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"Also in this house dwells Pseudolus, slave to the son. A role of enormous variety and nuance, and played by an actor of such versatility, such magnificent range, such... Let me put it this way: I play the part."

Oh, hello there. Were you looking for the trope But He Sounds Handsome? Well, that's definitely not me. Sounds like a pretty great idea for a trope though!

If I were But He Sounds Handsome, I would be a trope about characters secretly complimenting themselves... while disguised as someone else. I might also be about giving compliments to a mysterious person (who would have been, of course, me), or hearing insults/compliments about my normal identity while in disguise. It's pretty much a stock gag/joke for anyone in disguise.

Often I... I mean But He Sounds Handsome would be used as part of a Paper-Thin Disguise.

The trope is frequently inverted by a character trying to deflect suspicion by insulting their other identity. What a dumb idea for a trope that is; I'm glad I'm not that trope. Or its inversion.

Hang on, he's actually telling me right now... yes? What is it? Oh, okay. He says this occasionally overlaps with the trope Holding Both Sides of the Conversation, where one person pretends to be two people at once. He also mentioned that it overlaps with Sock Puppet when the pretense uses a second Internet identity. It also applies to cases where a member of Group X in disguise defends Group X — a Sweet Polly Oliver objecting to an insult to women, for instance, or an undercover spy speaking up for his home country. At least, I'm sure that's what But He Sounds Handsome would say. What a great trope. However, I've heard — I'm not speaking from direct experience, of course — that But He Sounds Handsome is only slightly related to a common joke wherein a character makes a joke of complimenting his Doppelgänger, his Ridiculously Successful Future Self or his otherwise pathetic past self, his Identical Stranger, or just his plain ordinary identical twin for being remarkably handsome.

What? No, those aren't my examples of But He Sounds Handsome. I'm just... holding on to them for But He Sounds Handsome. So, ah, feel free to look at or add to them. But they're definitely not examples of me. Definitely.


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    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • This was used pretty frequently in The Flash, with him out of disguise saying something along the lines of "Now now, we can't all be the Flash".
  • Superman occasionally plays this trope straight (especially in the Silver Age) but more often plays it in reverse, sometimes even using Clark to voice his regrets in the form of criticism. In the novelization of Kingdom Come in fact, having just learned Superman's secret, journalists everywhere are amazed at how balanced a presentation the Daily Planet gave of Superman given that most of the articles about him were written by him or his wife.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Chameleon plays it straight in one panel and inverts it in the next when he comes after Mary-Jane, disguised as Spider-Man: starting off with "He's one of the toughest foes I've ever faced" and then calling himself a "strait-jacketed loser".
    • Back in the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko days, Peter would bash Spider-Man anytime he was asked for his opinion on him.
    • Similarly, Spider-Man will occasionally claim that he hates the guy who keeps selling pictures of him to the Daily Bugle.
    • A few times during Superior Spider-Man, Spider-Man (really Otto Octavius playing Grand Theft Me with Spider-Man's body) would defend Doctor Octopus as "the greatest enemy [he] ever faced" whenever someone else put Ock down.
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics superheroes do it fairly often.
    • With Donald Duck being the most notable, for going both ways with his identity Paperinik: Paperinik will insist that Donald is a good and honest man, while Donald throws fits of rage when someone dares insult Paperinik in his presence.
    • In stories that knowledge Daisy's superhero alter ego Paperinika, Daisy tends to act this way in a rather extreme way, especially when she and Donald talk of their respective alter egos, as Donald has little patience for Paperinika and Daisy's usual admiration for Paperinik is replaced with outright contempt.
  • Both The Incredible Hercules and The Mighty Thor (though mostly Hercules) do a bit of this at each other's expense right before the Hercuthor vs. Thorcules fight.
    "Thor": Come now! I heard Hercules was far handsomer.
    "Hercules": And I always thought Thor stank less.
    "Thor": Hey, below the belt...
  • Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam has an inversion of the usual way this plays out: Billy (an orphan) uses his Older Alter Ego for any situation that requires a parent's involvement, including enrolling himself and his Annoying Younger Sibling in school:
    "Mr. Batson": Now, while I don't have a single complaint in the world about li'l adorable William, or Billy the angel as I like to call him... that darn Mary can at times be trouble.
  • In Robin (1993), Tim Drake mentions the former Robin looking more "graceful" and built like an athlete in comparison to Conner dressed as Robin when trying to convince Darla Aquista that said Robin (himself) is dead, so she doesn't need to keep trying to kill him.
  • Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: El Kabong describes Quick Draw McGraw as "that world-famous and staggeringly handsome lawman".
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader of all people does this in the now non-canon "Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison" when he claims that Anakin Skywalker was one of the Jedi Order's most skilled generals.
  • The Lemony Narrator of Venom: The End makes a joke about "God forbid the world ever had to do without Tony Stark, eh?" as they narrate how his Artificial Intelligences were among the many to survive into the twilight days of biological life. At first this sounds like Self-Deprecation on Marvel's part... until the end of the story, when it is revealed that the narrator is an A.I. descended from Stark, and thus they were actually describing themselves.
  • Wonder Woman: During the Golden Age (Vol 1, Sensation Comics, Comic Cavalcade and All-Star Comics), Di talked up Diana Prince as Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman as Di to Steve in order to try and figure out if he knew her secret identity, and if he loved her as both. His answers, which always had him claiming to love Wonder Woman, and conveniently timed distractions preventing his answers are a large part of why a subset of the fandom believes he always knew but didn't want to admit it at the time for a slew of reasons.

