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Present Company Excluded

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A character makes a derogatory statement about a group of people, then realizes that their statement includes either one of their friends or themself, and qualifies the statement with "Present company excluded." A variation on the Verbal Backspace.

This is often used in passing as a throw-away gag, although occasionally more conflict might stem from it; the character it was unintentionally aimed at might still be insulted (especially if the prejudice was a long-running thing), or if the sub-text seems to suggest that the speaker really did mean to offend. Often, though, the character won't seem to mind.


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    Fan Works 
  • In the Dragon Ball Z fanfic Honor Trip, there's this exchange from Chapter 49:
    "Now, at last, all of those damn androids are dead." Upon realizing exactly what he had said, Trunks turned to directly face Cell, and grinned. "No offense, of course," Trunks said. "Of course none is taken," Cell said, with a humble grin as well.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell:
    • In the sequel Picking up the Pieces, griffon Doctor Gregory says "Damn Equestrians", then realizes Night (a Nox Pony from Equestria) is right there. Night isn't offended though, since he feels the same way about the specific Equestrians being referred to.
    • In chapter 26, Sweet Surprise uses the expression "like a batpony out of Tartarus", then remembers there is a batpony present and adds "No offense intended". Night isn't bothered and says, from what he's heard about his siblings and their adventures with the family skimmer, the expression (referring to a being going at ridiculously high speeds) is accurate.
  • My Little Pony: Totally Legit Recap: Lampshaded in the recap for Rainbow Rocks.
    Rainbow Dash: Woah, wait, hold on, is Sunset Shimmer gonna do something useful? No offense.
    Sunset Shimmer: It's getting harder and harder to believe you're not doing that on purpose.
    Rainbow Dash: You're fundamentally inadequate! No offense.
  • The Persona 5 fic Nudist Queen (NSFW) has Akechi dig himself into a hole while talking about Sae prosecuting a man for public indecency.
    Makoto: She never looks happy when she's working. But she seldom looks this 'out of it'. It must be frustrating to be pulled away from much more important work to handle something silly like this.
    Akechi: I don't think it's silly at all Niijima-san. Your sister is working hard to bring justice to a true pervert. A freak who publicly exposes themselves before others and gains some sick pleasure from it, only a truly disturbed and disgusting mind could drive them to such debauchery… [notices the rest of the group glaring at him, especially Makoto, Futaba, and Yusuke, all three of whom are full-time nudists] …w-without filling out the proper legal documents to do so - of course.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the mayor refers to the population of the town as "sardine-sucking knucklescrapers."
    Brent: But not me, right?
    Mayor: Oh, not you, Brent. No, you've always been Like a Son to Me.
  • Quickly deconstructed by Bunnymund in Rise of the Guardians when Jack has a minor Rage Against the Heavens.
    Jack: No, [becoming a guardian] is NOT for me! [turns to the others] No offense.
    Bunny: How is that not offensive?!
  • In The Rugrats Movie, we have this exchange between Stu and Drew:
    Drew: We're talking about a real job, Stu, with benefits!
    Stu: I'm not going to waste my life being a clock-punching, paper-pushing, bean-counting...! (Drew gasps, as that is what he does for a living) Uh, no offense.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Mummy (1999), when Jonathan is complaining about the Americans in Hamunaptra, while Rick O'Connell is digging:
    Jonathan: And when those damn yanks go to sleep, no offense...
    Rick: None taken.
    Jon: We'll dig our way up and steal that book right out from under them.
    Rick: Are you sure you can find this secret compartment thing?
    Evie: Oh, yes, if those beastly Americans haven't beaten us to it, no offense.
    Rick: None taken.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, one of the Klingons describes The Federation as a "Homo Sapiens-only club", and another glances at Spock and adds, "Present company excepted."
  • Used in Master and Commander, after Jack calls for his ship to spill the wind from his sheets, and act lubberly and panicky, like a whaler might (in order to capture the ship they are chasing). With the captain of a whaler who'd been captured by, had the ship he'd been out for two years on burnt to the waterline, and left on a small boat in the middle of nowhere to die by said enemy ship standing right beside him.
  • Comes up in the 2004 film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate when Ben Marco approaches Raymond Shaw:
    Raymond Shaw: Who would I ask? My old Army "buddies," who love and adore me for saving their pathetically unimportant — present company excluded — asses?

  • Averted in the Vorkosigan Saga novel Barrayar, during Cordelia's first meeting with the Dowager Princess Kareen:
    "There have to be bright women around here somewhere, with all these bright men. Where are they hiding?" Cordelia shut her mouth, as it suddenly occurred to her that Kareen might mistakenly construe this remark as a slur on herself. Adding present company excepted would put her foot in it for sure, though.
  • Discworld:
    • Night Watch: The revolutionaries on the street are rather confused when Commander Vimes comes up to talk to them, instead of forming ranks against them. Reg Shoe's lone cry of "Death to the Fascist oppressors!" is quickly amended to "Death to the Fascist oppressors, present company excepted."
    • Guards! Guards! has a bit where one of the members of the council says that the dragon who's been made king of Ankh-Morpork shouldn't have to waylay people "like some common assassin" and the head of the Assassins' Guild says "Excuse me?", leading to a Verbal Backspace of "...some common murderer, then." This makes perfect sense, because there is nothing common about the Assassins.
  • The Legend of Drizzt has a few instances of this when Drizzt and his allies face off against other members of Drizzt's species. Drizzt generally isn't offended when people add the qualifier in haste, though he does care when people deliberately avoid giving a qualifier.
  • In Worm, Skitter falls into this after one of her confrontations with the Slaughterhouse nine.
    Skitter: I'm growing to hate tinkers. People with enhanced senses and tinkers. And fire manipulators. Sorry, Sundancer.
  • From The Dresden Files:
    Harry: I can't believe I'm about to say this. So think real careful about where this is coming from. Have you people ever considered talking when you've got a problem?
    Mouse: Uh-woof.
    Harry: Sorry, four-footed nonvocalizing company excepted.
  • Ranger's Apprentice invokes this frequently, with the Skandians being the most common target. Svengal even remarks that one day, he will take offence when someone casually slurs his race, pointing out that Skandians take offence with a battleaxe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the episode "With a Little Yelp from My Friends" of Selfie, Eliza makes a comment about sweatshop babies in front of Henry, who is played by Korean John Cho, and then says no offense to your family. Henry says "My family owns a Buca Di Beppo but, still offended."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    Xander: I have the worst taste in girls.
    [realizes he is speaking to Buffy]
    Xander: Present company excluded, of course.
  • Firefly episode "Ariel":
    Wash: Don't you just hate doctors?
    Dr. Simon Tam: Hey.
    Wash: I mean, present company excluded.
    Jayne: Now, let's not go excluding people.
  • Knight Rider episode "Deadly Maneuvers"
    Michael Knight: Well, these computer things are just a waste of time anyway.
    K.I.T.T.: Ahum.
    Michael Knight: Oh, present company excluded, of course.
  • In Blackadder Goes Forth a suddenly revolutionary Baldrick announces to Blackadder his intention to "overthrow the hated oppressors like you and the lieutenant. Present company excepted, sir."
  • There's this exchange from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "I, Mudd":
    McCoy: [discussing a new crewmember] There's something wrong about a man who never smiles, whose conversation never varies from the routine of the job, and who won't talk about his background.
    Spock: I see.
    McCoy: ...I mean that it's odd for a non-Vulcan.
  • In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, when General Xaviax possesses the comatose body of Kamen Rider Wrath, he muses to his loyal right-hand man, JTC/Kamen Rider Strike, that "Things would have been much simpler if I could have manipulated all the Earth Riders this way. Present company excluded, of course."
  • Iron Fist (2017): Inverted in "War Without End" where Joy Meachum insults Davos, and then excludes Chen Wu to insult him too.
    It makes sense that you hang out with a bunch of teenagers, because any adult (one-eyed sycophants excluded) would instantly see how full of shit you are.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode Touchstone, the team is at Area 51 and O'Neill jokes about where the little green men are kept.
    Reynolds: There are no alien lifeforms at Area 51.
    [everybody looks at Teal'c]
    O'Neill: Present company excluded, of course.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Happens during Chris Rock's stand-up special Bigger And Blacker:
    Chris: Racism everywhere. Who's the maddest people? White people. (gestures towards the audience) Not y'all. Y'all all right. You paid money to see me, we cool. "The feud is over."

  • In the stage adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's Rain, Sadie Thompson's climactic furious declaration that men are all pigs is followed by her hurriedly excepting her love interest from this description.

    Video Games 
  • Team Fortress 2's "Meet the Spy" video:
    BLU Scout: I've killed plenty of spies. They're a dime-a-dozen back-stabbin' scumbags, like you! No offense.
    BLU Spy: If you managed to kill them, I assure you they were not like me.
  • Mortal Kombat 11's Father and Daughter intro:
    Cassie Cage: Your agent thinks I should be a big star.
    Johnny Cage: Stay away from those Hollywood sleazebags.
    Cassie Cage: Present company included?

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Parodied in 8-Bit Theater:
    Thief: I hate wizards.
    Thief: What?
    Red Mage: I'm waiting for you to say "present company excluded."
Red Mage then waits an hour for the Thief to say it.
  • Used in this strip of Flaky Pastry, but only after three Beat Panels
  • Used in this Avatar: The Last Airbender parody/recap of "The Western Air Temple."
    Toph: I'm serious, though! I mean consider his background! He was raised by upper-class, prejudiced crazies and he still turned out pretty well, considering!
    Katara: Whatever. You know we can't trust people like that!
    Toph: AHEM.
    Katara: Present company excluded, of course.
  • Stated explicitly and unironically by Rayne Summers in Least I Could Do at a comic convention, directed at "pathetic webcomic artists" who the author, Ryan, holds in contempt for being crappier than him.
  • Girl Genius:
  • The Dreadful: Erin complains that the zombies she's fighting don't stay dead, then remembers that she was just resurrected herself.
    Erin: Will nothing keep itself dead?! (she realizes) Not that I am complaining, Ith.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Onni's Refusal of the Call statement is that only idiots would accept the job that's offered. He then needs to specify that he does not mean to call his younger sister, who Jumped at the Call, an idot.
  • Freefall: When Mr Raibert learns of Mr Kornada's treachery from Florence, who is an Uplifted wolf, he promptly calls him a "son of a species that isn't yours".

    Web Original 
  • The Annoying Orange:
    Orange: The world I've been dreaming of is one without apples.
    Midget Apple: Hey!
    Orange: Present company excluded.
  • In the Shephard's Mind finale, he's being attacked by a shock roach, and when he guns it down, he yells "Not today you jumping thunder***! No offense Sparky." (Referring to his own shock roach).

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the movie:
      SpongeBob: We survived the horrible disgusting monsters!
      Monsters: [collectively] Awwww.
      SpongeBob: But not you guys! You guys were awesome!
    • In "Frankendoodle", Patrick is going on about how ugly DoodleBob (a crude drawing of SpongeBob come to life) is:
      Patrick: He's hideous! He makes me sick just looking at him. Those big, bulgy eyes, that square body, those two buck teeth, and that stupid tie!
      SpongeBob: Ahem.
      Patrick: Oh, but it looks good on you, SpongeBob.
  • Futurama:
    • "When Aliens Attack":
      Zapp Brannigan: Our mission is clear: destroy all alien life forms.
      Kif: Um, not me, sir.
      Zapp Brannigan: Right. Nobody destroy Kif. Unless you have to.
    • Also in "Less Than Hero":
      Leela: My parents! They're coming up from the sewers for a visit Sunday.
      Amy: Are you off your rocket? Your parents are mutants! It's illegal for them to come above ground 'cause they're inferior genetic scum! ...Uh, present company excluded, of course.
  • Beast Wars
    Waspinator: Waspinator detect stink of unnatural Transmetal!
    Dinobot II: [growls]
    Waspinator: ...Waspinator exclude present company.
  • Justice League:
    • In the episode "The Brave and the Bold", when Green Lantern suggests calling for backup from the rest of the League to help with Grodd, Flash asks him if the two of them cannot take down a dumb gorilla, quickly adding "No offense" to Solovar, who was with them.
    • In the episode "Hawk and Dove", Hephaestus uses this trope for some self-deprecating humor. Ares grows impatient as Hephaestus finishes the suit of armor he commissioned, telling Hephaestus, "It doesn't have to be pretty, Hephaestus. Where it's going, things aren't supposed to be pretty." Hephaestus responds, "Present company excluded, of course." The humor comes from the fact that Hephaestus is overweight and ugly.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Applebuck Season":
      Twilight Sparkle: [concerning her friend Applejack] That pony is as stubborn as a mule!
      Mule: [snort]
      Twilight Sparkle: No offense.
      Mule: None taken.
    • Done again in "Hurricane Fluttershy":
      Rainbow Dash: Be cool, or be a mule! No offense.
      Mule: None taken.
    • It happens once again in "Gauntlet of Fire":
      Rarity: B-B-But the Dragon Lands are full of... dragons! And they're ghastly creatures!
      Rarity: [talking to Spike, who happens to be a dragon] Oh, oh, not you, of course, Spikey-wikey.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series: When Quigley learned about Tim's Freudian Excuse, he made a comment about witches and then remembered he was talking to witches.
  • In almost every incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the word "Rat" will be used as an insult at some point, with the speaker quickly apologizing in this way to Splinter after they do so.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) features this bit from "Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X". As loads of police are flooding into the area following the Turtles and Neutrinos' fight against Tragg and Granitor:
    Dask: Don't those squares know you're on their side?
    Michelangelo: Man, humans don't know nothing when it comes to turtles!
    April: Ahem!
    Michelangelo: Uh, present company excepted!
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "Cookie Dough", Bloo complains about the house's leaky roof and says that "an imaginary friend cannot live underwater forever" before excusing Fido, a literal dogfish.
  • House of Mouse: In the short "Sandwich Makers", Mickey's new job at a submarine-themed restaurant has him wearing a sailor's suit nearly identical to Donald's normal outfit (with the addition of pants).
    Mickey: Gee, I feel like a dope in this sailor's suit.
    Donald: Hey!
    Mickey: But it looks good on you.
  • The Simpsons: In "Maximum Homerdrive", the Simpsons are having dinner when Lisa walks in, muttering "Lousy meat-eating scum...". This makes the others stop before she says "Not you", before telling them that she's sickened by a steakhouse, the Slaughterhouse, where literally everything is made of meat (although Homer's intrigued by it and insists upon going there).