Follow TV Tropes

Following

Counter-Productive Warning

Go To

A common gag. You have an evil character planning to do something horrible, evil, or at least wrong. Then our hero comes and tells them that they will stop them from doing some specific action. Turns out the villain hadn't actually planned for that specific action, but now they actually have an idea to follow, thanks to the hero. So now the hero's situation is worse, and they are the only ones to blame for talking too much. Expect the villain to thank them for the idea, either sarcastically or sincerely, depending on how naïve the character is. Depending on the context, this can show the hero as dumb for helping their opponent, show the villain as dumb for not noticing such an obvious idea right away, or both.

While it's more common for heroes to accidentally help villains to create more conflict, it's also possible for a villain to say too much and help the hero defeat them.

Sub-Trope of Saying Too Much. It often overlaps with both Nice Job Breaking It, Hero and Nice Job Fixing It, Villain. Compare with Briar Patching where the hero suggests an idea for the villain to follow, but they actually want it to happen. Can lead to You Just Had to Say It, and is usually a result of Thought They Knew Already.

Compare and contrast Do Not Do This Cool Thing and Schmuck Bait, which are similar but involve intentional use of Reverse Psychology. See also Thought-Aversion Failure, where telling someone not to think about something is a sure way to bring it to mind. Related to Opponent Instruction.


Examples

    open/close all folders 
    Anime and Manga 
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: A rare hero-on-hero version, Played for Laughs: during their first meal together, the Ryozanpaku Dojo Masters notice that Kenichi is very defensive of his food and ask why. Kenichi tells them that he expects them to try to steal his food and he will need to fight them off for the sake of 24/7 martial arts practice like the Sadist Teachers in martial arts films. The Masters then answer that no, they were not going to do that, but now that he told them that it does sound like a good idea...

    Comic Books 
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Mina demands Haddo tell her everything about his plot involving the "Moonchild", leading to Haddo looking into it and, well, plot something involving the Moonchild, otherwise known as the Antichrist and Harry Potter. Also a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy — Mina only thought Haddo had a plot involving the Moonchild because Carnacki the Ghost-Finder told her that was what he was going to do.

    Fan Works 

    Literature 
  • Artemis Fowl and The Time Paradox: When Mulch describes Opal Koboi as the kind of villain who "would set the world on fire just to watch it burn", Opal adds "Set World on Fire" to her list of evil schemes to be considered in the future.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Thanks to a mix of polygynous Exotic Extended Marriage and Feuding Families situation, Rozemyne's noble "biological" family includes a half-brother named Nikolaus whom she's supposed to avoid interacting with because her mother and the boy's are on different side of the conflict. At a later point of the story, the status quo changes in a way that allows Rozemyne and Nikolaus to properly communicate with each other, revealing that Nikolaus would like to be in Rozemyne's employ if it weren't for their respective mothers. One of the rules about the Royal Academy is that it's a place for ten to sixteen-year-old noble children to be among each other without the interference of adult family members. Rozemyne has also, by that point of the story, agreed to have an acquaintance be her retainer only while they are both at the Royal Academy. Because of this, Rozemyne's "full brother" Cornelius, who is much more wary about Nikolaus' motives than she is, assumes out loud that her idea of a compromise between the desires of everyone involved is going to be making Nikolaus a second "Royal Academy only" retainer. Rozemyne hadn't thought of it until he suggested it.
  • Invoked in Interesting Times: Rincewind goes around an army camp informing soldiers that per the scouts' reports, they will not be facing 2,300,009 invisible vampire ghosts. This causes the soldiers to wonder why such a Suspiciously Specific Denial was needed, and Lord Hong's attempt at damage control (telling the soldiers it doesn't matter because they'll have ghosts too) backfires because due to the Empire's repressive policies, the soldiers only see themselves as facing ghosts from outside and inside their borders.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All That: This was a Running Gag in the "Superdude" sketches. Whenever a group of bullies would start harassing Mark Cant, Penny Lane would plead with the bullies not to do something specific like put him in a shopping cart and ram it into a stack of groceries. This, of course, would give the bullies the idea to do just that.
  • In one episode of Hannah Montana, Miley's identical cousin comes to visit and starts disguising herself as Hannah Montana to take advantage of her. Then Miley's friend Lily catches her and asks her to not expose the secret that Miley Stuart is Hannah Montana... To which her cousin says it never crossed her mind, but then she becomes focused on exposing the secret.
  • One episode of That's So Raven combines it with Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • There was a problem in school and the principal gets really angry. Raven gets a vision where the school forces the students to wear uniforms. Raven asks the principal not to do it. The principal said he was not planning to, but that it is indeed a great idea.
    • When the mean clique of the school is angry about having to wear uniforms and shows Raven a big wheel of cheese, Raven remembers a vision about a cheese getting rotten and stinking the school. Raven asks her not to follow that plan. Only for them to say they were planning on just eating it, but that it was a great prank.
    • And finally, when one of the girls says she knows where to put the cheese wrapper. Raven gets a vision of them putting it on Raven's friends' lockers to frame them. She asks them not to put the wrapper in the lockers. She says she meant to put it in the trash bin, but then says that's a better idea.
  • A variation shows up in the Batman (1966) episodes "Fine Feathered Finks"/"Penguin's A Jinx". The Penguin plants a bugged umbrella for Batman and Robin to find. He listens to their conversation as they try to figure out what crime the Penguin is planning and how to stop it, getting ideas for committing just such a crime in a way that their plan to stop him won't work.

    Video Games 
  • EarthBound (1994): During the final confrontation against Giygas, when it proves to be immune to every attack the party can dish out, Porky gloats about it, saying that the party may as well give up now and cry to their mommies. This gives the player a hint as to how to defeat Giygas, as Paula can use her "pray" ability to reach out to the friends whom the party has made throughout their journey, and all of their cheers weaken Giygas, with there eventually being enough cheers to defeat it for good.
  • Klonoa: Door to Phantomile: A villainous example. Joka warns two of his boss monsters to watch out for their weak points, inadvertently telling Klonoa and the player how to beat them:
    • He tells Rongo Lango to watch his own backside, making it clear that Rongo Lango can only be hit from the back.
    • He tells Gelg Bolm to watch out for attacks from above, making it clear that Gelg Bolm can only be hit from above.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Big Knights, after messing with a Time Machine causes horrible ripple effects that throw the world into chaos, Sir Boris sends himself back in time to warn their past selves not to go to Professor Von Proton's laboratory. Only when he gets back do they realize it was this warning that gave them the idea in the first place.
  • Happens twice during an episode of Danny Phantom:
    • A ghost called Technus appears, loudly introducing himself as the ghost for science and electronics. Danny says he won't allow him to use the lab's technology to take over the world. Technus simply looks around to see all the technology at his disposal and thanks Danny for the idea.
    • Later in the episode, Technus has amassed a large amount of appliances but is unable to control them. Danny notices he hasn't upgraded the software of the computer he possessed, and says he won't allow him to use it. He notices the disc and says that is a great idea too, and even tells Danny he should be a professor.
  • Fairly OddParents: In Fairly OddBaby, when Cosmo and Poof go missing, the others begin a frantic search for them. Timmy, Wanda, and Jorgen then break into both Anti-Fairy World and Pixie World while both villain groups are coming up with an evil plan, and unintentionally inform them that they could use the raw untapped magic power of a fairy baby to take over the universe.
  • In the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Christmas Special, when it is revealed that the Vampire who attacked Santa Claus was Mrs. Claus herself, Mandy says that she doesn't like the plan of Santa going to all houses and turn everyone into vampires for the Vampire Leader to take over the world. She admits she simply wanted some rest and quietness, but that Mandy's idea is great.
  • Kim Possible: Señor Senior, Senior was originally a billionaire who drained Europe's power grid to power his island, not realizing he was causing blackouts. Kim and Ron traveled to the island, with Kim trying to convince him to conserve energy. While there, Ron comments on how the island would make a perfect Supervillain Lair. This gives Senior the idea to become a supervillain to alleviate his Rich Boredom.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one of the original Tracey Ullman shorts, Bart is craving some candy bars but he has no money and wonders how he could get one. Lisa tells him he better not think to steal them, and Bart simply responds "That's it!" and immediately takes as many as he could take.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror VIII"'s short "Easy-Bake Coven", where Marge and her sisters are depicted as witches, the Flanders are worried about their kids, as they mention how witches take children away to eat them. The Bouvier witches were watching from their magic cauldron, and mention they were just going to swipe their shoes, but prefer to go with the children-eating idea.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Enemy In-Law", Plankton starts dating Mr. Krabs' mother, which Mr. Krabs disapproves of. He goes to confront Plankton and tell him that he will never get the Krabby Patty formula from her since he is not family. Turns out that not only was Plankton dating Krab's mother out of actual interest, but he didn't even know she knew the formula. So from that moment he actually focuses on marrying her so she will tell him the formula.
  • VeggieTales: In "The Toy That Saved Christmas", Mr. Nezzer has the heroes tied up and loaded on a bobsled, intending to exile them from town. An earlier scene had established that the bridge to Puggslyville has collapsed, and Larry the Cucumber chooses the worst possible time to remind Mr. Nezzer of that fact:
    Mr. Nezzer: Let's see. Where would you like to go? Wibblestown? Bumblyburg?
    Larry: Just don't send us to Puggslyville. The bridge is out.
    [Beat. Mr. Nezzer sports a sinister grin.]
    Mr. Nezzer: Puggslyville... Oh, I hear it's nice this time of year. Mr. Lunt, four tickets to Puggslyville, please.

Top