Tony Stark: Yeah, I'll do you one better — WHO'S Gamora?
Drax: I'll do YOU one better — WHY is Gamora?!
In comedy, two normal items followed by a non sequitur or humorous third item. The classic example is "Can I get you anything? Cup of coffee? Doughnut? Toupee?" from The Dick Van Dyke Show, to the point where a bumper running on Nick @ Nite specifically explained the structure of the joke.
Not to be confused with My Friends... and Zoidberg, where the things listed are one or more categories, and the non sequitur is an insult to a listener who ostensibly fits one of the categories.
Informed by the Rule of Three (two items set up a pattern, and then the third breaks it, subverting expectations and registering as funny). It helps that these things tend to be rapid-fire so that viewers have just barely noticed the pattern before the punchline hits.
Subtrope of The Last of These Is Not Like the Others.
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
- Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick
- Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun
- Famous, Famous, Fictional
- The Three Certainties in Life
- An old Sega ad had a stewardess saying, "Coffee? Tea? SEGA!"
- A State Farm commercial has an alien mecha that seems to target one person.
- In an episode of Excel Saga, Il Palazzo is playing a dating sim, and the third option is always "put it in". Excel is later seen playing the same game.
- A very common stock joke phrase used in Japan (and in Japanese media), typically in a "man arriving home from work" context, goes like "Would you like a bath? Or dinner? Or maybe m.e.?"note .
- BoBoiBoy: Papa Zola gives three rules for the football game between BoBoiBoy's team and Fang's: don't play dirty, don't use superpower during the game, and don't toy with a man's feelings ("If you don't love him, then don't act like you love him").
- A memorable gag by comedienne Rita Rudner has her ending a confusing story with "Any questions? Any answers? Anyone care for a mint?"
- A Judge Dredd story where the title character is chasing after Count Dracula sees the infamous vampire run into a Hall of Horrors tourist museum, prompting the following exchange between Dredd and an employee at the exhibit.
Dredd: You! Close the Hall! Get everyone out! Dracula's in there!
Employee: 'Course he is! So's Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Margaret Thatcher...
- The Wrong Reflection: When Dalin Bastra advises Gul Morag that they could just take Eleya's data on defeating the Terran Empire's Klingon-derived cloaking devices by force, Eleya pulls one of these.
Eleya: First of all, in your current state the Bajor outguns both of your remaining ships put together. Second, our cyberwarfare tech is way better than yours so you'll have to physically board us. My XO has orders to erase the files if they pick up any unauthorized transporter signatures, and you'll never get a shuttle docked in one piece. Third, quit testing my patience, you moron.
- In Potter's Protector Xander states that you should never mess with death, time or his Twinkies.
- Lampshaded in Ghost of a Memory:
James: My first captain called me a natural. By the way, when Harry's older, I'd like to buy him his first broom. As his godfather it's my responsibility to encourage such dangerous sports as Quidditch, duelling and dragon hunting.
Draco: Dragon hunting? I assure you Evans, my son is not going anywhere near a dragon until he's at least seventeen.
James: I needed a third activity. Replace it with pranking, if you want. That can be dangerous, especially if he tries to prank us or Severus.
- In Ice Age, Manny to Sid: "Is there no one else that you can annoy? Friends? Family? Poisonous Reptiles?"
- A non-verbal version happens in Kung Fu Panda. Tai Lung is breaking out of Chorh-Gom Prison, only to be confronted by Commander Vachir and his thousand rhino soldiers. A messenger duck called Zeng is also present, clutched in Vachir's fist to stop him flying away. Vachir sees Tai Lung and growls. Tai Lung growls in reply. Zeng just squeaks in terror.
- In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast asks his servants what he can give Belle. Cogsworth immediately pipes up with the standard romantic gestures: "Flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep..." (Fun fact, this line was improvised by David Ogden Stiers).
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation:
Clark: Can I refill your egg nog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
- Working Girl: "Coffee? Tea? Me?"note
- The Nutty Professor (the Eddie Murphy one): "Anything I can get for you? Juice? Coffee? Rack of lamb?"
