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Describing an atomic explosion as being "somewhat noisy".

A statement which, while technically accurate in a strictly literal sense, fails to convey the magnitude of the situation being described. There are many ways to use this. One common way is following the Rule of Three by having two strongly made points followed by something more casual. It may help to have a Deadpan Snarker who habitually presents things in the least exciting manner, especially if they've Seen It All. The Ditz may make understatements unintentionally.

In any case, understatement only works where a tension level has been built to go "under". Note that like sarcasm, some people are completely blind to the effect.

Often used by Captain Obvious.

British and Australian humor occasionally demonstrates this.

Contrast Felony Misdemeanor.

Please don't sinkhole this article in your own attempt at an understatement on the wiki. The attempt either works or it doesn't.

In-Universe Examples Only

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  • A commercial for Amazon Prime features Medusa and the curse she's under where her gaze turns people to stone. The narrator refers to such curse as "a bit of a buzzkill".

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball GT, when Chi-Chi freaks out when Goku doesn't know about the Dragon Ball on his head. Gohan's response:
    Gohan: She finally cracked.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS:
    • The title character employs this often in her everyday speech. Telling her daughter Vivio that "This is going to hurt a bit" before blasting her with five Starlight Breakers at the same time is just one of many examples.
    • Another infamous example: "Shall I cool your head a little?", which the title character uttered to a rebellious Teana before bombarding her into unconsciousness using her own spell.
    • When giving a summary of the first season, Shamal said that Fate was "going through some complications with her family at the time." Translation: Fate's a clone and her mother was an abusive monster who manipulated her.
  • Code Geass has Nunnally become a master of understatement with "In the past, unfortunate happenings took place inside the Special Administrative Region of Japan." "Unfortunate happenings" meaning genocide.
  • The Major from Hellsing sums it all up with this little declaration: "My friends, it has often been said that I like war." He then spends about 5 minutes clarifying what parts about war he loves the best. Somewhere along the line the understatement wears off.
  • Zelgadis, resident Deadpan Snarker of Slayers, is quite fond of understatement.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, there was this small exchange between Mokona and Fuuma during a battle:
    Fuuma: It looks like my big brother-san is starting to take this seriously.
    Mokona: What happens if Seishirou gets serious?
    Fuuma: That's when things get just a little bit scary.
  • Guts from Berserk tends to be fairly nonchalant about things that would send other people screaming for the hills. One instance stands out, though, when he's fighting in his pain-nullifying Berserker armor. After getting bitten by what is basically a possessed sperm whale, picked up by a tornado and dropped from a height of several hundred feet, and catching a burning main mast (that would normally take 12 men and a bunch of pulleys to lift) before it falls on his friends, he remarks, deadpan, "Well, I'm gonna be sore in the morning."
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Mustang states this line while fighting Envy.
    Mustang What's it like having the fluid inside of your eyes boil? I imagine it might sting a little.
    State Alchemist: You were killed for disrespecting your superior officer's orders.
    Kimblee: You could say that...or you could say I made women and children go boom. And when my superiors complained...
    Gluttony: Boom!
  • Two good Negima! Magister Negi Magi examples. One, Tsukuyomi casually mentions to Fate that she's never gotten along with other people very well. Tsukuyomi only falls short of an Omnicidal Maniac in it For the Evulz because she lacks the power. Godel also sends Negi a brief note with a cheery smile about how their last meeting probably didn't go very well if he's reading this now. Godel just tried to chop Negi's limbs off and made a huge wound in 'Asuna's' shoulder.
  • In Digimon Tamers, one of the Digimon, which is shaped like a gear, does this a lot.
    Hagurumon: It's fantastic! It's great. Nah, guess it's okay.
    Hagurumon: (later) It's a disaster! It's terrible! Meh, guess it's not that good.
  • Reversed in Mobile Suit Gundam Abridged, when Char talks to Vice Admiral Dozle after one of Char's first encounters with the Gundam and reports back to Dozle (against his own will) and says the Gundam has 6 arms and eats people.
  • Comes up in Naruto after Madara crashes Naruto's battle with Tobi after having last been seen fighting all five Kage:
    Naruto: What happened to the others?
    Madara: Who knows? They're probably... not okay. [cut to all five Kage lying in pools of their own blood]
  • Vinland Saga: After growing a massive pair of balls and deciding to become the Ruler of Northern Europe, Canute answers to the question where he would want to go "To the military headquarters in Gainsborough. I will have a squabble with my father."
  • In Black Lagoon, Dutch gets Rock to take care of their hostage with the following statement:
    Dutch: Rock, could you take over babysitting? As you can see, not a lot of maternal instinct there. [in response to Revy opening fire on an unarmed child hostage]
  • The first preview video of Kotoura-san, where Haruka interviews herself, she gravely downplays how she thinks of her telepathy powers. She at most says, "I don't really want it," and uses her constant Dirty Mind-Reading from Manabe as an example. That is actually the least of her problems, particularly considering he's her first friend in nearly a decade. In an oversimplification, Haruka's telepathic powers left her friendless, socially stigmatized and severely traumatized. In fact, she started to sweat profusely as the "interview" goes on and eventually she decides it's too tiring to go on.
  • In the English Dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Dennis mentions that "these potholes are wreaking havoc on my game" The potholes are areas of a racing track that have been all but obliterated during the duel (So much so that the track couldn't be used for the other 3 rounds of the Friendship Cup).

  • Played for Laughs in this clip by the late Norm Macdonald. Norm talks about Albert Fish, the 19th century child-killer and cannibal. After explaining all of his evil acts, he ends it with this:
    Norm: This guy was a real jerk.

    Comic Books 
  • A few examples from Astro City:
    • In "Newcomers", Pete Donacek describes an attack by hundred-foot-tall ancient spirits:
      "They make a hell of a mess."
    • From "Knock Wood", after attorney Vincent Oleck questions a coroner if he was absolutely sure one of his subjects was actually dead:
      There was something of a commotion.
      (Panel shows outside of the courthouse and a shout of ORDER! ORDER!)
    • In "The Sorcerer's Assistant", as the Silver Adept has to complete three days' worth of work in six hours:
      She is busy. Her duties are birthed swarming.
  • Batman saying in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive he knows he's "not an easy person to know". Cue the dumbstruck look on the faces of the assembled Batfamily.
    Oracle: Well... that's about the understatement of the century, I'd say.
  • A similar scene occurs in Watchmen when Sociopathic Hero Rorschach admits that it's hard to be his friend.
  • From some issue of some comic book written by some author:
    Nick Fury: The nuke... how'd it feel?
    Wolverine: Warm.
  • Evey's reaction to V blowing up the Houses of Parliament in V for Vendetta: "But that... that's against the law!"
  • Empowered: "... guess th' white capes might be underestimatin' ol' Willy Pete jus' a li'l bit less, next time around."
  • Ultron Unlimited: "Ultron. We would have words with thee."
  • Star Wars (Marvel 1977): "World of Fire" has Leia delivering exposition about a Dug Too Deep situation, and saying that if The Empire got hold of whatever was at the bottom...
    Luke: It could be trouble?
    Leia: Luke, I love your gift for understatement!
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye starts as it means to go on when Rewind, Ratchet, and Chromedome, intent on joining a sort of exodus quest, suddenly have Whirl and Cyclonus crash in front of them after the former tackled the latter off a cliff. Before Whirl can finish Cyclonus off, however, there's a sudden Energon explosion from the below, which knocks out Whirl, blows open a hole in the ground, and reveals a legless Tailgate, who has a panic attack after thinking he's killed Whirl and passes out. Rewind only has this to say.
    Rewind: This is turning into a very odd day.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate X-Men
      • When narrating his origin story, Xavier mentions that he and Magneto had "something of a falling out". In the image we can see a spear going through Xavier's spine, which made him unable to walk.
      • General Ross explains that Nick Fury has been captured in India during a failed operation, and now all the intelligence secrets he knows are up for sale in the terrorist world. Wraith replies "Not exactly SHIELD's finest hour, General Ross". Ross admits he has a point.
    • All-New Ultimates: When Lana asks Poey about his absence, he said that he had an emergency. Then he gives in, and confesses he's been dealing drugs again.
    • The Ultimates
      • Remembering how the Nazis were such enthusiastic advocates of their drive for order, Herr Kleiser concedes that he ignored their "little eccentricities". This was when the Wasp asked him about the death camps.
      • Bucky explained that he used to protect Cap from bullies at school. Then we see him storming across some waves of Nazi soldiers. "Lucky for us, he's kinda filled out a little since then".
      • "HULK TOUCH NAKED GUY LIKE NAKED GUY WAS TOUCHING BETTY!". And by "touch" he means "demolish".

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Eleutherophobia: Ghost in the Shell, after Tom is bitten in half while in cobra morph (he gets better), he spends several paragraphs talking about how people used to believe snakes would grow back their heads if you decapitated them, followed by: "Anyway, you can see why I was a little worried."
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: "Italy having a bad day" is a massive understatement between being beaten, nearly raped, being bullied, and witnessing his closest friends attempting to fight each other to the death within hours of each other.
  • Used a number of times in With Strings Attached, but perhaps most famously when John enters the scene dragging Paul, who has been turned into a diamond statue: “Lads, we've a bit of a problem.”
  • Turnabout Storm:
    Phoenix: (A "TAD"!? It sounds like you just had an aneurysm!!)
  • Rachel hangs the lampshade in The Games of the Gods, Book One, Chapter 33, before the War of the Ring.
    "As I'm sure you know, Rachel, some dangerous times have come upon Middle-Earth." Elrond started.
    "Understatement!" I muttered, and Elrond gave me a Look before continuing.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: Tom Riddle has organized a massive international tournament, and carefully and subtly rigged it, in order to boost public support for his discriminatory blood purity legislation, and has secretly coerced Harry into an Unbreakable Vow to make her participate as his chosen winner. When Hermione innocently observes that, "It's not a coincidence that the legislation you mentioned is coming to light at the same time as the New Triwizard Tournament pits blood categories against one another, is it?" Harry nearly bursts into hysterical laughter, but restrains herself to answering, "No. No, it isn't."
  • The Twilight Child: Cadence's reaction to a hurried recap of events by the Cutie Mark Crusaders, as Canterlot is invaded by Changelings which are being fought off by Celestia and Luna, while Discord is making it rain koala bears and pianos is simply to state: "That's unusual news."
  • At one point in The Many Doors of Niu Heimar after Thor attempts to restrain him, Loki throws him so hard and far that a concrete sidewalk breaks as he lands. Thor claims Loki had reacted.
    • Tony is also the one to hang a lampshade when Bruce describes the Hulk as an "ailment."
      Tony: "You're like an expert at the understatement, I like it."
  • In For Those We Cherish, Yang hears the Emperor's quote on Space Marines and says that she finds it catchy. Later, after some of the Lamenters talk about Roboute Guilliman, Nora thinks that he sounds like a swell guy.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, the narration likes using this along with Captain Obvious. This is always Played for Laughs, of course.
    "In all honesty, he didn’t know what he was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t a red-colored shark head sitting atop a bundle of tentacles. It was hard to expect something like that."
  • The Petriculture Cycle: Petriculture: The final line, from Luna as a response to a Sequel Hook:
    “Yes, Pinkie Pie did turn out well, didn’t she?” Celestia stated as she absently stared out the window of the palace at the sculpture garden. “Better than our experience, to say the least.”
    On hearing this, Luna allowed herself the luxury of a barely noticeable smile. “As usual, your talent for understatement is uncanny, my dear sister.”

