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Disturbing Statistic

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Nosh: Our armada ships... have a 1-in-600 chance of catastrophic impact anytime we pinch space.
Skitter: I... I'm gonna die in space.
Fernando: Nosh, that number is a lie, spread by the royal family. It's not 1-in-600... it's 1-in-400... we lose five or six ships every week.
Skitter: [Slow Clap] Wonderful. Awesome. Let's all thank Fernando for clearin' up the math, there.

This trope is when a character mentions a statistic that may have been better off unmentioned. Maybe someone mentioned that they're the 666th person to attempt this task, and nobody else succeeded. Perhaps they just heard how many people die in a certain impoverished country every hour. Or perhaps they heard exactly how many liters of other people's farts we inhale every day.

Can overlap with, but is not to be confused with Never Tell Me the Odds!, which is when a character succeeds after hearing the odds are stacked against them. Compare A Million Is a Statistic.

Please be tactful when posting Real Life examples, and ask yourself whether or not they are too squicky to add here.


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  • Many charity organizations attempt to gain donations by invoking this on the viewer in their advertisements.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto: When preparing to operate on Rock Lee, Tsunade discovers that, at best, he only has a 50% chance of surviving if he goes through with it. The anime has her double-checking the figures, and increasing it to 58% based on his determination.
  • In Attack on Titan, the Survey Corps recruits are told that there is a 50% chance that they'll die on their first journey, among other similarly grim figures about the casualties humanity takes while fighting the Titans, including 90% losses to clear a path that was later lost.

  • Bridget Jones' Diary: When Bridget is surrounded by lots of "smug married" couples mocking her singledom, she says "is it one in four marriages which ends in divorce now, or one in three?".
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Luke's chances of survival in the Hoth wastelands during an ice storm are 725 to 1.
    • Han's chances of navigating the asteroid field without being destroyed are 3,720 to 1. He immediately retorts to never tell him the odds.
  • I, Robot: Sonny and Detective Spooner need to climb the stairs of a tall building.
    Sonny: 2,880 steps, detective.
    Spooner: Do me a favor, keep that kind of shit to yourself.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, the unflappable nature of Marko Ramius, captain of the Red October, is conveyed when he calmly estimates the odds of their plan at defecting to the United States at 1 chance in 3. He then offers the horrified officers more tea.

  • Discworld: In Going Postal, Mr. Pump tells Moist von Lipwig that he's added up all the damage he's done to people's lives with his cons, and statistically, Moist has killed 2.338 people.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Luke being disturbed when he learns over a million people were on the Death Star.
  • Parodied by Dave Barry in a column discussing marriage, citing "alarming statistics" about vending machine deaths and the number of eggs laid by the female pinworm.
  • In The Dresden Files book Dead Beat, Harry explains to someone just introduced to The Masquerade that 1 in 355 people are reported missing each year, "the same loss ratio experienced by herd animals on the African savannah to large predators."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Merlin: While discussing a tournament Arthur is about to compete in, Merlin keeps talking about how many people died the last time, just on the first day. See it here.
  • Grange Hill: An autistic character (this was back in the days when it was just becoming well known, making him one of the more accurate portrayals) thoughtlessly mentions that Britain had the highest divorce rate in Europe to a girl whose parents are being divorced.
  • Firefly:
    River: The human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems.
    Mal: See, morbid and creepifying, I got no problem with. Long as she does it quiet-like.
    • River again when "comforting" Book in Out Of Gas.
    River: You think we're all going to run out of air, then we'll all suffocate. That's not going to happen.
    [Book starts to smile]
    River: We'll freeze to death first.
    [Book stops smiling]
  • Criminal Minds: Spencer Reid. He's a veritable fountain of these. If the team needs to know a statistic relating to crime, it's a good bet he'll know it. If they don't need to know, it's absolutely certain he will.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • FoxTrot: Andy tells Roger one in five men die of prostate cancer in order to keep him up all night, thereby keeping him from snoring.

