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I'll Take That as a Compliment

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Fair enough.

Sonya Blade: You're just like your father.
Cassie Cage: I'll take that as a compliment!
Sonya: Just proved my point...

A popular stock phrase found in both Insult Backfire and Compliment Backfire. The setup is as follows: someone is the target of an ambiguous statement that could easily be seen as insult, praise, a backhanded compliment, or even just a simple observation. For any number of reasons — pride in the trait that is being talked of, not having the energy or drive to deal properly address the rudeness, etc. — they decide to interpret it as something positive and make that clearly known by replying with "I'll take that as a compliment."

Depending on how the person actually meant the statement and if they have a chance to reply back, they could be anything from incredulous at the target's supposed denseness, take it as a confirmation of egotism, or be confused that the other person would see it as anything but a compliment.

Compare I Can Live With That. Contrast Your Approval Fills Me with Shame.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Subverted Inversion happens in Bleach during Renji and Uryu's fight against Szayelaporro when he makes duplicates of them complete with identical abilities. Renji solves the problem by bringing out his Bankainote , causing his duplicates to do the same and destroy the room. When Uryu finds out Renji did this on purpose, he compares him to Ichigonote .
    Renji: Shut up! I don't consider that a compliment!
    Uryu: Of course! It wasn't meant as one!

    Audio Drama 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who story "The Heart of the Battle", the scheming Cardinal Ollistra says the War Doctor is "a sentimental old fool, who becomes too attached to other species" and he retorts "Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment." (She follows it up by saying that, despite that, she knows the Doctor's view of the Time War is basically alligned with hers, and that gets a Your Approval Fills Me with Shame.)

    Film — Animated 
  • Home on the Range
    Piggy: Gee, you're the biggest cow I've ever saw!
    Maggie: Well, if you're in charge, I'll take that as a compliment.
    Piggy: Uh...
    Maggie: And if not, I guess I'll just have to sit on you.
    Piggy: MOM!!!!!!
    Maggie: Hey! I'm only kidding!
  • The Road to El Dorado:
    Miguel: You fight like my sister!
    Tulio: I've fought your sister, that's a compliment!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Amy
    Bill Trendle: Jesus, lady, you're worse than my wife!
    Tanya Rammus: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Flash III Deadly Nightshade
    Dr. Desmond Powell: (wolf whistles)
    Rebecca Frost: I'll take that as a compliment, you sexist pig.
  • High School Musical 2
    Sharpay Evans: When did you become... one of them?
    Ryan Evans: You know, I'll take that as a compliment.
  • James Bond:
    • Quantum of Solace
      James Bond: You know I was just wondering what South America would look like if nobody gave a damn about coke or communism. It always impressed me the way you boys would carve this place up.
      Felix Leiter: I'll take that as a compliment, coming from a Brit.
    • Spectre:
      • Said word-for-word by C when M confronts him about the deactivation of the Double-O program; M isn't amused.
      M: You're a cocky little bastard, aren't you.
      C: (Laughs)...I'll take that as a compliment.
      M: I wouldn't.
  • In the film Marshall, Thurgood Marshall and Sam Friedman are defending a black man accused of raping and trying to kill his white employer. Towards the end of the trial, as the defense have poked major holes in the woman's story and the possibility of acquittal is very real, the prosecutor offers Friedman a deal. Friedman comes to him a day later to reject it.
    Prosecutor: I thought you Jews were supposed to be smart. But here you are sounding just like the Negro.
    Friedman: Why, thank you, Willis. That's the nicest compliment you could have given me.
  • Now You See Me
    Merritt McKinney: If by "has-been" you're referring to me, I just wanna say I'm flattered, because I always considered myself a never-was.
  • The Patriot (2000)
    Gen. Lord Cornwallis: This is hardly the conduct of a gentleman!
    Col. Benjamin Martin: If the conduct of your officers is the measure of a gentleman, I'll take that as a compliment.
  • The Razor's Edge (1946)
    W. Somerset Maugham: If you're suggesting I was her lover, you're mistaken.
    French Criminal Investigator: It would be no affair of mine. And without wishing to say anything offensive... I must add that, from what I've heard of her proclivities... I should say that you were not her type.
    W. Somerset Maugham: I'm prepared to take that as a compliment.
  • The Sound of Music
    Capt. Von Trapp: If the Nazis do take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.
    Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.
    Capt. Von Trapp: How clumsy of me. I meant to accuse you.
  • Trading Places
    Randolph Duke: Mother always said you were greedy.
    Mortimer Duke: She meant it as a compliment.

  • In the third Ciaphas Cain book, Cain says that "there's only room for one lethally dangerous woman in [his] life". This is accompanied by a footnote from the book's in-universe editor, Cain's close personal friend (and sometimes lover) Amberley Vail: "Which I decided to take as a compliment."
  • In Corpies, Titan's response to Corbin slandering Bubble Bubble is to note that by making himself a target for extremist pro-super groups and still expecting protection, he is showing a lot of trust in the Hero community.
  • Discworld: In Jingo, Lord Rust tells Vimes, "You are no gentleman." Vimes replies, "I knew there was something about me I liked."
  • In the The Hardy Boys book The Caribbean Cruise Caper when Ice Queen Elizabeth is (wrongfully) suggested as a potential suspect at the end of the book she's vaguely flattered to think that she could be considered that adventurous.
  • Murder in Mesopotamia: When Poirot describes how David Emmot has the methodical temperament that would be suitable for a murderer, Emmot wryly (yet sincerely) says, "Thank you."

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Strudwick: Dick, without your cowardice and courage we wouldn't be right back where we started!
    Dick: Thank you, Strudwick, I'll take that as a compliment.
    Strudwick: I meant it as an insult!
    Dick: Too late, it's a compliment!
  • 30 Rock:
    Liz: God, Jack, why are you being such a wang about this?
    Jack: I'll take that as a compliment. An Wang, the founder of Wang Computers, is one of the greatest businessmen of the 20th century! And you're the one being a lowercase wang, Lemon.
  • Altered Carbon. In "Phantom Lady", Kovacs complains about the Bounty Hunter sent to bring him to Horace Axley, who did so by shooting Kovacs In the Back, cutting out his stack and needlecasting it to her boss on another planet.
    Kovacs: She's a psychopath!
    Axley: Well, coming from you, I'll assume that's a compliment.
  • CSI episode "Fannysmackin' "
    Greg: Sara...
    Sara: I didn't think you could see me
    Greg: I can't... I know that Sidle scent...
    Sara: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Unquiet Dead":
      The Doctor: Blimey, you look beautiful... considering.
      Rose: Considering what?
      The Doctor: That you're human.
      Rose: I think that's a compliment...
    • "Daleks in Manhattan":
      Dalek Caan: You think like a Dalek.
      Mr. Diagoras: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • When snarky old ladies collide...
      Lady Grantham: You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.
      Mrs Crawley: I take that as a compliment.
      Lady Grantham: I must have said it wrong.
    • And vice versa...
      Mrs Crawley: And must you always sound like the sister of Marie Antoinette?
      Lady Grantham: The Queen of Naples was a stalwart figure. I take it as a compliment.
      Mrs Crawley: You take everything as a compliment.
      Lady Grantham: I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.
  • Holby City episode "Invasion"
    Percy 'Abra' Durant: You're a fine surgeon, Mr Jordan. But you have the charm of a salt-encrusted slug.
    Nick Jordan: I'll take that as a compliment.
    Percy 'Abra' Durant: I knew you would.
  • In one episode of Monk, "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall", a reporter is very proud of his talent to take nearly anything that is said as a compliment.
  • In one Murder, She Wrote episode, the Inspector Lestrade of the Week has been very disparaging about Jessica's writing and involvement in the case. At the end he says she may not be much of a writer, but she's a good detective. She replies "I'll take that in the spirit in which it was intended ... I think."
  • In the early days of Mystery Science Theater 3000, whenever Joel and the Bots would tell the Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank (Dr. Erhardt before him) how evil they were, the two mads would simply reply "Thank you!"
  • NCIS. A random character asks newcomer Bishop, "What's it like working for Gibbs? I hear he's a real hardass." Gibbs, who is of course, standing right behind him, grins at hearing this, indicating that he's invoking this trope.
  • NewsRadio episode "French Diplomacy"
    Dave: Bill is certainly not John F. Kennedy.
    Bill: I'll take that as a compliment, because if I was, I'd be dead now.
  • Queer as Folk (US):
    Vic: Once upon a time I was a pretty decent chef.
    Debbie: 'Decent?' He was another Sara Lee!
    Vic: I'll take that as the compliment I'm sure was intended.
  • Scrubs:
    • "My Cookie Pants" has a rare example of JD holding his own against Dr. Cox, this time with Perry ranting about how much he doesn't care about J.D. and Elliot's relationship.
      Dr. Cox: What can I say? I just wish you were at home with her.
      J.D.: (smiles) You and me both.
      Dr. Cox: That was an insult.
      J.D.: I know. I thought if I took it as a compliment it would drive you insane and you'd go away.
      Dr. Cox: (grits his teeth and walks away) Damn it!
  • Star Trek: Voyager episode "Life Line"
    Dr. Zimmerman: Well, the last beautiful woman to walk in here turned out to be him.
    The Doctor: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise episodes
    • "A Night in Sickbay"
      Dr. Phlox: My children all left the nest years ago, captain.
      Archer: I would have never guessed. You don't look that old.
      Dr. Phlox: I'll take that as a compliment.
    • "Azati Prime"
      Ensign Travis Mayweather: (Instructing Archer in flying the Xindi shuttle) Good. You're starting to think like an Insectoid.
      Captain Jonathan Archer: I'll take that as a compliment.


    Video Games 
  • Deliberately invoked way back in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn. After a GDI-aligned player is framed for destroying a village by the very media-savvy Brotherhood of Nod, an amused Lieutenant Carter notes that they must finally consider you a real threat:
    Carter: Welcome to the big time, Commander. You haven't really arrived until Kane has sicced his media ninjas on you at least once.
  • Dragon Age: Origins
    Warden: You are a heartless shrew, you know that?
    Morrigan: Yes, yes. I shall take that as a compliment, whether intended or not.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Solas' reaction to Iron Bull's comment on his efficient, no-frills style compared to most mages. Dorian's reaction when Sera asks if there are more Tevinters like him; "like him" meaning "keeping their magic rubbish to themselves."
  • Final Fantasy VI
    Terra: Brother? At first glance, I thought he was some bodybuilder who had strayed from his gym...
    Sabin: I'll take that as a compliment.
    • Even funnier in the GBA dub.
      Terra: Brother? For a moment I thought he was another of Vargas' bears!
      Sabin: A bear? I'll, uh, take that as a compliment.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy Duodecim
    Squall: Typical dirty Chaos trick.
    Kuja: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Heavy Rain (Rabid Cop page quote)
    FBI Agent Norman Jayden: Blake, you are an unbalanced, psychopathic asshole!
    Lieutenant Carter Blake: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Sonic Colors During a post-mission exchange in the Nintendo DS port of the game, Sonic responds as such after Shadow lets slip that his motivation behind giving Sonic a mission, having initially rationalized it as him wanting to see if Sonic had "gone soft," was to make sure that he and Tails wouldn't be endangering themselves by going forward—and then immediately trying to act indifferent upon having that fact pointed out.
    Shadow: Heh, looks like I don't need to be too worried.
    Sonic: What was that?
    Tails: Were you worried if we’d get hurt trying to rescue the Wisps?
    Shadow: Hmph!
    Sonic: I’ll just take that as a compliment.
  • World of Warcraft his this exchange between the Forsaken and Blood Elf faction leaders after the Galakras encounter in the Siege of Orgrimmar.
    Sylvanas Windrunner: Oh, you're still here? I had kind of hoped you perished. You would make a very attractive corpse.
    Lor'themar Theron: I will take that as a compliment.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Charlotte invokes this trope almost word-for-word in this Ladies In Waiting strip.
  • Misfile: Probably also qualifies as Comically Missing the Point. Cassiel wants her human friend to have the best boyfriend possible... so she asks his opponent (Ash) to throw the race, making the potential boyfriend a 1 winner.
    Ash: Only you could turn noble intentions into something so inherently dirty.
    Cassiel: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Roommates: When James forced his Roommate to greet the new neighbors with a gift basket... again.
    Javert: ...we've all been operating under the horrible misconception that you reformed. I shall set the record straight: You are evil incarnate.
    James: I shall take that as a compliment.
  • Schlock Mercenary: When Captain Murtaugh is trying to determine how a Blob Monster can have Super-Senses.
    Murtaugh: Wait... is your entire body able to detect pressure waves?
    Schlock: Your voice makes the floor tremble.
    Murtaugh: That's the nicest thing anybody's said to me since I became captain.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko calls Ty Lee a "circus freak". Though upset, she takes the insult as a compliment because she sought a new life in the circus away from blending in with her identical sisters.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      Mako: Your best friend is a... polar bear dog? Somehow, that makes perfect sense.
      Korra: I'll take that as a compliment, city boy.
  • The opening of the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Camouflage Hoparoo":
    Narrator: As Yankee Doodle Pigeon breaks the morning stillness while flying another dangerous mission, he keeps a wary eye out for... the vicious Vulture Squadron. Skippered by the deadly, diabolical, despicable demon of the skyways—Dick Dastardly!
    Dastardly: You left out dashing and debonair! (evil laugh)
  • Gravity Falls:
    Pacifica: Mabel sounds like an a fat old lady's name.
    Mabel: I'll take that as a compliment!
  • Star Wars Rebels: From "Zero Hour":
    Thrawn: You have the heart of a rebel.
    Kallus: I'll take that as a compliment.

Alternative Title(s): Ill Take This As A Compliment