... for every-time I'd seen this trope, I'd have... well, I guess I could buy a candy bar or something...
A Stock Phrase, in response to a frequent event. The character will say something along the lines of, "If I had a nickel for every time X happened, I'd be rich." Expect "nickel" to be replaced as appropriate with whatever currency appears in the work.
A common variant is for the character to simply trail off after the first part, e.g.: "If I had a nickel for every time X happened..." Another possible variant is "If I had a nickel for every X, I'd have (number of X) nickels." Additionally, this trope might be Played for Laughs by having the second part of the phrase add up to something impossible (for instance, getting $5.47 from nickels).
This trope often overlaps with Noodle Incident and Oh, No... Not Again!, in that this is usually the first time we've seen this happen to them. It may also be invoked as a Never Heard That One Before response to an overly-repeated joke or comment.
This becomes a Subverted Trope when a character instead says something like, "If I had a nickel for every time X happened...I'd have two nickels." Lately, this subversion has become common enough that the trope looks to be heading towards either Dead or Undead Horse Trope territory.
- Mitch Hedberg: "If I had a quarter for every time this happened, I'd be making money in a very odd way."
- Batman (1966): "Devilishly clown prince of crime! If I only had a nickel for every time he's baffled us!"
- The Goon: According to Franky, if he had a dime for every time someone told him something he was looking for was "hiding out in the woods and living on the flesh of men" he'd live in a palace made of rubies and candy.
- In Batgirl (2009) #14, Kara Zor-El — alias Supergirl — and Stephanie Brown — alias Batgirl II — are about to fight a sobbing Dracula (long story).
- In a Batgirl (Rebirth) Annual, Kara tells Barbara Gordon about some telepathic messages she has been receiving:
Supergirl: There is a girl there. A prisoner. Test subject. She needs our help.
Batgirl: And how'd you find out about her?
Supergirl: Long-distance telepathic transmission. Only I can hear her.
Batgirl: Ah, the old incarcerated psychic trick. If I had a nickel for every time—
- Discussed in an issue of X-Men between Angel and Stacy X:
Stacy X: We're fighting a losing battle. They just wanna see us burn. If I had a nickel for every time people tried to kill me...
Angel: You'd be a millionaire? Well, I'm a millionaire. I think I know what you mean, Stacy.
- Spider-Man: Spidey responding to a threat made by the Green Goblin during the "Goblins at the Gate" arc.
Spider-Man: Goblin, if I had a nickel for every time I heard a threat like that... well, I'd be one very rich friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
- Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide: Dr. Eggman's reaction to a comment made by Dr. Wily.
Dr. Wily: There's no way Mega Man or his friends will reach us in time!
Dr. Eggman: If I had a nickel for every time I said something like that...
- Jon said he'd be rich if he had a dollar for every cat hair on his rug. Garfield said he was doing his part.
- Superman, as Clark Kent, in Superman III: "If I had a dime for every kid who asked me to get Superman's autograph..."
- I.Q.: "If you had a nickel for every nickel he has, you'd have a whole lot of nickels!"
- BASEketball: "If I had a nickel for every time this ball's gotten me out of a tight spot, I'd have a shitload of nickels!"
- Apollo 13:
Jim Lovell: Well... if I had a dollar for every time they've killed me in this thing [a simulator], I wouldn't have to work for you, Deke.
- Older Than Television in Under-Cover Man (1932):
Lora Madigan: I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing.
Kenneth Mason: If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that.
- Arthur, on his own wealth: "I wish I had a dime for every dime I have."
- A rather odd one appears in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me:
"If I had a nickel for every cigarette your mother smoked, I'd be dead."
- Film-related, Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn, as quoted atop our And You Thought It Would Fail page:
James Gunn: If I had a penny for every time someone said making a Marvel movie with a talking raccoon was dumb and that Guardians was going to bomb, I'd probably have just about the amount of money Guardians has made so far. So I'm glad I spent that time making a film instead of counting people and their opinions because we're still going strong. Also, making the movie was a little more productive, and people seem to enjoy it. Not to mention that I would have had a difficult time collecting all those pennies, and the bank would have been pissed off at me when I tried to exchange them for large bills.