    Films — Animation 
  • There's this from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where Batgirl calls Harley out for helping Joker's final crime.
    Harley: "Okay, so he roughed the kid up a little, but I'll make it right."
    • "Roughed the kid up a little" being the Joker torturing Robin to the point of complete insanity.
  • The exchange between Big Bad Yzma and her Dumb Muscle Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove when the "poison" (actually a potion) they administer to the narcissistic Prince Kuzco doesn't quite kill him but instead turns him into a llama.
    Yzma: What?! A llama?! He's supposed to be dead!
    Kronk: Yeah. Weird...
  • Flushed Away: "Thank you... For the lift."; "Warning: Rather Cold" written on a tank of liquid nitrogen.
  • Frozen: After Elsa is outed as a sorceress and runs away, accidentally freezing the whole kingdom into an Endless Winter, this is combined with a Lampshading of "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot:
    Anna: ...Of course none of this would have happened if she had just told me her secret. She's a stinker.
  • Hoodwinked! — when the Wolf watches Red Puckett fall several hundred feet from a moving cable car cabin, he summarizes it on his note-to-self tape recorder as, "Ouch."
  • Pinocchio:
    • In response to Monstro's gigantic sneeze...
    Jiminy Cricket: Gesundheit!
    • Early on, when the Blue Fairy explains the reason why Pinocchio’s nose grew, because perhaps he wasn’t telling the truth:
    Jiminy Cricket: Perhaps!?
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Louis the gator admits his wish to play trumpet for a human jazz band, leading to a flashback of what happened the one time he tried to do just that. It's a Cutaway Gag to Louis hopping onto a riverboat and immediately being chased off while dodging gunfire.
    Louis: [Stonefaced] It didn't end well.
  • In Tangled, Rapunzel rapidly shifts between elation at her newfound freedom and despair at the thought of actually having run away from her "mother" (actually her kidnapper, but she doesn't know that) several times. Flynn snarks, "You know... I can't help but notice you seem a little at war with yourself here."
  • Turning Red:
    • Ming explains the source of the transformation.
      Ming: Our ancestors had a mystical connection with red pandas. And what was a blessing became... (smiles sheepishly) an inconvenience.
    • Mei's dad, Jin, tells her that he only saw her mother's red panda form once, and that it was "big". When Ming unleashes it at the film's climax, we see she's roughly the size of a kaiju. Mei lampshades this when the rest of the family arrives to help.
      Mei: Wh-what happened? She's huge!
      Jin: I told you she was big!
      Mei: THAT BIG?!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Laurel and Hardy: In the short film Helpmates, Stan Laurel tries to help a desperate Oliver Hardy clean up after a wild party before the shrewish Mrs. Hardy returns home. One thing leads to another and Stan ends up burning Ollie's house down. After a tearful apology, he caps it off by stating, "Well, I guess there's nothing left for me to do." Ollie sighs with resignation and says, "I guess not."
  • Apollo 13: "...they won't know where they're headed." "That's a bad way to fly."
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
    • After Donovan suffers one of the most nightmarish deaths ever after drinking from the wrong Grail, the Grail Knight has only this to say: "He chose... poorly."
    • Earlier in the film, Indy and his father are captured and then it keeps going From Bad to Worse. First, they're tied up together in chairs back to back, then Henry's attempt to burn through the ropes leads to the entire room getting set ablaze. After they seek shelter in the fireplace and accidentally trigger a hidden passage to a Nazi command center, Henry makes the following observation:
      Our situation has not improved.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark has Sallah's immortal line when he saves Indy from a poisoned date after seeing the monkey dead from eating them:
    Sallah: Bad dates.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) — "Crossing the streams would be bad." And earlier, just after annihilating a cleaning cart, "Okay. Successful test."
  • Ghostbusters (2016): It is stated during the confrontation with the Big Bad that, once the portal to the Other Side is opened, the dead will return to 'pester' the living. Erin points out that this doesn't sound so bad. The Big Bad clarifies that this 'pestering' will take the form of torture, death and carnage. The Ghostbusters then remark that 'pester' is a poor choice of words for what he's describing, and 'apocalypse' would probably be a more fitting one.
  • From Groundhog Day:
    Rita: I like to see a man of advancing years throwing caution to the wind. It's inspiring, in a way.
    Phil: My years are not advancing as fast as you might think.
  • Chosen One in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist confronts the Big Bad in the climax of the film with "You killed my family. And I don't like that kind of thing."
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "Years ago, something happened up there. Something not very nice." In the trailers for the movie, this quote by Mrs. Lovett was used to refer to Sweeney's rather... bloody... killing spree. But in the context of the movie (and the play it was based on), it referred to Benjamin Barker's false transportation for life and would lead into the number "Poor Thing", where we find out that Judge Turpin, after the above Kick the Dog moment, had his way with the guy's poor wife.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Chamber of Secrets:
      • Hermione, referring to Large Ham ghost Moaning Myrtle:
        Hermione: She's a little sensitive.
      • After surviving a harrowing encounter with the Hogwarts Express:
        Harry: I think we found the train.
        Ron: Yeah.
    • The Goblet of Fire:
      Harry: "Come seek us where our voices sound."
      Hermione: The Black Lake, that's obvious.
      Harry: "An hour long you'll have to look."
      Hermione: Again, obvious, though admittedly potentially problematic.
      Harry: "Potentially problematic"? When was the last time you held your breath underwater for an hour, Hermione?
  • In Star Trek (2009), Spock Prime's assessment of the bastard who destroyed Vulcan because SP failed to save Romulus in the future: "He is a particularly troubled Romulan." Leave it to Spock — any Spock — to be a master of understatement.
    • From the same conversation:
      Kirk: So you're saying I have to emotionally compromise you guys.
      Spock Prime: Jim, I just lost my planet. I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised."
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had a couple regarding the destruction of Praxis. The first was Brigadier Kurla's response to Excelsior's offer of aid: "There has been an incident on Praxis."
      • The other was provided, once again, by The Spock: "Two months ago a Federation Starship monitored an explosion of the Klingon moon Praxis." If you call being knocked off course and nearly shaken to pieces "monitoring".
    • Lampshaded in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier when Chekov warns Sybok (who has just taken a Klingon hostage, among several others) that a Klingon bird-of-prey is coming to Nimbus III:
      Sybok: I imagine the Klingons will be quite angry.
      Chekov: You are a master of understatement. They are likely to destroy the planet!
    • In a bit of dialogue cut from Star Trek: Generations, Picard is rescued from the planet's surface by Geordi in a shuttlecraft. This is how Picard learns that the Enterprise has been destroyed:
      Picard: [seeing Geordie's arm in a cast] Was there some trouble with the Klingons?
      Geordi: You could say that.
  • In the ending of Kill Bill, Bill explains his massacre of everyone attending the Bride's wedding rehearsal by saying that he "overreacted." Oh, and this little gem:
    Earl McGraw: It would appear someone objected to this union and wasn't able to hold their peace.
  • In Gladiator, the Emperor says of his son, "Commodus is not a moral man." Even he had no idea.
  • Lampshaded in I, Robot. After the robot rebellion that the Properly Paranoid protagonist Spooner predicted starts, Spooner shows up an expert in robotics who dismissed his warnings before and says with grim satisfaction:
    "You know, somehow, 'I told you so' just doesn't quite say it."
  • Galaxy Quest's Tech Sergeant Fred Kwan prefers these; his reaction to being unexpectedly teleported 8 million light-years in a gel-pod to land on an alien ship was a subdued "That was a helluva thing."
  • In Dredd, at the end of the movie, the Chief Judge shows up to debrief Dredd on what went down at Peach Trees (including Gatling guns chewing up a block, taking out a major distribution and production hub for drugs, taking down one of the more powerful criminal organizations in Mega City One, a ridiculously high body count, and taking down four corrupt Judges).
    Chief Judge: What happened here?
    Dredd: Drug bust.
    Chief Judge: Looks like you ran into some trouble.
    Dredd: Perps were uncooperative.
  • Fight Club: "You met me at a very strange time in my life."
  • Major League: "Juuuuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside..."
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
      • Logan's response when asked how his execution by firing squad went.
        Wolverine: Tickled.
      • Also this exchange:
        Farmer: Had a rough night?
        Wolverine: You could say that.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Wolverine reminds Professor X that "Patience isn't my strongest suit."
      • Kitty Pryde warns Logan that her power "might sting a little"; he then screams at the top of his lungs when she activates it.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Most definitely applies when Wolverine is involved. The "little help" was basically doing all the killing for them.
      Raven: Well, you've been busy.
      Scott: We had a... little help.
  • In Avatar, after Grace Augustine is shot: "This is gonna ruin my whole day."
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: "I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey..." Strange doesn't even begin to cover what happens to Brad (ASSHOLE!) and Janet (SLUT!).
  • The tagline to Citizen Kane was "It's terrific!"
  • Star Wars:
    • From A New Hope:
      C-3PO: Master Luke, sir! Pardon me for asking... but, ah... what should Artoo and I do if we're discovered here?
      Luke: Lock the door!
      Han: And hope they don't have blasters.
      C-3PO: That isn't very reassuring.
    • In The Phantom Menace, Jar-Jar warns Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to not expect a warm welcome from the Gungans. Little did he know that before they had to deal with Trade Federation droids in the swamps of Naboo, they also had to deal with, among other things, attempted murder by ship explosion, poison gas, and armies of battle droids and droidekas.
      Obi-Wan: Oh, don't worry, this hasn't been our day for warm welcomes.
    • Revenge of the Sith:
      • Anakin Skywalker, just after the atmospheric entry tore off the bigger part of the Invisible Hand (the ship he happens to be flying): "We lost something." This was immediately lampshaded with Obi-Wan's reply: "Not to worry, we are still flying half a ship."
      • And before that, Anakin is in a turboshaft above a hundred-meter drop, an unconscious Obi-Wan slung over his shoulder and Palpatine hanging on to him for dear life. When Obi-Wan comes to, Anakin warns him that they're "in a bit of a situation."
  • In Women in Trouble, when asked if she's a virgin, porn megastar Elektra Luxx replies "No."
  • Michael Caine is on The Daily Show to talk about his new movie Harry Brown, and a clip is shown of Harry torturing a thug for information on his friend's killers. Caine then describes his character as "upset".
  • In Zoolander, the title character is confronted by Matilda about his mysterious week-long absence, to which he doesn't believe. Then he checks his messages...
    Answering Machine: You have twelve hundred new messages.
    Zoolander: That is a bit above average...
  • Forrest Gump:
    Forrest: [narrating] A few years later, that angry little man at the schoolhouse door thought it would be a good idea to run for President.
    [cut to footage of Governor Wallace being shot]
    Forrest: *narrating* But somebody thought that it wasn't.
  • The opening narration of the Post-Apocalyptic B-movie Hell Comes To Frogtown exposits that some years prior to the events of the film there was a "disagreement." Cue footage of a nuclear explosion.
  • Primer: "At this point, there would have been some... discussion."
  • From Clue:
    Wadswoth: Three murders.
    Mr. Green: Six altogether.
    Wadsworth: This is getting serious.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka says that cannibalism "is frowned upon in most societies."
  • In Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, General Buck Turgidson gets several of these in quick succession when he informs the President of the United States that General Ripper, a lower echelon American military commander, has ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union without the approval or knowledge of the White House or the Pentagon.
    • When the President asks how General Ripper could possibly order such an attack, Buck says:
      "Although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority."
    • The President questions how the Human Reliability Tests didn't catch General Ripper's burgeoning psychosis:
      "Well, I don't think it's quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip-up, sir."
    • Buck advocates following General Ripper's lead and to launch an all-out nuclear attack on Russia:
      "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops.
    • Earlier when the President is talking with the Soviet Premier, he attempts to describe what Ripper did.
      " of our base commanders, he had a sort of — Well, he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing..."
  • The Wizard of Oz: "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
  • In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Agent Sands of the CIA just had his eyes drilled out and left in the street. When a boy approaches him, Sands tells him "I'm not having the best day here, kid."
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Two examples courtesy of Ian Malcolm.
    "Mommy's very angry."

