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Brutal Honesty

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"Bringin' you the truth, no matter how bad it hurts."
Three Dog, Fallout 3

Since everybody in TV land spends all day desperately lying their way out of situations, one of the more reliable gags is to create a situation where you'd imagine the characters would lie and have them be perfectly honest and straightforward instead. Sometimes this can separate a polite person from an impolite person, since a brutally honest character may say exactly what's on their mind. A hallmark of the Caustic Critic, or of a child who doesn't really know how to mince words yet.

A common twist on this is when the characters are brutally honest, but then their honesty is not believed. Sometimes, this is deliberate.

Another common twist is for a character to promise brutal honesty before saying something kind.

A form of Bait-and-Switch. Often employed in "The Reason You Suck" Speech. A Blunt "Yes" typically is an expression of this. Armor-Piercing Response may use this. If a character is brutally honest about why they don't want to do something, they're Not Even Bothering with an Excuse. If the honest character is brutal in general, then the Jerkass Has a Point. If the character is just brutal regardless of honesty, they're most likely your garden-variety Jerkass.

Another variation has Charlie being perfectly sincere and asking "Have I ever lied to you?" Joe will then list every instance where Charlie has lied out of his proverbial butt, often citing many examples. Little wonder Joe doesn't believe him. It seems Charlie is quite an accomplished and imaginative fibber. Contrast Honesty Aesop.

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  • Big Bill Hell's, originally produced for a faux award show called The Ad Follies, runs on this trope.
    It's our belief that you're such a stupid motherfucker, you'll fall for this bullshit. Guaranteed!
  • A GEICO TV commercial depicts Abraham Lincoln in this way: A woman looking in the mirror asks Abe if her dress makes her behind look big. Abe nervously spends a few beats before answering yes.
  • Several Citi Double Card commercials show first dates with both sides being brutally honest and cheerful about it (he says he will send a vague and confusing text a few days after the date, and she replies that she'll wait a few more days before replying; both agree that they'll never see each other again). The commercial implies that a more honest world would be a better place.

  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons Episode 82, the goats set up a surprise trap for their archenemy Wolffy and Jonie flat out tells him there's a trap. Paddi teaches her to be less honest about the trap next time, and she does, only to feel guilty about it later — so much so that she goes to apologize to Wolffy and gets captured by him. When Weslie tries to sneak into Wolf Castle to save her, Jonie is asked by Wolffy upon noticing Weslie's presence to tell him truthfully what's going on, and Jonie warns Weslie to run away, leading to Paddi and Tibbie having to bring her out of the castle.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin is caught by his visiting uncle while going through his luggage and responds to the incredulous resultant question with "[I'm] going through your luggage. What's it look like?"
    • Similarly, when his mother catches him pounding nails into the coffee table in the living room with a "What on earth are you doing?!", there's a Beat Panel before he says, "... Is this a trick question?"
  • Dilbert: Happens all the time in Dilbert's workplace. As the Pointy-Haired Boss summarizes neatly:

    Fairy Tales 
  • The Emperor's New Clothes: The kid who insists the Emperor is naked even when he's being shushed by others.
    "The Emperor has no clothes!"

