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I Was Just Joking

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"She was standing in the ballroom, and I said 'Oh, you're making everything look so beautiful, we should have a ball tonight.' I never imagined she'd actually say yes!"
Prince Adam, Beauty and the Beast (2017)

"Am I not in sport?" This line results from a conversation between unequally genre blind characters. Basically, Alice says something meant entirely as a joke that Bob takes completely seriously.

Two general variations:

  • Alice uses a metaphor that she either forgets or is unaware applies perfectly literally in Bob's case, e.g., "You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost."
  • Alice makes a wild, off-the-wall suggestion as a joke that Bob takes literally, such as, "Well, unless you want to go rob a bank, we're broke." / "That's a great idea!" / "What? I was just joking!"

If Alice's suggestion had reminded Bob of a different idea instead, that's a "Eureka!" Moment. If Alice suggests a course of action that Bob actually carries out, it's a Rhetorical Request Blunder.

Joke and Receive is similar, but in that trope, the joke is or will become real without the need for someone else to take the joking character's suggestion seriously.

I Wished You Were Dead is a particularly cruel variant. For the inversion, where a character mistakes a serious statement for a joke, see My God, You Are Serious!.

Can also apply when swapping "joking" for "theorizing" (thought of that years ago, never had the guts to try it) or even an Epic Fail that isn't well known; "Someone tried it once. That's how the Noodle Incident happened."

Not to be confused with the "Just Joking" Justification, which is an attempt to sanitize an offensive comment after the fact by pretending it was just a joke. Also not to be confused with the "Weird Al" Yankovic song, "I Was Only Kidding" (which twists the "Just Joking" Justification to convert positive statements into insults).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One of the most memorable scenes in Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    Asuka: I know you tried to kiss me when I was sleeping!
    Shinji: No fair! You were awake?!
    Asuka: Oh, my gosh, I was just kidding! Did you really kiss me?!!
    Shinji: N-n-no, I d-didn't. I-I stopped!
  • Code Geass:
    Rivalz: He's even got a housekeeping book.
    Lelouch: How do you know!?
    Rivalz: Crap, you really do?
  • Koizumi from Haruhi Suzumiya uttered this at least on one occasion. The thing is, he did it just after one of his countless philosophical monologues. Just as he actually made Kyon feel uneasy about it, he responds "Just kidding, that's not what I think at all." He also inverts the trope at one point, when suggesting that they deal with Haruhi's latest Reality Warp by convincing her that "It was all just a dream. [long pause] I wasn't joking, that was my idea."
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    England: God, [American Independence Day] is the worst day ever. I can't sleep for a week whenever it comes around; I just remember things. I feel sick, I feel terrible in the morning, I have nightmares, I can't eat, I can't work (and so on). Good that it's the end of this shit. I figured I might as well join a party or two at the end of this torturous week.
    America: Me too, England. Whenever today comes around, I think of your white-eyed chagrined face. And how much of a poor loser you were. And I always feel awesome a week in advance.
    England: Ah.
    America: I lied.
  • Darker than Black:
    • This is November 11's Catchphrase in . His sense of humor is rather... Dark, shall we say, to which the deadpan addition of this sentence usually doesn't help much.
      Mooks: ...And what do you plan to do with this "acquisition", Mr. Smith?
      November 11: [Completely deadpan] Well to start I thought I'd walk through the doors of a rival company and kill 3000 of their best men.
      Mooks: ...
      November 11: ...Kidding.
    • Also an example from Mao which has the benefit of actually being funny. At the end of the episode with the body-stealing Contractor, he's talking to Hei about the benefits of the cat body he's trapped in. He asserts that he likes being a cat "because of all of the delicious kibble he's able to eat". After Hei gives him a look, he tells him he was joking and winks at the viewer.
    • There's some other very good ones too, like the one where November 11 might actually have been telling the truth:
      Kirihara: So, is this your first time in town?
      November 11: No, I've been here for a couple of assassinations.
      Everyone else: ...
      November 11: Just kidding.
    • He also tends to be the victim of the occasional Ironic Echo, and Kirihara came up with the most fitting memorial to him possible after his death.
  • Death Note has three cases:
    • One, when Soichiro says that he might have a problem with Kira cleaning up crime and Matsuda reacts to this in surprise. The former comments he's just joking.
    • Two, Light joked about wanting to have Shinigami Wings, instead of their eyes.
    • Three is when Hatori attempts to leave Yotsuba. This doesn't spare him, though.
  • In To Love Ru, Yui ends up in a compromising position with Rito while wearing nothing but a dress shirt (it's a long story). As she's been secretly crushing on him for quite a while and thinks that he's trying to seduce her, she heavily implies that she'd be willing to have sex with him. When Rito, being something of a Celibate Hero by-way-of Chivalrous Pervert, backs off, she claims that her offer wasn't supposed to be serious.
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Goku goes to recruit Frieza as the last member of the Universe 7 team for the Tournament of Power. Hoping to troll Goku, Frieza asks if it would be a bad thing if he refused, so he promptly and proudly declares "I refuse" once he got his answer. To his surprise, Goku turns and walks away, prompting the emperor to sputter out that he was joking.
  • The sixth episode of Ranma ½ is "Akane's Lost Love; These Things Happen, You Know". Doctor Tofu is examining Ranma's cheek, and declares the injury bears the hallmark of an Akane strike. Most telling, according to Tofu, are the directness of impact and the alignment of the ball's stitching. Ranma remarks that even Akane's "junk" has her signature, prompting Akane to admonish Ranma for not paying attention. Doctor Tofu is taken aback, saying that his analyses were made in jest; it surprised him that Akane's foul ball during a girls' game actually begat Ranma's reddened cheek.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Astro City storyline, Jack-in-the-Box is visited by two insane alternate-timeline versions of his future son. One of them declares that he took his father's line "Of course you realize This Means War!!" as a mantra for his ruthless war on criminals. He does not react well when Jack-in-the-Box tries to explain that he was jokingly quoting Bugs Bunny.
  • In the "Possession" arc of New Avengers v.2, Doctor Strange has been trying to protect the Eye of Agamotto from various supernatural attempts to take it from him, while trying to figure out who is behind it all. Spider-Man suggests maybe "Agamotto" wants his eye back. Cue the reaction panel, while Spidey asks "You mean there really is an Agamotto... and that really is his eye?"

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    Calvin: It's too darn hot out here.
    Hobbes: You could go wading in the creek.
    Calvin: [at the creek] This water is too darn cold.
    Hobbes: You could go sit in the shade then.
    Calvin: [sitting in the shade] This shade is too darn dark.
    Hobbes: [exasperated] You could go sit in your room with the windows shut and the fan and lights on.
    Calvin: That's what I was doing when Mom threw me out here.
    Hobbes: I was kidding.

    Fan Works 
  • When a complete stranger seems to recognize him in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon jokes to Haruhi that she might be a Slider that recognizes alternate versions of them from other worlds. Before he could say the trope name, Haruhi ran off after her. Kyon was right.
  • When Sola-Ui remembers Patroclus and Achilles' quite ambiguous relationship in Holding Back the Sea, Kayneth muses they will have to send Lancer to secure the alliance with Berserker. He then has to reassure his Servant he wouldn't pimp him out.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: When Harry and Draco see the Quibbler headline "Boy-Who-Lived Gets Draco Malfoy Pregnant", Harry jokingly declares that he'll murder whoever wrote it. Draco explains that Luna Lovegood is behind everything in that magazine, and not jokingly declares that he intends to rape her. It is at this point that Harry realizes that Draco has surreptitiously put up a sound-muffling charm so they can plan these things in secret.
  • Someone to Watch Over Me has a dinner scene where Gabriel compliments Marinette's design talents, then adds, "And, of course, you are also Ladybug." He intended to refer to the time she was chosen to play Ladybug in a music video, but of course that's not what she thinks of first, and she can't completely cover her shock.
  • Marinette has a sleepover with Adrien and Felix in Spellbound (Lilafly), and to fill a lull in the conversation, jokingly suggests that they could do each other's makeup. But they're models, so they take that entirely seriously; Adrien in particular is quite excited at the prospect.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Shrek the Third, Shrek does this to Donkey when Donkey tells Shrek to change his tactics to reason with Artie.
    Shrek: You're right, Donkey. [grabs tree trunk] What about this?
    Donkey: Shrek!
    Shrek: [while giggling] Oh, come on. It's just a joke! [Beat] Still...
  • In Madagascar, Skipper does this almost deliberately with Gloria.
    Gloria: Where are the people?
    Skipper: We killed 'em and ate their livers.
    [Gloria stares at him in horror]
    Skipper: [grinning hugely] Gotcha, didn't I?
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Sugar Rush is reset after Vanellope crosses the finish line, returning her to her proper place — princess of the game. Her first command is to have all the other racers who were mean to her executed. She did this merely to make them soil themselves in horror.
    Vanellope: Stop cryin', Taffyta! I was just kidding!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • School of Rock has Dewey Finn look at his band stylist (Billy)'s ensembles, and think it's too much. Then fustrated at the fact that the leader thinks it's not the right style, he goes, "They can just wear their uniforms!" Dewey has a Not Listening to Me, Are You? moment hearing Zack (the guitarist)'s song and says absentmindedly, "That's not a bad idea." To which the young boy says, "Not a bad idea? I was kidding!" Later becomes a Brick Joke when they do use their uniforms (stylized to make the band look cooler) at the Battle of the Bands.
  • Forrest Gump: Not actually said, but it was strongly implied that LBJ's "desire" to see the wound on Gump's behind (he came back from Vietnam after being shot in the "but-tocks") was actually intended to be a joke. Forrest, being Forrest, interprets this literally, and proceeds to oblige his "request" on live TV, causing Johnson to chuckle to himself and say "Goddamn, son!"
  • The Faculty:
    Casey: Everyone's been acting really weird, especially the faculty.
    Stokely: Tell me about it, it's like they've all turned into fucking pod people or something.
    Casey: Into what people?
    Stokely: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Small town gets taken over by aliens... That was a joke.
  • Hudson Hawk: Darwin Mayflower gives a pair of mooks a You Have Failed Me speech that ends with "We'll just have to kill you." His wife Minerva promptly shoots both of them, causing Darwin to protest, "God, Minerva, I was only joking!" Since they're the villains, though, he's not particularly upset about it.
  • From Clear and Present Danger, when Chavez asks, "What are you going to do, just knock on his door?" Cut to Ryan knocking on a door in the outer wall of Escobedo's compound and handing the guards his business card. Which has on it not just his name and job title, but also the Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981). Theo Brown (George Peppard) has just threatened that something nasty will happen to Gilbert Carson (Donald Pleasence) if he doesn't lead him directly to the Yankee Zephyr, a crashed WW2 airplane holding a fortune in gold.
    Gilbert Carson: Well it's a bit tricky. You see, the first time I saw the Yankee Zephyr, I was suspended arse-over-elbow underneath a Mixmaster.
    Theo Brown: That can be arranged. (Cut to Gilbert Carson tied up in a deer net beneath the villain's helicopter)
  • Selena: The beginning of the romance between Selena and Chris occurs when she asks him if he can dance and he says "Yeah, I put on my white shoes and black jacket and dance like John Travolta." She takes it seriously, prompting him to say he was just kidding.
  • In Clue, a heated argument between Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlett leads to this unfortunate slip:
    Mustard: If I were the killer, I would kill you next!
    [everyone looks at him suspiciously]
    Mustard: ...I said if! If!

