Follow TV Tropes


Stealth Insult

Go To
We don't condone their overuse, either.

Lissa: Oh, so you're "Teach" now, Vaike, is that it? Hee hee! And here I thought people were just born lacking wits. It can be taught?
Vaike: Ha! Never doubt the Vaike! …Wait, was that an insult?

Character A is in no position to insult Character B... but does so anyway in a way designed to slip under Character B's radar. Alternatively, Character A may think of Character B as stupid, and so makes the insult relatively subtle so that Character B won't get it and will end up looking like a fool.

A favored tactic of the Deadpan Snarker, especially the Servile Snarker. Differs from Insult Backfire in that a Stealth Insult is intended to be misinterpreted by its target; indeed, it may sound like a compliment at first (which is why some call it a Backhanded Compliment). Stealth Compliments, the inverted version of this trope where a compliment is purposefully hidden in an insult, is a favored tactic of Tsunderes and Tough Love proponents.

Sometimes rendered in writing via an acrostic, a text in which the first letters of each line or word collectively form their own message.

See also Overly Narrow Superlative and My Friends... and Zoidberg, which are often specific forms of this. With Due Respect is also sometimes used as this. A frequent technique in Passive-Aggressive Kombat, and sometimes a clever way to deliver a Quiet Cry for Help to third parties who are clever or informed enough to recognize the implications. May overlap with Insulting from Behind the Language Barrier when character A uses a language unknown to character B. When an author or other creative type does this, it may result in a Misaimed Fandom.

Compare Backhanded Apology, False Reassurance, Two-Faced Aside, and Parenthetical Swearing.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bloom Into You, Sayaka, while waiting for Touko at a train station, happens to run into her senpai and ex-girlfriend. The older girl apologizes to Sayaka for making her like girls and expresses the hope that Sayaka can go back to normal (i.e. heterosexuality). Sayaka responds with, "No need to worry about me. As of now, I don't know how I ever had feelings for you. Still, I suppose I'm grateful to you- in a way," much to her senpai's relief. Sayaka then leaves arm-in-arm with Touko, thereby subtly expressing that she's still a lesbian, and the only thing that's changed is that she no longer loves her senpai. She caps it off by saying goodbye with "Sayonara," - a word which carries the connotation "I do not expect to see you again."
  • In Chainsaw Man, Nayuta uses her mind control powers to make Asa act like a dog as revenge for seeing her kiss Denji. So she non-verbally called her a bitch.
  • In Charlotte, Nao Tomori visits Yuu Otosaka's little sister Ayumi when Ayumi falls ill. Ayumi remarks that Nao and Yuu would make a great couple, but Nao replies that someone with Yuu's intelligence and good looks would be out of her league. Outwardly, this would seem complimentary, but since Nao actually considers Yuu an idiot, it's insulting.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: In Eikoden, after new protagonist Mayo refuses to bathe, a woman makes an unfavorable comparison between Mayo and her predecessor Miaka, which sounds like a compliment to Mayo's hygiene, but is actually calling her unheroic.
    "I have to admit, you do keep yourself pretty clean anyway. Lady Miaka was always dirty from running around in the countryside with the Suzaku Seven."
  • In Kino's Journey, Kino once meets a man who'd managed to overthrow the despotic king of his country, a tyrant who'd executed anyone who disagreed with him. Unfortunately, the resulting democracy became a tyranny of the majority, executing anyone who disagreed with the majority until only the man and his wife were left, and the latter died of an illness. In the end, Kino leaves the country, calling the man "Your Highness," as a way of saying that he's no better than the previous king.

  • Marriage A-la-Mode: This is one interpretation of the portrait of the old Earl hanging on the wall in The Marriage Settlement, a portrait packed with incongruities. The Earl is portrayed as a young Jupiter, god of oaths and treaties, and yet is surrounded by symbols of warfare. He holds symbols of paganism and Christianity in either hand, wears the sash of the French Order of the Holy Spirit and the neck ribbon of the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece (neither of which, at the time, had ever been awarded to an Englishman), and sits on a cannon firing grapeshot, while the wind is somehow blowing his clothes and his hair in opposite directions. If the artist knew what he was doing, then he correctly assumed that the Earl's ignorance and vanity would prevent him from seeing past his depiction as Jupiter and thus noticing how ridiculous the portrait really is.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Captain Marvel seriesnote  the titular character is a humanoid alien trying to do good on Earth. Rick, bonded to Marvel, teaches him a new battle cry. "Oh Watta Goo Siam."note  Captain Marvel took some time to get it. About a year later, Marvel went insane and destroyed the entire universe, but that was probably unrelated.
  • In V for Vendetta, the gangster, Ally is hired by the new police chief, Creedy.
    Ally: Yer predecessor, Mr. Almond wouldna' have had time fer a man like me, a verra superior man, Mr. Almond. Now you sir, you're not superior. Quite the reverse, in fact.
  • In the comic and film versions of 300, Leonidas and the remaining Spartans are surrounded by Xerxes' army after they were betrayed by the Spartan Ephialtes. Leonidas tells him, "May you live forever" before taking his last stand. This phrase may sound oddly positive. However, in Spartan culture, dying gloriously in battle is considered a highly sought after and desirable fate.
  • In From Hell, Sir William Gull explains at length to his uneducated, dim-witted coachdriver John Netley his intellectual rationale for the Whitechapel murders he's about to commit.
    Gull: You realize that I only share these private thoughts with you in recognition of your lack of cognizance?
    Netley: Why—thank you, sir. I can't say what that means to me.
    Gull: Ha ha ha! Of COURSE you can't. That is precisely why I trust you.
  • The Smurfs comic book story "Salad Smurfs" has a Stealth Pun Insult as Brainy who ate the magically grown vegetables in Farmer's garden is turned into a pea, thus becoming a "pea brain".
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Hestia (goddess of home and hearth), who can't stand her family's impulsive, incestuous, backstabbing ways gives up her seat as one of the Dodekatheon to Dionysus, the god of madness, drama and drunkenness, all things she can't stand about the other members.
  • While MAD is usually rather overt with its insults, it can often be rather subtle, often using Damned By a Fool's Praise or other related tropes. For example, in the The Last Jedi parody, General Hux complains about the film throwing out the narrative that J. J. Abrams had set up in the previous movie... while holding cases for Lost and Alias, the implication being that Abrams couldn't have come up with a good resolution to the plotlines.
  • The short Star Wars comic "Routine" follows an Imperial captain assigned to a soul-drainingly tedious border patrol duty, made even worse by a smug young lieutenant with a perfectionist streak whom he utterly despises, but is too beaten-down by his situation to do anything but throw out some passive-aggressive remarks that go completely over the lieutenant's head:
    Lieutenant Raprice: Is my report satisfactory, Captain? I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible.
    Captain Llnewe: As ever, Raprice, your attention to the most minute detail is quite...remarkable.
    Raprice: Thank you, sir.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin sometimes has some fun this way at Moe the bully's expense. Once he responds to Moe's demand for a quarter by telling him, "Your simian countenance suggests a heritage unusually rich in species diversity." As Moe stands there confused, Calvin hands over the quarter and says it was Worth It.
    • A couple of times, Hobbes makes a snide comment about Calvin while Calvin is distracted. Calvin doesn't realize that he has been insulted until much later that night.
      Calvin: What the... I'm not playing with a full deck!
      Hobbes: That's what they all say.
    • In one strip, Hobbes notices Calvin making a long list of things that annoy him and makes the suggestion of "excessively negative people". Calvin happily agrees with that, until he realizes Hobbes was referring specifically to him.
    • In one Sunday strip, Calvin fantasises about going to the moon, and says he wish he could go. His father says he also wishes Calvin could go to the moon. His mother overhears and isn't particularly amused.
    • When Calvin asks why his dad goes to work instead of his mom, his dad explains that they used to both have jobs but once Calvin was born one of them had to stay home to take care of him...
      Calvin's Dad: Your mom's job had a lot of stress and aggravation, see...
      Calvin: ...And she wanted to quit?
      Calvin's Dad: No, she'd gotten used to it, so we figured she should be the one to...
      Calvin: HEY!
    • Watterson had to fight very hard to keep his syndicate from licensing his work note . During that time he threw the occasional Stealth Insult at the syndicate's expense into the strip. He insists that he never wrote anything that didn't stand on its own, though.
  • Dilbert:
    • Dogbert once gives the title character this epic zing:
      Dogbert: I could never underestimate your intelligence.
      Dilbert: Apology accepted.
    • Dogbert, acting as spokesdog for the strip, calmly, simply, and ruthlessly dismantles an offended reader who wrote to complain: [1]
    • Also in this strip, where Wally insults the Pointy-Haired Boss and claims that he's talking to his mother using his hands-free phone.
    • And: "Bingo, sir."
    • And again.
  • Madam & Eve slips one here with Eve's "Madam Report Cards".
  • Played by Rat in Pearls Before Swine:
    Pig: My goal in life is to leave every place I visit a little better than when I arrived.
    Rat: I think you do that. Every time you leave a room, I say to myself 'Hey, the room's a little better.'
    Pig: Ohhh, thank you!! Thank you!!
    Rat: (to Goat) The best insults are the ones that look like compliments.
  • In one Sally Forth strip, Nona says Hilary's obsession with the song "You're So Party, Let's Go Dancey" is "just one big DSM-5 entry. No offence, Hil." Hil's response is a perplexed "Not sure if one's taken".
  • In one Sunday Zits strip, Jeremy's father asks him what music groups he's been listening to lately. Jeremy's response? "Stuff like Sweatervest, Eight-Dollar Haircut... Costco Specs, Rhino Jowels, Coffeebreath... Miles of Khaki, Slipperstank..."
    Father: (as Jeremy leaves the room) That sounds like an awesome variety of music!
    Mother: (unamused) Not to mention a pretty good description of you.
    Father: Slipperstank rules!

