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Dude, Not Ironic

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"The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention! Now THAT... IS... irony!"
Bender, Futurama

A character wrongly declares some situation to be ironic, and another character corrects them.

Often, irony seems to be something just not everyone can grasp.

Compare to You Keep Using That Word and Sarcasm-Blind.


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  • Many comedians (in particular Irish comic Ed Byrne) observed that the Alanis Morissette song "Ironic" did not contain a single thing that was ironic, but that may be the point of the song. Herbert Lindenberger, professor of comparative literature and English at Stanford, went on NPR to explain that the Morissette song had perfect examples of situational irony and cosmic irony. So apparently, it's pretty (drumroll please) ironic when people claim that the examples in the song are not ironic. According to people who are a lot more educated than most of us.
  • One of Jon Lajoie's many rapper personas (from "WTF Collective") is MC Doesn't Know What Irony Is. He really, really doesn't.
    Yo I'm MC Doesn't-Know-What-Irony-Is,
    Walked up to a girl and I gave her a kiss,
    She said "Let's go to your place, I'll suck your dick"
    I said "Hell yeah, bitch! That's so ironic!"
  • Comedian Sabrina Matthews on the song:
    "Now that you have a billion dollars, perhaps you'd like to buy yourself a dictionary because irony is not a black fly in your chardonnay. Irony is a Scotsman cloning a sheep. Irony is renaming the national airport after the president that fired all of the air traffic controllers."

    Comic Books 
  • X-Factor (2006): Valeria Richards would like everyone to know that declaring the Invisible Woman has vanished is not ironic. Irony would imply lack of awareness. At best it's whimsy, and given two kids are worried because their mom's legitimately missing and their dad's acting creepy-weird, that would still be a stretch.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Reality Bites, Lelaina was refused a job because she was unable to define irony. She then complains to Troy that nobody knows what it means, and he promptly replies with a clear and succinct definition. Though it seems even Troy doesn't know what it is, since his definition "when the actual meaning is the complete opposite of the literal meaning" is contradictory to the point of bordering on paradox (if anything, it's a better definition for sarcasm, not irony).

  • A running gag in Discworld regarding dwarves is that they are so straightforward, serious, and unimaginative that they think that irony means "something like iron." It technically does (second entry), but it's definitely not the most common usage.
  • In Jam by Ben Croshaw, the central gag of the Bagmen living in a mall is that their group was founded by a bunch of young people on some survivalist internet forum, who constantly misuse the term irony due to Memetic Mutation. Tim eventually calls them out on this while campaigning to become their new leader.

    Live-Action TV 
  • From Blackadder. Dumbass Has a Point, though — that was an obsolete definition of "irony"...
    Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what irony is?
    Baldrick: Yes, it's like goldy and bronzy only it's made of iron.
  • Castle:
    • Inversion: Castle and Beckett are able to identify a murderer because he sends someone to retrieve the victim's mail, which contains evidence that points to him as the killer. Beckett notes that it's ironic that the murderer's efforts to cover for himself got him caught since the cops weren't planning to check the victim's mail and would never have found the evidence. Castle immediately thanks her for using the word ironic correctly.
    • In another example, Castle has this comment for a suspect whose shrink was murdered:
      Castle: It's a common mistake, but it's not ironic that Dr. Cosway's not here for you to lean on. It's just simply tragic. It would be ironic if her death made you feel better.
  • An episode of the short-lived series The George Wendt Show contains an example. When someone said something sarcastic, George responded as if he took him seriously. Someone else then said condescendingly, "He was being ironic," to which George replied, "Actually, he was being sarcastic. But it's ironic that you didn't know that."
  • Just Shoot Me!, "When Nina Met Elliot":
    • After Nina realizes that she was the one who ran Elliot over that day he was going to propose to her girlfriend, the following exchange occurs:
      Nina: You know what's ironic? The same day I ran Elliot down, is the same day I ruined his life forever.
      Maya: That's not ironic, that's what happened!
      Nina: So true.
    • And later, after Elliot's attempt to reunite with the girlfriend turned into a fiasco:
      Elliot: It's ironic, but you running me over that night may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.
      Nina: Elliot, that's not ironic, that's what happened.
  • An episode of The King of Queens had Doug call something ironic and Arthur insists that that's not what irony is. At the end of the episode, Arthur wakes Doug up in the middle of the night claiming he looked up ironic in the dictionary, and admits he was wrong: he thought "ironic" meant "made entirely of iron".
  • Psych: Shawn is a little unclear on the definition. One exchange from "We'd Like to Thank the Academy":
    Conforth: I can't believe you get out of the bed in the morning without hurting yourselves.
    Shawn: Oh, but we do! And injury-free since June of last year, when Gus broke his finger flipping the injury countdown calendar. Wait, that's irony, right?
    Gus: Irony is you asking what irony means every time you say it.
  • Jason Alexander as host of Saturday Night Live hosted the Show Within a Show "Tales of Irony", during which he complained that none were ironic.

  • The page's image comes from "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Word Crimes" accompanied with the lyrics:
    You better
    figure out the difference
    irony is not coincidence
  • The right side of the picture, showing rain on someone's wedding day, is a reference to the Alanis Morissette song that is the trope namer for Isn't It Ironic? note  Note that additional factors could have made this situation ironic, such as the wedding having been previously rescheduled in an attempt to avoid rain... especially if the original date turned out to be sunny after all. That said, writing a song about non-ironic things and then naming that song "Ironic" is, in and of itself, ironic.

    Video Games 
  • A Running Gag in Gears of War 4, is Del calling something is ironic, only for JD to correct him. In the final chapter, he calls it ironic that Baird was the one person whose help they needed, yet was the one person whose help JD didn't want, to which JD begrudgingly admits that he's actually correct for once.
  • Averted in Paper Mario: Color Splash. You'd expect Roy to not be able to use irony correctly since he's more brawn than brain, but he actually does.
    Roy: I'm gonna beat you with your own paint! How's that for irony?
    Roy: Yeah, I know what irony is. Knowledge is power, so I started going to night school.

    Web Animation 
  • In the season 2 finale of Red vs. Blue, Grif comments on the irony of the two rival teams being forced to work together, which prompts an argument over whether the scenario fit the definition of "ironic."
    Grif: So now we're forced to work together. How ironic.
    Simmons: No, that's not ironic. Ironic would be if we had to work together to hurt each other.
    Donut: No, ironic would be if instead of that guy kidnapping Lopez, Lopez kidnapped him.
    Sarge: I think it would be ironic if our guns didn't shoot bullets, but instead squirted a healing salve that cured all wounds.
    Caboose: I think it would be ironic if everyone was made of iron.
    [two hours later]
    Church: Okay... we all agree that while the current situation is not totally ironic, the fact that we now have to work together is odd in an unexpected way that defies our normal circumstances. Is everybody happy with that?

  • In Allen the Alien, Bonnie says that she is so "ironic". Somebody offscreen points out that that's not what irony is. She says instead that she's "unironic, vain, unironivain, vainunironic".
  • From Homestuck:
    TT: How is that ironic?
TT has a personal stake in this; if there's one thing the Strider boys are totally sincere about, it's irony.
  • In this strip of The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Wonderita saws off a mummy's head and is cursed to wear an Egyptian headdress until Titania points out that it isn't ironic. So she gets another curse that is ironic, but isn't a curse at all.
  • Sluggy Freelance, in the superhero parody filler story "Stick Figure Tails of Cotton":
    Dr. Ironologue: The irony! To be crushed by a giant gorilla... on my birthday!
    Science Guy: That's not ironic.
  • From xkcd, Black Hat Guy has a discussion with an obviously annoyed Cueball:
    Black Hat Guy: It's ironic how you know the definition of irony, yet I'm the one in this conversation who's happy!
    • He later adds, "Can you stop glaring at me like that? It's making me feel really ironic.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Frisky Dingo, when former billionaire Xander Crews winds up homeless, the documentarian says it's ironic how he's now living in cardboard boxes produced by the company he used to own. Xander says that's not what irony means, while the documentarian replies that that's exactly what irony means.
  • A running gag in the Futurama episode "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings" is Bender correcting the Robot Devil on his use and abuse of the word "irony". However, the first instance of the Robot Devil's use of irony is actually a form of situational irony. You think the wheel is going to land on Bender's name, but it hits the Robot Devil's instead: Bender's statement "It's not ironic, it's just coincidental!" is not only incorrect as it is in fact ironic, but it is not coincidental. However, Bender is still correct from his point of view, since the characters had no inclination on where it was going to land, and without narrative causality, it was just a coincidence.
    Bender: [reading from a dictionary] "The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention" Now that IS irony!
    • Which is more of a fitting definition of sarcasm.
  • Played straight and subverted in one episode of Hercules: The Animated Series. Athena hires Hercules to steal a new magic bow that was gifted to Ares by Hephaestus, which unknown to everyone, is a sapient Deadpan Snarker with an annoying voice. Hercules gets captured and is about to be executed by Ares with the bow and he comments on how ironic it is that Hercules will be killed with the very bow he attempted to steal. Played straight as the bow itself interrupts him to say that no, it's Poetic Justice. Later, as Hercules is escaping, Ares takes a shot at him with the bow and misses causing heavy damage to Sparta, the subversion now happens as the bow explains that this was irony.
  • Teen Titans Go! episode "Rain on Your Wedding Go" has Robin get fed up with his teammates misusing irony so, on a stealth mission to stop the Brain, he loudly lectures them on the various meanings of irony. At the climax the Brain's evil plan actually improves life in the city instead of ruining it, which the Titans correctly point out is situational irony. This correct observation of irony endears the Brain so much he gives up evil, before the Titans launching into rapid misuse of the word literally begins to irritate him.


Video Example(s):


Irony (noun)

A woman describes a moronic scene as "ironic". Yui sets her straight.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (39 votes)

Example of:

Main / DudeNotIronic

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