Follow TV Tropes


Dismissing a Compliment

Go To

"Oh, I bet you say that to all the devil girls."
Fuchsia, Sinfest

Alice hears a compliment — of any type and quite possibly sincere — from Bob and says that it was not sincere, such as doubting he meant it for her particularly, or calling him a charmer, or a rogue, a silver-tongued devil, or other less than honest characterization, or it flattery, or telling him to stop it, or describing it as an exaggeration.

The compliment can be sincere; Alice can even know it. It's a ploy to avoid having to take the compliment at face value, and respond accordingly — assuming it's not fishing for more compliments.

Ranges from a simple form of banter or flirtation — common with UST — or even trying to avoid appearing stuck up, through indicating that the character is not to be won over by flattery or manipulation, or a way to joke about Your Approval Fills Me with Shame, to a belligerent repulse of sociability, to a crushing lack of confidence. Alternately, a Humble Hero may genuinely not realize they've done anything exceptional, and brush off compliments with a phrase like "I'm Not a Hero, I'm..." or "Think Nothing of It."

A socially awkward Bob who gave the compliment will often make only semi-coherent protests of sincerity, which never ends well in that scene. Many characters will be frustrated. Some will regard it as a challenge. When it's banter, the other character may banter back.

A wise reaction to The Casanova.

Think Nothing of It overlaps when it combines with gratitude. Compliment Backfire is the Sub-Trope where the complimented person is actively angry over the compliment.

Exactly Inverted Trope of Dude, Where's My Respect?


    open/close all folders 

  • In the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Professor Chronos didn't seem to like it all when the students were cheering for him during his duel with Napoleon. (As he put it in the dub, under his breath, "I think I liked it better when they hated me...")
  • In One Piece, Diamante of the Don Quixote Pirates has a habit of doing this. It's clearly an act, as when the person he's talking to decides to change the subject, he'll shout, "Okay, if you insist, I'm a genius!" or something like it.

    Comic Books 
  • Empowered: This is a chronic flaw of the title character, owing to her colossal lack of self-esteem. Even when being told she's a good person and a good hero by Mind***k - someone she knows Cannot Tell a Lienote , her immediate response was an embarrassed "No, I'm not!"
  • The Mighty Thor: In issue 359, Sif demonstrates an Asgardian version of the classic dismissal:
    Thor: Thy beauty, lady, is exceeded only by the wisdom of thy thoughts.
    Sif: I suspect, my lord, that you say that to all the girls.

  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Italy did this to Germany and Japan. Did it work? Nope.
    Japan chuckled. "I heard Italian fireworks displays are especially beautiful." He laughed at the excited nod he received. "I can't wait to see them for myself, above such a beautiful land..." Seriously, that comment made the brunet blush! It seemed as if the earlier attack had not occurred...
    "Grazie Giappone!" Italy could not help but feel flattered.
    Oh Germany wanted to join in on that. "I can't wait either." The blond added, the flush on the auburn's face only intensifying.
    "Oh smettere di ragazzi! You're embarrassing me!" The redness of the brunet's cheeks attested to that.
    Nope. "Why should I stop saying what's true, Italia-kun?" The raven smirked.
    "There's no reason to, so I say we should continue." The German wore the same expression as the Asian, only serving to fluster the blithe more. Seriously, is this revenge for all the times the brunet flustered them?! Intentional or not, it sure seemed like it. Not that Italy actually minded in the end though; all three shared a good laugh, not able to hold it in anymore.
  • Where Talent Goes to Die:
    • The Japanese tendency to do this is discussed in one conversation between Kaori Miura and Shinichi Inoue. Inoue mentions that before he got recruited to Talent High School as the Ultimate Linguist, he'd been fairly well-known as a prodigy in the area, resulting in family friends praising him and his parents dismissing the compliments. He personally understands why they did so, but is a bit uncomfortable at the idea that his parents have to lie for his sake and worry about what their friends think of them. Kaori posits that the people in question probably know his parents are just trying to be polite and thus go along with it.
    • Kaori herself tends to deflect compliments, although more out of humility and a belief that she may not deserve them than social obligation. Kaori's mother, despite being an extremely polite person and a role model to Kaori, personally isn't fond of this trope, since Mrs. Miura believes it's practiced more out of concern for how you come across than other people's feelings.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert features a strip with Dogbert demonstrating on Ratbert how he can use false self-deprecation to make people compliment him, and use false compliments to make people insult themselves.