- Miss Congeniality: "By the way, what are you planning to do for your talent: sing, dance, chew with your mouth closed?"
- In The Addams Family, Morticia is clearing out a closet and finds three bags. In bag #1, "Uncle Knick-knack's Winter Wardrobe". In bag #2, "Uncle Knick-knack's Summer Wardrobe". In bag #3, "Uncle Knick-knack."
- In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: "Go on inside, boys, and make yourselves at home. You can rest up, get something to drink, fuck my wife, whatever you want. Just don't do anything the good lord wouldn't do."
- The X-Files: Fight the Future: When Scully got Mulder big time, it was Mulder's turn to buy them something to drink:
Scully: You're buying.
Mulder: What? Coke, Pepsi, saline IV?
Scully: [smiling] Something sweet.
- In The Avengers Tony Stark asks Bruce Banner how he stays calm.
Tony: What's your secret? Mellow jazz, bongo drums, huge bag of weed?
- As seen in the page quote, Avengers: Infinity War has Drax tack on "Why is Gamora?!" after hearing "Where" and "Who" being asked - which the actor apparently improvised on-set.
- Cotton McKnight, the announcer from DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story is rather prone to these.
Cotton: Tomorrow we separate the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, and the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian.
- Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet: Countess Thun's favourite reading? Dante, Goethe, and Nick Carter's stories.note
- A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!: The live-action film has Timmy's parents attempting to offer gifts to Tootie when they try to marry their son off to her:
Mr. Turner: We'll give you money!
Mrs. Turner: Livestock!
Mr. Turner: Raisins!
- Dracula 2000. Jeri Ryan is playing a news reporter.
Reporter: [to her cameraman] Ready to go? Getting the crash? Getting the sunset? Getting the tits?
- In the After the End B-Movie Battletruck (a.k.a. Warlords of the 21st Century) the villains have just seized a village.
- Young Frankenstein:
Frau Blucher:note Vould the doctor care for a brandy before retiring?
Frederick: No, thank you.
Frau Blucher:note Some varm milk, perhaps?
Frederick: No. Thank you very much. No thanks!
Frau Blucher:note Ovaltine?
- The Rise of Skywalker has a case where the change is not in the wording, but the delivery.
- Zombieland: Double Tap has one featuring the same sentence: something besides the main characters' car makes Columbus go "You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!", Wichita says the same... and then the camera shows another car, whose driver, Madison (who they thought had died) gleefully says "You've got to be kidding me!" And then it turns into a Quadruple, as Tallahassee goes "You've gotta be fucking kidding me!"
- Bicentennial Man: When Andrew asks Sir to teach him how to tell a joke, he tries "two drinks walk into a bar", he tries a "Knock Knock" Joke, and then a Chicken Joke. He's only to say the punchline for the last one, but Andrew (being a Literal-Minded Robot Butler) still doesn't get it.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
"In those days... men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri."
- The 1978 essay "The Three Most Important Things in Life" by Harlan Ellison; they're sex, violence, and labor relations.
- In her book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss remarks that, if people went about saying "Elizabeth'r Reign," instead of "Elizabeth Her Reign," there would be "...the regrettable result of making people sound a) a bit stupid, b) a bit drunk, or c) a bit from the West Country." (39)
- The book Coffee Tea Or Me?, a memoir of two airline stewardesses that was a best seller in 1969.
- The fifth chapter of Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys is titled "Guy Problems: The Pain. The Anguish. The Men's Room."
- Dave Barry's column "Don't Box Me In" refers to an electric ceiling fan switch with three positions: "Low," "Medium," and "Burn Down House."
- According to the protagonist of Monster Hunter Alpha, badass Russians only have three emotions: revenge, depression, and vodka.
- In Unseen Academicals, Glenda realizes she's fed up with the romance novels she's been reading because they're so boring and formulaic: "It's absolutely guaranteed that, for example, an exciting civil war or an invasion by trolls or even a scene with any cooking in it is not going to happen."
- The book Miss Nelson is Missing! had the titular teacher's students wonder what happened to her when she's substituted by an Evil Teacher. They suggest that she was eaten by a shark, she was sent to Mars, or least seriously of all, a swarm of angry butterflies carried off her car.
- Game Shows: Sometimes used in questioning, with two straight choices and a third that is clearly (and often humorously) incorrect or just plain humorous. Examples included All New 3's A Crowd and Remote Control.
Captain Montgomery: Feds say he is a white male, 25 to 45 years old.
Castle: [to himself] Could be me.
Captain Montgomery: With a dysfunctional relationship with his mother.
Castle: Still me.
Captain Montgomery: He has a menial, unimportant job.
Beckett: Definitely you.
Castle: Just for that, my next book is based on Esposito.
- In Eureka, Dr. Boyle lists off his grandmother's missing heirlooms after the bank is stolen. She had a gold wedding ring, a pearl necklace, some antimatter...
- Friends did a variation on this. When Rachel's pregnancy became a plot point at the beginning of season eight, Phoebe tries to figure out who the father is. When she invites the (wrong) man to the coffee house and it's revealed that, no, Tag is not the father, Phoebe is understandably embarrassed.
Phoebe: Can I get anyone anything? Coffee? Tea? Poison? Just me? Okay.
- In Stargate Universe, when Volker needs a kidney transplant:
Park: Still a lot of other potential post-operative drawbacks. Infection, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction...
[everyone except Volker snickers]
Volker: Why is that funny?
[everyone else snickers again]
- Star Trek:
- In its various incarnations, the shows have a tendency to do this when a character is comparing someone to great artists, scientists, explorers or whatever: they will list two ones from our past and an unfamiliar third, often sounding like that of an alien. Alternately, two historical people and one contemporary. (Granted, this person may well be considered historical by their standards.) An example is when listing blind poets and going with "Homer, Dante, Wonder."
- Star Trek: The Next Generation. Amanda Rogers, an intern on Enterprise, has superpowers and Q is sent to investigate.
Q: Very impressive the way you contained that explosion. What else have you done?
Amanda Rogers: I-I don't understand.
Q: Telekinesis? Teleportation? Spontaneous combustion of someone you don't like? [shoots a meaningful glance at Picard]
- In "The Arsenal of Freedom", the crew speculate on what might have caused the Arms Dealers populating Minos to disappear:
Geordi: A dissatisfied customer?
- Star Trek: Voyager. Voyager's EMH is examining Dr. Zimmerman.
EMH: To your knowledge, have you been exposed to theta radiation?
EMH: Neutron flux?
EMH: Have you ever had intimate relations with a Bolian?
- In "Barge of the Dead" the crew have organised some Klingon celebrations. The EMH encourages Seven of Nine to get into the spirit of things.
EMH: Think "Qapla!" Think "Long live the Empire!"
Seven: Think again.
- A more serious example is Seven's Puny Earthlings speech that ends with: "You lack harmony, cohesion... greatness."
- Game of Thrones. Jaime Lannister is shamelessly trolling the huge female knight who's holding him captive. "Have you known many men? Women? Horses?"
- In Two and a Half Men, this is how others react to the news that Jake heard Judith and Herb having sex through his bedroom wall.
- Angel: "The Girl in Question"
- Burn Notice's pilot features this line when Mike and Fiona are hashing out why they broke up the last time.
Michael: Fi, there's a few things I'm good at: tactical analysis, hand-to-hand combat, and I'm a decent cook.
- The Professionals. In this case though the 'funny' one is actually the second example.
Cowley: Bodie. Doyle. Hold on a moment. World Chemical Products. Man just fell out of a seventh-storey window.
Doyle: That's police business.
Cowley: He jumped.
Bodie: That's his business.
Cowley: Somebody had slipped him a drug. Him and half the staff there.
Doyle: Well, that's, uh—
Bodie: —drug squad—
Doyle: —drug squad business.
Cowley: What are you two, some kind of music hall act?
- Happy Endings frequently features this:
Dave: Hey, Pen. What's goin' on?
Penny: Oh, you know, standard, just cleanin' up after a slumber party. Some light dusting, dishes, chipping my unmentionables out of the freezer...
Jane: [about Brad's father's visit] What kind of tests?
Brad: MRI, CAT scan, EKG, routine stuff.
Jane: Routine? Oh, yeah, sure, no, my morning routine is a cup of coffee, a mammogram and a camera up my va-Jane-a. Are you sure everything is okay?
Brad: Totally. If it wasn't, I'm sure he would have talked to me about it.
Jane: Really? Cause I kinda feel like you guys don't talk... that much.
Brad: [on the phone] 7:30... No... Scottie Pippen.
Jane: I mean more than just what time is the Bulls game, are you going and if you had to sleep with one Bull, who would it be?
Pauline Blum (Max's mom): From what Max has told us, that Alex girl leaving you... that was the best thing that could have happened.
Dave: That's what I've been saying.
Pauline: Now you're free to be who you are.
Pauline: And find happiness with men.
Dave: Yes! Wait. What's that with the men thing?
- Blake's 7. One of the many quotable comments of snarky Anti-Hero Avon.
Avon: I am not expendable, I am not stupid, and I am not going.
- Tracey gets a subtle one on 30 Rock. The boat in question is not metaphorical.
I've taken this boat many places. Miami. Tokyo. Denver.
- A Harsher in Hindsight one from The Goodies.
Graham: Operator, this is an emergency! Get me the police... the army... Jimmy Savile! Anybody!
- Horatio Hornblower: In episode "Mutiny", Captain Sawyer has an interesting variation on the motto of the French revolution:
Sawyer: Started by that damn dangerous French revolutionary nonsense. Liberty, fraternity, stupidity.
- Impractical Jokers: In the episode "Brother of the Sisterhood", in response to the question "What are your three biggest fears?" Joe is told to answer "Heights, being locked in a room with a man suffering from gigantism while a bomb slowly and inevitably ticks, and spiders".
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Puerto Rican Day," Kramer, in his Mock Millionaire identity as "H.E. Pennypacker," introduces himself as a "wealthy industrialist and philanthropist and uh...bicyclist."
- Dead Ringers: Andrew Neil lists the guests on his show, which inevitably are two bizarre things - e.g. Davros, creator of the Daleks, a jellyfish with an arts degree - AND DIANNE ABBOT!
- Our Miss Brooks has one rapid-fire breakfast exchange with her landlady:
Miss Brooks: Toast?
Mrs. Davis: Toast.
Miss Brooks: Cereal?
Mrs. Davis: Cereal.
Miss Brooks: Hat-coat-and-bicarbonate?
Mrs. Davis: ...
- Done all the time by the Voiceover Guy for the introduction of the 1990's The X-Files spoof, The X Fools.
"They are two unusual agents investigating unusual mysteries: Haunted houses... UFO's... If a man climbs a mountain because it's there, why doesn't he do the washing up?"
- Used frequently on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, as when they were discussing the debut of Inspire, a glossy magazine especially for jihadi terrorists.
Peter Sagal: No longer will terrorists have to rely only on magazines like Car Bomb and Driver... U.S. Jews and World Report... or Martha Stewart Living.
- A more conventional Rule of Three followed:
Sagal: If this works there's another line of jihadi magazines ready to go: Better Caves and Gardens... Bomb Apetit... Ladies Never Leave the Home Journal...
- A more conventional Rule of Three followed:
- The Abduction of Figaro by P.D.Q. Bach:
Donna Donna (to Donald Giovanni): You worm! You skunk! You yellow-bellied imperialist running-dog!
- Sunday in the Park with George, "Color And Light":
George: More red... More blue... More beer...
- The song "I Believe" in The Book of Mormon is built around this structure, but interestingly the third item isn't even a joke, technically, but rather a real Mormon belief that just sounds really bizarre out of context.
I believe that the Lord God created the universe. I believe that he sent his only son to die for my sins. And I believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America...
- The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) explains that the Letters basically teach three things: "Love the Lord thy God"; "Love thy neighbor as thyself"; and "Women: you're responsible for the downfall of mankind, so shut up and obey your husbands."
- Tenderloin has one with a pun at the end of "What's In It For You?":
Tommy: You're deep.
Brock: You're shrewd.
Both: Your move.
- The intro cinematic of DeathSpank promises "a tale of blood, and steel, and bacon!"
- The backstory for Pigskin 621 A.D., as presented in the Player's Handbook, is captioned: "Before Football, Before Rugby, Before Bubonic Plague..."
- Portal 2:
KNOW YOUR ALLERGENS: Pollen. Animal dander. Plastics. Antimatter.
- Arfenhouse Teh Movie Too:
"LAYYZDR GNU!!!!!!!" [pewpewpew]
- In The Lazer Collection 3 a gritty new detective comments that a detail of the case he was assigned is, quote, odd. This launches his senior officer into a mini-rant.
Senior Officer: Odd? Odd is Benjamin Franklin playing tetherball with Van Helsing. Odd is a big-toed tadpole tainted by the tides of a dawn since past. Odd is a 40-year-old senior officer who cries himself to sleep every night dreaming of a life on the road as a traveling naked contortionist, never returning home, never stopping or breaking his stride! ... Unless he saw a TGI Fridays. He f**king loves that place.
Detective Randall: [stare]
Senior Officer: This isn't odd, Randall. This... is a mystery.
- Freeman's Mind has an episode where he yells to a vortigaunt alien:
Freeman: You stay on your side of the line! Your side of the line is where everyone is dead. My side of the line is filled with love, hope, and sub-machine guns!
- Stupid Kids: Bazsi wants to go inside the kitchen but Boti builds a border there and asks for an ID card, a passport and a red rubber ball from him in Ahol a méreg sem segít (Where even poison does not help).
- The Order of the Stick:
- In #709, Tsukiko complains about how Paladins forbid things left and right: "Don't walk on the grass, don't litter, don't rape the cycle of life with your unclean power."
- Also, #20: "Fireball!" "Arrrgh!" "Lightning Bolt!" "Arrrgh!" "Evan's Spiked Tentacles of Forced Intrusion!" "Wait, what? —AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!"
- Start of Darkness has the Unholy Master ready to choose his new second-in-command:
Unholy Master: Will it be: The wizard Yydranna?
Yydranna: Darkness is my ally.
Unholy Master: The sorcerer Xykon?
Xykon: The dead are mine to command.
Unholy Master: Or two-time Origins-Award-winning game designer Keith Baker?
Keith Baker: You know, I'm not really evil, per se. I'm just here to promote my card game, Gloom.
- This Questionable Content:
Marigold: Large Phillips screwdriver.
Momo: Large Phillips screwdriver.
Marigold: Thermal paste.
Momo: Thermal paste.
Marigold: I was... I was joking!
- From Crimson Dark, Chapter 01: Page 22. Kari takes control of the Niobe's guns as the enemy closes in. Doubles as a Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
Kari: Sorry, guys, but this is what happens when you destroy my ship, kill my friends, come after my rescuers, and fly level while in formation.
- When Tweeterman 287 reviewed a handheld game console, he said (holding up each object in turn) "Rapid-fire size comparison so you can get an idea of the size of this in Real Life. Xbox 360 controller, PSP-3000, and a turtle made out of clay."
- According to Cracked, success depends on three things: Talent, hard work, and randomly meeting the right people and not pissing them off.
- What If?: The first image of "Free Fall" labels the parts of Mount Thor with "East Slope", "Summit", and "AAAAAAAAAAAAA" (pointing at the sheer cliff).
- A meme comparing different generations' humor styles goes like so:
- From Scott The Woz's deep dive of Super Smash Bros. 64:
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: In "The Ickis Box", The Gromble scolds Ickis for getting distracted by human TV programs during a scare at an electronics store.
The Gromble: You were snapping your fingers! You were tapping your toes! You were shaking your groove-thing!
- Coffee? Tea? Monster? And yes, Dot did have a monster on hand for that purpose, and someone did ask for it.
- In "Sir Yaksalot": "Candy? Gum? Dynamite?"
- The Power Trio of the Warner Siblings are pretty much designed to deliver this kind of punchline. For example, in "The Taming of the Screwy" when they're excited about getting to meet famous actors:
Yakko: Michelle Pfeiffer!Dot: Mel Gibson!Wakko: Don Knotts!
- Darkwing Duck: A more serious example occurs in "Star-Crossed Circuits"; when Launchpad tells Darkwing he doesn't think he's any use to him with the D-2000 around, Darkwing takes exception. Launchpad asks for a example, and Darkwing brings up the Thunderquack and lifting heavy boxes (before remembering that the D-2000 can do that as well). His last suggestion is singing show tunes but he immediately shuts Launchpad down when he actually tries to perform them.
- A Triple combined with a Julius Beethoven da Vinci from Futurama:
Calculon: I was all of history's great acting robots; Acting Unit 0.8, Thespomat, David Duchovny.
- The Fairly OddParents episode in which Mr. Crocker first appeared has this:
Crocker: Can I offer you anything with that? Cream, sugar, magic?
Wanda: What was that last one?
Crocker: [unsure] Sugar?
- In one episode of American Dragon: Jake Long, when Spud and Trixie are looking over Lao Shi's store while he and Jake are away, Fu Dog tells them not to touch anything, not to open any drawers, and if a big toothless guy named Morty shows up saying "Where's the money?", tell him Fu moved to Machu Picchu.
- Some episodes of Roger Ramjet do this during the fight scenes where all that is flashed on screen are sound effect words like "Bam," "Pow" and "Ouch." In one episode the word "indigestion" turns up.
- Played with on The Simpsons, after Krusty gets fired:
Krusty: They took my dressing room, my parking space, even my writer, so I don't have a funny third item.
- Rugrats: Angelica has a list of things she needs before she can examine Chucky.
Angelica: Lil, I'm going to need a box of cookies, about a hundred Band-Aids, some water, and a helicopter!
Lil: Where am I gonna get a box of cookies?
- In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Buzz is thrown into the far future (it's actually a trick) and sees what became of his team:
Buzz: Commander Booster... President Nova... XR... with a mustache.
- In TaleSpin, Shere Khan questions his employees as to how they're investing their budgets. The first two suggest petroleum and electronics...and then the third one is glow-in-the-dark sunglasses.
- In the American Dad! episode "Red October Sky", when Stan is looking for a former KGB agent, his guesses to where he might be are Cuba, China, and back in time to kill Betsy Ross.
- ¡Mucha Lucha! has the principles that Masked Wrestling is founded upon: Honor, Family, Tradition and Donuts.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Dragonshy", Rainbow Dash gets tired of her friends' failed attempts to gently convince a napping dragon to move further from Ponyville.
Rainbow Dash: Alright, that's it! We've tried persuasion... charm... whatever it is Pinkie Pie does...
- In Milo Murphy's Law, when the main character is described as "whatever the opposite of a rabbit's foot is":
Milo: A rabbit's head?Melissa: A fox's foot?
- Young Justice (2010). Beast Boy demands proof that Impulse comes from the future.
Beast Boy: Tell us something we don't know—yet! When do I become leader of the team? When do I join the Justice League? When do I get my own reality series?
- This article. "Skinny jeans, adult films, human excrement sell 'like hot cakes' in North Korea"
- During the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and John Edwards were the three candidates left in the race, Obama mentioned in one of the debates how historic a time it was, because it included the first African American final contender for the presidential campaign, the first woman, and John.
- Writer Michael Dare says that Animaniacs showrunner Peter Hastings only accepted to have a meeting with him after sending a humorous "possible reasons for not responding" list. Among the items are "Your music is nice but your lyrics suck", "Your lyrics are nice but your music sucks" and "Your sucking is nice but your lyrics aren't musical."