    Films ó Animation 
  • In Alice in Wonderland, Alice takes some of the mushrooms she has on her to grow giant size. She then calls out the Queen of Hearts as "a fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrant". Unfortunately, as she says this, the effects of the mushrooms wear off prematurely, causing her to shrink back down to normal size. As this happens, her voice trails off as she realizes she's in big trouble hurt now.
    Queen of Hearts: [softly but dangerous] And, uh, what were you saying, my dear?
    Cheshire Cat: [sitting on the Queen's head] Why, she simply said that you were a fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrant! [cackles]
    [Alice becomes alarmed at the Cat echoing her words back to her]
    Queen of Hearts: OFF WITH HER HEAD!!!
  • Used in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. When Sam asks Flint if he can keep a secret, he immediately answers, "No."
  • Kristofferson in Fantastic Mr. Fox has a tendency towards this.
    Ash: I can fight my own fights.
    Kristofferson: ...No, you can't.
  • Kristoff of Frozen has no problem telling the Princess of Arendelle that he doesn't trust her judgment because she became engaged to a guy on the first day they met and when he thinks she's going to fail.
  • Goof Troop: In An Extremely Goofy Movie, Bobby hits on Beret Girl. She responds, "Whoa, easy, boy, you're fogging up my karma," and then follows that up with, "Your cool balances out... his fool" said to Max about Bobby. Bobby can only respond by dropping his jaw and then saying, "Okay, whatever." PJ and Beret Girl end up together.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
  • Penguins of Madagascar:
    • Kowalski is prone to this.
      Private: Hello! Are you my family?
      Kowalski: You don't have a family, and we're all going to die. Sorry.
      Skipper: Kowalski!
      Kowalski: I thought we were being honest.
    • Even at the end of the movie:
      Private: So... how do I look?
      Kowalski: You're hideously disfigured, and will probably be hunted for sport.
      Skipper: Kowalski!
  • Ratatouille: Horst just cuts to the chase on anything. From informing Skinner that Linguini's mother died or that he was hired as a garbage boy.
  • At the end of Snoopy, Come Home, Snoopy, in what is presumably a bad mood (he keeps a neutral expression through the whole scene), types up a letter to each of the major characters, then hands the letters to them directly, stating what they owe Snoopy during the going-away party. Needless to say, this frustrates everyone as they had just celebrated his return—everyone except for Charlie Brown, who is both accustomed to Snoopy's antics and is the one person whom Snoopy considers to not owe anything (which puts Lucy, who chooses to stick around rather than walk away in anger, in an even worse mood). Snoopy expresses a milder case of brutal honesty in the movie too: He cheerfully dances to express his happiness at a "No Dogs Allowed" sign at the apartment where Lila, Snoopy's former owner, has been, and in Lila's face even though she had been waiting for years to see him again because that sign means Snoopy can return to Charlie Brown, which is what he actually wanted to do all along.
  • In Turning Red, hearing her parents, Mei shoos out her friends, telling Miriam she also can't stay because Ming has made it clear that she doesn't like Miriam. This is apparently news to Miriam.
    Miriam: Wait, she doesn't?
  • The little girl hippo in Zootopia has this to say to Judy Hopps after the latter gives the former's mother a parking ticket:

  • The singer in Kid Creole and the Coconuts' "Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy" is a believer in brutal honesty. Despite Annie asking "Break it to me gently now,/Don't forget I'm just a child", he insists that "I'm telling it to you straight,/So you don't have to hear it another way". "See, if I was in your blood,/Then you wouldn't be so ugly", however, is just needlessly cruel.
  • Steve Albini is a walking example. If he doesn't like you, he'll tell you to your face, and spare no words. He's done this to people he worked with, like Nirvana, who he described as "R.E.M. with a fuzzbox"note  or Pixies, who he compared to cows being led around on a leash. As for his own music, he named one of his albums Songs About Fucking, one of his bands was named Rapeman and every one of his songs has never sugarcoated or been subtle about their subject matter. For all his reputation, he saves most of his disdain for the music industry itself, particularly major labels and their exploitative practices, which he famously never employed during his engineering sessions (for instance, never demanding royalties).

  • Seen and Not Heard: Bet's rabbi is forthright while advising her, even if it comes across as harsh.
    Bet: I just...donít want everything to change.
    Rabbi: Sure. It did, though. So now what?
    Bet: Dang, Rabbi. Thatís harsh.
    Rabbi: Iím not required to pat your head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: Seraphim value the truth above all else, and do not even like to lie by omission. They also have a very low tolerance for deception, dishonesty or immorality in other beings, and tend to get snappish and irritable when others are less than perfectly honest. If a Seraph thinks that you're a deceitful, immoral ape, he will tell you, plainly and directly, that you're a deceitful, immoral ape. This combination of absolute truthfulness and intense moralism makes them excellent investigators, but lousy diplomats.
  • Scion: This is essentially a virtue for the Aesir. The gods expect obedience from their children, but not a bunch of flattery, and are willing to put up with a surprising amount of lip if the scions get results.
  • Warhammer:
    • With emphasis on brutal, Khornate Daemons are prone to this. To lie is the purview of Tzeentch and soft words are the purview of Slaanesh, and thus signs of weakness. His Daemons' words can thus be trusted, or at least taken with less salt compared to others'.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • This is one of Rogal Dorn's most noticeable traits: he is very direct and Literal-Minded and doesn't seem to understand the concept of softening his words. This actually causes a lot of problems, since his lack of tact and social graces contributes to rifts between himself and others who could be allies if they didn't consider him such a Jerkass, particularly his brother Perturabo. There is a recorded incident that Rogal was asked by a third party if he could build a fortress so impregnable that Perturabo (who specialized in assaults) could not conquer it. Rogal replied that yes, he could do that. Perturabo took this as a personal insult, while Rogal was only stating his beliefs without any intended malice.
      • The first Chapter Master of the Flesh Tearers (a successor of the Blood Angels), Nassir Amit, has this as his prime character trait (outside of his potential Unstoppable Rage and brutal prowess that gave him the nickname which led to his chapter's name...). He freely spoke whenever he thought the virtually-walking-gods that were the Primarchs and the Emperor made a bad decision, noted the genetic flaws that would trouble the Blood Angels and their successors for centuries thereafter and believed trying to cover them up was a mistake and volunteered to turn himself over to the Space Wolves when he became the first example of the Blood Angels' genetic flaws direly manifesting and putting him in such madness that he killed some allied Space Wolves.
      • Vashtorr the Arkifane, a Greater Daemon of Chaos, has this as a core trait, and one that sets him apart from every other Daemon in the setting: he doesn't lie. He doesn't trick or manipulate. As he's essentially the Anthropomorphic Personification of Industrialized Evil, it's not in his nature; he's cold, logical, precise, and exact in everything he says, and every deal he makes will have its terms, though brutally unfair, layed out in clear and unambiguous words. The Daemonic weapons he offers are just so good many won't refuse them, even when they know the terms he demands.
    • Warhammer Fantasy: Amber Wizards detest subterfuge and dishonesty in any form, even the most innocuous, and are consequently notorious for being incredibly blunt and for delivering their views and opinions with no pretense at sugarcoating, tact, or diplomacy.

  • In Critic's Choice by Ira Levin, Caustic Critic Parker Ballantine is ultimately unable to restrain himself from giving his wife's new play the panning it "objectively" deserves.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kyou from CLANNAD has no problems at all with telling Tomoya exactly what she thinks, in contrast to her more timid and soft-spoken twin sister. For example, when Tomoya asks whether she cares more about her bike's tires or his life, she replies 'Tires' almost before he can finish asking the question. On the other hand, Tomoya can be like this himself at times, so it's not a one-sided deal.
  • The protagonist of Double Homework has a couple of opportunities for this. Tamara and Morgan appreciate it, but Johanna, not so much.
  • In Fate/stay night, Kiritsugu, upon meeting with a young and recently orphaned Shirou in the hospital after the Fuyuki city fire, offers him a choice- be adopted by someone he's never met before or go to an orphanage. While this doesn't seem like much of a choice, Shirou accepts Kiritsugu's offer to adopt him, and considers his time with Kiritsugu to be the happiest years of his life.
  • Katsuki from Every Day's Different does not mince words, particularly around her less than flattering initial opinion of the protagonist.
  • Morgan Fischer from Heart of the Woods, has a tendency to be rather blunt, from often giving Blunt "Yes" answers to questions to telling Tara that she and her best friend Madison would make a terrible couple.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Hideaki is quite brutally honest, such as when he alludes to Akira putting her and Lilly's tickets through the wash.
    • Hideaki's father, Jigoro, is brutally honest with his words, coupled with extreme jerkassiness in them.
  • Rin from Little Busters! also has this tendency, though here it's more to do with a naive lack of knowledge or care about social graces than because she doesn't care about the feelings of the other person. If she thinks something is weird or gross or bad, she'll say it without thinking, no matter how blunt it comes out. Mio, on the other hand, really is just that apathetic about other people. Or she does it because it's funny. It's hard to tell with her.
  • At least when it comes to other guys, Ban from Spirit Hunter: NG doesn't mince his words or offer false sympathy when he's relaying bad news.

Alternative Title(s): Brutally Honest


Rigby's Rejection Letter

The letter does not sugarcoat how much Rigby wasn't qualified for College University.

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