    Video Games 
  • Portal:
    GLaDOS: The device is now more valuable than the organs and combined incomes of everyone in <Subject Hometown Here>.
    GLaDOS: I'm not going to lie to you, the odds are a million to one, and that's with some generous rounding.
  • Suspended: The game keeps track of how many people have been killed by the malfunctioning systems the player is trying to repair.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Interesting example; many games keep track of how many enemies you've killed. When you face The Sorrow, however, you actually face them. Every one. And they still have the injuries you inflicted upon them, too.
  • The Shi Emperor in Fallout 2 notes that the player only has a 15% chance of succeeding.
  • Alpha Protocol keeps track of how many people you've knocked out and killed without actually tracking the number. Knocked out people are tracked by medical costs, while killed people are tracked by how many orphans you've created. Killing people in poorer countries creates more orphans, while knocking out people in richer countries creates bigger medical bills.
  • [PROTOTYPE]: This quote;
    "Gimme a projection on marine casualties."
    "1,000 to 1,500, sir."
    "No sir. Per week."
  • Mass Effect 3 sees the Reapers invading in full force, and it is a bloodbath. The Turian military, by far the biggest Badass Army of the entire galaxy and the ones holding out the best against them, report battles with an 85% mortality rate, with their homeworld of Palaven on fire within days of the invasion. Everyone else in the galaxy, with the possible exception of the krogan after forming their alliance with the turians, is far worse off. All this serves to underscore how utterly desperate this war is, and how there is no hope of winning conventionally against them.
  • Deemo: 121.518549 and 25.040854, seemingly random numbers found within Deemo's castle by the girl, is horrifying if you discover that it's the coordinates for a place of possible death and pain, the National Taiwan University Hospital. Considering the game's calm yet eerie atmosphere, this spawns many Epileptic Trees.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park: The Raptor intro video has a "victim census", which lists the total death toll that the InGen hunters have presumably observed to have been caused by the Velociraptor population so far… and it's not only terrifyingly massive (grand total of 1,786 fatalities over what is implied to be far less than a single day), it includes several genera that are fellow predators, much larger than any Velociraptor, or both. In descending order:
    • Orodromeus: 891.
    • Compsognathus: 224.
    • Baryonyx: 178.
    • Dimetrodon: 102.
    • Parasuchus: 89.note 
    • Deinonychus: 81.note 
    • Dimorphodon: 71.
    • Triceratops: 52.
    • Stegosaurus: 24.
    • Humans: 23.note 
    • Carnotaurus: 18.
    • Allosaurus: 11.
    • Euplocephalus: 10.
    • Brachiosaurus: 9.
    • Tyrannosaurus rex: 2.
    • ''Mollysaurus: 1.
  • Splatoon 2: As revealed in Octo Expansion, Agent 8 is the 10,008th person to attempt the trials of the underground testing facility. It eventually turns out that before them, all the 10,007 people who failed either were killed during the trials or blended up to supply the ammunition for Commander Tartar's Wave-Motion Gun.

  • Awful Hospital: When Fern asks Crash to check her patient file.
  • Sleepless Domain: An early interstitial features a Magical Girl recruitment poster, which lists the benefits for active magical girls to register with the city's Board of Magical Girls. Among these, it cheerfully notes that registered magical girls have a 70% lower chance of experiencing serious injuries or fatalities than those who haven't registered. While this is all made to sound reassuring, note the lack of any absolute numbers in that statement — just how many registered girls are killed or injured on the job, and how many more are unregistered? This subtle bit of Fridge Horror serves as an early clue that the comic is headed down the path of the Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

    Western Animation 

  • A joke (with many variants) goes something like this: two national leaders (let's say, the top political guy and the top military guy) are sitting in a diner, planning a war. They decide to kill a million of citizens, and a completely unrelated bicycle repairman/pizza delivery driver/clown. They pitch this idea to a random bystander who is shocked to hear that they would go out of their way to kill the unrelated civilian. One leader turns to the other and says, "see, I told you no one would care about killing the million enemy citizens."