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Not Hyperbole

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"When someone says 'We've got people everywhere', you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!"


It is a staple of fiction, and indeed casual dialog in Real Life, to exaggerate when describing something. Everyone has heard it before: "I'm gonna hit you into next week!" "I'm the biggest baddest guy in town!" "He's the size of a house." We all know the people saying these things don't actually mean what they're saying. They're just using dramatic flair, that's all. It enhances the conversation or makes it funnier. So when the Mighty Glacier tells his opponent that he's about to be punched through a wall, he can't actually do what he just said.

Unless he then proceeds to do exactly what he just said.

That's where this trope comes in. Not Hyperbole is when exaggerations and hyperboles that we've all become used to in conversation is neither exaggeration nor hyperbole. The character means exactly what he just said and nothing less and usually proceeds to prove it.


Usually part of a Badass Boast. See also Literal Metaphor, and All of Them. Literal Ass-Kicking is a subtrope. "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer is a common variation. My God, You Are Serious may follow as well if another character realizes that this trope is in play.

Incidentally, it's pronounced "Hy-PER-bo-lee," not "Hyper-bowl".


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Old Spice Man's Brain: Goodbye.
Old Spice Man: OH NOOOOOOOO!!!

    Anime & Manga 
  • Fist of the North Star: If Kenshiro says that after he's through with you there will be not one hair left from you, he means it!
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Evangeline doesn't have to exaggerate her threats:
    Evangeline: Ahahahaha! This is getting interesting! I'll finish this with a single blow! Hold the scum in place for me! [Cue one-hit freeze.]
  • Mazinger:
    • Mazinger Z: In the first episode, The Professor Dr. Kabuto tells The Hero Kouji whoever pilots Mazinger-Z has the potential to become a god or a devil. As later retellings and versions of the history (especially Z-Mazinger or Shin Mazinger Zero) have proved, Dr. Kabuto was not exaggerating.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: Danbei Makiba constantly yells he will hang with his bare hands whoever gets close to his daughter. Nonetheless, Kouji did not take his threats seriously... until Danbei attempted lynching him. Repeatedly.
  • Space Runaway Ideon: The opening theme tells that Ideon can rip apart the galaxy. Obviously an exaggeration, right? You keep thinking that if you live in that universe. You will live happier for as long as you have left.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the Arc Words, "[Simon's] drill is the drill that will pierce the heavens". Obviously, this is a metaphor, right? But by the end of the series, it's not.
  • An unintentional variation occurs for a bit of drama in Season 1, Episode 14 of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and only in the English-language track. Commenting on a recluse supposedly asleep in his bed...
    Major: I'm amazed this racket didn't wake him. He sleeps like a dead man.
    [Pulls curtain; cue surprised look on her face; Togusa also looks.]
    Togusa: That's 'cause he is. Looks like he's been dead for about three or four months.
  • One Piece:
    • Basically anyone noteworthy enough to get namedropped has an epithet, which is usually a badass-sounding Red Baron title, like "Heavenly Demon" (Donquixote Doflamingo) and "Surgeon of Death" (Trafalgar Law), but often enough it's a blunt and quite literal description. "Straw Hat" Luffy wears one, "Pirate Hunter" Zoro turned in pirates for their bounties prior to becoming one himself, and all of the Four Emperors have non-exaggerated epithets: "Red-Haired" Shanks, Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate, and Marshall "Blackbeard" Teach all have the appropriate hair colours, "Big Mom" Charlotte Linlin is a giant of a woman and the mother of 85 children from 43 husbands (lampshaded by Brook), and "King of the Beasts" Kaido has an army of Zoan devil fruit users.
    • At one point, a samurai knocks over Sanji's soba cart, causing the chef to tell the man he's "gonna have to eat" the wasted soba. After beating the hell out of him, Sanji force-feeds the samurai all the spilled soba.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, when Kyubey tells Madoka she could become a god, we're meant to assume he's exaggerating to convince her to make a contract. Even he seems shocked when she actually does it, making a wish that hacks the system so she becomes less of a Magical Girl and more of a combination Jesus and psychopomp.

    Comic Books 
  • Though it does not actually happen in this case, Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire has the Prime Mover warn a local Intrepid Reporter that, if she should ever so much as think about revealing the secrets of the events that had transpired that day, her head would explode. This threat is, with good reason, taken entirely at face value.
    Hyraxx: You're joking, right? I can't control my thoughts.
    Prime Mover: I recommend a lobotomy.
  • The Flash: Weather Wizard states despite being a family man, he is not kidding about threatening to place a tornado into someone's belly, and actually carries it out.
    Weather Wizard: That was never an empty threat.
  • Lucky Luke has multiple rumors, in-universe, about him being faster on the draw than his own shadow. They're all true, and just in case you think you can get him to expend his six rounds by outnumbering him...
    Lucky Luke: I also reload faster than my own shadow.
  • X-Men: When Quentin Quire apparently dies, Charlies Xavier realizes that he is actually becoming an Energy Being. This is how he explains it:
    Professor X: Quentin Quire was liberated from his physical cocoon and born into a higher world at 4:32 this afternoon. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but in this case, we believe it to be the literal truth.
  • Preacher: When Jody says he's going to "pull yore Goddamn head off so ol' T.C. can shit down yore neck", it's going to lead to T.C. saying "I better do my part. Either've you got any Kleenex, or'm I gonna have to wipe with my hand?"
  • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: Prologue 1 is described as "Another exciting episode in the Earth-shaking adventures of Superman!" Next to "Earth-shaking", there's an asterisk that leads to the following message from Carmine and Stan: And if you think that's just hyperbole, then, fella — hang on!

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert:
    • Alice will often follow through on her implausible threats, for instance when she stuffed Asok into his own shirt sleeve and punted him into the ceiling.
    • She's also promised to "punch someone into next week" (or next <insert day of the week here>), only for the last panel to show them emerging from a time portal. Several times.
    • She's also kicked an Elbonian into his own hat.
    • In another she threatened to punch a man so hard he'd have to drop his pants to say hello. The last panel shows a pair of arms sticking out of the top of a pair of pants, and Dilbert and Wally wondering what that odd "Melp, melp!" sound is.
    • On another occasion she threatens to punch someone with an MBA so hard that everyone else with the same degree feels it. Cut to Dilbert and Wally talking to a third guy who suddenly doubles over in pain.
  • Garfield once kicked Odie into next week. True enough, Odie didn't appear until the following Monday, when he fell on Garfield.
  • U.S. Acres:
    • Because of his allergy to flowers, Roy doesn't like it when Booker brings any to the chicken coop. One time, he said "Don't bring those flowers in here! You want me to sneeze my feathers off?!" Enraged, Booker picks a giant flower and brings it to Roy in retaliation. The sneeze is so strong that both Roy and Booker lose their feathers.
    • In one strip, Lanolin threatens to slap Roy's beak to the moon. She literally does that later.
  • In one Hägar the Horrible strip, Hagar is in bed, above him a log being sawn in half indicating he is sound asleep. Then in the next panels, the saw turns into an axe, then a lumberjack with an axe, then a two-man saw, then finally, a sawmill rotary blade, as he uncomfortably turns and then thrashes in his sleep. Finally, he wakes up, falling out of bed:
    Helga: How did you sleep?
    Hagar: Like a log.

