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Nothing Personal

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Pulling 'nothing personal' on The Punisher and Eminem? That's asking for trouble.

Tom Hagen: Your father wouldn't want to hear this, Sonny. This is business, not personal.
Santino Corleone: They shoot my father and it's business, my ass!
Tom Hagen: Even shooting your father was business, not personal, Sonny!

A longstanding Stock Phrase that has two uses.

The first is usually used by a villain. Generally it will be given after the villain has announced what they are about to do, but before they actually do it. Alternatively, it may be given after the hero has overwhelmed the villain and the villain is trying to defuse the hero's anger or justify their actions. It wasn't personal, after all. This can also come in the form of "it's not personal."

Often used this way by the Lovable Traitor and the Punch-Clock Villain. Often this phrase comes back around in the form of an Ironic Echo. A protagonist who Stumbled Into the Plot might hear this, by the antagonist trying to clean up loose ends (ie kill any witnesses).

Usually, when a person says this, it really isn't personal to them. Normally, this is said so that the person they're talking to knows that they're Just Following Orders and aren't killing them because of a grudge or something. However, one can also argue that saying it isn't personal makes it personal, as it means the victim doesn't matter to the speaker. If anything, it often makes it worse, because it usually means the victim didn't even do anything to even remotely justify the pain they have been forced to go through. As such, this trope can also refer to the character himself and not just to dialogue. At other times, the antagonist may say it's not personal as a way of saying "no hard feelings".

There are quite a few times when someone (usually the hero) starts off this way, and honestly means it; however, as the conflict progresses, he starts to get genuinely angry at whoever it is (usually because the guy is doing things that disgust him, or because the villain started choosing victims who were close to the hero), at which point he changes his mind and says, "All right, now It's Personal".

Often punctuated with "Just Following Orders". Contrast It's Personal. See also Being Personal Isn't Professional and Consummate Professional.

Unfortunately, this trope is very much Truth in Television.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Used in Afro Samurai, when a random mook who led an attack for the Number Two Headband asks Afro "Why you gotta kill all my men? Why you gotta kill me?", Afro replies "Nothing personal. It's just revenge."
  • In Bleach, Starrk says this to Kyoraku just before shooting him in the back. The reason why he got the chance to do so, incidentally, was because Kyoraku took Wonderweiss's attack on Ukitake rather personally.
  • In Digimon Tamers, when Beelzebumon comes after the Tamers to fulfill his Deal with the Devil, he claims that it's just business and following through with the deal (odds are, given how conflicted he was to attack people he kinda liked, he's probably more telling himself that than he is them). Then he kills Leomon and it promptly goes to his head, subverting the trope.
  • In a filler arc of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan encounters Goku's old nemesis Mercenary Tao in a remote village. When Tao is ordered by his employer to kill an old man who was causing trouble for them, he says "Nothing personal, old man. This is just a job."
  • In the anime/manga version of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Kharlan attempted to kill Arslan, not out of malice, but pragmatism to eliminate any threats to Hilmes ascending the throne. He even tells Arslan that he didn't do anything wrong in particular but regardless, Arslan must be killed.
  • Dieci said this to herself before getting into a Beam-O-War with Nanoha in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Nanoha didn't take it personally either, even thought Dieci was standing between her and her daughter.
  • In Naruto:
    • After giving the titular protagonist a good beatdown during the Chunin Exams, Neji tries to convince him to give up by saying that he has nothing personal against him. For Naruto, however, it's very personal due to what Neji did to Hinata in the preliminaries.
    • Onoki, the Third Tsuchikage, says this moments before apparently disintegrating Sasuke to dust. He has nothing against him personally; it's just that he is a menace to the ninja world and many people want him dead, so he has no choice but to put him down.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Fate starting off like this. He actually says he doesn't have anything against Negi, but beats the crap out of him because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Eventually after Negi lands a punch on him, he switches to It's Personal, which escalates to The Only One Allowed to Defeat You levels.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion, Shinji is about to be summarily executed by a JSSDF soldier, who cheerfully tells him it's nothing personal (in Japanese, he says something more along the lines of, "Don't hold it against me."). Misato shows up just in time, guns blazing, and explains to said grunt that he shouldn't take her blowing them away personally either (though it clearly is very personal, seeing how he was just about to kill Shinji). The wording differs in the translations:
    Subtitle-Misato: Nothing personal here either. *BANG!*
    Dub-Misato: Heeey, no offense taken. *BANG! SPLORCH!*note 
    • On the English language commentary, Jason and Amanda Lee say that they originally imagined Taliesin Jaffe delivering the line in an "I eat babies for breakfast" voice, but when he delivered it in a much more casual way, they realized it was even colder and went with it.
  • One Piece: Blackbeard's Evil Plan started with him killing a crew-mate and stealing his treasure; he didn't have anything against the guy, but he had something Blackbeard really wanted. In the next step of his plan, he captures Luffy's brother Ace and delivers him to the Marines, who throw him in jail in preparation for execution. Blackbeard actually likes both Luffy and Ace, and even tried inviting Ace to join his crew, but he had to capture somebody important to be made into a Warlord, and Ace was the easiest target at the time (if it wasn't Ace, it would've been Luffy). It helps that Blackbeard is a fatalist who believes all is predetermined by fate; him having to murder a shipmate was just destiny at work. The feeling isn't mutual though - Ace and Whitebeard in contrast take his actions very personally.
  • In Vinland Saga, Thorkell the Tall is a Blood Knight who loves fighting and believes that anyone who dies sword in hand goes to Valhalla (or Folkvangr). Consequently, the fortunes of war are never a personal matter to him; fighting is fighting and dead is dead. If he happens to kill someone's son, hey, it was a fight. If one of his friends happen to be cut down by the other side, hey, it was a fight. The only thing he does take personal are people who try to sneak out of the fighting or take the fun out of the fight with assassinations and dirty tricks.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Arkana told Yugi this during their duel. (Given what an underhanded cheater he was, it's kind of hard to believe him, however. Arkana's only saving grace was that he was being manipulated by someone who was even worse.) From the same franchise, an episode which pits Maximillion Pegasus against a resentful Kaiba has this memorable line:
    Pegasus: What, no hello, no how are you? I thought we were friends, Kaiba-boy. Don't tell me that kidnapping your little brother and seizing control of Kaiba Corp. has put a rift between us. It was nothing personal.
    • Yami Marik plays this trope for horror. Most of the torturous Shadow games he dishes out have no personal vendetta in them, he's just a Sadist who wants to torture everyone around him For the Evulz. His duel against May in the Sub really plays this up, where he speaks to her politely while torturing her to madness. Makes one wonder what he does to people he hates.

    Audio Drama 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who drama The Sontaran Ordeal, the Doctor tangles with an illegal salvager who threatens to kill him:
    Menkin: It's nothing personal, just business, y'know?
    Doctor: People often say that, but personal or business, I finish up dead either way, so I'm indifferent to be honest.
    Menkin: I'm going to enjoy it when you're not talking any more.
    Doctor: Now that sounds personal.
    • In "The Day of the Master", the Eleven says this to the Master(s) about setting the Ravenous on the Crispy Master and causing his death. The Masters disagree; as one points out, it is actually quite personal from their end.

