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Grudging "Thank You"

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"You know, you have a way of saying 'thank you' that makes it sound more like 'drop dead'."

Though it sounds understated, it can mark the beginning of a change in a character or relationship.

Alice has always disliked Bob, people in general or is just very proud. But to Alice's dismay, she gets helped out by Bob in a moment when she really needs it. Glumly, Alice accepts and just when Bob is leaving Alice goes:

"Oh, and Bob..." Then a pause to indicate Alice biting the bullet. "Thank you."

This thanks, however grudging, is sincere; insincere ones fall under Embarrassing Rescue. It can often be a Heartwarming Moment.

Compare Think Nothing of It and Does Not Know How to Say "Thanks". If Bob has the same attitude as Alice, he is prone to express it, either because he dislikes the connection it formed, or because he did not act for Alice personally. Sometimes another character may apply a Prompting Nudge to get Alice to express her gratitude.

Contrast Ungrateful Bastard if they're not thankful at all. Also contrast Snarking Thanks if the gratitude is sarcastic.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In AKB49 – Renai Kinshi Jourei, Okabe, who was initially introduced as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing trying to sabotage the protagonist Minoru, thanked Minoru grudgingly after he saved her from humiliating herself publicly in one occasion.
  • Uryu Ishida and Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach tend to have this kind of interaction often, though they even more frequently hang lampshades on each other's Ungrateful Bastard moments.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Played With: When Louis finally thanks Sherlock Holmes for saving his brother's life, after loathing him for the entire series to that point, he is genuine and sincere with no hesitation at all, but Sherlock wasn't expecting such a heartfelt expression of gratitude from him.
  • Oreimo: After taking a literal beating from their father covering for his little sister's hobby, Kousaka Kyosuke goes about his next day like any other. This trope was major character development for Kirino, including the first and so far only time she addresses him as brother and led to Kyosuke proclaiming "My little sister can't be this cute."
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: At the end of the Fireworks Festival arc, Nino doesn't quite say the words to Fuutarou, but her "Good. Job. Back. There." after he does his best to reunite her and her sisters definitely carries the intent of this trope.
  • Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!, who wasn't happy about losing his World Champion's title to a virtually unknown kid, grudgingly thanks Yugi for saving his little brother Mokuba at the end of the Duelist Kingdom arc. He thanks him only for Mokuba; admitting he had to be saved himself as well would have been a too big blow to his ego.
  • After Zatch saves Kiyo a few times in early Zatch Bell! episodes, Kiyo tries his best to thank him but can't get the words out, settling for "I owe you". This is played more dramatically in the manga.

    Comic Books 
  • King Faraday delivers one (via telegram) to Batman in Batman #314 after Batman saved his life against Two-Face. Batman notes that a 'thank you' from someone like Faraday is glowing praise.
  • Doctor Doom, of all people, in Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment, thanks Strange for protecting his mother's soul from the wrath of Mephisto. It's pretty much the only hint of gratitude Strange gets during that misadventure, though.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls story "Everything Must Go" (DC run, issue #48), the Amoeba Boys have bought an electromagnet from Mojo Jojo's yard sale, and without any rational thought uses it to draw the moon towards Earth (claiming they were using it to hail a taxi). Mojo averts disaster by reversing the magnet's force and thinks the girls owe him a "thank you." The girls lock him in jail for creating the thing in the first place.
  • In Transmetropolitan, after Spider Jerusalem gets knocked out during a severe storm, his assistant Yelena Rossini proceeds to write a critical story in his name to make a deadline. Later, upon admitting the fact, she cringes waiting for his typical reaction (dirty words and violence), but instead he kisses her forehead and quietly replies, "Thank you."

    Fan Works 
  • In the Rango fanfic Old West, the second meeting between Rattlesnake Jake and Grace Glossy happens with her farm being attacked by rustlers and him showing up to deal with them. While the notorious outlaw represents everything she resists in the mind of the devoted single mother who respects the law, she reluctantly thanks Jake afterwards for preventing the rustlers from causing more damage to her home and livestock.