  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin indirectly dismisses the compliment his sisters pay him in assuming that noblewomen will pay a big sum as "brother's price" (that world's equivalent of a bride price) because Jerin is so beautiful. Jerin himself thinks it's just because they're his sisters that they have such a high opinion of him, and is afraid of disappointing their hopes. He needn't have worried, he fetches the sum they thought he would, and they could easily have demanded more.
  • Protector of the Small's Keladry of Mindelan will insist that she's only doing what she's been trained to do, or that she's had plenty of help, whenever a friend compliments her for doing something badass.
  • Dragon Bones: Ward often does this when Oreg compliments him. One time, it is because Ward thinks of himself as playing a role, and Oreg's admiration for his personality is actually targeted at the mask. Another time, he dismisses Oreg's compliments in his inner monologue because Oreg is his slave. (Ward didn't ask for that, he inherited him. Oreg can't be freed, so Ward is stuck with him. He treats him like an additional sibling most of the time, but he remembers that Oreg is a slave whenever he does slave-like things, like saying positive things about his master)
  • The Confucian etiquette in Water Margin means that when any two of the heroes meet for the first time—which happens a lot—they're each contractually obligated to say how famous and awesome the other is, and to deny their own fame and awesomeness. For example, Chao Gai is indeed famous, wealthy, and valiant, but when he presents himself to the leader of the Liangshan outlaws:
    Wang Lun: The fame of Chao Gai the Heavenly King has long thundered in my ears. It is a pleasure to welcome you to our humble stronghold.
    Chao Gai: I am a crude, unlettered fellow seeking refuge, hoping only to be a simple foot soldier under your command.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Guardian Angels" in House
    I bet you say that to all the guys.
  • "Miss Red" in The Mentalist
    Ah, I bet you say that to all your arresting officers.
  • "Hell-Bound" in Angel
    Bet you say that to all the spirits.
  • "Angels on the Street" in Charlie's Angels
    I bet you say that to all the girls.
  • In Horatio Hornblower, Archie Kennedy keeps dismissing compliments from his friend Horatio Hornblower. Archie is a sidekick to Horatio's Hero and often feels bitter, being overshadowed by his friend's amazing luck and heroic qualities. When they accidentally get together in Spanish prison after Archie was lost at sea in "The Duchess and the Devil", Archie is completely broken. Horatio insists that he needs him to survive, but Archie doesn't believe him. In "The Frogs and the Lobsters", Archie suffers a panic attack when he's in charge of holding a strategically important bridge. Horatio tries to calm him down and insists that he's a capable officer. Archie thinks he has no place being an Acting Lieutenant and he keeps panicking (He later gets over it when he has to steady his men).
  • Friends:
    • While comforting Monica over her single status, Chandler tells her: "Who wouldn't want you?" but she passes it off with a joke. Later subverted when he tells her she was the most beautiful woman in the room...and she asks if he's serious (Relationship Upgrade ensues).
    • Chandler himself is known for his Self-Deprecation and frequently shrugs off most compliments due to his insecurity.

  • Meat Loaf's "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" begins with a romantic conversation that essentially says, "I give my heart and soul to you." At the end, when he asks her if she's his (albeit more poetically) and she answers, "Yes", he says, "I bet you say that to all the boys." Then the song starts.
  • Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are"
    Oh, her eyes, her eyes, make the stars look like they're not shining
    Her hair, her hair, falls perfectly without her trying
    She's so beautiful, and I tell her every day
    Yeah, I know, I know, when I compliment her she won't believe me
    And it's so, it's so, sad to think that she don't see what I see

    Video Games 
  • Sabres of Infinity This is Cazarosta's typical response to praise, insisting that he is only doing his duty as a soldier.
  • In Mass Effect, Shepard can joke about this with Tali at the conclusion of her quest line:
    Shepard: I bet you say that to every guy who gets you a homeworld.
    Tali: Only the cute ones.

    Web Comics 
  • In Go Get a Roomie!, Lillian evades a compliment from Roomie here (which the latter lampshades in the next strip):
    Roomie: Okay, let's get this straight. When I say something to you, or anyone else for that matter, I say it because I mean it. You. Are. Beautiful. There, get used to it.
    Lillian: You lost me at "straight".note 
  • In Girl Genius, during the Cinderella story, Gil admires Agatha's entrance. She calls him a flatterer — rather flirtatiously.
    • Captain Dupree combines this trope with I'll Take That as a Compliment.
      Baron Wulfenbach: If I decide she must die, I know you won't hesitate to kill her.
      Captain Dupree: Why Klaus, you sweet-talking flatterer.
  • Rose Lalonde of Homestuck repeatedly denies any compliments to her character from those around her, especially from the most sincere one of them all, John Egbert. She even falsely interprets John's completely frank reasoning for why he gave her knitting needles as a passive-aggressive way of pointing out her dark personality, even when he says it in his letter.

    Western Animation 
  • Hey Arnold!, "Married".
    Arnold: You are the most beautiful girl in the world. Your eyes are like shining diamonds.
    Helga: Aww, go on.
    Arnold: All right, I'll stop.
    Helga: No, I mean go on, go on.
    Arnold: Your eyes are like two diamonds, shining brightly amidst a sky of pale blue heaven...
    Helga: Ohhh! Go on, my love. Go on, go on...
  • An interesting variant in The Simpsons episode Brush With Greatness, Marge's art teacher, Mr. Lombardo gushes over everything his students do. When Marge tells him how supportive he is, he curtly responds "Marge, please, I don't take praise very well!".

    Real Life 
  • Body Dismorphic Disorder, a disorder that distorts one's self-image of their body, often results in this. Basically, because the person so deeply believes they are ugly or unattractive, they also believe no one could ever see them as being the opposite and anyone who says so is simply saying it to be nice and spare their feelings instead of actually meaning it.
  • Ditto for people with depression.
  • It's common courtesy to do this trope in Japan, otherwise you're seen as arrogant.