There are three things you should know about this page:
- This is a Stock Phrase often used in comedy.
- It is used for when there are three things that a character wanted and one or two of them didn't turn out the way they expected.
- This is TV Tropes Millionth Trope! Congratulations! You've won one gazillion dollars!
Okay, well, two out of three ain't bad.
Also, usually the one that went wrong was the most important one, e.g. "Well, he's got Super Toughness all right, and he doesn't give up, but the controllable part... well, Two Out Of Three Aint Bad."
Two Out of Three Examples Ain't Bad
- A community college course list once had an English course called "Writing For Fun And Profit ... Or One Out Of Two Isn't Bad".
- Played with in the English dub of Martian Successor Nadesico, when Ryoko reports that two members of her three-woman squad are accounted for, and even says the line. She is immediately countered by the missing Izumi (who ended up in the giant toolbox Ryoko was towing), who chimes in: "It is if you're the third!"
- Judge Dredd: In "America", the rebellious America Jara points out during a college lecture she's attending that the Judges of Mega-City One have taken away almost all the principles that the old America was founded on: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" has become a dark joke. The teacher sheepishly says that at least they're still alive, and 1 out of 3 isn't bad. And after the "Day of Chaos" arc, even that concession has become a bit questionable...
- Laff-A-Lympics: The cover for the first comic describes the teams as "two teams of funtastic heroes and one team of these guys! (well, two out of three isn't bad)"
- Mars Attacks!: Shortly after Congress is blown up, the President (played by Jack Nicholson) reminds the American people that "we still got two outta three branches of the government workin' for us, and that ain't bad."
- The tagline for the movie Made in America:
She wanted a sperm donor who was tall, black, and handsome. One out of three ain't bad. (She got Ted Danson.)
- Good Omens: the main female character finds out that the man she was fated to fall in love with, whom she hoped would be the proverbial "tall, dark and handsome" guy, is in fact only tall and dark. She tells herself, "Two out of three isn't bad."
- Soul Music had the gag about Sex, Drugs and Music with Rocks In. "I haven't had sex." "My dad would kill me if I did drugs." "Well, one out of three ain't bad."
- In Spock's World, a Vulcan asks if Kirk is ready for the referendum about secession. Kirk responds, "Ready, willing and able." McCoy comments, "At least two out of three ain't bad."
- In The George Lopez Show, this is used when George finds out that Benny lied to him, and his dad is actually alive.
George "I just want a muffin, some coffee, to know why you never told me my dad was alive."
Benny [tosses him a muffin] "Here. One outta three ain't bad."
- In the Gilligan's Island episode "The Hunter", the Castaways are trying to reassure themselves that Gilligan will escape from the eponymous character.
Skipper: He'll never catch him. My little buddy is too fast.Mr. Howell: And cunning.Professor: And shifty.Skipper: And smart!Mr. Howell: Three out of four, that's not bad.
- Darren Stevens from Bewitched once said this after noting that while his mother-in-law hates him, his wife and daughter love him very much.
- Subverted in Queer as Folk, when Lindsay tells the others that her childhood dream was to fall in love, get married and have a baby. When Michael says that two out of three isn't bad, Lindsay says that three out of three is even better, since she and Melanie have decided to get married.
- In the Voyagers! episode "An Arrow Pointing East", when Bogg leaves to get the gasoline so Lindbergh can fly the Atlantic, he's warned there's a guard dog on the premises. When Jeff tries to tell him to be careful, Bogg declares that he has a way with women, children, and animals. Jeff concedes to two out of the three.
- The Wire: When Carcetti becomes mayor, he's told that if he wants to run for governor in a few years, his administration's policy goals should be to 1) authorize a major construction project he can put his name on; 2) lower Baltimore's crime rate; and 3) not interfere in the city's schools. He fails to keep all his campaign promises, but adds that he also wanted to keep his "boyish good looks". His aide snarks that one out of four isn't bad.
- A skit on Saturday Night Live concluded with two representatives of the Gay Communist Gun Club endorsing George H. W. Bush for president because, while he did not support all of their positions, two out of three wasn't bad.
- The Trope Naming song by Meat Loaf.
- This phrase is used in the Fall Out Boy song, I'm Like A Lawyer with the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me and You):
The best way to make it through / With hearts and wrists intact / Is to realize two out of three ain't bad / Ain't bad!
- NPR's This American Life once followed a Jewish advertiser who was working with a Muslim client. The client, in idle political conversation with the ad-man, quoted a prophecy that said "there will never be peace within Islam until Islam rules over the three holy cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem". The advertiser responded "Two out of three ain't bad".
- In 2003, Australian Rules Football team the Brisbane Lions were going for their third consecutive premiership. At the Grand Final Breakfast, when Lions coach Leigh Matthews was introduced, they played Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad". The Lions won.
- In 2011, FC Barcelona lost the Copa del Rey to arch-rival Real Madrid, but then they won both the Spanish League and the UEFA Champions League, defeating Real in both competitions. Needless to say, Barcelona's fans were very satisfied by these results.
- Ultra Fast Pony: "Rocks, Clocks, and Two Stupid Ponies":
- Scooby-Doo: A witch tried to turn Scooby Doo, Scrappy and Shaggy into frogs. Shaggy was the only one she hit and the witch invoked the trope to show how satisfied she was for having at least one frog.
- A Garfield and Friends episode had Jon complaining about food prices. Garfield stated Jon would rant about how life at farm used to be cheaper because his family cultivated their own food there. Jon proved him right. Garfield then said Jon would suggest growing their own food in their yard and Jon (again) proved him right. Garfield stated Jon would then forget it all. One Gilligan Cut later revealed them working at the yard and Garfield stating two out of three wasn't bad.
- One Gumby short had Prickle and Goo getting the names of the presidents on Mt. Rushmore.
Goo: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Bear.Prickle: Well, three out of four's not bad.
- In The Legend of Korra, Bolin guesses that his captor, Ghazan, was raised by an older sister, started growing his Badass Mustache at ten, and has an unspoken attraction to his partner-in-crime Ming-Hua. Ghazan replies with this trope, though he doesn't state which two are correct, but given their glances, it would seem the first two are correct.
- "Good. Fast. Cheap. — Pick any two."
- "Good grades. Enough sleep. A social life." Although for most students, it's more like one out of two.
- On jobs: "Fun. Well-paying. Legal. Pick two."
- Rule of thumb for warship and tank design: "Speed, Armor, Firepower". Notwithstanding Game-Breaker tech advancements that screw up the play balancing, such as torpedoes.
- An old joke (generally seen on t-shirts and bumper stickers) plays with this: "Filthy Stinking Rich? Well, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad."
- This quote:
"Life's not fair. When you're a kid, you have time and energy, but no money. When you're an adult, you have money and energy, but no time. And when you're old, you have time and money but no energy."
- Lou Gottlieb of the folk group the Limeliters would quip at a concert "Clean mind, clean body...take your pick."