  • Inverted in The Cask of Amontillado. Fortunato tries to invoke this on Montresor — "Ha! ha! ha! — he! he! he! — a very good joke, indeed — an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo — he! he! he! — over our wine —he! he! he!" —in one of his last-ditch attempts at saving his life, but it fails.
  • Dragon Bones: Ward sarcastically tells Oreg that he'll kill his (Ward's) uncle, who, after all, is the last obstacle in his way to power. Oreg doesn't get the sarcasm, and Ward is so heartbroken about it that it takes him days to mention the topic again and make clear that, of course, he was being sarcastic.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Played for Laughs in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Harry tries to enter the Headmaster's office before realizing that he doesn't know the password for it. He attempts the one that worked two years ago at first; when that fails, he mentions a long list of sweets he can remember (all without success), until, out of sheer desperation, he mentions "cockroach clusters", which turns out to be the right password.
    Harry: Cockroach clusters? I was only joking...
    Dumbledore: [sarcastically] If she means so much to you, surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son?
    Snape: I have — I have asked him...
    Dumbledore: You disgust me.
  • In the non-fiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by journalist David Simon, one of the detectives receives a phone call from a police officer reporting another body and asking what they want done with it.
    Detective: We're a bit busy right now, so just throw it in the trunk of your car and bring it down to the homicide office.
    Uniformed cop: OK. [cop hangs up]
    Detective: [frantically searching for the division's phone number] Oh shit, he believed me...
  • In the third book of the A Song of Ice and Fire, Roose Bolton finally decides to free Jaime Lannister after showing him a thoroughly unpleasant time at Harrenhall. On his way out the door, he tells Jaime to give Tywin Lannister his regards, and Jaime snaps back that Roose should be sure to give his own regards to Robb Stark. He's clearly just being sarcastic, but Roose actually does it. Although saying "Jaime Lannister sends his regards" while putting a sword through Robb probably wasn't what Jaime had in mind...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: When Dylan tries to negotiate peace between two very difficult personalities.
    Tyr: Would you like me to kill them for you?
    Dylan: Yes. [Tyr moves towards room] Wait. I was kidding. But if I ever decide to negotiate peace between a Cheechan gangster and a Than warlord again, kill me.
    Tyr: Okay.
    Dylan: Again, kidding.
  • In an episode of Boston Legal:
    Denny Crane: You dreamed that we slept together last night.
    Denise: [flabbergasted] How did you know?
    Denny Crane: [also flabbergasted] I say that to everybody! You're the first person who said yes!
  • In The Adventures of Lano and Woodley , when they've horribly damaged a wall close to an inspection in their apartment, as well as the other side of the wall in their neighbour's flat:
    Col: [sarcastically] Oh yeah, what are we going to do? Make the hole big enough for both of us to fit through, patch the wall from Mitchell's side and then just let ourselves out?
    Frank: ...That's actually not a bad idea.
    Col: ...Yeah, I know!
    Frank: But you were being sarcastic.
    Col: ...No I wasn't...
  • Particularly sexy version done in Scrubs:
    J.D.: Or, we could have sex again. I'm just throwing it out there.
    Elliot: Bite me.
    J.D.: Oh, come on. It was a joke!
    Elliot: No, I mean it. Like you did last night. [takes off shirt] Come and bite me.
  • Pushing Daisies, after Chuck and Ned almost walk into each other, which could kill Chuck if they touch:
    Chuck: Maybe I should wear a bell.
    Ned: Actually—
    Chuck: I'm not wearing a bell.
Made even funnier when, in "Bzzzzzzzz!", Ned has slippers with bells on.
  • In Supernatural, when the Winchesters' lead suspect is an old woman who apparently had a stroke:
    Dean: She could be faking.
    Sam: What do you want to do? Poke an old lady with a stick?
    [Dean considers it]
    Sam: You are NOT poking her with a stick.
  • Friends:
    • The episode "The One Where Rachel Smokes" takes its name from a subplot in which Rachel starts smoking in order to get in the important conversations her boss, Kim, and coworker, Nancy, have in the smokers' room. The first time she lights a cigarette, the following transpires:
      Nancy: I thought you didn't smoke?
      Rachel: Oh, I thought you guys meant marijuana cigarettes, y'know? Y'know what I mean, like doobies? And I actually, I thought to myself, "Wow, those guys are crazy!" But no, I actually smoke the regular ones all, all the time.
      Kim: We get high.
      Rachel: Oh, me too!
      Kim: I'm kidding!
      Rachel: Oh, me too!
    • Subverted in an episode where Joey tries to come up with a new stage name. Chandler sarcastically suggests "Stalin" in response to "Joe". Joey, not knowing his history, takes him seriously. Subverted in that, while Chandler has this reaction visually, he then encourages Joey to actually use the name. His next audition does not go well.
  • The pilot episode of MacGyver;
    Barbara Spencer: Blow an opening. With what? Don't tell me you know how to make a bomb out of a stick of chewing gum?
    MacGyver: Why, you got some?
  • Played kind of horribly on The Big C when Cathy finally tells Sean about her cancer and Sean breaks down entirely. In a panic, Cathy blurts out that she was kidding, getting revenge on him for an early scene where he'd made her believe their father had molested him.
  • On Band of Brothers, Martin and Perconte have this exchange in the first episode:
    Perconte: [showing off his polished boots] Now, just think, if you had any class or style like me, somebody might've mistaken you for somebody.
    Martin: [show insignia on his uniform] Oh, yeah, like your fucking sergeant?
    Perconte: [meekly] I was just kiddin'.
  • A variant from Gilmore Girls
    Taylor: The Dooses have been the backbone of Stars Hollow High hockey for years. I, myself, was the goalkeeper for our team in the last regional finals.
    Lorelai: I did not know that.
    Taylor: Oh yes. I was responsible for the game-winning goal.
    Luke: So the puck just ricocheted off your head and into the net?
    Taylor: Still counted.
    Luke: For God's sake, I was making a joke. You really got pucked in the head?
    Taylor: No, I was making a joke, too.
A moment later, Luke looks and claims that he can see the dent.
  • In Smart Guy, when Marcus learns that the "girl" he asked out were actually twins, TJ jokingly suggests that Marcus create a twin brother to get himself out of the situation. Unfortunately, Marcus seemed to take it as an actual idea suggestion from TJ and decides to ask them out, with TJ, horrified, then attempting to tell him that he was just kidding.
  • One episode of Leverage has Sophie interrogating an agricultural conglomerate's janitor under the false pretense that he's a corporate spy to help justify a continued security lockdown (also to swipe his security badge and make sure he's not in a position to need it). Out of nowhere, she randomly accuses him of having an account in the Cayman Islands. Much to everyone's surprise, he does — he's been infiltrating the company for years.
  • This sometimes happens on QI, when a panelist responds to a question with a joke answer that turns out to be correct. One of the best was this bit, upon being asked what the original purpose of corn flakes was:
    Johnny: It was for, er, putting in mattresses, for monks, as, er, an anti-masturbation sound trigger device...
    Stephen: Johnny Vegas... take some points.note 
    Johnny: You're joking!
    Stephen: Now tell me something quite interesting about the original geishas.
    Jack Dee: [heavily sarcastic] They were all men.
    Stephen: Yes!
    Jack: Oh god!
    Sandi: [showing a picture of a streak of light in the sky] It is not the Northern Lights, it has a name, and the name is? Just an ordinary name...
    Susan Calman: Norman.
    Joe Lycett: Steve.
    Sandi: Yes!
    Joe: No! What?!
  • Lighthearted example on The Price Is Right; Bob Barker is such a kidder...
  • One Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" has the Enterprise mistakenly beam aboard a fellow from the 20th century. The man, Captain John Christopher, is understandably mystified, and he can't be teleported back right away without jeopardizing the mission. The transporter technician asks Captain Christopher if he'd like anything, and the sarcastic response is "chicken soup". The tech inserts one particular card into a nearby replicator, and within seconds, the panel lifts to expose a steaming bowl of chicken soup. Catching the aroma, Captain Christopher peers at it, dips one finger in it, and tastes his finger. Stupefied, he identifies it as, indeed, chicken soup.

  • The song "Albuquerque" by "Weird Al" Yankovic features his co-worker Marty carrying a sofa up the stairs by himself, and when Al asks him if he wants help, he sarcastically states "Noooo, I want you to cut off my arms and legs with a Chainsaw." So he does.
    Al: And then he gets all indignant on me. He's like "Hey man, I was just being sarcastic!" Well that's just great, how was I supposed to know that? Besides, now he's got really cute nickname: "Torso Boy"! So what's he complaining about?

    Video Games 
  • Silent Hill 3 has the immortal gem from Vincent:
    Vincent: Monsters? They look like monsters to you?
    [Heather gasps]
    Vincent: Don't worry! It's just a joke.
  • From Mass Effect 2:
    Joker: Argh! You want me to go crawling through the ducts again?
    EDI: I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees.
    Joker: [eye take]
    EDI: That is a joke.
  • In Mass Effect 3:
    EDI: Don't worry, Shepard. I only forget to recycle the Normandy's oxygen when I discover something truly interesting.
    Shepard: [eye take]
    EDI: That is a joke.
    • Also in 3: If Wrex, Mordin and Eve are alive and Shepard allows the Genophage to be cured, Wrex may sarcastically joke that they'll name one of their newborn children after Mordin, probably a girl. Then right at the end of the game, he'll reveal that Eve is already pregnant... and wants to name the child Mordin, despite his own reticence to the idea.
  • Done in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney during the second case. The day before his trial, Maya asks Phoenix is there's anything that she can do to help. The player is then given three options to say: "Defend me", "Be my cheerleader" and "Break me out of here". Whatever one you pick, Maya takes it seriously and starts to go to prepare for it, forcing Phoenix to state that "he's kidding".
    Maya: Is there anything I can do to help?
    Phoenix: [upon choosing "Defend me"] Alright, you can be my lawyer in court tomorrow.
    Maya: OK!
    Phoenix: Uh...?
    Maya: I'll rush to the library and pick up a copy of "Law for Rookies"!
    Phoenix: W-Wait Wait Wait! I was kidding! It was a joke!
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, Nick berates, insults, and makes fun of Ellis all the time. If Ellis dies or the remaining survivors are just Nick and Ellis, Nick will tell Ellis that all the stuff he was saying about him was just a joke and he says it in a very serious tone.
  • While prepping to tackle the first Jail in Persona 5 Strikers, the Phantom Thieves learn that their usual vendors Tae Takemi and Iwai are out of Tokyo for personal reasons, meaning they can't get medication or weapons easily anymore. Their newest recruit Sophia offers to buy them things from the internet and asks if anyone wants anything. Ryuji jokingly asks for a gold bar. She obliges and finds a real gold bar from the Dark Web which gets instantly delivered. Everyone is shocked and horrified by this, especially after Sophia prepares to send them a bill for the cryptocurrency she used to buy the thing.

  • Sequential Art:
    • in this strip.
    • Also shows up in this strip, when Pip makes the mistake of sarcastically telling Scarlet to make a time machine so he can go back and prevent himself from being used by Kat's Alpha Bitch rival Hilary.
  • In one of the bonus comics for Friday Night Funkin', Girlfriend plays a prank by showing off a positive pregnancy test and shouting "Pregnant". Boyfriend, going through a Pregnancy Scare, has a heart attack and dies on the spot, leading Girlfriend to chase after his drifting soul to explain she was joking.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, when Timmy wished he was a baby:
    [Happy Peppy Gary and Happy Peppy Betty rush into the room, trying to close it on an alligator]
    Gary: Somebody sing the "I don't want to get eaten by a gator" song!
    [Betty pulls out a ukelele and starts playing]
    Gary: I was being ironic!
  • Too many times to count on Daria, when someone (usually the Too Dumb to Live characters Kevin and Brittany) takes one of Daria's snide remarks as a suggestion.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Used in "The Painted Lady", though in this case Katara knows Sokka is joking, and is just making an excuse:
      Katara: I kind of destroyed their factory...
      Sokka: You what?!
      Katara: It was your idea.
      Sokka: I was joking! I also said to use spirit magic and made funny noises! [facepalm]
    • In "The Phoenix King", when Aang is trying to find an alternative to killing Ozai:
      Aang: Maybe we can make some big pots of glue, and then I can use gluebending to stick his arms and legs together so he can't bend anymore.
      Zuko: [sarcastically] Yeah, then you can show him his baby pictures and all those happy memories will make him good again.
      Aang: [sincerely] Do you really think that would work?
      Zuko: NO!
    • Zuko finds himself on the other end of one of these in "The Boiling Rock":
      Zuko: How did you know I was here?
      Mai: Because I know you so well.
      Zuko: But, how...
      Mai: The warden's my uncle, you idiot!
  • A variant, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: after an episode-long Running Gag re: Bloo's propensity for sarcasm, some random hobo-type guy tries to use "I was being sarcastic!" as a "Just Joking" Justification for being behind the shenanigan around which the whole episode revolved. Bloo and Mac are able to call him out, with extensive research to back it up.
  • In the Futurama episode "Love's Labours Lost in Space", when Leela seems strangely unwilling to ask Zapp Brannigan for help:
    Bender: So what's the problem? It's not like you slept with the guy. (Beat) Oh... my... god.
  • Used in the Young Justice episode "Usual Suspects". Artemis and Super-Boy have just come clean about their secrets and less than savory connections, and the Plucky Comic Relief Wally sarcastically asks if anyone else has any secrets to share. The look on his face when Miss Martian steps forward...
    Wally: I swear I was joking.
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "You Ought to Be in Pictures" has Porky quitting his job in cartoons so he can be a movie star. When it doesn't pan out, he returns to producer Leon Schlesinger and says he was just fooling.

    Real Life 
  • You'd be surprised how often this occurs as Truth in Television. Or maybe you wouldn't.
    Girl: So what do you want to do?
    Guy: Oh, why don't we rent a porno?
    Girl: All right!
    Guy: ...Really?
  • Nikola Tesla, to put it mildly, has gone down in history as one of the pioneering names in electrical engineering. But even someone like him had to start somewhere, and after moving to New York he accepted employment at the Continental Edison Company. When hiring him, Thomas Edison remarked that he found the young man's ideas "splendid" but "utterly impractical". Tesla insisted that he could increase the efficiency of Edison's prototypical dynamos, and eventually wore down Edison enough to let him try. Edison, Tesla later claimed, even promised him $50,000 if he succeeded. Tesla worked around the clock for several months and made a great deal of progress. When he demanded his reward, Edison claimed the offer was a joke, saying, "When you become a full-fledged American, you will appreciate an American joke." Edison offered a $10/week raise, instead. Ever prideful, Tesla quit, and spent the next few months picking up odd jobs across New York.
  • It's worth noting that Lisa Ramirez, one of the conspirators in the Michelle Renee hostage situation/bank robberies, said during her confession that she had been the one to "jokingly" suggest that they rob a bank.
  • This Twitter exchange between some guy and Jason Scott, who is known for archiving tons of historical information about computers:
    jaybird110127: You deleted a bunch of spam? I assume you printed each message in hardcopy, and you're headed to the information cube right now?
    Jason Scott: Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Damn, that's the second time you've done that joke. And yes, a mirrored system archives the spam.
    jaybird110127: Um. Wow. Seriously? You * are* archiving the spam you get? That's... Just... I dunno.
  • A particularly chilling case happened during the Second Intifada, when a boy was interrogated for having eerily predicted a suicide bombing taking place somewhere. He claimed it was a joke.

In some cases, the idea is taken SO seriously it's actually used

    Comic Books 
  • From X-Men, on a happy holiday to sunny Genosha, where Magneto is rallying his army...
    Wolverine: "By my count, there are only a few thousand of them. Cover me — I'm going in." * Extends his claws*
    Cyclops: "Okay."
    * Pause. Wolverine puts away his claws.*
    Wolverine: "I was just kiddin'."
    Cyclops: "... Me too."
  • Dead Girl from X-Statix once suggested she was considering leading an army of the risen dead against the living. After a Beat Panel, she assured her teammates she was only kidding.
  • In Larfleeze, when the Wanderer and Stargrave discuss how they can infiltrate the Council of Ten's army.
    Stargrave: If they're as confused and indecisive as you describe them, Madame, we can just show up and say "Reporting for duty as requested"!
    Wanderer: Stargrave, you're absolutely brilliant!
    Stargrave: No, I'm absolutely sarcastic! It was joke!
    Wanderer: Joke or not, that's what we're doing!

    Fan Works 
  • Looping Back to the Beginning: Todoroki Shouto spends one loop on the run with his older brother Dabi and Himiko Toga, after murdering his father Endeavour in a fit of rage. Thoroughly bored out of their skulls, Dabi and Toga ask him what they should do to kill time. He suggests robbing a bank. He then spends the rest of the loop as a villain.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live Action 
  • In the first Police Academy, Mahoney takes Hightower out for a driving lesson in Copeland's car. They quickly realize that Hightower is too tall for the tiny Honda. Mahoney suggests putting the seats back, only to discover they're as far back as they'll go and suggests ripping out the front seats and sitting in back. We then cut to Hightower doing just that. After they get back in, Mahoney admits he was only joking.
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), the titular music sequence happens because the Beast stumbled upon Belle in the ballroom and made a joke about how beautiful everything was looking. Belle jumped at the idea, and the servants absolutely refused to let him back down.

  • In The Name of the Wind, Kvothe spends spends some time trying to convince the infamously eccentric Master Elodin to teach him the titular magic of Naming, while Elodin tries increasingly bizarre ways to blow him off. Kvothe mistakes the ordeal for a Secret Test of Character, so when Elodin tells him to go jump off the roof, he fully expects to be caught... Cue broken bones and an exasperated Elodin having to explain to Kvothe that that was extremley stupid and ill advised. He even cites it as one of the reasons he doesn't want to teach him about Naming.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data having No Sense of Humour does this a fair bit; one memorable example is where Picard jokes Riker should be taken to the brig because of his actions during the episode. Data doesn't gets the joke and leads Riker away while he's protesting "Data he's joking, you know that right?".
  • Babylon 5:
    Londo: Why don't you just eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you're at it?
    Morden: One thing at a time, ambassador.
    Londo: (smile fades)
    • Londo turns this back on Morden at the end of the Shadow War:
      Morden: So what are you going to do, Mollari? Huh? Blow up the island.
      Londo: Actually, now that you mention it...(pulls out a remote detonator)
  • Firefly:
    Mal: If you can't do it from here, you put on a suit and get out on the side of the boat and...
    Wash: And what? Wave my arms around?
    Mal: Wave your arms around, jump up and down. Divert the nav sats to the transmitter. Whatever.
    Wash: Divert the...? Right. Because teenage pranks are fun when you're about to die!
    Mal: Give the beacon a boost, wouldn't it?
    Wash: Yes, Mal. It'd boost the signal, but even if some passerby did happen to receive, all it'd do is muck up their navigation!
    Mal: Could be that's true.
    Wash: Damn right it's true! They'd be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could go anyplace! (pause) Well, maybe I should do that, then!
  • Often on House, one of House's team will make a sarcastic suggestion that is hugely dangerous, bordering on unethical, whereupon House will say something like 'Well let's do that then' or 'That's just what I was thinking.' Once used the other way around, when House sarcastically snarls that since their patient is a kid they should cure her with puppies and sunshine. Which leads to Chase solving the mystery.
  • Frasier and Niles once bought a restaurant, but an offhand comment makes the kitchen staff run off. Forced to cook the dinner of eels themselves, Frasier has Niles do the cooking while he talks with the guests. Niles isn't sure how to kill the eels, so Frasier suggests throwing a toaster in the tank. He goes out to the dining room to talk with the guests and the lights flicker.
  • Parodied in the opening monologue by Seth Meyers in Late Night with Seth Meyers, where he mentions that someone developed an app that lets users know when a McDonald's ice cream machine is broken:
    Meyers: As McDonald's manager Yes ma'am, the machine is still broken, so please stop calling us. (Beat) Then don't you just develop an app about it.
  • In the American Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Colin Mochrie, in his capacity as a temperamental Prima Donna Director in "Hollywood Director", gives them a scene, roles, a variation (they had been crap), then tells them to do it all backwards. To the best of their remarkable abilities, they do, and when he comes back he's having trouble staying in character as he says he didn't think they'd actually do it.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • CHIKARA had a tradition where, if there was a last minute vacancy on a show, they'd draw lots to find a replacement. The first couple draws were joke draws - generally people who weren't working for CHIKARA and never expected to be there. So cue a match between Mike Quackenbush/Lince Dorado/Equinox and The UnStable (Vin Gerard/STIGMA, where for various reasons a "logical" third man to team with The UnStable couldn't be found, so they went with drawing lots to find one. One of the random joke drawings was Daizee Haze, who not only happened to be at the show, but demanded her right to participate in the match. Despite Gerard and STIGMA's objections she was allowed to participate in the match, and surprised everyone by easily carrying her weight in it.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: In Case 4 at one point it seems that Phoenix is completely out of leads, so the prosecutor tauntingly suggests that they cross-examine the killer's parrot just for the sake of comic relief. Phoenix decides to take him up on his offer. While it turns out that von Karma had retrained the parrot, Phoenix is able to get out enough info to continue with the case anyway.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: At one point in the final case, Phoenix gets a letter from Maya, who had completely misinterpreted the bombing of Courtroom No. 4 in the first case, assuming that he was in a trial held in an "exploding courtroom". Phoenix remembers this when they're forced by Aura Blackquill to start a retrial of an old case, but all the courtooms are full...except for the "exploding courtroom"; Courtroom No. 4, which had been sealed off due to safety concerns and hadn't been used to hold trials since.
  • In the intro for the "VISTA" stage in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, shoe salesman Santarou Zaiko is getting chewed out by his wife for buying an oversupply of tacky, loudly-colored shoes. He tells her "It's not like we can sell them to aliens..." The next thing he knows, he's being shot into space to sell his wares to Venusians.
  • In the Saints Row: The Third mission "We're Going To Need Guns", on arriving in Steelport the Boss wonders where they can get a lot guns for the Saints' gang members. Shaundi sarcastically suggests raiding a military armory, and The Boss proceeds to take her at her word.
  • After Claire finds a radio in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, Steve (who has lost his trust in humanity) sarcastically suggests he call her brother. She does and you play as him in the second half of the game.

  • Occurs in Questionable Content in this strip.
  • In Girl Genius, when Agatha is imprisoned, a cellmate says that she would have better luck having her clank try and unlock the door. Before the cellmate can stop her, Agatha says it's a good idea, gives the clank her lockpick (she wasn't having any luck), so it opens up the drain and disappears. Then the cellmate states that she wasn't actually serious.
    • The horrible thing is, the clank succeeds in opening the door hours later only to allow the Big Bad to reawaken. Really, those clanks are basically Diabolus ex Machina when unsupervised.
  • El Goonish Shive: In El Goonish Shive: NewsPaper: Non-gratuitious Nudity - Part 3:
    Sarah: I really want to get better at draw-ing people, and a book of nude people in everyday poses would help with that,
    Susan: Just get yourself some adult magazines: It'd be less expensive and just slightly less dignified.
    Sarah: Of course! Susan, you're a genius!
    Susan: I was joking.
  • Grrl Power: Rare positive example. When the armormaster is talking to Sydney about all the horribly dangerous weapons and superpowers she might have to face (and that the armor he is providing will only slightly help protect her from), Sydney freaks out a little and asks if she can have an air canister so that she can keep up her Nigh-Invulnerable shield bubble at all times. The armormaster says that's a good idea, and he'll put in an order with the quartermaster. Sydney picks up the air canister later. Of course, a couple days after that, she discovers that one of her orbs has the power to generate air, thus rendering the canister a bit redundant. Maxima advises her to keep it so that bad guys think she still needs it.
  • Sequential Art: When Kat learns that Hilary, her "arch-enemy and the bitchiest bunny that bounced into existence" is Art's Unsatisfiable Customer, she asks what she could do to help.
    Art: Know any hit-men?
    Kat: Oh hell yeah! I've been planning that for years! If we go fifty-fifty...
    Art: Holy crap! I was joking!

    Web Original 
  • This gem from Doctor Who: The Abridged Series.
    The Doctor: Nah hang on, I was only jokin'
  • Combined with a Gilligan Cut in the KateModern episode "Spiders":
    Tariq: What? We pay in gardening?
    Cut to Tariq digging in the garden.
    Tariq: I was only joking!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition includes a brief interview with the game's programmers, explaining how this (fictional) Updated Re-release came to be:
    Anonymous programmer: So [Yuji Naka] just says: "F**k it! Let's just make Sonic 2 again!" It turned out that he was being sarcastic. However, we were much too far into development at that point.
  • The Breakup: in the episode "The Breakout: Juggalos", rather than exchanging media, Jacob and guest host Megan go to events together in order to have new experiences. They make a number of jokes about Insane Clown Posse on the show proper. Megan later says over social media, "Hey, ICP is going to be in town, let's do another episode!" and has to say the trope name when Jacob responds, "Well, we should buy tickets soon before they're all sold out."
  • ''Seanbaby: In his article about Wall Street Kid for the NES, which he describes as one of the worst ideas to make a game about, he says this trope was the reason why the game was made.
    Game Producer: "Hey, Dennis. You're wearing your underwear outside your pants again. Now, what's this game you're talking about?"
    Dennis: "Wall Street. You know, that game about stocks and bonds you said would be totally fun?"
    Game Producer: "I was kidding, you stupid asshole."
    Dennis: "Oh... Well, it's pretty much ready to go. What should we do now?"
    Game Producer: "I... I don't know. Put the word "kid" in the title and get out of my office. We'll worry about you getting fired later. Jesus, we're so fucked."

    Western Animation 
  • Gus in Recess is prone to delivering these lines: "What are we going to do, get the entire playground up here?" "What are we going to do, give everyone negative fives?"
  • In Donkey Kong Country episode Legend of the Crystal Coconut, after being told by the Idol of Inka-Dinka-Doo that "To Know everything one must give up everything" Donkey Kong wonders what he could give up...
    DK: Little buddy, I'm giving you my tie collection!
    Diddy: I think Inka-Dinka-Doo is looking for something more important than that, DK.
    DK: What's more important than my tie collection?
    Diddy: (joking) The Crystal Coconut, for one!
    DK: (gets Idea Bulb) That's it! I have to give the Crystal Coconut away!
    Diddy: (mortified) I WAS KIDDING!
    DK: I'm not.
  • In South Park, "Sarcastaball" starts with one of these. Responding to criticisms that football might be too dangerous for the kids, he ends up sarcastically describing a hypothetical sport (which eventually ends up with professional leagues):
    Randy: Why don't we just have the players wear bras! And instead of helmets, they should wear little tinfoil hats, because it's the future, and we shouldn't be so barbaric! And while we're at it, we'll have a balloon instead of a ball, and whoever catches the balloon tries to run while all the other players hug! They'd love it! A sport where safety is all that matters? Why don't we call it Sarcastaball! I would love to be the coach of the Sarcastaball team!
  • The Magic School Bus: In the episode "Spins A Web", Arnold suggests that the only way to rescue Liz from a gung-ho general wanting to use her as bait for a giant mantis is a giant spider. Given that he's sitting in a shapeshifting school bus, he really should've known better when Phoebe and Ms. Frizzle take him seriously, despite him using the trope name to deny it.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Knighty Knight Bugs", Bugs Bunny is a jester in the court of King Arthur, and mocks the knights for being too cowardly to fetch the Singing Sword from the Black Knight (Yosemite Sam).
    Bugs: Yuk-yuk-yuk! Only a fool would go after the Singing Sword! Yuk-yuk-yuk, yuk-yuk-yuk!
    Arthur: A good idea... Fool!
    Bugs: (stops laughing) Wha...?
  • Kaeloo: In an episode where the characters are supposed to be detectives, Kaeloo finds out that Mr. Cat, who was the villain of the episode, invented a cloning machine. She then tells him it was supposed to be about detectives, and not about sci-fi, and sarcastically asks why he doesn't add a few bazookas... so he does.
  • Kim Possible: In "Monkey Fist Strikes", when Kim raided a Temple of Doom to find the Jade Monkey, nearly landing in a Pit Trap:
    Kim: Spikes. Gee, where are the snakes? (snakes appear around her) I was just being sarcastic!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): In the episode "Hooked on Sonics," when Antoine bemoans that Sally pays more attention to Sonic than him, Rotor remarks that Sonic is a tough act to follow, and that it would take something major to impress her. When Antoine asks "Like what?", Rotor jokes that he could capture Robotnik and bring him back to Knothole. Later, when they find Antoine missing and evidence of him taking a Power Ring; Rotor promptly goes Oh, Crap!, realizing that Antoine actually took his suggestion seriously.
  • In I Am Weasel while Weasel is on Air Force One talking to The Red Guy (who is The US President).
    Weasel: So, Mr. President, if Oregon wants to trade places with Kansas, let them do it; and if Kansas says no, drop the bomb.
    Red: Oh, goodie! (presses a button on a remote that causes the plane to drop a bomb that explodes in giant mushroom cloud)
    Weasel: That was a joke, sir.
    Red: Oops. (nervous laughter)
  • In "Pete Over-Extended" from Pete the Cat, Pete wants to attend both a CatGo and the 9 Lives concert with Callie and a Spacecat convention with Gustavo. He explains his dilemma to Bob, wanting advice, but Bob doesn't really have any good advice and quips that Pete could ride back and forth between them on his skateboard. While he's only joking, Pete thinks it's a great idea and rushes off, leaving Bob to lament that he really didn't mean it.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: When Naoko Takeuchi came to her boss one day in the 1990's and said that she would like to draw a manga about a female superhero, the editor remarked: "Right. A female superhero. Maybe a schoolgirl at that, who is a crybaby, and yet saves the day?" And thus, Sailor Moon was born.
  • Behind the scenes of the Superman comics, Clark's wedding to Lois had to be held back in order to coincide with the event's occurrence in Lois & Clark. When the writers were talking about what to do in the meantime, one said "Why don't we just kill him?" He was kidding, but they did it.
  • As you learn basically in your first week of Contracts in law school—this doesn't always work in court. A famous case has a guy and his friend (let's call them Alan and Bob) drinking at the bar when Alan starts talking about some property he owns, and (he claims) jokingly offers to sell it to Bob for a very low price. Bob, who thinks Alan is being serious (or so he claims), says, "Sure, I'll take that." The court found that Bob was honest when he said he didn't realize that Alan was joking, and so Alan had to sell to Bob for the absurdly-low price. The record doesn't show whether they stayed friends.
  • After the nomination of Chuck Hagel as US Secretary of Defense, reporter Dan Friedman looked into rumors about Hagel's alleged connections with controversial groups. He explained to one source what he as inquiring about with an over-the-top hypothetical example of a $25,000 speaking fee from a group called "Friends of Hamas". Within a day or so, accusations that Hagel had actually given a paid speech to this (nonexistent) organization were being broadcast by some of his opponents.
  • In 2008, Dr Pepper Snapple Group vowed to give everyone in the United States a free can of Dr Pepper if Guns N' Roses released Chinese Democracy that year. Not long after, Axl Rose said he was up for the offer.
  • Al Jolson needed a theme song for the 1928 film The Singing Fool. Unable to find the right song, he asked songwriters Ray Henderson, Bud DeSylva, and Lew Brown to write one for him—on pretty short notice. The trio decided to create a super-sentimental Cliché Storm set to music as a joke, calling it Sonny Boy. They couldn't even bring themselves to put it in the mail box, and asked a bellboy to do so instead.
    Between sheet music, piano rolls, and record sales, Sonny Boy went on to sell three million copies—the only reason it couldn't qualify for going Platinum was such certifications didn't exist yet. According to Facts and Fallacies, "DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson laughed as they wrote the song. Al Jolson laughed too. All the way to the bank."
  • One story claims this is the reason why David Arquette was made WCW Champion. Tony Schiavone made an off-hand joke about it during a creative meeting, and everyone burst out laughing, only for Vince Russo, head booker of WCW at the time, to say he thought it was a great idea.
  • Dusty Rhodes joked during a TNA booking meeting that they should just put every match on the card in a cage. Company president Dixie Carter legitimately didn't understand that he wasn't serious and thought it was a brillant idea. Thus, the TNA Lockdown PPV—which consisted of nothing but cage matches—was born.
  • High Times magazine started as a parody of Playboy replacing sex with drugs, and including a photo of a cannabis plant instead of a nude woman as a centerfold. It was so popular it grew into a monthly magazine targeted toward the modern American drug culture and marijuana legalization advocacy, among other things.
  • During pre-production of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tom Holland didn't know much about what American high schools are like (he's British). Holland jokingly suggested to the Marvel executives that he should go undercover at one so he could learn firsthand. Marvel thought it was a great idea and made him attend The Bronx High School of Science for a few days under a fake name.
  • Madonna and "Weird Al" Yankovic rose to fame around the same time. During an interview, the former commented on the latter's success with song parodies and asked when he was going to parody her own "Like a Virgin" as "Like a Surgeon". Not long afterward, "Like a Surgeon" appeared on Al's next album.
  • On June 27 2019, Matty Roberts created a Facebook Event for September 20 called "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" as a joke. Following a few days, the event became famous all over the world, with over 2 million Facebook users replying "Going" and other 1.5 million replying "Interested". Even though many users knew it was just a joke (with many creating memes all over the Internet), the USAF took the event seriously, warning people not to dare try trespass the Area. Matty Roberts, fearing he'll get a visit from FBI and seeing what he had done, acknowledged the event as a joke and that he actually doesn't want anyone to get hurt because of the joke. He then planned a festival, "Alien Stock Festival", instead of the raid.
  • Very nearly happened at Marvel Comics UK, during their second attempt at breaking into the American market. David Leach was asked to come up with a pitch for a new Death's Head book, and sarcastically suggested that Death's Head should lose his time travel ability and be exiled to present day England. He was immediately commissioned to write exactly that, but the whole line was abandoned before it went anywhere.
  • During the Hiveswap Kickstarter campaign, the highest donation tier was to have a fan troll included in Homestuck for $10,000. Despite this very clearly being a joke (as evidenced by a $100,000 tier on an external sitenote  being "Having said fan trolls survive more than one panel"), two people genuinely did pledge $10k to have their fan trolls in the comic and Hussie had to immediately limit the tier to two people to stop any more pledges from being made. Sure enough, Hussie kept his word, included the trolls and immediately killed them off afterwards.
  • For the Yule Ball scenes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Warwick Davis joked to the director Mike Newell about his character Professor Flitwick crowdsurfing during the Weird Sisters band performance. When that day of filming that scene came, Newell informed Davis that's exactly what was going to happen.
  • It's not uncommon for crowd members at concerts to shout "Freebird!" at the artist, regardless of genre. At one 2016 Bob Dylan concert, an audience member shouted the immortal request... only for Dylan and his band to actually perform a cover of the song.
  • For Hawkeye (2021) Rhys Thomson jokingly pitched the idea of Rogers: The Musical for Clint to take his family to see. Kevin Feige loved the idea and it ended up becoming a Stylistic Suck pastiche of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Hamilton.
  • One day during his on-air shift, KMET DJ Chuck Taylor played the 12″ version of Blondie's "Call Me" at 45 RPM instead of 33⅓ RPM and jokingly announced that it was Alvin and the Chipmunks' latest single. Listeners ended up making enough requests for that "new" Chipmunks release that Chipmunks property owner Ross Bagdasarian Jr. teamed up with Steve Vining to record Chipmunk Punk, an entire album of covers of New Wave Music songs performed by the Chipmunks, which included an official Chipmunks cover of "Call Me".


Video Example(s):


Carly calls out Shelby Marx

Carly jokingly challenges MMA wrestler Shelby Marx to a fight, but is shocked when the fans and Shelby take her rant seriously.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / IWasJustJoking

Media sources: