the women they had 'something in their pants' for them (as this was a favorite smuggling tactic).
  • In American Gods, Audrey has her cheating husband Robbie buried with his severed penis shoved up his ass.
  • Angel: One of the prophecies that has Wolfram & Hart so worked up regarding a pregnant vampire states that on the foretold night, there will be no birth, only death. They do relax somewhat at that, concluding that the offspring will either be miscarried or stillborn or killed before it can be born. It turns out that this is actually a literal statement: The vampire is undead, her body isn't designed to give birth and magic protecting the baby from harm means a C-section cannot be performed either. Her solution is to stake herself. Her body disintegrates into dust, leaving the (very alive) baby lying on the ground where her body used to be. One of the lawyers immediately recognizes the similarity to a certain other prophesy...
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    • In an earlier episode, Lilah mentions that in Wolfram and Hart's last seventy-five year review "nearly half of mid-management was sacked. And Lindsey, they used real sacks."
  • Arrested Development:
    • One doctor does this a few times, saying that "we lost him" when a patient escaped, "it looks like he's dead" to refer to a patient covered in blue paint, and "he's going to be all right" after Buster loses his left hand.
    • In another episode, Michael repeatedly asked his imprisoned father about finances, only to be told "There's money in the banana stand." Michael assumes that just meant that the sales from the banana stand would always be there but really the banana stand is lined with $250,000 in unmarked bills but Michael doesn't learn about it until after the stand burns to the ground.
  • Arrow: In the episode "Legacy", Oliver Queen has been captured to be used as bait to trap the Green Arrow, by someone unaware that Oliver Queen and the Arrow are one and the same. Oliver, tied to a chair, tells his kidnapper that the Arrow isn't coming.
    Oliver: I have it on pretty good authority that he's tied up right now.
  • "Put your foot in it" is a black Southern expression that means "do something well," usually cooking. When Darius from Atlanta says it, however, he means it literally, and proceeds to put his actual foot in his pasta while making it.
  • Babylon 5: Lord Kiro mentions that his aunt once told him he would be "killed by shadows". He doesn't think it makes any sense. Pity no one told him about that ancient alien race who call themselves The Shadows...
  • In the new Battlestar Galactica, Baltar asks the "imaginary" Head Six what she really is. Her response? An angel of God sent to guide humanity. And it turns out that she was being completely serious.
  • In an episode of Becker:
    Becker: Sorry I'm late, I was tied up all morning.
    Linda: Hey, so was I!
    Becker: Linda, I wasn't actually tied up.
    Linda: Oh, uh, then neither was I.
  • Being Human: Annie is talking to another ghost, who mentions that her death was "a terrible shock". Annie replies, "Well, I should think it would be!" The other ghost then explains that she meant it literally; she died by electrocution.
  • The Benny Hill Show:
    • A prison scene has a piano against a brick wall, and the narrator states, "During this dark time, music was his only escape", followed by Benny climbing on top of the piano to get over the wall.
    • In a sketch on the beach, Benny is reading a book titled How to Pick Up Girls. Then, he tries to physically lift a swimsuit-clad beauty, and gets slapped for it.
  • In at least one episode of Bewitched, Endora wants to demonstrate that Darrin's advertising parlance is all meaningless cliches, so she casts a spell that forces him to act out every metaphor literally.
  • Black Jesus: On being told a bag of fertilizer costs $800, one of Jesus' crew says, "I don't even have $800 to my name, you know what that means? That means my life ain't worth a sack of shit!"
  • Blackadder:
    • In the episode "Captain Cook", Baldrick paints a picture.
      Blackadder: What's it called Baldrick? "The Vomiting Cavalier"?
      George: That's not supposed to be vomit; it's dabs of light.
      Baldrick: No, it's vomit. You told me to paint what comes from within.
    • We also get his gem:
      Young Crone: Two things, my lord, must thee know of the Wisewoman. First, she is... a woman. And second, she is...
      Blackadder: Wise?
      Young Crone: You do know her then?
      Blackadder: No, just a wild stab in the dark which is, incidentally, what you'll be getting if you don't start being a bit more helpful. Do you know where she lives?
