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Too Many Halves

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"You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."
Yogi Berra

A person or object is described in some way that involves fractions. Oddly, those fractions don't add up to one. The most common form this description takes is "half [one thing], half [another thing], and half [something else]" or extended versions thereof — hence the name — but it can also involve more complicated addition problems. Another common variation is to have a character refer to splitting something "fifty-fifty," then realizing there are more people to split it among, and adjusting the proposed split to "fifty-fifty-fifty," etc. An occasional inversion is to say something is "half-something, half...just half-something" as an insult.

Sometimes this is used to suggest that the described thing is paradoxically larger (or smaller) than itself. It is almost always Played for Laughs, unless it's a really bad example of Writers Cannot Do Math.


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  • A 1991 ad for the London Travelcard, which could be used on all public transport, showed it summoning "Supercar", described as "Half tube, half train, half bus!"

  • Milton Jones has a variation on this trope: he makes a joke about his granddad, and then about his other granddad, and then about his other granddad, continuing through about eight different granddads. He then later calls back to this by complaining about family reunions. "Too many granddads." The granddad jokes usually end with "My grandmother... was confused."

    Comic Books 
  • In Atomic Robo: Doctor Dinosaur's genetically-engineered "omnisaur" is half-triceratops, half-ankylosaurus and half-stegosaurus. The good news: those are all herbivores. The bad news: it also shoots laser beams.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Project Sunflower: Harmony has this exchange when Luna describes a stack of correspondence:
    Luna: Half of them are calling upon me to step down from my position, half are complaints about my competency, half are blatant attempts to curry favor through base flattery, and the rest are none-too-subtle hints of how our lines should be joined in matrimony at the first opportunity.
    Celestia: By my count, that is at least three "halfs", sister.
    Luna: Yes. There may be some overlap.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Willy says "Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple." Mrs. Teevee points out that that adds up to 105%.
  • Caddyshack II:
    Jack Hartounian: My father was Armenian. My mother was half Jewish, half English, half Spanish.
    Chandler Young: That's three halves.
    Jack Hartounian: Oh, she was a big woman.
  • In The Producers, a lot of little old ladies are each sold a 50% or greater share of the profits of "Springtime for Hitler" (which are expected to be negative).
    Max: Leo, how much percentage of a play can there be all together?
    Leo: Max, you can only sell one hundred percent of anything.
    Max: And how much of "Springtime for Hitler" have we sold?
    Leo: Twenty-five thousand percent.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire contains this variant:
    "Is your sister English?"
    "Half English, half American. Half-sister, really, so that makes her, what, about an eighth English? I don't know, I've never really done the math."
  • In Anger Management, Chuck claims to be "half Jewish, half Italian, half Mexican." Which is actually possible, because Judaism (even culturally Jewish ancestry specifically) and Mexican/Italian heritage are not mutually exclusive—one of his parents could easily be a Jewish Mexican or Italian.note 
  • In Marius (and the play it was based on), the bartender César tries to explain how to make a cocktail to his son Marius. Said cocktail contains one third of Curaçao liquor, one third of lemon juice, one third of Picon, and one third of water. When told by his son that it makes four thirds, he answers : "It depends on how big the thirds are !"
  • Home Alone: The Holiday Heist: When Sinclair's accomplices believe the house they're breaking in is haunted, they demand a bigger share than the initially agreed 25% for each of them. Hughes suggests 50% for him, 50% for Jessica, and 25% for Sinclair. They eventually settle for one third each.
  • Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter: During Herman's failed job interview at Advertising House, the boss says, "Advertising is 50% style, 50% creativity, 50% drive." Herman says, "That's 150%, sir."

  • One standard email forward of student errors contains:
    Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.
  • The "ninety-ninety rule" of computer programming, which is due to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs:
    "The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time."
  • This quote from Yogi Berra:
    Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.

  • Discworld:
    • Eric has the Aztec-flavoured god Quezovercoatl, who is described as "half-man, half-chicken, half-jaguar, half-serpent, half-scorpion and half-mad", making "a wossname total of three homicidal maniacs".
    • In Unseen Academicals, Ridcully calls for the team to give 110%, and Ponder explains that they can only give 100%, although it might be a bigger 100% than previously thought. In the same book, the captain of the Cockbill Boars claims his team always gives 120% "and you can't give more than that".
  • An epigram by Alexander Pushkin describes one of his contemporaries as a "half-milord, half-merchant, half-sage, half-ignoramus, half-scoundrel, but there's a hope he'll finally be full."
  • In Animorphs, Ax — and by extension the Andalite race in general — is once described as half blue deer, half centaur, and half scorpion. Then the narrator Lampshades it by saying they realize that it's too many halves.
  • From Destiny's Forge:
    Tskombe: Half a sense of adventure, half a sense of duty, half no better plan for my life.
    Cherenkova: That's three halves.
    Tskombe: If I was smart enough to do math I wouldn't be in the infantry.
  • When Eric Flint expanded 1632 from a one-off novel to a Shared Universe, he set out to avert this trope, by laying down rules for what characters other writers could create. Otherwise, as explained in "The Many Halves of Grantville":
    ... In addition to the half who are rocket scientists and the other half who are SEALS, Eric has provided us a list of the following additional halves:
    The half who are engineers, which are in turn divided into half electrical engineers, half locomotive engineers, half chemical engineers, half mechanical engineers, and too many thirds and quarters to count.
    There is, I believe — at last count — exactly one person in everybody's fantasy Grantville who is elderly and illiterate. Of course, he's also the son of Alvin York and shoots even better than his daddy.
  • "Anguished English", a collection of pupil bloopers, funny typos etc. dug up: "Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large."
  • In a Star Trek Expanded Universe Deep Space Nine novel, Quark bamboozles a trader into agreeing to a "sixty sixty" split, confident that any Ferengi arbiter would agree that, since 60% to both parties is impossible, 60% to Quark and 40% to his partner is a perfectly reasonable interpretation.

  • In the Give Yourself Goosebumps book The Deadly Experiments of Doctor Eeek, one of the Bad Endings has you being turned into a half human, half-dog half-basketball, the latter taking the place of your head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the end of the Seinfeld episode "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry describes his shirt as "half silk, half cotton, half linen".
  • One episode of All That revealed that Britney Spears is "half girl, half robot, half ravioli."
  • From a Demetri Martin bit discussing his ideas for mythological creatures:
    Demetri: A very beautiful mythical creature is called the Zebratard, and this animal is one-half pig, one-half eagle, one-half zebra, making it an improper fraction - so that's three halves of a creature, that's one-and-a-half mythical creatures - and it's surprisingly graceful, and very rare.
  • In one episode of Farscape, Crichton (while posing as a bounty hunter) suggests splitting a bounty 70/30; the other bounty hunter demands it be split "70/40!" Crichton, who clearly knows he's dealing with an idiot, ups the bid to 80/40 to calm him down.
  • Stargate SG-1, when the team needed to use a naquadah bomb as the power source to dial a gate, Vala estimated a 70% chance they'd successfully dial out and a 50% chance the bomb would explode. When Mitchell pointed out that this totaled 120%, Vala states that there's some overlap where both happen, subverting this trope.
    Mitchell: Jackson, you get all that?
    Jackson: Yep. 100% chance we should have brought someone who knows what they're doing!
  • In Andromeda, when talking about a madman's diary:
    Harper: It's half mystical mumbo-jumbo, half putrid poetry, and half bad math.
    Rommie: That's three halves.
    Harper: Like I said, bad math.
  • In earlier seasons of MythBusters, Adam (who averts this trope) would often give percentage chances of what would happen during an experiment. One of the few times Jamie tried to do this, this trope resulted. (Yes, even Jamie can make mistakes.)
    Rob Lee: Uh, Jamie, that's 125%.
    Jamie: [chuckling] So sue me!
  • In the The Flash (2014) episode "Plastique", Barry Allen enjoys a 500 proof drink. That's 250 percent alcohol by volume.
  • On 30 Rock, Jack describes an incredibly fancy dessert as being "topped with 25-carat gold leaf." Note that 24-carat gold is pure, 100% gold.
  • In one episode of Kaamelott, Arthur's bodyguard says that he just had a nightmare about a giant scorpion that was "half bear, half scorpion, and re-half bear behind".
  • On The Good Place, Brent writes an incredibly terrible book which he describes as "half spy novel, half murder mystery, half submarine adventure, half erotic memoir, half political thriller, half golf tutorial, and half commentary on society." Simone snarkily asks, "So it's three and a half books in one?"
  • On Full House, while trying to make an infomercial for something Jesse has created, Danny describes Jesse as "half-genius, half-visionary, half-Greek".
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "The Big Gold Strike", Gilligan and Mr. Howell discover a gold mine. Mr. Howell claims it must be real gold because anything over 24-karat gold (which is pure gold) gives him a nervous reaction.

  • The Non-Prophets song "Xaul Zhan's Heart" has the line:
    "Half shark-alligator, half man, half amazing."
  • In an interview with German female singer Katja Krasavice, she said her girlfriend described her as "100% feminist, 100% antifeminist".

  • USA Today published a Back to the Future-themed "Hill Valley Edition" on October 22, 2015, which Back to the Future Part II noted as the day on which Doc Brown purchased a USA Today reporting on the arrest of Marty McFly Jr. The last story on the front page bears the headline, "Public more gullible than ever", and uses Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics to detail an experiment from the Sam Houston Institute of Technology apparently revealing how easily readers might mistake the paper's stories for actual events. The percentages add up to 110%, a gag that the story lampshades... by invoking this trope again.
    Interestingly, 87% of the readers of this very article were unaware that the total percentages involved added up to more than 100%, demonstrating that basic math skills are continuing to decline. The remaining 22% didn't care.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • WWE: Montel Vontavious Porter: "I am half-man, half-amazing, half-tag-team-champion... I'm so great, I'm the only man on Earth with three halves!"

  • Car Talk: Frequently, Tom & Ray would give the answer to last week's Puzzler, then promise "We'll have a new Puzzler for you in the third half of the show."
  • Dead Ringers, when parodying Location, Location, Location, has Kirstie Allsopp introduce herself as "half-woman, half-scarf" and then Phil Spencer introduce himself as "half-man"... (silence)

    Tabletop Games 
  • This can happen in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition due to abuse of the various "half-x" templates. Some supplementary materials try to Handwave this by say that species that can produce half-X templates have such strong genes that the template still applies even if the child is a quarter or eighth of that species, but that still doesn't account for the fact that certain half-x templates have full blooded counterparts as templates and that the baseline races that these templates can be applied to include various Heinz Hybrids, some of which are stated to be distant descendants of said templates. This means that you could have a Fiendish Half-Fiend Tiefling who was 153% Fiend and 97% Human. The solution? Be the game master and veto the character.
  • Played with in Munchkin. Despite being built from the ground up to parody various role playing game cliches (and the entire concept of role playing games in general), the "Half-Breed" card only lets you play two Race cards at once, as the name implies. To play three Race cards, you'll need a "1/3-Breed" card. (But then, the rules encourage cheating...)
  • D&D 3.5E derivative Pathfinder again makes this mechanically possible via abuse of the various "half-monster" templates. Using only first-party material, it is theoretically possible (though any sensible GM would veto it for a player character) to have a creature that is half-fiend (there are actually ten subvarieties), half-celestial, half-dragon, half-janni, and half-serpent, for a creature two-and-a-half times as big as you'd expect.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • A non-comedic example; an old post on Fundies Say the Darndest Things had a poster who claimed Barack Obama was 50% white, 44% Muslim, and 12% black.

    Web Videos 
  • Brocéliande: Blööm the elf claims that Merlin of Kaamelott is "half-druid, half-human, half-sorcerer, half-dragon". He's not exactly well-informed, missing out the canonical half-demon part.
  • James Veitch of the Scamalot series from Mashable proposed the following split to a scammer named Mary Gary: Mary 40%, James 70%, Charity 20%, Charlie 1/5, James 20%, and Gary 35%. Mary Gary's only objection to this? "You put yourself twice."
  • Vinesauce's Vinny, in his stream of GoldenEye: Source 5.0, said of his language skills, "I say big words from time to time. I make my own words the other half of the time. And then I say words wrong... like... the other... all the time." (beat) "I'm also very good with percentages."

    Western Animation 
  • In the South Park episode "ManBearPig", Al Gore describes the eponymous monster as being "half man, half bear, half pig." When we actually see ManBearPig exactly as Gore imagines him in the Imaginationland episodes, it does in fact look part man, part bear, and part pig in some proportion. Other characters point out that this is too many halves, and instead describe it as "half man and half bearpig", or some such version.
  • The Charlie Dog character from Looney Tunes had jokes about this as one of his main schticks. He would claim to be 50% of about half a dozen different breeds.
    Charlie: I'm 50% Pointer (There it is! There it is! There it is!), 50% Boxer, 50% Setter (Irish Setter), 50% Watch Dog, 50% Spitz, 50% Doberman Pincher. But, mostly, I'm all Labrador Retriever! If you doubt my word, get me a Labrador and I'll retrieve it.
  • Bender from Futurama has claimed at various points to be 30% iron, 40% zinc, 40% titanium, 40% lead, and 40% dolomite (that last one having at least some demonstrable truth to it because he survived swimming in molten lava). According to the Professor, he's mostly made up of a titanium-osmium alloy with a .3% nickel impurity.
  • A House of Mouse short has the Big Bad Wolf telling his son that catching pigs is "ninety-nine percent" whatever lesson he's trying to teach at the moment. When they get to the third attempt, the son dryly informs him they're up to 297 percent.
  • The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat" had Burns attempting to improve the plant baseball team by hiring a hypnotist:
    Hynpotist: You are all very good players...
    Team: [entranced] We are all very good players...
    Hypnotist: You will beat Shelbyville...
    Team: [entranced] We will beat Shelbyville...
    Hypnotist: You will give one hundred and ten percent...
    Team: [entranced] That's impossible. No one can give more than one hundred percent. By definition that is the most anyone can give...
  • In the Arthur episode "Tales from the Crib", when the mischievous Tibble twins invent a monster to frighten DW from moving out of her crib.
    Tibbles: Aracnar, Lord of the Spider People. He's half-man, half-spider, and he eats children. He can't get his tentacles through the bars of the crib, but kids in beds are easy picking! He climbs up the side, and crawls under the sheet!
    DW: Wait a second! If he's half-man, half-spider, why does he have tentacles?
    Tibbles: ...uh, he's half-octopus too! And half Tyrannosaurus rex!
  • A Looney Tunes short with Daffy Duck hosting a show exploring the "Mysterious Phenomena of the unexplained" has Daffy explain that the Chupacabra is "Half Alien, Half Vampire, Half Dinosaur"
  • Kim Possible uses a variation on the "110%" version when Bonnie declares her intention of wresting the cheer squad captaincy away from Kim:
    Bonnie: Which is... nice, but you gotta ask yourself, did you give the squad 110% today?
    Kim: [annoyed] 120%, Bonnie.
    Bonnie: I happen to think the squad deserves a captain who gives... like, 130!
  • On Total Drama, Duncan claims to have fought a mutant that was "half-lion, half-bear and half-poison."
  • Irwin from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is described as half-human, half-vampire, and half-mummy in the "Underfist" special. Truth be told, he's quarter-human, quarter-vampire, and half-mummy note , but that doesn't really affect his supernatural vampire-mummy powers anyway.
  • In one episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, after Bradley (a skunk who previously helped Sector V) is rebuilt as a Cyborg after being hit by a car, Numbuh 2 describes him as a "half-skunk, half-Kids Next Door operative, half-butt-kicking machine".
  • In an episode of The Flintstones, when Fred and Barney take up songwriting, Fred looks up statistics on what kinds of songs people prefer. Barney points out that the percentages add up to 140%.
  • In an episode of Goof Troop, when Pete starts his own newspaper, Max and P.J. invent a story about a mutant alien that's "half-human, half-rutabaga, half-hamster".

    Real Life 
  • This is the whole concept behind improper fractions, including literal examples such as "4/2"
  • This is always the case for betting odds, as it allows the bookies to make money. To see why this is so imagine a person who bets once on every possibility available. They have effectively bet on an event with actual probability 1, but since more likely events pay out less and the bookies odds add to more than 1, the person loses money to the bookie whichever result happens (barring a particularly low-probability, high-payout result—but even then, the better will be making less money than if he had just bet on that result directly).
  • Fermions such as quarks and leptons have the bizarre property of having a different orientation after a rotation of 360°. They require a full 720° to remain unchanged.
  • An unintended Real Life example might be Denny Willis and the Hunting Quartet, which should be unconventionally parsed as (Denny Willis and the Hunting) Quartet - they are four people, not five.
  • Technically a subversion, but listing percentages over 100 isn't always a mathematical impossibility. While it's true you can't have, say, an object that's more than 100 percent pure gold, you can increase the amount of something by, say, 150 percent, equal to 2.5 times as much. Further, due to rounding, something that should add up to 100% can wind up adding up to 99 or 101 percent, or more/less, because the numbers presented are inexact.
  • In a non-Euclidean space (such as the surface of a sphere) you can have a triangle whose angles don't add up to 180 degrees, even though that's normally part of the definition of a triangle.
  • Trilogy Creep can briefly make this happen in promotional materials, as a series can often still be described as a "trilogy" even after fourth installments and beyond have been released.