    Fan Works 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic, Amy and Mecha Sally has Fiona attempting to prove to Elias and Nicole that she didn't come to New Mobotropolis to pick a fight with Mecha Sally, who has regained her free will. She then hits her to see no damage so her point is proven.
    Fiona: See? Sugar-Queen is indestructible. In other words, she's numb.
    Mecha Sally: I get the detail already.
  • In the Ben 10 fanfic Hero High Ben and Gwen almost appear to try to one-up each other when it comes to stealth insults.
  • In Pokéumans, Spiritus confesses to Brandon that the original Pokemon referred to the developing human race as Homo Stultus.
  • In this Avatar: The Last Airbender fic, Ozai gets one in after watching Zuko and Azula spar.
    Ozai: Excellent as always, Azula. And a better effort than I've seen from you, Zuko. Perhaps one day you'll manage to become a firebender that isn't an affront to your ancestors.
  • In Field of Innocence, Ozai's farewell to Lu Ten and Iroh is basically him and his nephew taking shots at each other like this.
    Lu Ten: Well, Grandfather would know best after all. Perhaps he sees that you would be of less use on the battlefield than you are here at the palace.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Lemony Narrator seems to take great enjoyment out of making several potshots at Celestia's expense.
  • In Faith No More, Faith's In-Series Nickname for Buffy "B" is revealed to actually be short for "Bitch".
  • In the Sherlock Holmes fanfic Of Art And Autographs, Holmes tells Watson that his talent as a writer is wasted on romantic fiction. Watson explicitly calls it a backhanded compliment and is too angry to appreciate it.
  • In Love and Loss, when Kurenai questions the idea that Naruto would attack a fellow Konoha villager if something happened to his daughter, Naruto responds that she should wait until she's a parent. Then if she can honestly say she wouldn't kill anyone who harmed her child, regardless of where they're from, he'll admit she's a better shinobi than him, leaving it all but unsaid that she'd be a far worse parent.
  • In Weres Harry? Harry comes up with a rather nice one when he gets fed up with a social gathering Padma Patil drags him to during his first year at Hogwarts.
    Harry: I apologize for my interruption of this most prestigious of gatherings. I am afraid my manners are not on the level of a gathering such as this. Ms. Patil merely wished for me to see for myself the society that my parents and I sacrificed so much in defending. I am pleased to say in this she succeeded admirably. And now if you would excuse me?
  • In Soldier of Zero Saito calls Kirche a "pet name in the language of his homeland", namely Calamari for how bone-crushingly tight her embrace is when she's trying to get him in her bedroom.
  • In Slipping Between Worlds, Lt Holtack slyly compares Lord Rust to one of the Roundworld's most known soldiers, whose manner to fight is still religiously taught: the General Custer.
  • In Princess of the Blacks, Jen manages to use an insult to hide a worse insult when she suggests that if Danny dies during the First Task, she'll put snapdragons on his grave. Besides the obvious reference to the dragon he's about to face, snapdragons represent arrogance, so she's saying that it's his fault if he dies.
    • While giving an interview to the Daily Prophet, Jen gives a statement directed at the Potters about how they've made a life without her so she doesn't expect them to make room for her and she's happy with the Blacks. To most, it reads as her saying she doesn't expect anything of the Potters; to those who know her, Jen's telling them to stay out of her life.
  • In Double Agent Vader, an in-story unidentified individual (actually Vader, as per Word of God) always has the Empire Day party attended by the Emperor decorated with flowers that, in the Naboo flower language, have mocking and insulting meanings, something that completely flies over Palpatine's head as he doesn't know any flower language. Pooja Naberrie, who does, always has a good laugh at the decorations.
  • In the Star Wars AU Heretic Pride, one of the changes from the canon timeline is that Anakin Skywalker tries to get Chancellor Palpatine to intervene on behalf of Tatooine's slaves, and gets a better understanding of Palpatine's nature from the way Palpatine always promises to do what he can but never actually does anything. During one conversation, Anakin responds to Palpatine's latest insincere promise by telling him that on Tatooine there's a phrase for what Palpatine's doing: "help from the Core". Palpatine is flattered, not knowing that "when we get help from the Core" is a Tatooine slave idiom equivalent to "when hell freezes over".
  • In Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises, the infamous Let's Go Brandon chant is used against the mayor of the town, Joe Biden.
  • The Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Fox Rain has two examples:
    • The Akumatized identity of original character Zoe the Fangirl is named Rose Bride, as even Papillon thinks she's just as crazy as that series.
    • The new superhero Vorpika refers to Papillon as "Papillon der grillo coi fiori'n mano", which in Rome's dialect translates as "Papillon of the cricket with flowers in the hand". She's paraphrasing a movie quote that is well known in Italy and extremely vulgar, enough the author refuses to complete it to protect the story's ratingnote .
  • In Growing Daylight, Darci jokes that if anyone between her Claire and Mary would have gotten pregnant first, she thought it would have been Mary instead of Claire.
  • The King Nobody Wanted: While less stealthy than most insults, Garth Tyrell gets in a zing at Lord Commander Hightower in the middle of a talk about the ideal kinds of leaders and advisors, and passes on to the next point so quickly that his companion seems to miss it.
    Oswell Whent: My past has made me suspicious of clever men.
    Garth Tyrell: Understandable. The problem being that if you don't trust in the clever, you wind up following the fools. And that never goes well. But enough of the Lord Commander. What do you think of Lady Ruari?
  • Inverted in The Second Try when Asuka says that "one could actually mistake [Rei] for a human being" after seeing her smile. Given that Asuka knows about Rei's Clone Angst and is trying to keep her status as a time traveller a secret, she deliberately worded it in a way that everyone else would merely interpret as one of her younger self's standard insults.
  • In Darth Vader: Hero of Naboo, young Anakin teaches Padme a card game which Vader explains has no victory condition and is merely designed for a group of people to waste a lot of time. The name of the game? Republic-Senate.
  • Only Flowers Fall: While her abusive mother Lusamine is comatose in the hospital, Lillie brings her cyclamen flowers (a flower that symbolizes resignation and goodbyes). To those who don't know flower language, it just looks like a sweet gift.
  • In Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash, Aldonza is catering a wedding reception while pretending to be a ditz. At one point the groom, who was earlier identified as having zero redeeming qualities, pops into the kitchen to check on her. Aldonza flashes him the "okay" gesture, which he takes to mean that everything's in order. After he leaves...
    Zapana: "Weren't you the one who told me that gesture's considered obscene in Spain?"
    Aldonza: "Not my fault if he's never seen 'The Pod People'."
  • In Fate/Grand Order: Ring of Promise, da Vinci reveals to Makeda that during Olga-Marie's twentient birthday, her father Marisbury organized a Chaldea Father-Daughter Dance, knowing the majority of Chaldea's staff are frustrated singles that never had time to meet anyone and start families. Romani Archaman was able to avoid the insult by bringing Mash Kyrielight as his niece.
  • In Retold The Second Year Draco states that some people prefer classical beauty to "fat cows with big udders".
    [Harry stares at Pansy for a minute.]
    Harry: You know you're right. She does have a classical beauty. Sort of like a Picasso or Cezanne. Very much.
  • In the Futari wa Pretty Cure/Turning Red crossover Maple Sugar Pretty Cure, Pisard's debut chapter has him calling Miriam (Cure Clover) a little weed.
  • At one point in the Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) fic Making Space, Tails is trying in vain to get Knuckles to accept that his claim of being "one million percent muscle" is scientifically impossible, leading to this exchange:
    Knuckles: We must agree to disagree.
    Tails: Nooo, a hundred percent is as high as you can go! And you have bones! And fur! (points at Knuckles' head) And something up there between your ears, I assume.
    Knuckles: Obviously more muscle.
    Tails: (rolls eyes) Obviously.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles Mini-sodes: When Sakura tells Hinata that she feels sorry for the latter:
    Hinata: Why is that?
    Sakura: You're stuck with Naruto, while I have such an awesome boyfriend?
    Hinata: Did you break up with Sasuke?
    Sakura: What?! No!
  • An Unpleasant Surprise: When a disturbed Ashley Harris asks Molly McGee if she's attracted to her after remembering her say she looks good without her glasses, an incredulous Molly states she is not, nor will ever be, attracted to someone like her. Ashley completely misses the true meaning of her now former friend's words and just sighs in relief.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin:
    • The Sultan insults himself in a very subtle way. He is wondering why his daughter Jasmine can't choose a suitor to marry, then adds 'Her mother wasn't nearly so picky.' It may take the audience a little while to notice the Self-Deprecation.
    • When Aladdin decides to visit Jasmine and play up the prince charade, he strikes an arrogant pose and askes the Genie "How do I look?" The Genie, who had just tried to convince Aladdin to stop pretending to be a prince, replies: "Like... a prince."
    • When Jafar is praising Iago on his plan to marry Jasmine and eventually bump her and the Sultan off: "I love the way your foul little mind works!" Note the way he pinches his fingers together when he says "little".
  • The Bad Guys (2022): At the Golden Dolphin ceremony, Mr. Wolf, disguised as "Mr. Poodleton", asks Governor Diane Foxington if he can have a picture with her and a modern art structure he calls a "pile of garbage". Diane coyly tells him he's too hard on himself. Wolf catches onto what she said a second before he takes the photo. It doubles as Foreshadowing; Diane, later revealed to be a former criminal, can see through Wolf's disguise and is taunting him.
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991 Disney version):
    • Belle tells Gaston that he's "positively primeval", but says it in a light enough voice that he thinks she's complimenting him. It doesn't help that he's ignorant enough to not know what "primeval" means (although, he's the kind of person who would probably take it as a compliment even if he did know).
    • Later, when she's trying to diplomatically kick him out of her house, she says "I just don't deserve you!" Bonus in the musical adaptation, where he responds to the line with "Who does?"
  • In Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, when Mr. Krupp says that the evidence he has for George and Harold being behind all the school pranks is in his gut, Harold quips that he must have a lot of evidence.
  • Despicable Me: Gru asks Miss Hattie whether she speaks Spanish. When she says no, he tells her that her face is "Como un burro" ("Like a donkey"). She is flattered... until she later buys a Spanish-English dictionary and slaps Gru in the face with it.
  • Eight Crazy Nights: The animated Adam Sandler (Davey Stone) does this:
    Whitey (Davey's caretaker): Now I assume you've done your pre-game warm-ups.
    Davey: No, let me do them right now. [Hold up his fists, raises and lowers his middle fingers] One, two, three, four...
    Whitey: [oblivious] That's good, but don't forget your hammies.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:
  • The Jungle Book (1967): Bagheera delivers a sharp one when Baloo is trying to make himself look like someone who can be trusted to raise Mowgli.
    Baloo: I'll learn him all I know!
    Bagheera: Well, that shouldn't take too long.
  • The Lion King (1994): Scar slips this into his conversation with Simba at the beginning. Simba, being a cub, doesn't pick up on it.
    Simba: Hey, Uncle Scar. When I'm king, what'll that make you?
    Scar: A monkey's uncle.
    • It may or may not have been intentional, but nevertheless, the hyenas dish one out to Scar himself just scenes later.
      Banzai: Oh Scar. It's just you.
      Shenzi: We were afraid it was somebody important.
      Banzai: Yeah, you know, like Mufasa.
      Shenzi: Yeah.
      Scar: (scowling at the sheer sentences) I see.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: Principal Cinch does this when she breaks up the party that was just starting to give the schools a chance to intermingle.
    "It's been four years since the last Friendship Games, but it feels as though nothing has changed. Canterlot High continues to pick its competitors in a popularity contest and Crystal Prep continues to field its top twelve students. It is a comfort to know that even after so many years of losses, your school remains to committed to its ideals, however misguided they may be. I wish you all the best of luck, regardless of the inevitable outcome."
  • The finale of Ratatouille centers on Caustic Critic Anton Ego going to the restaurant Gusteau's to ascertain for himself why it has become popular again. When asked for his order, he takes the opportunity to troll the waiter by answering abstractly, saying he wants "some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective". Upon the waiter expressing confusion, Ego just asks if they're all out of perspective.
  • The Swan Princess: One of the musicians says "I'm an artist, not a boar!" (Protesting his being asked to dress up like an animal for archery practice.) Derek's advisor Rogers, the resident Deadpan Snarker, gives an Aside Glance and says "Could've fooled me."
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: The Mario Bros. write on their own defictionalized website for the film that they started their own plumbing business after getting fed up with "spiky" bosses, making a subtle jab at the expense of Foreman Spike, who resents the fact that they left his employ and still bullies them to this day.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In the series' theatrical series finale, Miss Brooks is Mr. Conklin's campaign manager for his crack at the new post of Coordinator of Education (essentially, School Board Superintendent). Collecting donations from students and teachers, Miss Brooks tells Mr. Conklin that many of them were behind him. They were willing to give him a push out of Madison if necessary. Mr. Conklin's change of expression from glowing pride to a perplexed frown suggests he quickly realized the import of Miss Brooks' comment.
  • What Happened to Santiago: Santiago, who is an extremely Reluctant Retiree, tells the guests at his retirement dinner that his experiences with them allow him to "remember you as you deserve." There's a Beat before everybody decides to applause.
  • In Blackbeard's Ghost, Coach Walker delivers a beaut, disguised as a pep talk.
    "I want you to look at this event not as an ordinary track meet but as a preparation for life. Some of you are going to be graduating soon. You’re going to find the world out there full of nothing but trouble, frustration, and strife. And I tell you right now that nowhere will you find a better preparation for that world outside than to be a member of this particular team."
  • In the comedy film Liar Liar, Jim Carrey's character, who has been cursed to tell the truth for one day, is forced to tell his bosses exactly what he thinks of them (not very complimentary thoughts, to say the least), but manages to save himself from disaster by affecting a mocking tone of voice, thus convincing them that his insults are only outrageous jokes.
  • Time Bandits:
    Evil: Dear Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence.
    Benson: You say such nice things, master.
    Evil: Yes, I know. I'm sorry.
  • From Caddyshack:
    Judge Smails: They tell me you're the man to beat this year, and, well, I'm no slouch myself...
    Ty: Oh, don't sell yourself short, Judge. You're a tremendous slouch.
  • In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Clark frequently does this to Eddie.
    Clark: My cousin-in-law whose heart is bigger than his brain.
    Eddie: I appreciate that Clark.
  • In Zodiac (2007), the suspected Zodiac Killer is questioned by the police. As he leaves, he flatly tells the officers that he looks forward to the day when policemen are no longer referred to as pigs.
  • Quo Vadis has Petronius, who spends the entire film secretly snarking off to Nero of all people. His moment comes during the Great Fire of Rome when Nero worries that his song won't be epic enough to match the moment, Petronius serves him with this line:
    Petronius: I am sure you will be worthy of the spectacle.... as the spectacle is worthy of you.
  • Spock's goodbye "salute" to the Vulcan Science Academy in Star Trek (2009), which can basically be translated as, "Live long and fuck you." It was a fairly appropriate response.
  • In School of Rock, after Ms. Mullins berates Freddy for not being in accordance with the school's dress code (he was styling himself as a punk), Frankie says "Ms. Mullins, you're the Man." She responds "Why, thank you, Frankie", not realizing that he was referring to the phrase "stick it to the Man", i.e. he called her an oppressive authority. Dewey had taught the class about "The Man" early on.
  • In Amadeus, after the premiere of Salieri's opera Axur: King of Ormus, Salieri goes up to Mozart, hoping for his approval. Unfortunately, Mozart has learned to be diplomatic:
    Salieri: Mozart. It was good of you to come.
    Mozart: How could I not?
    Salieri: Did my work please you?
    Mozart: How could it not, Excellency?
    Salieri: Yes?
    Mozart: I never knew that music like that was possible.
    Salieri: You flatter me.
    Mozart: Oh no! One hears such sounds and what can one say, but — Salieri!
  • Men in Black:
    • Near the beginning of the film, J is arguing with a skeptical (and overweight) cop about his chasing a suspect who turned out to be an alien in disguise.
      NYPD Sergeant: Edwards, if you were half the man that I am...
      J: Hey man, what are you talking about? I am half the man that you are!
    • Zed to the rejected MiB candidates: "Gentlemen, congratulations! You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training. And now if you'll just come with me, we have one more test to administer: an eye exam."
    • J scratches his forehead with his middle finger after K states he has to "grow up" before he can get a Neuralyser.
  • In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren walks in on a meeting between supreme leader Snoke and Hux. After Hux leaves, Snoke responds to Kylo's unspoken question about why he keeps such a rabid fanatic around with "A cur's weakness, properly manipulated, can be a sharp tool". Kylo doesn't pick up on Snoke obviously speaking about both Hux and Kylo.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Kim gets to do quite a few of these, notably flipping off her contract manager by using her middle finger to scratch under her eye.
  • Kirk gave a more in your face insult to Tugg in Tropic Thunder.
    Tugg Speedman: There were times while I was playing Jack where I felt...retarded. Like, really retarded.
    Kirk Lazarus: Damn!
    Tugg Speedman: In a weird way I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that is was okay to be stupid or dumb.
    Kirk Lazarus: To be a moron.
    Tugg Speedman: Yeah!
    Kirk Lazarus: To be moronical.
    Tugg Speedman: Exactly, to be a moron.
    Kirk Lazarus: An imbecile.
    Tugg Speedman: Yeah!
    Kirk Lazarus: Like the dumbest motherfucker that ever lived.
    Tugg Speedman: [pause] When I was playing the character.
  • In Clue:
    Col. Mustard: Well, you tell him it's not true!
    Ms. Scarlett: It's not true.
    Mr. Green: It that true?
    Ms. Scarlett: No, it's not true.
    Mr. Green: Aha! So it IS true!
    Wadsworth: A double negative!
    Col. Mustard: Double negative? You mean you have (whispering) photographs?!
    Wadsworth: That sounds like a confession to me, In fact, the double negative has led to proof positive. I'm afraid you gave yourself away.
    Col. Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
    Wadsworth: You don't need any help from me, sir.
    Col. Mustard: That's right!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: Tony's Sexy Secretary Pepper Potts delivers a not-very-subtle one to Tony's one-night-stand.
      Christine Everhart: After all these years, Tony still has you picking up the dry cleaning.
      Pepper Potts: I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including, occasionally, taking out the trash. Will that be all?
    • Iron Man 2:
      • The senator's remark to Tony Stark shortly after giving him the medal and "accidentally" pricking him with the pin.
        Senator: Sorry, it's funny how annoying a little prick can be.
      • Pepper once again proves she is the master of this.
        Hammer: Christine Everhart's actually doing a big spread on me for Vanity Fair. I thought I'd throw her a bone, you know. Right?
        Pepper: Right. Well, she did quite a... spread on Tony last year.
        Tony: And she wrote a story as well.
    • In Thor, Loki uses good timing on a comment for ironic effect:
      Thor: You're a talented liar, brother, always have been.
      Loki: It's good to have you back.
    • The Consultant: Phil Coulson unloads a fast one on Agent Sitwell.
      Sitwell: I got it. We send a patsy to sabotage the debrief.
      Coulson: A patsy?
      Sitwell: Yes, someone to screw it up. Someone so inept that General Ross will refuse to release Blonsky. I could do it. I make a great patsy.
      Coulson: Yes you do. Your patsy is legendary. In fact, when I think of the word "patsy"—
      Sitwell: Alright.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Rocket attempts to be "polite" to the Sovereigns by telling them "You know, they told me you people were conceited douchebags, but that isn't true at all" (with a wink to Peter afterwards to signal that the insult was intentional). The "stealth" part fails, partly because he messes up the winking and does it in full view of everyone instead of hiding it.
    • Thor: Ragnarok:
  • Dame Maggie Smith plays a shrewish lady in Gosford Park who is a master at these. In one instance, she "compliments" a cash-strapped woman for wearing the same dress over multiple days, saying that she's delightfully economical.
  • There is a quick one in Transformers: Age of Extinction when Cade calls all of humanity "junk".
  • Monte Carlo (1930): When Duke Otto sings "She'll Love Me and Like It," about how he's going to bring his Runaway Bride back and make her shape up, the wedding guests repeat his words in a way that turns them into insults.
    Otto: I have a nasty temper, though I keep it in control
    For, after all, I really am a simple-hearted soul.
    Chorus: He's a simp, he's a simp, he's a simple-hearted soul!
    Otto: But when my seeds of kindliness have failed to bear me fruit,
    I then become, I must confess, a nasty-tempered brute.
    Chorus: He's a nas [an ass], he's a nas, he's a nasty-tempered brute!
  • The Faculty uses one of these for a Genius Bonus. The theater teacher Mrs. Olsen wanted to put on a production of Guys and Dolls, but Principal Drake, having earmarked most of the school's extra money for the football team (because the football-obsessed PTA and school board would accept nothing less), recommends recycling the sets from Our Town instead. Any theater geek would know that Our Town doesn't use any sets — which means that, in other words, Drake just told Mrs. Olsen to fuck off. (Drake is played by Bebe Neuwirth, a Broadway star who definitely would've gotten the joke.)
  • A classic in Casablanca: "Major Strasser is one of the reasons the Third Reich enjoys the reputation it has today."
  • Arthur (1981):
    • When Arthur introduces Hobson to his "date for the night:"
    Arthur: Hobson, this is Gloria.
    Gloria: Hi!
    Hobson: Thrilling to meet you Gloria. I look forward to your next syllable with great eagerness.
    • Later, Hobson says to his new girlfriend Linda: "Thank you for a memorable afternoon. Usually one must go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature."
  • In The Italian Job (2003), Stella meets Steve, the man who killed her father, while pretending to be a cable technician. She is greeted by his guard dogs and promptly tells Steve in a casual tone that she is "used to meeting all sorts of animals".
  • In Spaceballs, Pizza the Hut gets Barf's name wrong and calls him "Puke". Barf corrects him, "That's Barf". However, Barf says this in such a way, that it doesn't sound like he's actually correcting Pizza, but rather telling Pizza he looks like barf (which he does).
  • Templeton from the live-action Charlotte's Web gives a sly one to the cows. It's half-subverted in that one of the cows laughs in response, while the other sees straight through the insult.
    Betsy: Don't you break that egg, rat!
    Bitsy: A broken rotten egg would make this barn stink to high heaven!
    Templeton: That'd be a change.
    Bitsy: Ahahaha!
    Betsy: Why you laughin', Bits? He just said we stink!
  • In Wake Me When It's Over, a general presiding over Brubaker's court martial gets one in on Gus as he's leaving.
    "Brubaker. I'd like to commend you for what you've done for our air force. I can think of only one other man who has matched your record. I refer, of course, to Baron von Richthofen."
  • Queer documentary Paris Is Burning discusses "shade", which is stealth insults as raised to an art form in black and Latino queer communities. As explained by Dorian Corey in the documentary, "Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly. And that’s shade."
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: At the beginning, after Roger blows his lines again by seeing Circling Birdies instead of stars after getting a refrigerator dropped on his head, the frustrated director Raoul J. Raoul calls for a lunch break, but Roger wants to keep trying.
    Roger: I'm a professional, I can take it! Don't worry about me!
    Raoul: I'm not worried about you, I'm worried about the refrigerator!
  • SHAZAM! (2019)
    • A variant on this trope happens shortly after Billy gains his powers and starts bonding with his foster brother Freddy, they have the following conversation. In this case, the person delivering the insult isn't trying to put one over on his target or get away with insulting someone he shouldn't, but is unwilling to be completely direct.
      Freddy: You know, I like you like this. This is so cool. I mean, no offense, but, like, at first you were kinda like the opposite of how Darla is.
      Billy: A dick?
      Freddy: Your words. Not mine. But yeah.
    • Late in the film, after Billy reunites with his biological mother and discovers she willingly abandoned him and currently doesn't want him back in her life, the former tells the latter that they are going to return to their "real family". Since the latter disowned Billy as a child, the former now disowned them, no longer viewing her as his mother.
  • Daniel Hillard is prone to these when he's in his Mrs. Doubtfire disguise, telling his ex-wife Miranda that her interior decorating "reeks of taste" and often inserting barbs towards her new flame Stuart Dunmeyer the few times "she" willingly converses with him.
  • In Child's Play (2019), Chucky does this when he's pretending to be Omar's "new" Buddy doll under the name of "Chode." When his unsuspecting owner demands he "salute his master," "Chode" responds with a left-handed salute.
  • Carry On Constable:
    • Gorse being called a "Special" Constablenote .
    • PC Benson accosts a suspicious-looking man outside a post office, only to find he is Detective Sergeant Liddell, who tells him he looks quite sensible, immediately after giving the advice not to be misled by appearances.
      Benson: (seeing Liddell's identification) Oh dear. But you look such a standard criminal type!
      Liddell: Oh, don't be misled by appearances. After all, you look quite sensible.
      Benson: (Flattered) Thank you. (Realising, as Liddell walks away) Charming.
  • On the topic of the progress of Janet's driving lessons in Please Turn Over:
    Janet: And I do think I'm doing awfully well, don't you?
    Ian: Oh, awfully.
  • Raising the Wind: When Sid and Harry bicker over whether Mervyn's musical skills are legit or not, Sid asks if he's ever been wrong, to which Harry replies, "Definitely". Sid doesn't realise what he's just said and thanks him.
  • When Bob shows Nurse Catty his broken headphones in Twice Round the Daffodils:
    Bob: I'm afraid this broke in my hand, nurse.
    George: I can screw it up.
    Bob: Exactly my opinion, but I'd rather have it done properly.

  • Armenian Radio jokes are all about this trope.
    Q: What is chaos?
    Armenian Radio: We do not comment on national economics.
    Q: Is it true that there is freedom of speech in the Soviet Union the same as there is in the USA?
    Armenian Radio: In principle, yes. In the USA, you can stand in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, and yell, "Down with Reagan!", and you will not be punished. In the Soviet Union, you can stand in the Red Square in Moscow and yell, "Down with Reagan!", and you will not be punished.

  • Angela Nicely: In “Problems, Problems!”, Angela asks Mrs. Nicely to read the Agony Aunt article, but Mrs. Nicely says no because the problems are all about “money, or boyfriends, or mothers who never get a moment’s peace”.
  • Crosstime Traffic: In The Gladiator, Annarita gets in a good insult at her fanatical, self-righteous rival for the socialist equivalent of class president when they make their speeches to the class.
    Annarita: Maybe I was wrong about The Gladiator. At least I know I can be wrong though. I don't think Maria's ever been wrong in her life—and If you don't believe me, just ask her.
    Maria Tenance started to nod. She almost gave herself a whiplash stopping when she realized, a split second too late, that Annarita wasn't complimenting her.
  • In Dragon Bones, Tisala says to Ward that it's his eyes that make him look stupid, especially the long lashes. He replies that he always thought it was the colour - his eyes are brown, as are Tisala's.
  • Emma: At her lowest moment, Emma carelessly insults her old friend Miss Bates. When the latter is challenged to say "three dull things", she quips "Ah! ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me— but you will be limited as to number—only three at once." The old lady takes a moment before getting it.
  • Lord of the Rings: Bilbo Baggins' famous toast "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.". If you can parse out those negatives, it's actually a compliment (more or less, he wishes he knew more of them and he doesn't like some of them as much as he should), but it's noted in the book to be deliberately worded it to confuse them as to whether it was good or not. He also proclaims that he set up the guest list specifically so it could have 144 people on it (because it's both his 111th birthday and his adoptive son Frodo's 33rd), which the people quickly realize is an implication that he only invited them to pad the list. After he leaves, his parting gifts are straight up passive aggressive, including: a trash bin for a hobbit who writes unsolicited advice, a bookcase for someone who borrows books and never returns them, and most of a set of silver spoons for Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, who stole the rest of the set years ago. Lobelia immediately recognizes the insult...but still takes the spoons.
    • A more straight example occurs in The Silmarillion. King Thingol agrees to give land to the Haladin on the condition that they protect the militarily critical crossings of Teiglin from orcs. Lady Haleth, their leader, is insulted that he thinks they would do otherwise.
      Lady Haleth: Where are Haldad my father and Haldar my brother? If King Thingol believes Haleth will treat with the murderers of her father and brother, then the thoughts of the Eldar are indeed strange to men.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the first book, despite having been bullied by his cousin Dudley for his entire childhood, Harry manages to get one over on him.
      Dudley: They flush people's heads down the toilet first day at Stonewall. Want to practice?
      Harry: No thanks. The poor toilet's never had anything as horrible as your head in it; it might be sick.
    • In the third book, Harry's Aunt Marge, a dog breeder, does a stealth insult towards his mom, Lily:
      Marge: "If there's something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup—"
    • In the fifth book, Minerva McGonagall does this to Dolores Umbridge.
      McGonagall: He [Harry Potter] has achieved high marks in all his Defense Against the Dark Arts tests—
      Umbridge: I'm terribly sorry to have to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me—
      McGonagall: I should have made my meaning plainer. He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.
    • In the sixth book, Harry drops a quick one on his Divination teacher, the notorious Not-So-Phony Psychic Sybill Trelawney:
      Sybill Trelawney: Everything went pitch black and the next thing I knew, I was being hurled headfirst out of the Room!
      Harry Potter: And you didn't see that coming?
      Sybill Trelawney: No, as I said it was pitch— *suddenly gets it and gives Harry a Death Glare*
  • From Ella Enchanted, Ella gets one over her thicker-than-bricks stepfamily:
    "What a clever daughter I have," Olga beamed at Hattie.
    "As clever as she is beautiful," [Ella] said.
    They both began to answer me, and then stopped, confused.
    "Hattie isn't pretty," said Olive.
  • The Fall of the House of Cabal, criminologist Leonie Barrows soon realizes that the vampire Horst Cabal is a Brainless Beauty. So she tells him that he's very handsome to which he's extremely pleased, but then she follows it with how he likely didn't need to be good in school. It then sinks to Horst and he complains, asking her if she was saying he was stupid. Leonie then tells him she didn't say he was stupid, she just implied it.
  • Sherlock Holmes gets one of these on Inspector Gregson after noting that the pathway outside of the murder scene has been so trampled over by the police that any clues are now impossible to make out: "With two such men as yourself and Lestrade upon the ground, there will not be much for a third party to find out." This goes completely over the head of Gregson, who assumes that Holmes is complimenting him on the thoroughness of his investigation.
    • He does many of these throughout the canon, but one particularly ballsy was targeted towards the King of Bohemia.
      King of Bohemia: (Talking about Irene Adler) What a woman – oh, what a woman! Did I not tell you how quick and resolute she was? Would she not have made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity that she was not on my level?
      Holmes: From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty.
    • Also in "The Problem of Thor Bridge" towards his own client.
      Holmes: I'll give you one. This case is quite sufficiently complicated to start with without the further difficulty of false information.
      Client: Meaning that I lie.
      Holmes: Well, I was trying to express it as delicately as I could, but if you insist upon the word I will not contradict you.
    • In "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier"—one of only two cases narrated by Holmes himself—he even takes a pot-shot at Watson, although in this case, he might not mean it as poorly as it comes off sounding. note 
      "A confederate who foresees your conclusions and course of action is always dangerous, but one to whom each development comes as a perpetual surprise, and to whom the future is always a closed book, is indeed an ideal helpmate."
  • Words of Radiance (book two of The Stormlight Archive): Kaladin continuously insults Adolin while pretending to compliment him. Examples include: "You are the least obnoxious heir to a princedom I've ever met." Read: The only heir to a princedom he has ever met. Adolin is none the wiser until Shallan points it out to him. Kaladin stops once Shallan points out that Adolin is making an effort to be friendly (in contrast to earlier, when he distrusted Kaladin on every level).
  • Older Than Print: In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao manages to insult the capabilities of his surviving advisors by weeping for a dead one.
  • An intercultural example: in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, the main character pretends to be impressed by a lousy Persian court poet, so much that he compares him to "the excellent Count Khvostov", a legendarily, memetically awful Russian poet.
  • Warrior Cats is good with these: in the later books of the series, most Gatherings consist almost entirely of the Clans taking jabs at each other in this manner.
    "I am pleased to hear that you are getting so much use out of a piece of land prey-poor by ThunderClan standards."
  • In Discworld, even though Vetinari and Vimes are in a position to insult people straightforwardly, their insults often confuse people, sometimes because the insults are clever and sometimes because the people being insulted are just thick. Jingo has this example:
    Sgt. Colon: I know something about seaweed, sir.
    Vetinari: You do?
    Sgt. Colon: Yes! When it's wet, that means it's going to rain!
    Vetinari: I shall never forget you said that.
    Colon's response is to walk away proudly thinking that he's "Made a Contribution", when Vetinari probably meant he would never forget its monumental stupidity.
    • Vimes does it to Wide-Eyed Idealist Reg Shoe throughout Night Watch. Eventually, he pushes it far enough that Reg catches on. (The setup is that Reg is trying to ration out the besieged Republic's food and, to his disappointment, Vimes has just pointed out they don't need to ration the food, because they have most of the food in the city):
      Vimes: But I'll tell you what, if this goes on, the city will see to it the deliveries come in by other gates. We’ll be hungry then. That’s when we’ll need your organizational skills.
      Reg: You mean we'll be in a famine situation?
      Vimes: If we aren't, Reg, I'm sure you could organise one.
    • In The Wee Free Men, one of the traveling teachers condescendingly complements Tiffany on knowing the word "zoology":
      Teacher: That's a big word, isn't it?
      Tiffany: No it isn't, actually. "Patronizing" is a big word, "zoology" is really quite short.
    • In Wintersmith, Petulia remarks that when Annagramma calls her "the pig witch", there's too much "pig", and not enough "witch". Petulia is a witch who looks after pigs, not a pig that practises witchcraft, but based off which word Annagramma chooses to highlight...
    • Carrot Ironfounderson is either a deft master at this trope, or a sincerely well-meaning speaker who only accidentally says things like "If it [the Fools' Guild] burns to the ground, it'll be a blow for entertainment in this city."
    • In The Truth, William, a master of Exact Words because he Will Not Tell a Lie, responds to an article Sacharissa wrote about a flower-arranging competition with "I think it is quite likely that it would be impossible to improve this piece in any way." He means not that the article is perfect, but that there's so much wrong with it that he couldn't begin to improve it, but he runs it anyway to take up newspaper space, appeal to the ladies who were mentioned in the article, and avoid offending Sacharissa.
    • In The Last Continent, the Senior Wrangler is criticising Ponder Stibbons for wasting his time studying fossils. Ponder, who is getting really fed up of the senior wizards by this point, replies "I always thought that old fossils had a lot to teach us. I may have been wrong."
    • Vetinari's introduction to the City Watch Diary is mostly sincere, but he wouldn't be Vetinari if he didn't slip in a bit of snark:
      Nothing seems to be beyond the officers of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, a fact that I sometimes recall even in the middle of the night. Wherever there is trouble, you will find the Watch, and, it seems, the other way round as well.
  • In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Poirot gets one in at Hastings: "We must be so intelligent that [the murderer] does not suspect us of being intelligent at all. There, mon ami, you will be of great assistance to me."
    • It's made even more hilarious by Hastings' follow-up narration.
      I was pleased with the compliment. There had been times when I hardly thought that Poirot appreciated me at my true worth.
  • Bertie Wooster of Jeeves and Wooster calls out Jeeves on the way he says "Well, sir," and "Indeed, sir?"
    Bertie: "The impression I retain after hearing you shoot it at me a couple of times is that you consider me to be talking through the back of my neck, and that only a feudal sense of what is fitting restrains you from substituting for it the words 'Says you!'"
  • Fisk tricks a servant into doing this to herself in the Knight and Rogue Series.
    Mrs. Trimmer: I hope you're prepared to work.
    Fisk: I never work. If you're clever you don't have to. Are you a hard worker, Mrs. Trimmer?
    Mrs. Trimmer: That I am, and an honest woman to boot.
  • In one of the Captain Underpants books, an obnoxious student named Melvin gains superpowers and takes on the name of "Big Melvin". He declares that whenever he has halted a crime, he'll use his laser vision to scorch the initials "B.M." in large print, so people will know it was him. Cue George snarking that "Big BMs always made me think of Melvin!"
  • Most of the conversations Odd Thomas has with villains are comprised of him doing these.
  • Tyrion from A Song of Ice and Fire is a master of these:
    King Joffery: [Sansa's] stupid brother is calling himself a king.
    Tyrion: All kinds of people are calling themselves kings these days.
  • In the final Animorphs book, Jake contacts the Andalite fleet, who intend to quarantine Earth in hopes of killing the evil Yeerks there too. Unfortunately for the Andalites, Jake's message is also being broadcasted to their civilian nets, meaning both sides have to keep up the appearance of peace. Jake responds with some carefully worded statements (which Marco ever-so-helpfully translates for the reader).
    • "We must set aside the necessary ruthlessness of war... and turn to the more satisfying duties of making peace." Translation: Your civilians who are watching this broadcast now are going to be really upset if you decide to rush in and annihilate us when we're offering peace.
    • "Our victory could have never occurred without the help of our Andalite friends." Translation: You did squat for us, but we're willing to share the credit just to make you look nice. Grateful?note 
    • "We have [learned] so much from the great Elfangor and his no less courageous brother Axmili." Translation: If your ship attacks anyway, you'll end up killing Elfangor's hero brother aboard this ship and undoing all their hard work.
  • Older Than Feudalism: "Rex" (Latin for "king") was a huge insult according to the Romans, but many of the societies that they conquered (such as Judea) had much higher opinions of kings. For example, "Rex Iudaeorum" ("King of the Jews") was the biggest insult (by Roman standards) that Pontius Pilate could throw at Jesus in The Four Gospels, but the insult was lost on the native Jews. In fact, the chief priests' main objection to Jesus being given that label was that it was too big of a compliment to him.
  • Composer Ziller in The Culture novel Look to Windward sometimes amuses himself by doing this, although normally his criticisms of Culture society are more direct (since the incessant politeness of the Culture is one of the things that gets on his nerves). At one point a rather foolish Culture citizen named Treslen Scofford attempts to jog his memory by reminding him that, when Treslen had commented on one of his compositions, Ziller had called the comments "singular" and "uniquely viewpointed". Ziller acknowledges that this certainly sounds like something he'd have said.
  • One for the Star Wars Expanded Universe: Mandalorians want to find the biggest, nastiest, most challenging thing the galaxy can throw at them so they can test themselves against it; so they ally themselves with the Sith to fight against the Republic and/or Jedi. It's basically a statement of "Compared to the Jedi, you're Not Worth Killing and only good for a paycheck". The Sith doesn't seem to mind it, however, as the Mandalorians are still killing Jedi and republic troops, so they're earning their pay as mercenaries.
  • In Tricky Business, Wally's rock band Arrival plays a disastrous gig at a redneck bar ("'Nuffa that shit! Play some country!") that ends in a Bar Brawl and a trip to the emergency room for the Lead Bassist (whose reported injuries inspire a cool new name for the band). When the owner tells Wally that he doesn't want Arrival to ever play there again, Wally tells him that he was thrilled to meet the original cast of Deliverance, a reference that sails over the owner's head.
  • In Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of Little House on the Prairie), young Almanzo finds and returns a wallet belonging to the local rich miser. Bystanders insist that the wallet’s owner should give the boy a reward. Relucantly he reaches into his pocket and proffers ... a dime. Almanzo looks at the coin and says “I’m sorry, I can’t change that.”
  • The Name of the Rose: In front of a crowd of monks, William of Baskerville credits inquisitor Bernardo Gui for the most important decision of his life. All the monks view it as a major compliment, but as Adso points out, the most important decision William ever made was to suit the Inquisition... and Bernardo is clearly aware of William's true meaning.
  • Number 26 of The Thirty-Six Stratagems: "Point at the Mulberry tree, but curse the Locust."
  • In the pulpy historical thriller/romance Subtle Blood, Kim's thoroughly unlikable older brother, when referred to as "the gentleman" by a police inspector investigating a murder he's the prime suspect for, shouts that he's an earl, not a bloody gentleman. (There is actually a difference, at least in the parlance of the British peerage, but only a truly stupid Jerkass would insist on it while suspected of murder.) The inspector very politely agrees that his lordship is indeed not a gentleman.
  • American Gods: Inverted when Mr. Nancy says that Shadow reminds him of his son, who's "stupid as a man who bought his stupid at a two-for-one sale". Shadow answers that he'll take it as a compliment to be likened to a member of Mr. Nancy's family, which earns him Mr. Nancy's approval.
  • The Last Binding has a visual version: the portrait of Robin's mother casts her face slightly in shadow and hides one hand, as if holding something unseen. Robin notes that the artist saw her true character and knew that she'd miss the significance of the portrait, since she only saw art as a status symbol.
  • Universal Monsters: Late in book 4, Detective Turner heads off for home, with Captain Bob snarking about the man's plans, and Nina gets one in on Captain Bob as a result:
    Captain Bob: "Now that's sad. A young man like that, and he goes home to leftover meat loaf, a tattered lounge chair, and a rerun of a race he already knows the winner of. Could there be a more pathetic sight?"
    Nina (gives him a meaningful look): "Yes."

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family:
    • Lionel Jefferson would do this to Archie Bunker to trump Archie's racist comments. In one case, the episode "Gloria's Pregnancy", after Archie made a stereotypical comment about black people living crowded in small quarters, Lionel "explained" that they have special efficient storage closets to shove their things into, and that Archie should get one to "shove yours". After he left, Archie realized that "you could take that two ways"; in response, "Meathead" joined the stealth insult game by assuring him that Lionel "only meant it one way".
    • Sammy Davis Jr. also told one to Archie: "If you were prejudiced, you'd go around thinking that you were better than everyone else in the world. But after spending these wonderful moments with you, Archie, I can honestly say - you ain't better than anybody."
  • Babylon 5:
    • Londo, preparing to meet the new Emperor, informs the Regent that he met the Emperor twice before. The first time, he was an infant, and drooling on himself, and later as an adolescent, trying to look up girls' skirts.
      Cartagia: Ah, Mollari. It's wonderful to see you again.
      Londo: And you, Majesty. I could swear you have not changed since the last few times I saw you.
      Cartagia: Oh, you are of course too generous.
    • According to the Expanded Universe, this scene also includes another: that binary agent is a well known poison among Centauri nobility and using it can come off as calling them a Worthy Opponent as you had to spend that much to kill them-so Londo makes sure to describe how that poison works, as if Refa didn't know that already.
  • Billions: Laura's husband Bobby employs Wendy, but Wendy's husband is trying to get Bobby arrested, so Laura doesn't like Wendy or her husband. During a company party that Bobby throws, Laura casually asks Wendy about her marriage, which she knows is failing. Trying to overlook the jab, Wendy only says that marriages are hard. With a fake, supportive smile, Laura replies, "Yes, I've heard other people say that."
  • Blackadder indulges in this. In Blackadder the Third, Prince George complains that a fellow at his club said he had the brains of a donkey. Blackadder, in his most servile tones, states that this is absurd ... "unless it was a very stupid donkey". George's reaction? "If only I'd thought of saying that!"
  • In Bluestone 42 Nick and the colonel are discussing the new member of the team before he arrives. Nick is saying all the reasons why he chose Towerblock. The colonel says I just go with "Turns up on time" and "not a twat". Later on the colonel asks how Towerblock is fitting in with the team, and Nick just says Well, he turns up on time...
  • Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire throws out a few of these early in the show which go right over the head of his partners because most gangsters are not nearly as well read as he is. For example, when one rather annoying gangster talks about changing his name, Nucky absentmindedly says "A rose by any other name..." When the gangster asks what that means, Nucky just gives him a cold look and tells him "Read a fucking book".
  • Buffyverse:
    • The second season had the following exchange:
      Larry: Man! Oz, I would love to get me some of that Buffy and Willow action, if you know what.
      Oz: That's great, Larry. You've really mastered the single entendre.
    • A darker example occurs in "Innocence". Angel, having been stripped of his soul due to experiencing a moment of "perfect happiness" with Buffy, makes it his mission to destroy her emotionally for the crime of making him feel like a human being. His first step is to pretend he was just using her for sex, with this exchange transpiring when he and the unbeknownst Buffy talk the next day.
      Buffy: Was I not good?
      Angel: No, you were great. Really. I thought you were a pro.
    • Any time Cordy tries to be relatively nice, this is the result.
  • Cheers has them frequently, particularly between Sam and Diane. One first season episode has a zinger, though. Right after Norm's boss has made an aggressive pass at Diane (and fired Norm for stepping up to Diane's defense) because he believed she was a hired escort, Sam says to Diane "We all know you'd starve to death before you made a living with your body."
  • Stephen Colbert's nickname for Bill O'Reilly is "Papa Bear". This coming from a man who considers bears to be the number one threat to America.
  • Community:
    • From the first season finale, when Slater and Britta are fighting over Jeff.
      Slater: Britta! You look great! Such a stunning improvement.
      Britta: Wow, you look gorgeous. It must've taken all day.
    • Inverted in the episode where Pierce is pretending to be dying when Jeff gets sick of it.
      Nurse: You can't go in there!
      Jeff: Or what? You'll do twice the work of a doctor for half the pay?
      Nurse: ...thank you?
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Sun Makers", Gatherer Hade has an ostentatious manner of addressing the Collector (your Immensity, your Hugeness, your Supernal Eminence, etc), but as their relationship breaks down under the strain of events the honorifics become somewhat insulting, as in: "I fear the situation is worsening, your Grossness!"
    • At the end of "Rose", the title character says goodbye to her boyfriend Mickey before leaving with the Doctor by thanking him. When he asks for what, she says "Exactly." She's basically calling him useless to his face.
    • In "Dalek", the Doctor describes Davros, creator of the titular species, to megalomaniac Henry van Statten, then adds, "You'd like him." It goes over the man's head because he doesn't realize just how much the Doctor despises Davros.
    • "The Beast Below": After the Doctor hits the protest button, he and Amy fall a ways down. Amy asks where they are, and the Doctor takes a sniff and guesses "Lancashire". They're standing on a tongue covered in rubbish.
  • Subverted in the Extras Christmas special, where Andy tries his best to insult his agent but it doesn't land:
    Darren: But if I send you, they'll think I don't know what I'm doing!
    Andy: Ohhh, no one could ever think you don't know what you're doing, that you're a total waste of space and shouldn't even be in the industry.
    Darren: Well, thanks, mate, but you'd be surprised.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Hotel Inspectors", Polly delivers one to the demanding Mr Hutchison.
    Polly: You're not by any chance the Duke of Kent, are you?
  • Firefly: When Jayne tries on the knit hat he got in the mail from his mother and asks what the others think, Wash comments, "Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything."
  • This one from the French and Saunders skit, "The Generation Gap", featuring Dame Helen Mirren acting on a (bad) sitcom written by Jennifer. Bonus points for the insults seeming to hit both people.
    Helen: But I don't have any funny lines!
    Jennifer: Don't blame your tools.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • When the people of King's Landing prepare for a siege, Sansa Stark (who is being kept there as a guest/hostage) gets one on her hated fiance King Joffrey after he gloats about how he'll kill her older brother. In overly innocent tones, she asks him if he'll be on the front lines and not hiding from the fight because said brother leads the charge and Joffrey just boasted about being better than him. She then gives one to Tyrion, telling him that she'll be praying for his safe return from battle, "just as [she] prays for our king's". Alternatively, she could be referring to her brother Robb as "our king," making this a stealth insult against Joffrey, and a genuine well-wishing for Tyrion, who was one of the few to treat her decently.
    • In "Garden of Bones", King Renly Baratheon knows very well the kind of self-serving person Littlefinger is and is disgusted by it.
      Renly: You can trust Brienne. Her loyalty comes without charge.
    • In "Valar Dohaeris", Margaery Tyrell subtly criticizes Cersei's fashion sense.
      Margaery: Loras, isn't the Queen's gown magnificent? The fabric, the embroidery, the metalwork. I've never seen anything like it!
    • Loras then (politely) rubs it into Cersei's face that he thinks very poorly of her as Queen due to her neglect/mistreatment of the smallfolk.
      Loras: [smiling directly at Cersei] Margaery does a great deal of work with the poor back in Highgarden.
    • Cersei also levels one against Joffrey, though judging by his expression, he got the message.
      Cersei: You are your father's son. Not all of us can have a king's bravery.
    • Sansa also insults Joffrey unintentionally. When her father, realizing how dangerous King's Landing has become for the Starks, wants to take her away from her betrothed and placates her by saying that he'll find her "someone who's brave and gentle and strong," heartbroken Sansa replies that "I don't want anyone brave and gentle and strong, I want [Joffrey]!"
    • When Hizdahr waxes philosophical about traditions that will go on long after they are all gone, Tyrion declares, "My father would have liked you."
    • Margaery practically bombards Cersei with these when she comes to meet her new daughter-in-law. Smiling sweetly, Margaery calls her a drunk, an old bat and useless figurehead. None of them slip past Cersei's radar, of course.
    • In "The Lion and the Rose", Loras, engaged to Cersei, proves that he can fight with words just as well as he fights with swords after Cersei's brother Jaime threatens him.
      Jaime: Luckily for you, none of this will happen, because you will never marry her [Cersei].
      Loras: (smiles smugly) And neither will you. (pats Jaime on the arm)
  • Dean Learner does this a lot in Garth Marenghis Darkplace, sometimes out of obliviousness rather than malice, but more often because Garth is too stupid and self-absorbed to catch on.
    “I call Garth the Orson Welles of horror, and not just because of his weight.”
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls, Dorothy's ex-husband Stan is staying with the women to recover from a heart attack. However, he's afraid of being alone and fakes a relapse. The following is paraphrased:
    Blanche: Isn't it funny that you would have a relapse on the day that the doctor said you could go home?
    Stan: What can I say, the heart's a funny organ.
    Blanche: I bet a lot of your organs get a laugh.
  • In one episode of Hogan's Heroes, Hogan manages to convince Klink that the name the men have been calling him 'Klink the Fink' is actually a compliment.
    • Hogan did this to Klink a lot. Klink once complained to Hogan about the prisoners blowing raspberries at him, so Hogan told him that it was a sign of respect. Later in the episode, Hogan led them in a cheer for Klink - which consisted of all the prisoners blowing a raspberry at the same time.
  • House: When House tests candidates for his team at the beginning of the 4th season, one of the candidates' theories is shot down by Foreman. When House confirms that the candidate's idea was actually good, the candidate subtly looks at Foreman and gets some dust out of his eye... with his middle finger.
  • On House of Buggin, one sketch has a crew of mariachis insulting their monolingual English-speaking customers in Spanish under the guise of serenading them until, of course, they run into some customers who also speak fluent Spanish. While most of their insults are translated for us in the subtitles, this piece comes with a further Bilingual Bonus or two as well for actual Spanish-speakers' further amusement. (Translated: "Miserable barato..." Not translated: "...pendejo!")
  • House of the Dragon: Aemond delivers a toast to his nephews, who are rumored to be bastards of House Strong rather than trueborn Targaryens, saying, "To the health of my nephews: Jace, Luke, and Joffrey. Each of them handsome, wise... Strong. Come, let us drain our cups to these three... Strong boys." No one can miss the accusation, but Aemond innocently insists that he's just paying them a compliment.
  • This conversation from I, Claudius:
    Caligula: Do you think I'm mad?
    Claudius: Mad? Why your majesty, you set the standard of sanity for the entire world!
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • From The IT Crowd:
    Jen: It's indescribable.
    Moss: Good.
  • Jeeves and Wooster:
    • Jeeves gets two of these over on Bertie on separate occasions:
      Bertie: Oh, stop playing with the hat, Jeeves. I knew you wouldn't like it.
      Jeeves: Oh, not at all, sir!

      Bertie: She gave it to me, you know. Trying to improve my mind, I dare say.
      Jeeves: That seems scarcely possible, sir.
    • Jeeves sneaks in a dig at the song "Nagasaki" in response to Bertie's expressed love of the song:
      Jeeves: Extremely... invigorating, sir.
      Bertie: Yes, Jeeves, that is just the word I would have used. Yes, it makes you want to get up and bally well have a run 'round the park.
      Jeeves: My feelings precisely, sir.
  • Joey: Gina learns that Mary-Theresa's engagement ring is fake, which Mary-Theresa doesn't know. She tells her that she truly deserves it.
  • Mad Men's Pete Campbell gets off one in S3 when he assures his old college buddy that his idea for a national jai alai league is "exactly my father's sort of investment."
  • In Married... with Children, Marcy once berated her husband Steve by saying that she didn't blame Al's involvement in one of their misadventures because "If you give a loaded gun to a chimp and it shoots somebody, you don't blame the chimp." Al sat for a moment before saying, "I think that was a hidden dig at me."
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Frank Burns is a frequent target, except for those times when people insult him to his face. Two examples:
      Burns: Your nose is supposed to be broken.
      Radar: Uh, yes, well, Dr. Pierce said it was just a sprain and if I keep off it for a month, I'll only have to put liquids in it.
      Burns: I'm a doctor, and that's crazy!
      Radar: [straight-faced] I've heard that, sir.
      Burns: What I don't understand is, why do people take an instant dislike to me?
      Trapper: It saves time, Frank.
    • His replacement, Major Charles Winchester, tends to be the deliverer rather than the recipient of these. For instance, in one episode he calls three Korean doctors "Moe, Curly, Larry", assuring them that those are great philosophers from the West. However, they aren't fooled. At the end of the episode, when the Korean doctors have alleviated Winchester's bad back with acupuncture, one of them replies to Winchester's apology by quipping that their efforts weren't bad for a bunch of stooges.
  • After giving a rotten answer on Match Game, the audience boos Bill Cullen. Bill responds by politely thanking the audience.
  • While you'd be hard pressed to find insults in Monty Python's Flying Circus, the "Oscar Wilde Sketch" was comprised of Wilde and others lampooning the king, claiming it to be a quote of one of the others. Each one miraculously manages to turn them into compliments, though only the king seems oblivious.
  • One of the ways Nevermind The Buzzcocks can insult its guests, but still get stars who take themselves seriously to appear on the show. For instance, after Preston walked out when Simon Amstell innocently read out sections of his wife's book:
    Simon Amstell: I only read his wife's book, I can't believe that upset him... I mean, then again, I've read the whole thing and it upset me.
  • Odd Squad:
    • In "The O Games", Odd Todd shoots an insult at Oren during the 25-Centigurp Dash that the agent fails to understand. A later episode would show that Oren isn't just terrible at understand insults — he is just as terrible when it comes to doling out insults as well.
    Odd Todd: Oh hey, Oren, your shoelace is untied.
    Oren: [looks down] No it's not!
    Odd Todd: [points to his head] I meant the one up here.
    Oren: [looks up] What?!
    • In "Night Shift", one of the night shift agents calls Otis by an insulting name that, while not being much of an insult, actually does serve as an insult when it's delivered by someone who doesn't get much sun to begin with.
    Otis: Hey, sorry, but these desks belong to the two of us.
    Night Shift agent: Not anymore. You're on the night shift now, sunshine.
    Otis: Sunshine?
    Night Shift agent: 'Cause you work when the sun's out?
    • Olympia's view of Negative Town is that it's a great, one-of-a-kind place. Otis, on the other hand, has a rather different view of it.
    Otis: Well, I can honestly say I've never been anywhere like it.
    • In "The Deposit Slip-Up", Oprah tries to tell Olympia and Otis about Odd Squad's plan to get back the Director's jetpack. Olympia manages to figure it out the second she lays eyes on the fake vault that will be used in the plan, causing Oprah to give a quip that implies she really didn't think the agent who had picked up what she was putting down multiple times would understand the plan.
    Olympia: You're building a fake vault to make Symmetric Al think he's luring the jetpack, but really, he's luring it to us!
    Oprah: Yes. You got that way faster than I thought. I hired a special agent to explain the whole thing to do. I guess he can leave now.
    • Omar ends up delivering an unintentional one to Opal in "Raising the Bar" when she calls him and Oswald for an update on raising their ranking in the Odd Squad Magazine progress report.
    Omar: Hey, it's not so bad. At least you're the best at something.
    Opal: At what?
    Omar: At finishing in last! Now what do you say you come back where it's safe so we can celebrate?
    [Opal gives a look of confusion and hangs up]
    Omar: Hello?
    Oswald: Hello?
    [both boys exchange Oh, Crap! looks]
    Omar: Hello?!
  • Chris from Parks and Recreation has this great little jab that he takes at Donna, made even more hilarious by him holding his overly cheerful and chipper demeanor the entire time:
    Chris: Donna you are a remarkable woman and I just want to say I have always thought of you as family.
    Donna: I just want to say I always thought you were pretty hot.
    Chris: Yes I know.
  • Porridge: In the movie, Fletcher tells new officer Mr Beale that is probably a legend.
    Fletcher: Afternoon, Mr Beale.
    Mr Beale: How do you know my name?!
    Fletcher: Word gets around, it doesn't take long. I expect you're already a legend on some bog walls.
  • When Power Rangers: Dino Thunder had a crossover with the preceding season, Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Megogog greeted Lothor with "Your reputation precedes you." For context, Mesogog had previously made an offhand reference to Lothor back when Dino Thunder premiered — and called him "that idiot".
  • Raised By Wolves: Marcus takes a Mithraic pendant relic after being told that it belonged to a king. One of his disciples, who has grown disillusioned with his claims of being their prophet, tries to assure him that the relic is a fake. When he ignores her, she then apologizes and says, with great meaning, that the pendant is actually a perfect ornament for him. After beat, Marcus winces, showing that he registered the insult.
  • In the "A Pain in the Neck" episode of Sanford and Son, when Fred is attending the Watts Businessmen's Association's Man of the Year award dinner, Aunt Esther manages to slip a subtle one past Fred:
    Esther: Lord knows, I've had my differences with Fred Sanford, but tonight is a happy occasion. So rather than speak on his bad points, I'll just dwell on his good points. [She pauses for a few seconds of silence] Thank you.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand has a lot of this, particularly during conversations between Lucretia and Ilithyia. Ilithyia is constantly finding ways to reference the fact that Lucretia comes from a lower social class, which Lucretia always pretends to ignore. In one episode, Ilithyia warns Lucretia that a very elevated woman she knows is very vain and might treat Lucretia poorly for her lower status. Lucretia looks directly at Ilithyia and assures her, "I have experience dealing with such people." Ilithyia doesn't seem to notice.
  • Lampshaded in the Sports Night episode "The Apology":
    Casey: I'm completely cool, huh?
    Dana: And you dress cool.
    Casey: Yes! (Beat) Wait, that was a dig, wasn't it.
    • And a bit later:
      Casey: I love music. I have a great appreciation of music.
      Dan: Dude, I've been in your car and you've got the Starland Vocal Band singing "Afternoon Delight".
      Casey: That's right! (Beat) Wait, I do not have the Starland Vocal Band, it's not like I went out and bought the single. It's on my Time-Life Sounds of the '70s.
      Dan: Well, there you have it.
      Casey: How can I be cool again? I'm a newly divorced man, I'm young, I used to be cool. I need to be cool again. Help me be cool again.
      Dan: Well, first I'd have to disabuse you of the notion that you were ever cool before.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, invoked by Spock at the end of "Mirror, Mirror" regarding their Mirror Universe counterparts, leading a bemused Kirk and McCoy to question whether they've just been insulted as well.
    Spock: May I point out that I had an opportunity to observe your counterparts here quite closely. They were brutal, savage, unprincipled, uncivilised, treacherous; in every way, splendid examples of homo sapiens, the very flower of humanity. I found them quite refreshing.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Neutral Zone", Starfleet learns that several bases along the Federation/Romulan Neutral Zone, suspecting that the Romulans were responsible till they explain that their own bases along the Neutral Zone were destroyed in a similar manner, and after suspecting the Federation in turn, they tell Picard, "Once we realized the level of destruction, we knew it could not have been you.". Assuaging and insulting at the same time, as befitting a side known for using cloaking technology.
  • Jon Stewart had a great many hilarious barbs to shoot at the guys on Crossfire, but perhaps none quite so good as the ones that passed unnoticed.
  • Succession: British aristocrat Caroline Collingwood reveals that she's a sharp-tongued elitist while hosting her daughter's wedding in her castle. During pleasant conversation with the groom, she notes how "clever" it is for his middle-class parents to tell all the guests that they provided the wine. After she walks away, the groom admits that he'd just been "stabbed".
  • In Talking Funny, Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. recall a conversation about the F word (Jerry doesn't use it while Louis is Mr. Cluster F-Bomb), where Jerry compared it to an American sports car. Louis thinks Jerry means the F word is special and should be used sparingly, but after some thought realized that his wealthy car-collecting friend meant that the word is flashy, vulgar, and only really appealing to low-class people who don't know better.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Jess-Belle", the title character finds Elly Glover gathering flowers after she has won Billy-Ben Turner's love using Granny Hart's Love Potion. She tells her that she saw a patch of old maid's fern up on the mountain. Elly replies that she has noticed a lot of vixen wort around.
  • WandaVision: When Wanda expands the Hex past Westview's borders, the military encampment that S.W.O.R.D. set up on the outskirts of the town gets turned into a circus, and all the soldiers and scientists into clowns.
  • Far from uncommon on The West Wing. For instance, when Charlie meets his ex's new boyfriend.
    Charlie: I just read 150 words about you in Us Weekly, and I feel like I know you already.
    Jean Paul: Thank you.

  • Double subverted by Mike Oldfield in Amarok. Richard Branson had been demanding that Oldfield created a hit in the same vein of Tubular Bells, much to his annoyance. He therefore made a sixty-minute whopper which could not easily sampled into a radio-friendly version. More to the point of the trope, at a certain moment, one may hear a strident keyboard type a message in Morse code which spells "FUCK OFF RB".
  • The Hip-Hop genre is filled with these. Have a sharp ear and you'll hear a lot of subliminal disses, or maybe something that could get interpreted as a diss.
    • Many believe that Raekwon (Of Wu-Tang Clan) had subliminal disses to The Notorious B.I.G..
    • Many believe that Jay-Z was dissing Tupac Shakur in the song Shiny Suite Theory.
    • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony affiliate Maje$ty disses Crucial Conflict in the song Ready 4 War off of Bone's The Art of War album.
    • 2% diss by Mc Lyte which was toward Roxanne Shante.
    • One particularly controversial sublim is whether or not Eminem dissed Lil Wayne and Kanye West in "No Love", which, if he did it, would be remarkable for two reasons: First, that Eminem claimed on another track earlier on the album that dissing Wayne and Kanye would be pathetic; secondly, because Lil Wayne was the featured artist on "No Love".
  • The Pet Shop Boys' "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" has the main character on the receiving end of a barely-stealthy zinger:
    And someone said, "It's fabulous you're still around today—you've both made such a little go a very long way."
  • In "All The Lazy Boyfriends" by They Might Be Giants, it's clear from context the lyric "Man, you never lost your edge" implies that the subject (one of the eponymous "lazy boyfriends") never had an edge to lose.
  • In the live recording of Circle by Harry Chapin, recorded for his Greatest Stories Live album, he tries to coax reluctant members of the audience into singing along by assuring them that "Anybody can sing this song". To this end, he has pretty much everyone on hand sing a verse of the song, including the roadies, whom he describes as "The 70s answer to Simon & Garfunkel. They're a little Seals & Crofts, and a little Sears & Roebuck."

    Print Media 
  • In a Cracked parody of Happy Days, Potsie wonders why they show less of his singing every episode.
    Al: It's because you sound better that way.
    Potsie: Really?
    Al: Sure. And just think how great you'll sound when they don't show your singing at all.
    Potsie: YEAH!

    Pro Wrestling 

  • Cabin Pressure:
    Arthur: Will there be more learning how to understand people?
    Carolyn: No, Arthur, I think you understand as much about people as you ever will.
    Arthur: Thanks, Mum, what a nice thing to say.
    Carolyn: Case in point.
    • Douglas' job reference for Martin states, "Other than myself, there is no one at MJN whose skills as a pilot I rate higher." This is a case where only the person being insulted catches the insult; to the interviewer at Swiss Air, this looks like a high recommendation, but Martin knows that he and Douglas are the only two pilots at MJN.
  • From the sitcom Revolting People:
    Joshua: ...and then before long, I find myself wondering if I'm some kind of idiot!
    Samuel: Oh, I wouldn't waste your time wondering about that.
  • When Jeremy Clarkson and Ian Hislop discuss Piers Morgan:
    Jeremy: I think he's tremendous, isn't he?
    Ian: Yes, you mustn't be fooled by this media idea that we all hate each other.
    Jeremy: No!
    Ian: I mean, he's terrific fun, Piers. He's 'round my house all the time.
    Jeremy: When he isn't at mine! And his career has gone from strength to strength.
    Ian: I mean, who could begrudge him international success, money and wealth?
    Jeremy: And his wife likes him too!

  • American Football:
    • Sportswriters will often refer to certain quarterbacks as "game managers"; a term used to describe quarterbacks that on one hand wouldn't hurt a team by forcing plays that often result in interceptions... but on the other hand said quarterback generally doesn't put up huge stats; as their team typically relies on a strong defense and running game to win.
    • naturally produces highlight packages when their players perform well on the field. When a player has a bad game, the site will typically just ignore them. Unless they have a really bad game, in which case they will produce a "highlights" video showing their repeated failures.
  • Baseball:
    • When PETCO, a pet supply big-box chain, won the naming rights to the San Diego Padres' new ballpark, PETA, who had been protesting PETCO's activities for many years, tried to stop the deal from going through. After failing at that, they decided to have an anti-PETCO message inscribed on a brick inside the stadium. Their first couple of attempts spelled their message out directly and were rejected by the Padres as unsuitable. When they switched to the stealth method of insulting PETCO, their message made it through. What appeared to be a praise of the Padres saying "Break Open Your Cold Ones! Toast The Padres! Enjoy This Championship Organization” at second glance was a subtle acrostic with the first initials of each word spelling out "Boycott PETCO".
    • The 1966 MLB All-Star Game was played at then-new Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, where a severe Heat Wave resulted in a scorching game-time temperature of 105°F. Asked for his opinion of the venue, retired New York Mets manager Casey Stengel replied, "It sure holds the heat well."
  • In Australia's two most popular football codes of Australian rules football and rugby league, the term for the team that tops the regular-season standings is one of these: "minor premiers". Both sports use a playoff system (locally a "finals series") to determine their season champions, and the term "premiers" is reserved for the winners of the finals series.
    • However, in Australian soccer, it's the term "premiers" that's the stealth insult. Both A-League Men and A-League Women use "premiers" for their regular-season winners, and "champions" for the teams that win their respective finals series.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Saying "check" in chess is considered bad form in this manner, as it's implying your opponent lacks the awareness and competency to realize they've been placed in check. Thus you're supposed to say nothing and, if need be, politely point out you have them in check if they attempt an illegal move on their turn. Having someone say "check" in a game means you're either playing someone with little to no experience playing a human opponent, or someone who is a complete smarmy tool. Or both.
  • In the GURPS RPG sourcebook GURPS Banestorm, the Honor-obsessed Sahudese culture considers direct insults to cause both the insulted and the insulter to lose face. Therefore, they have elevated the Stealth Insult to an art form; the standard form is to compliment the target on everything except his most obvious flaws. For example, at a meal consisting of a rice dish, fish and somewhat inferior cakes for dessert, a hostile guest might elaborately praise the rice and fish, but say nothing about the cakes. Thus, the cook will be shamed for their poor quality.
  • Magic: The Gathering has one in the flavor text for the joke card Zombie Fanboy (The implication being that gamers have a stench comparable to that of zombies.):
    The real advantage of being a zombie gamer? No one notices the stench.
  • In both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, the art of stealth insults is considered a prerequisite if you want to get anywhere at Elysium. Directly insulting another vampire may risk setting off frenzy.
  • The rules for duels in Warhammer 40,000 mention that Eldar characters are likely to call out their opponents with subtle and sophisticated insults, as likely to leave their opponents confused, as enraged, thus "proving Eldar superiority twice over."
  • In the Legend of the Five Rings universe, courts and other forms of social interaction can be deadly, and openly insulting your opponent without him noticing (or being able to retort) is often a great victory.

  • William Shakespeare did this all the time.
    • In Julius Caesar, Marc Antony is permitted to deliver a eulogy for Caesar provided that he does not denounce the assassins. He sticks to the letter of the agreement but nevertheless turns the crowd against the assassins to the point where his repeated references to them (particularly Brutus) as "honorable men" has the effect of a sarcastic jibe.
    • Another notable example is Hamlet, where the titular character made many of these comments, most notably urging his then-girlfriend Ophelia, "Get Thee to a Nunnery". ("Nunnery" was slang for "brothel" at the time.)
    • Hamlet calls Polonius a "Fishmonger". When he was corrected, he responded with regret that Polonius was not so honorable a man. It seems to fit in with Hamlet's "antic disposition", but fishmonger is thought to be period slang for "fleshmonger". In other words, he's saying that Polonius is lower than a pimp.
  • In Molière's play The Miser, title character Harpagon wants his daughter, Elise to marry a much older man because he'd take her without dowry. When Harpagon's steward, Valère, who's secretly in love with Elise, hears this, he comments: "When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and "without dowry" compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity." Harpagon takes it completely seriously.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: While the baker Raguenau reads his poem to his poet "friends", they are frenetically eating Ragueneau’s pastries. When Ragueaneau finishes, the poets praise his poem with culinary terms.
    The poets (with mouths crammed full): Exquisite! Delicious!
  • A Streetcar Named Desire has both Stanley and Blanche firing these off at one another at certain points. One memorable moment is when they talk about horoscopes, with Blanche under the assumption that Stanley is an Aries (forceful and dynamic) while Stanley scoffs at Blanche's sign being Virgo the Virgin (in which she's the opposite).
  • In the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Gondoliers, the Duke and Duchess are discussing their daughter's arranged marriage with her. The daughter (who has fallen in love with someone else) says that she will never be able to love her husband:
    Duke: I don't know. It's extraordinary what unprepossessing people one can love if one gives one's mind to it.
    Duchess: I loved your father.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Harry transfigured as Voldemort tells Voldemort's daughter Delphi that he although he sees certain similarities to Bellatrix in her face, she hasn't inherited the best of her. It's difficult to tell whether this is a stealth insult toward Delphi or Bellatrix.
  • Oklahoma!: In "Pore Jud is Daid", Curly spends an entire song attempting to persuade Jud to kill himself, including multiple stealth insults. The highlight is probably:
    And he treated the rats like equals! Which was right!
    • The other notable lyrical masterpiece is:
      Curly: But the folks that really knowed him, knowed that beneath them two dirty shirts he always wore
      There beat a heart as big as all outdoors.
  • In Hamilton, as Hamilton is sending off his itemized list of thirty years of grievances, the final ensemble cast member ballet-dances the last two pages over, then pulls back the last page until the music catches up, as if to say "you're not worth much of my time."

    Video Games 
  • In Bayonetta all the Cardinal Virtues say "May Jubileus, the Creator, grace you!" At first, it seems like they consider Bayonetta a Worthy Opponent and are wishing her good luck but actually, they're praying for Jubileus to obliterate her when she wakes up, seeing as her grace will destroy the universe. It's the closest an angel can probably come to saying "go to hell".
  • Fate/Samurai Remnant: When Saber angrily notes that Gilgamesh allowed the kids to take the Saint Quartz fragments despite knowing they would draw in monsters, he replies back there was never any need for him to intervene in matters that would settle themselves, which Iori realizes means Gilgamesh knew he and Saber would act to save them. Gilgamesh then goes on to say that a king, much like a shopkeeper, bides his time, but then notes "this may be inscrutable to those who have ruled neither shop nor nation," to which Saber simply fumes in place. The insult being that Yamato Takeru never actually became emperor, having been cursed with illness and died before being able to do so.
  • In Portal, GLaDOS quickly proves herself to be the undisputed master of passive-aggressiveness thanks to her use of this trope. One of the reasons the first game is usually considered funnier than the already-hilarious Portal 2 is because so many of the jokes (the majority of them being jabs at Chell) tend to fly over the heads of first-time players, only clicking on repeat playthroughs after her deep antagonism towards Chell has come to light (and even with the insults that don't call for multiple playthroughs, most of them require you to spend a few moments deciphering their actual meaning).
    GLaDOS: "Unbelievable! You, [SUBJECT NAME HERE], must be the pride of [SUBJECT HOMETOWN HERE]."
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Omnicidal Maniac Big Bad Dr. Nefarious' robotic butler constantly gives these to his boss, who either ignores them or takes them as compliments.
    Dr. Nefarious: Did you hear that Lawrence?
    Lawrence: You put the 'wit' in 'twit', sir.
    Dr. Nefarious: Yes, I do, don't I? [maniacal laughter]
    Dr. Nefarious: That moron could never hope to match wits with the likes of me!
    Lawrence: If anyone can beat a moron at his own game, it's you, sir.
    Lawrence: Even drooling imbeciles can achieve success in certain fields, sir. Mad Science, for example.
    Dr. Nefarious: To think, they called me insane, Lawrence. We'll see who's insane when my pets have exterminated all life on this miserable planet!
    Lawrence: That should clear things right up, sir.
  • In The World Ends with You, Konishi manages it with Beat, but that's not too hard. Of course, Neku's right there to clarify things.
    Beat: "You're too old! You can't keep up with us!"
    Konishi: "Yes, I can see that being a child comes naturally to you."
    Beat: "Damn straight!"
    Neku: "... Dude, she's making fun of you."
  • Nintendo Power once described Back to the Future for the NES as having "that distinctive LJN style and an interesting 'timer'." The Angry Video Game Nerd naturally picked up on it being a Stealth Insult.
    • Which is one of Nintendo Power's preferred methods of insulting games as they review because even when giving a very harsh rating they don't fully dismantle a game being published by Nintendo.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, many characters regularly make a V-Sign. Zadornov is fond of using the knuckles-outward version when talking to Snake.
    • In the ending, when Snake gives his speech about turning his back on almost everyone he's ever known, he's holding Zadornov's prosthetic hand in that same gesture.
  • Batman: Arkham City: One of Hugo Strange's interview tapes with The Riddler begins with the professor saying that Riddler doesn't have to hack into the intercom to talk and that he should come in person so they can have a discussion "as equals". Riddler scoffs at this and gloats about how he'll kill Batman and find out his Secret Identity. Hugo, (who already knows who Batman is), claims that he was mistaken about them being equals. A smug Riddler ignorantly agrees.
  • Hazama of BlazBlue fame is known for dropping these from time to time, per his Faux Affably Evil nature. One particularly gratuitous incident is the end of Makoto's Arcade mode, where he gives the appearance of praising her information-gathering abilities. In reality, he is cursing her very name for almost ruining his plans again using said information-gathering abilities against him, and he only stops feigning his compliments when he activates his Azure Grimoire and tries to kill her.
    • There's also his line from the first game about not being very good at fighting. In his humble eyes the stuff he can do is probably not all that impressive... so what does that make you who cannot beat a self-professed weakling?
  • Guild Wars has the Asura call humans by the apparent nickname "bookah". Vekk eventually reveals that a bookah is the boogeyman of young Asura, notorious for its large size and stupidity. The fact that he explains this so readily when asked seems to indicate he doesn't think you'll make the connection.
  • A clever one in Kid Icarus: Uprising: In Chapter 20, before going to confront a possessed Palutena, Viridi chimes that it's time to save Palutena, to which Hades interjects: "'Save Palutena'? Don't you mean 'Crush Palutena'?" Pit replies: "Go home, Hades. Just...go home." Considering where home is for Hades...
  • Punch-Out!! on Wii, which Affectionately Parodies the nationality of every boxer in the game, jabs at Japan this way with Piston Hondo. He's shown to be the most stereotypical Japanese super-warrior imaginable, training by catching swords and outrunning bullet trains, yet he's merely the lowest ranked boxer of the second circuit who can't defeat the lumberjack who trains by chopping down trees and guzzling maple syrup. (Doubly funny if you're aware that the development studio, Next Level Games, is based in Canada.)
  • From Borderlands 2 with a Catch-a-Ride, where Scooter finds out he was being insulted by the ladies:
    Scooter: All the ladies say Scooter is the fastest ride in town! CATCH A RIII—aw, I just realized that's an insult.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, just before a mission to Dollet that doubles as a graduation exam for the SeeD candidates, Quistis wishes her students luck. Unlike many of these examples, Seifer actually understands the insult and is not amused.
    Quistis: Good luck.
    Seifer: Instructor... I hate it when people wish me luck. Save those words for a bad student that needs them, eh?
    Quistis: Very well. Good luck, Seifer.
  • From Dragon Quest VIII, King Clavius's response to the Argon Heart Prince Charmles bought at the Bazaar. It goes completely over Charmles' head.
    King Clavius: I accept this as proof of your true character.
  • In an early exchange from Fire Emblem: Awakening, Lissa mocks the none-too-bright Vaike's insistence on calling himself "Teach," by saying, "And here I thought people were just born lacking wits. It can be taught?" It takes Vaike a moment to realize the insult.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
    • The usually scrupulously polite Flayn sometimes likes to prod at Seteth's smothering in subtle ways. For example, if you eat with the two of them for lunch, Flayn declares that meals are best eaten with at least three people present; Seteth immediately asks whether that means she doesn't enjoy eating only with him.
    • In Linhardt and Ferdinand's C Support, Ferdinand tries to get Linhardt to be more like him, only to find that Linhardt is less than impressed, leading to the following exchange.
      Linhardt: You've mastered all the important noble skills. You drink tea, talk about how great you are, ride horses...
      Ferdinand: Indeed! I went for a ride earlier today.
      Linhardt: Is that so? You'll have to tell me about it sometime, when I'm not walking away...
      (Linhardt walks away.)
    • Just before the mock battle between the three houses begins on Chapter 1 of the Black Eagles route, Edelgard has the following to say to her rival house leaders when they show up to a pre-battle strategy meeting between her and Byleth.
      Edelgard: Simply tell me your weaknesses, and you're welcome to stay. But is there enough time to cover them all?
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, while playing as the United States of America, President Johnson sends transition letters to his successors, whoever they are, like any other President. However, for some of the potential president elects he doesn't like, his letter for them can entirely comprise of stealth insults:
    • If Michael Harrington becomes the succeeding president, LBJ writes a seemingly cordial and congratulatory transition letter - albeit, one that reeks of patronizing contempt for the most ardent leftist elected president so far and his lack of actual political experience, evidently not trusting him to properly lead America. It has to be read between the lines, but is infinitely more scathing than anything anyone else would have written.
      "This letter is to acknowledge that you will be the next President of the United States.translation It is remarkable that a college professor has risen to such dizzying heights.translation I am certain you will receive much advice in the coming daystrans. and that you have no need for anything that I might provide.trans. I wish your administration the best of luck in pursuing its ambitious goals.trans."
    • Meanwhile, if Phyllis Schlafly succeeds Johnson, he writes a rather short letter that is dripping in sarcasm, hinting at his surprise that the American people, with all of their "infinite wisdom", would pick her as President.
    • His succession letter to George Romney patronizingly wishes luck to the recipient over wrangling the Senate, pointing out his relative inexperience in politics. The takeaway does not fly over Romney's head and he's more than a little insulted by it.
    • In his letter to Gus Hall, Johnson very sneakily predicts a loss for Hall in the 1976 elections, and mockingly hopes that the transition of power in 1977 will be as smooth as Johnson claims to have made Hall's. The message seems to go over Hall's head, rather uncharacteristically for a man who can normally spot the critical wit in other letters and even frames LeMay's handy guide on how to use a gun to kill yourself.
    • In a less severe example, Johnson doesn't say much to Margaret Chase Smith in his transition letter to her, stating it will be "certainly interesting" to see how she manages the "unique caucus" she's built. He also congratulates her on becoming the first female president before implying that's the main reason she got elected.
  • In Gone Home, Richard Greenbriar sends a letter to his son Terrence about the latter's first book being published. He observes that, "I certainly recognized my son in the subject matter," which comes off as less than complimentary given his criticism of the book. He also notes that "readers of your chosen genre will lap up copies hungrily," implying that readers of science fiction books like this one have less than discerning tastes.
  • In Horizon Forbidden West, the Quen leader Ceo considers himself a reincarnation of Ted Faro, known in his time as the man who saved the world. After talking with him for a while, Aloy agrees that he is very similar to Faro. What she doesn't mention is that the Quen's information about Faro is outdated, and that he eventually became a Fallen Hero who doomed the world out of selfish petty reasons twice.
  • An interesting anecdote about X-Men: Destiny - the developers were not too thrilled with working on the game since they weren't fans of the franchise. During development of the Juggernaut boss, the assistant director warned that a straight-on fight wouldn't work because of how the Juggernaut is and suggested a more canon-friendly way. He was told he was worried about "unimportant details" and sent the boss fight for approval from Activision and Marvel. Marvel responded by sending them the hardcover X-Men encyclopedias.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Hiyoko Saionji is killed by Mikan and is found with the bow of her obi facing the front. This is because courtesans and prostitutes in Japan used to wear their obis front-facing to make their kimonos easy to take off, so Hiyoko is nonverbally being called a trashy skank, which happened to be her favorite insult towards her killer.
  • Little Busters!: At one point, Masato claims that Riki has gotten sick because he isn't muscular enough. Kengo tells Masato that he'll never have to worry about getting a cold, in reference to the Japanese saying that stupid people can't catch colds. Masato smiles and thanks him. A few lines later he does figure it out, though.

  • Shortly after being summoned into Erfworld, Parson was told that he should address Stanley using some respectful title. He replied that, where he came from, the highest title of respect was "Tool". Stanley interpreted this as a reference to his quest to gain all the Arkentools for himself and declared that henceforth he would be known as "Stanley the Tool" (thus making it a combined Stealth Insult and Insult Backfire).
    • Not to mention a pun on Stanley's name.
  • Used in this Awkward Zombie strip. The insulted characters do notice, but not until after the person handing out the insults leaves.
  • Used in this Megatokyo strip, when Seraphim insults Asmodeus by saying "My partner's far sexier than you are", and he's still smiling because he thinks he's still up there. Little to his knowledge, the partner is Boo.
  • In Irregular Webcomic!, a black market weapons dealer is trying to sell to Serron and Iki Piki. He says that a new weapon is a quantum leap above its predecessors. Iki Piki says that "quantum leap" actually means the smallest possible unit of change. When the dealer doesn't understand, Iki Piki says that his brain is obviously a quantum leap above primordial protoplasm. The dealer responds with "flattery will get you nowhere".
  • An early Dominic Deegan strip has Luna greet her sister Amelia with a four-sentence greeting, beginning with the letters "S", "L", "U", and "T". Dominic catches on and snickers.
  • When she needs to find a secret passageway in Girl Genius, Agatha muses that they just need to “Think like a diabolical, paranoid, amoral megalomaniac.” Cue Tarvek finding it right off the bat.
    • Tarvek "complements" Gil on his deception in Paris while sort of apologizing for jumping to conclusions and prying into Gil's background. He probably is sincere but that doesn't mean he's not needling Gil on purpose.
      Tarvek: *with apparent sincerity* You were trying to convince me that you were a disgusting, swinish, lecherous, drunken sot. Well, I want you to know, it worked. Well done!
    • When Trelawney Thorpe says that the Queen will probably give Tarvek and Gil knighthoods the context means that she's calling them both ridiculous. Neither of them is paying attention to her as they are preoccupied with trying to one-up each other, though given their characters it's likely they heard her on some level.
  • In Jupiter-Men, Mari congratulates Pepper on not falling over for once while cheerleading at a basketball game, with the implication that everyone is used to her falling over and messing up. Pepper doesn't see the slight and is simply happy that she didn't ruin the performance for everyone.
  • Bobwhite. Ivy's response to Marlene's film comes across like she was trying to compliment Marlene but was insulting anyway.
    Ivy: Marlene, I gotta say. I'm as surprised as anyone, but I think... I think I like it! I think it might not be terrible! You're like the little retarded kid who finally learned how to fly.
    Marlene: Okay, no talking during the movie.
  • Probably accidental example: the conclusion of "Abbygate". When Ctrl+Alt+Del creator Tim Buckley apologized for "accidentally" plagiarizing another artist's work (compare) the original artist was extremely gracious (him returning from a tropical vacation where he proposed to his girlfriend probably helped) and hoped Buckley's "little webcomic" becomes successful in the future. CAD is almost ten years old and one of the most well-known webcomics on the internet...
  • Lampshaded in Basic Instructions:
    Scott: I know Dune's a bad movie, but I still enjoy it.
    Rick: See, I don't get that.
    Scott: You're my best friend.
    Rick: I don't see how that's related.
    Scott: I especially appreciate your ability to know when you've been insulted.
  • Recognized by the insultee in Penny Blackfeather
    Mrs. Blake: You'll like our hostess, Penny. Miss Quinn is just like you!
    Miss Quinn: (appears) DARLINGS! Welcome!
    Penny: Eccentric and badly dressed?
    Mrs. Blake: Haha, ahem. Yes.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Malack seemingly makes one so stealthy even the readers didn't notice, when he comments that "You don't spend time with a general of Tarquin's calibre without learning a few things about attrition", which under the circumstances taken as saying that he's a skilled general experienced at draining an enemy's resources with minimal losses. Later events and author comments suggest that what he actually meant is that Tarquin's military tactics are restricted to We Have Reserves and Zerg Rush, so every battle is won by attrition when he's in charge.
    • When Tarquin goes to greet Sabine:
      Tarquin: Sabine! It's been too long. You're looking lovely.
      Sabine: That's a meaningless compliment to a shapechanger, Tarquin.
      Tarquin: Yes, I know.
    • In #1099, when Blackwing is disappointed about not getting the Greater Magic Fang Potion:
      Blackwing: Darn it! I was really hoping to become a totally cool killing machine with magical razor sharp talons of death!
      Vaarsuvius: You should not be concerned. There is far more standing between you and that goal than the absence of one potion.
      Blackwing: Thanks, V. You always know what to say.
  • Tripping Over You: Lampshaded when Liam is offended to have his compliment returned, then belatedly realizes how backhanded it was:
    Liam: Well look at you— You clean up pretty well.
    Dick: Thanks! So do you!
  • Schlock Mercenary: Usually used as a way to complain about superior officers- either the orders they give, or how much effort it takes to get them to understand what's being discussed. At one point, Ennesby tells Captain Tagon that maybe they should "set syllable restriction to two." (i.e. use short words) Tagon shoots back that he understood that insult.

    Web Original 
  • Acts of Gord, Book of Annoyances, Chapter 3;
    Gord: I'm sorry, I'm afraid I subscribe to the theory of intellectual osmosis. As such, I must now cease our conversation and move away from you before my intelligence begins to drop. Good day.
  • In Hazbin Hotel, Vaggie's attempts towards Angel Dust at trying make him support the hotel falls onto nothing.
    Vaggie: Can you please just try to take this seriously?
    Angel Dust: Fine, I'll try, just don't get your taco in a twist, baby.
    Vaggie: Was that you trying to be sexist or racist?
    Angel Dust: Whatever pisses you off more.
  • From the pilot episode of Space Janitors:
    Darby: "...One of these days, I'm going to be somebody someone's gonna want to shoot at."
    Mike: "Hey, if it's any consolation, I already think you should be shot."
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the song "Everyone's A Hero" by Captain Hammer is sung in an inspiring fashion while being filled with contemptuous comments towards his audience.
    Everyone's a hero in their own way
    Everyone's got villains they must face
    They're not as cool as mine
    But folks you know it's fine to know your place
    Everyone's a hero in their own way
    In their own not-that-heroic way
  • In the web video Esther with Hot Chicks, comedian Esther Povitsky interviewed model Cailin Russo:
    Esther: Cailin, how can I be hot like you?
    Cailin: [Pauses, stares at Esther as if stuck for an answer] Uuuum, well...everyone is hot, you know, everyone is beautiful in their own way, and it's really just the inner beauty that—
    Esther: How does it feel knowing that you're so pretty that no-one cares what you say?
  • Seen here and there on this very Wiki. For example, in the Film section of Pragmatic Villainy:
    The Prophecy featured a pragmatic Lucifer (played by Viggo Mortensen) who has the angelic habit of perching atop things like a bird. Satan saves the main cast from an evil Gabriel, who was on a rampage against mankind. His own selfish motives being "we don't need another hell up there".
  • Which is almost repeated in Constantine (2005), down to the name of the rebel angel. However, The Prophecy could have been based on or inspired by the Hellblazer series.
  • A Broken Base or Base-Breaking Character entry may read like this if an editor isn't careful, where the positive interpretation may get a sentence or two at best while the negative version gets colorful. (e.g. "While some fans were pleased by the change in plot, others thought it was a waste of time and the writers shouldn't have bothered.")
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Florence gets a great one in Marik Plays Slender:
    Marik: You like stupid things, Bakura.
    Bakura: Yes I do, Marik. Yes I do.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged:
    • The fact that the ringtone Alucard has for his boss Integra is The Bitch Is Back.
    • Sir Penwood has this line delivered to the nazi vampire officer he's about to suicide bomb:
      "When you get to Hell, tell them Penwood sent you. And then apologize on my behalf for the inconvenience."
  • In SF Debris Chuck claims that Janeway's fiance Mark gave her a copy of Dante's Inferno as a way of saying that the idea of marrying her puts him in mind of experiencing all the torments of the damned. Note that only the explanation is his invention; why on earth anyone would give that book as an engagement present otherwise is a mystery that Star Trek: Voyager does not explain.
  • Critical Role Percy plays a fantastic game of Politeness Judo with the Briarwoods. They tell a story about how they let the de Rollo family stay with them during a storm. Percy, being the last of the de Rollo line, knows that five years later de Rollo family let the Briarwoods stay in their home, and the Briarwoods killed all of them. Percy then raises a toast to "gracious hosts" - and everyone knows who he's really talking about.
  • "Cool story, bro!" is this in meme form, and is often something you'll see in response to a post that was simply idiotic or obviously trying to stir up a conflict. Of course thanks to overuse it's about as stealthy as a monster truck and barely if ever goes over anyone's head, but the intent is there.
  • The various "What Your Favorite [x] Ship Says About You" videos by Eldena Doubleca5t tend to feature this. For instance, saying "you are heterosexual" usually means that the pairing offers nothing besides being a heterosexual ship in a fandom where those are rare (e.g. an abusive couple, or an instance of Strangled by the Red String). A particularly prominent one was that if you ship Shiro/Curtis in Voltron: Legendary Defender, "you are either executive producer Joaquin dos Santos or executive producer Lauren Montgomery"—the implication being that the ship in question is so underdeveloped and lackluster that only the show's creators enjoy it.
  • From Dumb Lawyer Quotes IRL but in Ace Attorney (exchange starts at 1:40).
    Phoenix Wright: Now doctor, I'm sure you are an intelligent and honest man.
    Klavier Gavin: Thank you. If I weren't under oath, I'd return the compliment.
  • The "Fandom Explaining" meme often makes fun of various sectors of the fandom for their various irrational tendencies toward the character/work they're a fan of; for example, this video has "AOT fans" angrily reacting to seing a single second of CGI. Showing the fandom's name on a black screen, such as Your Lie in April in one video, implies that the subject is so unpopular that it has no fans.
  • An episode of Lasagna Cat has a sequence homaging Final Fantasy VI. Towards the end, Jim Davis joins the party, causing the player to open up the menu to check his stats. Upon attempting to open his Skills, the game registers a negative response and boots back... implying that Jim Davis has no skills.
  • This happened back in the days of, a now-defunct site that used to host serious art students and industry professionals, when a clearly amateur artist known as "DivineNibru" joined and tried to host an art contest for his "Nibru" character. Nobody paid any attention to it until Wesley Burt, an artist who worked on Skyrim, inFAMOUS, and Tomb Raider, posted this. Soon artist like Dan Dos Santos and Andrew Jones were weighing in with this and this respectively, followed by numerous other industry professionals who drew for Marvel, Disney, and other AAA projects. The entire time, DivineNibru failed to realize they were clearly making fun of him and thought it was genuine.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Cadpig, Lucky, and Spot's defense of Rolly against Mooch's accusation of cowardice in "Bad to the Bone" boils down to Rolly being "allergic to risk", preferring sleeping over fighting, and being a "cream puff". Rolly takes offense with being called a "cream puff".
  • In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Freedom Cobra", Shake tries to pick up chicks at a park but fails. He deduces that the women in said park are lesbians, to which Meatwad responds by asking, "So basically, all women are lesbians?"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: after Sokka shows everyone his drawing of Appa, Toph tells him it looks just like the real thing to her. It takes Sokka a second to get the inherent sarcasm of this statement, what with her being blind.
    Sokka: Thank you, I worked really... Why do you feel the need to do that?
  • Dan Vs. Canada takes a fair number of shots at the United States disguised as jokes about Canada.
    Dan: Canada sucks! They still have all their trees!
    • Also in "Elise's Parents".
      Elise: My parents are here judging every single aspect of my life!
      Dan: Yeah, they're horrible! I mean look what they turned you into!
  • Dilbert gives us these two gems, one after another, at the Pointy-Haired Boss's expense when he shows the engineers the laughably bad infomercial for the Gruntmaster 6000. Naturally, they both go way over his head.
    Ted: If I may use a sports analogy, you really hit the goalpost on that one!
    Boss: Yes... I guess I did.
    Boss: Dilbert you seem strangely silent. Shall I interpret that as a sign of deep respect and dare I say awe?
    Dilbert: Yes. You could interpret it that way.
    Boss: Aww, I'm blushing now...
  • DuckTales (2017): After the conflict in "The Fight for Castle McDuck!" is resolved, Huey explains to Louie why he wanted to not take shortcuts and search for the episode's MacGuffin "the hard way":
    Huey: Sometimes, doing things the easy way gets you in hard trouble down the line.
    Louie: That some sort of Junior Woodchuck rule?
    Huey: Nope. (pulls him into a side-hug) Just something I learned by being your brother.
    Louie: Aww. ...Hey!
  • Edd in Ed, Edd n Eddy dishes out a brutal one towards Eddy in "Pick an Ed".
    Edd: Oh come now, Eddy. This is in no way a greater scheme to ruin your reputation. Why, I think you've done a good job of that on your own.
    • Before that, Eddy pulls one on him in Season 2's "Shoo Ed":
      Edd: (as the trio are making Jonny annoying) Ed, why did you glue a wooden block to Jonny's foot? Why these chains? And why the suit? Why Jonny?!
      Eddy: (trying to rile Jonny up) Jonny, people really like it when you say (glaring at Edd) WHY ALL THE TIME!
      Edd: (shoots Eddy a dirty look) Hmm!
  • In Family Guy, Brian manages to get Lois to look over his old script for a TV pilot. When Lois finally reads it, she says that it was so good she immediately started checking online to see where he'd ripped it off from, and was pleasantly surprised to learn it was original. This is also a Call-Back to Brian's disaster of a novel Faster Than the Speed of Love, which was a rip-off of the Iron Eagle seriesnote .
    • This cutaway joke, in which two women having lunch at a cafe exchange bitchy insults about each other's appearances disguised with cheerful friendliness. The camera then pans over to the table next to them, where two men are having lunch. One of them sincerely says he likes the other's tie, and the other thanks him.
      ♪ Men: We know how to be friends! ♪
  • It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has a moment during Violet's Halloween Party. Everyone decides to have a round bobbing for apples, with Lucy being the first to take her turn.
    Lucy: This is the way to do it.
    Violet: Yeah, Lucy, you should be good at this. You have the perfect mouth for it!
    • The insult does not go unnoticed by Lucy, who crossly shoots her a glare.
  • Kick does this to Brad in the pilot episode of Kick Buttowski.
    Brad: Mom and dad said I watch you good they'll let me take my driver's test again!
    Kick: ...Fifth time's the charm.
  • On King of the Hill, Cotton admits to Hank that Hank is a much better father than he ever was. However, due to Cotton being Cotton, it comes out as one of these. He probably genuinely meant it as a sincere compliment too.
    Cotton: You ain't in competition with me. Hell, if it's a contest on who's the better daddy, you win! I mean, you made Bobby! All I made was you.
  • The Looney Tunes Show:
    • In "The Foghorn Leghorn Story", Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam discover a vase inside a hole dug by Taz, and Sam repeatedly struggles to figure out what to do with the vase despite Bugs' advice.
      Sam: Are you trying to make me look like a fool?
      Bugs: You don't need me to make you look like a fool.
      Sam: You're darn right I don't!
    • In "Mrs. Porkbunny's", Daffy Duck is trying to land a role in a commercial as an actor, and first auditions for a commercial about Mighty Wheats. He hates the taste, but utters the line anyway despite complaining about it only seconds earlier. Later at Pizzarriba, Daffy boasts that they thought his audition was, in their words, "unlike anything they've ever seen".
  • From The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "The Piglet Who Would Be King":
    Pooh: I cleverly put [my honey] where it's safe from honey-nappers...right in here! [pats stomach]
    Rabbit: Sometimes, Pooh Bear, you really amaze me.
    Pooh: Why, thank you, Rabbit!
  • The Penguins of Madagascar subverts this with Skipper describing someone exactly like him, then Marlene calls him out on it. The subversion occurs when Private tells her that Skipper's a thousand times worse than that meaning it as an actual compliment, but it may actually turn out to be an Insult Backfire as Skipper thanks him for it.
  • Razzberry Jazzberry Jam: Krupa unleashes one on Buddy in “Tempo Trouble”, after the former loses a bet with the latter over which of them can go the longest moving and talking in slow-motion (It Makes Sense in Context… sorta).
    Krupa: Buddy, I have no problem admitting that you are the slowest Jazzberry.
  • Rocket Power: Sam dishes out one to Twister in "Escape From Lars Mountain" when the other three tell him to stop falling for Lars' simple tricks on him.
    Twister: You can't outsmart him.
    Sam: Well maybe you can't.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The War of the Simpsons", Homer has a talk with Bart, who saw him making a drunken fool of himself the previous night.
      Homer: I'm sorry it happened, and I just hope you didn't lose a lot of respect for me.
      Bart: Dad, I have as much respect for you as I ever did or ever will.
      Homer: Awww. [pats Bart's head]
    • At the end of "Little Big Girl", after Bart has just narrowly avoided a high-pressure marriage proposal, we get this exchange:
      Homer: Son, one day you're gonna be a great father.
      Bart: Awww, and someday you will be one, too.
    • In "Lisa's First Word", the reason why Homer is on a Last-Name Basis with Ned Flanders is this trope.
      Ned: The handle says Flanders, but my friends call me Ned!
      Homer: Hello, Flanders.
  • South Park:
    • In "Jewpacabra", Kyle states that anyone who says they believe in the Jewpacabra is either lying or stupid. At the end of the episode Cartman, still believing in the Jewpacabra, decides to convert to Judaism after a Nightmare Sequence and assures Kyle that he's not lying.
      Kyle: [puts an arm around Cartman's shoulder] I know you're not.
    • Could have been attempted at the end of the final episode from Season 18, "#HappyHolograms". It looks like Stan is about to summon Mr. Hankey since this is a Christmas episode and the season is full of callbacks to earlier episodes. But the real-life PewDiePie instead appears and takes the role of Mr. Hankey to teach everyone a lesson. The implication is of course that PewDiePie is just another piece of shit.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: In "Identity Crisis", Flash Thompson has been trying to get a part in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in order to try to get closer to his latest crush, Sha Shan Nguyen. Towards the end of the episode he somewhat accidentally impresses the director enough to offer him the part of Nick Bottom. Flash (who clearly knows nothing about the play) flirtatiously tells Sha Shan that they'll probably be spending a lot of time together now... only for her to rebut that he probably won't need much practice to prepare for the role (while imagining him with a donkey's head).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Squidward in "Band Geeks": "I really expected better of you people. I guess I'm a loser for that too."
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Toffee often takes a passive-aggressive approach to insulting people, a stark contrast to when he was a teenager, where he was more openly aggressive and straight-forward in his insults. One notable example was when he offered Ludo a drink during his introduction:
    Toffee: West Mewnian swamp water. Or do you drink from the bottle?
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Steps Into Shadow", Pryce complains about Konstantine's incompetence by saying that he's more politician than soldier. This is likely a shot at the late Minister Tua.
  • Zigzagged in an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), where Shredder tells Rocksteady and Bebop that his new robotic attack drone is named after them; he calls it "the Knucklehead".
  • Total Drama: Before her true nature was revealed, Julia gave a few to Emma in "Drown Town Abbey" like how she's "so brave in how you don't care about your looks" and offhandedly mentioned about needing a shower, hinting that she may not be the nice Granola Girl she appears to be.

Alternative Title(s): Backhanded Compliment


Inspector Gadget's Last Case

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / InflatingBodyGag

Media sources: