Sandurz: No, sir! I didn't see you playing with your dolls again!
Certainly no one is describing Suspiciously Specific Denial here, so that people will understand what the trope is about. And this sure isn't an opening gag to preface it. And this surely isn't an unnecessary prolongation of the gag to make it, supposedly, funnier.
A False Reassurance works because the speaker is being vague and non-specific enough to pull the wool over someone's eyes. A Suspiciously Specific Denial, on the other hand, fails because the speaker is Saying Too Much. This may be unintentional, such as when the speaker is panicked, is a Bad Liar, or perhaps just a little stupid. Often used to establish that you're Most Definitely Not a Villain.
Sometimes, this is used more deliberately, such as when the speaker is definitely not trying to give out information that they shouldn't but doesn't want to be too obvious about it (...Or So I Heard may follow). A Trickster type may also use it as the misdirecting component of a Batman Gambit, an Infraction Distraction, or Kansas City Shuffle; by making an oddly specific denial that is actually true, the mark may be led to believe that the denial is false. (For example: the mark is told that there aren't 2,300,009 invisible vampire ghosts — so the mark believes there are, when in fact there are no invisible vampire ghosts at all.) In rare cases, the speaker may be telling the truth and have no intent to deceive, but it just comes out wrong.
Oddly, it can happen in two opposite ways: the specific denial ("I won't kill you using a poisoned stiletto!") was a lie (he does, and the fact that the question and/or answer was so specific means that someone already had the answer in mind), or the specific denial was technically true, but it left so many doors open that it was suspect anyway (he kills the other guy with a non-poisoned stiletto, or a gun). Either way, the result is the same - when someone is more specific than they need to be, it's a good sign something's wrong. Bonus suspicion points if the statement was made apropos of nothing.
This is a favored tactic of a Tsundere who got caught being dere — in fact Memetic Mutation has made this the motto of the Tsundere ("Stupid [love interest]! I-it's not like I'm [doing something affectionate] because I like you or anything!")
When the speaker is assumed to be telling the truth, a listener might suspect this if the denial was expected to be more general.
When The Mafia uses it, it's the Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club. If you insist that you'd NEVER make a Suspiciously Specific Denial (while doing so), then it's I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!. This is not comparable to Bad Liar; a character who invokes this trope could certainly be a bad liar, but when used alone it's not indicative of Bad Liar.
Characters who are Lawful Stupid may take the statement at face value.
This is frequently seen on Police Procedurals when someone under a confidentiality requirement (lawyers and doctors, mostly) make a very specific inclusion or omission in an answer to the investigators that provides a clue where they should be looking.
It is also a device in mysteries. Someone makes a statement or denial including information that they could only know if they were the perp. "Well, I didn't shoot him!" "No one ever mentioned how he was killed." That may also be related to You Just Told Me. This is the reason why it is also Truth in Television, especially why lawyers frequently advise not to make any reply to any allegation.
See also: Could Say It, But....
Compare/contrast with Hesitation Equals Dishonesty.
Often accompanies Mock Surprise Reaction.
These are certainly not examples:
- Anime and Manga
- Comic Books
- Comic Strips
- Fan Works
- Films – Animation
- Films – Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Puppet Shows
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Web Comics
- Web Animation
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- The card game Ninja Burger includes the "Not a Ninja" T-Shirt which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin and gives a bonus to the disguise skill.
- Magic: The Gathering: House Dimir does not exist. Of course the Guildpact relies on ten guilds of all possible mana combinations, but the blue black one is just a myth. That tenth symbol on the wall showing all the guilds? Artist's license. Duskmantle, House of Secrets? Never built, don't know what you're talking about. Those mysterious spirits that the Boros legion fought last week? I don't remember that, and you don't either. Leading to The Unmasqued World when Szadek makes a banquet out of Selesnya.
- This is not the origin of the non-Chinese proverb "no three-hundred taels of silver beneath this ground":
Some guy digs a hole behind his house and put all his life's savings in it. Not feeling particularly secure, he scribbles a message on the wall: "No three-hundred taels of silver beneath this ground". His neighbor Wang gets the message, harvests the ground — and then wrote: "This is not stolen by your neighbor Wang".
- There is a Latin phrase that says "Excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta". Which means "explanation non asked, guilt exposed".
- Issue 278 of Doctor Who Adventures is A5 size, rather than the usual A4. The Letter From The Doctor explains that this is totally intentional and nothing to do with him mucking about with the Teselecta's miniturisation ray. And on a totally unrelated note, he himself appears to be shrunk, so send help and a tiny fez.
This isn't a Tropes page, we swear.