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Obviously Not Fine

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Elie: Tio?! The sun makes it hard to see, but your face... It's so pale!
Tio: I told you, I'm fine. I'm just feeling a bit unwell, that's all.
Randy: Surely you can see the big contradiction here.

This trope is when a character lies that they're "fine", "okay", etc., and yet there's absolutely no way anyone with a functioning brain could believe them.

Maybe they're bawling their eyes out, maybe they're visibly injured (see I Can Still Fight! and Major Injury Underreaction) or sick (see Definitely Just a Cold), drunk, or whatever, but it's clear they're not fine.

There are several reasons why they might be lying—they might not want to be excluded from something that they would be if someone knew they were sick/injured/drunk/whatever, or they might not want other people to worry, or maybe they're a Stepford Smiler who's terrible at hiding their real emotions, or the reason they're not OK has to be kept secret. They could also be trying to convince themselves that they're fine as well as the person they're speaking to.


In the cases of crying, they might blame it on Sand In My Eyes or try to pretend it's Tears of Joy when it clearly isn't. Claiming that they're "just tired" is a common excuse for any out-of-whack behaviour, but if they really are tired, and it's obvious, expect them to deny that. They might also claim they're just hungry or thirsty, even though their symptoms are not those of hunger or thirst. If the lie has "Do I look X to you?" as its format, someone might respond in the affirmative, perhaps with a Blunt "Yes". Depending on the way they respond, it could lead into I Resemble That Remark!.

Sub-trope of Blatant Lies. Compare and contrast I'm Okay!, for when they really are okay but if not for the Rule of Funny, they definitely wouldn't be. If someone is obviously not fine based on what we know, but it's plausible deniability to the other characters, that's Dramatic Irony. If they act as though they are truly fine, see Dissonant Serenity. If they got shot, and really are fine but shouldn't be because the writer got a fact wrong, that's Only a Flesh Wound. If they truly think they're fine, only to instantly become obviously not fine, that's a variation on Instantly Proven Wrong. If it's the narrator who claims the character is fine when they're obviously not, that's an Unreliable Narrator. See also Lying to Protect Your Feelings, Major Injury Underreaction and Implausible Deniability.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: During a field trip, Kuroe and Rairi run into Yuu Okada, the boy Rairi once liked and who knew her before she started disguising her gorilla face. Rairi runs off when it's clear Okada doesn't recognize her now, and she is seen frantically eating, loudly expressing relief over Okada being in the dark, and swinging from a tree branch while making monkey noises. Kuroe can see Rairi is doing poorly even when the latter insists she's fine.

    Comic Books 
  • In a My Little Pony: Friends Forever comic, Spike tells Zecora that she is infected with the apparent disease that's been going around, and she replies that she's "healthy as a wolf", even though she has gotten spots and hypno-eyes.
  • In Teen Titans: Earth One, Cyborg keeps insisting that he's fine, even as it's clear that he's in pain from the cybernetic implants taking over his body. Later, he says he actually is fine... because the implants have taken over so much of his body that he now longer has any pain receptors.
  • Understanding Comics: In Making Comics, in the chapter on expressions, the author mentions in one panel that readers will notice small changes of expression in comics characters. He shows a hypothetical scene where a girl snidely asks another girl if she's okay. The other girl, who clearly looks exhausted or depressed, and isn't making eye contact with the first girl, says "Yeah, I'm fine."

