In a Sitcom, often a character will say something that's just meant to be a friendly little remark, and it will come out wrong, possibly sounding crazy or offensive; they'll try and clarify it (whether they really need to or not), but just make things worse, and dig themselves deeper and deeper into the crazy/offensive pit. Exceptionally deep and/or frequent excavations are commonplace in Cringe Comedies.
May eventually lead to Shutting Up Now.
Subjecting a character to this too often may eventually lead to a (usually) comedic version of Then Let Me Be Evil.
Not to be confused with Dug in Deeper (where someone pursues something because they're told they're great at it, even though they're not), Dug Too Deep (which is about physical digging) or Digging to China (same). Nor Dig Your Own Grave, for that matter.
- Kaorin has this one in Azumanga Daioh: Supplementary Materials:
Kaorin: (Sigh) Sakaki is so cool...
Osaka: Kaorin, are you gay?
Kaorin: The correct term is lesbian! Uh, not that I'm a lesbian!! It's just, you know, a teenage thing. That's all. Anyway, that's not what I meant when I said she was cool. Just to prove it, I wouldn't mind if she was a guy!
- Happens in an extra episode of Durarara!!, when some poor sod attempts to talk down Shizuo with flattery and compares him to a really popular Bishōnen actor, Yuuhei Hanejima. Unfortunately for him, said actor is actually Shizuo's little brother, whom Shizuo is very protective of, and he instinctively interprets the namedrop as an attempt to invade Yuuhei's privacy through him. Of course, since the poor sod doesn't know this, he just thinks Shizuo's suddenly angry because he hates Yuuhei — so he rescinds his previous statement and calls Yuuhei an asshole. The only thing surprising about what happens next is that the poor sod actually survived.
- Early in Air, Yukito's explanation about why he was hugging Kano is like this and leads to Hijiri getting angry and charging him with scalpels. Luckily, Misuzu's intervention means that Hijiri's reaction is Played for Laughs.
- In The World God Only Knows, Keima has an accidental pervert moment with Haqua with a predictable result despite him not even really caring. A bit later, he reassures her by saying he has no memory of her naked body anyway. This might help normally, only Haqua is already bothered by the way he never shows attraction to anyone or anything outside of his games. Cue getting hit again.
- A dramatic example occurs in Happy Yarou Wedding when a drunken makeout session is suddenly halted by Yuuhi and Todou fears he's made him uncomfortable and lies that he mistook him for his dead wife. Since Yuuhi had stopped because he was shocked to realize he was in love with Todou, this crushes him and he decides to never return. Todou then persistently texts him with messages like "I have no interest in men" and "sorry for making you feel bad" in attempt to get him to come back, but of course, this just makes Yuuhi even more upset.
- In FLCL, Mamimi confronts Naota and accuses him of having a crush on Haruko, to which Naota replies, "How can you like someone who's insane?" The problem is that Mamimi is a pyromaniac arsonist, and Naota knows this.
- Kurando Wada falls victim to an exaggerated case in Popcorn Avatar. Thanks to a previous incident when a bump to the head made him regress to the hyperactive, skirt-flipping personality he had as a 9-year-old, all the girls in his class start treating him like he's a dangerous pervert. He assures them that he has no interest in what's under their clothes, which they automatically take as an insulting comparison to Lisa Vayu. He immediately counters that he doesn't even like big breasts, only for Lisa to put a hand on his shoulder right after he says it. While she's painfully punishing him for that, he tells her she has the best breasts in the world... just when his sister happens to walk in looking for him.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT has Nanoha attempting to explain away her crush on Fate after the latter rescued her.
Arisa: She's been worrying about you aaaaaaaaall day, Fate. And she just couldn't take her eyes off you when she first saw you.
Nanoha: NO- I, uh- I was just thinking about how cool you looked... and how pretty you are...
- In Angel Densetsu, this happens to a nosebleeding Kuroda who meets Ryoko (his crush) at this time.
Kuroda: N... No, it wasn't Kitano-san who did this to me ... and it wasn't from some unfamiliar girl kicking me, it just started flowing as I stood here, thinking of you ... Ah ... no, no they weren't like...those kind of thoughts ... I just, um, really want to eat chocolate when I think about you ... B ... But wait, that doesn't mean I really want to eat you! I just ...
Kuroda's Lackeys: (What the hell is he saying?)
- In Yona of the Dawn, Jae-Ha wanted to recruit Hak into his pirate gang but did so by holding Hak's hands and declaring that "I want you". Naturally, Hak declined. To convince him further, Jae-Ha then wrapped his arms around Hak's waist, saying he was a handsome man and they should go somewhere private to continue their conversation. Hilarity Ensues.
- A Running Gag with Romio from Boarding School Juliet is his tendency to run into trouble, and his attempts to talk his way out of it only makes it worse for himself. When Juliet told him that she wasn't bothered by Romio having a Porn Stash (which wasn't his to begin with anyway), Romio told her that he wasn't interested in any other girls' breasts but Juliet's. He immediately regretted saying that.
- A dramatic example happens in Sazanka. After breaking up with her boyfriend Keita, Tatsuki has her friend Aoi over. After telling Aoi about the breakup and quitting her job, Tatsuki accidentally shows Aoi one of her bruises, resulting in her frantically trying to explain it away so as to not get her ex-boyfriend in trouble.
Aoi: What's that bruise?
Tatsuki: Oh, I... hit it against something!
Aoi: The underside of your arm? Yeah, likely story. Don't tell me, when you told your boyfriend that you wanted to break up, he beat you?
Tatsuki: No, it didn't happen then!note
Aoi: ...What? You're saying he beat you up regularly?
Tatsuki: (thinks) Oh... crap...
- A stunningly awkward moment for Nurse Annie in issue #421 of Uncanny X-Men, doubling as a bit of a Freudian Slippery Slope.
Alex: So my brother tells me I have you to thank for keeping me clean and odor-free while I was a vegetable, Annie.
Annie: Well... It was my job.
Alex: It's still pretty special to me. If a little awkward, given what you probably had to do.
Annie: It was my pleasure. Really. I mean—not like I get pleasure out of—I mean—I had to keep you clean—It's just part of the, the, the—
Paige: I'm surprised she can talk with that much foot in her mouth.
Alex: Yeah, I thought I'd be the embarrassed one. I mean, I was the one naked during the procedure.
Annie: Well, yeah, but if I could have been the naked one, I would've been—I mean, not the naked one, that's not what I meant, I meant the one without clothes on—and you'd be naked—I mean, the one with clothes on and you'd be rubbing me naked—cleaning, not rubbing, cleaning, you know, sponging, in a medical way—
Paige: I think she's going to explode.
- The third Blue Beetle stumbles into this when he teams up with Batman in The Brave and the Bold (revived series issue #3).
Beetle: My armor should be able to track the watchamatrix's energy sig, but the tracking's all kaflooey. Probability-alteration factor, maybe?...I'm sorry! I'm not making excuses. I swear! I know you hate excuses! I'm trying, I promise! I just-
Batman: Jaime... Relax.
Beetle: ...Ohmygodyou'renotreallyBatman... OhgodIsaidthatoutloud...
Beetle: What? Don't kill me.
- Rocky (from the Swedish comic, not the boxer) once gets into this when meeting his current girlfriend's father. He wants to compliment him on his house, but makes a Freudian Slip and substitutes "dick" for "house", and then it gets worse. The girlfriend's father shuts him up with the wonderful comeback: "Kid, if you've put your foot in your mouth, at least have the sense to stand still!"
- Used as a visual metaphor in the furry comic ISO, when Cody has to swiftly make up lies about his supposed girlfriend to keep his parents from finding out about Doug, as well as the fact he's on the outs with Todd and has a roommate he can't stand.
- The tie-in comic for Star Trek: Elite Force involves Beissman responding enthusiastically to the assignment of watching Seven's back. She handles it in her usual manner.
Seven: That hole you're digging is getting deeper.
- Wonder Woman" The Contest: Mala doesn't think before talking to Diana about how excieted the Amazons are for another contest to choose Wonder Woman, even though this means replacing Diana;
Mala: Why we were all saying that this is the best thing that could possibly happen umm, well not the best, of course. I mean, no one meant that. You've done a very nice job as Wonder Woman better than nice, an excellent job I mean, even leveling Boston was only a fluke. Perfectly understandable. And we weren't actually happy so much as-
- Chad from 'Patty's Perps' in Knights of the Dinner Table is a master of this.
Chad: Awwwwh, c'mon Patty! When I said girl gamers were lame I wasn't referring to you! You're just like one of the guys.
Patty: Like one of the guys? Your character suddenly hears a rustling in the underbrush. Roll for initiative.
Tank: Careful, Chad. You're digging that hole deeper and deeper.
- Garfield: While talking to Liz on the phone, Jon says he lied about his past and had thousands of girlfriends.
Jon: Okay, I'm still lying!
Garfield: And the hole gets deeper.