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Inverted:
      Buffy: [My mom] saw these scores, and her head spun around and exploded.
      Giles: I've been living on the Hellmouth too long... that was metaphorical, wasn't it?
    • A somewhat different kind of inversion occurs in "A New Man", after Giles has been turned into a demon:
      Spike: Hey, picked up a tail...
      Giles: Yes, just a little, uh... Hurts when I sit.
      Spike I mean someone's following us.
    • Played straight by the Mayor:
      The Mayor: There's more than one way to skin a cat. And I happen to know that's factually true.
    • Also played straight in what Xander says in "Dead Man's Party" during the big What the Hell, Hero? moment against Buffy for running away at the end of season 2. Unbeknownst to the gang, a small-scale Zombie Apocalypse is going on at that very moment:
      Xander: You can't just bury stuff, Buffy! It'll come right back up to get you.
    • Part of the modus operandi of Vengeance Demons.
      Rachel: I wish you could all feel what's it like to have your hearts ripped out.
      Anyanka: Wish granted.
  • In one Charmed episode, the Seer says she sees nothing. Her master assumes she failed to see the future, but she means, "Nothing. No Life. No World."
  • Used in a particularly dark (still funny) instance in Community, about the head of a law firm losing his job.
    Alan: [Jeff and Alan's old boss] is gone. Got too old. Couldn't swim with the sharks and got eaten.
    Jeff: That makes no sense; he started the firm. You can't lose your own firm.
    Alan: You can if you're dead. That shark thing was not a metaphor.
  • In Covert Affairs: Auggie gets slapped, somewhat deservedly, by a hot-headed ex-girlfriend as soon as she sees him after two years apart (which she spent in prison, by the way).
    Auggie: Didn't see that coming.
    Tash: You should have. Do you know what I've been through the last two years?
    Auggie: [waves folded white cane] I meant because I'm blind.
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: While discussing the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, they showed a clip of a CNN correspondent reporting during the lockdown, saying "It's as though a bomb had dropped". After a massive Facepalm, Jon Stewart said:
    Jon: That's not so much a metaphor as what actually happened.
  • Detectorists drags this out for comedy as Sophie desperately searches for the deeper meaning behind Lance's admission, while Lance remains completely ignorant of how his words could be interpreted any other way;
    Lance: Listen, I've never admitted this to anyone, but I really won the lottery the day Maggie left me.
    Sophie: Right. You mean, what, you didn't realise at the time but actually it was the best thing that could have happened?
    Lance: Pardon?
    [...]
    Sophie: What did you mean then, "I won the lottery"?
    Lance: ...I won the lottery the day Maggie left me.
    Sophie: Sorry, what do you mean?
    Lance: What part of "I won the lottery" do you not understand??
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Utopia": When the Doctor tells Martha about the Cardiff rift, she remembers that there was an earthquake there a couple years ago and asks if that was him. He responds that he was "a different man back then" — thanks to regeneration, he was Christopher Eccleston during the earlier episode, but is David Tennant in this one.
    • "The Sontaran Stratagem": When describing the ATMOS GPS system while driving:
      Ross: It drives me round the bend.
    • "Flesh and Stone": The Doctor tells Amy and River to "get a grip"... because the Weeping Angels are about to drain the last of the Byzantium's energy and accidentally deactivate the artificial gravity.
    • "The Doctor's Wife": The Doctor tells one of the two inhabitants of an asteroid in a bubble planet that he has the eyes of a twenty-year old. The man accepts the compliment before the Doctor clarifies that he's just worked out that these two people are made from recycled bits of people who were lured here and killed, resulting in parts of their bodies being older or younger than other parts. He then hits the trope again roundabout by asking about their ability to dance... due to one of them literally having two left feet.
    • "The Girl Who Waited": Amy disarms a Handbot — though it's really more like "dehanding" it (she chops off the hands, since they administer anaesthetics and are how the robot "sees".
    • "The God Complex":
      The Doctor: Are there any more of you?
      Rita: Joe. But he's tied up right now.
      The Doctor: Doing what?
      Rita: No, I mean he's tied up right now.
      [cut to a man tied to a chair]
    • "Into the Dalek": Clara asks what to do with a moral Dalek. The Doctor says he needs to "get into its head." Cue the "Fantastic Voyage" Plot...
    • "Time Heist": Employees of the Bank of Karabraxos whose performances are deem substandard are fired... by means of an incinerator.
    • "Dark Water": After Clara's boyfriend dies, she tries to force the Doctor to save him, threatening to throw all of his TARDIS keys into an active volcano if he declines. The Doctor can't fix it, so Clara appears to mercilessly go through with her threats, only for it to be revealed that the whole thing was a hallucination the Doctor set up once he saw what she was planning. When Clara asks what happens next, the Doctor understandably says "Go to Hell"... then reveals he intends to take her to the afterlife in an attempt to save Danny.
  • Downton Abbey: In Series 4, Charles Blake helps Lady Mary save the Crawley family's recently delivered pigs from dehydration:
    Mary: You've certainly saved our bacon. Literally!
  • The Electric Company (1971): In an animated short, an angry wife tells her husband, who's dozing in his armchair, that he "drives [her] up the wall". He wakes up, and thinking that was a request, grabs hold of her and pulls a ripcord on the chair, starting up an engine and driving the two of them up the wall of the room and back down.
  • Frasier:
    • On several occasions, being a World of Snark:
      Frasier: Niles, is there a lightbulb over my head?
      Niles: You have an idea?
      Frasier: No, I'm literally asking if there's a lightbulb over my head! Of course I have an idea!
    • After Niles is caught out in a Closet Shuffle when he falls asleep over a breakfast trolley:
      Lilith: You have egg on your face.
      Niles: That's an understatement, I'm mortified! I—
      Lilith: No, actual egg! It's in your hair, too...
    • The station hired a tough negotiator, "The Hammer" to renegotiate everyone's contract. Gil's salary has been slashed, but Bebe comes in with Roz, cheering.
      Gil Chesterson: How on earth did you get all that?
      Bebe Glazer: Oh, we go way back, the Hammer and I. I know where the bodies are buried. [beat] Usually, that's just a metaphor...
  • Game of Thrones:
    • A subtle example: When the character known up until that point only as The Boy is about to kill one of Theon's guards, the guard exclaims, "Bastard!" This should be a pretty big hint that The Boy is actually Roose Bolton's (literal and figurative) bastard son Ramsay, who has been mentioned once or twice.
    • Petyr Baelish counseled his ward Robyn Aryn that "“People die at their dinner tables. They die in their beds. They die squatting over their chamber pots." He meant it as common, but hypothetical occurrences that the boy should not focus on. At the time of his speech, the first example happened in a well-known recent massacre and at a murder Petyr facilitated. The second two would happen in the next episode unbeknownst to him.
  • This is a regular gag for Sophia on The Golden Girls:
    Sophia: Then it happened, what every runner dreads. I hit the wall.
    Dorothy: Aww, you ran out of steam.
    Sophia: No, I actually hit a wall!
  • During an argument in Good Omens, Crowley (a demon) tells Aziraphale (an angel) that something he just said is "a little bit holier-than-thou."
    Aziraphale: I am a great deal holier than thou, that's the whole point!
  • In one episode of The Gruen Transfer, "The Pitch" had two advertising agencies competing to "sell ice to Eskimos".
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, reference to the manure Hercules cleared from the Augean Stables has someone say "Holy—" "Exactly."
  • Horrible Histories:
    • The Viking song:
      We're tearing down this place tonight... literally!
      We're gonna set this sleepy town alight... literally!
    • Also, in the Dick Turpin song, Turpin describes his actions as a highwayman as "daylight robbery" — normally meaning an extortionate charge for something, but here meaning literally robbing people in broad daylight.
      • Not to mention the final lines of the song, when Turpin is caught and hanged:
        No more stand and deliver, you'll remember this, I hope:
        It's no fun hanging with highwaymen when you're hanging from a rope.