    Fan Works 
  • In Walking in the Shadows, when D'hoffryn refers to Xander as a "Paladin of snack foods", he's dead serious as demonstrated when Xander magically heals people emotionally with hugs.
  • After getting fed up with SG-1's insistence they sign NDAs before being told anything about what's going on in Not in Kansas, Kara threatens to drop kick O'Neill into the Atlantic Ocean if he doesn't start talking. When he still tries to get her to wait until everyone has signed a NDA, Kara asks if he'd prefer landing in the North or South Atlantic.
  • From near the beginning of Tsum Tsum meets My Little Pony:
    Sweetie Belle: Well she better hurry! I'm about to climb the walls!
    Scootaloo: Oh, Sweetie Belle... [laughs]
    Sweetie Belle: You think I'm jokin', huh? [proceeds to climb wall]
    Scootaloo: I'm surprised you don't get a cutie mark for that.
  • In He Who Fights Monsters, Tsukune is deadly serious when he says his girlfriend will kill anyone who tries to steal him away from her.
  • In Stand-Ins and Stunt Doubles, Tara tries to enter Xander's mind to help clear up leftovers from his various possessions but warns him that it requires complete trust between them and it's likely to take weeks for her to even approach the border between their minds. When Xander insists he trust her fully, Tara waves it off because it's easy to say such but hard to mean it. Then she finds herself smack dab in the center of his mind, causing her to realize Xander really does trust her completely.
  • In the comedic-yet insane MLP fanfic MLP: FML, Applejack threatened to "kick yer (Fluttershy's) little yellow ass eight months into next winter," if she didn't take care of her apples. She makes good on her promise right after she finds out that Fluttershy fed them to the Parasprites and kicks her straight into the "Winter Wrap Up" episode.
  • In Code Geass: A Different Code V.V. claims that C.C. loves pizza so much you could set a box on top of a landmine, paint "land mine" on said box, and she'd still let herself get blown up to have some. Lelouch insists such a claim is ridiculous only for V.V. to respond that he actually did it once.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Kami wasn't kidding when he said Mr. Popo dropped a gallon of LSD:
      Piccolo: A gallon?!
      Kami: A literal gallon. Out of a milk jug. I don't even know where he got it from; he never leaves this place.
    • When King Kai is threatened by the Ginyu-less Ginyu Force, he just gets annoyed and tells them that they can all go straight to hell. Then Recoome has the gall to ask him "Who's gonna make Recoome?" and getting in his face. Cut immediately to the entire force crash-landing in actual Hell.
  • This Bites!:
    • Cross wonders if Hamburg is even human, Itomimizu tells him that's the multi-million beri question, then explains that's how large the ship's betting pool on the topic is.
    • When Cross threatens to turn Luffy into Greninja (that is, wrap Luffy's tongue around his neck like a scarf), he's dead serious.
  • Few people who hear Ahsoka Tano (and later Aayla Secura) say she can't tell them Harry's secrets in I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For realize she means that she's incapable of it. Due to a Magical Oath, if she intentionally tells someone (and she physically can't do so accidentally or be forced to), she'll be stripped of her ability to use the Force/magic.
  • The narration in My Little Pony: Versus Equestria refers to Trixie and Rabbit as being "thick as thieves". This gets repeated after it's revealed they actually are thieves.
  • In I'm HALPING, Zachary literally punches Assault into the next state. (His kinetic energy manipulation means that he's not actually hurt). Lampshaded by Clockblocker.
  • In Robb Returns, when Robert warned the Septon of Storm's End to not to attempt to damage the Weirwood sapling under pain of having his nose smeared all over his face, he was not joking.
  • When Xander says he's attracted to breasts in Crush, he's not saying that he finds them arousing (though he does); he's saying he's magnetically attracted to breasts. When Powergirl enters the room, Xander goes flying face-first into her cleavage. Powergirl flies upwards a few feet, only for Xander to remain stuck.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, Spectrem finds out that yes, Paul is genuinely invulnerable, as advertised:
    Spectrem paused again, now rather astonished as well as angry. “How tough are you?”
    Paul almost wanted to laugh, except he was too pissed off. “I'm invulnerable, or hadn't your spies told you that?”
    “Well, yeah, I know you're tough, or I wouldn't've attacked you, but even Andro would've been affected by all that, and he's three times stronger than you!”
    “Well, I haven't any idea why that's so,” Paul snapped, though he was quite pleased to find out he was tougher than the Guardians' leader. “I'm sure you know much better than me about such things.”
  • A Professor and a Student has Kukui assumes that mention of Ash's Pokemon using moves on him as a friendly greeting/training method is showing them at a safe distance or at very low power. He is flabbergasted when Lillie observes that this is not the case during his training of Rockruff.
  • In episode 8 of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, when Anderson forgives Alucard, the latter calls bullshit by saying only God has that right, to which Anderson agrees and offers to let Alucard "speak to Him". Alucard assumed this was just a Badass Boast by way of Implied Death Threat. However, sometime later, when Anderson's holy vines ensnare and immolate Alucard...
    God: Vlad Tepes of Wallachia... Son of the Dragon... the Impaler...
    Alucard: Oh, fuck me, he wasn't kidding! *ahem* Hello, God!
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: From Writing Home:
    She had thought that the references to Boris' homeland being an outpost of hell now had been hyperbole. She was surrounded on all sides by sulphurous wastelands and blackened rock formations, broken up only by patches and rivulets of lava that gaped like open, bloody wounds in the landscape.
  • Child of the Storm: Early on in the sequel Ghosts of the Past, Wanda swears to find Sinister and make him pay for the abusive childhood he ensured Harry received by reducing him to screaming molecules, with the narration noting that she's being entirely literal in her statement. A few chapters later she keeps that promise, confronting and effectively melting him.
  • Conversations with a Cryptid: In the sequel Kidnapping of a Cryptid All for One promises if Bakugou ever calls Izuku useless again or threatens him, he will either rip his fingers off or make something karmic happen to him. When Bakugou does so out of spite, All for One has Bakugou hit with Laser-Guided Karma for his bullying of Izuku by making Bakugou quirkless.
  • Tales of the Monkey Queen: Freeza claims at one point you could fill a planet with the number of children he's killed. Later he's shown working out the math and deducing that, assuming an average population and one moon each, you could populate five planets and their moons with the number of children he's killed.
  • A Man of Iron: Jane Seaworth is surprised that when Thor declared he would feast for seven days, he was not kidding and promptly does so, even going off to get more food when Dragonstone runs low on supplies.
  • Balance reveals that Hela's claim about being the Goddess of Death wasn't just idle boasting. While still in the womb, she'd been empowered by the Soul Stone, granting her Complete Immortality and power over death.
  • In A Letter from Screwtape to Mr. Holland Manners, Screwtape advises Holland Manners on his dealing with Angel during the first season of the show, and also congratulates him on how he snared Lindsey McDonald into joining Wolfram and Hart willingly, while at the same time warning him not to make the same mistake that Mayor Wilkins made with Faith back in Sunnydale by loving Lindsey as a son.
    "Perhaps in this, I am worrying without cause. After all, you were willing to sacrifice your beloved first wife on the altar of ambition. Fancy, too, that in some circles, that would have been a figure of speech."
  • An accidental variant occurs in On a Pale Horse. When the Order of the Phoenix decides to summon a hero from another world to defeat Voldemort, at one point during the ritual the entire room jerks, with Harry comparing it to a god yanking on reality. What he didn't know is that they were (accidentally) summoning Death and that's precisely what he was doing.
  • In Infinity Crisis:
    • Nebula mentions she and Gamora "tried to kill each other" and Black Siren assumes she means the usual sisterly arguments or minor fights. A glare from Nebula makes Siren realize she meant they literally tried to kill each other.
    • Constantine openly notes that when the Phantom Stranger talks of "the end of all that is," he's not just being dramatic.
  • In A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script, the Steward states three words is all the Captain needs to prove he is crazy. His colleague argues the Steward is exaggerating things since three words can't possibly be enough to give your nuttiness away. The Steward retorts with what the Captain said when they were saved from death's door by the arrival of reinforcements during a military operation: "Happy New Year".
  • In Supernova, Luffy tells Arlong that he's going to feed the fishman his own nose for what he did to Nami. At the end of their fight, Luffy breaks off Arlong's nose and shoves it into his mouth.
  • In The Writing on the Wall, Daring Do and her crew assume the titular writing is just a curse promising a painful death on grave robbers and proceed to excavate the tomb anyway. It's only after ponies start dying and the writing is properly translated that they realize the writing isn't a curse, but a warning of the contents within, complete with an accurate if simplified description of radiation poisoning.
  • SAPR: Nora frequently tells wild stories about her and Ren’s misadventures pre-Beacon, with the latter often interrupting to correct her exaggerations. After one particularly outlandish story involving working for a broke circus and being compensated with exhibit animals, Ren admits that one was completely accurate.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 12 of the sequel Diplomat at Large, Aria says the sirens once threw Squirk out of their territory, and they meant it literally - they levitated him out of the ocean and threw him over the horizon.
  • In Chapter 65 of Son of the Sannin, Tsunade wanted to force Jiraiya to dance with her until their feet bleed, then she'll heal them and they'll keep up until they bleed again. Jiraiya recalls she did the same in Shizune's wedding and the part about bleeding was quite literal.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: Genie tries to convince Aladdin to use his third wish to become a prince again so he can marry Jasmine rather than wish for his own freedom:
    Genie: Al, you're not going to find another girl like her in a million years. Believe me, I know. I've looked.
  • The Rescuers Down Under: After being sedated by a bush doctor mouse, Wilbur wakes up and moans "I feel like I got my head in a vice..." Then it zooms out to show Wilbur's head has been restrained by an actual vice.
  • In Wakko's Wish, Pinky and the Brain fly to the Wishing Star on one of Those Magnificent Flying Machines that works by Pinky pedal-power. As they fly, Brain encourages his partner with, "Pedal, Pinky! Pedal as if our very lives depended on it!" He looks down from the height they're at. "...Which may well be the case."
  • In Wolfwalkers, after Robyn turns into a Wolfwalker due to Mebh accidentally biting her, Mebh worriedly says her mother's going to kill her. Robyn, whose father is a wolf hunter, replies that her father will kill her. Robyn's father does indeed try to shoot her several times both before and after this scene, not recognizing her in wolf form.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used and lampshaded by M in Quantum of Solace, for the sheer Refuge in Audacity: Bond drags in a bad guy at the beginning of the movie who is resistant to interrogation. When the bad guy smugly informs Bond that, "Well, one thing you should know is that we have people everywhere." one of M's personal bodyguards pulls out his weapon and tries to assassinate her.
    M: When someone says "We've got people everywhere," you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!
  • The Chronicles of Riddick:
    • In The Chronicles of Riddick, when a couple of guards harass Riddick's friend Kyra, Riddick calmly informs one that he can kill him with a teacup. Then he does. Next, he holds up a key to a sardine tin and puts it down meaningfully in the same place where the teacup was — and the other two get the hell out of there.
    • It continues into the next installment, Riddick, where Riddick threatens the total asshole villain Santana that he is going to kill him with his own, shiny blade. Santana tells him "I would like to see that" while Riddick is tied up. Needless to say, Riddick quickly ends him.
  • From the John Ritter film Hero at Large, Steve is talking to his agent Marty about Marty not getting him any stage work (instead of all the commercials he's doing).
    Steve: Marty, how much can you do with, "That's what I call beer"? Marty, get me a play, any play.
    Marty: It's not like you never had one. Last summer, Shakespeare in the Park.
    Steve: I carried a spear. Marty, that's a joke. When an actor says he carried a spear, he doesn't mean he carried a spear. I. Carried. A spear.
  • Hancock goes to prison and tells some prisoners to leave him alone or "your head is going up his ass". They don't leave him alone. The first one's head goes up the second one's ass. It is humiliating.
  • The Watch (2012): Bob threatens to rip his daughter's boyfriend's dick out with his bare hands. During the climax of the film, he does just that. The boyfriend is an alien, and that's where his brain was.
  • In the Richard Pryor comedy Moving, the protagonist buys a new home when his job forces him to move and the people who own it keep saying throughout the scene, with lots of laughs, that they will take it all with them when they go (the pool, the tiles on the walls, the lights, the doors, the windows, etc). To Pryor's character's horror, when he and his family arrive to the house later in the film, everything has been dismantled and taken away. When he calls the owner in a rage, saying that with all of the sarcasm being flung around he expected the owner to be kidding, the owner answers that he has a record of the conversation and he can legally prove that he said that he was going to do it, the only moment in which he explicitly said that he was kidding was when he mentioned that he was going to take the door hinges.
  • The Nutty Professor:
    • Dean Richmond provides a memorable example in the Eddie Murphy remake:
      Dean Richmond: You won't. I know you won't. As a matter of fact, I know you're going to be perfect! Do you know how I know all these things? I know them because if you're not perfect, never mind the yelling, the screaming, and the firing. If anything goes wrong, for any reason... I'm going to kill you. And I don't mean that as a euphemism, I am going to literally kill you. I'm going to strangle you and choke off your air supply until you pass away.
    • Buddy threatens him with an Ironic Echo near the end of the movie.
  • Kick-Ass 2: Mindy states at one point that she can kill a man with his own finger. As Black Death finds out the hard way during the final fight, she's not kidding. So when she says she is going to feed a guy his own dick, that is also true.
  • In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Grandpa Potts at first assumes that the Baron's threat to "stuff [his] head with cauliflower and feed it to the ducks" if he can't reinvent his son's car is either a joke or an exaggeration. However, the other scientists in the lab assure him that the Baron's threats are never jokes, giving some unpleasant descriptions of what he's done to them. (A very tall scientist there claims he was a midget before they started using a stretch rack on him.)
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In The Wolverine, when Logan tells Noburo he has ten words to explain what's going on, he means ten words, actually counting them.
    • Deadpool 2: When Juggernaut says he's going to tear someone in half, it's not just a figure of speech, as Deadpool painfully finds out.
      Juggernaut: I'm gonna rip you in half now.
      Deadpool: That is such a Juggernaut thing to say!
  • Knives Out: Blanc and the other investigators assume Marta is being hyperbolic when she says she Cannot Tell a Lie because being dishonest makes her vomit. Then she tells a lie, and immediately has to go hurl into a flowerpot. Blanc is very apologetic, saying he didn't realize she really meant it.
  • Back to the Future:
    • At the end of Part I and beginning of Part II, when Marty is reunited with Jennifer after being in 1955, she says "Marty, you're acting like you haven't seen me in a week", to which he says "I haven't". For Jennifer, it'd been less than 24 hours since they were together, but for Marty, he really did go a week without seeing her, arriving on November 5, 1955 at 5:00 AM and leaving on November 12, 1955 at 10:04 PM.
    • In Part II, when Doc and Marty go back to 1955, Marty says "It's like I was just here yesterday.", to which Doc says that he was there yesterday. From the time Marty left 1955 at the climax of Part I (arriving on October 26, 1985, 1:24AM), to the time he returns with Doc to 1955 in the middle of Part II (leaving 1985-A at around October 27, 1985, 2:00AM), is a real-time passage of about 24 hours. Of course, another Marty had been there yesterday, and about five more days before that.
  • In Austin Powers, at one point Austin pulls out his driver's license and shows it to Vanessa to make clear that his middle name, literally, is "Danger".
  • In True Lies, Harry Tasker explains how he will escape being tied up and kill his captors while on truth serum. They really shouldn't have been surprised at what happened.