- Zack Snyder's Justice League. Alfred is unimpressed when Bruce Wayne uses this trope, given that he's already a billionaire.
Bruce: Anything on that kid from the liquor store?Alfred: Possibly.Bruce: If I had a door for every "possibly"...Alfred: Yeah, it would make you even more insufferable.
- If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed... Oh wait, he does!
- If a nickel popped out for every joke at the expense of [insert popular hate target here], nobody would be poor.
- The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries:
- In book 1, the late Godfrey Priest's agent has to listen to a man complaining about the quality of literature nowadays and lamenting the commercialism of it all, how people have come to write for money over "literary merit". After chasing him off, she remarks that "If I had a dollar for every one of his kind I've met, I could retire."
- In Charlie's narration in book 2, when talking about how most people aren't familiar with the Maine Coon breed of cat and are confused when they see Diesel, he thinks to himself that "If I had the proverbial dime for every time someone asked me, "What is that?" I could donate a hefty sum to the library and solve some of its ongoing budget woes."
- A repeated joke in Discworld novels.
- In Night Watch, Sergeant Colon says that if he had a dollar for every watchman's funeral he'd attended he'd have $19.50. He did the math right, it's just that one of them woke up before they buried him.
- In Lords and Ladies, Mustrum Ridcully says that if he had a penny for every time he'd been kicked out of the tavern in Lancre, he'd have $5.38.
- In Moving Pictures, Windle Poons says that if he had a penny for every time the Watch chased him home, he'd have "fivepence-ha'penny", (because they once gave up halfway).
- Elcenia: Kolaan, discussing local Everyone Can See It somehow-not-actually-dating pair Soraak and Kutran, says that if he had an aaber for every time he tried convincing Soraak to just kiss Kutran already... well, he'd still want more, but not as much.
- In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish Ford Prefect says: "If I had a pound for every time one part of the universe looked at another part of the universe and say "that's terrible" I wouldn't be sitting here like a lemon asking you to bring me a cup of coffee, but I don't and I am."
- Sweet Valley High. The twins' father, regarding Jessica's tardiness: "If I had a dollar for every time our Jessica came home late, I'd be a rich man."
- Ballykissangel's episode "River Dance":
Assumpta Fitzgerald: Thanks for last night. You were good.
Enda Sullivan: If I had a pound for every time a woman said that to me...
- A variation in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when a vampire claims that he attended the crucifixion of Christ:
Spike: You were there? Oh, please. If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there, it would've been like Woodstock.
- The Colbert Report: "If I had a nickel for every time [subject/topic]... I'd really like that!"
- On one episode of Cram, one of the trivia "facts" used in the Bonus Round went something like: "If you had a nickel for every time anybody ever said 'If I had a nickel,' you would have 78 trillion nickels."
- From Cybill, courtesy of Maryann (Christine Baranski), Deadpan Snarker divorcee:
Maryann: If I had a nickel for each time my ex-husband didn't perform... Actually, I do have a nickel for each time.
- The Daily Show: "You know, if I had a nickel for every time Bush has mentioned 9/11, I could raise enough reward money to go after bin Laden."
- Used humorously in the short-lived sit-com Dweebs when Carey talks to her boss, Warren, about the rest of the guys telling her about how they used to be bullied:
Warren: If I had a nickel for every wedgie I got in junior high... Oh, wait... I do. (smiles)
- Game of Thrones. In "Walk of Punishment", the dwarf Tyrion Lannister has been given Littlefinger's job as Master of Coin and asks if he has any advice for his successor.
Littlefinger: Keep a low profile.
Tyrion: If I had a gold dragon for every time I heard that joke, I'd be richer than you are.
Littlefinger: You are richer than I am.
Tyrion: [beat] Good point.
- Gossip Girl:
Lily van der Woodsen: [to Serena] Don't leave your dirty package on the table.