    Comic Strips 
  • A couple of FoxTrot arcs had Jason disguised as "Iguanoman", a reptilian alien (really Jason wearing his dad's overcoat and balancing Quincy on his head) mostly to annoy Paige. Whenever she calls him Jason, he usually replies with this trope, though it did backfire once:
    "Iguanoman": This "Jason" must be really smart and handsome for you to keep confusing me with him.
    Paige: You look exactly alike!
    "Iguanoman": (loading a dart gun under his coat) Give me a moment to consider that answer.
  • In a Dilbert comic, the company's lawyer demonstrates what the other side might say in court: "Liar! Why is your attorney so handsome?"
    • In another strip, the Pointed Haired Boss hires Dogbert's firm to persuade the media to write negative stories about their competitor. When Dilbert asks about if this is ethical, Dogbert assures him that their competitor is already doing it, since they already have hired a firm to do just that. When Dilbert then asks who did they hire, Dogbert just says is probably someone awesome.
  • A weird example in Peanuts when Charlie Brown consults his psychiatrist about a girl who keeps pulling a football away from him, and she says "She sounds like an interesting girl ... sort of a fun type." The weird part is that there's no disguise involved — Charlie Brown knows perfectly well that his psychiatrist is Lucy, and for some reason doesn't see this as an issue.

    Film — Animation 
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, while using a mouse puppet, Cat R. Waul describes himself to the other mice as an "enlightened, intelligent, sophisticated, charming, non-narcissistic, debonair, suave, dashing renaissance cat". He gets so caught up in complimenting himself that he forgets about the puppet, letting it dangle from its strings.
  • In The Bad Guys (2022), just before initiating the heist for the Golden Dolphin, Mr. Wolf (disguised as "Oliver Poodleton") meets Governor Diane Foxington outside the museum. He complements her for fighting back against the dastardly Bad Guys, although unsuccessfully and comments on how they are bound to go down in criminal history. This ends up backfiring; Diane thinks he's joking and starts laughing, followed by her very detailed criticisms of their previous heist and correctly predicting they would make things personal, which would lead to their demise. Mr. Wolf is visibly rattled.
  • The meta version is played with at the end of Cars, when the cast goes to see car versions of previous Pixar films. Mack, voiced by John Ratzenberger, compliments several characters in the films (who were also voiced by Ratzenberger) until he realizes they're all the same guy, at which point he gets really upset.
  • The LEGO Movie:
    • It's an Open Secret that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Batman's pathetic attempts to deny it only cause exasperation.
      Batman: Bruce Wayne?! Uh... who is that? Sounds like a cool guy!
    • The "Behind the Bricks" featurette has meta examples, with some of the characters praising their various VAs. Of course, since they are voiced by those VAs, you get moments such as where Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius is talking about how great it was to be portrayed by the golden voice of Morgan Freeman. President Business inverts this by complaining that Will Ferrell is a bottom of the barrel actor. It gets really confusing with Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle, who launches into glowing praise of Elizabeth while sounding like she was talking about herself (Wyldstyle), while being voiced by Elizabeth.
  • Megamind: while under the guise of Bernard, Megamind pretends to be fighting himself in front of Roxanne. He constantly spouts praise towards Megamind ("You're so strong and charismatic!") and finally tells Roxanne he did his best, but Megamind is just too fantastic!
  • In Disney's Mulan, the soldiers idly discuss the type of woman they'd like to marry in "A Girl Worth Fighting For". Mulan, disguised as the male Ping, throws in a vote for "a girl who's got a brain, who always speaks her mind". The men are not impressed.
  • Robin Hood (1973): During the archery tournament, Robin, disguised as a stork, praises himself and taunts the Sheriff of Nottingham about his failure catching him.
  • Top Cat: The Movie: The robot who poses as Top Cat while robbing an orphanage makes a comment about Strickland's supposed beauty while "taunting" him in front of the camera.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Film of the Book for A Series of Unfortunate Events: Count Olaf in disguise, "Who is this incredibly handsome Count Olaf you keep mentioning?"
  • The Man with Two Faces: While still in disguise as Chautard, Damon the actor sees his picture on Ben the producer's wall and says that Damon Wells is the best actor in the world. When a distracted Ben says only that Damon is "pretty good", a peeved Damon rips off the disguise and reveals himself.
  • In Sinbad the Sailor, when Sinbad (who is, unbeknownst to most, also Prince Ahmed of Dariabar) is told by the barber Melik that assassins are out to kill Ahmed, he replies, "Why? I understand he's a splendid fellow!"
  • Spider-Man:
    • In Spider-Man, Peter Parker and MJ get into a conversation about Spider-Man, and it seems Peter can't help himself. Subtle enough to be passed off as Peter just trying to look like an average guy.
      Peter: No, no, I understand. He is extremely cool.
      MJ: But do you think it's true, all the terrible things they say about him?
      Peter: No, no. Not Spider-Man. Not a chance in the world.
    • In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter defends Spider-Man against Captain Stacy's concerns about the negative effects of his vigilantism.
    • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter nervously calls Spider-Man "nice" and "a solid dude" while being driven to the titular dance. And we say "nervously" because his date's dad is the Vulture and he's scared out of his mind.
  • Inverted in Batman Begins, where Bruce Wayne openly makes fun of Batman while trying to develop a reputation as an idiot playboy. Continued in The Dark Knight, when he questions who appointed Batman and what gives him the right to take the law into his own hands.
    Bruce: A guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues.
  • Also inverted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Harry is reading the wizarding newspaper in a Muggle restaurant.
    Pretty Muggle waitress: "Harry Potter"? Who's Harry Potter?
    Harry: No one. Bit of a tosser, really.
  • The Mask of Zorro:
    • Elena goes to confession to confess her recent bouts of misbehavior with Zorro. Of course, Zorro is sitting in the priest section. He prompts her that the masked man must have been "ruggedly handsome", but Elena points out that he was wearing a mask, so she doesn't know. Zorro looks deflated.
    • Inverted earlier when he's pretending to be a young nobleman at a ball. When the conversation turns to Zorro, he speculates that he probably wears the mask "to cover his bald head and unsightly features."
  • In Mrs. Doubtfire Miranda is talking to Mrs Doubtfire about how difficult being married to Daniel is. Mrs Doubtfire is Daniel in disguise and tells Miranda that Daniel "Sounds like an absolute stallion".
  • In Inception, Saito sees Browning, who he assumes to be Eames in disguise. He walks right up to him and says, "I see you've changed." Browning gives him an odd look and Saito sees Eames behind him. Saito quickly says, "I mistook you for a friend of mine." Browning smirks and says, "Must be a good-looking fella."
  • Inverted in The Shop Around the Corner, where Jimmy Stewart's character has been having a secret pen-pal romance with a co-worker he despises, only to fall in love with her. He figures it out before she does and insults his alter-ego, saying that he met him earlier and found that he was overweight, a plagiarist, and had a weird last name.
  • Similarly done in The Remake You've Got Mail, where Joe doesn't pretend to know the pen pal, but tells Kathleen that's he's probably fat, ugly, married and generally unpleasant.
  • In Revenge of the Sith:
    • Palpatine has a line that's something of a variant of this trope. When Count Dooku confronts Obi-Wan and Anakin in the opening rescue sequence, Palpatine says to them "Get help, you're no match for him. He's a Sith Lord."
    • Later, he tells Anakin about the "Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise," and elaborately describes how Plagueis' apprentice cleverly stabbed his master in the back and became the most powerful Sith Lord of all time. He's talking about himself.
  • Played for drama in Captain Clegg, where Parson Blyss (Peter Cushing) subtly admires the achievements the supposedly-dead pirate of the film's title, so it's really not hard to figure out that Blyss is Clegg long before it's explicitly spelled out. Tellingly, when he's explaining the circumstances surrounding Clegg's betrayal and arrest, he becomes morally indignant on Clegg's behalf.
    Parson Blyss: Clegg was bad, but he was never a coward or a traitor.
  • James Bond:
    • Diamonds Are Forever:
      • James Bond, posing as smuggler Peter Franks, kills the real Franks and switches wallets with him. When Tiffany Case discovers he's "killed James Bond" he feigns surprise and comments "It just goes to show you, no-one's indestructible!"
      • Later, when using one of Q's devices to impersonate the voice of Blofeld's lackey, he expresses concern about having to go up against a genius like James Bond.
    • The Man with the Golden Gun: James Bond impersonates Francisco Scaramanga and talks with Scaramanga's employer. During the talk, Bond warns the man about James Bond and plays up his skills, although Scaramanga would likely agree with everything Bond says g himself.
  • Inverted in Super Mario Bros. (1993). When Mario and Luigi meet up with their "attorney," the attorney tells them that they don't want to meet President Koopa, describing him as "one evil, egg-sucking son of a snake." When it is revealed that Koopa was the person who acted as their attorney, Luigi expresses shock, to which Koopa then repeats the above description and asks "Did I lie?"
  • In The Harder They Come, Ivan, a total unknown in the music industry, goes to a dance club to see how people react to his first single. While the record is playing, he casually asks a stranger what he thinks of the song. When the man says "Not bad," Ivan responds, "I think it's a hit."
  • In Wild Wild West, Artemus Gordon, disguised as President Grant, gives Jim West a spiel about what a great agent Artemus Gordon is. This tips off West that something is wrong. Noticing that "Grant" is wearing a Harvard graduation ring (the real Grant went to West Point), he pulls out a gun and points it at him.
  • Justice League: Bruce Wayne visits Barry Allen and says he knows he is the Flash. When Barry tries to deny it, Bruce shows a picture of Barry stopping a crime out of costume from a surveillance video. Barry claims the man isn't him, just a "very attractive Jewish boy" who happens to resemble him.
  • In Paddington 2, Phoenix Buchanan describes the cockney thief as having stunning, beautiful eyes, both at testimony and at home in his flat with Mrs. Brown. When he calls them "blue" by mistake, despite supposedly never having seen the man in person, Mrs. Brown is clued in to look at his own blue eyes and instantly realizes the truth.
  • In To Be or Not to Be, Jozef Tura, a Large Ham actor, is involved with members of The Resistance against the Nazis, and he's called on impersonate, at different points, a Nazi officer and a professor who's a Nazi spy. Inevitably, when he's with another Nazi, he asks if they've heard of "that great, great Polish actor Jozef Tura". One of the Nazi officers says he saw Tura playing Hamlet, and continues, "What he did to Shakespeare, we are doing to Poland."
  • Played with in the 1943 French film Le Corbeau (or "The Raven"). A small town is put under siege by the titular Raven, who torments the town by revealing everyone's secrets in anonymous notes. The true Raven, Dr. Vorzet, spends much of the early movie speculating that the Raven must be a genius who can't be outwitted. As the suspects start to narrow down towards the end, he quickly changes his tune to insist the Raven must be some kind of pervert, desperate to get the attention away from himself so he can keep his anonymity.

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: The story quickly starts hinting that Sylvester the blue priest is not a blue priest, but at the very least a high-ranking noble masquerading as one with mixed results. When his real identity is revealed, he turns out to have held quite a few conversations as if said identity was another person entirely, saying both good and bad things about them. A side chapter establishes that at least one person accidentally insulted his real identity to his face during the King Incognito stint.
  • Captive Prince: Played for Laughs when King Damianos is traveling undercover as "Lamen". One of his companions shares a story of the King defeating a gladiator in minutes, then taking him to bed for six hours, and...
    "Lamen": [frowns] Seven hours.
  • Inverted in an entirely different way in the Codex Alera. Tavi and Max are extravagantly praising the mysterious person who attacked a slaver and freed the slaves, only for both of them to be quite shocked to discover that it was not the other one who did it.
  • Inverted in Murder Must Advertise, in which Lord Peter Wimsey, encountering two people who have met him in disguise, takes the opportunity to blacken the name of his supposed lookalike cousin.
  • Inverted in The Hobgoblin's Hat, one of The Moomins books. Said artifact transforms Moomintroll into a different being without him noticing, so when his friends wonder who he is, he thinks they are just playing and plays along. Among other things, he talks badly about himself, which convinces his friends "the stranger" is up to no good.
  • In Journey to the West (chapter 42), Sun Wukong takes the appearance of the father of Hong Hai'er, a monster who kidnapped his master. Under this disguise, he tells the monster that Sun Wukong is an unrivaled fighter.
  • Nero Wolfe: The League of Frightened Men: Paul Chapin's supposed confession calls Wolfe "acute and intuitive" and says that after their first meeting, Chapin knew that deceiving a man of Wolfe's brilliance would be futile. Wolfe is the actual author of the confession, as part of his plan to convince his clients Chapin really is innocent.
  • In The Odyssey, Odysseus brags about his cleverness and courage many times in many different disguises. Fitting, as the whole plot is kicked off by his hubris.
  • In The Raiders, the disguised John Faa indignantly defends the honour of the Faa family when it is questioned.
  • In Rivers of London, when Mr. Punch impersonates the ghost of Nicholas Wallpenny, he not only can't resist praising his onetime alter-ego Henry Pyke, but he bitches at length about the injustice of Pyke's death (which is a valid complaint) and the terrible reviews his acting had garnered (which isn't: his performances stank).
  • For the first eight books of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf would always do this. It was extremely frustrating for the Baudelaires and the reader that other characters never picked up on this.
  • Star Wars Legends: In the Revenge of the Sith novelization, after Palpatine tells Anakin about "The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise", Anakin wants to know what happened to Plagueis's apprentice, and Palpatine tells him that he went on to become "the greatest Dark Lord the Sith have ever known." As he reveals later, of course, it's no mere legend, and he's talking about himself.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga:
    • In Brothers in Arms, Miles Vorkosigan does quite a bit of this with his alter-ego Admiral Naismith. (Although Admiral Naismith considers Miles Vorkosigan to be boring and stupid in return.)
    "Aye, there's the genius and the wonder of the man," cried Miles, then decided he'd better tone it down a bit.
    • Another notable case was when one of Naismith's rescue victims was advising Lieutenant Vorkosigan to "stay away from the bunch of clowns called the Dendarii Mercenaries." Said mercenaries are run by Naismith who accidentally wounded and nearly killed the guy Miles is talking to. Nettled, Miles snapped "Why? They got you back alive, didn't they?"
  • Teen Power Inc.:In Poison Pen, Elmo correctly insists that anonymous gossip columnist The Eye isn't behind a series of poison pen letters, arguing that The Eye's articles are clever, non-malicious, and entirely unlike the letter writer. The last two pages reveal that Elmo is The Eye.
  • In Worm, when Taylor is visiting her father and his friends during Monarch 16.7, she ends up in a debate about whether the villains taking control of the town are a force for good — one of said villains being Skitter i.e. Taylor.
  • Inverted in The Young Diana, the titular middle-aged spinster drinks an elixir that turns her into a beautiful young woman. When a friend of her father's asks if she's any relation to his friend's daughter, Diana says, "Women over forty who have failed to get married shouldn't live! Don't you agree?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Howard Stark inverts it in Agent Carter, claiming that he is better-looking than Howard Stark.
  • The Americans: Despite being Deep Cover Agents posing as regular American citizens during the Cold War, Philip and Elizabeth can't resist occasionally defending the Soviet Union in conversation with others.
  • Arrested Development often has George Sr and Oscar (who are identical twins) switching places (usually without Oscar's consent). When impersonating Oscar, George Sr. will often insult "himself" in front of the family.
    George Sr. as Oscar: I just want to have sex with you, that's-that's all I'm good for.
    Lucille: You smell like a pinecone.
    George Sr. as Oscar: Yeah, that's the weed. I went to my, uh, shit-hole trailer, and I-I smoked some like a cigarette.
  • One promo for As Time Goes By had Jean and Lionel sitting down to watch... As Time Goes By. Jean (played by Judi Dench) comments that the lead actress is very good.
  • Breaking Bad uses this for tragic drama in Season 4, Episode 5 ("Shotgun"). After Hank concludes that Gale was the criminal mastermind Heisenberg and goes on about what a genius he must have been, a slightly tipsy and massively vain Walt interjects that Gale's notebook looks like that of a student copying down notes he didn't fully understand, and that the real genius might still be out there. This convinces Hank to continue pursuing Heisenberg, much to Walt's ultimate chagrin.
  • In the Broad City episode "Co-op," Abbi meets a handsome artist while pretending to be Ilana to cover her shift at the co-op. She spends the entire conversation talking about how amazing Abbi is.
    Abbi: Abbi's kind of like this undiscovered genius with the ass of an angel.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Witch", almost everything Amy says about her mother becomes a retrospective example of this trope when we learn that her mother took her body in order to be a cheerleader again.
  • In the Charmed episode "The Power of Three Blondes", three other witches do a spell to impersonate the Charmed Ones. In the process, they murder a random vacuum cleaner salesman; when Chris asks them about the murder weapon, they react this way:
    Mitzy: We believe that athame belongs to witches.
    Margo: Really smart, pretty witches.
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "The Highwayman", when his guests are discussing the Red Mask Highwayman, Robert Cosgrove (who secretly is the Highwayman) cannot help himself and says the Highwayman sounds Just Like Robin Hood as he only robs rich men. He quickly discovers he is alone in this opinion, and everyone thinks he is a dangerous cutthroat who is going to wind up murdering someone.
  • Inverted, usually, in Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow"). As the vicar, Syn publicly denounces the ruthless lawbreaker who goes by the name "Scarecrow". In the second episode he speaks out in court because, he claims, the Scarecrow tried to threaten him into silence, and in the third he's "blackmailed". But in the ending, he shares a drink with the Squire and says that they really should admire the Scarecrow's aid to the community even if they have to keep it to themselves.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Next Doctor", the Tenth Doctor encounters a man in Victorian London who seems to be a future incarnation of himself with amnesia. While posing as "John Smith", he confirms that he knows all about the Doctor. "Bit of a legend, if I say so myself."
    • Inverted in "The Husbands of River Song". River, not knowing who the Twelfth Doctor is, mentions that she's almost filled her diary, and that the man who gave it to her (the Eleventh Doctor) likely knew exactly how long a diary she would need. The Doctor mutters that "He sounds awful."
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Barry Allen, in an effort to maintain his Secret Identity, soundly inverts this trope whenever Iris tries to talk to him about the Flash. Iris finds Barry's negativity about Central City's new superhero very annoying.
    • Early on in Season 2, Jay Garrick shows up to warn Team Flash about the new Big Bad Zoom, and frequently brings up how incredibly powerful and evil he is and how Barry wouldn't stand a chance against him in a fight. While Garrick is proven right, it turns out that the man Team Flash knows as "Jay Garrick" is actually Zoom himself in disguise, having stolen the real Jay Garrick's identity.
  • In Garth Marenghis Darkplace, characters in the Show Within a Show are frequently shown reading and praising books written by the head writer, Garth Marenghi, in a blatant effort to stroke his ego. Among other authors, Marenghi is a parody of Stephen King, who did this in his The Dark Tower series.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of The Golden Girls that features a supposedly romantic convict acting as a pen pal with Blanche. When he unexpectedly shows up at the house and is a lout who seemed romantic by copying another inmate's love letters, Blanche fakes her identity tries to play off that "Blanche" is away, and is undesirable to boot, in an attempt to scare him off. Rose attempts to help by playing into the notion that Blanche is utterly, physically repulsive. Blanche lets her usual vanity get the better of her:
    Blanche: "Blanche Deveraux is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!"
    Convict: "Sounds good. I'll be back." (leaves the house)
    Blanche: (realizing she made the convict even more interested) "And stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!"
  • In the Graceland episode "King's Castle", Briggs tells Charlie that they have to accept the fact that they cannot catch their Worthy Opponent Odin Rossi. Briggs is Odin Rossi.
  • In Henry Danger, when Piper finds out Kid Danger is her brother, he tries to deny it, but makes sure to add he thinks her brother is awesome.
  • In the first episode of House after House fires all of his fellows, Cuddy wants him to hire new ones, but he refuses, spending all of his time fiddling around with an electric guitar he brought to work with him. Wilson steals the guitar and leaves a message on House's voicemail, disguising his voice using a cup. The message says his guitar has been kidnapped and demands the hiring of new fellows as the ransom. House immediately knows it's Wilson, and he barges into Wilson's office right when Wilson is leaving another voicemail message. Even though House obviously saw him do it, Wilson claims he has no idea who the kidnappers are, but says they sound like evil geniuses.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • "Moving Day": in the midst of moving in with Robin, the van with Ted's stuff is stolen, and the culprit calls Ted and gives him instructions on how to get them back. Of course, Ted knows exactly who it is.
      Ted: Barney...
      Barney: This isn't Barney! But I hear that guy's awesome.
    • It then gets an Ironic Echo when Ted finds the van and takes it back, with Barney and his date inside:
      Ted: Enjoying the ride?
      Barney: Ted? Ted, you let us out of here! Let us out of here this instant!
      Ted: This isn't Ted, but I hear that guy's awesome.
    • Barney praises himself when pretending to be his own doppelganger. He can't help but defend himself (and his blog) when being interrogated by Lily.
    • Barney sings his own praise in his video resume, where despite evidence to the contrary, he claims it's not him singing the song, but "one of the many admirers who think that guy's awesome!"
    • "Columns": Ted pulls this when his boss, Brady, forgot Ted's name and told him to fire himself.
      Brady: Fire him! He's an arrogant, washed-up, pain in the ass. In fact, fire everyone on that project. Druthers, Mosby, the whole lot of them.
      Ted: Mosby, sir? I, I... I hear Mosby's doing some great work.
      Brady: Fine, Mosby can stay. But tell him he's on thin ice. Come here. [Pinches Ted's cheeks] I like you, Crosby.
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster episode "Bertie takes Gussie's place at Deverill Hall", Bertie (who is impersonating Gussie) is asked about 'that Bertie Wooster fellow', and proceeds to talk up how musically talented, witty, and generally wonderful Bertie is. This backfires when Gussie turns up claiming to be Bertie, and is called upon for a demonstration of his skill at singing and playing piano.
  • Kenan & Kel has the episode "Happy B-Day Marc" in which Kenan sneaks into a costume party dressed as a ninja named Bernard where he encounters Sharla.
    Kenan: Don't you work at that one store? Ragbys? Rugby's?
    Sharla: Rigby's.
    Kenan: Right, and don't you work with that guy, Kenan? What do you think of him? I hear he's like boyishly handsome.
    Sharla: Actually I think Kenan's a jerk, I mean I can't stand the guy.
    Kenan: What?! Ur... I mean...
    [pulls down Kenan's mask]
    Sharla: I know it's you, Kenan.
  • A Running Gag/Actor Allusion in Letterkenny. With Squirrely Dan's admiration of a long winded comedian, who he also describes as "Handsome as the day is long." That comedian is a clear reference to Squirrely Dan's actor, K. Trevor Wilson.
  • In "Blinking Red Light" from The Mentalist, the CBI team catches the case of a young girl who has been found murdered, her throat slit. It quickly becomes clear that she was most likely killed by a serial killer known as the "San Joaquin Killer," a brutal serial killer who has already killed several other young women in the area. During the course of the investigation, Patrick Jane encounters a blogger named James Panzer who is obsessed with the case. He tells Jane that the killer is a "purist," based on the way that he slits the victims' throats slowly and watches the life drain out of their eyes. Later, Jane returns to him, saying that he thinks he's wrong - that the killer isn't a purist at all, but rather someone who was deeply damaged during childhood and kills out of a need for attention. Panzer replies that Jane couldn't be more wrong, that the San Joaquin Killer is a "genius" who has run circles around the police. Jane, being the Genre Savvy guy that he is, recognizes that he is talking about himself. After his first attempt to catch Panzer fails, he manipulates him into appearing on a TV show and making similar statements. More importantly, he gets him to talk smack about Red John, the serial killer who killed Patrick Jane's wife and daughter, because Jane had himself talked him down on television. Of course, Red John promptly kills James Panzer.
  • Played straight on an episode of Modern Family, Cam, dressed as his clown alter ego Fitzbo, encounters his nephew Luke and the following exchange occurs:
    Luke: Wow, is that you, Uncle Cam?
    Cam: Well, no, I'm Fitzbo the Clown! I don't know who this "Uncle Cam" is, but he sure sounds handsome, doesn't he?
  • Person of Interest: Reese indulges in this while discussing "the man in the suit" with an investigative reporter.
    Reese: He sounds like quite a guy.
  • Power Rangers Zeo, "Trust in Me" - When Rocky meets a blind martial artist, then runs into her again while Rangered up, he covers by claiming to be 'with' the Rangers. While discussing this later, the other Rangers can't resist complimenting themselves. "I heard Yellow's the coolest..."
  • Happens in Red Dwarf, even without a disguise: Holly, the ship's computer, appears on a recording Holly doesn't remember making (the crew's memories were erased). Initially, he comments, "Nice-looking bloke", and then when the recorded Holly tells them to pause the recording, he does so, because he "Knows what he's talking about, that dude."
  • Inverted in Robin of Sherwood; Robert of Huntingdon explains that his horse and sword were stolen by somebody of roughly the same height and hair colour as him - who then apparently went on to rob from the rich and give to the poor. When he is then asked "So this person could have been mistaken for you?" He answers "Certainly not! He was a peasant!"
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • This is a Running Gag in the parody crossover Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base, in which Kylo Ren from Star Wars tries to goes undercover among his mooks as a radar technician named Matt. Key word being "tries" — he's quite the Overt Operative.
      "Matt the Radar Technician": A buddy of mine saw Kylo Ren take his shirt off in the shower and he said that Kylo Ren had an eight-pack, that Kylo Ren was shredded.note 
      Tim the Stormtrooper: What?! Your friend's a liar, man! Kylo Ren is a punk bitch! That guy looks like he weighs 30 pounds soaking wet underneath that little black dress.
    • Clark Kent (played by Dwayne Johnson) is needled by his co-workers who insist that Superman must be gay, while Clark, badly keeping up his secret identity, insist that Supes is completely straight.
  • Done in The Scarlet Pimpernel TV series, when Percy is impersonating Chauvelin:
    Percy: The Scarlet Pimpernel. Surely you've heard of him?
    Gabrielle: That ridiculous name means nothing to me.
    Percy: The man's a legend. Elusive, daring, resourceful beyond belief, a poisonous thorn in the side of the Republic...
    Andrew: ...and altogether too big for his boots.
  • Happens a lot in Second Chance (2016). After being restored to his younger body, Jimmy will often compliment or defend his older self to people who knew him. Usually—especially when it's Jimmy's son—the person he's talking to will respond with their real and unflattering opinion of the older Jimmy.
  • In The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, the main characters travel back in time to 17th century France. For some strange reason, they're all doubles of historical (or fictional) people, to the point where Rebecca Fogg is initially thought to be Milady de Winter, hired by Cardinal Richelieu (who looks like her cousin Phileas Fogg) to poison the king (who looks like Jules Verne). During the climax of the episode, the Cardinal comes face-to-face with Phileas, stares at him for a moment, and calls him a "handsome devil".
  • In Seinfeld, Elaine is mistaken by coworker Peggy for "Suzie". When Peggy complains to "Suzie" that that Elaine Benes is an idiot, Elaine is forced to defend herself, to a point where she snaps at Peggy and gets "Suzie" in trouble.
  • Shoestring: Inverted in "The Partnership". A butcher asks Eddie if he's "that man on the radio." Eddie answers, "You mean that guy with the funny name? Can't stand him." The butcher says, "No, I can't either."
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • In "Duet", one-off character Lieutenant Cadman is trapped in McKay's body. At one point he falls asleep and she gets control of the body; when she/he goes to Doctor Beckett, they claim that it's "damn lucky it was her" that McKay was merged with.
    • "The Daedalus Variations": While the team is traveling through alternate universes, they are rescued from aliens by a squadron of F-302s commanded by an alternate version of Sheppard. When they hail him on the radio to thank him, Sheppard doesn't tell his alternate who they are, but says, "You're obviously a man of great integrity, a dedicated commander, and a skilled pilot." Meanwhile, the other characters roll their eyes. Alt-Sheppard responds, "Well, that's funny. I was just going to say the same to you."
  • Starsky & Hutch:
    • In "The Game", Hutch talks to a snitch while disguised as a homeless man. The snitch says that he and Starsky are both dumb, "especially the blond one." Hutch says, "I thought the blond one was supposed to be the bright one."
    • In another episode, Hutch is undercover as a nerdy accountant. When a woman IDs him as a cop, he protests: "I am not a policeman. They have to be brave and manly and strong."
  • Inverted and Played for Drama the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Duet". Captured war criminal Gul Darhe'el is quick to gloat about the atrocities her ordered during the occupation. When it's discovered that he's actually a mere filing clerk named Aamin Marritza, he denies it, raging that Marritza was a pathetic weakling who spent every night weeping at the very sounds of the atrocities going on around him. Finally, he breaks down, and admits that he'd assumed Darhe'el's identity so that a war crimes trial could finally be held, and the victims could see at least some accountability.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Schizoid Man", aging cyberneticist Dr. Ira Graves implants his consciousness in Data's body and then gives himself a glowing eulogy supposedly from Data:
    "Data": Just look at that face. The face of a thinker. A warrior. A man for all seasons. Yes, Ira Graves was all that and more. But he was not perfect. Perhaps his greatest flaw was that he was too selfless. He cared too much for his fellow man, with nary a thought for himself. A man of limitless accomplishments, and unbridled modesty. I can safely say that to know him was to love him. And to love him was to know him. Those who knew him, loved him, while those who did not know him, loved him from afar.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Body and Soul", the Doctor is stuck in Seven's body after some hologram-persecuting aliens think they've killed him. He describes himself to one of the aliens like this:
    "If only you could have known him. Ruggedly handsome. A sharp wit, a towering intellect. ... Well, now we'll never know what heights he could have reached."
  • In Supergirl (2015), James and Winn do this a lot about James's heroic alter ego Guardian (Winn designed the suit and acts as Guardian's Number Two).
  • Supernatural:
    • Dean is looking for Sam, who's been kidnapped. The cop he goes to looks Sam up in her computer and mentions that Sam's brother was recently reported dead and had been wanted for murder. He replies, "Yeah, Dean was always the black sheep of the family. Handsome, though."
    • And in the episode referred to above, when a shapeshifter uses Dean's form to commit crimes:
      Dean: I'm gonna find that handsome devil and kick the crap out of him!
  • Jonny Ball made a running joke of this in his various Think series. He would cut to a scene of himself portraying an important scientist or inventor, and, once the clip ended would remark "What a handsome chap!"
  • In The Vicar of Dibley, strangers occasionally talk to Geraldine about Dibley's famous female vicar without realizing who she is (either because it's over the phone or her collar is obscured). Invariably, she'll make sure to emphasize how much the villagers admire their beloved and sexy vicar.
  • In one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, a game of "Newsflash" (in which Colin stands in front of a greenscreen and tries to guess what's behind him while pretending to be reporting on a news story) had Colin reporting on clips of himself from past episodes. The instant he catches on (mainly due to Chip making a bald joke), he switches from commenting on the strangeness of the situation to becoming teary-eyed over the absolute beauty of it.
    • In a similar vein, the same game in a later episode used clips of Ryan, and Ryan's first clue to Colin was to remark on the sheer beauty of what was behind him.
  • From Wizards vs. Aliens, when Varg is disguised as Gaunt: "The alien genius, Varg, and his sister, Lexi, are behind it!"
  • Downplayed in a series 1 episode of Yonderland—the dark lord Negatus, in disguise as a lowly bum named Dirty Ernie, has to endure the heroes repeatedly remarking on how loathsome, vile, slimy, and generally unpleasant he is. While he doesn't offer any compliments to counter, "Ernie" does posit that maybe being an evil overlord is a difficult job, and Negatus seems to be doing his best despite bwing under massive stress.

  • Art of Noise's 1986 compilation Daft, which collects material from the band's brief stint on ZTT Records and with Trevor Horn and Paul Morley in the lineup, features an essay in the liner notes by Otto Flake that bitterly attacks the post-ZTT lineup as a hollow shell of what Art of Noise once was, praising Horn and Morley as the group's linchpins. "Otto Flake" just so happens to be a pen name for Morley himself.
  • In The Protomen, Dr Wily sings about how smart the person who killed Emily was to use a tool like a robot...shortly after giving that particular order himself, and framing Dr Light.
  • For the longest time, Chris Jericho would go by the name Moongoose McQueen when playing as the frontman of heavy metal band Fozzy. In Kayfabe, Jericho was a huge fan of McQueen while McQueen supposedly had never heard of Jericho.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Roman mythology (as described by Ovid in his Metamorphoses) Vertumnus, the god of season, plant growth, and change, used this trick to praise himself disguised as an old woman and win the heart of Pomona, a wood nymph and a goddess of fruits and gardening. This makes the trope Older Than Print.
  • Older Than Dirt, even. Numbers 12:3 says, "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Guess who wrote Numbers. (Assuming he, and not Joshua or someone else, wrote that bit.)
    • Famously, in the Gospel Of John, John never refers to himself by name but only as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". (Although some see this as a form of humility rather than boastfulness.) There's also an amusing bit in chapter 20, where the otherwise highly-theological book takes a moment to point out that "the other disciple" beat Peter in a footrace.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Triple H talking about his pregnant wife Stephanie, who at the time wasn't his wife in the storyline: "I don't know who knocked her up but he must have a gigantic penis."
  • Inverted by James Myers, who in the 1970s was a PE teacher in Michigan and wrestled in New York in the summer as George "The Animal" Steele. On the rare occasion when one of his students pointed out his resemblance to some WWF wrestler they saw in a magazine, he'd reply "do you really think I'm that ugly?"

  • In Dino Attack RPG, when discussing The Mole, Spy described him as a "master at the art of infiltrating" and a "skilled master of spies". This immediately caused Sgt. Ronald Army to suspect that Spy was really talking about himself. He wasn't.
    Ronald Army: Spy was obviously the spy! He gave himself away! Oh, he thought he was so tricky and smart, speaking in third-person, but no one would show so much respect towards a cowardly murderer unless that cowardly murderer was himself!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, when Fizban — a humanoid persona adopted by the dragon god Bahamut — mentions himself, he states that Bahamut has objectively made the best decisions of any dragon. Also, he's very handsome and has the biggest hoard around.

  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: During the opening number "Comedy Tonight", the prologue describes Pseudolus as "a role of enormous variety and nuance, played by an actor of such versatility, such magnificent range...". Then the actor delivering the prologue admits that he is Pseudolus.
  • In Twelfth Night, Orsino claims that no woman could possibly love as truly as he does. Viola, disguised as a man and also hopelessly in love with him, begs to differ.
    Viola: We men may say more, swear more: but indeed
    Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
    Much in our vows, but little in our love.
  • In Henry IV, Part 1, Falstaff, playing the role of Hal's father the King, tells Hal about this wonderful fellow he's heard of called Falstaff. Hal, playing his father, says he's heard this Falstaff guy is a drunken knave. It's in this scene that it finally sinks it for Hal that he's going to need to stop hanging around with Falstaff.
  • And again in Measure for Measure, where Lucio starts badmouthing the absent Duke to a monk, not realizing that the monk is the Duke in disguise. The monk replies to Lucio with a surprisingly minor version of this trope: he always heard the Duke pretty highly spoken-of. Becomes hilarious in the final scene, when Lucio tells the returned Duke about meeting a monk who said the most awful, slanderous things about him.
  • In Cactus Flower, Stephanie, playing the part of Mrs. Julian Winston in her first meeting with Toni, stoops to complimenting herself in the third person, if only because Toni has heard so much about her already:
    Stephanie: I'm afraid, I haven't been a very good mommy because I've spent so much time with Julian, helping him with his work. [catches herself] Of course, he does have a nurse.
    Toni: I know. I hear Miss Dickinson is marvelous.
    Stephanie: She is.
    Toni: One of those sterling old maids. Probably madly in love with the boss.
    Stephanie: Did Julian tell you that?
    Toni: No. But the way he described her—
  • In Something Rotten!, Bea, dressed as a lawyer to defend her husband, declares, "The defendant's wife, who is surely a loving, kind, compassionate, patient woman—(turns to the court reporter) Hey, make sure you write all that down!"