    Comic Books 
  • Blaze of Glory: Caleb Hammer says these words to Gunhawk in their Duel to the Death, and promises to Get It Over With quickly.
  • Civil War: Lampshaded and subverted by Underworld. He visits the injured Hammerhead in the hospital, and then tells him about a time when Hammerhead had grievously injured a friend of his for a petty amount of money. Underworld puts a gun in Hammerhead's mouth and, before pulling the trigger, says "It's always personal, ya mook."
  • Deathstroke: Deathstroke once speared Phantom Lady through her torso. When she asked him why, he responded "Sorry, darlin'. Just business."
  • Family: When Silver kills his nephew Chrissie by dropping a building on him, he remarks that he has nothing against Chrissie personally, he just wants to hurt his brother by having him bury his son.
  • The Flash: This is part of Captain Cold's general M.O., with him making it very clear that his villainy is merely his business model and enforcing a strict code of honor among his henchmen and those he works with to make sure it never gets personal. The times he breaks this rule in regard to himself are against Chillblaine, the man who killed his sister; and, later, against Inertia, for tricking the Rogues into killing Bart Allen and making them the top public enemies.
  • Gotham City Garage: When the titular team attempts to hijack a truck, Kara tosses the trucker out of the vehicle shouting: "Really sorry about this! Nothing personal!"
  • The Incredible Hulk: General Fortean from Immortal Hulk has used it to justify replacing Thunderbolt Ross as the man in charge of capturing Hulk despite failing to beat Red Hulk, while Ross himself went to antagonize Captain America. Fortean argued both he and Ross were too personally invested with their old targets and will be far more effective against the people they can strategize against with cold, rational minds. if you're wondering, they both got themselves killed, making Fortean's argument very ironic.
  • Invoked first in Jew Gangster by the Italian mob for killing one of the Jewish gangsters, because they were hired by the Union to do so. Invoked right afterward by Monk after he kills one of the Italian gangsters as equalization.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: We see a flashback to the climactic final confrontation between Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty. They make it clear to one another that this isn't a manner of personal spite and immediately begin fighting to the death. Of course, once Moriarty loses, he immediately complains and calls Holmes a "drug-addicted sodomite".
  • The Punisher: In a crossover between The Punisher and Eminemnote , Barracuda, a childhood friend of Em's, hits him with this line after he's captured both Em and the Punisher.
  • Shadowpact: The Pentacle tells the townspeople whom they have trapped in a giant magic prison shield that they will choose sacrifices at random from their number. They explain that it's nothing personal, it's just bad luck that their town was chosen, more people will be sacrificed if they try to resist, and that everything will be easier if they just go along with it. The Pentacle's leader Strega explains all of this with an eerily calm business-like tone.
  • Silent Hill: Jack from Silent Hill: Sinner's Reward claims all of the murders done by him are just business, because he's a hit man who's Just Following Orders. The one he tries to persuade doesn't buy it, insisting that It's Personal for her, especially since some of his marks are people close to her.
  • Sin City: Exploited in "The Big Fat Kill" issue. Dwight recognizes that Wallenquist makes a point of never letting personal feelings interfere with his business decisions. When they ambush and kill a bunch of Wallenquist's men, Dwight bets that, rather than seeking revenge, Wallenquist will cut his losses when they get too high.
    "We got to kill every last rat bastard one of them, every last one. Not for revenge. Not because they deserve it. Not because it'll make the world a better place. We need a heap of bloody bodies so when the mob boss Wallenquist, looks over his charts of profits and losses, he'll see what it cost him to mess with the girls of Old Town.”
  • Spider-Man:
    • Morlun, a thousand-years-old immortal that preys on beings with animal-like powers, gave us a funny dialogue based on it when he encountered Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man (J. Michael Straczynski):
      Morlun: This is how it's going to be. You will run. I will hunt you.(...) But finally, you will fall from power. And then you will die. But you have my word. It's nothing personal.
      Spider-Man: Wait a second. You say you want to kill me and claim it's nothing personal? Nothing personal?! Listen, man. I was fighting with every kind of jerk on this planet. I was fighting with freaks, mutants, aliens, and superequipped gangs... God dammit, I was fighting even with my own costume! And you know what? You're the first one, that really pissed me off!
    • The Shocker at one point kidnaps Spider-man as revenge for years of having his crimes foiled, though it's implied that a large part of it is him being angry over Spider-man's constant mockery, and tortures the hero. Spider-Man uses a more heroic form of this argument and points out that he wasn't doing it to spite Shocker, but because Shocker was going on constant crime sprees.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine had a variation; after ripping Wolverine in half, Hulk is about to eat one of Wolverine's legs, letting him choose which one. Wolverine gets understandably pissed off, which prompts Hulk to say "You're taking this way too personal...", commenting that if he doesn't eat one leg, Wolverine will just reattach them and chase after him. When Logan says he'll do that anyway, Hulk comments that he's just giving him motivation to eat both legs.
    • In All-New Ultimates, Taskmaster doesn't really care about the Ultimates. Roxxon pays a lot of money for them, and he just wants the job.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Wizard in the Shadows, Eirian notes that one of Saruman's few saving graces as compared to Wormtongue is that it was never personal.
  • Earth and Sky: The LaFish brothers say this right before attacking Soarin' and Pipsqueak during the Pegalathon. It's strongly implied (and later confirmed) that they were paid off by Diamond Tiara to do so, so it's probably a true statement.
  • The Pony POV Series Dark World Series has this with Rancor, Discord's little sister, who states this is the case between her and the Dark World Elements of Harmony. It's completely true, as she genuinely has nothing against them and would probably be cheering for them (she is the Anthropomorphic Personification of Revenge after all) otherwise, its just Her Father Havoc ordered her to help Discord out. It turns out that her real mission was to get close to Discord to stab him In the Back and take back Destruction's stolen power from him, in order for it to be used for its intended purpose (Destruction's actual job). Once her mission is finished, she just says "see yah later" and leaves the fight altogether.
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples, former Queen Allora says this to her son-in-law Zanden, right before killing him as part of her coup.
  • In God Slaying Blade Works, Odysseus has nothing against Shirou Emiya. It's just that Shirou has a unique energy inside his body that Odysseus believes will give him the power to travel to other worlds. He's so desperate for this ability that he's willing to kill Shirou.
  • In Fate/Parallel Fantasia, Kirei Kotomine tells Gilgamesh that he has a history with many of the other Masters like Shirou, Rin, and Bazett, so he will enjoy making them suffer and die. Then he comments that he has never met Luvia before and doesn't know her, but she stands in his way as well, so he will just break her neck.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: The first time they fight, Ying tells Team Save Earth that he's only attacking them because they're fighting his mistress, Nyx. Otherwise, he wouldn't care about them either way.
  • Fate/Harem Antics: Angelica Ainsworth has no emotional investment in the Holy Grail War and no grudge against any of her opponents. She just wants the Holy Grail for her family and feels killing the other Masters is the most efficient way to do it.
  • During the Chunin Exams finals in Son of the Sannin Gaara tells Naruto he has to avenge Temari's defeat at Naruto's hands. Naruto protests that he said "no hard feelings" before, to which Gaara replies that he has no hard feelings, but Temari won't let him hear the end of it if he doesn't avenge her.
  • Zim the Warlord: Irken Reversion: After rather viciously beating them in a fight, Zim makes sure to point out to all the other Reverted Irkens that he only fought them in the first place because the Tallest ordered it as training, and that he has no ill will towards them. He then makes it up to them by taking them all out to dinner.
  • In the J-WITCH Series, the Dark Chi Enforcers, especially Ratso, state this attitude towards the Guardians several times — they're only fighting them because Daolon Wong and Phobos are making them, not because they want to.
  • Inverted in Batman fanfic Dance with the Demons. Batman accuses Ra's Al Ghul of trying to get back at him by getting his wife poisoned, but it turns out Ra's hasn't taken any of his defeats personally.
    Batman: "Convince me that you're not a suspect in this matter."
    Ra's Al Ghul: "Why in the name of heaven above and hell below would I have attempted to murder your wife, Detective? Tell me."
    Batman: "I've put you in jail before."
    Ra's Al Ghul: "And I escaped, did I not?"
    Batman: "I've wrecked many of your crazy schemes in the past."
    Ra's Al Ghul: "And I have hatched many, many more, including some you do not suspect the existence of."
  • Here There Be Monsters: When Mary Marvel and Illyria clash for the second time, the Nazi villainess argues thatMary Marvel should not have taken the beatdown she got personally because she would beat any American up. Mary retorts she is taking it personally because Illyria beat her.
    Mary Marvel: "I guess that just leaves us."
    Illyria: "You shouldn't have taken it personally. I'd have done it to any good-for-nothing American."
    Mary Marvel: "But you did it to me."
  • Funeral for a Flash: The Rogues could get away with attempting to kill the Flash because nobody holds it against them, not even the Flash himself.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: Whereas Sonata and Aria show slight guilt at having used Timmy, Adagio merely shrugs it off by comparing them to predators looking for a meal. Even Timmy notes how sincere she sounds.
  • Mars Attacks: Simpsons, Chapter 4, Gnard Martians, Veles and Hades, tells Melanie that preforming vivisection on her wasn’t personal. It was business. Veles even asks if someone back on Earth had seen her heart lately. It was just after talking with Aries, along with Loki, are in Springfield.

    Films — Animated 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Helga utters this, right before blowing up Rourke's hot-air balloon with her flare gun. It doubles as an Ironic Echo because this is the same thing he told her when he threw her out of the balloon in the first place.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Lord Business says this when he leaves his Bad Cop to be killed with the Master Builders; "It's nothing personal, just business. Lord Business."
  • Used by the invading alien in the movie Monsters vs. Aliens. It's not personal he's going to wipe out most of Earth's population and enslave the rest.
  • In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), it's "nothing personal" that Captain Caleano and her crew plan to toss the ponies and Spike overboard. They are after all, just a Punch-Clock Villain crew. Thus, it's no surprise that they're willing to stop for a lunch break and are so readily convinced by Rainbow Dash initiating a song number — they don't have any personal stake in it. They've just been following orders.
  • In the Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under, McLeach says this to Cody when he tries to feed him to some crocodiles. He claims to be doing it because he doesn't want to disappoint the rangers (who he had tricked into thinking Cody had been eaten by crocodiles earlier in the movie).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used by Jelly when he's about to murder Billy Crystal, in Analyze This. Crystal responds, "Don't kid yourself, Jelly. It doesn't get more personal."
  • In Apocalypse Now, a movie that takes place during the Vietnam War, Colonel Kurtz's haunting monologue emphasizes how important this concept is for a soldier. Kurtz illustrates this by describing an occasion when he was on a humanitarian mission to help a village and they gave medication and other supplies to help the people there, but the enemy took notice of this and killed every single person there just to spite the Americans. This shook Kurtz to his core; he wept bitterly and became so depressed over what had happened he thought he was going to go insane, but then he realized that to the Vietcong, what they had done was nothing personal — they loved their families, and motivated by that love, they were willing to do anything that it took to defeat the Americans so that they would leave the country, and they could get back to their normal lives. In Kurtz's mind, he had determined that the Vietcong had the right idea on how to be a soldier: you have to be a good, moral person but at the same time, be able to tap into your instincts and be able to kill without remorse, passion or judgment. If the Americans were as dedicated as their enemy and were willing to do anything that it took to win then the war would be over very quickly.
  • In Birds of Prey (2020), after Doc sells Harley Quinn out, he tells her that it was just business before leaving. Given that she trusted him implicitly, feeling he was about the only person in Gotham City who didn't have some sort of grievance against her, she is very broken up about it.
  • The Christmas That Almost Wasn't: Phineas T. Prune may be trying to evict Santa and ruin Christmas, but he has nothing against Santa—it's the children that he hates.
  • From Clerks:
    Randal Graves: Oh, hey, Caitlin, break his heart again this time and I'll kill ya. Nothing personal.
  • Used chillingly by the Joker in The Dark Knight:
    The Joker: When I say that you and your girlfriend was nothing personal, you know that I'm telling the truth. It's the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and look where that got you.
  • A variation in Death Wish 4: The Crackdown with Ed Zacharias, leader of one of the drug gangs making the stuff that killed Paul Kersey's girlfriend's daughter (because she overdosed). The leader never met her, he probably never even met the kid that peddled the drugs to her. It doesn't matters to Kersey — he's one of the many that deserve to die, in any case.
    Ed Zacharias: Why are you doing this?
    (Kersey pulls a picture of the girl from his jacket pocket and shows it to him).
    Ed Zacharias: I don't even know the girl!
    Paul Kersey: I do. (Gives Zacharias a Coup de Grâce)
  • Dr. Strangelove: Used in the second sense — "You just can't expect a bunch of ignorant peons to understand a machine like some of our our boys — and that's not meant as an insult Mr Ambassador."
  • Said by Ned Cecil to Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four (2005) when he takes over Doom's company. Shot right back by Doom after he kills him.
  • The page-topping quote is one of the most famous examples, coming from The Godfather.
    • Though Santino is the hot-headed one, when he hears Michael's decision to kill Solozzo, he laughs and berates him for making the matter too personal. Michael's response?
    • And again in The Godfather, used by Tessio to Hagen at the end, explaining the reason for betraying Michael.
  • Martin's catchphrase "It's not me" in Grosse Pointe Blank is basically a shorter way of saying this to his victims.
  • In Hellraiser, Frank uses this one on Julia as he buries his fingers in her neck and drains her blood, killing her. She turns it around on him in the sequel.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Gale tells Katniss that he would have expected her of all people to know that what they're doing in the war against the Capitol isn't personal. She shoots back that she of all people knows that it's all personal.
  • In the James Bond film Licence to Kill, drug lord Sanchez says "I want you to know this is nothing personal, it's purely... business." as he feeds Felix Leiter to a great white shark.
  • The Last Boy Scout. The woman Bruce Willis' character has been hired to bodyguard is targeted by assassins, who take him into a dark alley to bump him off so he won't get in their way.
    Willis: That's what you think. I screwed your wife last night.
  • In Man on Fire, the people involved with Pita's kidnapping that Creasy tracks down all insist that it was not personal, but just business. Eventually Creasy just gets sick of this response, warning the last person that uses it.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • A major plot-point in New Jack City. When undercover cop Scotty Appleton and drug kingpin Nino Brown are hanging out one night, Nino confesses that he killed an innocent school teacher as part of an initiation into a gang. Scotty asked Nino if the killing was business or personal. Nino made it clear that all his killings are business, never personal. Turns out that school teacher was Scotty Appleton's mother and he nearly kills Nino Brown during the climax, making it clear that killing his mother was personal.
  • In The Nice Guys, the titular pair meet when one of them assaults the other and breaks his arm at the behest of his employer. When they team up later in the movie, the guy with the broken arm's daughter is furious at the man who attacked him, but her father waves it off by saying "It's okay sweetie, he only did it for money."
  • Said by Smug Snake Lord Cutler Beckett in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End:
    Lieutenant Theodore Groves: (sees the Black Pearl on standby) What are they waiting for?
    Lord Cutler Beckett: He expects us to honor our agreement. (The Endeavour readies her cannons) It's nothing personal, Jack. It's just good business.
    • And ironically repeated in his delightful death scene.
  • Used in Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, where Lassard is kidnapped by jewel thieves as a hostage, but he thinks it's all staged for his benefit and is having the time of his life. When the kidnapper is about to shoot him, he uses this phrase, but then the other cops show up. When Lassard finally figures out the truth, he tells the kidnapper the same thing, right before punching him out.
  • In Robocop 2, Cain makes a big show of expressing this towards Robocop just before tearing him to pieces.
    Cain: Jesus...had days like this...hounded and attacked like a criminal. But like him, I don't blame you. They program you, and you do it.
  • Rocky III gives us Clubber Lang, a vicious boxer in every way possible. After humiliating Rocky Balboa in their first match, he's eager to do it again. But for all his hostility, Lang has no real grudge against the former champ. He's driven to reach the top of the boxing world, and Rocky is in his way. No more, no less.
    Clubber Lang: No, I don't hate Balboa. But I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got.
  • Silence has Inquisitor Inoue voice this as his justification for Feudal Japan's persecution of the Jesuit mission. He tells the protagonist Fr. Rodrigues that he and other authorities don't have anything against the Christian religion on a personal level, and Inoue also tells him that unlike his fellow noblemen, he doesn't see Christianity as a curse. Indeed, he's content to allow the Hidden Christians to remain in hiding, and out of sight, stopping short of eradicating the religion entirely, because all he wanted was to end it as a political threat by getting the Jesuit fathers to apostatize.
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones: When apprehended, the bounty hunter who attempted to assassinate Padme states, "It's just a job."
  • In The Sting, when crime boss Doyle Lonnegan's righthand man asks why Doyle is willing to go through so much trouble to kill someone who's stolen what was ultimately an inconsequential amount of money, Lonnegan points to one of his oldest friends, someone he's known since he was six. He says if that friend finds out that he can be robbed by "one lousy grifter", Lonnegan will have to kill him and anyone else who wants a piece of Lonnegan's operation.
  • In the movie Taken, one of the antagonists uses this. The protagonist, who is on a Roaring Rampage of Rescue to save his daughter, replies "It was always personal to me" and shoots him anyway.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day used the phrase as its Tag Line. (probably to parody a really infamous case of using It's Personal)
  • Also, in Tomorrow Never Dies, Dr. Kaufman has murdered Paris Carver, James Bond's old flame and tries to kill him as well. When Bond gets the upper hand, the villain pleads:
    Dr. Kaufman: I'm just a professional doing a job.
    Bond: Me too. [BANG!]
  • In Training Day, Smiley says this after he spares Jake's life. In this case, it really isn't; Smiley hates the guy who ordered the hit a lot more than the actual victim, towards whom he harbors no particular ill will beyond a general dislike of cops. It's when the target makes it personal that his life is spared — Smiley has to show his gratitude to the guy who rescued his little cousin from a pair of rapists on the street, and sticking it to Alonzo is an added bonus.
  • In the intro of Van Helsing, Igor betrays Dr. Frankenstein for Count Dracula:
    Igor: You have been so kind to me, Doctor, caring, thoughtful. But he pays me.
  • This is explored in The Whole Nine Yards. Mob hitman Jimmy talks about his first target for assassination, and how he spent so much time with the guy and came to like him so much that when the order came to kill him, Jimmy couldn't go through with it. Instead, Jimmy told his target the truth and warned him to run, only to have his target shoot him in the back as a result. After that, things were very personal for Jimmy, and the target "took a really long time to die." Ever since then Jimmy has stuck to the assassin's code of not getting too close to your target, and remembering that it's just business.
  • Victor doesn't give a damn about causes in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Contrast his attitude toward Jimmy with It's Personal.
  • The romantic comedy You've Got Mail emphatically rejects the trope: Godfather fan Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) runs the chain of mega-bookstores that ran the little specialist bookstore owned by Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) to the ground:
    Joe: It wasn't personal.
    Kathleen: What is that supposed to mean?! I am so sick of that. All it means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's personal to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal anyway?
    Joe: Uh, nothing.
    Kathleen: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

  • Faquarl says to Bartimaeus fairly early on in The Amulet of Samarkand, the first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Generally, with djinn, this is true, as they're only working on the orders of a human master, but somehow it always did seem to get rather personal between Faquarl and Bartimaeus, any claims of it not being so aside.
  • Played with in Discworld's recurring phrase "Personal isn't the same as Important".
    • In Men at Arms, Edward D'Eath kills a clown and says it was nothing personal. The clown actually hates this, saying sarcastically "Oh, nice to know it wasn't personal. I'd hate to think I'd just been killed because it was personal."
  • Mentioned in Jon Stewart's Earth (The Book) (written to aliens) that humans often believed that trade was, for some strange reason, exempt from normal moral codes of conduct.
  • The Godfather: In the novel that inspired the movie, Michael Corleone himself takes the trope apart, making this a shining example of an Unbuilt Trope:
    Michael: Tom, don't let anybody kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That's what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal. Like God. He knows every feather that falls from the tail of a sparrow or however the hell it goes. Right? And you know something? Accidents don't happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult.
  • In the third Gentleman Bastard book, Republic of Thieves, both Locke and Sabetha have been employed to handle political schemes for opposing parties, so this comes up frequently. Most notably, when Sabetha tries to have Locke and Jean sent out of the city until the election is done, she makes it clear to both of them that it's just the job, and makes sure that the ship is essentially a Luxury Prison Suite; Locke and Jean are, at most, slightly salty about it once they've been back for a little while. They remain on cordial enough terms that at one point, while Locke and Sabetha are catching up on their long-delayed romance, Locke's magical employer steps in as a Moment Killer.
  • In Shadow of Freedom, Firebrand notes to himself that he has nothing personal against the agents for the Seraphim Independence Movement he meets in Chapter Four. He even wishes them well, even if he doesn't expect "well" to be what actually happens.
  • The Interdependency: In the prologue, a ship's captain is confronted by mutineers led by her Number Two. The XO is planning on selling the weapons they're bringing the Duke of End to Space Pirates, with the added bonus of the XO becoming The Captain and claiming that his predecessor was killed by the pirates. When he tries to invoke this trope, she quickly calls bullshit on it, and he agrees that she has a point. A crisis then puts the mutiny on pause, requiring both groups to work together. After the crisis, The Captain quickly kills her XO and has her people round up the mutineers. Then... she decides to go ahead and make use of his plan anyway.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: After knifing Silchas Ruin in the back, Scabandari takes care to explain that it's not personal, just the way things are, and since there cannot be two people as powerful as they are or there would be conflict eventually, he's going to take the preemptive measure of removing Silchas from the picture.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Said as part of a Bodyguard Betrayal in Rogue Protocol. Murderbot muses that by saying it instead of just killing the target without warning, the bodyguard was making sure the target knew they'd been betrayed, which makes it personal.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Ares does this, telling Percy that "you just might get those hardheaded idiots to listen to you. So I have to kill you. Nothing personal." It seems to be being used humorously, though.
  • In Slaughterhouse-Five, Paul Lazzaro says he plans to put out a hit on anyone who made an enemy of him during the war (whether they knew it or not), but has nothing against the Germans who are trying to kill him because it isn't personal.
  • In the Star Wars Legends novel Shadows of the Empire, a Barabel holding Luke Skywalker captive tells him that they're now involved in a bidding war for a bounty between those who want him dead and those who want him alive, but that it's not personal, just business.
    Luke: You'll excuse me if I take it personally.
  • In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Strega, one of the child sex offenders tries to call his child pornography "just business". This is contrasted with an earlier self-proclaimed pedophile that Burke is forced to speak civilly with, who speaks disdainfully of those who are "commercial" with child pornography and waxes lyrical about emotional bonds and being personal.
  • Subverted by Takeshi Kovacs, his favorite philosopher/revolutionary said to make everything personal. Leading to his multiple Roaring Rampages of Revenge, at least one of which might be counted as a minor act of genocide.
  • In This Immortal, after Hasan tries to kill Conrad, he assures him that it's nothing personal — the latter is just in the way of Hasan completing his job of killing Cort Myshtigo.
  • In Unwind, Risa is consigned to being "unwound" (to donate all her organs) because of budget cuts at the state children's home where she lives.
  • In the Warrior Cats novella Redtail's Debt, after Tigerclaw slashes Redtail's throat, he tells him that it was nothing personal, just that Redtail was in his way and that ThunderClan needs a "real" deputy.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Rebecca, an older student at an evil Wizarding School, fights with the story's protagonist Emily, who at the time was on the side of good and was on a mission to stop Rebecca's team. After Emily apparently defects to the evil school (with the secret goal of infiltrating and destroying it), Rebecca takes Emily aside and notes that the fight wasn't personal and she doesn't hold a grudge over it.
  • In Starfighters of Adumar, Wedge's Red Flight is attacked by several Adumari ships before ever reaching the planet. After touching down Wedge speaks to the diplomatic liaison for an explanation.
    "They were probably young, undisciplined pilots trying to achieve some personal honor by killing you in a fair dogfight. I doubt it was anything personal."
    "You do. I take it very personally. We just had to vape four pilots in what is theoretically a friendly zone."

    Live Action TV 
  • Altered Carbon. At the start of Season 2, Takeshi Kovacs isn't interested in Bounty Hunter Tepp's offer to work for her boss. She responds by shooting him In the Back, cutting out his stack and needlecasting him to a virtual reality meeting room where her boss is waiting. Tepp doesn't see what the fuss is about. "Organic damage isn't personal; it's business."
  • Used as the tag line of the original non-celebrity version of the American The Apprentice. "It's nothing personal. It's just business."
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Convictions", the antagonist is a man who received the line "nothing personal, it's just the times" one time too often. As a result, he started planting bombs all over the station, with the final one placed on the station's fusion reactor, rigged to a deadman switch in his hand.
  • In Blindspot, Claudia says this to Reade after explaining why she tied him up, beat him and threatened to kill him. In a rare turn for the trope, he actually accepts it.
  • Jamie Reagan, the least likely of the Blue Bloods characters, says this to Mafia prince Noble Sanfino when he asks why Jamie befriended him for the sake of an undercover op. Interestingly Jamie felt enough remorse to at least try to keep the mob from assassinating him when they discovered Noble's error.
  • The phrase or its spirit is often dropped in Boardwalk Empire as the various mob bosses betray each other as soon as it's expedient for them. With one exception. Gyp Rosetti detests the idea, thinking it a convenient out for people to ignore or excuse the damage they do.
    Gyp: What the fuck is life, if it's not personal?
  • The trope shows up in the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad. "Just you so you know, this isn't personal": Todd to Andrea.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Warren says "it wasn't personal" when trying to persuade Willow not to kill him in revenge for Tara. This is only true in that he was trying to kill Buffy (in an entirely personal revenge attack) and killed Tara by mistake. As Tara was Willow's girlfriend, she responds, "This is."
  • Used frequently in Burn Notice, both from the villains and the protagonists, although the protagonists use it more often to explain to the Victim of the Week that what the villains are planning to do to them isn't personal. Michael and his team often use this as a key part of their strategizing — an evil criminal organization will leave a neighborhood or person alone once they realize that doing so is just a tiny bit more profitable than sticking around.
  • From Cheers:
    Carla Tortelli-LeBec: It's nothing personal. Just letting off steam.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: The attitude by Hazzard County sheriff's deputies and Anti-Villains Enos and Cletus. During Cletus' run and for much of Enos' first run, they will apologize to Bo and Luke after Boss Hogg sent them to arrest them on some trumped-up charge ... which usually initiates a chase. There's a touch of this, too, in Sheriff Rosco.
  • In The Flash (2014) episode "Fastest Man Alive", Harrison Wells — or rather Eobard Thawne wearing his face — puts a knife through Corrupt Corporate Executive Simon Stagg because Stagg was talking about harnessing The Flash's power for his own gain. As Stagg bleeds out, Thawne says this:
    Thawne: Forgive me, Simon. I'm worried you'll think this is personal. It's not. It's just that The Man in the Red Suit, The Fastest Man Alive...he must be kept safe.
  • Game of Thrones: One of Varys' greatest strengths as a schemer, spymaster, politician, and information broker is that he takes absolutely nothing personally.
  • In "Taken" from The Inside Man, the Handler reveals to Mark Shepherd that he's not the only person trying to get the merger info from Kromocom. "You've got other people working on this?" he asks and the Handler tells him to not take it personally, that it's just insurance.
  • Played to disturbing and offensive levels in Jessie episode "What A Steal", seeing how it's used by a "precocious" girl, Madeline, whom Ravi can't believe merely pretended to be his friend so that she could turn around and rob him and his entire family of their valuables. "Sorry, nerd, it's just business", she tells him. She's only ten years old, and already she's a criminal in the making, even barking orders at her accomplice, who happens to be her brother who is at least ten years her senior.
  • Used in the MacGyver episode "Strictly Business": Mac's arch-nemesis Murdoc returns and announces to MacGyver that his employers, the assassination organization H.I.T., has assigned Murdoc to kill him. Mac is dumbfounded because the last time they met, they had teamed up against H.I.T. to rescue Murdoc's estranged sister who was kidnapped by H.I.T. when Murdoc resigned. Murdoc explains that his sister was later killed in an avalanche, giving Murdoc nothing to live for and prompting him to go back to his former life. Thus Murdoc explains his desire to kill Mac as "Nothing personal. Strictly business." (And indeed this was the only time he did so for that reason since their first meeting it was because he got in the way of his battle with Pete Thorton and the others were motivated by revenge more than anything else).
  • From Melrose Place:
    Allison Parker: It's all in this memo. Again, I'm sorry. It's nothing personal. It's more about your illness.
  • Nada Personal, the exact translation of the phrase that names the trope, was the name of a Mexican Soap Opera, and of the memorable Opening Song specially composed for it. In the soap, the title was justified because most of the protagonists involvement in the plot was because they were collateral damage of a Narc Boss' actions, and the phrase was uttered several times. In the song, however, the phrase was used as "Between both us/there is nothing personal...", i.e. There is no intimacy between us anymore, even if we still love each other.
  • Prison Break: Before Mahone kills Tweener, he tells him "I got nothing against you, kid. But they do." The Company's interest was only in protecting their conspiracy, but whereas they are completely dispassionate about murdering innocents, Mahone is visibly remorseful.
  • During the Saved by the Bell: The New Class episode "Science Fair", Mr. Belding, after finding out that a robot was invented by Screech instead of any of the students, states that the robot is not eligible to be presented in the Science Fair, as it's intended strictly for inventions made by students.
    Robot: What?
    Mr. Belding: Nothing personal.
  • Lampshaded in Smallville
    Lana: And then he had the nerve to say "It's nothing personal, only business."
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In the episode "Inside Man," a dabo girl named Leosa helps some Ferengi to steal a hologram made by Reg Barclay, whom she was sleeping with. When she gets caught, she tells him "If it makes any difference, it wasn't personal. It was just business."
    • This is Arturis's attitude towards the Borg. In "Hope and Fear", he says he doesn't take the Borg's actions personally because nothing they do is personal; they're driven by the single-minded desire to assimilate all life. Unfortunately when Captain Janeway aids the Borg against alien invaders that could have wiped out the Borg, he does take that personally, blaming her for the subsequent assimilation of his own people.
  • Common on Survivor where whittling down tribes to the final numbers often causes a lot of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Boston Rob "The Rahbfatha" Mariano takes this to almost catchphrase levels.
  • In "Lost and Hound" from Turner & Hooch (2021), the female criminal who took Erica's dog Angel tells her that it was business, not personal.
    Erica: It was personal to me!
  • The Wire: Part of Omar Little's personal code of conduct involves limiting his criminal activities to those strictly involved in "The Game," or drug trafficking and related crimes. If you're dealing heroin, for instance, one can expect Omar to show up fully armed and expecting a big payout, with a possible murder or two if he has to, but uninvolved bystanders and law enforcement have little to fear beyond collateral damage and Omar mainly does what he does to make money while also retaining a clean conscience. However, it can quickly become personal if one involves Omar's family or friends, as both Stringer Bell and Marlo Stanfield find out the hard way.
    Omar: Don't get it twisted, I do some dirt too, but I ain't never put my gun on nobody who wasn't in The Game.
  • A rare positive example happens in The Book of Boba Fett when Black Krrsantan gets sent to kill Boba, but is defeated and captured after a pretty savage fight. After The Twins decide to abandon their bid for Tatooine in favor of just leaving the planet Boba offers to give Krrsantan back, but they don't want him and leave him to his fate as Fett's prisoner. After that Boba releases Krrsantan anyways as he, a former bounty hunter himself, understands there never was any bad blood and Krrsantan was just doing what he was paid to do.
    Boba Fett: No hard feelings. It's just business.

  • An inversion: "You Bet We've Got Something Personal Against You!" by Black Flag.
  • Found in John Cougar Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow," a very dark song from 1985 on an otherwise cheerful and wholesome album (named Scarecrow, and featuring the much more commercially successful "Small Town" and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A" as well). The family of the protagonist (named "John," of course) loses its farm when they become hopelessly indebted to a bank. Schepman, the bank's auctioneer, shows up to take bids on the land; when John confronts him, all he can say is: "John, it's just my job, and I hope you understand." Since "Rain on the Scarecrow" is a thinly veiled allusion to the Crucifixion, Schepman is clearly the equivalent of those about whom it was said: "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." John telling Schepman he'll pray for his soul clinches the metaphor.
  • Wall of Voodoo doesn't like big cities:
I'm sorry old man
Its nothing personal you understand
But I've just gotta run
This lead pipe on someone
  • Lene Marlin's hit "Playing My Game" is all about this trope.
    I cry my tears
    But they're not for you

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The reason Steve Corino broke up with Simply Luscious and opposed the Prophecy, because he wanted to milk ROH for money and felt they were going to get in the way of that.
  • Kevin Steen just doesn't care enough for it to be, according to his theme, Unsettling Differences. Won't bother explaining, it goes nowhere. This theme is therefore unfitting because Steen proved time and time again his issues and motivations were always personal.
  • Caprice Coleman has ordered you all to leave your personal issues at home before coming to the factory. No one wants to deal with your drama on the job!
  • Adam Cole launched a relentless assault on Michael Elgin's person, from the pettiness of teaming up with Mike Bennett, Maria Kanellis and Matt Hardy to shave off Elgin's mullet to forcing Elgin to watch Cole and his three buddies assault Elgin's wife. Why, do you ask? Because Adam Cole took offense to Michael Elgin stating that challenging Cole for the Ring of Honor World Title was "nothing personal". Incidentally, it was nothing personal when Kazuchika Okada and AJ Styles ended up laid out during Cole's personal war on Elgin, but AJ Styles took it personally enough to decline a shot at the world title to get at Cole...then again, AJ did wear the belt of a larger promotion.

    Video Games 
  • The player can choose to say this to Jaya during the Bar Tab mission in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
  • This turns up a lot in Armored Core. You're a mercenary, and generally any enemy pilots you fight are mercenaries from the same group you work for. Business is business, and just because you were allies earlier is no reason to hold back now. Outside of the storyline, only a small minority of pilots are actually interested in fighting specifically you.
  • Assassin's Creed Origins: A man calling himself The Butcher tries doing this when confronted by Bayek, stating that what he's doing (oppressing the people of Egypt and slowly crushing their culture) is "just business". Bayek roars back that to him, it's very personal, and then proceeds to kill him.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, Big Bad Jon Irenicus captures and tortures the Player Character and their companions for purely instrumental reasons. They are likely to have all hate for him, but he didn't even know them beforehand, and aside from his ultimate goal is quite thoroughly pragmatic even in the atrocities he commits. It's summed up in the opening narration: "There was no malice, no hatred. No mention of an old score. Only a quick capture and the promise of grim deeds to come."
  • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, the Framing Device is that Athena is narrating the game's events to the Crimson Raiders, and, in True Vault Hunter Mode, Tiny Tina. At one pont, she explains to Tina that on the battlefield, situations change, so she doesn't hold the time Lilith tried to kill her during gameplay personally. She's still a bit ticked off about Lilith trying to kill her a couple of hours ago, though.
  • In Cafe Enchante, in Canus's route, Vennia has no trouble putting Kotone in danger by switching Kotone with Titania to be the World Tree Bride, despite befriending Kotone earlier, because Vennia would do anything to save Titania.
  • Early in Command & Conquer: Renegade, Havoc is informed that his former teammate Sakura, a mercenary, now works for the enemy. At some point she catches Havoc and holds him at gunpoint:
    Havoc: Still pissed?
    Sakura: No... but I do have to kill you. Part of the job, you know.
    • In Generals, the GLA Hero Unit will sometimes say, "Business is business," when ordered to make a kill, which definitely strikes of this trope.
  • In Dishonored, Corvo is framed for the murder of the Empress and sentenced to death by Hiram Burrows, who assures him that it's nothing personal and they simply needed someone to take the fall. Real comforting.
    Hiram Burrows: There was nothing personal in this, even though you almost sank our plans. But it turned out well. You were in the wrong place at the right time, and someone has to take the fall. Goodbye, Corvo.
  • Invoked by Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins after you beat him, as he doesn't know Loghain's issues with you, and you can't afford to take it personally. In fact, you can take it personally, and can kill him on the spot for trying. After this you'll be contacted by Master Ignacio who offers you various assassination jobs. If pressed, he'll emphasize that the original attempt was nothing personal but simply a job; and he's helping you now because he thinks you're the best chance to stop the Blight. Once again, you can accept it wasn't personal or kill him.
    • Iron Bull will say this in the Trespasser DLC of Dragon Age: Inquisition if he sides with the Qunari against you.
  • Eternal Sonata has Rondo use this on Claves when she kills her. "Sorry, but I was ordered to kill you if your identity was revealed. Nothing personal."
  • Fallout: New Vegas: Just before Benny attempts to kill you and set the game's plot in motion, he insists that the whole situation is a case of "wrong place at the wrong time".
  • In Fallout 4, if you choose to assist Bobbi No-Nose in stealing from Hancock and killing his bodyguard Fahrenheit, Hancock is willing to overlook the latter as simply business. He will however force you to reimburse him and kill Bobbi before he's willing to be your companion however.
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Caellach's battle quote when you confront him in Chapter 16:
    "You're a stepping stone. And I'm moving up. Don't take it personally."
  • In The Godfather 2, Hyman Roth tries to offer this when you confront him for the last time.
  • In Hotline Miami, upon finding him in his jail cell, Richter claims that killing the Hooker and attempting to assassinate Jacket was not anything personal (and in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number he apologizes for it), claiming that he, like Jacket, is just another Punch-Clock Villain being roped into a hitman ring by the people leaving messages on his phone. The player has the option to kill him or not.
  • In Mass Effect, Ambassador Udina calmly sells you out to the Council and grounds your ship, despite having been on your side through most of the game. When you call him out, he says you've served your purpose and it's just politics.
    • In Mass Effect 2, if the player takes the Renegade path during Zaeed's loyalty mission, when you corner Vido Santiago he pitifully tries the "just business" line with Zaeed. It doesn't have any more success than one would expect it to.
    • Miranda will claim this during the prologue mission, regarding Cerberus's history with the quarian flotilla.
  • This trope is Lampshaded in Max Payne, with the death of Max's family being "nothing personal", as it was just the Big Bad covering her tracks. Before Max finds this out, he monologues about this concept, pointing out that its ridiculous, and that it always ends up being personal anyway.
  • Sword Man in Mega Man 8. He's very businesslike, citing his orders from Doctor Wily as the only reason he's fighting.
  • Several of the "mavericks" in Mega Man X6 speak amiably with X or Zero before their battle and only clash because they are on opposing sides with the hunters even trying to talk their way out of a fight. X even apologizes to Shield Sheldon before the fight because the latter was wrongfully accused by the Maverick Hunters in a previous event, which Sheldon isn't even bitter about:
    X: I'm very sorry about the case. If only I could have been there in time.
    Shield Sheldon: Don't be. I couldn't fulfill my role as a bodyguard, that's all.
  • Played straight in Metal Gear Solid when Snake talks to Naomi about why he beat her brother Gray Fox and left him to die during the events of Zanzibar Land. According to Snake the fight between him and Fox was nothing personal, they were simply soldiers on opposite sides and it is a soldier's job to kill the enemy, that Fox survived is something Snake is happy about for Fox was his best friend at one point. Hearing this is the one of the things that makes Naomi, secretly Fox's adoptive sister who had spent years obsessing over taking revenge on Snake, realize she'd misjudged the man.
  • In Nier, when Devola and Popola reveal that they've been manipulating Nier for their own ends the entire time and turn on him, they're somewhat apologetic about it and emphasize that they don't personal ill-will against him. After Devola's killed in the ensuing battle, however, Popola completely unravels and vows to destroy Nier and his party at any cost, making things very personal.
  • Portal 2: When GLaDOS hints that she was going to kill Chell and start testing robots instead, she claims this trope (Of course, considering her personality ...):
    "It's nothing personal. After all, you did kill me. Fair's fair."
  • In the first mission of Project Wingman, the Master Goose mercenary squadron arrives too late to save their contractors from Sicario, with the squadron leader choosing to stand down, saying that its ‘just good business’. In Mission 16, Master Goose squadron sides with Frost Druid after the Federation put a bounty on Hitman squadron, with Master Goose One once again saying that its ‘just good business’.
  • Quintessence: The Blighted Venom: At the end of Chapter 1, Lunair says to Reivier, "Nothing personal... But I'd rather not be held back by an annoyance like you."
  • In Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, the Ninja Hayato will sometimes say this when stabbing an enemy from behind. Unlike Mugen, he was merely hired by the Shogun.
  • A rare heroic (sorta) example with Sly Cooper. Sly’s about as laidback as a Phantom Thief can get and rarely, if ever, has any sort of personal beef with the people he robs, especially his fellow thieves. When going against other criminals, he regularly offers multiple chances to end things peacefully, and even when forced to fight them, he rarely ever shows any malice or anger; he just really needs something they have, otherwise he wouldn’t even be bothering them. The only villains who manage to genuinely incur his wrath are Clockwerk, Neyla, General Tsao, and Penelope.
  • Tales of Vesperia has Yeager use this just before the first battle with him. It ends being fitting, given his status as a Punch-Clock Villain.
    Yeager: Nothing personal, you see. Just business.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Affably Evil Sniper is very clear on the differences between a paid assassin and a crazed lunatic when it comes to how to treat the act of murdering someone.
    "Feelin's? You know who's got a lot of feelin's? Blokes that bludgeon their wives to death with a golf trophy. Professionals have standards."
  • Raven from Tekken sometimes mentions this whenever he wins over an opponent. He doesn't have any known personal motive for joining the King of Iron Fist tournament. An intelligence agent, he is just sent there by his employer to investigate the tournament.
    Raven: It's just business. Do not take it personally.
  • In the original Tomb Raider I, the cowboy says this when you encounter him in Natla's Mines.
  • In Tyranny, getting to the final act without having gone Anarchist nets your character a letter from Bleden Mark warning you that he's probably going to be given the order to kill you and that what's about to go down isn't personal... But he'd probably still kill you even if given the choice not to. If you instead go Anarchist by pissing off every other faction, he will instead say this to Tunon just before he's about to kill him on your behalf.

  • Rik from Drowtales subverts it with this Bond One-Liner:
    I could have said it's not personal, but just looking at your stupid-looking face made it personal.
  • In Marilith, the bodyguard Stark says it's nothing personal, just business when he betrays his boss to the Big Bad.
  • In Poppy O'Possum, Fazzi subverts this by specifically stating that the ensuing fight isn't business, It's Personal.
  • In one Something*Positive strip about Rory's gaming group, Nick is playing a particularly obnoxious Prince Charmless who refuses to talk to Sherri's character, the Fairy Dogmother, because she's comic relief. Nick says that this is just in character, and nothing personal. Sherri accepts this, and quietly changes "Goals" on her character sheet from "Protect Princess Piston" to "Make it personal". And she does.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role: Said by Arkhan after he steals the Hand of Vecna after helping Vox Machina destroy Vecna, and then teleports away.
    Arkhan: I'm sorry, it was just business. Until we meet again.
  • Inanimate Insanity II: After Nickel treats Suitcase overly harshly, Baseball sits down with her and tells her that it's nothing personal to make her feel better. When Suitcase votes for Nickel, getting him eliminated in that same episode, Baseball asks her if their conversation meant nothing. She says it has never been personal since they hardly even talk. Several episodes later, Baseball votes for and eliminates the strongest contender and likewise states that it's nothing personal.
  • The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a web-based company which provides bots which are designed to waste the time of telemarketers and other unwanted callers. Recordings of these calls are sometimes posted on YouTube. Company founder Roger Anderson often states in the commentary provided with the recordings of the calls that he doesn't have anything personal against individual telemarketers. He just hates their business model and wants to put it out of business.
  • The infamous Coldsteel The Hedgeheg (a Parody Sue of edgy Sonic the Hedgehog original characters) uses this as his go-to catchphrase.
    psssh...nothin personnel...kid...

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Animaniacs (the Goodfeathers segment) The three protagonists are angry after the plot puts them through the wringer — like always — and halfway through, Pesto smacks Squit in the face:
    Squit: What was that for??
    Pesto: Nothin'. Just felt like whackin' somebody.
  • When Abijah Fowler, Big Bad of the first season of Blue Eye Samurai is meeting with fellow conspirators of their coup, one of them assures him there are many in the court who hate the current shogun. Fowler is quick to say that he doesn't - he just wants his throne.
  • When Tak tries to steal Zim's mission, she claims it's not about revenge; she only wants to take back what's rightfully hers, since he ruined her mission years ago. He can't get this subtle distinction through his head.
  • The Question uses this in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Question Authority" as he is about to kill Lex Luthor in cold blood, even as he describes his distaste for other person as "brobdingnagian". Slightly subverted in that Q proceeded to get his ass handed to him by Lex Luthor, then sent to a prison in which he would be tortured with one of his team-mates as his main warden. Seems it wasn't personal to Captain Atom either.
  • During Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Jason Wynn sends corrupt government agents to assassinate Terry after he finds out Wynn was behind the shipment of illegal weapons. During the hunt, they chase him into a military warehouse. While there, a female employee runs into one of the agents who doesn't hesitate to kill her.
    Agent "Sorry, sweetheart, wrong turn."
  • Rick and Morty: Evil Morty hates our Rick and tortures Mortys, but doesn't seem to hold any grudge against the Mortys on the Citadel, or even the commoner Ricks that voted for him. Under his new policy, Cop Rick gets a break and is allowed to resume his job after being forced to shoot his superior. He elaborates later that he's disgusted by Ricks and the "sellout Mortys" who stick with them, but doesn't actually hate other Mortys because there's really no point in doing so, considering that Mortys are bred by Ricks to be the way they are. It's then subverted when his plan to escape the Central Finite Curve involves burning the place to the ground and pointlessly slaughtering every Rick and Morty he possibly could, demonstrating that his grudge is, in fact, entirely personal. It stands in blunt contrast to his attitude toward Summer, Jerry, or Beth, whom he barely mentions and doesn't involve in his plans at all.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man when Spidey is fighting The Shocker, a foe who he's never met before and who started a fight directly rather than attempting a crime and having ol' Web Head intervene, gets frustrated and asks why him. Shocker, whose simply been hired by Tombstone to assassinate Spidey, responds with this verbadim:
    Shocker: Ain't nothin' personal, Hoss. The simple truth is, if a man's a man he honor's his responsibilities. And you're one of mine.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Gungan General" when Hondo is trying to ensure his hostages will think twice before pulling another escape attempt he gives them the following ineffective speech:
    "I don't want to kill you, per se, in fact you seem like decent fellows, even you Count. This is just business, and once I get my money, we can go back to being friends."
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Jinx says this right before attacking her ex-teammates in the series' penultimate episode.
  • Teen Titans Go!: When Trigon tells Raven to kill all her friends he states it's nothing personal and that it's just the last step in being truly demonic.
  • Transformers: Animated: Dirt Boss turns Bulkhead into a People Puppet and plans on using him to create an explosion at an oil refinery...while his fellow Constructicon Mixmaster is attached to him. Dirt Boss himself doesn't even respond to Mix's protests, while Scrapper tells Mix it's nothing personal.

    Real Life 
  • It is not unknown for professional soldiers to feel this toward their counterpart on the other side. Not necessarily just because they viewed them as worthy opponents but because they realize that in another life they could have been friends. War is just a game of politics, the meaning of who is an enemy changes from one day to the next. Under those circumstances they realize it is petty to hold resentment towards an enemy now that the war is over. However, this depends on the strength of the propaganda in the war effort. During the Cold War, many civilians felt that it totally was personal as a result of the Red Scare. A very notable example of this were the Christmas Truces of 1914 where enemy soldiers at various locations along the Western Front decided to put business on hold, take a break from trying to kill each other, and just celebrate Christmas with each other. Humans Are Special, indeed.
  • Animals hunt other animals to survive. There is (usually) no personal hatred or disdain towards an animal beyond viewing it as a threat or a meal.
  • Assassins throughout history (ex. CIA, Mobsters, any Fanatic, etc.) probably felt this way. Getting to know a person before killing them is a time consuming process which usually (if not always) takes much effort. It just wouldn't be practical in most cases to make it personal.
  • The Mafia would often kill a competing mafia boss and then, seemingly contrary to logic, send flowers to their funeral. This is to tell the widow that they killed her husband simply because of his line of work, and if he wasn't a mafia boss the hit would never have been ordered on him.

"It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Just Business


"Nothing Personal"

Just to save his own skin, Rourke tosses out his right-hand woman Helga, who's been nothing but loyal to him, off his zeppelin. She survives the fall long enough to destroy said zeppelin, much to his horror.

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Main / TheDogBitesBack

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