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Bob has a crush on Alice, Alice loves to sing, and Alice asks Bob's opinion. It turns out Alice is Hollywood Tone-Deaf, but Bob doesn't want to hurt Alice's feelings and tells her that she's the greatest. This Idiot Plot continues, because apparently constructive criticism does not exist in this universe, Bob digs himself in deeper and deeper as he Cannot Spit It Out until she's managed to get a chance to perform in front of an audience as an Idol Singer. It's only then, at the last minute that the truth comes out. Due to the Snapback clause in sitcoms, Bob is Easily Forgiven because he's a true friend for telling her in the end, even though he'd been lying to her for the whole episode.


Contrast to A Simple Plan or Zany Scheme as the plot is pretty much the main character doing nothing, while their friend obviously makes a fool of themselves. A Snowball Lie may be involved. If this persists over a period of time, Alice may be Giftedly Bad.

Not to be confused with Digging Yourself Deeper, for awkward conversations, or Dug Too Deep, for actual digging.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • A downplayed variant occurs in Citizen Kane, only without hilarity ensuing. Susan knows that, while she's not completely untalented, she's nowhere near good enough to carry an opera all on her own. It's only Kane using all his wealth and influence to push her into the spotlight against her wishes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hannah Montana: Lilly thinks she can sing, Miley meanders around telling her the truth, but then Lilly steps up for Karaoke Night, you know the rest...
  • Leonard goes through this with Penny in one episode of The Big Bang Theory. And then the ensuing Snowball Lie just keeps getting worse under Sheldon's influence as well...
  • Cake has this with Cake, Amy and Benjamin trying not to hurt Miracle. Slight variant in that she finds out before doing anything stupid, when Benjamin is unable to edit a tape of her singing.
  • An episode of That's So Raven puts an interesting spin on this trope. Corey's band holds auditions for a singer, and a Hollywood Tone-Deaf girl shows up. Corey falls in Love at First Sight and as a result is unable to hear how bad she sounds so he chooses her. His other bandmates had to record her singing and play it back for him to get him to realize what she really sounded like.
  • Kamen Rider Double has a variant with a plot based around a Dopant that causes people to unquestioningly believe specific lies that makes the judges on a Talent Show believe the lie "Jimmy's music is good". Jimmy's success on the show, combined with praise from his girlfriend (who was lying to him to make him like her), makes him delusional about what people think of his music when everyone actually hates it with a violent passion.
  • One episode of Two and a Half Men has basically the exact same plot as the example in the description. Charlie pretends that an old flame can sing because he's kinda hoping to sleep with her but keeps kidding himself that he's just being friendly.
  • An episode of Herman's Head heads this way before twisting at the end. Louise (Yeardley Smith, best known as Lisa Simpson) plans to sing at a club, much to the dismay of her co-workers who hear her shrill, nasal speaking voice every day, but none of them can bring themselves to say anything. Finally they race the club to try to stop her, but are too late. As anyone who owned The Simpsons Sing the Blues at the time saw coming, they arrived in mid song to find that she could really, really sing.
  • Velvet: What started as an impulsive lie to make Rita jealous escalated to a full blown engagement between Pedro and Rosa Maria.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Arthur, Francine—a talented drummer—takes up singing as well, which causes her musical ability to plummet. Her friends just try to encourage her to stick with drumming without mentioning her horrible singing. They assume their plan worked, until they realize she entered the talent show only singing instead of only drumming or drumming and singing together. Turns out, she's actually a decent singer. It's trying to do both at once that throws her off.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: In the episode "Song Sung Bad", Kaz decides he has what it takes to be a singer. So straight that it actually hurts.
    • The comic book story "Kaz Superstar" takes this further. Kaz is kicked off an American Idol-type show but much like the infamous William Hung, he becomes a superstar to the point where he overshadows the girls.
  • Doug: Doug has this trouble with Patti during a singing contest.
  • Trolls: The Beat Goes On! episode Hitting the Sky Note has Poppy try to get Sky Toronto to sing after learning he's never made the time to. When she discovers he's terrible she decides to spare his feelings, which becomes a problem when he wants to participate in the recital planned for the arrival of a creature that'll put on a show for the trolls only if they can all harmonize their singing.

Some non-singing examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ranma ½, Ukyō finally unseals the Special Sauce she made ten years ago and has been aging since... and is promptly knocked unconscious by it. She doesn't know (but Ranma does, and remembers) that Ranma accidentally spilled it just after she first made it, and replaced it with a foul concoction of everything he could find at the time. Instead of telling the truth, he keeps eating whatever she slathers the "sauce" with, refuses to acknowledge it's bad, and claims to Akane that there's nothing wrong. Then Ukyō thinks that he's saying this because, back then, he promised to take care of her for the rest of her life if it tasted good, so this must mean he loves her!

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Cultural Programme", Vada intends to play a song on the violin for the upcoming Cultural Programme. However, he's awful at playing the instrument and doesn't realize how awful the music sounds. The rest of Samosa's gang, not wanting to hurt Vada's feelings, try to keep Vada from attending the event, to no avail. In the end, it turns out that the audience actually prefers Vada's awful violin music over the much better-sounding classical music Dhokla "plays" as a diversion from the actual performance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Jeffersons: Everyone except Florence told Louise they like her paintings even though they were awful. She got a show, and then George finally confessed that they were just encouraging her. She didn't believe it and sold a painting for $500, proving them wrong - until the purchaser revealed he only wanted it for the frame and threw the painting in the trash.
  • Exactly the same thing happened to Lily in How I Met Your Mother. Except in her case a Veterinarian then found the painting in the trash and hung it up in one of his exam rooms, later discovering that the painting somehow has a calming effect on dogs, which leads Lily to start marketing her paintings to Veterinarians. Tragically, Lily's paintings cause birds to kill themselves.
  • The Andy Griffith Show:
    • The good folks of Mayberry try to get town drunk Otis to stop drinking by giving him a hobby: painting. Everyone praises Otis' work despite its lack of quality for fear that he'll be back to the bottle. The painting makes it all the way to the auction block before Otis realizes everyone hates it. Not discouraged, he paints a second picture, and it's a masterpiece, because he did it while drunk.
    • A similar plot happens when Aunt Bee made pickles that qualified for the county fair.
  • In an episode of The Addams Family, Morticia takes up sculpting, and is terrible at it beyond even her own family's topsy-turvy aesthetics. Feeling sorry for her, Gomez buys her statue anonymously, then sells it to a quarry. This encourages her further, and Gomez ends up buying her terrible art for higher and higher prices until even his extraordinary resources are tapped out.

  • Adventures in Odyssey: Julie tells Dwayne that she thinks he's funny. He begins playing the role of a comedian, telling a string of really corny jokes. Julie does nothing to stop him and soon Dwayne signs up for the school talent show. In the end Dwayne does a magic act, because his Dad told him offscreen how bad his jokes were.
  • In the John Finnemore's Double Acts episode "The Wroxton Box", Alec praises Percy's terrible poems, although this is less out of politeness, and more because he finds them So Bad, It's Good and wants Percy to keep reciting them. When he learns that Percy has performed them at a retirement party, and been invited to perform at Oxford University by two young men, he's forced to come clean before Percy makes a fool of himself in a larger arena. It turns out the folk at the retirement party left Percy under no illusions regarding his poems, and he made up the young men from Oxford to see how far Alec would take this.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur and DW pretend to like Grandma Thora's food, which encourages her to contribute to the local bake sale.
  • Chowder's first episode involved the titular character being asked to cook food on his own. Unfortunately, he's distracted at a critical moment and adds poison instead of the proper ingredient. His mentor, Mung Daal, can't bring himself to tell Chowder he made a mistake, so he has to try and buy-or steal-all of the food from the stand Chowder sets up.