    Fan Works 
  • The Animorphs fanfic Akira is about Jake being too stubborn to admit that he needs help. He insists that he's fine while sneezing and morphing uncontrollably.
  • In the Gravity Falls fanfic All The World's A Toybox the Outer God Nyarlathotep is informed that he helped Dipper and Mabel defeat Bill Cipher for nothing: back in his home dimension, Azathoth is going to wake up and destroy his universe, destroying all of Nyarlathotep's hard work. After completely losing his temper, Nyarlathotep abruptly calms down and turns Graceful Loser, claiming to be perfectly fine with how things turned out. However, the Twitchy Eye indicates that he's anything but happy. The epilogue confirms it.
  • The Pokémon fanfic LindenCafe opens with protagonist Naota claiming to be fine to work their shift at the cafe today, despite obviously being so nervous they can barely see straight.
    In this world, some people are so gullible, you could tell them "Hey, I just saw a Mew hiding underneath a truck out by the docks," and they'd run off to go look; they wouldn't even stop for a second to consider you might be lying. Not even these people would be fooled by Naota's lie right now.
  • In The Loud House fanfiction Nolan's Birthday, Leni lies that she isn't nervous despite her obviously nervous behaviour, plus she specifically denies not knowing what to give her boyfriend for his birthday.
  • In Forgive an Old Man Harry is lethargic and depressed after Sirius' death.
    Harry: I'm fine!
    Dumbledore: Dear boy, forgive me for seeming unwavering, but if I were to find you with six broken bones, multiple lacerations, and on fire I would still be met with the same response.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Chip claims not to be sleepy to try to get a later bedtime, despite having trouble keeping his eyes open.
  • Frozen Fever: Zigzagged. Elsa has a cold and claims she's actually fine, and while she is sneezing, it's still plausible deniability because it seems to be around springtime. However, later she becomes more obviously sick... but by then, she seems kind of "not all there", so she may actually believe she's fine.
  • In Frozen II, Anna again sees that Elsa is distressed and not "just tired" as she claims when she heads to bed after their charades game.
  • Zootopia has this as a Running Gag with Judy Hopps, who keeps saying that she is fine, even though her mom can tell that she isn't because her ears are down.
  • Hades in Hercules has a by-now memetic example, where he's literally Burning with Anger, only to abruptly stop and claim he's fine while smoothing his fire-hair down.
  • One of Wallace's Catch Phrases in Wallace & Gromit is "Everything's under control," which is almost always said when nothing is under control.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor witnesses Thanos killing half of his people, including his brother and his best friend. He is so driven by revenge that he later fails to kill Thanos in time, resulting in the death of half of the life in the entire universe. An attempt by the Avengers to reverse the snap at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame is futile. When we see Thor again later, he has become an overweight alcoholic, who spends his days playing video games in his messy house. He also has put on a jolly personality to mask his pain and his feelings of guilt, but when Bruce and Rocket visit him they naturally see right through it.
    Bruce: Buddy, you all right?
    Thor: Yes, I'm fine! Why, don't I look all right?
  • In Elf, when Buddy is in shock after finding out he's human and not a Christmas Elf, he says that he's fine and only needs a drink of water, while in the process of passing out.
  • Saving Private Ryan: Sergeant Horvath claims he's just a bit out of breath when he sits down after being shot multiple times. When the camera pans back to him seconds later he's died.
  • In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rio gets shot in the shoulder during a Train Job. While he claims that it's Only a Flesh Wound, Beckett can tell by how much their AT-hauler is wobbling that he's in very bad shape. Minutes later, Rio dies.
  • Discussed in The Italian Job (2003). One of John Bridger's philosophies is that "fine" stands for "Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional".

  • Books of the Raksura: Despite her obviously failing health, Flower insists that she's just "tired" throughout The Serpent Sea. She eventually tells the protagonist that she's dying of old age, that all the other Raksura knew the signs, and that she left him out of the loop because she liked that he was treating her normally. She passes soon after.
  • The Inheritance Games: After Avery survives an assassination attempt, she retreats to a bathroom for a breakdown. Jameson, who was with her for the shooting, follows her in and asks how she's doing. She says she's fine, to which he replies, "You are a horrible liar." She has no better luck convincing anyone the next day, when Grayson tells her, "You most decidedly are not," and her sister Libby doesn't even dignify her repeated assertions that she's fine with an answer.
  • Exploited in the Cosmic Horror short story "Everything's Fine" by Matthew Pridham. An unspecified apocalypse has befallen the Earth and reality seems to be breaking down—but as long as you don't acknowledge the Eldritch Abominations, they'll (probably) ignore you. So even with the moon cracking in the sky, the blood dripping from upstairs windows, and the nameless horrors stalking the streets, the humans who've survived this long are the ones who continue going to their jobs, engaging in banal small talk with their neighbors, and insisting that everything is just fine.
  • Marco from Animorphs will almost always tell the group that he's fine even when obviously shaken by traumatic events during the war, including failing to morph in crisis situations due to stress, or plotting an assassination plot on his mother, who is infested by a high-ranking Yeerk. A representative exchange from book 35:
    Marco: Look, I'm fine.
    Cassie: No, you're not. Jake bought it, Rachel bought it, but I didn't. Something went wrong. I heard it in your thought-speak.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Challenger Disaster, Richard Feynman tries to conceal his terminal kidney cancer from his fellow investigators, at one point dismissing obvious blood in his urine by claiming he'd been eating a lot of beetroot.
  • The Farscape episode "Beware of Dog" features Crichton becoming increasingly unhinged by the hallucinations of Scorpius haunting him; Aeryn continuously seeks explanations for his odder-than-usual behaviour, but Crichton only assures her that he's fine. At the end of the episode, he opens up and admits his worsening Sanity Slippage — though he tries to downplay it by telling her he'll be okay... but his despairing tone clearly contradicts him.
    Crichton: Aeryn, don't worry. [chuckles] I'm not gonna lose my mind! It's all I've got left...
  • Friends: Played for Laughs in "The One Where Ross Is Fine", Ross finds out about Joey and Rachel's relationship. While they are initially afraid of his reaction, he assures them he's fine. Throughout the entire episode, Ross keeps repeating that he's fine when it's pretty obvious that he's drunk and the situation is awkward for everyone.
    Charlie: Gosh, Ross, you know, you seem a little...
    Ross: What? Fine? Because I am! Aren't you? Aren't you? Aren't you? You see? Who else is fine?
  • In The Haunting of Hill House episode "Witness Marks," a flashback reveals a key moment of Olivia Crain's Sanity Slippage was when Steve found her standing alone in the twins' bedroom, talking to herself. When Steve asked her what was wrong, Olivia assured him that she was fine - though the look of terrified uncertainty on her face said the exact opposite. The very next episode reveals that the House was actively messing with her head, showing her a vision of Luke and Nell explaining the future of depression, heroin addiction and death that awaits them.
  • House of Anubis: In one episode, after a long time of Fabian and Joy having a complicated relationship, with Joy experiencing Unrequited Love and trying to compete with Nina for his affection, they finally got to talking. Fabian ended up making it clear that he really did still love Nina and, at the same time, managed to convince her to drop an article that was being written for the school's newspaper. A shaken Joy sits crying while he starts to leave; when he turns around to see if she's okay, she gives him a strained smile and says "Of course, I'm Joy."
  • Schitt's Creek: In the sixth season, Alexis Rose breaks up with her true love Ted because their careers are going in different directions. After an obvious rebound relationship doesn't work out, Alexis stops showering and starts binging her mom's old soap opera. She shows up at the cafe looking disheveled and exhausted but trying to act like her cheerful self. David cringes as he pulls loose hair extension from her hair, as she continues to act like everything is normal.
  • WandaVision: Episode 7 has Wanda insisting to the interviewer that she's fine when it's obvious she's having a mental breakdown.
  • What I Like About You: After Val breaks up with her long-term boyfriend, she insists that everything is fine and continues to go about her daily life. Holly knows that she's deeply upset about it and spends the episode trying to get Val to admit that everything isn't fine.
  • The X-Files: Scully, who is The Stoic most of the time, has "I'm fine, Mulder" as one of her catch-phrases. It's discussed in a season 2 episode, and she admits she doesn't want him to feel as though he has to protect her. Usually, the more insistent she is, the less fine she is.
    • Becomes a Brick Joke of sorts in season 7's "En Ami," when Scully goes off with CSM without telling anyone. Mulder storms Skinner's office just as Scully calls, and she doesn't want to speak to him, instead asking Skinner to tell him she's fine. Skinner does, and Mulder insists she's in trouble, much to Skinner's confusion.

  • The conceit of the Filk Song "I'M FINE", by Whitney Avalon. The song is from the perspective of beleaguered mother Beth from Rick and Morty and shows her drinking while making various clearly false assertions about how great her life is going.
    I'm fine
    Therapy's working
    I've never had sociopathic tendencies
    I'm fine
    I don't see you smirking...
    My life isn't dull, and my family fulfills me

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Sesame Street, when Dr. Nobel Price is sad about his "invention" (socks) turning out to have already been invented, he claims that he's fine despite sobbing.

    Video Games 
  • One of the achievements in Into The Breach is to have 5 enemies on fire simultaneously. The achievement is called "This is fine".
  • During the first couple of days of Chapter 4 of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, Tio begins to suffer flashbacks to her time as a captive of the D∴G Cult due to SSS work bringing her in contact with multiple PTSD triggers. Despite several people, including Lloyd, KeA, and Sergei, noticing that she looks terrible, at first, she's able to brush it off as fatigue due to an exhausting trip round a fiend-infested Middle Ages chapel-turned-Cult Lodge, and she declines offers to have a day off, but it becomes clear it's something more when she still looks exhausted the following day, especially after Professor Guenter discusses Gnosis with the SSS. As the rest of the SSS notices that she's unusually and alarmingly quiet and Elie realizes the poor girl's turned pale, she continues to insist she's fine — even while her dialogue boxes progress slowly as if to imply an effort to not sound traumatized and she admits she's not 100% well — right until she collapses and Randy is forced to rush back into St Ursula to seek medical attention.
  • In the Creative Closing Credits of Until Dawn, the surviving characters are interviewed by the police: Sam talks despondently about Josh (who is either dead or missing), and admits that she thought the two of them had a connection before he went off the rails; her interviewer offers to help her get in touch with a counselor, but Sam insists that she's fine... though the Thousand-Yard Stare and the traumatized tone of voice says otherwise.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: In the Season 5 episode "You Can't Park Here", Doc has Caboose feed Tucker's baby alien a lot of his blood, which causes Caboose to collapse from loss of blood. Come "Sibling Arrivalries", Church tries to get reinforcements to fight the Reds, with Doc telling him Caboose is now fine as the latter runs outside Blue Base, only for him to collapse yet again.
    Caboose: I'm okay! I'm okay! [collapses to the ground] I'm not okay!]
  • Played with in RWBY. Many characters are, at various points in the story, Not Fine, but the level of Obvious can range broadly. Sometimes it's obvious in-universe, sometimes characters can hide it while they're in the presence of other characters, and sometimes it's only clear to audience members who themselves have experienced the situation. In the case of Ruby Rose, it's actually an understated plot point; her Magic Eyes run specifically on the power of positively caring for others, so being Not Fine means she cannot easily get into the mindset needed to use them in combat situations.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Babylon Bee: Parodied. Governor Gavin Newson insists that California is progressing towards utopia while he's a Man on Fire.
  • A common joke in comment sections for videos or articles describing something stupid is for people to comment that they're fine and haven't lost brain cells, in bad grammar, the joke being that they have lost brain cells but are in denial. Of course, this is just a joke and you can't actually lose brain cells that way.
  • LoadingReadyRun gives us EVERYTHING IS FINE. Everyone's tone of voice makes it clear that something is wrong, even though it isn't obvious what.

    Web Videos 
  • Alantutorial: The normally cheery-but-quirky Alan would sometimes have moments of getting upset about his troubling home-life and forced tutorial-making. When this would happen, he'd usually have to post on Twitter about how he was definitely okay and how he loved making his Tutorials, in posts written with uncharacteristically proper grammar, proving that something was wrong. Alan's inability to express his negative emotions came off as obviously forced and was Played for Horror.
  • Dad: In "EVERYTHING IS FINE", Mom is frantically looking for Andan after he disappeared. When Daughter approaches her, the first thing she does is snap, "Everything is fine!". When questioned, she frustratedly repeats the line again and insists that Daughter just goes to the mall instead of asking where Dad is.
  • Daisy Brown: In one video, Daisy is sitting alone in her room talking to the audience. She's locked herself in there, implicitly hiding from her pet monster Alan. At one point, Alan starts screaming and crying outside, which prompts an immediate "It's fine" from Daisy, despite that she's clearly uncomfortable and upset about what's going on. This remains a theme in other videos as well, where she insists to the audience she's doing well when all evidence points to things being... not fine at all.
  • In the Game Grumps playthrough of the horror game P.T., Arin keeps repeating that "everything is fine" as they travel down a scary hallway, while a freaked-out Dan insists that everything is actually "the antithesis of fine."
  • Parodied in New Father Chronicles. Some videos set when Nayely is a baby will have her say she doesn't have a problem, but then fall over, the joke being she's Drunk on Milk and addicted to it, though in reality she is just a normal baby.

    Western Animation 
  • Adult Swim commissioned station idents based on ten Gunshow comics. One of them, "This Is Fine", is based on the "On Fire" strip, where Question Hound calmly insists everything is okay while his house burns down around him, and he melts from the heat.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Pony", when Gumball and Darwin are attending Sussie's birthday party because their father bribed them with money, Darwin calls Anais on the phone to explain to her why they're intending to cancel their promise of watching a film they bought for her together. When Darwin, who somehow pokes his eye through the phone, asks her if she's fine, Anais says that she is while visibly crying.
  • DuckTales (2017): Donald eventually develops a molting problem due to the stress of his family's adventuring. Even as he sheds more and more feathers, he keeps insisting "Everything's fine." It's not until the end of the episode where he's finally gone bald that he admits that "Everything's not fine" and defeatedly walks out of the room.
  • Evil Con Carne: In "Devolver (Part 1)", General Skarr is hit with a Transformation Ray, and Major Doctor Ghastly suggests he get to the infirmary. Skarr refuses, insisting "I've never felt better in my life", right before his transformation really starts to kick in.
  • The Loud House:
    • In the episode "Head Poet's Anxiety", Luan is jealous of Lucy but tries to suppress it and be happy for her. She does an obviously fake smile and when Lucy asks if she's okay, Luan says yes, even though she's clearly faking.
    • "Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow" gives us another jealousy example— Lynn is trying to hide her jealousy of Margo, and when Lincoln asks if she's okay, she says she is— even though she is shouting and has an angry popping vein.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Tanks for the Memories", Rainbow Dash says that she's not angry about Tank hibernating, despite wearing a huge scowl.
    • In the episode "A Royal Problem", Princess Luna has a lot of pent-up bitterness towards her sister, which comes out even as she is denying it. Lampshaded by Starlight:
    Starlight Glimmer: You know how some ponies say nothing's wrong, but you can tell something's definitely wrong?
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode, "Mama's Boy", eventually after moving out of his parent's place, there's a montage of Heffer talking to his mom on the phone and repeatedly telling her that everything is fine while he is shown in ridiculously not fine situations like being in a plane mid-crash, in a medieval torture chamber and in hell.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "I Was a Teenage Gary", Squidward accidentally injects SpongeBob with a dose of snail plasma meant for Gary, and he assures him that nothing's going to happen to him. However, as SpongeBob starts to psychologically, and then physically, transform into a snail, he keeps insisting he's fine until it becomes impossible to ignore.
    SpongeBob: I take it back, Gary! Something's wrong with meeeeeeeeeee-ow!
  • Played for Drama throughout Steven Universe: Future. Steven is frustrated, tired, and generally traumatized from all his time dealing with the Gems' world-threatening conflicts, but constantly tells his family that he's okay and not to worry about him. However, as he's been bottling his emotions for so long, his powers begin acting up when his anger builds up. He continuously denies needing help even after unintentionally hurting others because of it, and even when his own body begins uncontrollably growing. Eventually his incredibly concerned family hold an intervention, which gets Steven to admit he's been severely affected by what he's experienced through his desperate attempts to downplay it, and being confronted with all the trauma, resentment, and guilt makes him spiral into believing he's a monster, with his powers following suit.
  • In one episode of Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Optimus Prime keeps insisting that he's fine despite obviously limping, much to Windblade's concern. It turns out, he actually was fine and was merely acting hurt to get the Decepticon that was following them to attack him instead of the actually-injured Windblade.
  • In the 1948 short Make Mine Freedom, the American citizens try a sample of Dr. Utopia's Ism under John Q. Public's suggestion. What follows is a montage of each citizen having a vision of their social class under oppression and denied freedom by the turquoise arms of an otherwise unseen figure. The politician's vision has him trapped in a state concentration camp, declaring, "We must fight to regain our freedom, for everything is lost! Everything—" The figure then slaps a record player on his head which drones, "Everything is fine... Everything is fine... Everything is fine... Everything is fine..." turning him into a propaganda speaker for the state.


Video Example(s):


This is Fine

A station ID for Adult Swim featuring the memetic "On Fire" strip from Gunshow.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (47 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObviouslyNotFine

Media sources:

Main / ObviouslyNotFine