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Ironic Echo

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Judge: ...That's the same line you gave yesterday.
Phoenix: But... I think there's a little more meaning behind it this time.

Bob makes a comment in the presence of Alice. Much later on, Alice makes the same comment in a different situation, often giving it an unexpected meaning in the new context.

There are four common situations where this is used:

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  • If Bob's original line was meant maliciously, Alice's Ironic Echo will be twice as cruel, as she throws the attack back in his face.
  • If Bob was trying to convince Alice of a way of thinking, Alice will quote it to signify that she now agrees with the idea. This sometimes happens after Bob himself has abandoned the idea (or has shown he never believed in it in the first place).
  • Bob's line was meant to be something positive or inspirational, but when Alice parrots it back the subtext makes it seem much darker and/or cynical than Bob meant it to be. The inverse is also common.
  • A once-cheery line gets repeated after all the good and hope that it once represented has disappeared. For example, Bob might say that he and Alice will always be friends. After Bob's Start of Darkness has turned him against her, Alice may reminisce on the past, using Bob's initial words. This one is particularly common in musicals, where an entire song can be ironically repeated. (See Dark Reprise.)
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However, this will also crop up with lines that were first made idly, innocently, and perhaps not even directed at Alice; in those cases the echo will simply be unexpected, and can be used for humor, shock value, or anything in between. The echo also need not involve two people, it still fits if Bob says both the initial comment and the echo.

Compare Flashback to Catchphrase, Exact Words, Bookends, Excuse Boomerang, Alternate Catchphrase Inflection, and Dialogue Reversal. Subtrope of Meaningful Echo. Ironic Echo Cut is when the echo comes immediately and the second speaker has not heard the first. Can be a form of Hypocritical Humor or a Brick Joke. Doing this as a SONG is often a Dark Reprise. May often result from a Perspective Reversal. If the original use was innocent and amusing but the echo is bitter or shocking, this may result in it being Harsher in Hindsight. A critic sardonically using a work's own words to characterize its flaws is a Review Ironic Echo.

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    Advertising 
  • One 1980's Public Service Announcement for wearing seatbelts had a woman who talked about how she hated wearing seatbelts, saying that they would wrinkle her dress if it was tightened. Cut to a shot of the same woman, now paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Her care taker then says, "Oh, your dress is being wrinkled, let me tighten your belt."
  • In Sakeru Gummy's Long Long Man ads, Chi's first direct interaction with the Long Long Man has her look at his Long Sakeru Gummy candy and ask "Can I touch it?". In the final commercial, the Long Long Man reveals that he wasn't going after Chi, but rather her boyfriend Tooru. Tooru then asks if he can touch his Sakeru Gummy, with the same wording.
  • Superman vs. Nick O'Teen: In the first TV ad, Nick O'Teen claims that cigarettes will help the kids "grow up fast." Superman tells O'Teen he'll help him "go up fast" and throws him into the sky.

    Asian Animation 
  • At the beginning of the Noonbory and the Super 7 episode "Pongdybory's Cold Feet", Noonbory hears Pongdybory sneezing and says "Sounds like you're getting a cold, Pongdybory." Later, at the end of the episode, Pongdybory hears Noonbory sneezing. Guess what he says.

    Comedy 
  • The question "How long, can you tread water?" from Bill Cosby's "Noah" trilogy. First said at the end of the second skit, "Noah: And the Neighbor", by an amused Noah to his next-door neighbor who wants a hint as to why Noah's building an ark. God asks Noah the same question in the third skit after the latter starts complaining about the task he's been given, but he keeps right on complaining, justifiably so.
    • In the first skit, Noah's initial reply to most of what God tells him is a sarcastic, "Right!" Then towards the end, he asks God how he's going to destroy the world:
      God: I'm gonna make it rain for a thousand days and drown 'em right out.
      Noah: Right! Listen to this, you'll save water: Let it rain for forty days and forty nights, and wait for the sewers to back up.
      God: [as sarcastic as Noah's been] Right!