    Web Animation 

  • Happens multiple times in 8-Bit Theater, such as here, here, here, here and arguably here.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The way to tell the difference between Elan and Nale-disguised-as-Elan? Nale can't help but defend himself when insulted.
    • Belkar does this in after he gets out of prison in Azure City. Specifically here. In fact, it's done by both Belkar and Elan in the same strip.
    • In On the Origin of PCs, Belkar escapes from prison with a false beard as a disguise. He tells his pursuers that the "ruggedly handsome and clean-shaven" halfling went that way.
    • Eugene Greenhilt, while impersonating his daughter Julia, tries to get his son Roy to admit that Eugene wasn't "all bad, all the time".
  • One of the redirects may have come from this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
  • PepsiaPhobia:
  • T-Rex pulls it in the last panel of Dinosaur Comics 1120 and 2009.
  • Narbonic: Madblood is disguised as Dave, and Helen (who figured it out immediately) is messing with him by claiming she and Dave are lovers. Madblood tries to keep his cover, but he can't help saying things like, "But what of Madblood? I thought you found him dashing and brilliant!"
  • In Brawl in the Family: "Help! The evil and handsome Wart took control..."
  • In Larp Trek, Odo gets some lines about how clever Jake is, and how everyone should listen to him. These lines would be more convincing if Wesley weren't role-playing both Odo and Jake.
  • In Homestuck, Roxy does this to John, just to mess with him and see how long it takes for him to figure it out.
    JOHN: i was told to find a girl named roxy.
    ROXY: roxy huh
    ROXY: sounds like a babe
  • In Shaenon Garrity's The X-Files recap comic Monster of the Week, the strip based on "Zero Sum" has Skinner react to the news that someone's been impersonating Mulder with "Damn that handsome bastard!"
  • Existential Comics: Socramander has never heard of this "Socrates" person, but he thinks he sounds very wise!
  • In Peri Tale's B-plot, Hydrangea reveals to her human companion that she's looking for a woman named Agatha Qing. The loud, flirtatious, and suspiciously unnamed fisherwoman is all but happy to extol all of Miss Qing's virtues, and a chapter or so later she reveals her true identity to Hydrangea's clear lack of amusement.
  • In Questionable Content, when Augusta tells Claire that she's a Virtual YouTuber and Clinton has already been on stream, Claire immediately wants to do it as well. Clinton, who's been asked not to tell anyone about it, is watching the stream with his boyfriend:
    "Bovinna Delavache": Who wants to hear some embarassing stories about my dumb little brother?
    Clinton: OH MY GOD, YOU FRIGGIN' BETTER NOT — I mean, she's probably going to make up a bunch of stuff that her brother, who's actually super cool and smart in real life, never even did.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • In his review of Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, he spends most of the episode in a fake coma. At one point, guest stars Brentalfloss and Uncle Yo have to pull an Of Corpse He's Alive routine for a convention Q&A, and when asked which review the Nostalgia Critic preferred, they immediately nominated the ones they themselves participated in, described themselves as "devilishly handsome", and eventually got into a slap fight.
    • The Critic evokes this himself during his review of The Phantom, during the scene where Kit (who actually is the Phantom) talks to Diana:
      The Critic: [as Kit] I heard you were rescued by a dashing, well-endowed purple man.
    • He also takes a moment in his review of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie to gushingly praise the performance of a suspiciously familiar-looking cameo.
    • In the suicide squad review, Jim Jarosz is off-set playing "Jared Leto portraying the Joker". When White Chart Guy attempts to get his attention, Jim does this almost word-by-word.
  • A meta-example appears in an online PSA featuring the former cast of The West Wing in-character to discuss non-partisan voting and campaign for Bridget Mary McCormack, who was running for election at the time. In introducing McCormack, Josh notes that she's the sister of Mary McCormack (who played Kate on the series) as one of the interesting facts about her. This prompts Josh, C.J. and Toby to briefly wonder exactly who Mary McCormack is:
    Kate: [suddenly appearing at the office door] No clue, but something tells me she's delightful. And whip-smart. Possibly hot? Hard to say, really.
  • Played with during the Critical Role Hearthstone one-shot, where actress Laura Bailey plays a character who is "just the biggest fan of Jaina Proudmoore." A character Bailey happens to voice.
    Laura: I think she's just most amazing mage I've ever seen, y'know? I hear good things about her, she's so powerful. And beautiful. Sounds amazing... I hear...
  • In Badman, after Batman makes a Meaningful Echo of something he said earlier as Bruce, Rachel asks him, point blank, if he is Bruce Wrayne under the mask. Batman immediately denies this, but he then adds that Bruce is actually one of his good friends that he sometimes hangs out with, and he thinks he is "kinda the coolest", and in his opinion she should go out with him, adding that he has heard he is available next friday.

Nope, still not But He Sounds Handsome. That was a great trope though, huh?...Er...I mean it would be. Would be a great trope. Also a handsome one. *whistles*


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Superman Compliments Clark Kent, Secretly Complimenting Yourself


Bandit Pretends to Be Chilli

In this flashback, while Bandit is pretending to be Chilli, he tells Bingo he isn't there, all the while complimenting himself. Bingo, unimpressed, sees right through it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ButHeSoundsHandsome

Media sources: