When someone is questioned on how he knows something or how he is going to get something done, sometimes he won't want to answer. Instead, he'll just utter this Stock Phrase: "I Have My Ways." This cryptic response is unlikely to satisfy the asker for long, but it gets across the point that the asked person doesn't want to reveal the exact nature of their "ways" just yet.
Generally used in one of these cases:
- The person being asked wants to keep the answer a secret, either because a source's identity needs to remain private, they don't want the other person to know how to get such information, the answer would incriminate the person being asked, or any other such reason.
- The answer is so disturbing that the questioner REALLY doesn't want to know.
- The person being asked is just going to make it up as he goes along.
- The person being asked wants to give an intimidating impression of open-ended power and knowledge.
- In an early 1970s ad a Chinese Launderer is asked how he gets clothes so clean. "Shh. Ancient Chinese Secret." His wife shares the truth with us: they use Calgon.
- In the Tales of the Abyss fanfic A List of Hazardous Things, Jade pulls a benevolent version of the fourth variation on Anise after retrieving her father's wedding ring from a swindler he'd given it to: with Anise's parents being so Stupid Good that she has to be the one to protect them, she should have the chance to feel like someone mysterious and powerful has her back...plus it sounds much better than admitting that he tracked the swindler down and just plain bought the ring from him.
- In The Great Escape, when asked where he got his hands on a copy of almost every Nazi identity paper, the scrounge Robert Hendley's response was "Don't ask." It was also the same answer when asked about a can of expensive butter from the guard's kitchen. Actually that seemed to be his usual answer for almost everything.
- In The Green Berets, Petersen is known for getting stuff he shouldn't have. His room is filled with tons of stuff and even when off of the army base he still manages to smuggle in most of his luxuries. The team ends up using his skills to get their hands on a number of critical supplies that they normally shouldn't have.
- In The Jungle Book (1967), Kaa says that he has "[his] own subtle little ways" of helping Mowgli stay in the jungle. Of course, the audience knows what his real intentions are...
- The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep: When Jock McGowan and Jimmy McGarry are out fishing, they encounter British military officers on the shore of Loch Ness. McGarry explains that they're on a top-secret mission, leading McGowan to ask, "If it's secret, then how do you know about it?" "I have my ways, my contacts," is McGarry's reply.
- In The 39 Clues, Irina tells Ian and Natalie Kabra ''Your mother has her methods" when asked how they obtained information belonging to a rival organization.
- Used in Live Free Or Die: when asked by the President of the United States, and by various agents of the news media whether or not he had a Plan to stop the Horvath from dropping rocks on Earth's remaining cities for his defiance during (and starting) the Maple Syrup War, Tyler Vernon replied "I am of the South. We have our ways." Only one person is shown to have worked out what he meant by that before he explained in an interview after the Horvath were driven away "In the words of the smartest rabbit I know: 'Oh no Br'er fox! Please don't throw me in that there briar bush!'"
- In Spider Robinson's Stardance, Charlie Armstead meets an aspiring composer who claims to have seen Shara Drummond's "Stardance" video, even though Charlie(who shot the video) hasn't shown it to anyone. When he asks how the composer got his hands on the video, the composer just smiles and says, "Large weather we're having, isn't it?"
- Scarecrow and Mrs. King episode "The First Time":
Amanda: How did you find me?
Lee: We have our ways.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a field day with this one in the episode The Brain that Wouldn't Die. Dr. Bill Cortner is keeping his wife Jan's head alive via a special serum and needs a body to replace it.
Kurt: How are you going to go about getting one? (Cortner turns and walks off, Kurt seizes his arm) Bill, how will you do it!?
Cortner: There are ways.
(Servo delivers an Evil Laugh with a side of Large Ham)
Cortner: (shaking of Kurt's grip) There are ways.
Mike: Lots of... ways. Many... ways. Did I mention there are ways?
(Cortner climbs the steps from his lab and looks back at Kurt)
- Practically Nico's catchprase on Necessary Roughness.
- A frequent Catchphrase in Xena: Warrior Princess; whenever Xena demonstrated an ability she never hinted at having before, she would simply say, "I have many skills."
- Babylon 5: Commander Ivanova has an unnerving ability to know about various side projects that the other crewmembers are trying to operate in secret, no matter how careful they are about being discreet. When questioned on how she learns of these things, she simply explains that she's the station's Executive Officer. It's her job to know everything that happens on the station, and you should worry if something happens she doesn't know about.
- Garak from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine just about every time he's asked to get something done. His Starfleet friends are usually happier not knowing about his methods.
- Jake Sisko does this a lot as well.
- Used by Howard Wolowitz in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. When asked how he identified the One Ring prop from The Lord of the Rings movies, Wolowitz at first attempts a mysterious "I know a guy", but the others, knowing that his social circle is just as small and limited as theirs, immediately identify the guy, deflating Wolowitz's attempt at sounding cool.
- Any episode of Stargate SG-1 involving a security leak will inevitably feature the leak in question to cryptically state "I have my sources" when asked how they got hold of their information. Amusingly, Carter is the victim of a more benign version of this twice in one episode from different parties, who have both somehow managed to obtain her personal cell phone number.
- In Max Payne, at the end of the first episode, Mona Sax tells Max that Angelo Punchinello was the one that ordered the murder of Alex Balder. When he questions her on it, her answer is:
Mona: I've got my sources.
- She turns out to be wrong: Mona turns out to be working for Nicole Horne, the true Big Bad of the game, who was the one who actually ordered the murder of not only Alex, but also Max's family. And the one who pulled the trigger on Alex? Max's other partner B.B., who he takes to calling "Backstabbing Bastard" when they meet for the final time.
- In Namco High, Pac-Man "has his ways" to know exactly what Cousin is thinking, and mainly seems to use them to find the best time to say "BE TRUE TO YOURSELF".
- In Homestuck, when John questions Rose about her information on the game, she replies "My perception of the future has been informed by other sources." These "informants" are primarily Doc Scratch and the Horrorterrors, neither of which John (or anyone except Rose, really) would be likely to approve of.
- Family Guy: Lois hints at her wily, secretive ways of obtaining a map of her neighbor's house. Cut to a scene of her walking into City Hall and asking for a map.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Blind Bandit", Aang asks Katara how she got information from two uncooperative boys and replies suggestively, "A girl has her ways." Cut to the two boys covered up to their necks in ice. With their feet were pinned to the walls of the alley and their heads forced together.
- Said word for word by Duke in "Eyes On the Prize" in season 1 of The Critic. Jay comes home from the Pulitzer Prize ceremony, having won the award for Best Criticism, only to find his former boss Duke waiting in his apartment. When asked how he got in, Duke answers with this trope. Jay then looks to the side of the door, and sees a hole shaped like Duke in the wall.