    • Some Crusaders decide to follow a goose that's "filled with the Holy Spirit." After it fails to get them any closer to the Holy Land, one of them says, "I never thought I'd say this, but that was literally a wild goose chase."
    • The Guy Fawkes Ocean's Eleven parody:
      Guard: You'll be hung, drawn, and quartered.
      Guy Fawkes: Gutted.note 
      Guard: You will be.
    • In the Cowboy Song, Mike the Cowboy does a fart solo, thanks to his diet of beans. He asks the other cowboys how it was, to which they reply, "IT STUNK!".
  • On House of Cards (US), Underwood asks to be alone in a cathedral, then spits contemptuously on a large clay statue of Jesus. When he goes to wipe the spit off, the statue falls down and shatters. He calls his Secret Service detail to come in and pick it up; as they arrive, he walks off with a bit of the statue, saying, "At least now I have God's ear."
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Romeward Bound", the company Marshall works for is revealed to have descended to the point that everyone except Marshall and Bernard has been laid off or left for better prospects, and all they've done for the last few months is muck around. Marshall didn't want to want to reveal this to his wife, nor did he want to lie to her, so every time she called, he told the truth using a metaphor:
    Marshall: I can't talk right now; I got a lot on my plate.
    [Marshall puts down the phone and sits in front of a plate of burgers]
    Marshall: Well, let's dig in. If we start now, we can be done by lunch.
  • In an episode of I Dream of Jeannie, Major Healey has invited everyone to a party in his completely bare apartment. He tells Major Nelson that new furniture would be installed "in the blink of an eye. Um, where did you say Jeannie was?"
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The gang realizes they have too many unresolved issues with various people around town and decide to use Thanksgiving dinner as an opportunity to "squash their beefs." Dennis interprets this metaphorically, but the rest of the gang takes a more literal approach, deciding that they should serve squash and beef for dinner, literally bury a hatchet in the ground, and physically wipe a slate clean. Dennis immediately points out that this is all "very on the nose."
  • In "Chapter 14" of Jane the Virgin, Luisa recounts how she and Rose got together. "And then she kissed me. And then there were fireworks." It was the 4th of July, and the fireworks show started right as Rose kissed her. And then they had sex in a pool, while the fireworks continued.
  • In Jonas:
    Nick: She got a frog in her throat.
    Kevin: There is a bug going around.
    Nick: No, she was swimming in the swamp and got an actual frog in her throat. She's at the hospital right now getting a frog-ectomy.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has a utility worker drop a cable he is taking out of a truck after being startled. His supervisor asks him what's wrong.
    Worker: Rats!
    Supervisor: Son of a bitch, can't even curse like a man!
    Worker: No, I mean... (points to several large rats)
  • Little Lunch: In "The Milk Bar", the kids are complaining about Rory continually trying to cadge food from them. Tamara says something needed to be done, and continues:
    "So yesterday, I put my foot down. On my lunchbox. Which Rory was trying to open."
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Implied in the episode "Billboard". After the boys lock themselves up on the titular billboard to escape their mother's wrathContext , Hal arrives on the scene soon after and lampshades it.
    Hal: Oh Good God! I thought it was a metaphor.
  • Married... with Children: Al once made a Deal with the Devil and ended up Dragged Off to Hell. There, he commented it was hot like in hell. He then realized why.
  • Master Minds has "...and make himself millions" as one of their catchphrases, but they added the word "literally" in the case of Wesley Weber, Canada's most notorious counterfeiter.
  • In the fourth episode of the fifth series of Misfits, one of the members of the superpower support group is a gay man who involuntarily teleports into the nearest closet whenever he denies his sexuality.
  • In "Bringing Up Baby", the fourth-season premiere of Modern Family, sitting on their sofa mulling their failed second adoption, Mitchell tells Cam that they have to talk about the elephant in the room. He agrees, and the camera pulls back to show a large stuffed elephant on one of the chairs, apparently received as a baby gift. For good measure, the gag repeats itself after one of them mentions the 800-pound gorilla.
  • Moone Boy:
    Martin: "Playing with myself?" How'd they know I was playing with myself?