- In one series of Zits strips, when Jeremy inquires Sarah about how she's gotten a tan, he ends up telling her "Your freckles help camouflage your zits," with the comment literally hanging in the air afterwards. Jeremy desperately begs to change the subject, only to then ask Sarah "What's it like having divorced parents?" Needless to say, Sarah is not amused, and Jeremy is left smacking himself in the face with a Nerf bat.
- In the Persona 5 fic Confide in Me, one of these occurs in Chapter 20:
Joker: So...would this be a bad time to mention that she wanted to go to the Red Light District together afterwards.
Sae: Excuse me!?
Joker: O-Oh, well, I mean, she wanted to go, but I told her 'I'm sorry Makot-...er, Niijima-senpai, but that's very irresponsible, not to mention that your incredibly smart and talented older sister would never approve of t-
Sae: Yeah, nice try. Now why don't you tell me what really happened?
Sae: You have five seconds to explain before I wring your neck.
Joker: You wouldn't do that...
Joker: Like I said, she wanted me to go there with her!
Joker: We were pretending to be a couple!
Joker: She wanted to meet with this club host.
Joker: (originally written without spaces) She was really worried about a fellow classmate because of rumors that she was seen at the Red Light District so she asked for my help and we found out she had a boyfriend who was also a club host so she asked me if we could pretend to date so we could go on a double date and investigate him!
Sae: (Death Glare)
- Averted in the Facing the Future Series, where Danny would make a comment that would upset Sam, but would always follow up with a nice recovery. Sam once accused him of enjoying that.
- In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Serendipitous Fate, there's a scene where Adrien wakes up erect after spending the night in Marinette's bed. And he soon learns from an amused Marinette that this isn't the first time it's happened there.
Marinette: Poor kitten. You can't help it, I know that. Though I was a little startled the first time I saw it, I'll admit.
Adrien: Just kill me now.
Marinette: Don't say that! We're both victim to mother nature, that's all. No need to be such a baby about it.
Adrien: It doesn't happen only when I'm here. It happens all the time, whether you're here or not. (realises how that sounded) I-I mean, not that- not that you don't cause- It's different! I mean, sometimes it is because of you! But not all the time! Some- sometimes it is. But I don't do anything about it! I don't think about you like that! (realises she's a little offended) I-I mean, I don't think about those things at all! Not about you, anyway. Haha. Wait, no! (Facepalms) I don't think about anyone when it comes to those things! Like, doing things when I'm alo- I don't- Never! That's not- sometimes! Sometimes I do! But never about anyone else other than- But not- Shit. Uh, I do- I do sometimes. But only you! And not often! Oh god! (realises he just admitted to masturbating while thinking about her) It's really not that often! Like, not that I don't think about you a lot- but I have- It's not-
Marinette: Shhh. Just stop talking.
- Played more seriously in another Miraculous story, Red For Fortune, when Marinette confronts Adrien about a fashion spread in Mᴏᴅᴇ, which despite being supposedly inspired by Chinese New Year, was put together by his father and only had white models in yellowface, including Adrien himself.
Marinette: (throwing the magazine down on his desk) This is whats going on in here, Adrien. This racist pile of crap that your father helped produce.
Adrien: (glances at the magazine and recognises the photos, before turning back to Marinette) Youre upset over a fashion spread in Mᴏᴅᴇ? I dont see what the big deal is; I mean, none of it is lewd or anything. I guess this collection isnt my fathers best work...
Marinette: Oh, its an awful collection; completely uninspired and cliché. But I wouldnt be half so upset if an Asian designer had been behind a shoot supposedly inspired by an Asian holiday.
Adrien: There probably werent any Chinese designers that were high profile enough.
Marinette: Do you honestly believe the words coming out of your mouth? I can name three Chinese designers off the top of my head that have been members of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. There are tons of other Chinese designers that participate in Paris Fashion Week. One of them, Ms. Min, even puts out a collection every year in honor of Lunar New Year. The Met Gala, you know, the premier fashion event in the world? It was teeming with work from Chinese designers last year - four of whom were featured in the exhibit! Your father has never caused such a sensation as Guo Peis fox fur gown, and he sure as hell has never been featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gabriel doesnt make art; if this is anything to go by, all he makes is racist garbage.
Adrien: (stands up and glares at her) Its not like he could control who Mᴏᴅᴇ asked to do this spread. They chose the person they thought had the best collection for what they wanted to portray.
Marinette: Gabriel Agreste could have easily turned them down if he had the decency to see that what Mᴏᴅᴇ was doing was wrong. Of course, that would require him to realize that his collection was racist trash and that Mᴏᴅᴇ clearly wanted to portray racist trash. (turning the pages over, with Punctuated Pounding) How. Else. Can. You. Explain. This? (finishes on a shot of Adrien) It wasnt enough that they whitewashed my culture, was it? They also had to deck their white models in yellow face. (glaring into his eyes) What made you think that this was in any way okay? How can you claim to be my friend and do something like this?
Adrien: Hes my father; I couldnt just say no.
Marinette: Your relationship to him is precisely why you were the only one who could say no.
Adrien: (bitterly) You really have no clue about how wrong you are there.
Marinette: I know that any other model or member of the production crew would have committed career suicide if they confronted him. Just as your father was in a position to turn down Mᴏᴅᴇ without consequences, you were in a position to call him out without ruining your future career.
Adrien: Youre crazy if you think I wouldnt have faced consequences, Marinette.
Marinette: What, youd be grounded? Lose your video game privileges? No sweets for a month? Do you really care more about some petty personal comforts than doing the right thing?
Adrien: The right thing? This isnt some grand moral conflict. Youre overreacting.
Marinette: Spoken like a truly privileged white man. Your father must be so proud.
Adrien: Dont act like such a martyr, Marinette. It's not like you're some oppressed minority - heck, your skin is even paler than mine.
Marinette: (lets out a harsh and bitter laugh before cutting it off and continuing to glare at him) You were right, Alya; white faves will always disappoint you in the end.
- For another excellent Miraculous example, there's Leave for Mendeleiev. As in Canon, Adrien/Chat lies to Ladybug about why Theo became Copycat; however, this catches up to him when Nadja brings Theo in as 'proof' of their supposed relationship. Ladybug immediately ends the interview and confronts him about it, only for Chat to keep trying to Change the Uncomfortable Subject and insist that they're meant to be together and that she should stop denying it. At no point during the confrontation does he ever apologize for lying, and his responses only serve to upset her even further.
- In LadyBugOut, Alya's attempts to dodge around admitting that she knows Ladybug isn't happy about a photo she posted to the Ladyblog only serve to rile up most of her classmates further. Including Marinette, who's none too pleased that her 'best friend' is putting her 'big scoop' over Ladybug's express wishes.
- Lila also ends up painting herself into a corner with her lies and losing all the respect she'd gotten from her classmates as a result. When she attempts to regain some of it by claiming that she was Rena Rouge, that only serves to isolate her from her two remaining allies, as Alya and Nino realize that she's lying since that was Alya's old identity.
- In When a Veela Cries Su Li makes an Accidental Innuendo while referring to Neville and continues making more when she tries to clarify it.
Neville: Um, thanks for defending my honor, but next time, maybe we should leave it undefended.
- Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: When Chloe calls out Goh for how his obsession with Mew led to him drifting away from her, Goh shoots back that at least he has a Goal in Life, claiming that she doesn't have any dreams of her own. Even Ash recognizes that he's Dramatically Missing the Point, and is only driving the wedge between them deeper this way.
- Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night: After being framed for the theft of the church's riches, Christine tries to prove her innocence by bringing a police officer a piece of the stolen goods. All she ends up doing is confirming her guilt in his eyes.
- Sally in Cars: "I thought I'd say thank you for doing a great job, so I thought I'd let you stay with me. I mean not with me, but there. Not with me there, but there in your own cozy cone, and I'd be in my cone..."
- In The Book of Life, Joaquin does this when trying to woo Maria, which annoys her, thus making her leave the dinner table and go to her room.
- In Frozen II, Kristoff's fumbling attempts to propose to Anna repeatedly result in him saying things that upset her more and more.
- Mumble in Happy Feet Two does this while trying to comfort his son, Erik. Gloria even lampshades it:
Gloria: You know Erik, when your daddy's in a deep hole, he's got to stop digging.
- Dracula in Hotel Transylvania, after getting rid of the human Jonathan (whom he has disguised, for the monsters' benefit, as a third cousin of Frankenstein's right hand), is relaxing with his monster friends in a sauna. He mentions that he really wouldn't want his Cute Monster Girl daughter to end up with Jonathan's "kind". Cue Frank getting upset. Dracula tries to explain himself and points to Jonathan's red, curly hair. Cue Griffin The Invisible Man getting annoyed, only for Dracula to lampshade that he couldn't have possibly known what Griffin's hair looks like. After a cut, we see other monsters getting annoyed.
- The Princess and the Frog: Naveen is trying to propose to Tiana in the end, and manages to make Tiana look annoyed a few times doing so. Tiana did admit that she thought the fumbling around was cute.
