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Bad News, Irrelevant News

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Wanda: Uh, Timmy, we've got good news and bad news.
Timmy Turner: What's the good news?
Cosmo: The alien we got you is actually a prince from the dreaded war planet Yugopotamia!
Wanda: And his parents are on their way to destroy the Earth and rescue their son.
Timmy: What's the bad news?
Wanda: Oh, wait... that was the bad news.
Timmy: [angrily] Then what's the good news?!
Cosmo: I found a nickel!

A trope most easily employed with two or more characters who are in a Good News, Bad News scenario. After breaking the overwhelmingly bad news to the other, the messenger helpfully relays the good news: a Breathless Non Sequitur that has nothing to do with the dire situation. This usually results in effectively crushing the raised spirits of the receiver(s).

Maybe the messenger was just fulfilling his role as the comic relief, maybe he's a Jerkass with a really mean-spirited sense of humor, maybe he's self-centered and can't comprehend that others might not regard the irrelevant news as good, or maybe he's The Ditz and was thoroughly convinced that his piece of good news was every bit well placed. Whatever the case, the receiver is usually anything but amused.

Very likely to come up in Kent Brockman News. A related trope is Bad News in a Good Way. Compare Worst News Judgment Ever when the Irrelevant News is in the headlines. Also compare No Sympathy and The One Thing I Don't Hate About You.



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  • A GEICOnote  campaign (the former Trope Namer, twice, as it happens) used this trope. This type of spot goes like this: A guy talks to someone else, saying "I've got bad news. [insert story here] ...but I've got good news: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO!", which of course is of no use whatsoever to the person hearing those words. Even Speed-about-to-fall-off-a-bridge on Trixie's insurance plan is of no immediate help to Speed Racer himself.
  • The GEICO commercials are parodied in this advertisement for a law firm in Washington State specializing in child custody cases: The lawyer is seen talking on the phone while a couple waits anxiously at a table. The lawyer hangs up and tells the couple he has good news. The woman sarcastically asks if he saved a bunch of money on car insurance, to which the lawyer responds with the actual good news about getting visitation rights for them.
  • In Brazil, Banco Real had ads that usually dealt with something that was irrelevant or went wrong. Then one character: "But that doesn't matter. What matters is that Banco Real gives you ten days of credit without interest."
  • In a Polish series of commercials, a big asteroid closes in on Earth to wipe out all life; when the people ask a superhero for help, he answers "There is nothing I can do, but there is free SMS forever", making everyone cheer.
  • A series of Sprint commercials has the setup of a pair of people, one of whom has just received bad news (A football player with a career-ending injury, a guy whose girlfriend that is sitting across from him is breaking up with him) and they repeatedly ask questions while the other people say irrelevant stuff about their phone in the rudest way possible.
  • A series of TurboTax ads mention how you might suffer some horrible fate, like being eaten by aliens, but at least doing your taxes is free with TurboTax.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Being something of a Jerkass with a grudge, FBI agent Victor decides to deliver news of Firo's sentence this way at the beginning of Baccano!'s "Alice in Jails" arc. The Bad News: Firo's going to Alcatraz. The Good News: with his looks, he's probably going to be very popular there.

    Films — Animated 
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown: A vulture tells everyone that the flood is coming soon, and they need to move fast if they are to survive. But there is good news — the more of them that die, the better he eats. Well, he never said it was good news for them.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The trope namer comes from the last episode of Season One of The Office (UK). Particularly noteworthy in that not only is he called out on his "good news", but he genuinely thinks it should be considered as such, and desperately tries to convince them as such.
    David Brent: Um, well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is: Neil will be taking over both branches, and some of you will lose your jobs. Those of you who are kept on will have to relocate to Swindon. Yeah, I know, I know. On a more positive note, the good news is I've been promoted! So, every cloud... You're still thinking about the bad news, aren't you?
    Malcolm: There's no good news, David! There's only bad news and irrelevant news!
  • In an unusual case of it actually cheering someone up for a moment, in Farscape, D'Argo uses this tactic when John's about to be frozen as a statue for eighty years:
    John: Aw, this is not happening. Just feel free to wake me up any time, D'Argo.
    D'Argo: Well, now, I can only speak truth. And that comes as good and bad news.
    John: All right, give me the bad news first.
    D'Argo: The bad news is that you're married and you must endure as a statue for 80 cycles on a strange world.
    John: What's the good news?
    D'Argo: Chiana and I are having fantastic sex.
  • A highly surreal edge-case from Twin Peaks: Agent Cooper is blessed in a prescient dream with the good news that "that gum you like is coming back in style".
  • Chappelle's Show: Dave Chappelle does this in his spoof of P. Diddy's Making the Band.
    "The bad news is I'm closing down the studio. The good news... is I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico."
    [He then raises his arms, and his security guards bear him off like royalty]
  • A comedian from The Tonight Show was talking to Manny Ramirez c. 2003. He mentioned that the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series in 85 years. "But you know what the good news is? I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance." Hilarious in Hindsight considering that they won the World Series in... 2004.
  • From an episode of Hustle: the bad news is, the castle the team is pretending to have for sale is open to the public until 7, and the mark is coming at 6 to look at it. The good news: if they buy a 6 month pass to said castle, they get a free ice cream.
  • Used by Danny and Jackie in Blue Bloods. They explain to the Criminal of the Week that they found his gun and he's headed for death row. The good news? "We decided to drop the credit fraud charges."
  • The Sledge Hammer! episode "They Call Me Mr. Trunk" has a newscast announcing that the police precinct has been contaminated by a weapons-grade virus.
    Newscaster: But there is one bright note: Thank God it's them and not us.
  • Sheriff Carter does this in the Eureka episode "Family Reunion", while leading someone into his jail cell.
    "The bad news is that they have you on a class three security breach. The good news... is that this mattress is surprisingly supportive."
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Double subverted in one episode when Hitchcock comes back from checking out a perp's alibi and announces that he has good news and bad news. The bad (irrelevant) news is that his favorite taffy place was closed. The good news is that... the perp's alibi checked out. As Peralta points out, that was actually also bad news.
  • In one episode of Corner Gas, after the Roughriders lose and Brent is blamed because he wasn't wearing a Roughriders jersey, someone tells Brent he now has to tell his wife he lost the farm. When Brent asks if he bet the farm on a football game, he clarifies that no, he's just bad at business. But if the Riders had won, he'd at least have some good news to cheer her up with afterwards!