    "Hang on, this is gonna be bad." (cue T. rex attack)
  • From Serenity, is a good one from Wash: "I don't mean to alarm you, but I think we're being followed." A Reaver ship is in hot and very active pursuit at this time.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers:
    • The end of Guardians of the Galaxy had Yondu describing Peter Quill's father, from whom he'd been protecting Peter after having unwittingly delivered God knows how many other children to their deaths, as a "jackass".
    • Ant-Man has a really fun one: as preparation for the big heist at Pym Technologies, Hank Pym asks Scott Lang to steal a gizmo from "an old Stark warehouse." Said intel pre-dates Avengers: Age of Ultron — Stark has just finished converting the warehouse into the new Avengers headquarters.
      Scott: Uh, guys? I think we have a problem. Hank, didn't you say this was "some old warehouse"? It's not. YOU SON OF A BITCH!
    • Played for Drama in Avengers: Infinity War. Captain America is left so utterly (and understandably) stunned by Thanos using the Infinity Stones to literally kill half the universe, that his only response is a quiet, affectless “oh god”.
    • In Avengers: Endgame Scott calls back to the airport fight scene from Captain America: Civil War to identify himself to the Avengers when he shows up at their HQ. In his words, "I was pretty big." He was about 40 to 50 feet tall!
  • The Amazing Spider-Man:
    • A Missing Trailer Scene has Gwen Stacy informing Peter that he is a wanted man and that her father has 500 men searching for him, to which he replies that this "seems a bit excessive."
    • From the movie, we have Spider-Man being pretty badly wounded by The Lizard, then being flushed down a sewage pipe. His response after all this? "Oh, that sucked."
  • Young Frankenstein: In a deleted scene, it was revealed that, to be allowed to inherit his great-grandfather's estate, Frederick Frankenstein had to become a medical doctor of his own will and earn some measure of esteem on his field. A relative then asked if Frederick did acquire a "measure of esteem" and was told he's the fifth most respected expert on his field.
  • In Aliens, Burke tries to explain away his deadly scheme as "I made a decision, and it was... wrong. It was a bad call, Ripley. It was a bad call." Ripley immediately calls him out.
  • At the end of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, when the title pair ask Rufus if he can play the electric guitar, he says, "Well, I play a little." And then he starts playing like a rock star. Although considering in his time rock music is the basis of their whole society, this level of skill might be considered "a little" compared to everyone else.
  • In This Is the End, Jonah very aptly describes The End of the World as We Know It as "something not-that-chill."
  • Dumb and Dumber: Lloyd drives east instead of west on their road-trip to Aspen, across a fifth of the country before Harry wakes up and notices they're driving across completely flat plains, resulting in two understatements. Harry doesn't take the second one well:
    Harry: Huh. I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.
    Lloyd: So we backtracked a tad.
  • Early in Red Cliff, Zhuge Liang - a man widely considered to be one of the greatest military strategists in Chinese history - mentions that he finds the formations that Gan Xing is drilling his soldiers in to be outdated, prompting this exchange.
    Zhou Yu: You are knowledgeable in the art of war?
    Zhuge Liang: Just a little.
  • In John Wick: Chapter 2, Aurelio gets in one while detailing the damage to the Mustang and telling John "And I don't know if you've noticed, but you've got a crack in your windshield." The windshield is completely smashed.
  • The Assignment: Frank's girlfriend notes that he looks different after his involuntary sex reassignment, but makes no further comment. This is putting it very mildly. It's a wonder she recognized him. Before he had a beard and larger nose, as the most obvious examples.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, after Sonic sets off an EMP that knocks out power for a good portion of the country, the government wants to do something about this blackout, and Vice Chairman Walters suggests sending in a "lab rat with teeth" to handle it. They quickly realize that Walters means Dr. Robotnik, who quickly proves to be an absolute nutcase of a Big Bad.
    Air Force Chief of Staff: You're not suggesting who I think you're suggesting...
    Vice Chairman Walters: I know, he's a little weird.
    Air Force Chief of Staff: "Weird"?! He's a psychological tire fire!
  • At the very end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Master Splinter asks the Turtles if they were seen during their latest adventure, during which they were very much highly visible. After all of them deny being seen, Splinter holds up the latest newspaper which shows them with the headline "Ninja Rap is Born" and then says "Practice harder."


By Author:

  • David Eddings:
    • In The Tamuli, Emperor Sarabian is said, by his ambassador, to use this. A hurricane is "a light breeze"; the loss of half his fleet is "a minor inconvenience"; the imminent collapse of his empire as "some civil unrest". This is a tendency common among Tamuls as they have a racial tendency toward extreme politeness.
    • Eddings has a tendency to use this trope. In Belgarath the Sorcerer, Belgarath notes that "Alorns take a petty delight in gross understatement" after Beltira comments "we wouldn't want that" with regards to the ending of the world. The original example would be in Castle of Wizardry. A horde of Algarian cavalry so large as to make their approach resemble thunder falls on a small army that was pursuing the protagonists, slaughtering most of them and driving the rest away. Described by King Cho-Hag as an "interesting morning."
  • P. G. Wodehouse was somewhat inclined to the use of understatement for humorous effect.
    • Probably his most oft-quoted example:
      "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."
    • When Jeeves quotes Shakespeare. Bertie comments that that Shakespeare fellow must have had a lot of clever things to say, and Jeeves replies:
      "I understand he has given uniform satisfaction, sir."

By Work:

  • A brief one in the Battle Tech Expanded Universe novel Assumption of Risk, where Galen Cox is asked to describe the impromptu Solaris honor duel he was just in, fighting two Small Name, Big Ego Mechwarriors alongside Kai Allard Liao. In the fight, he had jumped his Crusader—far and away the smallest and most fragile of the four 'Mechs partaking in the duel—between two heavily armed enemy Assault 'Mechs, landing on an elevated platform barely five meters wide (which is about the width of his Crusader). He proceeds to describe his choice of position as 'a bit narrow and a tad warm.'
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair: "And you, who have told me a hundred times how deeply you pitied me for the sorceries by which I was bound, will doubtless hear with joy that they are now ended for ever. There was, it seems, some small error in your Ladyship's way of treating them."
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): When a Grove Keeper asks Anthony whether he knows anything about termites, Anthony is filled with a visceral hatred and need to destroy. When he repeats the word "Termites" in pheromone language, hundreds of nearby ants stop what they're doing, filled with the same rage and passion. "How can the Colony live knowing that a giant monster termite nest exists out there in Pangera? We can't! We must destroy it! They cannot be permitted to exist within the same Dungeon!" His response to the Grove Keeper, however:
    [I've heard of termites, yes.]
  • The Culture: Consider Phlebas has a brief history of the interstellar war the novel is set in. The "Statistics" section says the war lasted for forty-eight years and a month and saw (among other losses) the death of over 851 billion sentient beings, and the destruction of 91,215,660 ships, 53 planets and moons and six stars, followed by a "Historical perspective":
    A small, short war that rarely extended throughout more than .02% of the galaxy and .01% by stellar population... the galaxy's elder civilizations rate the Idiran-Culture war as... one of those singularly interesting Events they see so rarely these days.
  • The Discworld novel Soul Music features a ruthless Troll crime boss, Chrysoprase: "People tended not to speak to Chrysoprase in case they said something that offended him. They wouldn't know it at the time. They'd know it later, when they were in some dark alley and a voice behind them said: Mr. Chrysoprase is really upset."
  • In The Divine Comedy, Dante's friend, Forese, agrees to name his neighbors in Purgatory by saying "It isn't forbidden", a sardonic response in light of the fact that they are all so emaciated and hollow that names are necessary to distinguish them.
  • In Drums Girls And Dangerous Pie, the parents are loudly arguing when the mom see the children watching.
    Mom: It's okay. Your father and I were just having a little disagreement.
    Main Character: Yeah, and Mount Everest is a hill.
  • At one point in Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte, Endo suggested he just "cried a little bit" over Lieselotte's backstory. The narration then points out:
    The definition of "a little" varied from person to person, but [Endo] Aoto had shed enough tears that both he and [Kobayashi] Shihono knew he was lying. However, being the high school boy that he was, he simply couldn’t admit that.
  • In From Russia with Love, a Soviet intelligence general says that if they don't do something to humiliate British intelligence, "There will be ... displeasure."
  • Early in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, upon being told that Earth has been destroyed and he can't go home again, Arthur Dent says "Look, I'm a bit upset about that".
  • Left Behind: "To say the Israelis were taken by surprise is to say the Great Wall of China is long."
  • In the novel version of Mobile Suit Gundam, Yoshiyuki Tomino mentions that Japan had "technically" lost World War II.
  • Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy brings us this gem:
    Adamist Officer: I've always been a massive admirer of the Edenist ability to understate. But I think defining a chunk of land fifteen kilometers across that suddenly takes flight and wanders off into another dimension as a little problem is possibly the best example yet.
    The Edenist: I never said little.
  • "Wellerism" — binary explosive used by Sam Weller of The Pickwick Papers — was sometimes made of Understatement and Parable:
    Sam Weller: There's nothin' so refreshen' as sleep, sir, as the servant girl said afore she drank the egg-cupful of laudanum.
    Sam Weller: Wery sorry to 'casion any personal inconwenience, ma'am, as the housebreaker said to the old lady when he put her on the fire.
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson has:
    "If you are going to make first contact with an intelligent alien race," said Cantabrigia Five, "dropping huge strip-mining robots into their homeland might not be your best move."
  • In the novel Spock's World, Kirk has this to say about his experience in Amok Time: "Being strangled with an anh-woon can ruin your day."
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Splinter of the Mind's Eye, just as in the comics example above, Luke tends towards these. Lampshaded by Leia in a fit of Purple Prose.
      "You have this wonderfully evocative way about you, Luke, of reducing the most excruciatingly uncomfortable circumstances to the merely mundane."
    • Luke hangs on to this tendency over the decades. In Fate of the Jedi, someone says it looks like he's made the understatement of the year.
  • The Stormlight Archive novella Edgedancer: When Nale's Absurdly Sharp Blade slams into him at full force, Wyndle's only reaction is "ow". On one hand, he's an Absurdly Sharp Blade himself, and Like Cannot Cut Like. On the other, "full force" means a lot when the person dishing it out is a One-Man Army.
  • This is The Way The World Ends by James Morrow: "Chapter 5 — In Which the Limitations of Civil Defense Are Explicated in a Manner Some Readers May Find Distressing." This is the chapter in which, well... look at the bloody title.
  • Tortall Universe: "I thought you were dead. I lost my temper," says Daine Sarrasri, by way of explanation for leveling an imperial palace with SKELETON ZOMBIE DINOSAURS and then setting hyenas on the culprit.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Discussed in Cetaganda in the context of "talking small unsuccessful military campaigns":
    "The Vervain invasion is now officially described as an unauthorized adventure. The erring officers have been corrected, thank you."
    "What do they call the Cetagandan invasion of Barrayar in my grandfather's time? A Reconnaissance in force?"
    "When they mention it at all, yes."
    "All twenty years of it?"
  • Warhammer 40,000: Ibram Gaunt's Vox officer Dughan Beltayn has a habit of describing any problem, from Vox interference to major Chaos incursion with "something's awry". Gaunt learns to cut to the chase and ask what's awry.
  • G. K. Chesterton's poem "Wine and Water" contains this gem:
    The cataract of the cliff of heaven fell blinding off the brink
    As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down a sink.
    The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of hell to drink,
    And Noah he cocked his eye and said, "It looks like rain, I think."
  • In The Witchlands, after Aeduan completely loses his mind when faced with a large fire, he comments in his narration that it had... unsettled him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: When the riot is in full swing, one of the guards reports "We have a situation on 5-2-D." Of course, "situation" doesn't begin to describe it and the guard ends up taken out by the prisoners before he can clarify what the "situation" is.
  • From Angel:
    Wesley: [to Angel] I may have made a tiny mistake. The word Shanshu that I said meant you were going to die? Actually I think it means that you are going to live.
    Cordelia: Okay, as tiny mistakes go... that's not one.
  • Regarding a character on Burn Notice who's attempting to blackmail Michael Westen into joining forces with a psychopath to commit 46 separate murders, and already has plans in motion to frame someone else for them:
    Larry: That guy... he's kind of a dick.
  • On Charlie Rose's talk show, Bill Gates described watching Microsoft's stock rise for 14 years was "a bit fun."
  • The Chaser's War On Everything on The Westboro Baptist Church, following a short clip from a viciously homophobic sermon by Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, which was delivered three days after September 11th.
    "I don't know if you've picked up on the theme, but these guys are a little anti-gay."
  • Death Valley: Stebeck at one point phones his wife to tell her it was a "weird day at work". Only if having two attempts to blow up cops by planting bombs in zombies, followed by an attack on the precinct by over a dozen zombies and having to kill two cops who got bit qualifies as 'weird'.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Pandorica Opens" gives us this brilliant exchange.
      The Doctor: I'm not trying to be rude — but you died.
      Rory: Yeah. I know. I was there.
      The Doctor: [gestures wildly] How can you be here?
      Rory: I dunno. It's all a bit fuzzy.
      The Doctor: Fuzzy...?
      Rory: I died, and turned into a Roman. It's very distracting.
    • "Rosa": The Doctor says she "did not warm" to the police officer who searched the motel room. This, after she'd spent most of the conversation looking like she wanted to deck him for his racist remarks about Ryan and Yaz.
  • Dollhouse:
    • Adelle reacts to learning that the Evil Corporation has the plans for a device that can Grand Theft Me the planet with "That's unnerving."
    • Adelle is one of the queens of these. When a man gets shot in the head in her office, her initial response is an annoyed "Well, I suppose this carpet is ruined."
  • Firefly:
    • Mal to Patience: "Well, we may not have parted on the best of terms...I realize certain words were exchanged...also, certain bullets..." (She had shot him).
    • The opening narration from the "Train Job", provided by Book: "The central planets formed the Alliance and decided all the planets had to join under their rule. [intercuts with footage from the Battle of Serenity] There was some disagreement on the matter."
    • In Safe Mal says of River: "She makes things not be smooth."
  • Friday Night Fights: ESPN's Teddy Atlas frequently uses "he got a little bit careless" to describe a fighter who has just been spectacularly knocked out (or "you can see his power a little bit on that punch" for the victorious fighter).
  • The Good Place:
    Michael: Just wanna double-check, how do ethical philosophers feel about murder?
    Chidi: It's frowned upon.
  • Hannah Montana usually answers such a line with, “Ya think?”
  • In the Series 36 episode of Have I Got News for You guest Quentin Letts described Adolf Hitler as "jolly cross".
    Ian Hislop: ""Jolly cross"? You mean "homicidal maniac"."
    Frank Skinner: "I think that was the Daily Mail's headline at the time. "Hitler: Jolly Cross""
  • Hawaii Five-0 once had a non-humorous example. The Villain of the Week is a terrorist who arranged a bombing of a U.S. convoy that killed four of the five men in the HumVee. After the terrorist is captured, Steve and Danny go to visit the survivor with the news. He refers to the incident as "a bad day at the office".
  • The very first scene in How I Met Your Mother:
    Future Ted: Kids, I'm gonna tell you an incredible story — the story of how I met your mother.
    Future Son: Are we being punished for something?
    Future Ted: [confused] No.
    Future Daughter: Yeah, is this gonna take a while?
    Future Ted: Yes.
  • The Incredible Hulk has the classic line from the main character.
    David Banner: Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves might be said to lightly indulge in this on occasion.
  • The Mandalorian:
    • Chapter 9 provides one which ends up crossing series lines when Din Djarin and Cobb Vanth nearly get into a shootout in front of Grogu.
      Cobb: We gonna do this in front of the kid?
      Din: He's seen worse.
    • Chapter 13 then reveals that Grogu was at the Jedi Temple when Order 66 went down, meaning that he most likely watched Jedi being killed by Clone Troopers. Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett confirms this when Luke Skywalker unlocks Grogu's memories and sees the poor little guy watching terrified as three Jedi are gunned down. Djarin had no idea how right he was when he said that Grogu has "seen worse" than a one-on-one gunfight.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Netflix outings (Daredevil, Jessica Jones (2015), Luke Cage (2016)) have it that in New York City, Midtown Manhattan getting attacked by an alien horde led by a mad god through an interstellar portal is merely known as "The Incident".
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode spoofing Manos: The Hands of Fate — a particularly bad movie, even by MST3K standards — Tom Servo says, "You know, there are certain flaws in this film."
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: After their rematch in "Part VI", a very unhappy Darth Vader is ranting about how he plans to get Kenobi no matter what. After several minutes of listening to his apprentice going on like this, the Emperor's response is, "You seem agitated, my friend."
  • Odd Squad: This exchange from the Season 3 episode "Villain Networking" as the villains that The Shadow has gathered fight each other:
    The Shadow: What's going on here?!
    Brutus: The villains are having a little trouble getting along...
    [cue a laser beam aimed at a villain nearly missing them and hitting a bowl, which falls on the floor]
    The Shadow: A little?!
  • Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM, in the episode "In Or Out", when she tries to apologize to the Rangers for behaving so coldly towards them. Also makes for a Funny Moment.
    Dr. K: Gem and Gemma have confronted me with the possibility that in an effort to protect myself from future emotional trauma, I may have treated some of you with a degree of forced emotional detachment, perhaps even bordering on coldness.
    Flynn: "Bordering on coldness", you say?
    Summer: [sarcastically] That's ridiculous, Doctor.
    Dillon: [sarcastically] You must be imagining it.
    Dr. K: No, no, I'm afraid it's true.
  • The official description for Prillitoos, a program aimed for older people, states that it awaits those who aren't very young anymore, to watch this program.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • "Demons and Angels" has this gem from the psychopathic, Creepy Crossdresser version of Rimmer:
      Rimmer: I want to hurt you.
      Lister: Why?
      Rimmer: Because I'm not a very nice person.
    • After the future Rimmer mentions they spend time with the Hitlers and the Goerings:
      Future Rimmer: It's just a bit unfortunate that the finest things tend to be in the possession of people who are judged to be a bit dodgy.
      Kryten: Herman Goering is a "bit dodgy"?!
  • Rome has Octavius explaining why it might be better to sit out a long siege rather than burn down Cleopatra's palace:
    "We are trying to keep the locals calm. Burning down the royal palace with their queen still inside might make them slightly peevish."
  • Search: A North Korean soldier sees the murderer running up trees and leaping from branches at incredible speed. His reaction? "That seems way too fast."
  • The Shield had Claudette, having destroyed Vic Mackey's life by exposing his sins to his fellow cops PLUS his betrayal of his last remaining friend Ronnie (who was arrested), banished Vic for life from the Farmington District Precinct with the four following words: "You Can Go Now."
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • "Errand of Mercy", when Kirk and Spock are trapped on Organia during a Klingon invasion.
      Kirk: So we're stranded here, in the middle of a Klingon occupation army.
      Spock: So it would seem. Not a very pleasant prospect.
      Kirk: You have a gift for understatement, Mister Spock. It's not a very pleasant prospect at all.
    • "The Apple" when Spock is injured:
      McCoy: Second degree burns. Not serious but I bet they smart.
      Spock: Doctor, you have an unsurpassed talent for understatement.
    • Star Trek episode "I, Mudd" has this excellent exchange
      Mudd: Well of course I... left.
      Kirk: He broke jail.
      Mudd: I borrowed transportation.
      Kirk: He stole a spaceship!
      Mudd: The patrol reacted in a hostile manner.
      Kirk: They FIRED at him!
      Mudd: They've no respect for private property! They damaged the bloody spaceship!
    • Lazarus from "The Alternative Factor" falls off a cliff at one point and injures his head. Later...
      McCoy: How's the head?
      Lazarus: Aches.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Peak Performance", the crew of the Enterprise comes up with a plan to make it seem as though they have destroyed the Hathaway by firing photon torpedoes at it and detonating them a millisecond after the Hathaway jumps to warp. The problem is, they don't know whether or not the Hathaway will be able to do this. Data describes the outcome of a failure to jump to warp as "unfortunate".
    • In the episode Clues, everyone of the crew except Data are knocked out by a wormhole. Data claims they were out for thirty seconds. Eventually overwhelming evidence surfaces that conflicts with Data's version of events. Captain Picard confronts Data:
      Data: It is a mystery, sir.
      Picard: That is an understatement!
  • Star Trek: Picard: In "The Impossible Box", Emmy, the Starfleet captain Raffi speaks to, summarizes the bad blood between the Federation and the Romulans in a single sentence.
    Emmy: The Romulans are in a 250-year bad mood.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two", Dean sums up Sam's return from the dead for Bobby.
      Dean: Well Sam's better.
    • In the episode "It's a Terrible Life", Sam and Dean are watching a Ghostfacers video explaining that to dispose of a ghost, you have to dig up the corpse and burn it.
      Ed: It's... illegal in some states.
      Harry: All states.
      Ed: Possibly all states.
    • In the episode "Sympathy for the Devil", Chuck finds a molar in his hair after Castiel is smote to death by the archangel Raphael. Chuck's reaction?
      Chuck: This has been a really stressful day.
  • Time Commanders in the Battle of Gaugamela, the team playing as Macedon gets Alexander killed. The historical experts are very calm when pointing that dying puts a hitch in Alexander's long term plans.
  • Top Gear (UK):
    • On the episode where they take a trio of Alfa Romeos to the track, Richard (in the pits) radios Jeremy to see how he's doing. Jeremy replies that he's doing "Not brilliantly." Cut to Jeremy's car flipped onto its side.
    • Whenever someone says "That's not gone well", it's usually caught fire or crashed. Or both. (There's even a poster)
    • In the Botswana episode, Richard claims his car has "got a bit of water in it." He says this while watching Oliver drown in a lake.
  • Played on The Vampire Diaries. Hm-m-m, do you want to know how Damon became such a bad man? Just ask him:
    Damon In all this important soul-searching. And cleansing of the demons of Stefan's past, did you ever manage to get the rest of the story?
    Elena He said there was more.
    Damon Yeah. That's an understatement.
  • Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak to the show's first $1,000,000 winner, Michelle Loewenstein: "You may be one of our bigger winners." (The previous winnings record being barely one-tenth of that.)

