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Tempting Fate

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Heinrich Hoffmann sends his condolences.

"Fate is like a caged gorilla. It will pelt you with dung if you mock it."
Warriv, Diablo II


Some things just shouldn't be said, even in jest. Taunting a monster or bullying a dragon is likely to end badly. (Mugging the Monster definitely will.) Monologuing will invariably give The Hero the time he needs to defeat you. And then there's this trope.

Tempting Fate is when a character says something that dares the universe into making things miserable for them, and the universe takes them up on the challenge. Oftentimes, the character is commenting on how they've hit Rock Bottom and how things couldn't possibly get any worse — right before things do turn From Bad to Worse. Conversely, they may talk about how things are absolutely perfect, only for their world to come crashing down five seconds later. Also watch out for a Gilligan Cut.

And sometimes tempting fate can get downright lethal. For example, that guy in every horror movie who tells his friends "I'll be right back" before wandering off by himself is most assuredly not going to be back. Or that guy in every war movie who shows that picture of his family to the others and expresses his hope to get through this and make it back home to them, which all but ensures that he won't make it. Or that veteran cop in every action movie who's just a few days away from Retirement, and thus doomed to be gunned down in his final case. This particular variant of Tempting Fate is known as a Death Flag.


The fate-tempting words may be followed up by a friend saying "You Just Had to Say It!"

For the supertropes to this, see Trope Telegraphing and Be Careful What You Say. Compare Schmuck Bait, Instantly Proven Wrong, Speak of the Devil, Famous Last Words. Contrast the Godzilla Threshold for where things really can't get any worse. See also Too Good to Be True.

And don't forget the Evil Overlord List, either.




Alternative Title(s): Asking For It, You Were Asking For It, Tempt Fate