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Consolation Backfire

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Gamal: Oh. Well, at least you got a quarter out of the deal.
Jeriah: Actually, the quarter turned out to be a worthless iron shard.
Gamal: Oh. least you have your health.
Jeriah: The shard gave me tetanus.

When a character has suffered some humiliating setback, and tries to console himself by saying that at least he has something or someone still likes him, this is often a cue for that someone to leave them or that something to be destroyed.

A variation has the character reporting a sob story to a friend, who tries to cheer him up by saying what happened wasn't so awful, only for the story to progress from the merely disappointing on to the truly horrific.

A subtrope of Tempting Fate. This trope also makes the character the ultimate Butt-Monkey of the story. Compare Rock Bottom. Not to be confused with Assurance Backfire, which is about someone trying to console one who is depressed, only for their words to have the opposite effect.


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    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In one story, Donald Duck is tricked into buying a parcel of worthless land. He then manages to sell to Gladstone Gander in exchange for a diamond Gladstone had just found. As Donald is driving off, Gladstone discovers oil on the land, but consoles himself that he still has the diamond. His nephews, who have been looking the stone up in Junior Woodchuck Guidebook, tell it is not a diamond but a cubic zirconium. Donald then comments that at least there is a beautiful sunset.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf alternate timeline story "Papa Smurf & Mama Smurfette", where Papa Smurf and Smurfette fall in love, marry, have a child together, and then are exiled from the village by the other Smurfs to raise their own family together in the forest, when Papa Smurf hears that those same Smurfs who exiled him were now trapped in time, Papa Smurf refuses to help, stating that they got just what they deserved. Sassette (who along with her fellow Smurfings were living with Papa Smurf and Smurfette in exile) dares to speak her mind, saying that Empath was perhaps right in saying that Papa Smurf didn't really love Smurfette, but rather stole her from Empath, the one Smurf that truly loved her. To which Papa Smurf became so angry that he slapped Sassette hard in the face, which in turn made Smurfette so angry with Papa Smurf that she decided to leave him and go off into the forest to find a way to bring the other Smurfs home, taking their daughter away from Papa Smurf in the process as she, the Smurflings, Polaris Psyche, and Puppy all left Papa Smurf behind with only Baby Smurf to keep him company. Papa Smurf turns to Baby Smurf, hoping to gain some comfort from him after all this has happened to him, but Baby Smurf just cries, realizing that he also is being left behind.
  • Naruto: The Abridged Series:
    • In episode 11, after being put down by Kakashi, Sakura comments, "At least I still have my fans." Sasuke immediately interjects "What fans?"
    • In episode 13, after being ignored by all the other characters, Kabuto consoles himself with, "At least Orochimaru still loves me." Cut to Orochimaru saying, "You're creepy, go away."
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, after Yugi and the others leave Mako Tsunami (and call him a "freaky fishguy"), Mako comments, "At least the ocean will never leave me. Right, Ocean?" The ocean predictably doesn't respond, positive or negative, but in a later episode he has divorced the ocean and is now dating the Domino Aquarium. He gets back together with the ocean in the end.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Fifth Element, Korben Dallas is eating lunch when he gets a message. He points out to the window-to-window chef that the last two messages were from his wife, who was leaving him, and from his lawyer, who was also leaving him with his wife. The chef responds with some words of wisdom: "Grandfather say, 'it never rains every day'. This one is good news! I bet you lunch!" Of course, his next line as he reads the message is "You are fired". At least Korben got a free lunch?
  • At the climax of MouseHunt, the Smuntz's last attempts to drive the mouse away result in the house getting flooded and several walls being destroyed. And this happens in the middle of the auction to sell the house. All the would-be buyers start to leave...
    Ernie Smuntz: Hey! Don't go! [waves an arm at the flooded house] A demonstration of how durable a LaRue really is! Now you know this house will last forever!
    [as if on cue, the house collapses.]
  • In The Room (2003), after Johnny's suicide, Lisa, leaning against Mark, sobs, "Johnny's dead, but I still have you, right?" This is a little too soon after Johnny's death for Mark (they're standing over his corpse), and he recoils in disgust, saying that she doesn't "have him".
  • In UHF, the protagonist George discovers at one point that he is broke, can't pay the rent, and has just run his uncle's business into the ground, with no hope of being employed by anyone in the city (as he's already been fired from every business and his uncle will certainly not offer him another job after he's ruined his TV station). He recalls his girlfriend, saying, "Well, at least I have Terri..." Cue phone call from Terri calling to tell him that he is an insensitive creep for failing to show up at the birthday dinner he promised, and that she never wants to see him again.
  • In The World Is Not Enough, a caviar factory owned by James Bond's former enemy turned ally Valentin Zukovsky is the site of a lengthy battle between Bond and several mooks. While surveying the damage done to the factory after the battle ends, Zukovsky comments to his assistant that, "we may not have a roof, but at least, we still have four good walls." Seconds later, all four walls simultaneously collapse.
    Valentin Zukovsky: The insurance company is never going to believe this!

  • One Dave Barry column offered this Parody Commercial for a soft drink:
    [the scene opens up with a boy in a Little League uniform, looking very sad. His father walks up]
    Father: What's the matter, Son?
    Son: [bursting into tears] Oh Dad, I struck out and lost the big game. [sobs]
    Father [putting his arm around the boy's shoulders] Forget it! Let's have a nice cold can of Bite the Wax Tadpole!
    Son: And then I murdered a policeman.
  • In Moving Pictures, a bartender at a bar for people Drowning Their Sorrows has learned never to say "Cheer up, it might never happen" because it already has, or "Never mind, it could be worse" because it probably will be.
  • In The Space Merchants, the protagonist passes out on a glacier and wakes up in an unfamiliar and unfriendly setting. When he tries to protest that he is Mitchell Courtenay, a guard demands his Social Security number, and he confidently rattles off eight digits. "You can lose money and health and friendship, but they can't take a low Social Security number away from you," the first-person narrator comments. The guard rolls up his sleeve to see where the number is tattooed and then deals him a Bitch Slap. Taking a look himself, he dumbfoundedly observes that his kidnappers falsified his number by adding thirteen extra digits.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Full House, Joey has a lucky day. First there's a newspaper strike, delaying publication of a review of a disastrous comedy show the night before, he wins two tickets to a concert after getting a call from a radio station and correctly getting the answer right, gets a date with the attractive cable lady who also installs a channel the household didn't have, free of charge, and he is given the opportunity to audition to replace a longtime children's TV show host. However, Joey doesn't know that the host Hates Being Touched and after he's hired gives him a big hug, after leaving the host tells Danny that Joey is fired. This then starts his bad luck, as the newspaper strike is settled, he doesn't qualify for the prize tickets due to a relative being employed at the radio station, the cable lady has to uninstall the free channel and breaks off their date upon hearing that he can't have the tickets, which gets Joey to mention to Danny that he at least he got the job that he's unaware he was fired from, right before Danny breaks the news to him.
  • Hell's Kitchen: In season 11.
    • When Susan's team considered her for nomination because of her failure on the steaks, she defended herself by saying she felt like she was a huge contributor to the team. She then said that was her opinion and she didn't know if anyone else agreed with her. She waited for someone to confirm her belief. Nobody did.
    • After being completely lost during the first service due to her inexperience in the brigade system, Danielle ranted about how so few restaurants used a brigade system. She then rhetorically asked the dorm how many cooks there ever cooked in a brigade system. Cue almost every cook on the blue team raising their hands.
  • The Mighty Boosh:
    Howard: Day 12. Vince is dead. All is lost. So alone. Wind my only friend.
    Wind: I...Hate...You...
    Howard: Shut up wind!

  • Hamilton: When Hamilton publishes the Reynolds pamphlet, declaring while his wife was away he had an affair with Maria Reynolds, his wife's sister Angelica returns all the way from London note  as soon as she hears.
    Hamilton: Angelica, thank God somebody understands what I'm struggling here to do.
    Angelica: I'm not here for you.
  • In Once in a Lifetime, when George's movie appears to be a fiasco, May tells him that "we've got a gold dinner set, anyway. A hundred and six pieces, and every piece with your initials in diamonds. That's not bad for two months' work." This is the cue for two pages to appear, carrying said dinner set out.
    "No, George — you haven't got a solid gold dinner set."

    Video Games 
  • Live A Live has a deconstruction in the form of Oersted. After everyone turns their backs on him because of him accidentally committing regicide, he is convinced (by his remaining friend, who dies soon after) that there's one person that still believes in him: Princess Alethea. As long as he still has her, he can keep fighting. So he sets off to save her, only to find out that the "accident" was actually orchestrated by a jealous friend, and when he kills said former friend, the Princess reveals that she has already lost faith in him and declares her love for the same friend that betrayed him, ultimately committing suicide in front of him to spite the knight further. Oersted in turn snaps. Then in retaliation, he becomes the new Lord of Dark, levels the kingdom, and then declares war on all of reality.

    Web Comics 
  • Men in Hats:
    • Jeriah tells Gamal a story about finding a quarter and losing his book of poems that only gets worse despite Gamal's attempts to reassure him:
      Jeriah: Actually, the quarter turned out to be a worthless iron shard.
      Gamal: Oh, well... At least you still have your health.
      Jeriah: The shard gave me tetanus.
    • In this strip, Gamal talks about fantasy novels. After Aram gets bored and leaves him, he tells the fantasy novel at least it still likes him. "Actually I don't," the novel says.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad! episode "Dope and Faith", Stan tries to convert his atheist friend Brett by having him suffer so he'll turn to Jesus by blowing up his house and sabotaging his restaurant with ipecac. Afterwards, Brett looks on the bright side that he's still got his family.
    Stan: Yeah, I thought you'd say that.
    [Brett's wife comes up to him]
    Brett's wife: Brett, I've realized I'm a lesbian, so I'm leaving you and taking the children.
    Brett: What?! When did you become a lesbian?!
    Brett's Wife: That is so ignorant! You don't become a lesbian! It's not like somebody shot an experimental beam into my head, and suddenly I'm gay!
    [Stan gives Aside Glance]
  • At the end of Daffy Duck's Quackbusters, Daffy is completely bankrupt and can't pay his rent, and a repo crew come in to take all his stuff. Daffy then says "One thing's for sure, I've got nowhere else to go but up!", then a wrecking ball crashes in his office and sends him flying.
  • Ed does this to himself in one episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy
    Eddy: Get over it! If she told you to jump in a lake, with a rock tied to your head, and wait for naked photos of you to develop, so she could hand them out to all the kids in the cul-de-sac, would you?
    Ed: I had socks on, Eddy
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a Halloween episode, after an army of Homer clones destroys Old Gil's farm, Old Gil sighs and says "At least I still have my health." Cue the Homers eating him alive. His skeleton is left behind to say "Awwww..."
    • In "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can", Lisa enters a spelling bee but loses in the finals. On the way back home, Homer tries to console her by saying "You're the number one speller in this car, or in that car, or in that car, or... er, don't look in that car..." as a car drives by with the champion and his trophy in it.
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • In "Operation Bumblebee Part 1", the kids try to make Bumblebee feel better about the loss of his vehicle mode by playing a racing video game.
    • And when that doesn't work, they decide to watch TV...
      Commercial Announcer: The new Urbana 500. It won't just rock your world... it will transform it.
    • And when Raf tries telling 'Bee that he's "just as amazing without wheels," Jack and Arcee roll in from a drive.
      Jack: Personal best, Arcee! You hit 120, easy!
      Bumblebee: [death glare]
      Jack & Arcee: Oh / Uh-oh.
  • The Weekenders:
    Tino: Um, is this dinner or a science experiment?
    Tino's mom: Go on. It won't bite you.
    Tino: That works out nicely, since I don't plan to bite it either.

Sorry for all the time you wasted on This Very Wiki. At least you learned something.


Video Example(s):


"Got Him As Good As He Got Me"

When driving home drunk at night during a snow storm, Homer accidentally rear ends the back of a car. Despite his car being wrecked, he looks on the bright side that he got the other car just as bad...until he saw that it was MARGE's station wagon, in their own driveway!

How well does it match the trope?

4.47 (19 votes)

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Main / ConsolationBackfire

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