Chuck Bass: If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that.
- MythBusters: Tory Belleci, on a certain type of physical humor he's fallen victim to several times:
Tory: If I had a nickel for every time I got hit in the nuts on this show, I could retire.
- The Nanny episode "Fran's Roots":
Lila: [on the phone talking to Fran] Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to hear your voice.
Fran: Oh, you know, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that... I'd have a nickel.
- In Danish children's comedy series Osman og Jeppe:
Jeppe: If I had a five kroner-coinnote for each time Trucker is skipping school, I would... well... I... uh... then I... then I would have a lot of five kroner-coins!
- Oz: "If I had a nickel for every time I didn't understand, you'd be talking to an empty chair."
- The Seinfeld:
- The episode "The Rye", where George's parents, Frank and Estelle have dinner with the parents of his fiancée, Susan Ross:
Estelle: I couldn't help but notice that you have quite a library in there.
Mrs. Ross: If I had a dime for every book he's actually read, I'd be broke.
- A non-monetary example from "The Contest", where George's mother demands that he see a shrink after she catches him masturbating.
George: If everyone who did that had to go to a psychiatrist...
- The episode "The Rye", where George's parents, Frank and Estelle have dinner with the parents of his fiancée, Susan Ross:
- Saturday Night Live: Played with in a "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" sketch which goes, "I wish I had a dollar for every time I spent a dollar, because, yahoo! I'd have all my money back!"
- Stargate SG-1: Jack O'Neill says it in "It's Good to Be King" after hearing "Surrender your weapons, or die where you stand."
- The Steve Harvey Show:
Regina: Steve, can I see you for a moment?
Steve: Ya know, if I had a nickel for every time a woman approached me with that question...
Regina: You'd have 12 minutes on a parking meter.
- Tales from the Crypt episode "Only Sin Deep": "You know somethin', honey, if I had a dollar for every time you stood in the mirror admirin' your face, I could get off these streets and retire to the Bahamas."
- Two and a Half Men:
- "An Old Flame with a New Wick": "If I had a nickel for every time a girl broke up with me and came back as a man, I'd have a nickel!"
- "Those Fancy Japanese Toilets"
Walden: Relax, I'm not going to hook up with your mom.
Alan: Yeah, if I had a dime for every time I heard that I'd have $3.60. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's happened 36 times.
Walden: That's a weird thing to keep track of.
- Running gag on Whose Line Is It Anyway?:
Drew: Boy, if I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me...
Ryan: You'd have a dime.
- Will & Grace:
Kevin Bacon: Man if I had a dollar for every jock strap my stalker stole from me...
Jack: You'd have $187!...
[Kevin Bacon looks at him strangely]
Jack: [nervously] ...It's just an expression.
- X-Play: "But first, we start with World War II; oh, if I had a nickel for every time I said that, I could finally afford to buy myself a pony."
- The Young Ones episode "Bomb":
Neil: If I had a penny for every time I had to answer the door, I'd have £5.63.
- Supernatural. In "What's Up, Tiger Mommy?", the demon Crowley possesses Kevin Tran's mother, and manages to combine this trope with his usual Double Entendre.
Kevin: Get out of her!
Crowley: If I had a nickel for every time someone screamed that at me...
- The Professionals, from "Servant of Two Masters".
Plumb: My name's Plumb.
Bodie: Hello, Victoria.
Plumb: I wish I had a pound for every time I've suffered that one...
- Wiseguy. Knox Pooley is the leader of a right-wing group. While making a Rousing Speech he raises the question of who is to blame for the mess the country is in, then makes a politically incorrect quip about it.
"Some say it's the Jews. Hell, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that I'd be Jewish myself!"
- Crisis on Earth-X.
Iris: I thought we were gonna die.Felicity: If I had a dime for every time I thought that, I...I'd have $2. 40. (beat) I really thought I'd have more than that.
- From the Odd Squad episode "No Ifs, Ands or Robots", regarding Orchid's toy being turned into a juice box.
Olive: Whoa whoa. That wasn't Oscar. It was an Oscarbot.Oscar: You would have one, heh...'cause now.
- "If I had a dollar bill for every time I've been wrong, I'd be a self-made millionaire and you'd still be gone" — a Reel Big Fish song.
- There's a song by David Ryan Harris called "If I Had a Dime"
If I had a dime for every time I thought of you
I would be through scraping for crumbs...
- Similarly, Redmon & Vale's "If I Had a Nickel (One Thin Dime)"
If I had a nickel for every time
I wished your love was still mine
I'd have a dime, one thin dime.
- In the Olivia Newton-John song "Please Mister Please", the singer laments that "if I had a dime for every time I held you, [...], I could swear I'd be the richest girl in Nashville, maybe even in the state of Tennessee."
- "Missionary Man" by Eurythmics :
If I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled under my chin
- "God Help Me" by Emilie Autumn:
If I had a dollar for every time
I repented the sin but commit the same crime
I'd be sitting on top of the world today
- "Take a Hint" by Victoria Justice and Elizabeth Gillies:
If I had a dime for every name that you just dropped
You'd be here and I'd be on a yacht.
- In "Lodi" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the singer sings "If I only had a dollar for every song I've sung, [...], You know, I'd catch the next train, back to where I live."
- Tim McGraw's "All I Want Is a Life" has a variant in the line "I wish I had a dime for every hole that's in the carpet".
- Kevin Fowler's "If I Could Make a Livin' Drinkin'" notes "I'd be richer than Oprah Winfrey if I had a nickel for every beer."
- The Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits: "Semi Suite"
You wish you had a dollar
For every time he hollered that he's leavin'
And he's never comin' back
- Prince, "Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic":
'n If I had a dollar
for every time they smiled
I'd sho' 'nuff jump 'n' holler
'Cuz I'd sho nuff be rich for a while
- "Zombie By the Cranberries" by Andrew Jackson Jihad has a number of variations on this, including
If I had some spare change every time a perfect stranger asked me for some spare change
I'd have enough to take care of these bills I need to pay
- "Rich" by Maren Morris:
If I had a dollar every time that I swore you off
And a twenty every time that I picked up when you called
And a crisp new Benjamin for when you're here then gone again
And a dollar every time I was right about you after all
Boy, I'd be rich, head to toe Prada
Benz in the driveway, yacht in the water
Vegas at the Mandarin, high roller gambling
Me and Diddy drippin' diamonds like Marilyn
No, I wouldn't be covered in all your IOU's
Every promise you made me would have some real value
'Cause all the little lies rolling on your lips
Is money falling from the sky (ka-ching, ka-ching) shit, I'd be rich
- From the radio show A Prairie Home Companion, in a Guy Noir sketch set in New York:
Sue Scott's character: If I had a nickel for every time I have seen people talking on the phone while they drove today, I could buy the Taj Mahal. Or a studio apartment in Brooklyn.
- From an interview on WBUR's Here and Now regarding a ballot initiative to split California up into six states:
Steven Maviglio: If there was a tax on political stupidity, this probably would balance the national debt.
- In one episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Jack Dee says that if he had a pound for every Norman Wisdom film he's seen, he'd probably start watching them.
- Lara Croft gets a really strange and hilarious one in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Apparently, nickels don't cut it...
Lara: If I had a coconut for everyone who said that...
- Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones:
Mahasti: You missed your time! The Vizier has already begun to transform the women I imprisoned! You buy yourself hours at best!
The Prince: (knocks Mahasti over the edge of the rooftop) If I had some sands for every time someone said that to me. (a cloud of sand comes to him from Mahasti's corpse) Oh! I do!
- Animal Crossing: One response you may get if you send a nonsensical letter: "Man, if I had a Bell for every note I didn't get, well... I'd have a lot of Bells for sure!"
- NFL Street has this as a common taunt for a run play that doesn't go well: "If I had a nickel for every yard you just ran, I'd be broke! Flat broke!"
- A Running Gag in Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail!. Sometimes the narrator also joins the fun.
Narrator: [on examining a fire hose] Your hose is long and thick.
Larry: I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard that!
Narrator: You'd still be broke!
- The Wonderful 101 gets in on the fun as well.
Nelson: If I had a nickel for every time you paused...
- The Secret World: Säid provides his own variation, after being given some poorly-done threats he brushes off like all others:
Säid: If I had a pebble for every thug who tried to shake me down the last three thousand years, I'd build a great pyramid of my own.
- Homestar Runner:
- The opening line of the Strong Bad Email "haircut" features a take on this line: "Man, if I had a nickel for every email I get, I would throw them at people in the food court. From that railing, like up above."
- In "Which Ween Costumes?", Coach Z tries to do a Piss Take Rap about his "(w)rapping paper" costume, only for the rest of the cast to shut him up with a Collective Groan. Coach Z remarks "Aw, if I had a nickel for every time I've been groaned off stage..."
- Ansem Retort:
Sora: Man, if I had a nickel every time a roommate committed a crime against humanity...
Namine: You would have $7.12.
- Girl Genius: 2010-02-05:
Violetta: If I had a Belgian chocolate mimmoth for every hour I've had to listen to Tarvek blather on about those stupid muses, I'd weigh a thousand kilos.
Professor Mezzasalma: ...really?
Violetta: Oh yeah, I worked it out once.
- 8-Bit Theater
- Errant Story, in a Breaking the Fourth Wall variation:
Meji: (responding to her familiar's doubts about her plan to seduce Ian) AHHH! Don't have time to kill you now, I gotta go take off all my clothes!
Ellis: ... If only I had a silver for every time I'd heard her say that.
- Overcompensating: Parodied in comic 97. Jeffrey wishes he had a nickel for every time he'd seen a crazy lady yell at a dog in a parking lot thinking he'd be a quadrillionaire and is visited by the Fairy Of Actual Nickels, who hands him a bag of nickels amounting to $41.65.
- During The Annoying Orange Comedy Roast:
Liam the Leprechaun: If I had a nickel, for every time the Annoying Orange annoyed me; well I wouldn't need to find my pot of gold now, would I? [laughs] I still want to though.
- On MoBrosStudios's tutorial on YouTube Poop, he says that if he had a nickel for every time there was a WTF Boom joke in a YouTube Poop, there would be a calculator overload.
- Kim Possible:
- In the episode "Ron Millionaire": "If I had a nickel for every time I heard that [talking about Bonnie's comment] I could have grande-sized!" The plot of the episode revolved around Ron actually receiving a huge royalty check from Bueno Nacho tabulated as a nickel for ever Naco (a fast-food entree of his own invention) sold.
- In the episode "Cap'n Drakken", after Dr. Drakken is possessed by a pirate ghost:
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
"If I had a dollar for every brain you don't have, I'd have one dollar!''"
- Green Lantern: Emerald Knights uses this for a Mythology Gag when a pre-FaceHeel Turn Sinestro captures Atrocitus.
- The Simpsons:
Dr. Hibbert: Oh, if I had $75 for every novelty I've removed...Oh, by the way, I'll need a check for $75.
- Also played straight:
[Homer Simpson barges into co-worker Frank Grimes' office]
Homer: Hey there, Grimey!
Grimes: I'd appreciate it if you'd stay out of my office, Simpson.
Homer: Heh! If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that.
- Family Guy:
- Brian uses this expression (without spelling out the "I'd be rich" part of the thought), and was completely dumbfounded when his girlfriend's companions didn't recognize the saying on its own. It seemed, though, that Brian himself didn't understand the expression well enough to explain it to them. He seemed to be dumbfounded not only because they were unfamiliar with the expression (which is indeed a bit ignorant), but also because he hadn't thought about the expression enough to immediately know the answer to the question "What does that saying mean?"
- Another episode has Meg combine this with Curse Cut Short: "If I had a nickel for every time my parents walked out instead of teaching me to drive, I'd be one rich—"
- In "Blue Harvest":
Luke Skywalker (Chris): They're [TIE Fighters] coming too fast!