    Comic Strips 
  • The same thing is used a lot in Buckles by David Gilbert.
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip The Widow's Curse, the female members of the Sycorax clan from "The Christmas Invasion" seek revenge on humanity for the deaths of their menfolk, having seen a recording of exactly what happened, including the Doctor killing the Sycorax leader (in self-defense) with the words "No second chances. I'm that sort of a man." When the Doctor pleads with them to give humanity another chance, their leader Haxen retorts "No second chances. We're that sort of a clan."
  • Used in so many FoxTrot comics by Bill Amend, it isn't funny... and yet it is.
    • May 1st 2022's strip has Jason deliver an April Fools joke a month late, and when his father points out the date, Jason uses the exact same words (with Air Quotes) that Roger used regarding fixing the driveway... in February.
  • Garfield:
    • In this strip, Garfield tells the big dog sporting a sad face: "You look ridiculous." Upon witnessing the dog getting a treat as a result of being seen with said sad face, Garfield decides to get food with the same sad face. Unfortunately for him, Jon's reaction to Garfield's sad-face imitation is, instead of giving him food, telling him "You look ridiculous."
    • This strip starts with Liz saying "Bad news. We're out of tofu" without a hint of happiness in her expression. When Jon relays the sentence to Garfield, however, his expression is unmistakably happy.
    • Jon describes the joy of decorating for the holiday season in this strip, at one point pointing to his own heart and saying "It gets me right here!". The mailman then shows up and deliver to Jon a Christmas card from his local Homeowners' Association, whose message is... a notice for a $75 fine for Jon's ugly yard Santa.
      Garfield: (points to his own heart) Gets you right here.
    • In the October 10, 2021 strip, Jon tries to lure Garfield into consuming a pill hidden in a treat, so Garfield takes the treat on the plate Jon is not promoting to him, realizing too late that he fell for Jon's trick.
      Garfield: *takes the treat on the plate and swallows it* I believe I'll have this one instead. Heh, heh, heh.
      Jon: *with a sly grin* Heh, heh, heh.
  • One Pearls Before Swine strip has the embodiment of Pig's small, fragile ego get stepped upon by Rat's giant-sized ego, who replies "I think I stepped on a doody." In the following strip, Farina tells Rat she's dumping him for Ziggy, causing Rat's ego to shrink down to the size Pig's previously was, upon which the actual Pig steps on him, saying "I think I stepped on a doody."
  • In Prickly City, Carmen tells Winslow that trying to fly over and over is the definition of insane because he keeps expecting different results. Winslow calls the mental health center because she keeps telling him the same thing and expecting different results; he thinks she's gone cuckoo.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In the West African folk tale "Ansige Karamba The Glutton", when his long-suffering wife Paama finds him in trouble, Ansige crossly tells her not to act as though she didn't know him. At the end, she refuses to return with the words, "Don't act as though I didn't know you."
  • From the epic Waltharius, retelling Germanic heroic legend: When Hagen suggests to king Gunther/Gunnar to accept Walther's gift of 100 golden rings (instead of taking all his treasure), Gunther mocks him: "You are truly a son of your father Aldrian. He would talk a lot so he wouldn't have to fight." After Walther has killed the other eleven knights of the king, Gunther tries to make Hagen fight again. But Hagen says: "I am truly a son of my father Aldrian. He would talk a lot so he wouldn't have to fight."

    Podcast 
  • From Wolf 359:
    • "Pryce and Carter six fourteen: When in doubt, whip it out — 'it' being hydrochloric acid!" is first said by Hilbert after he dissolves the door to the comms room, ending the toothpaste hostage-situation. It is again said by Minchowski after she dissolves the door to the bridge and captures Hilbert after his Face–Heel Turn.
    • From Pryce to Hera after installing clinical depression in her personality core, and later from Hera to Pryce after erasing her mind: "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm just going to — hm. Clip your wings a little."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was very upset that Owen Hart never called him to find out his condition after Hart broke his neck with a botched Tombstone piledriver. This only becomes Ironic because Austin never bothered to check up on Masahiro Chono after breaking his neck in an almost identical fashion, during an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match, in September 1992. Only avoids crossing over into hypocrisy because Austin, at the time, had no idea that Chono was actually injured.
  • At ''Wrestlemania 24, Shawn Michaels would tearfully apologize to Ric Flair, "I'm sorry, I love you." before hitting him with a Superkick to retire Flair This angered Batista, who went after Michaels for revenge. This would lead to a Stretcher Match which would have Batista say to Michaels "I don't love you, and I'm not sorry."

    Radio 
  • In the Old Harry's Game episode "The Beautiful Game", the Professor appoints Thomas as England captain for the Underworld Cup, in the belief that he'll rise to the challenge and prove himself, much to Satan's disbelief. The Professor says "I'd hate to be as cynical as you, you know. Always seeing the worst aspects of people." Then Satan appoints his Bumbling Sidekick Scumspawn as referee, and the Professor accuses him of deliberately trying to turn the tournament into a disaster. "I'd hate to be as cynical as you, Prof. Always seeing the worst in devils."

    Sports 
  • NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo is best known for taunting his opponents by wagging his finger at them after blocking a shot, but in one 1997 playoff game between his Atlanta Hawks and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls, Jordan dunked in Mutombo's face and taunted him with his own finger wag.
  • For years, fans of opposing teams (especially the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils) could and would taunt the New York Rangers and their fans with chants of "19-40!", referring to the last time the Rangers had won the Stanley Cup. Soon after the Rangers finally broke the Curse of 1940 in 1994 (the 53 season drought still stands as a record in hockey), one Ranger player does a mocking "19-40!" chant at a television camera as the team celebrated on the ice.
    • Similar chants of "19-18!" broke out when the Yankees wished to taunt the Red Sox. After the World Series victory in 2004, Sox fans began to chant back with "2000!", which lasted until the Yankees next World Series win in 2009.
  • In the leadup to a 2020 playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster shrugged off the idea that the Browns team he was facing (the most successful Browns team in decades) was different or something to be concerned about, saying, "They're still the same Browns teams I play every year...at the end of the day, I don't know, the Browns is the Browns." After the Browns shocked the Steelers with a 48-37 victory, quarterback Baker Mayfield came through the tunnel saying, "The Browns is the Browns!" as he high-fived someone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade features an extremely well-deserved one in the prologue to the Followers of Set clanbook. At the start of this particular story, Maria Kenyon is a meth-addicted Sex Slave working for "Doc" Hayes, who provides her with her daily fix in exchange for an increasingly disgusting series of sex acts, and always begins each session with "Want your medicine, bitch?" However, by the end of the story, Maria has been Embraced into the Followers of Set, and as a graduation present, she's been given her own ghoul — none other than Doc Hayes himself; finding herself with full authority over her former boss, and knowing that Hayes is now just as hopelessly addicted to vampire blood as she was to meth, Maria has only one thing to say to her terrified slave: "Want your medicine?"

    Toys 

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has a moment in case 1-3; the killer is within Wright's grasp but somehow manages to escape. Before leaving the stand, he can either say "You did it, Vasquez!" (the wrong answer), "Testify again, Vasquez!", or stall and end up coming up with no response. Right before the witness leaves, Edgeworth does the latter two as well; each of them has similar reactions as before, but is much more amusing coming from him.
    • Phoenix Wright's Dream Intro from the first case of Justice For All comes back in the second trial for the fourth case, after Phoenix learns that he has to defend a guilty person in court.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations had:
      Luke Atmey: Hee hee hee ha ha ha aha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ho ho ho hee hee hee! Take a good look, everyone! Unable to find a rival worthy of my genius, I was forced to create one by myself! Here I am! The tragic clown...
      • This happens after he is convicted as Mask☆DeMasque. Later, when it is revealed he is actually a murderer, he was trying to use his first conviction as an alibi, and he was actually blackmailing Ron DeLite, the real Mask☆DeMasque he repeats this, only truthfully this time.
      • The above line is immediately lampshaded:
        Judge: ...That's the same line you gave yesterday.
        Phoenix: But... I think there's a little more meaning behind it this time.
    • In the second Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth game, Justine Courtney, a judge who is opposed to Edgeworth for much of the game, has "OVERRULED!" as her Catchphrase, her counterpart to the signature yell of "OBJECTION!". At one point, Edgeworth throws her catchphrase back in her face when issuing a rebuttal to her.
  • In Silver Crisis, when Lucas and Lucario first introduce themselves, Lucas says “Just Lucario?” in response to Lucario basically saying that he just wants to be called the name of his species. Later in the story, we see that Lucario repeated this same line when he and his former Master first met each other, in response to Medicham also choosing to go by the name of his species. He then proceeds to state the importance of having a proper name, and how it makes the connections you have with others mean something. However, in the present day, he’s completely reversed those beliefs he'd had at that point in time, hence why he also has forsaken the original name his trainer gave him.
    Lucario: "Even if fickle, a name means more than just an identity. It gives meaning to the connections you have with the people who call you that name."

    Web Animation 
  • Early on in Broken Saints, Kamimura encounters a silly young egg farmer named Masayuki, who tells him a story about his father, in which Masayuki's father pointed at a chicken's butt and told his son that two things come out of there: eggs and poop. The lesson Masayuki took from it, and passed on to Kamimura, was that both good and bad things come from the inside. This lesson turns out to be a central message in the series, and Kamimura's final words before his Heroic Sacrifice repeat this sentiment, now with a much more poignant resonance.
  • Minilife TV: Invoked in the episode "That's So Gay!". After hearing two rude guys say "That's so gay" in a homophobic way towards Todd, Chris and Ian say "That's so gay" after complimenting Todd's actions in hopes that people use the phrase in a more positive light.
  • In Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Doc gives the following reason for not wanting to be associated with Grif in Episode 23: "Sorry, man, but it's pretty obvious that you're really unpopular, and if I'm gonna make any progress around here at all I can't really be directly associated with you. I'm sure you understand." In Episode 25, when the Blues hand Doc off to the Reds as part of a deal, the Reds abandon Doc, and Doc looks to Grif for help and Grif throws Doc's earlier reasoning right back in his face, almost word for word.
  • RWBY:
    • In "Painting the Town," Yang returns to Junior's club, only to be greeted with several guns, since she was so violent the last time. A volume later, in "Fall," Yang is surrounded by guns because she was being violent.
    • Pyrrha Nikos has "I'm sorry" as her catchphrase, normally because of how polite she is. It stops being cute in episode 8 of season 3 when, in a moment of emotional turmoil, she ends up sending Jaune (the boy she has a massive crush on) flying into a pillar with her magnetism powers. And then there's the season finale where it's the last thing she ever says to him as she sends him off to safety before she is killed in battle against Cinder (right after she confessed her feelings).
    • Halfway through Volume 3, Yang Xiao Long is framed by the villains and publicly disgraced. No one outside of her close friends believes her side of the story — Even her uncle Qrow thinks she's being crazy. He then tells her to get over it, as "Sometimes bad things just happen." At the end of the volume, after Beacon is overrun by Grimm, several friends are dead, Yang's arm has been cut off by Adam Taurus of the White Fang, and her partner Blake has run off, she repeats her uncle's words to Ruby as a clear sign that she's hit the Heroic BSoD.
    • In "The Next Step", Ruby uses "Big mistake!" as a badass one-liner before firing a flaming projectile at the Geist's tree arm, prompting a reaction of excitement from Jaune. However, Jaune says the same line in pure Oh, Crap! mode when he sees that Ruby's contribution has just given the Geist a flaming tree arm.
    • In Volume 5's "Dread in the Air," Adam justified not telling Hazel about his plan to murder Sienna Khan and take over the White Fang on the grounds that White Fang matters are his business, not Hazel's. In "Downfall," Adam demands that Hazel help him fight off the Menagerie Faunus and Mistral police force, Hazel refuses, throwing Adam's words back in his face.
      Hazel: This is your business, not mine.
    • Speaking of Adam, in one episode of Volume 6, we are treated to flashbacks of his rise in status in the White Fang, starting with him helping a bunch of Faunus break into Dust Processing, saying, "It's time we got what we deserved." Towards the end of the flashback sequence, we see Adam promoted to High Leader of the White Fang, preparing his attack on Haven, saying, "It's time I got what I deserved."
    • In Volume 8, Watts snaps at Cinder, telling her that if she truly desires power, it isn't enough for her to be "deserving", but worthy. Later, when Cinder leaves Watts in Atlas's command center, her last words to him are, "You deserve this, Arthur. We'll be back." Cinder does come back...to carry out her plan to dispose of Watts.
  • Team Service Announcement:
    • In Class Balance, all the BLU Snipers mutter "It's like Christmas morning"... as does the RED Spy, because a team of nothing but Snipers is his dream come true.
    • The BLUs in Unlockable Weapons express joy in their new weapons... even as just before they turn out to be a bad choice.
      Soldier:: (is cornered, out of rockets, and his shotgun was replaced with a bugle) I've got a good feeling about this!

    Web Video 
  • Weird school rules in Hong Kong:
    • In Episode 1, one of the skits discusses how students being forbidden from using their phones even outside of school premises as long as they were wearing the school uniform could very well be a detrimental rule.
      (Dou-ding is using her mobile phone outside a shopping mall)
      Ms. Luk: Student Dou-ding!
      Dou-ding: (puts away her phone and gives a short bow) Ms. Luk?
      Ms. Luk: Did you know you cannot use your mobile phone outside of school premises while wearing your school uniform?
      Dou-ding: [Yes, I] know.
      Ms. Luk: Now I'm going to record down your name.
      Dou-ding: (bows) Yes, [ma'am].
      (A thief runs by and snatches Ms. Luk's bag out of her hand)
      Ms. Luk: What [just] happened? (Beat) Theft! Student Dou-ding, help me call the police, my mobile phone was in [the stolen bag]!
      Dou-ding: Huh? But didn't the school say that us students can't use our mobile phones outside of school premises while wearing our school uniform? Are you setting me up? (walks away)
    • In Episode 7, on the topic of schools banning the use of air-conditioning below 25 degrees Celsius weather, the girl on the Negative side of the debate tries to justify the rule in that it teaches students that "a calm heart keeps [you] cool" (a Chinese idiom, 心靜自然涼). Na-mei on the Affirmative side responds by moving to switch off the air-conditioner, citing this idiom as the reason for doing so.

    Real Life 
  • John Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi, who used to say, "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it." Many years later, he had the phrase engraved on a silver plaque and gave it to her as a present.
  • Former power-broker in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Andrea Neves was cozy with newspaper owners there and would often make none-too-subtle threats to editors by asking, rhetorically, "Is the agenda good?", thus getting them to change the focus, hide it, fire journalists and so on. And then she was arrested for charges of corruption. Journalists that covered said arrest gleefully asked her, as she was walked into prison: "Is the agenda good, Andrea?" and "Did you like the agenda, Andrea?" in reference to her Catchphrase when dealing with/blocking news that displeased her.
  • When a lot of American coal miners found themselves jobless during the Barack Obama administration, many journalists on both the left and the right responded with articles saying they should learn to code. In early 2019, when a lot of these same journalists were laid off, the line "learn to code" was thrown back in their faces.
  • George Westinghouse wrote a letter to Cornelius Vanderbilt, president of a major railroad company, detailing his new invention (the train automatic air-brake) and asking for investment. Vanderbilt returned his letter replying only with the words: "I have no time to waste on fools". Once another railroad adopted the brake to great success, Vanderbilt sent an offer to buy a good number of the new brakes from Westinghouse, only to get the reply: "I have no time to waste on fools".
  • In 2019, Donald Trump mocked Greta Thunberg after she was named as Time Person of the Year. Fast forward to the 2020 Presidential election, wherein Greta trolls Trump by quoting his tweet nearly word for word in response to a call from Trump to stop the vote counting: "So ridiculous. Donald needs to work on his anger management problem, then go to a good old-fashioned movie with a friend! Chill, Donald, Chill!"
    • Moreover, after Trump actually lost to Joe Biden, his dissenters celebrated his loss by carrying signs that read, among other things, "YOU'RE FIRED!", Trump's Elimination Catchphrase from The Apprentice.
    • On the day of Joe Biden's inauguration, Greta did it again by turning another of Trump's statements against him, saying, "He seems like a very happy old man looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"


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