    Films — Animated 
  • The turning point in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, is when Belle is tending to Beast's wounds after he saved her from a pack of ravenous wolves. As Beast tries to shift the blame for getting mauled to her running away, she responds that it was him furiously yelling at her that she tried to escape the castle. As she's tending his wounds, Belle blandly thanks him for saving her life, and Beast gives her a flat "you're welcome." After that experience, Beast's demeanor changes from that of an angry Spoiled Brat to bashful Prince Charming.
  • Shira gives one to Diego in Ice Age: Continental Drift, after he brings her some water.
    Diego: You know, you have a way of saying "thank you" that makes it sound more like "drop dead".
    Shira: It's a gift.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Birds Lydia, who is always jealous of her son's love interests, thanks Melanie in this way for taking care of her after a nervous breakdown.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive Zorg in The Fifth Element sort-of gives one of these to Priest Vito Cornelius after Cornelius saves him from choking on a maraschino cherry. "You saved my life. And in return I'll spare yours," and lets Cornelius leave... escorted out by his bodyguards.
  • In Hellboy (2004) Tom Manning and Hellboy can barely stand each other with the former being very bossy and somewhat bigoted towards inhumans and the latter being reckless and disobedient, but after defeating Kroenen together, the two somberly thank each other.
  • Played both ways in Logan. Wolverine is only reluctantly convinced to take Laura on a road trip to safety. But halfway through the movie, Wolverine thanks her for taking him to a doctor after he passed out. Laura replies, "De nada." ("You're welcome.") This causes a WTF reaction in Wolverine who up to now had no idea that she could speak. Laura responds with a Foreign-Language Tirade that those who speak Spanish will understand is a What the Hell, Hero? to Wolverine for his own attitude.
  • In Predator After the character Mac saves Dillon from a scorpion crawling on his back by pinning it on his knife, Dillon pauses and resentfully says "Thanks".

  • Artemis Fowl to Holly at the end of book two.
  • In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess, Joe Painter finally manages to say "thanks" at the end of their first meeting, after Madame Karitska has stopped him from shoplifting and being caught.
  • The Dresden Files: In Turn Coat, Morgan starts to give one of these to Harry. He cuts Morgan off, stating that neither of them wants to hear him say that, for which Morgan is more than agreeable with. Earlier, Morgan also gives a grudging "You're welcome" in Dead Beat, after Harry happily thanks him for his first Warden paycheck.
  • In the Tom Clancy novel Patriot Games, ULA terrorist Sean Grady is temporarily transferred to a cell with ordinary criminals in it. When the cops check on him, he's been beaten and is being raped. The officer pulls the other prisoner off of Grady and gets him to the infirmary, at which point Sean says "Thanks." This is notable in that it's literally the only unnecessary word that Sean says in the presence of the police between the time he's arrested and the time he's broken out (At which point he shoots and nearly kills the officer who saved him).
  • In Isaac Asimov's The Robots of Dawn, Elijah Baley receives one of these from the Chairman of Aurora, after the Chairman was prompted. The Chairman rarely thanks anyone; thanking an Earthman was... impressive.
  • Inspector Cramer does this to Nero Wolfe in The Silent Speaker. Sort of. He buys Wolfe an orchid after Wolfe saves his job.
  • In the first book of The Thrawn Trilogy, Mara Jade takes Luke Skywalker prisoner while walking through Myrkr and then has to protect him from the Force-hunting predators native to the planet. She hates him and is also Force-sensitive and reads as prey to the vornskrs, so she tries taking stims to go without sleep. When a vornskr does finally get past her defenses and goes for her, Luke takes back his lightsaber and saves her with considerable difficulty. She has him drop the lightsaber and back off before very grudgingly thanking him and saying that now they're even for when she did not kill him immediately after finding him. But she still hates him.
  • One of the invading rogues on Warrior Cats gives this to the Clan cats and Tribe cats when they saved them from an eagle.
  • Any time Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egwene are forced to thank Mat for anything in The Wheel of Time it comes out like this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy to Spike at the end of "Intervention". She's understandably squicked out by his possession of a sex doll in her likeness, but after tromping all over his attempt to justify it, she follows up with:
    "That ... thing, it ... it wasn't even real. What you did, for me, and Dawn ... that was real. I won't forget it."
  • In Friends, the episode after Ross and Rachel break up (that is, the first time they broke up), Ross helps the others out after they get stuck on the road with no gas, and gets a rather reluctant 'thank you' from Rachel before they go.
  • In the Jessie episode "We Are So Grounded", Jessie gives Emma a teeth-clenched "thank you" for curing her of a poisonous bite.
    Emma: Where's my thank you for sporking you back to health?
  • This happens in Misfits when Nathan gets rescued from a totally ridiculous situation by Kelly. He doesn't actually utter the words "thank you", but he mumbles and gestures awkwardly until Kelly asks if he's trying to thank her, and he admits: "I guess I am". Cue awkward silence rife with UST.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In the episode "Bread and Circuses", Bones gives Spock a Grudging "Thank You" and receives a Think Nothing of It in return.
      McCoy: Spock, er, I know we've, er, had our disagreements. Er, maybe they're jokes, I don't know. As Jim says, we're not often sure ourselves sometimes. But, er... what I'm trying to say is...
      Spock: Doctor, I am seeking a means of escape. Will you please be brief?
      McCoy: What I'm trying to say is, you saved my life in the arena.
      Spock: Yes, that's quite true.
      McCoy: (indignantly) I'm trying to thank you, you pointed-eared hobgoblin!
      Spock: Oh, yes, you humans have that emotional need to express gratitude. "You're welcome", I believe is the correct response.
    • There's another one in "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield". One of the aliens of the week is set up as someone who's hotheaded and difficult but ultimately at least somewhat sympathetic. Viewers get a hint of that second half coming when in his first exchange with Kirk and McCoy, after reacting very angrily to their (perfectly accurate) accusation that he had stolen a Federation ship, the alien visibly pulled himself together enough to thank them quite sincerely for rescuing him.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Soldiers of the Empire", the Klingon general Martok gives one to Dr Bashir for patching him up. Bashir then roasts Martok for getting blood on the carpet. Martok realises he's being trolled and can't help smiling.
  • A subversion occurs That '70s Show when Red "thanks" his son Eric for staying at home to help support the family instead of going to college after Red had a heart attack and couldn't work for a while. He expresses it by ordering Eric to go out and mow the lawn, awkwardly adding that the "lawn...thanks you for staying home." Red legitimately appreciates Eric's helping to pay the bills, but he's just extremely uncomfortable expressing his emotions except for when he's angry.

    Video Games 
  • In the end of Bug Fables, during the final ceremony, when Team Snakemouth talks to Mothiva and thanks her for helping them in the Giant's Lair, she accepts the gratitude in her usual way, and then thanks them back, but the variety of faces she makes before thanking clearly indicates she does that really begrudgingly.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light: In the Abandoned Sector, you may encounter the Slug ship begging to be saved from Lanius consuming them. Should you save them, and, provided they didn't bail while you were fighting, they may, well...
    The Slugs reluctantly thank you for your help, protest they had the whole situation under control, attempt to make you pay for them helping you, and an hour later, finally relent and give you some supplies.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia, at the conclusion of the Lastation Tech Expo story arc, Neptune faces off against a giant Killer Robot out to destroy her. When she defeats it, CPU Black Heart arrives on the scene, telling her things wouldn't have come to this if she (Black Heart) hadn't been so negligent, while also having another of her tsundere moments when she actually goes to thank Neptune for her help.
  • Kingdom Hearts II:
    • Seifer when he gives his trophy to Sora after the latter saved his life. He follows it up by saying he'll win it back.
    • Auron. Sora even asks him to be grateful, to which he answers "thanks for meddling".
  • Knights of the Old Republic: You can get Bastila to apologize for her earlier rudeness, but according to the text it sounds like 'pulling teeth'.
  • In The Last of Us, Joel scolds Ellie for breaking the normal plan of regrouping despite the fact she saved him from a Hunter that was drowning him, making it necessary in the first place. Later when he finds her a rifle to help him shoot some Hunters outside before going off he says "And for the record, it was either him or me." to which Ellie responds "You're welcome." after he jumps down outside of hearing distance.
  • Strangely enough, an inversion shows up in Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X. After the intro stage where Zero saves X, Zero starts to walk away, but X stops him to say thanks. Zero ignores him, apparently uncomfortable with the implication, and literally jets off.
  • In Overwatch, one of the commands the player can input is having their character say "Thanks." Reaper's sounds like he'd really rather not admit he needed the help.
  • Resident Evil 5: in the "Mercenaries" mode, Wesker's most common response to someone helping him is "I suppose I should thank you," said in the most disdainful way possible. Although in "The Mercenaries 3D", he says "Thanks for the help" in a slightly more sincere way.
  • Star Fox 64 has this in a few of Falco's comments, such as "I guess I should be thankful."
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation Gaiden had this after Axel had saved Lamia, even though he was formerly an adversary (but got a Heel–Face Turn). And then the next time they meet, they help out each other and just before Axel can leave, Lamia stops him:
    Lamia: Before you leave, can I say something, Captain?
    Axel: Sure. Go ahead.
    Lamia: ... Thank you.
  • Tales of Hearts. Hisui's been at odds with Shing the entire game, owing to a solid string of misunderstandings involving Shing and his sister Kohak. When Shing pulls a dangerous Big Damn Heroes and saves Kohak atop a rumbling mountain, Hisui berates him, but calls him "Shing you idiot!" in the process. When Shing points this out, Hisui cracks: "S-so what about it? ..but I guess it's true that you did save Kohak. I'll say it once: Tha, thanks."