Han Solo (Peter): A nickel for every time I've had that problem. Just keep shooting, Luke!
- Hey Arnold!:
Harold: If I had a dime for every time somebody called me dumb... I'd sure have a whole bunch of dimes!
- Adventure Time: In "Crystals Have Power" after Jake saves Tree Trunks from being driven crazy by the power of the crystal apple, he tells her "If I had a penny for every time someone went crazy-hopped-up on magical energy, I'd be Abraham Lincoln!"
- Phineas and Ferb:
- "Phineas' Birthday Clip-O-Rama" plays with this trope from Doofenshmirtz, Phineas, and Linda. It cuts to a set of clips with a running total of money in the top corner. Doof and Linda realize that the total amount equals that of a candy bar.
- In the movie, Doofenshmirtz noted if he had a nickel for every time he'd been doomed by a puppet... he'd have two nickels. Which isn't a lot, but it's weird it happened twice.
- Also in "The Wizard of Odd" when Buford was a combination Lion, Tiger and Bear, Buford says this after Candace, Jeremy and Baljeet's response to seeing him was "Oh my".
- King of the Hill:
Hank: If I had a nickel for every time I buckled under pressure, I'd have five nickels.
- Episode "To Sirloin With Love":
Peggy: If your lies were dollars, I would have a $100,000 by now, and I would live off the interest, Hank. I'd still have to keep my job, but things would be a lot easier.
- Also used by Cotton, to describe "The Hole" at his old boot camp.
Cotton: If I had a nickel for every boy who went crazy in there, I'd be eating nickel soup.
- From "I Remember Mono:"
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Frankie My Dear":
Frankie: If I had a dime for every time I heard that one...
- The Oblongs had a subversion: "If I had a nickel for every dollar I had, I'd still be rich"
- The X's had a double subversion. When dad said that if he had a nickel for every time his cooking skills saved his life, he stopped to make the calculation, and said he would have 5 dollars. While the money isn't a lot, that actually is a lot of Life saving.
- A Bratz movie features a Literal Genie who actually grants this wish when a passerby remarks that he had a nickel for every time his friend asked if an outfit made her look fat. He gets buried in a pile of nickels immediately after.
- Beavis and Butt-Head: "If you had a nickel for every time [something or other], you'd have like... all these nickels".
Cheryl: Ew! It tastes even worse than it smells!
Pam: If I had a nickel for every time a guy told me that... I'd have eight nickels!
- An All Grown Up!! episode revolves around Tommy sleepwalking and stealing items from his neighbor's yard. When he's caught by the police, he tries to explain what happened and the cop answers him with "If I had a dime for every time someone blamed their crimes on sleepwalking, I'd be a rich man... okay maybe not rich... but I'd own a boat."
- In Batman: The Animated Series, a worker says he wishes he had a nickel for every car that went over a toll bridge—his companion responds "I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard you say that."
- From the short, "To Bleep or Not to Bleep" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Test Stress", when Fowlmouth is having a cursing fit:
Fowlmouth: I mean, if I had a nickel for every (bleep) time I spilled something on my clothes, I'd be a rich (bleep) guy!
- In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Tools of the Trade", a police captain tells Superman that if she had a nickel for every time one of her Hot-Blooded detectives had turned in his badge, she'd make Lex Luthor look like a pauper.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): Krang in one episode after Shredder promises not to fail mumbles he wishes he had a Dimension X dollar for every time he heard that.
- In Steven Universe, after Mr. Smiley's robot fortune teller gives Steven an unsatisfying fortune.
- DuckTales (2017): In "The Impossible Summit of Mt. Neverrest!", Huey, Dewey, and Webby find the body of the late mountain climber George Mallardy... next to an inscription reading "CURSE YOU, MCDUCK!" Scrooge tries to brush it off by saying "If I had a nickel for every person who cursed me with their dying breath, I'd be twice as rich as I already am!"