    Video Games 
  • Somewhat cruelly subverted in the first chapter of Mother 3 by telling the good news first in a horribly misguided attempt to soften the blow. After a search to find a family lost in the woods after a storm, Bronson comes back from a search and declares something to the effect of "The good news is I've just found a fang that would make a great weapon — the bad news is that it was pierced through your wife's heart". He is quite rightly walloped for this. This is all Played for Drama.
  • Inverted in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when Gaz's "good news" is that there's a civil war in Russia, with Ultranationalist rebels against government loyalists. The bad news is that a new guy's joining them.
  • This little gem from the True Lab in Undertale:
    ASGORE left me five messages today. four about everyone being angry. one about this cute teacup he found that looks like me. Thanks Asgore.

  • Subverted in this The Adventures of Dr. McNinja strip.
    Dr.: I'm really sorry, but it looks like the test confirmed it, your cancer is back. But, I do have some good news.
    Patient: Didja save a bunch of money on your car insurance, doc?
    Dr.: ... If any doctor were to ever say that they would lose their license immediately. Do you really think that's funny?
  • Makes an appearance in this Dragon Tails strip.
  • The Geico commercials are directly parodied in this Captain SNES: The Game Masta strip. The author notes below the strip, "I want a Geico commercial set in the end times."
  • Concession does it here, with the bad news being that Artie's cancer has metastasized and spread to his brain, and the good news being a reference to the Geico commercials. Artie is not amused.
  • Irregular Webcomic! does it here with good news and bad news in an order that makes the good news irrelevant news.
  • In Darths & Droids, Lando explains that Leia has been identified as one of the rebels, but the good news is that he can claim part of the bounty.
    Leia: That's the good news?
    Lando: Well, for me.
  • After the unfortunate switching of two crates is discovered in Stand Still, Stay Silent. Bad news, the expedition ran out of food much earlier than planned. Good news, they aren't running out of candles anytime soon.

    Web Original 
  • From Dragon Ball Z Abridged, the end of "Bardock: Father of Goku" has Nappa telling young Vegeta that their home planet has been destroyed. "But the good news is we're going to DAIRY QUEEN!"
  • Ultra Fast Pony, from "Faith to Faith":
    Applejack: Alright, everyone, if you're done being stupid, I've got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, I've had to quadruple the price of the cider. The good news is, I'm about to be very rich.
  • From an entry in Randall Munroe's What If? blog:
    This is another question that turns out even worse than I expected.
    [image of Randall sitting at his computer desk with questioneer Zoe Cutler behind him]
    Zoe: Is there any upside?
    Randall: I would have an excuse to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze from Batman & Robin constantly!
    Zoe: Oh no.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In the episode "Spaced Out", after Timmy's wish for an alien monster causes Cosmo and Wanda to accidentally summon the prince of the warring alien kingdom of Yugopotamia, the fairies decided to break the news to Timmy in this manner, as seen on the page quote above. Later in the episode, Cosmo has another set of irrelevant news: the good news is that he named the nickel he found Phillip, but the bad news is that it's a "girl nickel".
    • Dr. Rip Studwell, a charming but self-absorbed fairy doctor, would rather talk about the success of his golf swings rather than diagnosing his patients:
      Dr. Rip: Cosmo, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is I'm doing a tee off at 2:30!
      Wanda: Uh, hello? Bad news.
      Dr. Rip: Oh, right. The part about you.

      Dr. Rip: It's me, Dr. Rip Studwell, with bad news and good news. The bad news is if we don't perform the fagiggly transplant soon, it's going to be too late.
      Timmy: What's the good news?
      Dr. Rip: I'm three under par after nine holes! See, at least one of us is happy!

    Real Life 
  • This announcement by a London Underground train driver (attributed to urban legend) serves as an inversion:
    "Ladies and gentlemen, do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. I felt sadly let down by the fact that none of you sent me a card! I drive you to work and home each day and not even a card.
    The bad news is that there is a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means that we probably won't reach our destination for a good ninety minutes yet. We may have to stop and return. I won't reverse back up the line — simply get out, walk up the platform and go back to where we started."

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Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Switching To GEICO


Mother 3

Bronson reports what the search party found to Flint. Some of it is good, and some of it is not.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoodNewsBadNews

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