  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Dead Beat, a Black Court vampire, Mavra, once got away with successfully blackmailing Harry's friend Murphy, by having evidence that would destroy her. After nearly killing himself to ensure Murphy's protection, Harry tells Mavra in no uncertain terms that this will never happen again, and that if anything happens to Murphy, he's declaring war on her, personally, and that he use every shred of power at his disposal to end Mavra. Dead Beat is the seventh book in the series, and as of book 15 she still hasn't reappeared.
    • Fast forward to Changes, and another vamp has kidnapped Harry's daughter. He picks the least bad of his options, becoming the winter knight, calls in all the cavalry at his disposal, and is more than willing to sell his soul and worse to get even more weapons. Then he proceeds to exterminate the entire Red Court of vampires. All of them. For the record, if he had to use worse options like the Darkhallow or the Denarius, he would have, he just happened to have a less evil option. Which is not to say he didn't pay a hell of a price for it.
    • Also in Changes, Harry tells someone "I have literally killed people I like more than you." He's not joking.
    • Mouse's bark has been described as loud enough it can be heard from a mile away. Later, in an odd turn of events, Mouse shows that he was holding back, and if anything, the entire cast underestimated him.
    • When Lara Raith starts getting a little too physical with Harry, Ebenezer McCoy threatens to wipe her off the earth and leave her family with nothing but a pair of five-hundred-dollar shoes to bury. Lara is a vampire. She is armed, surrounded by bodyguards and ready for a fight. She and everyone around her know that if the old hillbilly wanted to turn her into a charred, greasy smear, he could and he would and there is literally nothing she could do to stop him. Of course, he did just that in a previous book to an equivalently high-ranking Red Court vampire. (Except Ortega's shoes probably didn't survive in good enough condition to be buried.)
    • In Skin Game Harry muses that Mab will crucify him if he fails to follow through on helping Nicodemus steal the Holy Grail. He is not joking. In fact, if he doesn't follow through, he would be lucky to get off with just crucifixion. Harry's seen what Mab did to the last Winter Knight who displeased her.
  • From Earth (The Book):
    Q: How many insects are there currently on Earth?
    A: 500 quintillion.
    Q: How rough an estimate is that?
    A: That is the exact number.
  • The Wheel of Time has a woman break down in hysterics when she discovers the body of a man who's been murdered by the gholam: "However many times she had heard of a person torn limb from limb, she had never seen the results before."
  • In Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown, Luthe tells Aerin, "I will love you until the stars crumble, which is a much less idle threat than is usual for lovers on parting." He is indeed not kidding: he's immortal.
  • In Words of Radiance, the second book of The Stormlight Archive, part of the reason Adolin is willing to enter an Arranged Marriage is that he has had horrible luck with women; his aunt even claims he has offended every eligible woman in the war camps. Throughout the book, every single time he runs into an eligible woman, she is personally annoyed at him. Every one. Up to and including the stablemaster, who nonchalantly gives a riding lesson while throwing rocks at him, despite the fact that Adolin doesn't even remember what he did to offend her.
  • Discworld:
    • In Hogfather, mention is made of Biers, a bar where the undead drank. "When Igor the barman was asked for a Bloody Mary, he didn't mix a metaphor."
    • In Mort, Death's Apprentice Mort manages to piss off Death so he strikes him across the face. A later book presented Death's grand-daughter Susan, daughter to Mort and Death's adopted daughter Ysabell. Susan has three parallel skeletal-looking birth-marks on her left cheek — Death really did punch Mort so hard that his future children felt it.
  • The Age of Fire's Red Queen once told AuRon that she couldn't be bothered to die. Thanks to her Cloning Gambit and Body Surfing abilities, this turns out to be true, even decades after her apparent death.
  • The Belgariad: When Garion says that Master Poisoner Sadi "could poison one man at a banquet of a thousand people", he thinks he's exaggerating. Later, Sadi actually does just that by poisoning the target's spoon.
  • In the Ender's Shadow series, the Russian military abducts a group of young military geniuses to serve as their military planners in the coming war. Realizing that a group of highly trained, super-intelligent tacticians is going to be hard to control, they put very aggressive security measures in place. While listing these measures, one character mentions "They weigh our bodily wastes. I'm not kidding."
  • Heretical Edge gives us this completely literal Badass Boast from Bastet: “Perhaps I have not made myself clear. The only chance you have of harming these children is if any happen to be allergic to your blood or the dust of your bones as it fills this room.” She then proceeds to wipe out a dozen experienced Heretics without a single attack going uncountered.
  • Raymond Queneau's 1961 book 100 Billion Poems featured 10 sonnets (14-verse poems) whose verses could be perfectly combined with one another's, resulting in a number of possible combinations of poems approximately equal to the one read in the title.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: The eternally childlike Physical God Sieh extracts a promise from someone with a playful "Cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye?", per the children's rhyme. When they break their word, he shows up with some very large needles. He gets talked down before following through on the threat, but only just.
  • In the historical fiction Sarum, the local priests tell Nooma, a stonemason, that they want him to build a giant temple out of 30-ton stones. Nooma tells them that their dream is impossible, and would require hundreds of labourers, anyway. They go, 'Okay, where do you want them?' (This was an era when people generally did not tell priests 'no'.)
  • In Pale, a spirit of war named John Stiles informs the main characters that if they call for his aid, he will be right behind them. As in, he will literally appear no more than 5 steps behind them and armed. Seeing as how magical users in the setting can't lie without losing their powers, as all magic is basically a contract with the spirits that make up the universe, he means it.
  • A minor case in Snow Crash, where in the opening chapter a sticker gets attached to Hiro's car, and he laments in the narration that getting it removed will cost him trillions of dollars. Later on in the book, we learn about the Ridiculous Future Inflation.
  • In the Night Huntress series, Bones has this as a character trait. He makes the usual threats such as "I ought to rip off your stones and feed them to you," but he is known to follow through on them quite literally. This is his way of making sure people take his threats seriously.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Micallef Program, Shaun introduces a guest with "My next guest needs no introduction" and then stares silently into the camera for a beat before the guest walks onstage.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "All Hell Breaks Loose Part Two", The Yellow-Eyed Demon tells Jake that if he does not obey him, Jake's mother and sister will be forced to eat their own intestines.
      "No Jake, I'm not bluffing".
    • There are some people who will claim that they're older than God. Death might actually be telling the truth. (Probably not though, as God and his sister claim that they're the first things there ever were, and the latter doesn't know who/what death is.)
    • Similarly, in "Dark Side of the Moon", Dean tells the men who are about to kill him that he'll come back and be pissed. Sure enough... Of course, Dean had already pulled that trick once before, and he knew that the angels wouldn't let them stay dead for long. Interestingly, when said men finally reappear seven years later, Dean dismissively says "We're good." Apparently he's forgiven them for killing him (and Sam) and they have more important issues now.
  • In Arrested Development Lucille is one of the world's worst drivers. Her clip from World's Worst Drivers showed her responding to a space she might have had to parallel park into by driving in vertically, leaving her car covering half the road.
  • In one episode of Parks and Recreation, Ron goes into a diner and asks the waiter to give him "all the bacon and eggs you have." When the waiter starts to leave, Ron stops him and adds:
    Ron: I'm worried that what you heard was, "give me a lot of bacon and eggs." What I said was, "give me all the bacon and eggs you have."
  • Babylon 5:
    • Londo claims about G'Kar. "I will kill him one day." Without prompting, he explains it isn't a threat, it isn't him being annoyed. Centauri have prophetic dreams. He knows that they will die strangling each other. Years later, they do. Although it doesn't go the way we originally thought it would: G'Kar mercy-kills Londo at his own request to free himself from a Puppeteer Parasite, and the parasite gains control just long enough to strangle G'kar to death in kind.
    • Marcus makes a Badass Boast when trying to get some thugs to talk, and then follows through on it when the thugs remained silent:
      Marcus: Because if you don't, then in five minutes I'll be the only person at this table still standing. Five minutes after that, I'll be the only person in this room still standing. So, who's in?
      [ten minutes and a room full of senseless, drooling thugs later]
      Marcus: Bugger! Now I have to wait for someone to wake up!
    • The words, "I'll never leave you, Delenn, not if the whole universe stood between us," read as textbook Romantic Hyperbole, right? Yeah, not when you're John Sheridan. The universe does, and he doesn't.
  • Subverted in Sherlock: The first episode has John Watson being kidnapped and confronted by an upper-class gentleman who claims to be "the closest thing to a friend that Sherlock is capable of having: An enemy. He would probably call me his Arch-Enemy." This is, however, just a ruse by Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother. However, another dialogue might suggest more than that:
    John: So, when you say you're concerned about him... you really are concerned?
    Mycroft: Yes, of course.
    John: And when you said it's a childish feud... it really is a childish feud?
  • It happens several times in Supergirl (2015):
    • In "Livewire", Kara's opinion of chocolate pecan pie:
      Kara: Chocolate pecan pie is the best dessert in the galaxy. And as someone who's been to twelve different planets, I mean that literally.
    • In "Luthors", Kara describes Metallo, an android whose heart has been replaced with a machine:
      Kara: He literally has no heart.
    • In a crossover episode with The Flash (2014), Kara and her boyfriend make up, but she promises she'll drop a mountain on his head if he ever lies to her again:
      Mon-El: Figuratively?
      Kara: Geologically.
  • Everybody Hates Chris:
    • Chris imagines his mother slapping him into next week by showing the family at dinner with him missing. When asked where he is, his mother answers she "slapped him into next week. He'll be back on Tuesday"
    • Another episode shows Chris in a hospital after his mother literally put her foot in his ass (and left her shoe behind) after threatening to do so earlier.
    • Chris mentions that if he ever lied to his mother, she'd slap him into another nationality. One imagine has her slapping Chris for bringing a Playboy to school, turning him Asian.
      • Similarly, Chris finds Drew making out with a girl he likes and imagines himself literally slapping the black off of his brother, with paramedics carrying Drew away in a gurney with multiple patches of black missing.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
  • On an episode of Taxi, Bobby's new agent is getting him great roles, in exchange for sexual favors. Leading to this dialogue:
    Tony: Bobby, you're sleeping with your agent??
    Bobby: C'mon! Don't tell the whole garage!
    [Louie picks up the microphone for the intercom and speaks through it]
    Louie: Wheeler's sleeping with his agent.
  • Frasier:
    • In one episode, the title character's devious agent brags about her relationship with the station's negotiator.
    Bebe: Oh, we go way back, the Hammer and I. I know where the bodies are buried. (beat) Usually, that's just a metaphor.
    • The episode where Roz learns she is pregnant ends with her freaking out over being a single mom, and Frasier starts a long passionate speech about her strength and how he will always be there for her, ending with:
    Frasier: ...and you will look down on little Bobby, or little Alice, or dare I hope little Frasier?
    Roz: Oh God, I’m gonna hurl.
    Frasier: [chuckles] well alright, you name your child whatever you want...
    Roz: No, I mean I’m gonna hurl! [sprints to the bathroom]
    Frasier: Oh! Um, I’m out here if you need me.
  • Used tragically in the Grand Finale of Dinosaurs. When Fran tells Earl that his plan to destroy an annoying infestation of flowers killed every plant on Earth, Earl dismissed it saying that a global-scale operation is bound to have casualties, but nothing that exaggerated. Until he looked outside.
  • On Some Girls, the girls watch Amber compete in a football trial when Viva spots one of Saz's crushes cuddling up to a girl.
    Viva: Saz, don't look now, but Omar's there and he's snuggled up to Emma O'Brien.
    Saz: Why is Omar snuggled up to Emma O'Brien?
    Holli: Because he's dunking his Twix in her latte.
    Saz: Oh God, why do you have to be so dirty, Holli?
    Viva: She's not. He really is dunking his Twix in her latte.
  • In Community, Abed refuses to go to a restaurant because the manager hates Die Hard. The assumption is that Abed is overreacting by not wanting to associate with someone for not liking a movie, but it turns out the manager rants constantly to everyone he serves about how much he hates it.
  • In The Munsters, a recurring joke is that when one claims they're so mad, they could go through the ceiling, they really do leap through the ceiling.
  • In one episode of Spin City, Carter gets aggravated that he can't get reservations at a fancy restaurant, claiming that in rejecting him, the restaurant owners are saying "You're not good enough for us" and "Screw you!". Caitlin believes he's just taking the rejection too personally, but Carter reveals those insults are actually on his voicemail.
  • Horrible Histories' Hitler Youth sketch:
    Adolf Hitler: Everyone is signing up. Don't miss out. You must join today. No, really, you MUST JOIN! It's compulsory.
  • Red Dwarf: After some unwanted advances from Lister (who mistakenly thinks she was coming on to him a moment ago), Kochanski belts him in the face and declares she wouldn't sleep with him if he was the last man alive. A confused Lister points out he is the last man alive. Kochanski rests her case.
  • The West Wing: During the final season, there is this quote about Republican Presidental Candidate Arnold Vinick:
    Leo: Ever see Arnie Vinick campaign, up close? He'll go into those high school gymnasiums in Iowa and New Hampshire and blow them all away. Shake every hand in the joint, kiss every baby, hug every widow on social security, and sound smarter and more honest than any Republican they've ever seen — because he is.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, in the episode "Different Drum":
    Squatt: Gee, I'm so hungry I could eat a bug. Hey, not a bad idea! (reaches into a bag and pulls out a gift box with a nightcrawler in it) I was saving this for a special occasion, but too bad. (eats it)
  • The Wire:
    • In Season 3, all the police majors are rounded up in a meeting and dressed down by their superiors for letting the crime rates spike. On their way out of the meeting, the majors all exasperatedly discuss mundane ways of getting their stats down, while Bunny Colvin, in a moment that sounds like a joke but is actually foreshadowing, says:
      "Me? I thought I might legalize drugs."
    • When Daniels rebuilds the Major Crimes Unit in Season 4 with Lester bringing up the rear, Daniels jokingly (?) tells Lester "you can pick your own boss, for all I care." Lester ends up doing exactly that, installing Asher as head of the unit, because Asher is a do-nothing who is solely focused on planning his imminent retirement and demonstrably will let the MCU investigate whatever and whoever it needs to, however it wants to, a much-needed return to smart police work after the Marrimow debacle.
  • Happens in one episode of NUMB3RS, when Alan wanders in while Charlie and Amita are working on the case of the week.
    Alan: Am I interrupting anything?
    Charlie: Just attempting to rescue a busload of tourists being held at gunpoint by four men demanding 18 million dollars. That's all.
    Amita: Unfortunately, he's not joking.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Mark Henry's nickname, the World's Strongest Man, wasn't hyperbole initially. He was actually a World's Strongest Man winner.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 

  • At the end of Act One of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka sings to the Golden Ticket winners (as part of his Welcoming Song / "I Am Great!" Song "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen") "Your life's about to change now/So don't get left behind". In Act Two, as he leads them through the factory, this promise proves to be absolutely true for all the members of the tour group, as his world brings either catastrophe or happiness upon its visitors depending on their inherent natures.

  • BIONICLE: At one point in the novel Time Trap, Teridax tells Vakama that "There are a thousand ways I could kill you right now. And 941 of them hurt."

    Video Games 
  • Dark Souls III: On the first glance, Aldrich's title "Devourer of Gods" is just a Large Ham Title, right? Turns out he literally devoured a god, and specifically, none other than Dark Sun Gwyndolin himself.
  • Duke Nukem 3D:
    • The second boss fight has Duke threaten to "tear off [his] head and shit down [his] neck." Successfully beating the boss leads to a cutscene where he actually does it.
    • He does it again with the third boss. At the end of chapter 2, he says to the monster that sends a message to him "The last thing going through your mind will be my size 12 boot." So at the end of chapter 3, he proceeds to punt the Cyclopean Emperor's eye as an American football through the goalposts.
  • Duke Nukem Forever also keeps with Duke's bragging here and here, especially for the final boss. He makes a very crude boast, and you basically have to carry out the boast in order to beat him.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush claims he can hold his breath for 10 minutes. When he finds himself trapped underwater, if the player waits exactly 10 minutes, he will drown.
  • Planetary Annihilation clearly is just a continuation of Total Annihilation, showing that it's more about planets now, right? Wrong. Players can have great fun completely annihilating celestial bodies.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
    • A literal incarnation of fear claims that he is your worst nightmare.
    • In a more humorous example, Varric threatens to hand the person ripping off his books to his editor. No, he's not referring to his crossbow, his actual editor. Who runs half the Coterie (the biggest organized crime group in his home city) and once killed a man over a semicolon. He never publishes a book without her.
  • God of War III: Just before he's brutally beaten to death by Kratos, Poseidon warns the Spartan; "The death of Olympus means the death of us all!" He's not kidding, either, since when his dead body falls into the ocean, it triggers a cataclysmic tidal wave that floods most of Greece (and it's implied the rest of the planet). It's all downhill from there with each Olympian's death.
  • In Off, the first boss Dedan boasts: "I'm the guardian of zone 1! It ain't nothing without me!" If you try to enter the zone after beating him, you'll find yourself in an empty landscape, devoid of color and (mostly) devoid of life. Enoch later confirms that the death of a Guardian causes his Zone and all its inhabitants to fade away.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Heavy loves calling his enemies "babies". In a spin-off comic, he calls a group of large bears this, just before their massive mother appears.
    Heavy: These bears were babies.
    Scout: Yeah yeah, everything's a baby to you.
    Mama Bear: RROARRR
    Heavy: No, these bears were babies. Her babies.
  • Transistor: When the Spine keeps trying to crush Red with its tail, the Transistor is going a bit loopy and losing touch, and Red (whose voice has been stolen) finds a computer terminal and uses it to communicate by text, reassuring her Empathic Weapon that they'll get through this, and promising to defeat the Spine and break its heart. One of the awesome moments is just after the ensuing boss battle when Red literally trudges into the monster's body and slices its heart in half.
  • Meta-ish example in Mount & Blade: Whenever someone says something in this game costs "A king's ransom" or more, it'd do well to take it at face value, as you can capture kings and ransom them, and the money you get will fall quite short of some of the most expensive gear in the game.
  • In Alan Wake's American Nightmare, psychopathic Serial Killer Mr. Scratch adopts Poets of the Fall's "The Happy Song," as his Villain Song. The lyrical Evil Gloating makes a point of Implying that the listener ought to have taken the singer's admissions about his mental state more seriously.
    You knew I'm a psycho
    Yeah, I told you I'm a psycho
    Why, why, why, why?!
    Cause really, I'm a psycho
    I told you I'm a psycho, psycho PSYCHO!
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Team Galactic make vague threats in their appearances throughout the game not to interfere with their plans 'to create a new world'. It turns out that they aren't exaggerating. Their plan is to use the power of the Legendary Pokémon of either time or space to actually destroy the world and create a new one the way they want it.
  • Sonic Adventure introduced three items/moves with "light speed" in their names: Light Speed Shoes, Light Speed Dash and Light Speed Attack. The first thing Tikal mentions when describing the Light Speed Dash to Sonic is indeed that it "lets [him] race toward rings at light speed". Even when their names were changed in Sonic Adventure 2 to remove the "speed" part, the description stayed the same.
  • From the Age of Empires II community: In his overview of the Persian civilisation, a well-known Youtuber called Spirit Of The Law said that the Elite War Elephant is like a walking building. Complete with images showing that said Elephant's health and armour stats compare favourably to those of a house. Except this is a house that does trample damage.
  • The first thing V says to Dante in Devil May Cry 5 is "I have no name, I am but two days old." He isn't kidding, Vergil split himself into V and Urizen just two days prior to this.
  • One intro in Mortal Kombat 11 has Shang Tsung almost laughing at Johnny Cage's claim that he took down Shinnok. Anyone who played Mortal Kombat X knows Johnny isn't making this up.
    Johnny: Once upon a time, I beat Shinnok.
    Shang Tsung: My, what a colorful imagination.
    Johnny: Look it up! I laid him out!
  • Undertale: If you continue to spare Flowey during the Neutral Ending, he warns you that if you let him live, he'll kill you and everyone you love. It's hard to decide which is worse; the face he makes when he says that, or the fact that he isn't bluffing.

    Web Animation 
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, Stelar Sapphire Carol Ferris was born flying. Literally.
    Carol: Take it from me, there's nothing to fear. And I should know because I was born flying. Literally. I was born in a private jet flying over the Atlantic because my parents were needed in London for a Ferris Air board meeting that could not wait. And neither could I.
  • Red vs. Blue: In an early season, Church recounts a time when Tex pulled out an enemy's skull and then beat him to death with it. Naturally, upon hearing this, Tucker declares, "What? That doesn't seem physically possible!" to which Church replies: "That's exactly what Jimmy kept screaming." Sure enough... Earlier in the same scene, Church mentions one of the soldiers running around screaming bloody murder. The flashback shows a guy basically spinning on the spot and literally yelling "Bloody murder! Bloody murder!"
    • The first example is eventually subverted in Season 14. While Jimmy's Famous Last Words were indeed "This doesn't seem physically possible!", it's because he had the Alpha A.I. — later known as Church — forcefully implanted in him. His body didn't actually die until Caboose killed it with the tank, though Jimmy himself was long gone, with a few fleeting memories merging with those of Alpha-Church's being all that was left of him. The one who caused this was not Tex, but rather Captain Butch Flowers, also known as Freelancer Agent Florida and the Director's man in Blood Gulch.
  • In One Ring to Rule Them All, Sauron tells Wayne the goblin that he'll get a job as an evil henchman in 5 seconds. Literally.
  • RWBY:
    • When teaching Ruby Rose about leadership, Professor Ozpin states that he's "made more mistakes than any man, woman, and child on this planet". As he explains to Ruby much later, he wasn't exaggerating. Ozpin has been cursed by the Gods to experience a special type of resurrection cycle that ensures he's been forced to walk the earth for thousands of years as punishment for his failure to stop Salem; he will not be allowed to die until Salem has been defeated forever. It's impossible for anyone to make as many mistakes as a man who is thousands of years old.
    • In the second season, when Doctor Oobleck and Team RWBY are searching outside the city for signs of a covert criminal group and stumble across an entrance to the subway system, Oobleck has a revelation:
      Oobleck: My dear, we're not just looking for an underground crime network! We're looking for an UNDERGROUND CRIME NETWORK!
  • Trope named outright in the Camp Camp theme song, in regards to the many, many, curriculum Camp Campbell has to offer: There's endless possibilities / And no, that's not hyperbole!
  • In the spin-off RWBY Chibi:
    • One skit involves Ruby playing "the floor is lava" with her teammates (she's very disappointed when they just use their various powers to effortlessly cross the room without touching the floor). Then Roman Torchwick appears, she repeats her warning, but he doesn't believe her, steps onto the room's floor — and promptly melts, because the floor really was lava.
    • Another skit has Ruby and Ren attacked by Grimm pancakes, and Ruby says "I never knew it would end like this... really! It never would have occured to me!"
  • In an episode of Pinchimono, he shows his favorite cereal Burger Flakes, which boasts to have "MORE flavor! So much it doesn't fit in the box!". Then in points to a small baggie of "extra flavor" stapled to the box.

  • Shortpacked!: When your boss has the ability to somehow resurrect dead historical figures, conversations can get a little awkward.
    Ethan: I can't talk right now, Christmas shoppers are trampling Jesus. Manny, that's not a metaphor, Christmas shoppers are literally tramping Jesus.
  • A characters in Zero Percent Discount says he is contacting the spirits of dead presidents, which turns out to be true.
  • In the finale of the Morth arc of Exterminatus Now, the gang muse over the prospect of being trapped in a Collapsing Lair.
    Eastwood: Oh, I assure you I'm pissing myself with fear.
    Virus: Well, I wouldn't go that far.
    Rogue: I would. Just noticed. Watch your step there.
    Virus: Oohh, right, NOT a metaphor.
  • In Alice Grove, Alice gets angry enough at a fellow Ageless, Nigh-Invulnerable ex-Supersoldier to threaten to melt the rock underneath her and bury her in it. Much later, she turns out to have meant it quite literally, and to have done it to the Ax-Crazy "Mr. Church" 5000 years ago.
  • El Goonish Shive: In response to her son's frustration at the laws that limit his ability to make a difference and protect others, Pandora promises to "destroy the world as it is now known, and replace it with another. A world where your restraints will mean nothing, and you can do as you please." When we finally hear back from her, it turns out that she has been working To Unmasque the World and Awaken the entire human race.
  • In one Penny Arcade strip, when Gabe recommends that the reader play TimeSplitters 2 over Red Faction 2, he also recommends playing the latter if they want a game that will give them leprosy. When Tycho asks how does he know that, it's shown that the game caused Gabe's arms to fall off.

    Web Original 
  • In the TV Tropes page for Saved from Development Hell, it is stated that projects can stay in Development Hell for decades, and states that this is Not Hyperbole — and it isn't. Works finally emerging from Development Hell after 10 years or more are:
  • Whateley Universe: Several early stories had people joking about how one of these days someone would make Phase mad and suddenly the national economy would strike back. Turns out that was never a joke. In 'Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy 6' Phase gets angry enough to sic the patent law departments at every single electronics company on two mad scientists who pissed him off, just to bankrupt them. He only calls it off because a friend came up with a nastier plan - namely unleashing a whole bunch of other angry Mad Scientists.
  • In Sean Bean Saves Westeros (in which the actor appears in White Harbor the same day Ned Stark is beheaded, and subsequently takes his place in the new world, as well as taking advantage of book foreknowledge to help Stannis win the war), Sandor Clegane threatens Littlefinger and Varys with pissing on their dead mouths if they do not shut up. When Littlefinger tries to get Sansa out of King's Landing and to the Vale, Sandor kills him and, to quote the story, "The last thing to go through Lord Petyr Baelish's mockingbird of a mouth was not a wry insult, nor pretty, manipulating words, but Sandor Clegane's piss."
  • A couple from the Not Always series:

    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara describes his videos as "the place where bad comics burn." There have been instances, like the infamous Holy Terror, where Linkara has finished his review by setting the book on fire.
  • Numberphile: "Graham's Number" opens with Tony Padilla stating that "If you actually tried to picture Graham's Number in your head, then your head would collapse into a black hole", and then clarifying that he means this very literally:
    "The entropy of a black hole the size of your head carries less information than it would take to write out Graham's Number."

    Western Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "The Retroville 9", during Jimmy's team's rematch against Butch's team, Butch threatens that if Jimmy hits the next ball he'll eat his hat. After Jimmy hits the ball, Butch quite literally takes a bite out of the lid of his hat and declares that it's actually not bad.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Laziest", Larry calls Richard "lazier than a rock". Larry is an anthropomorphic rock, and he lost to Richard in a laziness contest in 1983, so this is literally true.
    • In "The Quest", Anais calls Tina's house a dump. It turns out that Tina actually does live in a dump.
    • Implied in "The Tape" when Ninja George says he'll never raise his fist again, then eats a sandwich with his foot.
    • In "The Fraud", Gumball says he and Darwin have been ashamed so many times in their lives that they're now incapable of feeling shame. Darwin then takes apart Gumball's brain to show that he's run out of "shame-osterone".
    • In "The Void", Mr. Small says Janis could never go anywhere without him. It's true, not because Janis cares about him, but because Janis is his van. He's also not exaggerating when he says she "runs on good vibes"; gently patting the dashboard gives the van a tremendous speed boost.
    • In "The Faith", Alan says that despite all of his attempts to befriend Gumball, the latter still won't look him in the eye. As it turns out Gumball literally refuses to look him in the eye, because offscreen the top of his head has twisted itself to face away from Alan.
  • The Angry Beavers episode "Same Time Last Week" focuses on Daggett annoying his brother Norbert. Norb threatens to punch Dag into last week, and he does... only for Daggett to start annoying him all over again. It goes on and on, until finally when trying to avoid annoying Norb, he ends up getting punched back to the stone age.
  • Archer:
    • This exchange:
      Cyril: I got the 50 million in bearer bonds.
      Spelvin: Unbelievable!
      Cyril: [smiling as if complimented] Well, I...
      Spelvin: No, I mean I literally don't believe you.
    • At the end of the fifth season premiere, after it's announced ISIS will shut down, Archer reveals they've been sitting on "Literally — not figuratively — a ton of cocaine."
    • Subverted when Cyril becomes a dictator and Cheryl claims he has a nuclear missile. Jump Cut to Krieger and his clones working on a giant missile. Then jump cut back to Cheryl, where she explains she was actually talking about his penis (said missile turns out to be something neither Cyril nor Cheryl knew about).
  • There's a variation in the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Waterbending Scroll". Iroh interrupts a fight between Zuko and a pirate captain (that he hired only for them to double-cross him), scolding them with "Are you so busy fighting, you cannot see that your own ship has set sail?" When Zuko dismisses it with "We have no time for your proverbs, Uncle!" Iroh retorts that "It's no proverb", and points out that the Gaang have just stolen the pirates' ship.
    Iroh: Maybe it should be a proverb...
  • Bojack Horseman: Sarah Lynn gets letters every day from boys telling her she was the first girl they masturbated to. "Literally! Every day!"
  • In Breadwinners, SwaySway's eccentric distant grandfather rode a Tunnel Eater completely naked, claiming that "Duck naked is the only way to ride". Turns out this wasn't just crazy talk. Tunnel Eaters can't resist the soft down of ducks.
  • In Castlevania (2017), after Dracula finds out the Church had his wife put to death, he tells everyone present that they have one year before he lays waste to Wallachia. It turns out that's how long it will take for him to summon enough demons for that purpose.
  • In Chowder episode "Big Ball", Mung continuously says that scoring would ruin the titular game. Turns out he was quite literal as when Truffles's team wins the game, a giant Bowser expy throws the entire stadium in a trash can.
    Truffles: [to Mung] I thought you were talking figuratively!
  • On an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, Cree threatens to turn the treehouse upside down if Numbuh One doesn't tell her where her sister is. He tells her to go ahead and try it. Smash Cut to the treehouse literally turned upside down and a dazed and very bruised up Numbuh One stating he didn't think she could actually do it.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Faux Chapeau", Dee Dee convinces Dexter to market one of his inventions as a hat, and his customers turn on him when it makes their heads all grow giant. In an interview, one man says "I can't leave my house", making it sound like he's experiencing Freakiness Shame, but then he adds "...literally!", as his head has now become too big to fit through his front door.
  • In the first episode of Dog City, the Dogfather decides to work over Ace Heart to get info on the episode's Macguffin.
    Bugsy: Dis is gonna hurt me more dan it does you.
    Ace: Thanks for the sympathy.
    Bugsy: What sympathy? I got pistol-whipper's elbow. This is really gonna smart!
  • In an episode of Doug, Doug is repeatedly told that the candy bars he's trying to sell taste like cement. This, he later discovers, is entirely accurate; due to a serious mix-up at the factory, the bars actually are made with cement.
  • In the DuckTales (2017) episode "The Last Crash of the Sunchaser", when the triplets' mother Della got lost in a cosmic storm, Scrooge stated he "spared no expense" to find her. His family took this as he spent as much as he could without putting a dent in his wealth. Turns out though, he meant it. He nearly brought his company to the brink of bankruptcy in his attempt to find Della, but the search was too futile and too expensive to continue.
  • In The Fairly OddParents episode "So Totally Spaced Out", this is how Cosmo inadvertently discovers the Gigglepies' weakness; when he says that they're cute enough to eat, he promptly stuffs one in his mouth, only to spit it out when he finds that they're made of manure. As manure is a Yugopotamian delicacy, Timmy wishes for the king and queen to have bibs, utensils, and empty stomachs to be able to eat all of them.
  • The Flintstones:
    • In the episode "Dino Disappears", when Dino runs away, Fred finds a dog that looks a bit like him. Despite the dog's owner telling him otherwise, Fred stubbornly believes that dog is Dino, stating he'll sleep in Dino's doghouse for a week if it's not him. After going through a manner of hijinks including dognapping and getting arrested, Fred is shocked when the real Dino shows up. The episode then ends with Wilma bringing Fred his Dino's doghouse.
    • In "Room For Two", when Barney tells Fred that half of his house's newly built room is on Barney's property, Fred doesn't believe it and calls the City Hall of Records to check it. Barney comments that Fred will raise the roof when he learns it's true. Sure enough, when Fred finds out that Barney does legally own half the room, he angrily yells so loud that the room's roof jumps.
  • In the first episode of Futurama, when Fry first meets Leela, he learns that he is designated to be a delivery boy. Having done that for most of his life, Fry refuses, but Leela tells him that everyone must follow their designated roles. Those who don't get fired...out of a cannon, into the sun.
  • In the Garfield and Friends episode "All About Odie", while talking about Odie, Garfield mentioned that he liked to chase cars, and whenever he caught one, he'd bury it in the backyard, causing the entire audience to laugh at the ridiculous concept, to which Garfield stormed out of the lecture hall in a huff. Upon reaching home, he mentioned the humiliation he experienced to Odie while the two of them are walking through a yard full of half-buried cars containing annoyed drivers.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • In "Boyz Crazy", Wendy's claim that boy bands are "just a manufactured product of the bloated corporate music industry" (a statement Dipper agrees with) turns out to be quite literal as Mabel's favorite band Sev'ral Timez is revealed to be clones that were genetically engineered by their producer to be perfect boys and treated like animals.
    • In "Northwest Mansion Mystery", upon finding Mabel and her friends talking about the upcoming Northwest Family Party, Dipper reminds them that "Pacifica Northwest is the worst. And that's not just jealousy talking, I'd say that to her face." Right on cue, the doorbell rings, and Pacifica is there to ask for help. Dipper dryly tells her "You're the worst" and slams the door in her face.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat, who Hates Being Touched, threatens to kill Kaeloo and Stumpy for touching him in one episode... while holding a knife to Kaeloo's throat.
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures: When Zander tells Kordi a rich customer wants to hire them to replace his pod racing team, Kordi is reluctant until Zander tells her of the offered money and says she can't say "no" to this. She does try only to find out it's physically impossible.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "Muscle Tussle": Daffy Duck loses his girlfriend to a strong duck who threatens to pound Daffy's head so far down, he would need to unbutton his shirt to eat. The muscle-head proceeds to make good on that threat.
    • In the Sylvester cartoon "Hippety Hopper", Sylvester gets taken down by a mouse working with Hippety Hopper, the baby kangaroo. Spike, the house bulldog, decides to take the mouse down himself. After the mouse and Hopper kick Spike out of the house, the mouse announces, "And if you come back in, I'll pin your ears back!"
      Spike: Any time a mouse can pin my ears back, I'll take up ballet dancing. [enters house, gets knocked back with a clothespin on his ears]
      Sylvester: Well, I see you got your ears pinned back.
      Spike: C'mon, cat. [drags Sylvester into his doghouse, they then emerge in tutus] We're takin' up ballet dancin'. [dance and exeunt]
    • In the special "Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island", Daffy laments being stuck on a desert island with Speedy Gonzales, with nothing to eat but coconuts, and cries "I'll go nuts if I'm on this place another minute!" When Speedy points out "It's a minute already," Daffy has a brief nervous breakdown.
  • In Madballs: Escape from Orb, after Bruise Brother (one of Commander Wolfbreath's goons) makes fun of her hair, Freakella says she'd like to pound him flat, fold him into a paper airplane, and send him flying into a brick wall. Later in the cartoon, she does exactly that.
  • In one episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack had Flapjack exile himself to a leper colony after the people of Stormalong Harbor ostracized him due to his adoption of a plague-ridden rat. After the rat abandons him for a mate, the Stormalongians return to bring Flapjack back home, claiming they can't live without him. On the boat, Captain K'nuckles explains they were being literal: the reason Flapjack never caught the plague is that he's naturally immune, and they need his blood to make a vaccine.
    Flapjack: Oh. Well, it's nice to be needed!
    Dr. Barber: (holding up a giant syringe) Don't you mean, needled?
  • Metalocalypse:
    (Deathklok are in a bad mood after being blamed for awakening a troll in Finland.)
    Nathan: Aw man, I hate Finland. I need a hundred beers.
    [cut to a bar]
    Nathan: I need a hundred beers. Exactly. Exactly one hundred. Thank you.
  • In one episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Adam decides to run for class president against Bull Sharkowski, but Jake tries to convince him not to, claiming "You'll get beat!". Adam believes that Jake means he has no chance of winning the election, but after making a stirring speech, wins. However, what Jake meant was that the animals at the school attack the class president for dominance. The episode ends with Adam running for his life.
  • During the climax of the My Little Pony 'n Friends episode "Bright Lights," the Flutter Ponies sing about how they're "faster than a lightning bolt" while effortlessly dodging the lightning bolts the villain's shooting at them, proving it's no exaggeration.
  • This also happens in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the very first episode, Rainbow Dash tells a skeptical Twilight she can clear the sky in ten seconds flat. If you time the clearing sequence, it takes her exactly ten seconds.
    • In another episode, Spike meets the enormous Dragon Lord Torch, who laughs that he "could squish [Spike] with my pinky claw!" When Spike nervously laughs along with him, Torch snaps, "That wasn't a joke; it was a fact."
    • "I'm going to zap you with a storm cloud!" is no figure of speech when it's coming from a pegasus pony. As Rainbow Dash demonstrates on The Slacker Zephyr Breeze in "Flutter Brutter".
  • In the Robot Chicken episode "Two Weeks Without Food", the first "Great Moments in Dumb Kids History" sketch has a mother threatening her son that if he doesn't stop touching his sister, she'll drive the car into a lake. He touches his sister anyway, and the skit ends right as the mother is about to fulfill her claim.
  • In the "Missouri Mish Mash" arc of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Kurwood, the Moon Man wizard who created the Kurwood Derby, said that its creation would "take a lot out of him". Turns out he was serious, for the ritual that created the derby ended up reducing him to two inches tall.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Unbalanced Load", Rocko declares that he needs to get some laundry done, because his bedroom looks like a pigsty. Then he sees an actual pig in his bedroom stuffing his face with pizza, and tells the guy to "Amscray!"
  • Used both tragically and as a Wham Episode in the penultimate episode of Samurai Jack. Ashi and her sisters being called "the Daughters of Aku" wasn't just a title bestowed on them as his greatest warriors; they were literally spawned from their mother drinking Aku's essence.
  • In the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "Go Away, Ghost Ship", the gang sails through a bank of ominous fog, and Shaggy remarks "The fog's so thick, you could cut it with a knife!" Scooby tries it, and much to his surprise it turns out to be true.
  • One episode of Sheep in the Big City features a commercial within the show for a store called Les is Moore's Warehouse. Owner Les Wiggles tells viewers that his prices are "completely nuts!"—and he means it. A single battery costs $42,000, while a giant elephant is only sixteen cents.
    • General Specific runs afoul of this trope when the Angry Scientist tells him that he's cooked up a new plan to capture Sheep that "stinks." The general won't listen because he wants a good scheme, not a stinky one, so the Scientist explains that he wasn't exaggerating: the plan is to unleash a massive stink bomb into the Big City to drive Sheep out with the odor.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Ned 'N Edna's Blend" when Flanders and Mrs. Krabappel reveal that they're married, Bart reminds Homer that he said if Flanders ever remarried he'd eat his hat. His hat, in this case, was the Crown of Thorns he was wearing as Jesus in a play (long story) but fortunately for him, it's made out of licorice.
      Homer: Mmmm... sacrilegious.
    • In "Pokey Mom", after being injured in a prison rodeo, Homer said, "I can't complain." while in the infirmary, then points to a sign that says "No complaining". Upon being informed that only applied to the prisoners, he felt free to complain about his injuries and his life in general.
    • In "22 Short Films About Springfield", Barney comments that the people at Moe's had a good laugh when Moe said he'd need to send Barney's tab to NASA to calculate. Moe reveals that he did and the results have just arrived. Barney owes Moe $14 billion.
    • In "Worst Episode Ever", while Bart and Milhouse are taking care of Comic Book Guy's shop, Milhouse ends up buying a lot of comic books about a glasses-wearing superhero that proves extremely unpopular. Bart angrily says that they'll never sell them because "birds won't even use them for their nests". Right on cue, a crow comes in with a copy of the comic book, angrily shreds it with its talons, and leaves.
    • In "Take My Wife, Sleaze", the Simpson home gets invaded by a motorcycle gang, the Hell's Satans. When Marge offers to make breakfast for them, their leader, Meathook, replies "I'd kill for some waffles", with his friend Ramrod adding "He has. Remember that IHOP in Oakland?", which makes them both laugh.
  • In an episode of The Smurfs, the Trokkle King has an advisor, who he never listens to. When the advisor gets upset and complains that there's no point in a king even having an advisor if he never listens to advice, the king thinks that makes sense — and fires the advisor. Realizing he made things worse, the advisor fools the king into abdicating his throne to Brainy Smurf... But Brainy not only won't listen to his advice, he won't listen to anyone, so now all the trokkles decide to overthrow him. When the original Trokkle King finds out about this, he gets frightened and warns the other Smurfs, because he knows that when the trokkles overthrow a king, they throw him over a cliff, literally.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Club SpongeBob", when SpongeBob and Patrick start their own club, they say Squidward couldn't get in. Squidward, thinking they're snubbing him, forces his way into their treehouse. Turns out they were being literal about Squidward not fitting in. Their treehouse was so small, there was no room for three people in it.
    • In "Squilliam Returns", Squidward has to pretend the Krusty Krab is a five-star restaurant he owns. While convincing Mr. Krabs to play along, Krabs offers to play a sad song on the World's Smallest Violin. This sounds like sarcastic rejection at first, but then Krabs reveals he really is playing the world's smallest violin.
    • In "Patty Hype", when SpongeBob loses confidence in his Pretty Patties selling, Patrick tells him that they have to look deep inside themselves to solve their problems. SpongeBob says he's scared, so Patrick grabs one of his holes and climbs inside him.
    • In "Sing a Song of Patrick", when Patrick submits a terrible poem to be turned into a song, the leader of the band doing the song says that they're going to do it if it kills them. Less than 5 seconds later, it's shown that finishing the song quite literally killed them.
    • In "Komputer Overload", Karen tells Plankton that without her, he probably wouldn't even remember to blink. A few seconds later, he does exactly that and Karen has to remind him to.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Marco once threatens a knight that his face will hit every surface of a room and that said knight will wake up in the belly of a dragon. A few moments later he does exactly that (though by "in the belly" he meant "on the abdomen").
  • This conversation from The Super Mario Bros Super Show! episode "Plumber's Academy":
    Mario: I can't quit now, Luigi! I was born with a plunger in my hand!
    Luigi: I know. Boy, it was awfully hard on Mom.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • In "Love That Pup!", Spike the bulldog threatens to skin Tom alive if Tom ever bothered Tyke again. At the end of the story, Tom is wearing a Bankruptcy Barrel while Spike, Tyke, and Jerry are sleeping on a rug made of his skin.
    • In "That's My Boy", while teaching Tyke how to chase cats, Spike demonstrates on an unsuspecting Tom, claiming that sneaking up on cats always scares them out of their skin. Sure enough, when Spike started barking, Tom was so spooked he leaped out of his fur.
  • In the Uncle Grandpa episode "RV Olympics", Pizza Steve says that Uncle Grandpa can't tell the difference between a banana and a microphone. Sure enough, he's talking into a banana, then pulls a microphone out of his lunch bag, attempts to peel it like a banana and eats it.

    Real Life 
  • Werner Herzog once told Errol Morris that he would eat his shoe if Morris ever completed the film that he had been labouring over. When Gates of Heaven premiered, he did exactly that.
  • This trope is inverted with the word "literal" as commonly used. David Cross explains the problem here.
  • At one point during the 2013 Oscars, host Seth MacFarlane noted that "Our next presenter needs no introduction..." — and then simply walked off the stage. He was proved correct when Meryl Streep walked up to the microphone.
  • Illiterate Clown Elected to Congress. Oh, Brazil...
  • In baseball, "knocking the cover off the ball" usually just means that the batter hit the ball really hard. Rarely is it meant to be literal.
  • In 1943, the British, fearing a tea shortage after the bombing of Mincing Lane (the largest tea trading business centre of the British Empire), bought all the tea, as in literally every bit of tea that was available to be sold to them. They sent more tea to their troops in greater weight than anything, except for bullets. Pound for pound, they shipped more tea over to them than artillery shells.
  • During the Apollo 13 mission, NASA had to put a square peg in a round hole to keep the astronauts alive. In context — the LM's CO2 scrubbers weren't powerful enough to account for three astronauts. The CM's were, but its plug-in was shut down along with the rest of the module. Now, the obvious answer was to put the CM's scrubbers in the LM's plug, but they were incompatible — the LM's scrubbers were round and the CM's were square. So the engineers had to come up with a way to fit that square unit into the LM's round plugs.
  • The Exynos variants of Samsung's Galaxy S20 (and later Galaxy Note 20) series flagship smartphones have gotten a lot of flak for their many issues compared to their Snapdragon counterparts, such as overheating, throttling, and battery life, to the point that people aren't exaggerating when they say that even budget phones run better.
  • One of Cards Against Humanity's Black Friday stunts was selling bullshit. Literal feces, from a male bovine.


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