Naveen: You have had quite an influence on me, which is amazing because I have dated thousands of women and— [Tiana looks annoyed] ...uh, no, like, two, three— er, just other women! And anyway, listen, you could not be more different, you know, you are— you are practically, aheh, one of the guys! [Tiana looks affronted] Nonono, you are not a guy! Let me begin again. Uh—" [Naveen stumbles and falls to the floor along with the food] I... am not myself tonight.
- From Robots, Ratchet tries to beg for mercy from his boss, Mr. Bigweld, for the way he's been running the company behind Bigweld's back:
Ratchet: No, wait, please listen to me. You can't do this to me. This job is my life! It means everything to me! You don't know what I've done to get here. The lies I've told! The lives I've ruined! Wait... this isn't helping me!
- Done in Severance with a great jab at the end:
Richard: Hi Maggie. Not eating?
Maggie: Why are you all so obsessed with what I eat? I am not too skinny.
Richard: No, no, no, no. I don't mean... Just that you'll need your energy for the team games. I mean, you're perfect just the way you are. And when I say perfect, I obviously don't mean that in a sexual way. I mean perfect in a neutral way. As if I were another woman saying that you were perfect, you know? Just one woman to another. Not that I'm implying anything like that. Or that there's anything wrong with that... sort of thing. Or... anything.
Steve: 'Keep digging, we can still see you.
- Jim Carrey's character in Liar Liar, cursed so that he Cannot Tell a Lie, boards an elevator with a well-endowed woman. The first words out of his mouth are about her breasts. As he tries to cover himself, more and more lines about her rack spill out... Gilligan Cut to him leaving the elevator, having gotten well-slapped.
Woman: Everyone in the building has been so nice to me.
Jim: Well, that's because you've got big jugs! I mean, your boobs are huge. I mean, I want to squeeze them. I mean...
- Done rather drolly in The Great New Wonderful. Pastry chef Emme, along with her assistants, is presenting a line of birthday cakes to a wealthy Park Avenue girl. The girl expresses interest in one cake, commenting on how beautiful it is. One of Emme's assistants, Justin, then chimes in with "And it's easy on the hips." Another assistant hastily bails him out by explaining that the cake is a low-density one that doesn't require a lot of processed sugar to hold it up. When he's done, Justin says "That just basically means it's less fattening."
- Happens to Cady repeatedly in Mean Girls. She refers to the phenomenon as 'word vomit'.
- More minor, yet still socially awkward occasions happen to Mr. Bingley in Pride & Prejudice (2005).
"It's a pleasure. I mean, it's not a pleasure that she's ill. Of course not. It's a pleasure that shes here, being ill. Um..."
"I'm not a good reader. I prefer being out of doors. Oh, I mean, I can read, of course. And I'm not suggesting you can't read out of doors..."
- In Schtonk! (about the faked Hitler diaries), with a journalist meeting Freya von Hepp, Göring's niece.
Nice to meet you, Frau Göring!Von Hepp.Oh, I'm sorry.You don't have to, I am not ashamed of my uncle.Neither am I, my uncle was active in the resistance!(She stays silent.)Maybe... the two of them sometimes have met then...
- My Cousin Vinny: The plot is the result of Vinny's cousin Billy and his friend Stanley being charged with murder. How did they get a murder charge? They didn't even know what they were arrested for, and kept answering questions thinking they were being charged with stealing some groceries they forgot to pay for. In fact, this is Truth in Television for many people convicted of a crime because of statements made to the police, because many of the things you say, no matter how innocuous, can lead to a conviction.
- Norman Bates from Psycho does this with absurd regularity.
Norman: You eat like a bird, haha.Marion: You'd know, of course.Norman: You know, I hear the phrase 'eats like a bird' is actually a fa - fals - f - fa - falsity because birds really eat a tremendous lot.(Beat)Norman: ...I really don't know anything about birds.
- Spock finds himself in this position in Star Trek Beyond when he explains to Kirk and McCoy how they can locate the rest of the crew by homing in on a rare radioactive isotope. Specifically, the necklace that had belonged to Spock's mother, and that he later gave to Uruha as a gift.
McCoy: You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewelry?
Spock: The emission is harmless, however, its unique signature makes it very easy to identify.
McCoy: You gave your girlfriend a tracking device.
Spock: ...That was not my intention.
- Wallace's conversations in The F Word almost universally fall under this trope. Fortunately, Chantry, his love interest, keeps up with him line after line, both digging themselves deeper.
- Kat, in Love at the Christmas Table, manages somehow to go from that there are romantic prospects in her life to describing how there are guys lined up one after another, ready to land... and then she admits that she's digging herself deeper.
- In Avengers: Endgame, after Tony Stark's daughter Morgan accidentally learns the word "shit" from him, he tells her not to swear, and then says "'Cause I got shit to do!". Cue her continuing to repeat the word...
- In the chick-lit/mystery novels Bad Kitty and Kitty Kitty, the main character Jasmine Callihan has this problem a lot. She blames it all on the monkeys that live in her head. For instance, when she is trying to leave a message on her boyfriend's cell phone, while she is convinced he is cheating on her, Hilarity Ensues:
- "Hi, Jack, it's me. Jas. Jasmine. I'm sorry I missed you on IM yesterday but I got arrested for murder. I mean, I didn't do it, but I accidentally told the police I did, so it was confusing. Now we're going for dinner at The House That Kills, but that is only a nickname because a lot of people have died there, but it's completely safe. Anyway, I hope you're having a very nice morning and not melting in anyone's mouth or hands - Sorry, I meant molting. On anyone. Ha ha. Because molting is bad. Unless you're a wee creature of the forest, but - um, never mind, I've got to go, bye."
- Discworld: During a talk with Vetinari in Making Money, Moist von Lipwig seems unable to put the metaphorical shovel down. The funniest point is probably that Vetinari didnt even ask about the problem, Moist just assumed that this was the reason why his boss wanted to talk to him.
Moist: Look, I can explain.
Lord Vetinari: Pray do.
Moist: We got a bit carried away. We were a bit too creative in our thinking. We encouraged mongooses to breed in the posting boxes to keep down the snakes
Lord Vetinari: (silence)
Moist: Er which, admittedly, we introduced into the letter boxes to reduce the numbers of toads
Lord Vetinari: (repeats himself)
Moist: Er which, its true, staff put in the posting boxes to keep down the snails
Lord Vetinari: (remains unvocal)
Moist: Er These, I must in fairness point out, got into the boxes of their own accord, in order to eat the glue on the stamps.
Lord Vetinari: Well, at least you were saved the trouble of having to introduce them yourselves.
- A scene in Robert Asprin's Myth-ing Persons has Guido doing this to himself with his employer Skeeve; he only belatedly informs Skeeve that they're being followed, and then tries to defend himself by saying that the follower is so obvious that any idiot could tell they were there. Fellow employee Massha cheerfully invokes this trope.
- In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, Gaunt tricks Ayatani Zweil into going for his medical by making the latter condemn the person who hadn't gone for medicals until he realises that he's talking about himself.
- Ravirn: Ravirn has a tendency towards this, which Melchior lampshades in WebMage:
Melchior: Judging from past experience and what little I've heard, I'm thinking you're following the pattern where you start out in a lot of trouble, and then through a series of brilliantly chosen words, make it infinitely worse.
- In the The Belgariad / The Malloreon by David Eddings, several characters fall for this, usually cut short by another character suggesting "Why don't you just stop talking now." or "What a fascinating observation, why don't we pursue that line of thought." or similar.
- Chloe William's comment to her husband Buck when he tries to explain the reason he calls a car by a girl's name in the Left Behind book The Mark.
- In The Magician King, Quentin is outraged at the primitive learning conditions in the safe house for hedge-wizards and insists that his friend Julia doesn't belong there, insisting that she can't have learned magic from "unlicensed losers"... only for Julia to take offence, for - as Quentin full knows - she's a hedge-witch who had to learn unofficially after Brakebills turned her down and Quentin refused to help her get in. Flustered, Quentin tries to point out that it's a wonder that nobody's burned down the safe house, but Julia simply points out that he's not angry about the safety standards but about how the hedge-witches aren't good enough by his standards. In a desperate attempt to mollify Julia, Quentin changes tack and points out that he earned the right to perform magic in his years at Brakebills, claiming that the residents of the safe house picked it up at the 7-11; Julia, who had to endure several painful years of depression and obsessive study just to succeed as a hedge-witch, even going so far as to trade sex for magic knowledge, is not amused.
- The opening skit of the 2006 Emmys had host Conan O'Brien wandering onto the set of several TV Shows. The final bit had him walking into an empty house, only to find himself confronted by Dateline's Chris Hansen and in the middle of another edition of To Catch a Predator, at which point every legitimate excuse he gave only made things worse. In particular, claiming that "it's my second time" (he also hosted in 2002), and "I did it once and I liked it and thought I should do it again", prompting Hansen to declare, "Of all the predators I've met, you are by far the creepiest."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Y'know, Buffy, Spring Fling just isn't any dance. It's a time for students to choose, um... a mate and then we can... observe their... mating rituals and tag them before they migrate just kill me.
- Xander was very prone to this. The kicker is that he's not even talking to Buffy, just practicing with Willow. Which rather neatly demonstrates the wisdom of doing so, yes?
- Buffy and Xander also get another good one in "Doppelgangland":
Buffy: See? I told you, Old Reliable.
Willow: Oh, thanks.
Willow: Old Reliable? Yeah, great, there's a sexy nickname.
Buffy: Well, I-I didn't mean it as...
Willow: No, it's fine. I'm Old Reliable.
Xander: She just means, you know, the geyser. You're like a geyser of fun that goes off at intervals.
Willow: That's Old Faithful.
Xander: Isn't that the dog that that guy had to shoot...?
Willow: That's Old Yeller!
Buffy: Xander, I beg you not to help me.
- In "Two to Go", a panicked Andrew runs into Willow, who knows he was an accomplice in the killing of her girlfriend:
Andrew: Warren killed Tara. I didn't do it, and he was aiming for Buffy anyway.
Willow: [glowering] Not making it better.
- In Cheers, Diane begins by yelling at a prospective employer, "I will not sleep with you!". It actually manages to go downhill from there.
- When Norm finds his dream job as a beer taste tester and is only an interview with the president away from getting it, Rebecca advises him not to do something stupid like mention his pants. Of course, the first thing he does is say "Nice pants!", not so bad in itself, but he retracts himself immediately, then retracts the retraction and digs his way down to a song and dance number about him not being such a grumpy puss. Camera cut back to the bar and Norm mourning his lost opportunity.
- Was made into something of an art by Coupling, in which attempted conversation-starters, usually by the hapless Jeff, devolved into such subjects as amputation, and collecting human ears in a bucket. In fact, this page used to be called "Bucket Of Ears".
Jeff: You have the eyes of ten women. ...I don't mean, like, in a jar. I wasn't accusing you.
- A non-Jeff example is when Steve talks to Jane's psychiatrist Jill. She thinks that he's nervous because sometimes what she does makes people nervous in a social context. Believing her to be Jane's girlfriend, he tells her that "you girls" have got "the best of both worlds." When pushed to explain what he's talking about, he uses a metaphor Jeff brought up earlier in the episode:
Steve: Well erm, you've got four breasts...
Jill: I'm sorry?
Steve: No, no hang on.
Jill: This blouse isn't particularly flattering actually...
Steve: No, no.
Jill: If nothing else.
Steve: I'm not saying you've got four at the moment, just when you're...
Jill: You think I develop extra breasts when I'm excited?
Steve: Not so much develop as, you know... acquire.
Jill: What in the name of God are you talking about?
Steve: Sorry, sorry I've been totally sidetracked by the irrelevance of your breasts. Not that you have irrelevant breasts! You've only got two, that's for sure. Unless you were some sort of cow. No! No, an attractive cow! Or a prize-winning cow! But you're not a cow. You're a person. But I'm sure that you'd be a prize-winning person if they had a sort of cattle market for women! A women market! Which, thinking about it would be a bad thing in many ways.
- Steve gets a lot of these, usually digging a lot faster than Jeff. During his run-in with his celebrity crush Mariella Frostrup, she apologises for spilling her drink on his pants. He replies "Don't worry about it, I was about to go to the toilet anyway. Not that I was intending to wet my trousers, obviously. Although I am pleased to meet you." At this point he has a hilarious "What the hell I am I saying?" look on his face.
- Oliver carries on the tradition well on several occasions, such as his conversation with Jane about the large number of toilet rolls he's buying.
- A non-Jeff example is when Steve talks to Jane's psychiatrist Jill. She thinks that he's nervous because sometimes what she does makes people nervous in a social context. Believing her to be Jane's girlfriend, he tells her that "you girls" have got "the best of both worlds." When pushed to explain what he's talking about, he uses a metaphor Jeff brought up earlier in the episode:
- Digging Yourself Deeper is pretty much the basis of every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David makes an innocuous statement which is taken badly, or misheard, and the ensuing consequences lead to hilarious further exchanges and climax.
- On the season 15 premiere of Dancing with the Stars Tom told two different people "When you're in the hole stop digging."
- Doctor Who: The Doctor does this quite a lot, especially in his fourth and tenth incarnations. However, this is quite often a highly calculated move on his part, as a way of distracting the person he is talking to.
- Though not always, as in "Rise of the Cybermen":
The Doctor: What are you doing that for?
Mickey: [holding down a button] Because you told me to.
The Doctor: When was that?
Mickey: About half an hour ago.
The Doctor: Um... you can let go now.
Mickey: Well, how long has it been since I could've stopped?
The Doctor: Ten minutes? Twenty? Twenty-nine?
- "The Lazarus Experiment":
The Doctor: Lovely to meet you, Mrs. Jones. Heard a lot about you.
Francine: Have you? What have you heard, then?
The Doctor: Oh, you know; that you're Martha's mother, and... um... no, actually, that's that's about it. We haven't had much time to chat, you know, we've been... busy.
Francine: "Busy"? Doing what, exactly?
The Doctor: Oh, you know... stuff...
- "Partners in Crime": The Doctor is inviting Donna to travel with him, but wants to clear up the fact that he isn't looking for a relationship:
The Doctor: But the last time, with Martha, like I said, it got complicated, and it was all my fault. I mean... [sighs] I just want a mate.
Donna: You just want TO MATE??!
The Doctor: I just want A mate!
Donna: You're not mating with me, sunshine!
The Doctor: A mate, I want, a! Mate!
- Also well done in "The Unicorn and the Wasp":
The Doctor: Agatha Christie! I was just talking about you the other day. I said, "I bet she's brilliant." I'm the Doctor; this is Donna. Oh, I love your stuff. What a mind! You fool me every time. Well, almost every time. Well, once or twice. Well, once, but it was a good once!
- "The Vampires of Venice": The Doctor goes to talk to Amy's fiancé... and opts to show up by jumping out of a stripper's cake (at his bachelor party):
The Doctor: Rory! What a relief! I'd thought I'd burst out of the wrong cake. Again. That reminds me, there's a girl sitting outside in a bikini, could someone let her inside and give her a jumper? Lucy? Lovely girl. Diabetic. Now then, Rory. We need to talk about your fiancée. She tried to kiss me. Tell you what though, you're a lucky man, she's a great kisser.
[pause as everyone stares at him in amazement, and someone drops a glass]
The Doctor: [uncomfortably] Funny how you can say something in your head and it sounds fine
- Though not always, as in "Rise of the Cybermen":
- Josh of Drake & Josh, on a date with a model:
I got you a diet soda, 'cause I figured you're probably watching your figure. ...Not that you need to watch your figure, you have a great body! ...Not that I was looking at your body!
- Robert did this at least once on Everybody Loves Raymond. Amy invites Stefania over to a singles party because she thought Peter might like her, but Robert is not happy with her arrival.
But she's my Stefania!
...I mean, she's my ex-Stefania.
...I mean, you're my Stefania now... baby.
- Probably the most blatant example is the entire premise of "Faux Pas", where Ray makes a joke about his son's new best friend's dad, tells it to the man himself, and keeps trying to apologize, only making it worse. His family coming in doesn't help, either.
- Robert, again, while trying to endear himself to Amy's parents, who are staying over.
Robert: We have a great bed, you're really going to enjoy it... Not "enjoy" enjoy. Sleep! Enjoyable sleep! Cause that's all you'll be doing, I'm sure... Which is not saying you can't do what you want cause you can... It's not like you'll be breaking any Commandments.
Ray: It's like your mouth is falling down the stairs.
- Fawlty Towers - a psychiatrist guest is talking about vacations, and asks Basil, who hadn't heard most of what he'd said, "How often do you and your wife manage it?" Basil thinks he's talking about sex ("that's what it's all about to them!") and gets all indignant and defensive. When he hears from his wife what the psychiatrist was in fact asking about, he rushes out with a plastered-on grin and starts babbling about how he thought he was talking about walks, not sex! NO, vacations! and coming off much worse than he started.
- Basil digs himself even deeper that night, while bidding the psychiatrist and his wife good night
- Jayne Cobb from Firefly manages to turn an observation that dead people make him restless into defensively insisting that he isn't a necrophiliac. He was just giving examples of things he does when he's restless. Nothing corpse-specific in there.
River: You are such a boob.
- Jayne's good at this, but Simon is the undisputed master. Especially if Kaylee's in the room. Heck, the fact that Simon does this is pretty much the reason he and Kaylee don't get together until the movie. They'll be flirting and getting close, and just as it looks like they'll kiss, he says something that she thinks is offensive and she storms off.
- Done in Frasier by Niles when talking to Daphne about her possible dismissal.
Niles: Yes, and even if by some small chance that were to happen, Daphne, I could always use you.
...I, I would know of a position you could take.
...Services that you could perform.
...I would know of an opening.
...This is on me.
- Speaking of Frasier, this is the formula for a lot of episodes; a conflict arises, and each attempt at a resolution digs the characters deeper. Some (if most) episodes even end without any resolution at all and show the characters wallowing in self pity in their inability to come to a resolution.
- Seen in the Friends episode "The One Where Ross Can't Flirt", in which Ross's attempts to flirt with a pizza delivery girl degenerate into a lecture on the smell of gas and an intended compliment which makes Ross sound like a pedophile.
- There was another one where he ended up talking about sewage.
- And Chandler brought up another occasion, when Ross talked about the Irish Potato Famine.
- Ross' failures at flirting cannot be emphasised enough. Another attempt led to the conversation derailing into asking two women if they had to choice, which method of dying would they preferred: being burned or drowning.
- Chandler also did this once, while attempting to suck up to Monica's parents.
- In the first season, Chandler one says to Monica that if they turn 40 and neither of them are married then they should marry each other. When Monica asks why she wouldn't be married by then, everything he then says just makes her angrier.
Chandler: Dear god, this parachute is a knapsack!
- In one episode, Phoebe and Rachel start taking karate classes, and Ross tried to prove that they weren't as good as they thought they were by pretending to attack them. When they easily overpower him, he goes to their instructor for some pointers:
Ross: I tried attacking two women. It did not work.
Ross: No, I mean... it's okay, I mean, they're... they're my friends. In fact, I, I, I was married to one of them.
Instructor: Let me get this straight, man. You attacked your ex-wife?
Ross: Oh, no! No, no! No, I tried. But I couldn't. That's why I'm here. Maybe we could attack them together?
- In the final season, Chandler accidentally reveals to a step-kid that he's adopted. Then he traumatizes the kid even worse by revealing Santa Claus isn't real. And this was already after he attempted to make a joke to the kid's foster parents about them being infertile. In all seriousness, he and Ross were made for this trope.
- Chandler comforting Phoebe after her heart attack in the hypothetical episode.
Monica: Phoebe, a heart attack is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
Chandler: I always thought a heart attack was nature's way of telling you to die. I mean you're not going to die. I mean you are going to die, but you're not going to die today. (Beat) I wish I was dead.
- In a semi-Played for Drama case, there's Ross and Rachel's breakup. He's already in hot water for sleeping with a copy girl, but makes things even worse when he tries to salvage it by stating he was trying to keep Rachel from finding out about it the whole time.
- Variation in one episode where Rachel accidentally does this to Ross by mistakenly bringing up every single one of his failed marriages to the father of his date. Ross has already mentioned Carol and their son, and Paul replies, "I just didn't know you were married." At this point Rachel returns from the bathroom and assumes they were talking about his marriage to her, and she clarifies that it was just a big drunken mistake. Then she realises her mistake and asks if they were talking about Emily.
- Game of Thrones: Tyrion's efforts to convince Shae he's not interested in Sansa fall comically short in "Dark Wings, Dark Words".
- On Get Smart, a married Max is on a mission dating a KAOS femme fatale; a very pregnant and emotional 99 isn't taking it well. She sniffs "You've stopped loving me just because I've grown fat and unattractive!" He soothingly replies "That's ridiculous - just because you've grown fat and unattractive doesn't mean I don't love you any more!"
- Glee: Santana tells Karofsky that she has figured out that he is gay.
Karofsky: Who told you that?
Santana: No one had to tell me. First of all, I saw you checking out Sam's ass the other day. You really need to be more careful with your leering.
Karofsky: I didn't. I was just... seeing what jeans he was wearing.
Santana: ...Like that is any less gay.
- In the HawthoRNe episode "Final Curtain", the titular nurse keeps doing this with a doctor (or nurse, it wasn't really specified). She tries to get him to talk Arabic to a patient's husband, but (1) the husband is speaking Dari (as we find out from the Army vet nurse Sullivan) and is thus Afghani, and (2) the guy in the turban is Sikh, not any kind of Muslim (and from Chicago).
Guy: You're a racist! (stalks off)
Hawthorne: (ashamed) Yeah...
- She manages to keep digging later, by thanking him with a namaste gesture, which is not generally used that way when you're not Hindu.
- One House episode had Cameron trying to explain to a TV crew that when she said it was exciting being around him, she didn't mean it that way. It failed in a spectacular way. Because, you know, she kinda actually felt that way in the first place.
- House of Anubis- Fabian does this when pressured to ask Nina to the prom. It's the expressions from all his friends, especially Patricia's, that sells it. Here's the entire conversation:
Amber: ...ANYWAY, Fabian was wondering...
Fabian: Who you'll be going with, Patricia!
Fabian: No reason, just...curious!
Patricia: Uh...I don't know, no-one, probably.
Fabian: Right. Okay. Good.
Fabian: No! No! Not good! Absolutely, definitely not good! I mean, it could be good, because someone will...ask you out eventually. (Beat) I've got to go...brush my teeth, before dinner...
- Will from The Inbetweeners does this a lot:
- When he's refused alcohol at a pub, Will angrily complains that everyone else present is clearly underage. As a result, everyone gets kicked out.
- The roller coaster scene. Will is furious that most of the front row seats have been taken, even though his gang were queuing for them. Despite being told by his friends and the attendant to just sit down, he demands that the queue-jumpers be removed and calls them "inconsiderate arseholes". He then finds out he's just insulted two men with Down syndrome.
- And again at his work experience at the car garage. Although the staff attempt to pull a hazing prank on him, they aren't actually that unfriendly to begin with. But Will's cocky reaction to foiling the prank, as well as his continual complaining about being "too clever" for working at the garage, encourages them to pull an even worse prank on him.
- His worst moment comes when he breaks up with Kerry. He makes her upset and refuses to apologise, even after Tara tells him that her dad died the previous month.
Will: Well it's not... it's not relevant, is it?
- In The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , Todd could hardly have a conversation without doing this, usually in the form of creating layers of lies to cover up other lies. In one episode he got into the old "not that you're not attractive" trap and Alice admitted she was just messing with him, and then he fell for it again just moments later.
- In an episode of The IT Crowd, Moss dates a woman that looks exactly like Roy's mother. She's also a psychiatrist, which leads to an... interesting conversation:
Roy: I'm sorry, it's just that you look exactly like my mother. Not - not that my mother's ugly or anything, she's a very sexy woman. Not that I want to have sex with her, because I know how you psychiatrists think, and my mother would never stand for anything like that. I can see her now... "what you are you doing, Roy? What are you doing?!"
- In Kim's Convenience, Jung tries to explain to his co-workers what a ddong chim (a Korean wedgie) is and he was just messing around when he gave it to Kimchee. His explanations get increasingly more awkward and sexually disturbing.
- On The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy tells Danny Kaye how thrilled she is to meet him. Danny says that they've actually met before, which she might not remember because it was a long, long time ago. Then he realizes women don't like to be reminded of their ages, and says it was back when she was thin. The punchline comes during their subsequent musical number: "I'm sorry I said I knew you when you were thin. I never knew you when you were thin."
- A minor one from the episode "UnSEALed":
Tony: Do you sleep with a gun under your pillow every night?
Kate: That depends.
Tony: On what?
Kate: On who I'm sleeping with... (she turns around and runs into Gibbs) Oh uhh, I didn't mean that the way it sounded. Tony just asked me what I would do if a man came into my bedroom and I said it depends. I mean it doesn't depend on the man... Tony could you help me out here please?
Tony: She sleeps with a gun boss.
Gibbs: That true?
Kate: Sorta... sometimes... yes.
Gibbs: Good girl!
- After the Director has suggested that Gibbs has "really pissed somebody off":
Tony: That's not a short list! (Death Glare from Gibbs) ...of people that - that you've angered just because you have rock-solid principles, and so it's easy for people to misunderstand that, and misconstrue, because, you know, people don't —
Director: Why don't you quit while you're behind, DiNozzo?
Tony: I'm trying!
- Jimmy Palmer, who puts his foot in his mouth every other time he speaks, often falls victim to this trope.
- Most of the cast seems to be both aware and afraid of this trope, with one of the shows running gags providing many subverted examples of this: Many episodes have a short off-topic conversation between the team members after the opening, before they head out to the crime scene. Usually, it ends with one of the characters (mostly Tony) making an either ambiguous, sexist, or simply dumb statement, followed by a snarky comment from suddenly appearing Gibbs. Now, the character who made the statement will usually pick up the shovel and look for the right spot to start digging while stuttering, but eventually either put it down himself by simply shutting up, or have it taken from him by Gibbs ordering him to work.
- A minor one from the episode "UnSEALed":
- Brilliantly done in an episode The Office (US) wherein a) Michael manages to accidentally imply to a superior that the office runs better when he is absent, b) tries to cover that up by saying that it runs much better when he is around after earlier stating that he is frequently away during work hours and c) trying to cover that up by then implying that he his presence or absence has absolutely no meaningful effect on business at all.
- On QI, a person giving an 'uninteresting' answer - a wrong answer that the elves writing the questions can predict ahead of time - gets a klaxon and loses points. David Mitchell managed to get three klaxons on one answer for arguing with the elves:
[the question is "When was the First World War first named as such"]
David: It's gonna be some point after 1939, isn't it.
[klaxon] [screen flashes "1939"]
David: Excuse me!... I think what I said, people in the box, is "after 1939". Which may contain 1939, but does not mean it.
[klaxon] [screen flashes "AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR"]
David: Okay! No no no! "After 1939" and "After the Second World War" are not synonymous; now this is just giving you time to type "After 1939"!
[klaxon] [screen flashes "DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR"]
- In an episode of Scrubs, Elliot meets a guy named Sean, but her attempts to strike a conversation up with him end with them talking about poo. "At one point I tried changing the subject to art. But we went from art to artists, to alcohol, to coffee... and that just led right back to poo!"
- When she first tried talking to Jake, her boyfriend for twenty minutes in season 4, the only thing she could think of was to compliment him on what a perfectly square head he has.
- There was that one very early episode with Elliot and Carla feuding over Elliot tattling on Carla for not doing something. When Elliot apologizes and then doubles back to elaborate on her reasoning, the scene shifts to a visual gag of her standing in a grave literally "digging herself deeper"; as Carla and the other nurses look on in like the Mafia.
- Subverted in the end, when Turk gives a lecture to Carla to the effect that what Elliot was saying was perfectly reasonable and it was Carla who was in the wrong.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- McKay pulls one off in "Trio". When Samantha Carter finally stops him, Keller has a nice little comment:
"Aw, I bet if you hadn't stopped him he would have gone on like that forever!"
- This exchange from 5.15 "Remnants", as Richard Woolsey sees that a woman he's been flirting with found his balcony hang-out spot:
- McKay pulls one off in "Trio". When Samantha Carter finally stops him, Keller has a nice little comment:
- In an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series McCoy is trying to convince a woman (Eleen) to want the child she is going to give birth to:
McCoy: Say to yourself: "the child is mine. The child is mine. It is mine".Eleen: Yes. It's yours.McCoy: No... no, you've got it all wrong.Eleen: Yes... McCoy... it's yours.McCoy: No. Say to yourself "the child is mine. It is mine. It is—" (Beat) Uh-oh.
- He eventually settles on the 'the child is ours.' It is clear that his shipmates aren't going to let him forget this one any time soon.
- In the episode Shore Leave Spock tricks a reluctant Kirk into taking shore leave by describing a crewman who is clearly overtired but refuses to take a vacation - guess who.
- Supernatural: Season 2: Dean and Sam find a case at a carnival and are looking for the owner. Dean has a couple of these with a knife-thrower who happens to be a blind man and a little person.
Dean: Excuse me, we're looking for a Mr. Cooper, have you seen him around?
Blind Man: What is that, some kind of joke? [pulls off his sunglasses; he's blind]
Dean: Oh. God, I'm, I'm sorry.
Blind Man: You think I wouldn't give my eyeteeth to see Mr. Cooper? Or a sunset, or anything at all?
Dean: [quietly, to Sam] Wanna give me a little help here?
Sam: Not really.
Little Person: Hey man, is there a problem?
[Dean turns, then looks down to see an extremely short man in a red cape]
Blind Man: Yeah, this guy hates blind people.
Dean: No, I don't, I-
Little Person: Hey buddy, what's your problem?
Dean: Nothing, it's just a little misunderstanding.
Little Person: Little?! You son of a bitch!
Dean: No, no, no, no! I'm just, could somebody tell me where Mr. Cooper is? [Sam laughs] Please?
- Frequently, this is what people do on Survivor when the jury really doesn't like them and is just picking between the lesser of two-three evils.
- Thank God You're Here tries to actively induce this in contestants. The master of it is Frank Woodley, who can go somewhere horribly, horribly wrong with whatever they throw at him.
- True Blood gave us this priceless exchange between best friends Jason and Hoyt:
- On Veep, Vice President Selina Meyer doesn't just put her foot in her mouth, she proceeds to slow boil it, chew and digest it, getting herself into even bigger trouble. Half the time her staff has to work hard to fix things... and the other half they're the ones who end up making even bigger messes for their boss.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Greatest Hits, "Songs of the Motorcycle".
Ryan: Hi. How are you? We don't know what you're watching, so we're not gonna tell you when we're gonna return you to it.
Colin: Oh, w— We're watching animal porn! [beat, double facepalm]
Colin: Mary Had A Little Lamb will be right back in just a second. But you...
[Drew frantically buzzes]
Ryan: [laughing out loud]
- Too many Disney Channel "original" series to count, especially if the main characters are getting "disciplined"note
- The Jason Robert Brown song, "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You" starts out like this, although the singer recovers admirably by the end of the song:
My first crush on an Irish girl...
I was ten years old, and her name was Elaine.
Little red-haired girl;
Well, she looked like you,
But if you were ten,
Which you're clearly not.
Not that you look old, but you get my—
I'll just stop now.
- NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! lampshades this with a bit of Self-Deprecation in a clip-show where host Peter Sagal quips, "When we find ourselves in a hole, we break out the steam-shovel and set course for the center of the earth."
- Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge: Alan Partridge often backtracked with "Not literally; that would be hideous."
- In an episode of The News Quiz a discussion of the Channel Tunnel (sponsored by Scottish Widows Insurance) moved on to the woman in the Scottish Widows adverts, who Bob Mills thought was Sean Connery's daughter.
Susan Calman: Roger Moore's daughter.
Bob Mills: Roger Moore's daughter, of course. Because Sean Connery's daughter would be a hideous gnarled creature, wouldn't she? She was Roger Moore's daughter... No... No! I hope Sean Connery hasn't got a daughter because now I've just... Well, I hope he has, I hope...
Greg Proops: You were talking about digging a tunnel before...
- Played for Drama in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. Mirielle is carrying a box of cookies into school when she trips up and spills them everywhere. Emmanuel comes across them and starts scoffing them up, because he now has Super Speed and using it leaves him starving. His mother then arrives and Mirielle, who's distraught at him for taking her cookies, explains to her what Emmanuel is doing. Emmanuel then receives a horrible verbal lashing from his mother for over-eating, which makes Mirielle feel terrible. She tries to get him out of it by saying that he's probably just stressed from the previous night... except that just leads his mother to attack him more for keeping information from her, which is bad enough that Emmanuel starts to cry. Mirielle finally gives up on trying to explain things and instead drags them both away, saying they need to get to class.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Act IV, Scene IV gives us this gem: After De Guiche informs the cadets the Last Stand, Cyrano offers Christian the goodbye letter he has prepared for Roxane, whom Cyrano has implied he does not love. Christian sees a spot in the letter and asks Cyrano why he has wept a tear on the letter:
- Cyrano: Oh!...death itself is hardly terrible,...
But, ne'er to see her more! That is death's sting!
For... I shall never...
(Christian looks at him): We shall...
(Quickly): I mean, you...
Christian (snatching the letter from him): Give me that letter!
- Shortly after you meet Liara in Mass Effect, she tells you she finds you fascinating because of your encounter with the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. You can tease her about how clinical her interest sounds ("Sounds like you want to dissect me in a lab"), prompting her flustered response, "I only meant that you would be an interesting specimen for an in-depth study. No, that's even worse!"
- Tali gets similarly flustered in the sequel.
- Garrus has his moments, especially in the Citadel DLC with MShep or non-romanced FemShep where he tries to hit on a female turian and ended up calling her an alcoholic or implying that he's a serial killer depending on which path Shepard led him on.
- Knights of the Old Republic's Bastila has one or two Freudian slips that result in similar conversations with a male player. One of those conversation paths contains one of the funniest lines of the whole game: when Bastila is trying to clarify what she meant by 'feelings for' the player, a possible response is "You're cute when you're embarrassed."
- Defied in Red Dead Redemption. When talking to his wife about Bonnie, who saved his life, John Marston quickly notices her jealousy, and wisely stops digging and starts giving her compliments.
John: When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
- Bioware must love these, because Merrill does this all the time in Dragon Age II, and she knows it.
Merrill: "... and I'm rambling again, aren't I?"
- In Portal 2, Wheatley tells Chell that he hates having to look after all the 'smelly humans' and then blusters about it.
- James Tobin has this happen to him in the game In the 1st Degree. He changes his story of what happened between him and Zack more than once. He admits to shooting himself in the leg because he was afraid no one would believe him when he said that Zack was shot in self-defense. If you play the game right, you get to watch as the prosecutor Granger pins Tobin on the leg-shooting thing. Granger asks if Tobin's first thought was to protect himself as his own business partner was lying there at his feet bleeding to death. Tobin responds by saying no, and that he tried to give Zack CPR. Granger says "You tried giving CPR to a man who was bleeding from the throat?" Tobin then gives a "Yes! I mean...No!" Yep, Tobin is so experiencing this trope.