  • In At Arm's Length, Kaige rescues the dragon-loathing adventurer Ginger from a monster during "Games Monsters Play". Later that evening during an uncomfortably silent moment between the two, Ginger thanks him.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!— For a variety of reasons, Jean doesn't like Voluptua, but she does express honest gratitude for her giving Jean and Bob a trip into space and then a ride on a dragon's back.
    • And, after a very large falling out, they reconcile when Voluptua ends up thanking Jean for helping save her life.

    Web Original 
  • Wyn from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes finds himself being saved several times throughout the course of the first book. Not one to look down on their kind acts but unwilling to change his stance of joining them, he simply says "Thank you" and continues on his way.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • "Night of the Ninja" featured an opponent whom Batman feared could actually defeat him in combat (though he wouldn't admit it); when the final showdown occurs, he's in Bruce Wayne disguise and can't fight up to his full potential... until Robin comes along and "removes" the sole witness. In the denouement a day later, Batman thanks Robin for his assistance, and admits that defeating the bad guy might have been highly difficult, "maybe impossible".
    • In "A Bullet for Bullock", Harvey Bullock is targeted by a killer and asks Batman for help. Bullock continues to express his dislike of Batman but does thank him in the end.
  • Subverted on Camp Lazlo: Lazlo has just saved Edward from having to blow up his favorite doll. Edward is his usual angry self, but as he walks off, he says, "Oh...and Lazlo? Tha—clean up this mess, you loser!" How sweet.
  • Subverted in the Earthworm Jim cartoon. Jim saves the life of Bob the Killer Goldfish, who says "I don't know how to say this but... you saved my life. Thank you." He then states that he does know how to say that Jim's actions are also directly responsible for the fact that the universe is about to be destroyed.
  • Futurama:
    LeBarbara: Hermes, don't you think you owe Zoidberg a thank you for saving you from yourself?
    Hermes: ...but I hate him.
    LeBarbara: Honey, we all do. But fair's fair.
  • Inch High, Private Eye solves the crime of missing animals and retrieves the pet goldfish of his boss, Mr. Finkerton:
    Finkerton: (in his usually surly tone) Inch, I have just one thing to say to you...
    (Gator places the goldfish bowl with the goldfish in Finkerton's lap—Finkerton lights up)
    Inch High: What is that one thing, boss?
    Finkerton: Thanks.
  • In The Mask: The Animated Series "The Terrible Twos", The Mask rescues Lt. Kellaway from Putty Thing. Kellaway thanks him for saving his life and grudgingly admits he may not be "such a bad guy after all". The Mask then gives him a wedgie, as usual.
  • In She-Ra: Princess of Power, Hordak gives a variant after seeing She-Ra risk her life to save the both of them from Another Dimension. They return just before a battle breaks out between the Horde and the Rebels, and Hordak commands the Horde to stand down, stating he doesn't want to owe She-Ra later for saving his life. Everyone is stunned by his actions (including Hordak himself).
  • Total Drama: In the Total Drama Action episode "Riot on Set," Heather, at one point, gets stuck on a wire that hangs her above the set with no one in a hurry to help her. However, Harold decided to give her a hand in helping out. After letting out some growls, Heather thanks Harold (though still in an annoyed tone).
  • Transformers: Animated: Sentinel Prime, after having been targeted by the Headmaster and reunited with his body, thanks his rival, Optimus Prime.
    Optimus Prime: Wow. That must have hurt.
    Sentinel Prime: More than you know.