    [cut to Martin under the covers with a flashlight — playing foosball with himself]
  • In the pilot of Mr. Sunshine, after Crystal dumps Ben for Alonzo, they are just proceeding in opposite directions when the missing elephant turns up.
  • One episode of Murder, She Wrote has the usually not-too-bright deputy Floyd observe that the writing on a letter looks like Greek to him. When sheriff Mort responds that yes, they haven't been able to figure out what it is, Floyd clarifies that he meant that it looks like it is written in the Greek language — he recognised several of the letters from fraternities from his college days.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Space Mutiny, Crow pretends to be excited about watching the climactic battle, at first.
    Crow: Wow! I am on the edge of my seat! [beat] I should probably scoot back a little; I'd be more comfortable.
    Mike: Yeah, you've got a lot more room back there.
  • The MythBusters have tested many Literal Metaphors over the years. For example: “You can’t Polish the Turd” (you can), “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” (you can do that too) and “It’ll knock your socks off” (anything that literally separates you from your socks likely used enough force to kill you).
  • In an episode of Night Court, Harry says that when he was a kid, he knocked over a liquor store, meaning he drove into one when he went joyriding.
  • In one episode of NUMB3RS, the agents learn that their suspect is looking for another guy, a fugitive named McHugh, because McHugh's blood contains evidence of a conspiracy the suspect is trying to expose. Megan quips that the suspect "wanted McHugh's blood, literally".
  • Early episodes of The Office (US) had various examples.
    Toby: Oscar’s really gay.
    Michael: Exactly.
    Toby: I mean for real.
    Michael: Yeah, I know.
    Toby: No, he’s attracted to other men.
    Michael: Okay, little too far, crossed the line.
    Toby: Okay, I am telling you Oscar is an actual homosexual.
  • Mark's discussion in Parks and Recreation of why he decided to turn his life around: "I hit rock bottom that night. I mean I literally fell to the bottom of a pit and hit a rock. I remember laying there thinking, there's probably a good reason why I'm down here. And then I remember thinking I need morphine."
  • Pushing Daisies:
    • "Smell of Success":
      Emerson: Your book was a bomb.
      Napoleon: Who are you to criticize my life's work?!
      Emerson: [deadpan] Your book. Was a bomb. It exploded.
    • "Bad Habits":
      Emerson: That's bat crap.
      Olive: It's a frickin' convent. Show some respect.
      Emerson: [pointing at the white-streaked wall of the bell tower] I'm showing you bat crap.
  • Scrubs:
    • An episode put an interesting spin on this one:
      J.D.: We could have sex again.
      Elliot: Bite me.
      J.D.: Oh, come on, I was kidding! It's a joke!
      Elliot: No, I mean it. Like you did last night. [takes off her shirt and throws it at him] Come bite me.
    • In another, Elliot talks about how great her fiancee Keith is, saying he would walk through fire for her. A Gilligan Cut shows the Janitor trying to convince Keith to literally walk through fire to prove his love for Elliot. note 
  • In the Sherlock episode "The Sign of Three", Sherlock is giving a speech as John's best man and reminisces about some of their more interesting cases (none of which were shown in past episodes). He mentions the "Elephant in the Room". Cut to the two of them staring at something big in a room and the sound of an elephant trumpet.
  • The Sketch Show: Several sketches rely on this type of gag, including one where a famous "sex symbol" is interviewed (the male one), and one of a "sports extremists club" (members include Muslim terrorists, Nazis, and Klansmen).
  • Smallville:
    • One is lampshaded in the episode "Icarus". After Hawkman jumps from a window with his wings on fire, General Wilson points out that he had intended the name to be a metaphor for Clark's fall from grace. Or to use the paraphrasing given in a recap:
      Wilson: Look, when I named this project Icarus, I never expected an actual dude with flaming wings falling from the sky. This is totally awesome. I love life.
    • In an earlier episode, when Clark Kent catches a life-threatening fever, a doctor tries to give him a shot:
      Pa Kent: You can't do that! [the doctor is outraged] No, I mean you literally can't do that.
      [the doctor tells him off and sticks the needle in, which goes in fine because the fever neutralized Clark's invulnerability]
  • In one episode of Spaced Mike walks off in the pub saying he has to "point the pink pistol at the porcelain firing range". When he gets back he is carrying an actual pink pistol.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • From the episode "1969":
      Maj. Thornberg: What was the weapon you used?
      Col. O'Neill: [innocently] Weapon?
      Maj. Thornberg: Our cameras saw some sort of weapon.
      Col. O'Neill: Oh. Well, it's hard to say.
      Maj. Thornberg: Some sort of state secret?
      Col. O'Neill: No, just difficult to pronounce.
    It was a Goa'uld Zat'nik'tel, for reference. And that's not even the least pronounceable term in Goa'uld language — that would be the Tacluchnatagamuntoron, which even the always proper Teal'c shortens to "tacs".
    • In season 9 episode "Off the Grid", when asked how he managed to have Big Eater Goa'uld Nerus leave the SGC while unknowingly carrying a subspace tracker, General Landry answers that "It was a piece of cake..." (of cupcake, to be precise).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: During a flashback to Odo's early days of working security under the Cardassian occupation and his first meeting with Quark:
    Quark: First drink on the house. An old and dreadful Cardassian tradition. What'll you have?
    Odo: I don't drink.
    Quark: A soft drink then...?
    Odo: I don't drink.
    • The Starfleet uniform is frequently equated with the duties and responsibilities of the officer wearing it. When Worf's brother Kurn gets a job aboard DS9:
    Kurn: I hate this uniform.
    Worf: I understand. The transition will probably be difficult for some time.
    Kurn: That's not what I mean. I have accepted the transition. I am a Bajoran security officer. The uniform is simply uncomfortable.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Someone To Watch Over Me", Seven of Nine offers to get Tom Paris and The Doctor a drink, and The Doctor, being a hologram, says, "You know I don't drink. I don't have the stomach for it."
  • In Supernatural:
    Dean: Where'd you serve?
    Guy: Fallujah — two tours. Got back a little over a year ago. Takes one to know one. Where'd you serve?
    Dean: Hell.
    Guy: No, seriously.
    Dean: Seriously. Hell.
    • Inverted in a season nine episode. The statement is the exact opposite of a common metaphoric phrase, but it's so bizarre that a character not in on the Masquerade asks if it is one.
      Kim: I am a prayerful woman who believes in miracles as much as the next, but I also know how to read an EEG. And unless you're telling me you have a direct line to those angels that you were looking for –
      Dean: Yeah, no, I, uh... Guess I don't. But I might have something better. I got the King of Hell in my trunk.
      Kim: Uh, is – is that... I'm sorry. Is that a metaphor?
  • On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, while Lillian is complaining about the new snobby direction of the neighborhood:
    Lillian: I don't want to beat a dead horse... but if I did, I couldn't! They're all gone now due to gentrification!
  • Veep:
    • In the episode "Camp David", Dan calls up Selina to tell her that Jonah just shot himself in the foot. Selina assumes he means that Jonah had made another gaffe during his Congressional campaign, only for Dan to explain that Jonah, who was filming a hunting-themed commercial, literally shot himself in the foot by accident.
    • In "Running", Selina walks through a glass door. Several people have to have it clarified that it's not code for something, it's what literally happened.
  • Used in the Wings episode "Plane Nine From Nantucket":
    Joe: Who won the arm-wrestling match?
    Helen: Fay licked me.
    Joe: She beat you, huh?
    Helen: No, she licked me. She literally licked my hand. I was so startled, she caught me off-guard, pinned me to the table.
  • In The Wire, McNulty thinks he's caught a gangster on tape confessing to murder. Unfortunately, after the arrest, McNulty is extremely disappointed to learn that when the gangster talked about shooting his dog, he did not mean in the colloquial sense of "friend" or "close associate." He meant his actual dog.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place:
    Alex: You've got to help me!
    Crumbs: I wish I could, but my hands are tied.
    Alex: You don't believe me either?
    Crumbs: No, I mean my hands are tied. (shows Alex he's handcuffed to the table)


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