  • A vintage Whitney Darrow cartoon for The New Yorker magazine has a trio of robbers emerging from a bank with their loot, to face an encircling cordon of heavily-armed police, a swarm of press vehicles and about a thousand rubberneckers. One of the robbers: "There must have been a leak."
  • This gem from PS Magazine:
    A slipping gear in your M203 grenade launcher can cause it to fire when you least expect it. This could make you very unpopular with what is left of your unit.

  • At the end of "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill," John suddenly yells "Ey, up" Cue the opening bars of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Similarly, on the same album, George's "One more time" leads to a spooky string passage at the end of "Piggies".
  • The entire premise of the song "Belaboring the Obvious" by Spider Robinson.
  • In their dark song Protect and Survive, The Dubliners mock an official nuclear attack survival guide that was issued by the British government in the 70s and 80s. The second stanza serves as one huge understatement.
    Well a nuclear strike could be recognized / It would stand out in a crowd / There's a flash, then a bang, then a blast of heat / And a bloody great mushroom cloud / So if you happen to see one at the end of your street / Would you please pick up the telephone and inform your local police
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "You Don't Love Me Anymore" has a description to what the narrator's mate has done (among other things, pushing the guy in an elevator shaft, putting piranhas in his bathtub and shaving his eyebrows). His response? "Got a funny feeling you don't love me anymore."
  • John Prine's "Please Don't Bury Me" includes the following line:
    When I got there, they did say, "John, it happened this-a way: you slipped upon the floor and hit your head."
  • The Cars: It's rather obvious that the singer of "Since You're Gone" is one accord short of suicide, and the song ends with "Since you're gone, the moonlight ain't so great." Even the synthesizer has to burst out in tears.
  • In The Lonely Island song "Space Olympics", a Deconstructive Parody that shows what would realistically happen in a sporting event in space, a public announcement warns that there are "minor scheduling adjustments." The adjustments in question include multiple events being cancelled and the rest being put on pending, which is far from minor when they're the main focus of the Space Olympics.

  • Bleak Expectations: When Pip Bin and Ripely fill the widowed Ms. Sweetly Delightful in on why they're asking for her help (namely, her childhood crush, Pip Bin's guardian, Mr. Benevolent has come back from the dead and is seeking to conquer Britain with an army of working-class undead), she merely responds with a confused "that's... unusual news."
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), Arthur Dent occasionally indulges.
    Arthur: What happened to the Earth?
    Ford: It's been disintegrated.
    Arthur: Has it?
    Ford: Yeah. It just boiled away into space.
    Arthur: Listen, Ford, I'm a bit upset about that.

    Tabletop Games 
  • "Warhammer 40,000 is not a happy place." This bleeds into the fandom so much that, on this very wiki, it has been remarked that such things as losing your home planet is not sufficient enough reason to Wangst.
    • (This borders on canon. The members of the Tanith First-And-Only lost their homeworld, and often get told to "Suck it up, already.")
  • Exalted: "Solar Exalted have poor impulse control."
  • The World of Darkness: "For gameplay purposes, nuclear weapons can be a Game-Breaker."

  • Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio is fatally stabbed in a fight with Tybalt. When Benvolio asks if he's hurt, Mercutio replies, "Ay, a scratch," then follows with, "But 'tis enough, 'twill serve." when he realizes that he's dying. In a play where everything is overstated and exaggerated, his understatement shows us how bad the situation really is, making it that much more heartbreaking. Zeffirelli's film adaptation makes it all the more tragic by showing that even after Mercutio carks it, everyone still believes he's playing around until someone discovers a bloody spot on him. Even the music that plays at that moment indicates that shit is really about to go down.
  • Westeros: An American Musical:
    • The following exchange from "Knight's Watch Defeated":
      Stannis: I never thought I'd have to kill my own Hand.
      Davos: As your Hand, I don't think that's very good plan.
    • After getting framed for murder and losing his Trial by Combat, Tyrion comments that he's "having a bad year".

