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WARNING! If you do X, Y might happen!

...except "Y"

Basically, this is when someone is told that an action or decision will lead to a certain outcome — but the predicted outcome is occurring (or inevitable) anyways, so the course of action might as well be taken. Nobody is Tempting Fate at all, Fate has already done its thing, thank you.

A variant involving objects is for a skeptic to say that if a certain object is genuine, it must fulfill certain criteria — only to learn that, yes, those criteria ARE fulfilled. For example, someone says a saxophone can only be a C Melody (a rare type) if it was custom-made or hailed from the 1920s — only to learn said saxophone was indeed made in the 1920s.

Compare/Contrast You Are Too Late and Tempting Fate. Also related to You Already Changed the Past when Time Travel is involved.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One-Punch Man: When Armored Gorilla is disabled by Genos, he refuses to give up any information to him or Saitama, boasting that his superior Beast King will kill them both. Saitama then pulls out the messy remains from when he'd slaughtered Beast King and asks if that's the guy he's talking about. After a long Visible Silence, Armored Gorilla switches from Robo Speak to a regular voice and meekly acquiesces.

    Fan Works 
  • In chapter 26 of Fairytale of Doom, Natsu reunites with his guildmates and tells them that through a Magic Mirror, he found out that Fairy Heart has been split into three artifacts (a sword, a shield, and a blessing) and they need to find and bring them together to escape from the Fairy Tale Free-for-All they are trapped in, and that they need to go and find them before Zeref or the Fairy Tale villains do. His guildmates are silent for a moment before Lucy tells him that in their quest to find each other, they managed to find all three artifacts.
  • Hero Chat: Chloé convinces Ladybug to do an identity reveal if one of the heroes can figure out everyone else's secret identity. Marinette agrees to, thinking it would impossible because Luka doesn't go to the same school as them or most of Team Miraculous, and no one, not even Marinette, even knows Chat Noir's identity. She is unaware that Chloé has already figured everyone out.
  • Remnant's Bizarre Adventure, in the Cinderella arc, Aya Tsuji uses her Stand to help Nora make Ren fall in love with her, but no matter what Ren seems unaffected. It's during the climax that Aya figures out the reason Cinderella didn't work on Ren because Ren is already in love in Nora.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, during their journey the Monkey mentions to Kubo, who is climbing on some rocks behind her back, that any moment something terrible could come out of nowhere... and as she turns around Kubo is gone. Turns out he was abducted by a beetle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Harry Osborn is dying of a terminal illness, and wants Spider-Man's blood, believing it and its healing abilities to be his only hope for survival. Spidey refuses to give it to him, fearing that his blood may harm or kill Harry, or even turn him into a monster like what happened with the Lizard in the previous film. Harry responds that he's already dying, so he's got nothing to lose.
  • It (2017): Mike initially rebuffs the Losers' friendship offer, saying it'd make them a target for Henry Bowers and his gang. The Losers promptly inform him that they saved his ass, and Henry's already targeting them.
  • In Tombstone, Wyatt Earp is seeking his fortune, and a man warns him, "I've never met a wealthy man who didn't wind up with a guilty conscience." Wyatt replies, "I've already got a guilty conscience. Might as well have the money, too."
  • In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader, who has killed the Emperor and gotten zapped by Force Lightning in the process, asks Luke to remove his helmet so Anakin Skywalker can look on his son with his own eyes. Luke protests that Anakin will die, but Anakin points out he's already dying. Then, Luke says he must save his father, but Anakin says Luke has done that as well.

  • Animorphs: Elfangor is hoping to prevent the Yeerk invasion of Earth, but is told their scouts are in orbit already.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Search by the Foundation": A student in the Second Foundation tells the First Speaker that there is a high chance the First Foundation might begin shifting their focus on the physical sciences to anti-telepath research in order to fight them. The First Speaker states that the change has already happened. The student concludes that the Seldon Plan has failed, but the First Speaker disagrees, and this story is about the narrow thread that they must weave to prevent the complete failure.
  • From the prologue to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:
    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
    There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
  • In Heir Of Andelun, the prophesy warns that if the titular heir sires a child with the daughter of the current King and joining the two dynasties, it will mean that the dynasty the deposed Andelun belonged to is extinct. Turns out, Andelun's ancestors violated a law regarding inbreeding (several times, in fact), and thus went legally extinct long before even Andelun was born.
  • In Words of Radiance, Jasnah receives this three times in quick succession after surviving an assassination attempt and trying to deliver dire warnings. Each time, to her increasing irritation, it's not news anymore. That her audience is The Gadfly Hoid doesn't help matters either.
  • This is why the barman in Moving Pictures who caters exclusively to people Drowning Their Sorrows has learned never to say things like "It might never happen" or "It could be worse" to his clientele.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Perfect Strangers had Larry fail at a task and decide to give up in despair. Balki then gives him a speech about not giving up, saying "If George Washington gave up at Valley Forge, we'd all be speaking English now!" Balki's apparently not aware of what the official language of the United States is called.
  • The Tonight Show: When Johnny Carson was retiring, Jay Leno and David Letterman were both vying for the job. Eventually it went to Jay, but Johnny was still hosting the show for several more months. Shortly after the decision, Johnny had Dave on as a guest.
    Johnny: Well, why don't I start off with a question, here: just how pissed off are you?
    Dave: Johnny, lemme give you a little piece of advice: you keep using language like that, and you're gonna find yourself out of a job.

    Video Games 
  • Dawn of War 2: After the Tyranids arrive in subsector Aurelia but seem to spare the capital world of Meridian, Cyrus keeps telling the government to step up production against the invasion but is repeatedly blown off. Only once the Blood Ravens discover that the Eldar have been messing with scans and preventing calls for help from transmitting is the threat taken seriously, but by then the Tyranids have gained a considerable foothold.
  • In Icewind Dale, the Flavor Text for Pale Justice states that the sword was forged by a smith worshiping the god Tyr as his masterpiece. Then he brought it to Tyr's temple as a gift. The priests there prayed to their god for ten years to grant it magical power. Then they gave up, and a single priest prayed for it alone. After twenty more years, the priest realized that Tyr had enchanted the sword years ago... just without fanfare.

  • In Freefall, Bill Raibert, ordered to rest after staying up long enough to suffer Caffeine Failure, wants to be awoken before things spiral out of control. Maxwell Post tells him that things are already out of control.
  • In Jack, a doctor working on the cure for cancer sexually abuses children, and keeps his assistant silent by using the assistant's wife as a hostage of sorts (she's dying of cancer). Finally the assistant snaps and calls the police. When the doctor tries again to use the dying wife as leverage, he learns what made the assistant snap: his assistant's wife is already dead.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn is told that if he goes on a dangerous quest for lost artifacts, he might never be able to return home. Quentyn points out that if he doesn't go on this quest, he won't have a home to return to.
  • S.S.D.D.: This combines with time traveling to become a sort of You Aren't Early Enough. A group has gone back in time to stop the Oracle from being built. One of the people they rope into their number is a cat named Michael. When Michael learns about the Oracle, he casually references the Echelon Plugin—and the group realizes they can't prevent the Oracle from being created, since it already exists. In fact, when they first arrived, they arrived on the scene of the slaughter it caused; Michael is one of only two survivors.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Kjarl Thotep calmly explains that the temporal blockage in Mechnicsburg can't be very serious, because if it was "then -heh- you would have Dreen". Someone explains to him that they've had Dreen for a long time before the blockage, and he freaks out.
    • An English Spark warns that Agatha will be in danger if she continues her current line of research. Even the comparatively cautious Tarvek brushes this off since Agatha is always going to be in some degree of danger due to her being the Heterodyne.
  • Thinking Too Much to Think Positively: In "Bathroom Anxiety", the Cis Fairy tries taunting Xan about being scared to use the women's restroom, pointing out several ways she desperately avoids the possibility of interacting with or having to acknowledge anyone else while in there. However, the taunt falls flat because that's exactly how Xan was already acting when using the men's restroom before.

    Web Original 
  • In the Furry Basketball Association, player Doug Dramson fakes getting clawed by Buck Hopper to get the superstar rabbit off the court, even cutting himself with a razorblade to make himself bleed. His coach finds out and orders Doug to confess his stunt to the press. Doug says "But I'll get fined and suspended." His coach's reply: "If you confess, that's all that will happen!"
  • RWBY: In Volume 7, General Ironwood withholds information about Salem to prevent widespread panic from causing a Grimm attack. Come "As Above, So Below," Salem's henchmen have shut off the heating grid of Mantle, causing people to panic and attract Grimm anyway; Team RWBY even lampshades this, telling Ironwood that his reasons for keeping quiet about Salem are now null and void and it's time to come clean.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Game", Darwin (a goldfish who grew legs) draws a dodge card that's supposed to turn him into an "inverted mermaid". Nothing happens, since as he points out, he already has a fish head and legs.
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer The Great", Homer joins the Stonecutters he must take an oath that says if he ever discloses the Stonecutters' secrets, "...may my stomach become bloated and my head plucked of all but three hairs." Moe thinks that Homer should be made to take a different oath, because Homer has only three hairs and quite the beer belly.
  • A Running Gag in South Park is when a resident of Hell is killed... only to reappear moments later.
    Saddam Hussein: Yeah, you killed me. Where was I gonna go, Detroit?

    Real Life 
  • There is a story out of the former East Germany where a man who had criticized the government who'd been injured, and was given medication and told that, if he didn't take it, he would never regain his strength. After years of chronic illness and weakness, he decided if he was going to be this sick anyways it wasn't worth taking his medicine, so he stopped. He realized that the medicine was actually poisoning him when he recovered from his "illness".
  • Windows users will be all too familiar with the warning that the computer can't shut down if programs are running despite all these programs having already been closed.