- In Kurugaya's route in Little Busters!, Kyousuke declares that the name of their mission is 'Love Love Hunters', and when Riki complains, changes it to 'Loli Loli Hunters'. Naturally, the others are a little...unnerved by this, but all of Kyousuke's hasty attempts to insist that he isn't actually a Lolicon only end up making him look worse. Finally, he gives up and declares that he'll be going on with Loli Loli Hunters on his own...right as Rin walks into the room. She proceeds to spend the entire rest of the scene glaring at him from across the room. Kyousuke is silent.
- In My Harem Heaven is Yandere Hell, when asked what her favorite food is, Sayuri blurts out that she wants to eat Yuuya. A shocked Yuuya quickly tries to abandon the subject, but Sayuri is so desperate to..."explain"... that she doesn't let him. And then she accidentally says no (as in, 'no, I had a different reason', not 'no, I was serious') in response to Yuuya's statement/subtle suggestion that she was joking. The situation only deteriorates from there.
- In one skit in Tales of Symphonia, Colette asks Lloyd if he prefers her or girls like Princess Hilda. He digs himself in by saying that he likes girls like the Princess, but jumps back out by saying that he thinks Colette is cuter. Then he hops right back in and comments on how he's surrounded by pretty girls like Sheena, and was once part of Professor Raine's Fan Club. Colette angrily leaves, commenting on how Lloyd is just like Zelos, leaving both Lloyd and Zelos to wonder what exactly that's supposed to mean.
- Happens in Valkyrie Profile when unscrupulous mercenary Badrach dies and Lenneth Valkyrie appears before him. He at first thinks this means that, since a valkyrie has appeared before him, he gets to go to Valhalla. Lenneth bluntly informs him that no, she's just here to literally drag him to Hel (the Norse goddess) for his crimes in life. When Lenneth gives him the chance to come up with something redeeming, he remembers robbing and killing an old man, helping to kidnap someone, and spying on his own country. It's only at the last minute, when Badrach remembers literally one good deed (and even then, he did it mostly to get back at someone else) that Lenneth relents and takes his soul for Valhalla. Nor surprisingly, of the various einherjar that Lenneth recruits, Badrach starts with the second-lowest score for suitability for entry to Valhalla.
- Alex does this once in Angel Moxie.
Alex: You tell us everything, and I mean everything. Well, not everything, actually. Just the stuff about you and your friends and things. None of that birds and bees stuff. We already know all that, and besides, it's kind of icky.
- Mort from Gunnerkrigg Court falls into this when speculating on why Antimony can see The Guides:
Mort: Y'know, It's probably because you're so attractive. I noticed that about you when we first met.
Mort: Oh! I uh... I don't mean you're attractive... I mean, like a magnet... or a medium... Haha... Yeah. Ah! B... But I don't mean you aren't... I mean you look really... I... Uh... Oh geez... *turns into a tombstone with a picture of a foot going into a mouth*
- An essential part of
Hannelorethe whole cast from Questionable Content
- Piro of MegaTokyo tends to do this a lot. Some times are worse than others.
- Jeremy from Dead Winter, here.
- This Darths & Droids, in which Jim gets mixed up between talking in character and out of character, as well as whether Padme is telling Anakin she loves him, or whether he's telling Annie that he loves her.
- Inherent to Schlock Mercenary. Usually with Tagon, who has done this not only with a compliment to Breya, but his defence in a trial as well.
Tagon: I'm not stopping until this hole goes straight through.
- Ennesby caught this, too.
- Mitzi, realizing that Rocky has been saying that she might've hired him to off her husband, tried to reassure Wick that's not the case, but ends up making a lot of joking remarks about offing Rocky.
Mitzi: Uh... you stopped rowing.
- Used as a visual metaphor in Flying Suit Reiko, when one character awkwardly confesses his FA/Feederism fetish to his girlfriend. His thought balloons have him digging a hole deeper and deeper. When she finally tells him it's okay and she likes it too, his visual metaphor is raised out of the pit by an oil geyser.
- El Goonish Shive has a character "good" in this—Abraham, who managed to rile Raven more with every phrase as he tried to explain himself. He's absent for now, but Elliot somehow found his Idiot Ball.
- The Abraham example is interesting because there are no tongue slips - everything he says is completely intentional - he just doesn't realize that he's hitting another one of Raven's Berserk Buttons with every passing sentence.
- Digger has a hilariously cringe-inducing example, split across three pages:
Jhalm: Honored Digger... Almost, I could believe I had misjudged you. Except that this very morning, I received a report from one of the Veiled, that you were seen to be consorting with a hyena creature, not half a mile from this spot. The very same creature that attacked me a few days ago.Digger: (stunned expression)
Statue of Ganesh: Is this true, Burrower?Digger: Well— Yes, but— It wasn't like that!Jhalm: Do you deny that it was the same creature, then?Digger: No—Jhalm: Do you deny that it attacked me?Digger: No, but—Jhalm: Do you deny that you were speaking on friendly terms with it?Digger: No! But that's a recent development! We weren't friends before she attacked you!Jhalm: An interesting criterion for friendship, Honored Digger.
- In Everyday Heroes, the local Goth girls refer to Summer's friend as "the Blessed Virgin Carrie". Carrie ignores it, but Summer and Uma try to explain why she should be insulted... and end up invoking this trope.
- In Homestuck, Doc Scratch, "an immortal entity with a large cue ball for a head, and no biological means of reproduction", explains to Rose that he doesn't like her that way after being Mistaken for Pedophile:
Scratch: There should be no reason for you to feel uncomfortable with this interaction. Try to think of me as one of your kindly human uncle figures.Scratch: In fact, if I were in your presence now, I would offer you candy to prove it.Rose: Oh my god.
- Some people, like Larisa in Sandra and Woo, just shouldnt try to defend themselves...
- Ménage à 3: Zii demonstrates the trope here.
- Weregeek, Sarah's character in their Vampire: The Masquerade LARP sometimes gets like this — as her friend said, "Blackmailing vampires: like shooting fish in a barrel, except you give the guns to the fish and then just wait".
- In Knights of Buena Vista, Mary mentioned that she liked to wear furs over swimsuits in summer, and her boyfriend Bill insisted that was a private thing with them. His sister Adriana realized that Mary then let her borrow those very furs after Mary wore them that way. When Adriana thought she was going to be sick, Mary insisted that nothing happened; Bill just took pictures.
Adriana: "That's NOT helping, Mary!"
- xkcd: Cueball has an argument at the airport:
Cueball: But if you're worried about bombs, why are you letting me keep my laptop batteries? If I overvolted them and breached the cells, it would make a sizeable explosion.
Megan: Oh god.
Cueball: It's okay, dear. In a moment he'll realize I have a good point and return my water.
- Todd in the Shadows lands in this in his review of "Bang Bang" specifically talking about Ariana Grande's part, struggling to talk about the sexual nature of it without sounding like a creep. Lampshaded heavily through various screen pop-ups like "Breaking News: Todd in big trouble." and "Todd digging hole even deeper."
- The victims of Jayuzumi's pranks frequently fail to realise that they are being recorded and trolled, and thus their shouting at him to stop just makes him press their buttons more.
- If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device:
- When Kitten starts to tell the Emperor about the Inquisition, the Emperor is furious. Kitten tries to bring up all the good things about the organization but somehow ends up telling his lord only about the most horrid things it has done.
- While trying to hide the existence of the Fallen from Angels not in the know, Azrael, Asmodai, and Watcher manage to blabber everything between the three of them.
- A Movie Fights question, which asks "What's is the best year for movies?" have reached a stalemate because all the gladiators have presented a well-argued case for their chosen year (Spencer for 1984, Dan for 1999, Mike for 1982), and while Andy was stuck in deciding the winner, Spencer tried to nudge him to his favour by asking him which movies would he rather watch, and which is his personal best year. Both times, all he managed to do was push the argument to Dan's, giving him the win.
- Random Assault: Mitch's attempts to save failed jokes.
- "The Cave of Two Lovers" episode in Avatar: The Last Airbender had a stunningly awkward pit trap for Aang when he tried to diffuse his embarrassment over a possible kiss with Katara.
Aang: Us...kissing... (looks dreamy)Katara: Heh, us, kissing! What was I thinking? Can you imagine that?Aang (laughs it off): Heh, yeah, I definitely wouldn't want to kiss you. *suddenly realizes what he just said*Katara (offended): Oh. Well, I didn't realize it was such a horrible option. Sorry for suggesting it.Aang: No, no! I mean, if it was a choice between kissing you and dying...Katara: UGH!Aang: What? I'm saying I would rather kiss you than die! That's a compliment!Katara: *storms off* Well, I'm not sure which I would rather do!
- Followed by Zuko in the third season revealing that he sent Combustion Man after them when, at the time, all they knew about him was that he was a psycho who wouldn't stop chasing them. This revelation didn't exactly earn Zuko any points with the good guys.
- In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra's "A Leaf in the Wind", Bolin correctly presumes that Korra is a waterbender due to ethnicity and clothing, but Korra trolls him by saying she's an earthbender (which she is too...). Bolin hastily tries to apologize for Mistaken Nationality.
Bolin: I'm sorry, no, no! I didn't mean to assume! It's that, I was just figuring... with your Water Tribe getup... that you are... a Water Tribe... gal.
- Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman had this one from one:
Bruce: "Working late again?"Roxanne: "Yeah. Fortunately, my boyfriend is very understanding. What about yours?" *pause* "Girlfriend, I mean! Of course, girlfriend! I mean, considering your reputation and- NOT that it's bad or anything or even any of my business, because it's not, I was just curious!" *stops suddenly* "How red is my face?"Bruce: (cheerfully) "Crimson."
- Defied by Kevin in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien after he tells Gwen that you need to treat a car like you treat a woman. Gwen asks him to go on, but he wisely drops the idea.
- In the Bump in the Night episode "A Sneeze In Time," Bumpy points out Squishy's mistake by saying, "What a rush! Why'd you turn the wrong valve? Boy, only a doofus would do that!" In an attempt to undo his indirect insult, he travels back in time. He only makes it worse. He tries this repeatedly until Future Squishy shows up and suggests that Bumpy simply apologize.
- In the Family Guy episode "Welcome Back, Carter", when Peter catches his father-in-law with a woman (that's not his wife):
Peter: Oh, my God, Mr. Pewterschimdt, you're having an affair? Ew! Eww!Carter: No, no, this is my sister!Peter: Eww!Carter: No, no, no, I'm impotent!Peter: Eww!Carter: I mean, she looked at me, while I did it to myself!Peter: Ewww!Carter: I mean, she's a man!Peter: Ewww!
- In the The Cleveland Show episode "Tis the Cleveland To Be Sorry", Cleveland apologizes for pretending to be homeless at a gathering, only for him to belittle another certain group of people with rights, forcing him to apologize that other group for being disrespectful...only for him to repeat the same mistake over and over. (Child molesters have rights as well, apparently).
- Used in The Looney Tunes Show when Crusher is staring down Daffy:
Daffy: You'll have to pardon my friend. The heat's getting to him. He's not used to this. He's not a hardened criminal like you. I mean, I shouldn't assume that you're a hardened criminal. But in my defense, you do have a Neanderthal-shaped head, which I normally equate with stupidity—uh, not that you're stupid. I just mean that you look stupid. I don't mean that as an insult. I mean, some people think stupid to mean cool, like "That's a stupid car," "You've got a stupid apartment"...I wish I could stop talking. I'm just very nervous right now. I tend to ramble when I'm nervous. You know what the word "ramble" means? You're probably too stupid to know! And here, I mean stupid-stupid, not stupid-cool!
"It's not my kid, it's my sister's! I'm babysitting!""... She's beautiful.""He's a boy!"
- Another time, after Daffy goes off at Tina for not telling him about "her" baby;
- The Simpsons:
Lisa: (saddened) Have you always resented us, Dad?Homer: Oh, I don't resent you, sweetheart. What I was trying to say, and maybe I didn't use the right words was that marriage is like a coffin and each kid is another nail. But as coffins go-Lisa: Please don't say any more!
- In "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly", Moe tells Ned that Maude was very special, only to mention that he would have courted her immediately if Ned had been the one who died. He then says that Maude was hot, which sends Ned into a rage.
- In "Girls Just Want To Have Sums", while Principal Skinner is publicly speaking to a former student of his, he states that she was good at math for "a girl". This gets him in hot water and he tries to explain himself, but his comments only make him sound like more of a misogynist until finally pleading "Just tell me what to say!".
- In "Bart-Mangled Banner", the Simpsons are accused of being unpatriotic when Bart accidentally moons the American flag (and a little word-twisting) and are put on a talk show to clear themselves, the host asks "Which part of America do you hate the most?". Marge protests, sarcastically replying that if the government is built on questions like that, then she does hate America. Naturally, this gets the family in a bigger mess.
- In "Double, Double, Boy in Trouble", a rich boy named Simon Woosterfield traded places with Bart. When Lisa figured out Simon wasn't Bart, she slapped him and pointed out the real Bart would have hit her back. Simon then asked if he would defenestrate her, prompting Lisa to mention the trope.
- The episode To Cur, with Love, which aired a month after the 2012 presidential election, ends with a time filler sequence of Burns recording a political advertisement expressing his displeasure with Mitt Romney losing the election.
Burns: And we've got to change our approach to immigration. I have a progressive proposal to let into this country 200 grimy Irishmen a year. I've got lots of potatoes that need peeling and stables to be mucked out.Smithers: Sir, the insta-polls are in. You're just digging yourself deeper.Burns: Well, then let me just say this. Marco Rubio es un panuela rosa.Smithers: I'm afraid you just made things even worse.Burns: How? Why?Smithers: You just said Marco Rubio is a pink handkerchief.Burns: This public service announcement is over. Execute the cameraman!
- In "See Homer Run", Homer accidentally ruins Lisa's Father's Day gift to him (a book she drew herself) when he tries to hang it on the refrigerator with a magnet, only for it to slide down into the automatic water dispenser and get soaked. Homer tries to blame the magnet, but Lisa runs off crying because she made it for his birthday.
- In "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation", after a night drinking, Homer takes a taxi home, but discovers laters that the taxi was part of a reality show, Taxicab Confessions, which films the passengers' personal thoughts. This puts Homer in the uncomfortable position of explaining away his drunken statements.
- Steven Universe: In "The Test", Pearl accidentally tells Steven that a disastrous mission he went on in the earlier episode "Cheeseburger Backpack" was actually a test of his abilities that he just barely passed. Her attempts to rectify the situation following Steven's shock (and his notion that he failed the test by his own standards) fall straight into this trope.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "No Second Prances", Trixie accidentally reveals that her new friendship with Starlight was mostly a way to humiliate Twilight. She then offers this explanation:
- In the Regular Show episode "Merry Christmas, Mordecai", Mordecai has an Imagine Spot of Margaret and CJ meeting at the Christmas party and literally digging himself into a hole the more he talks.
Mordecai: CJ, this is Margaret. My girlfriend. (the ground caves beneath him) I mean, my ex-girlfriend. (the ground gives way even more) I mean, a girl I kissed a bunch in the past who's my friend. (the hole gets even deeper)
- An episode of The Boondocks involves Riley referring to a classmate as "gay" due his dance moves and having to apologize for the remark which later backfires when Riley stands by his comment by saying "Gay is gay" and Robert and Reverend Rollo Goodlove only worsen the situation by excusing Riley's disrespectful behavior by claiming that he has special needs.
- Digging Yourself Deeper is often a consequence of following the Sunk Cost Fallacy.
- It is possible to do this to oneself in an argument, especially if you're using straw men in the first place.
- There's an old story about a German mayor who didn't want people to let their dogs run unleashed in the local forest, so he had put up a sign stating: "Anyone who'll let his dog run unleashed in the forest will be shot!" When someone remarked that this could be read as if the owners of the dogs were shot, the mayor had it "improved" to: "Anyone who'll let his dog run unleashed in the forest will be shot, the dog!" ("Dog" being a somewhat outdated insult.)
- Francis E. Dec, after being found guilty by a court, sent an appeal letter where he mentioned repeatedly his grand conspiracy theory, accusing the judges of being Gangster Government's puppets. Understandably, the court dismissed the appeal.
- Some of My Best Friends Are X
- Sometimes, a lack of action can cause the digging-deeper feelings, resulting in a Morton's Fork — either speak up and actively dig yourself deeper, or stay silent and feel like you're digging yourself deeper by not even attempting to defuse the awkward situation. The saying is "It is better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
- The founder of the Papa John's Pizzas restaurant company, John Schnatter, criticized black NFL players, who out of protest kneeled while the national anthem was played, for which he had to resign as CEO. In an effort to avoid any other racist controversy again, a media-training company was hired, but during a role-playing exercise conference call, he complained that KFC's Colonel Sanders used to call black people the N-word without being criticized for it. He then had to resign as chairman of the board.
- At the end of Blizzcon 2018, spokesman Wyatt Cheng announced there would be a new Diablo game called Diablo Immortal, but announced that it would be a mobile game. Those in attendance didn't like this one bit, with one person asking "Is this an out of season April Fools joke?" (which briefly made him a Memetic Badass among Diablo fans). Another person asked if it would be available on PC, to which Cheng replied that it would not. A bunch of people in the audience started booing, to which Cheng replied with "do you guys not have phones?" Probably not the right thing to say to a crowd of people who've likely each spent a few thousand dollars on their gaming PC rigs. The resulting controversy was a black eye on the game and Blizzard Entertainment as a whole.
- After Tina Turner's autobiography I, Tina revealed that ex-husband Ike Turner was physically abusive, he responded by saying "Yeah I hit her, but no more than the average guy beats his wife." Then when the book was made into the film What's Love Got to Do with It, which destroyed his reputation once and for all, he responded saying "Sure, I've slapped Tina. We had fights and there have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I never beat her."
- Pretty much any time anyone engages in Victim Blaming toward rape victims, even unintentionally, and sticks to their guns rather than just apologizing and dropping it immediately when called out on it counts as this.
Shutting Up Now...