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue Hazama is forced to leave the heroes alive at the end of CS. His response is, "Guess I went a little crazy there".
  • In Project Origin, Snake Fist comments that "They took her (Alma's) babies away. She didn't like that."
  • The official description of Cave Story says "This is a jumping-and-shooting action game. In a cave. ...Also you can save." Also, Momorin's "Chivalry is dead, let me tell you" after being thrown off a floating island.
  • RuneScape gives us the description of the quest "One Small Favor" (a quest that's an infuriatingly long Chain of Deals):
    Quest Length: Short (with some longer parts as well).
  • Ace Attorney: When Dahlia Hawthorne comes back as a spirit in the final case of "Trials and Tribulations," she has this to say:
    "Yes. I was hanged. It wasn't exactly ... pleasant."
  • When Metal Gear RAY is curbstomping an oil tanker into oblivion in Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake(who is on board the tanker) says to Otacon "This is bad..."
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has this wonderful number from EVA (Snake's love interest): "Not good." What makes this an understatement is that EVA says this after Ocelot (Snake's rival) had shot out the engine of the WiG with his revolver that she was piloting to get Snake and her out of Russia, Ocelot then jumps onto the plane and proceeds to engage Snake in a hand to hand brawl with Snake not having a gun to defend himself should Ocelot pull his out (which he does), all the while EVA is trying to keep the plane stable so it doesn't crash into the lake they happen to be over. Yeah, EVA, of course your current situation is not good.
  • The creator of Dwarf Fortress has said:
    "I think I made the fish too hardcore."
  • The official Strategy guide for StarCraft has a picture captioned with:
    "When a Nuke goes off, you'll know it."
  • Half-Life 2: Prepare for unforeseen consequences.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2: "Hello? Hellooooo? Well, if you're hearing this, then chances are you've made a very poor career choice."
  • MapleStory takes this to a logical extreme, and then some. Gelimer decides to make a "tiny ship" called Black Heaven. That's right, it's colossal. It's monstrous. It's inconceivable how its construction was even possible. It houses an army of evil robots. And how does it even hold itself in the air? Oh, and to hit the point home, it's first introduced in a Black Heaven cutscene: Flying next to it are more enemy ships, each fairly large, but tiny in comparison. Oh, and that tiny thing in the looming shadow of the Black Heaven? That's your airship.
  • Jack in Mass Effect 2 has a doozy when she's telling Shepard of all of her various crimes, one of which is vandalism. When pressed she explains that by 'vandalism' the Hanar mean she dropped a starbase onto a moon, and it was their favorite moon at that.
  • Portal
    • In the first Portal-game, the mildly psychotic supercomputer, GLaDOS, also likes to understate things.
      GLaDOS: While safety is one of many Enrichment Center goals, the Aperture Science High-Energy Pellet seen to the left of the chamber can, and has caused, permanent disabilities, such as vaporization. Please be careful.
      GLaDOS: (later) As part of a previously mentioned required test protocol, we can no longer lie to you. When the testing is over you will be... missed.
    • At first it sounds like GLaDOS just likes you so much that she is going to miss you, but listening to GlaDOs's later line "The Enrichment Center reminds you, that in the end you will be baked, and then there will be cake", you should know what to expect.
      GLaDOS: (even later) Due to mandatory scheduled maintenance, the appropriate chamber for this next testing sequence is currently unavailable. It has been replaced with a live-fire course designed for military androids. The Enrichment Center apologizes for this inconvenience and wishes you the best of luck.
      GLaDOS: (again) Although the euthanizing process is remarkably painful, 8 out of 10 Aperture Science engineers believe that the companion cube is most likely incapable of feeling much pain.
      GLaDOS: Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death.
    • Wheatley's remark at the very start of the second game.
      Wheatley: Most test subjects do experience some, ah, cognitive deterioration after a few months in suspension. Now you've been under for... quite a lot longernote , and it's not out of the question... that you might have a veeeery minor case of... serious brain damage.
  • From the final level of Left 4 Dead 2:
    Soldier: "... Are you immune? Have you encountered the infected?"
    Coach: "Encountered? Boy, I am covered in zombie blood and puke and eyeballs and twenty other parts I don't even recognize. We are immune as SHIT."
  • In Assassin's Creed II, Cristina Vespucci said of her cousin to a prospective employer of his: "Try Amerigo out. I bet in a decade you'll have named your shipping company after him." Biggest understatement of the century.
  • In horror/survival RPG Koudelka, the text descriptions that you get when clicking on environments are often this. For example, in one room featuring a towering guillotine with a crimson-stained blade, blood-splattered walls and floor, and later a couple of corpses, both shot through the head and lying in pools of their own blood, you get this text: "You see dried blood spots here and there."
  • In ObsCure II, after one character turns into a giant, mutated abomination, pins another character to the wall with a knife, and crushes the skull of another under his foot, his friends burst in and confront him with this line.
    Stan: Kenny, you've become a major jerk, man.
  • In Deadly Premonition, York's (well, Zach's) greatest insult to the ultimate villain of the game, Forrest Kayson, who at that point has been revealed to be an inhuman demon who has corrupted the town, caused people to kill each other, inspired the raincoat killer's spree and has just raped and murdered Emily? "You're one crazy guy".
  • In Civilization V you have the option of choosing Fascism for your society. The last part of the historical description reads: "This form of government was quite popular with certain states in Central Europe during the last century but other states didn't much like it, and it was ultimately abandoned after some unpleasantness."
  • The Caretaker AI of WildStar claims he has developed certain instabilities that may occasionally cause him to be a sadistic psychopath.
  • In Armored Core: Verdict Day, after hearing The Dragon's calm explanation of his motive; that is, to gather every strong mercenary and have them fight each other before killing the victor, as he is "the Reaper", he is called out by your CO and Cool Old Guy, Fatman. Fatman's response to all that insanity?
    Fatman: You are not right in the head.
    • Which had an even bigger understatement as a reply:
      J: And what's wrong with that?
  • In My Harem Heaven is Yandere Hell, as Yuuya watches Sayuri blissfully eat his hair, he narrates calmly, "Lately, I've just been seeing all these new sides of Sayuri, and I don't mean in a good way." This is because he's been imprisoned by her for several days already, and even before that was Conditioned to Accept Horror.
  • Clarence's Big Chance: Parodied in the Worst Ending. "Clarence was slightly distressed by the outcome of the date." *picture of Clarence flying over the Despair Event Horizon*
    • Also parodied in the Best Ending. "All in all, Clarence was somewhat pleased with the outcome of the evening." *picture of Clarence in bed with the girl with a giant grin on his face*
  • The Sleeping Dogs DLC "Nightmare In North Point" has Wei run into the ghost of Vincent who died during the main game. He describes being dead as "a drag".
  • Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon: A case where it overlaps with And That's Terrible when Mayor Cravendish and Harbanno are captured by Ganon:
    Cravendish: This is illegal, you know.
  • In Diablo III, the Crusader's journal entries mention "having words" with whatever villain they are after. And by "having words", they mean "kill".
  • In Ratchet & Clank (2002), after the duo watch an infobot revealing Chairman Drek's plan to destroy the planet Hoven to use its orbit for his new artificial planet:
    Ratchet: Now this guy's gonna blow up an entire planet? That's just... mean!
  • In Chapter 12 of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, if the player does not side with Edelgard in the Holy Tomb, the Gatekeeper, when spoken to, will abandon his usual Catchphrase that there's "Nothing to report," to say that there is something- the Imperial Army is invading Garreg Mach Monastery, leading up to the climactic battle before the Time Skip.
  • In Legend of Dragoon, the party gives the mayor of Haschel's home village the rundown of the game up till now (near the end of it). His response after the fade-in is "A world crisis? That's a pretty awful thing!" The crisis in question? Trying to prevent a god of destruction from wiping out all life on the planet.

    Web Animation 

  • Bob and George lampshades this one here:
    Mega Man: We have a slight problem. There's about five million Robot Masters outside, and they all wanna kick my ass.
    [beat panel]
    Alternate Mega Man: We may wanna work on your definition of the word "slight."
  • Jayden and Crusader, a comic supposedly grounded in reality has this one:
    Smic: [The best part of Christmas] used to be building the gargantuan robotic Father Christmas powered by atmospheric engine, who would duel with my brother's contraption for the right of the first choice of Faberge egg.
    Hannah: You had a strange childhood, Smic.
  • This Freefall strip.
  • Homestuck: "You have a feeling it's going to be a long day.". Said day wouldn't end for two and a half years.
  • Sluggy Freelance couples this with Oh, Crap! in this strip.
  • Eerie Cuties science teacher and Mad Scientist, Wilhelmina Twigitt. Her unique charm, unlike those Large Ham types, includes diluting occasional outrageous events with words like "seems" and "nearly".
  • One is used in the author's comments on Ears for Elves. After a long and unexpected hiatus, the webcomic updated with a page proclaiming simply, "Soon". The author pointed out in her blurb beneath the image that there was a subtle hint to be found.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • There are a lot of these in the footnotes.
      Narrator: The Tinth-Philkra rosette, comprised of one natural world and two habitiformed worlds, eventually tripled the size of the Enireth biosphere, but not before creating a small tide problem. The phrase "small tide problem" is an Enireth epithet.
    • The artifact Oisiri was discovered by Gavcorps, and then stolen from them in a massive attack using brain-hacking, murder, and slaughter, that resulted in all but one of the civilians on the base dead, an Eldritch Abomination unleashed, and multiple fleets fighting over the remains.
      Narrator: This operation, to quote one of the surviving principals (who wished to remain anonymous,) "could have gone better."
  • In Darths & Droids when Anakin is being tested for Jedi skills, he says several disturbing things like "A cup, containing the blood of pointless sacrifice..." Mace Windu comments that they might need to talk to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan about it, to which Yoda says, "A master of understatement, you are."
  • xkcd:
    • "Up Goer Five" is a diagram of NASA's Saturn V rocket described with only the one thousand most commonly used words in English. Much of the high-tech machinery and catastrophic consequences from their misuse or malfunction are not everyday prose.
      If it [the thrusters] starts pointing toward space, you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.
    • "Model Rockets" from What If? has a similarly constrained bit of Alt Text.
  • El Goonish Shive: Noah and his guardian, Mr. Raven, are discussing Noah's schoolmate Grace. When Noah shares his theory that Grace is the one who killed Damien, Raven is incredulous.
    Raven: We're talking about the girl who ran out of my classroom crying after reading about World War II!
    Noah: World War II was kind of a bummer...
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, a little of this happens as Reynir gets told, then realizes on his own, that the food crate in which he hid was destined to a crew exploring the Forbidden Zone rather than the safe zone in which he was hoping to have a vacation of sorts. The fact that there is a high risk of a deadly disease to which he isn't immune in said Forbidden Zone only starts to describe the implications of him ending up there.
    Reynir: Umm... Iiiiii think I maybe got off at the wrong place.
    Mikkel: Yes, I believe it's safe to assume as much.
  • Nebula: Earth admits to Venus that Mars looks "a little rough" when she's just finished putting bandages over most of his face after it nearly cracked apart and the rest of his body is visibly injured in a similar manner. In this case, it's due to forced optimism rather than snark.
  • Riverside Extras:
    Simon Emmett: [describing his decision to cut a 17-year-old's fingers off] That was... admittedly not one of my finer calls.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Played with in regards to a few diseases that make you change colors. "Vericus Panteliax's Chromatic Death" is an inversion; it's weird and dangerous, but ultimately sounds worse than it is and is easily handled by a trained medical professional. However, it looks very similar to "Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation," which is invariably lethal and results in your entire body going up like a torch (though there's a small chance you'll just melt).
    • Mechanicsburg has been a haven of Mad Science maniacs for hundreds of years, so they have a rather screwed definition of normal. It's not until Vanamode watches a little girl argue with her mummified great-great-great-grandfather about his bizarre speech patterns that he begins to question it.
      Vanamode: I wonder if growing up here might make us a little... weird.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: In Breaker of Infinities, the Darkest Hour arrives when Jagganoth's One-Winged Angel form overpowers both the Demiurges and the protagonists and flings them from orbit to the planet below, causing Allison and Cio to lose an arm and an eye, White Chain to go missing, Solomon David and Mottom being taken out of commision, Incubus being Flayed Alive (and somehow surviving), and Mammon being killed instantly. Jagganoth then follows them to the planet's surface and rips Mammon's head apart, claiming his Key of Kings and becoming twice as powerful. Incubus recovers just in time to behold the aftermath.
    Incubus: welp.
  • Rain (2010): There is a brief Flashback that shows Rudy coming out as gay, with his dad calling the operator for a young priest and an old priest, and his mom crying badly. The page title? Slight Overreaction.

    Web Original 
  • "It's a bit late to hear this exactly from myself, isn't it?" This is the exact words from Frelean Maleau in the beginning of Chaos Fighters II-Chemical Siege after she confessed her love to Enrei before she dies.
  • 20020 has Juice describe Georgia Tech's field in the Bowl Game as "a little bit longer" than usual. It's actually about a thousand miles long, stretching from the Canadian border to where Florida used to be.
  • Whateley Universe story "Ayla and the Mad Scientist": Ayla is warning Lancer to keep Generator from getting sucked into a gravitational singularity and being horribly killed.
    Generator: That could be sorta bad.

  • From Out of Context D&D Quotes:
    "Yes, I did sense a little animosity when I got shot in the chest."
  • The entry for Isabella of France on Rejected Princesses includes a footnote about the fate of Hugh Despenser, one of Isabella's more assholish lovers.
    Despenser was first dressed in a tabard with his family crest and paraded through town on the shittiest horse they could find. Then he was given a crown of nettles, had his skin roughly tattooed with biblical verses on arrogance and retribution, and dragged in a chest around town. Then he was stripped naked, half-hanged, and had his penis and testicles cut off –- which were then thrown into a large fire they’d built underneath him. He asked forgiveness of the bystanders, then let out a "ghastly, inhuman howl" and died. They split open his belly, cut out his heart and entrails, and tossed them in the fire. His head was cut off and sent to London, and his body sawn into quarters, each sent to the four next largest cities in England. He was not a popular man.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-682 is somewhat volatile. Its page is named "Hard-To-Kill Reptile".
    • The Foundation naming scheme is fond of this. SCP-313 is called a "Powerful Hand Dryer". When turned on, it emits a stream of plasma over four times hotter than the surface of the sun and proceeds to rocket around with enough force to drag a tank around.
  • The Sturgeon Awards refers to the infamous fanfic Agony in Pink as "not a very pleasant reading."
  • TFWiki sometimes slips into this when its staff are feeling snarky. For example, one of the pages related to The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers notes that the Wreckers are firing off entire mags of bullets that are formally considered war crimes to use, and then finishes that bullet point with "Those Wreckers, such scamps!"

    Web Videos 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog:
    • "Freeze ray needs work."
    • "That's... not a good sound."
  • The Doug Walker sketch "How I Quit My job" ends on one. This after having played "Also sprach Zarathustra", ripped open his shirt revealing "I QUIT!" written on his chest, and leaving to the end of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" while being chased out of the building (and through the parking lot) by security:
    "What have we learned today, boys and girls? Boys and girls, we have learned that that bridge has officially been burned."
  • The Nostalgia Chick: "Here's the thing about rape: it sucks."
  • Everyman HYBRID: The boys break Damsel out of the institution, but are caught by a security guard. Jeff bodily tackles him to give the others time to run. As Evan says, "That escalated quickly."
  • Atop the Fourth Wall:
    • Linkara at the very start of his review of Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu.
      "Missingno.'s a legend in game glitches and in particular Pokemon history...and apparently in some parallel universe, it spawned off into some kind of outer god that intends to consume and absorb all reality in every dimension. And it's also standing outside my door. Yeah, it's been a bit of a day."
    • In the 200th episode, this happens:
      Linkara: If there's a single story that has hung over this show since the first episode, it's One More Day.
      [this is followed by nineteen clips of Linkara referencing/talking/complaining/raging about One More Day, which wraps up with him looking at an image of the book and growling "I hate you!"]
      Linkara: Yeah, I think I might have brought it up once or twice.
    • Occurs again in the 300th episode.
      Linkara: You know, in three hundred episodes you may have picked up that I'm not particularly fond of Frank Miller.
      (Next comes eighteen clips of Linkara talking about Frank Miller, including how he's gone insane, is a misogynist as well as generally creepy and that his writing and directing is terrible).
      Linkara: I know, I've been very subtle about it, but it's there.
  • TV Trash: "So, yes. I'm not thrilled." Said after he blew his top over Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation and the crossover with Power Rangers in Space.
  • In Noob, Sparadrap refers to the reason for which Master Zen stopped playing as him doing "something silly". What actually happened was that Sparadrap got Master Zen angry enough to make him throw his computer out the window. While an old lady was under said window. It's a little hard for Master Zen to play from jail, apparently.
  • The developer commentary of the Five Nights at Freddy's fan game One Night at Flumpty's explains the reason the player is even at the eponymous Flumpty's: Flumpty has kidnapped them and they are trapped in his nightmarish fun house. Success means you live to see another day. Failure means that your eyes are pulled out of your head and fried. Why does the egg-abomination Flumpty do this? Because he's bored and wants to make friends by playing a game with them. The problem is that the game tends to involve terror, anxiety, and people dying horribly. As explained by the creator himself:
    Jonochrome: In my mind, the story of this game is that Flumpty kidnaps you and wants to play a game with you, and if you survive, you become best friends. [Beat] Flumpty does not have the best social skills.
  • Oxventure: One episode of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign has Egbert, The Paladin, awkwardly describe the whole thing in the previous episode where they burned down a town as "Not our finest moment."
    Prudence: We're heroes!
  • Map Men:
    • In "Who Owns the South China Sea?", which covers the conflicting territorial claims of six countries surrounding said sea, Mark tells us, "Analysts agree that this sticky sea situation is set to continue for at least hours."
    • "What will the world look like in 250 million years?" showcased a map of the Earth from 180 million years ago, "before the second and first world wars."

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Having your planet blown up could ruin your whole week!
    • From "Jimmy on Ice"
      Jimmy: I must have made a tiny miscalculation.
      [zoom out to reveal that Jimmy caused a second ice age]
  • American Dad!:
    • In "Francine's Flashback", Stan mentions that the last time he forgot his and Francine's anniversary, he got onto a big fight with her. And by "big fight", he meant a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown so bad, it became an episode of COPS.
    • In "Fart-Break Hotel", Stan makes Roger eat Francine's okra dinner even after Roger states okra gives him a bad case of gas without elaborating. The following night, the family is forced to evacuate the house when Roger's okra-induced farts fill the entire building, threatening to suffocate everyone. The hazmat team that gets called in tells Stan that whatever Roger produced is off-the-charts toxic, requiring a week to sanitize the house.
  • In an episode of The Animals of Farthing Wood Kestrel accidentally killed Mrs. Fieldmouse and her reaction to finding out was "How embarrassing!" This was played completely seriously.
  • A meta-example from Adventure Time, if the storyboard writers are any indication: "The Lich King is Not Funny"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • It gives us this gem:
      Sokka: My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
      Zuko: That's rough, buddy.
    • In "The Drill," after the Fire Nation's massive, incredibly expensive superweapon/siege-breaker is completely destroyed, Mai sums things up for the Fire Nation.
      Mai: We lost.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Kree Pluskommander Mahr Vehl explains to Ant-Man that they need to open up a Killer Robot, in order to deactivate the planet destroying bomb at its core.
    Ant-Man: Easier said than done, I take it.
    Mahr Vehl: I enjoy your species' gift for understatement.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
  • Code Lyoko:
    Odd: We-we can't be devirtualized.
    Ulrich: The scanners must be offline. What is going on around here anyway?
    Odd: I have no idea, but we've got a real problem.
    Ulrich: That's the understatement of the year.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: "Operation: E.L.E.C.T.I.O.N.S."
    Wilson: Someone has to count the votes, and The Delightful Children promised me a slice of their birthday cake next year if I... fudged the results a little.
    Numbuh One: Fudged!? They weren't even on the ballot!
  • From Ed, Edd n Eddy after Jimmy lands in a sewer:
    Sarah: Ew, Jimmy! You stink!
    Nazz: That's putting it mildly.
    • And in The Movie
      Nazz: Dude, Eddy's brother is a real jerk.
  • In the Goof Troop episode "You Camp Take It with You", Peg describes an entire steak as "much too big a bite" for their small dog, Chainsaw.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes
    Lucius: You may sweat a tad.
    Jimmy: You don't say [wrings his arms like a towel, causing a waterfall of sweat]
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • In the series finale, the Secret Society has accidentally resurrected Darkseid, Superman's Arch-Enemy, a Galactic Conqueror with a planet's worth of fanatical followers and a (rather justified) god complex. What does Lex Luthor say about this?
      Lex Luthor: We have a little problem.
    • After Superman's apparent death in "Hereafter", Wonder Woman explains Batman's absence at the funeral: "He doesn't handle loss very well."
  • Kaeloo: In one episode, Mr. Cat mentions giving Quack Quack a "teeny" electric shock. When he actually administers it, Quack Quack is reduced to Sweeping Ashes and Kaeloo angrily reminds him that he said it would only be a small one.
  • Not Without My Handbag:
    • When Auntie comes Back from the Dead:
      Niece: But Auntie, you've been dead and buried for six months!
      Auntie: Well, I have been feeling a bit off-color lately.
    • In the end:
      Auntie: Walking the earth as a living corpse is probably in rather questionable taste.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: Darrell's response to Ernesto going totally insane and burning himself alive in a factory incinerator: "Well, that was weird".
  • Tangled: The Series: Cassandra's favorite way to self-criticism:
    • In "Great Expotations", after Cassandra has been callously treating Varian though abuse just because the boy has a Precocious Crush on her, she says:
      Ok, so I could have been a little nicer earlier...
    • In "Beyond the Corona Walls", Cassandra resumes her relationship with Eugene as this:
      Rapunzel, we all know that Eugene and I don't always agree on everything...
    • But "Once a Handmaiden" takes the cake, when Cassandra resumes her decisions of the last year as this to Owl:
      Oh, I know I had been not the nicest person lately...
  • The Powerpuff Girls: A worker at a nuclear power plant accidentally wipes his mouth off with a contaminated napkin, causing tentacles to sprout from his face. His response? "Hm. Well, that's no good."
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Who Messed Up the Treehouse?", everyone thinks they only left a little bit of trash in the treehouse. However, the treehouse is an utter mess, making this an understatement.
  • One episode of ReBoot has all of Mainframe infected with a bug that turns everyone and everything to stone; that is, except for Hexidecimal's lair, since it was her bug to begin with. Bob, the only one immune to the bug, storms Hexidecimal's lair and, via zipline, kicks her right out of her throne.
    Hexidecimal: Funny. I sense a presence.
  • In Rick and Morty, after Rick learns that in his most recent blackout he single-handedly killed Worldender's army to the last man and converted his base into a "reckoning" for the Vindicators.
    Rick: Welp, it's official. I had too much to drink last night.
  • In season 5 of Samurai Jack, Jack encounters Ashi, an Ax-Crazy Laser Guided Tyke Bomb completely obsessed with "undoing the evil that is [Jack]" who worships the Big Bad Aku as a god.
    Jack: You are very troubled and very confused.
  • South Park:
    • "Adolf Hitler was a very, very naughty man."
    • Kyle: There's something wrong with Cartman.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Zero Hour", Kanan has managed to anger the Bendu so much that he's indiscriminately attacking Rebel and Imperial forces alike with Force lightning. After the Ghost has been hit:
    Hera: This is your friend?!
    Kanan: I... might've made him angry.
  • In the TaleSpin episode "Mach One For The Gipper", Baloo and Wildcat try to escape from a bad situation by tying an experimental jet engine to the Sea Duck and using it to boost out of there. Unfortunately, the engine's thrust isn't terribly powerful. Then Wildcat looks at the setup.
    Wildcat: Oh, here's the problem! There's a kink in the hose!
    Holds up a section of hose that's not so much kinked as tied in an elaborate knot.
  • In the Teen Titans (2003) episode "Nevermore", Beast Boy and Cyborg get involved in a Battle in the Center of the Mind between Raven and Trigon. Beast Boy wants to know exactly what they're up against.
    Raven: Let's just say I have issues with my father.
  • The Tick:
    Arthur: I'm worried about the Tick. I don't think falling 4,000 feet and getting hit by a subway train did him any good.
  • The theme song of Tiny Toon Adventures pretty much gives it away.
    We're tiny and toony
    We're all a little loony
  • Work It Out Wombats!:
    • In "Crab Quakes," Super says that there's not much on her to-do list, then reveals a fairly lengthy list of things she has to do.
    • In "Zoom In Zadie,: Quique says that Mr. E is struggling just a little bit painting squares. He says this while Mr. E is throwing tantrums.

    Real Life 
  • During a foreign trip in 1958, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan referred to an incident as a "little local difficulty". The incident was the resignation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and two other finance ministers. Such high level resignations could have been enough to bring down his government.
  • On the return journey from the South Pole in Captain Scott's expedition, Captain Oates was injured so decided to commit suicide to give his companions more chance. Suicide was — genuinely — easy, since he just had to leave the tent and quickly die of exposure. He announced his intentions with the words "I am just going outside and may be some time."
    • Well, not that easy, given that the tent was laced together tight with (frozen!) ties to keep the drift out and Oates essentially had no working fingers. Some, like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, have speculated that it would have been utterly impossible for Oates to go outside on his own, and the friends who knew he was a goner regardless helped Oates on his way.
  • Captain Eric Moody on BA Flight 009 said. ''Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress." Fortunately his efforts to save the flight met with some measure of success — all four engines restarted, and the aircraft landed safely. Some years later he remarked that "It was, yeah, a little bit frightening." He isn't the only one, either. All airline pilots are told not to talk to the passengers about an emergency unless they know they can sound perfectly calm. Fictional reflections of this gave rise to the Danger Deadpan trope.
  • When Australian Olympian Janine Shepherd appeared on TED talks she spoke about how her life changed after being hit by a truck during a bike ride, after cataloguing her injuries, including her spine being broken in six places she concludes: "I was having a really bad day"
  • The NFPA diamond is a label giving a brief representation of the hazards of a substance. It is divided into 4 sections, with numbers 0–4 in them or special symbols. The blue section represents health risk, the red one flammability, the yellow one reactivity, and the white one reserved for special hazards like acid or oxidation. A handy guide for the number scale for each section lists yellow 4 as "may detonate". This led to the following conversation with a supervisor: "'May detonate'? Under what conditions?" "All of them." This rating is reserved for nitroglycerin, nitrogen triiodide, chlorine dioxide, and similarly temperamental chemicals.
  • Similarly to the NFPA Diamond, the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics note  has a section devoted to safety which begins with a table of "Incompatible Chemicals". "Incompatible" in this case meaning that when mixed they explode, burn, produce other things that explode or burn, and/or result in otherwise hazardous substances. (Generally, several of these options simultaneously.)
    • For elemental fluorine, the entry on said table simply reads "Everything".
  • Astronomers classify the interstellar medium, the gas and dust that fills galaxies, into three "phases", roughly equivalent to the three phases (solid, liquid, and gas) on Earth. They're called "cold", "warm", and "hot", and all are understatements. The "cold" phase is made up of molecular clouds at 10 Kelvin (just shy of absolute zero) and atomic clouds at 100 Kelvin (still far below freezing), the "warm" phase is about 10,000 degrees Kelvin (hotter than the Sun), and the "hot" phase is about one million degrees Kelvin.
  • "We have had an anomaly. We just had an anomaly of the Delta 2 Launch Vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Station." Statement from launch control regarding the aforementioned Delta 2 Launch Vehicle exploding spectacularly and raining debris and toxic fuel byproducts over several square miles.
  • "We have just had a major malfunction." The 'major malfunction' was the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger 73 seconds after liftoff.
  • In Japanese history, the Honno-ji Incident refers to the forced suicide of Oda Nobunaga by one of his retainers, as well as the burning of the castle he was in and the death of all his bodyguards. Nobunaga was in the final stages of reuniting Japan, and his death threw his forces into a civil war amidst the civil war. An incident, indeed.
    • Japan seems to have a habit of calling events like this "incidents". Imperial Japan had such minor events as the Mukden Incident and the Nanking Incident.
    • In August 1945, the Emperor made a radio broadcast, for the first time ever, to say that "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage". Some listeners were left unsure whether he was announcing Japan's surrender. To be clear, the "situation" was that Japan's militaries were practically nonexistent at this point, with their army having lost the majority of the territories they'd gained in Southeast Asia and their navy mostly sitting on the bottom of the Pacific (or in some cases sunk at their moorings by American bombers). What few islands in the Pacific they had managed to hold onto were so cut off by American submarines that they were more like self-governed P.O.W. camps for their own forces than fortifications, and the blockade of the Japanese mainland was hitting the civilian population just as hard as Japan itself was being encroached upon by the Americans from the east and the Russians to the west. Oh, and they had just been nuked twice (and the cities that hadn't been nuked had almost all been burned to the ground by conventional firebombing earlier in the year). So, no, it really wasn't working out to Japan's advantage.
  • Back in the early days of NASA, astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn witnessed the launch of an Atlas rocket (the machine that would be taking Glenn into space).note  The rocket blew up a few seconds later. Shepard turned to Glenn and calmly said, "I sure hope they fix that."
  • British understatement nearly lost a major battle in the Korean War. Whilst being over-run by Chinese forces outnumbering his men nearly fifty to one, a British brigade commander reported to his American general that "things are getting a little bit sticky here." He meant "We'd quite appreciate reinforcements." The American heard the laconic unworried voice of his subordinate, and reasoned that the British had things well under control. Reinforcements only arrived very late in the battle, allowing the remnants of a British regiment to withdraw undefeated.
  • On September 11, 2001, Michael Hingson was on the 78th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. His guide dog Roselle escorted him down 78 flights of stairs, through the chaos in the streets, and finally home to safety, all the while never losing her cool. When the pair appeared on Larry King Live a few weeks later to share their story, King summed it up in four words: "She's a GOOD dog."
  • In 2017, a British insurance firm did a survey to find the country’s best understatement. In 3rd place was Captain Lawrence Oates (see above), in 2nd was the BA crew of Flight 009 (also see above), and number 1 was this exchange between the Earl of Uxbridge and the Duke of Wellington, after the former had his leg blown off by a cannon:
    Uxbridge: By God Sir, I've lost my leg!
    Wellington: By God Sir, so you have.
  • In the hours leading up to the death of Queen Elizabeth II it was announced by the palace that Elizabeth was under medical supervisor after doctors became concerned for her health. While the British public and government understood it to mean the Queen was in critical condition and likely in the last hours of her life, foreign audiences were initially confused by the reaction of the British and the Royal Family since to such audiences it sounded more like something had happened with her health and that she was in stable condition.
  • When Robert-François Damiens, who had been arrested after an attempt on the life of King Louis XV of France, was taken from his prison cell on March 28, 1757, to be executed, he had only this to say: "La journée sera rude." ("The day will be hard.") The execution in question was a horrific one, involving torture by red-hot pincers, burning with sulfur, drenching with molten wax, lead, and boiling oil; drawing and quartering (the last such execution performed in France); and finally having his torso burned at the stake. To put it in perspective, His Majesty himself thought it a bit much even for a regicide.
  • The famous quote from the Apollo 13 mission, which failed almost disastrously. "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here."note  An oxygen tank's failure had essentially killed the craft's life support and power generation capability, forcing the crew and Mission Control to abort the mission and spend three days jury-rigging one solution after another to make it back to Earth alive.
  • Many survivors of the sinking of the Titanic recalled how the stewards and stewardesses (as well as any other ship crewman who regularly interacted with guests) maintained a sense of calm as they tried to get people to the lifeboats. Several were quoted as saying that the lifebelts and evacuation to the top deck were "merely a safety precaution" and that there was no need to worry. The ship's band even went on deck and played popular music in an attempt to keep people calm. Very few of these crewman made it off of the ship, and it is said that the band played a hymn as the ship began to really go down.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Putting It Mildly, Comedic Understatement, To Say The Least


Who's Beaumont?

Ordell shows Louis Beaumont's dead body in the trunk of his car, calling him an employee of his gun running venture he had to "let go", since Beaumont was going to tell the authorities everything about his dealings.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

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Main / YouHaveFailedMe

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