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We Have Ways of Making You Talk

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Sid: Oh, a survivor. Where is the Rebel base? Talk!
(Throws Woody across the room)
Sid: I can see your will is strong. Well, we have ways of making you talk.
(Raises a magnifying glass as he starts to burn a hole in Woody's head)
Sid: Where are your Rebel friends, now? Hehehe!

This is a Stock Phrase often used by the leader of a faction to assure a defiant captive that they can get the information they want by less than normal means. Usually, pronounced "Vee haff VAYS of making hyu tok!"

Normally, this involves highly unorthodox interrogation and/or torture techniques, but these interrogators can usually spice things up with more extreme or less conventional methods. Note that heroes can do this too, they just tend to use inventive rather than cruel means.

Here are a few variants:

Their method may or may not work, and may or may not be shown onscreen, in which case it probably involves Noodle Implements and Take Our Word for It. If Played for Laughs, may lead to Cool and Unusual Punishment.

The original given source of this phrase, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer in 1935, is actually a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty! — it's not the actual line.

Contrast Too Kinky to Torture. Not to be confused with I Have My Ways. If the Torture Technician does not himself say this, expect him to be nearby waiting to go about his work.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix the Gaul, with a bit more Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness than usual:
    Crismus Bonus: You refused to talk, druid, but perhaps your friend will prove more loquacious under torture tomorrow! [he leaves] Aut Caesar, aut nihil! (I) 
    [Asterix and Getafix laugh heartily]
    Asterix: I'll be loquacious all right! I'll loquace like no-one ever loquaced before! (I) 
  • Lampshaded very well in an early issue of the New Avengers. The heroes needed information quickly and got into a local prison in order to get it from the inmates. Spider-Woman, backed up by Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and others, told the inmates that they were going to talk, and she had ways to make them do so. She then held up a bag of donuts and said whoever helped them would get a donut, and whoever didn't could have whatever the prison cafeteria was serving. Prisoner: "I'll tell you anything you want. Gimme a donut."
  • Invoked by Nightcrawler (who, being German, certainly used the traditional pronunciation) in God Loves, Man Kills, to get information from Stryker's brainwashing expert. As he utters the phrase, he exposes his fanglike teeth in an extremely convincing ghoulish grin. That's all it takes — which is just as well, as he has profound ethical objections to torture.
  • In the end of Bewitched! issue of Chick Tracts, Satan threatens his underling who failed to tempt his target into sin with this:
    I have ways of making you really sorry.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Said exactly in You Obey, where it is lampshaded briefly.
  • Appears as part of a game in the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis. McCoy's roleplay character, Dr. Darkness, tells Captain Sunshine's (kid!Kirk's) captive sidekick (Spock) that "it will be much easier if you tell me what I want to know" while handling fake torture tools.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ace in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls uses this on a suspect at one point in the sequel, even throwing in a faux German accent. He starts with silverware on a plate before graduating to bizarre eyeball antics.
  • In the 1937 Laurence Olivier film Fire Over England, a Spanish count assures captured English spy Michael Ingoldby: "You English fool, you'll tell everything you know. We understand persuasion."
  • An example from the 1943 anti-Nazi film Hangmen Also Die! about the aftermath of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, directed and written by Germans Fritz Lang & Bertolt Brecht respectively. Inspector Gruber says the following to Mascha when she says she doesn't have the information he wants during interrogation:
    "Answer properly! You know we have means to make you talk. Maybe you have heard about the vaults below."
  • James Bond:
    • Subverted in Goldfinger, as Goldfinger activates a laser cutter on Bond.
      Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
      Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die! There is nothing you can talk to me about that I don't already know.
    • Stated by M in Quantum of Solace, though she doesn't get the chance to follow through: "You will eventually tell us everything about the people you work with, and the longer it takes, the more painful we'll make it."
  • The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935): The line originated in this movie, though it was actually, "We have ways to make men talk", and is commonly misquoted.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu has the eponymous hero use this line on a Mr. Mime.
    Pikachu: We've got ways to make you talk... or mime!
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (even in the right accent):
    Marion: I'll tell you everything!
    Toht: Yes, I know you will. [raises the red hot poker closer to Marion's eyes]
  • Robot Holocaust: The Dark One wants to know the secret of Jorn's invention, so Jorn is kidnapped and tortured & The Dragon Valeria threatens to do the same to Deeja. Jorn still doesn't budge.
  • Darth Vader and his interrogation droid in Star Wars: A New Hope.
    Darth Vader; And now, your Highness, we will discuss the location of your hidden Rebel base.
  • The terrorist's torture expert in True Lies.
  • In Hardcase, Major Tozar hopes that subjecting Jack to some Unwilling Suspension will loosen his tongue and make him tell a more interesting story about why he is looking for Simon Fuegus.
  • Said word-for-word (well, word-for-word in German and in the subtitles) in 1945 film The Red Meadows by Major Mackensen of the SS. He then proceeds to brutally torture Michael, a member of the Danish La Résistance, but Michael doesn't talk.

  • And of course there's the pun about the German clock maker.
    "Ve hav vays of making you tock!"
  • A meme was making the rounds for a while:
    suspect: i ain't talkin'
    cop: [sharpens knife] we got ways of making people talk [cuts a piece of cake]
    suspect: can i have some
    cop: cake is for talkers

  • In Yellow Blue Tibia, taking place in 1986 Russia, a police officer attempts to intimidate the protagonist Konstantin Skvorecky this way, by constantly threatening to remove his balls while flicking a tape recorder on and off. The protagonist isn't the least-bit impressed by this "one note attempt to intimidate" and when the police officer accidentally records the threats, is very amused.
  • In Animorphs, there are allusions to this with Visser Three in his attempts to glean information from Aftran, a prominent member of the Yeerk Peace Movement. She's rescued by Cassie before anything happens, fortunately.
  • Subverted by The Stainless Steel Rat in Harry Harrison's sci-fi spoofs. Captured by the humourless Grey Men, Jim diGriz responds to this line by cheerfully offering to tell everything he knows straight away without the need for torture, as he quite reasonably tells his captors there is nothing that cannot be extracted from an interrogee by a suitably motivated and equipped interrogator. As his cracking under torture is merely a matter of time, he's prepared to speak up now, spare everybody the inconvenience and aggravation, and then we can all have an early night. How about it? The Grey Men then proceed to torture him anyway, because it's in the script and they can't deviate from it. And because they can.
  • The Pandion Knights in The Elenium encourage rumors of the various ways of making you talk that they have. The intended result is that people will talk without the knights having to do any actual torturing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The few times this line is used in Hogan's Heroes, Hogan immediately lampshades it by saying somebody's been watching too much American movies.
  • Stated clearly if implicitly by Number Two in the opening sequence of The Prisoner, and paraphrased at least once by the same character in the show itself. True to their word, every single method listed in the trope description above is used at least once. None of them work.
    Number Two: We want information.
    Number Six: You won't get it!
    Number Two: By hook or by crook... we will.
  • In the "A Scandal in Belgravia" episode of Sherlock, Mycroft does this to Irene Adler but phrases it rather more politely. "You have a passcode to open this. I deeply regret to say, we have people who can extract it from you."
  • The Hannah Montana episode "Bye Bye Ball" parodies this: Jackson, who had been going through Sanity Slippage over the disappearance of his prized signed baseball, speaks this line in a German accent right before stuffing Oliver into his repulsive closet.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Sam and Dean decide to leave Crowley alone to think realizing they are unable to torture the King of Hell.
  • Ilsa from ''The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" did this to Maddie to get her to tell her and Mr. Moseby where London and Todd are hiding.
    Mr.Moseby: Maddie have you seen London and Todd?
    Maddie: No, haven't seen them, not sighting, see ya!
    Ilsa: Candy girl, we have ways of making you talk!
    Maddie: There's nothing to say
    Llsa: Here Blitzkrieg.
    Maddie: Ok, ok they're on the roof!
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    Jaro: No one despises the Cardassians more than I, Major... but we did learn a few things from them. Like how to encourage people to talk.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • "Cardinal Biggles... get... THE SOFT CUSHIONS!"
    • In the "Killer Joke" sketch a captured British soldier is tickled on the face with an enormous feather by a Gestapo officer, who also slaps him across the face (actually missing, with another officer behind him clapping his hands to make the sound).
  • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman's lasso of truth forces people to truthfully answer her questions. It gives a different take on the trope.
  • M*A*S*H: In the third season episode "Officer of the Day", two Korean boys steal items from the camp, including Radar's teddy bear. When Hawkeye is interrogating them in the swamp, he uses this line verbatim (in a German accent, no less).

    Puppet Shows 
  • The line is used, then subverted, in a Muppet Show sketch. A guard says this line to a prisoner (played by Ruth Buzzi), who then goes into an overwhelming stream of babble. The guard desperately threatens, "We have ways of making you stop talking!"

    Tabletop Games 

  • In The Consul, the Secret Police Agent says this to Magda:
    "We have strange ways to make people talk. Oh, not at all the way you may think. All we have to do is to quicken the beat of your heart."

    Video Games 
  • The "Poacher's Day" event in Granblue Fantasy has an Oddball variant – As the tourist skyfarers managed to round and tie up the Sea Urkin Poachers, they had a hard time getting information out of them, even after implying threats. That is until they hear the growling from the poacher's stomachs, to which Carren immediately brings out exotic fish lunch as the "bait". It works.
  • The Hairmeister from Kingdom Of Magic will sometimes say, if Thidney bothers him too much, "Ve haff vays to make you talk... I just vish ve haff vays to make you SHUT UP!"
  • In Tales of Monkey Island, though not spoken by Guybrush, the player can choose the line "I have ways of making you talk!" to frighten Bugeye in Chapter 3. The result is:
    Guybrush: Tell me where I can find the Tongue of the Manatee or it's time for Tibetan Tickle Torture.
  • Referenced in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. South America's continent bonus is "We Have Ways," and it allows the player to complete all autopsies of dead aliens and interrogations of live ones instantly.
  • Used as a Kick the Dog moment for Rolff Stone-Fist on your first visit to Windhelm in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. A thoroughly racist Jerkass who hates Dark Elves, he accuses Suvaris Atheron, one such Dunmer, of being an Imperial spy, and threatens to "pay her a visit" later, stating "we have ways of finding out what you really are."
  • Uttered to the word by Walton Simons in Deus Ex when interrogating a prisoner at the Unatco HQ. Wasn't a bluff either.

    Web Comics 
  • In Drowtales, Sillice does this to Chrys. Particularly disturbing when you recall that technically Chrys is Sillice's niece.
  • Errant Story: Sarine threatens Jon with unnamed methods of extracting information from him about Meji and their travels.
  • Girl Genius: Othar defies this trope, only to have Klaus snark that he wishes he could make Othar not talk. Klaus also subverts this by explaining he intends to perform destructive experiments on Othar.

    Western Animation 
  • When asked how they got Danger Mouse to be their producer, Murdoc responded word-for-word in a Gorillaz interview.
    "We haff vays of making you vork!"
    • In Danger Mouse on the Orient Express, Penfold is taken prisoner by spies under Greenback's employ trying to find a manuscript that our heroes swiped earlier. Vladimir, one of the spies uses the line "Ve vill make you talk!" (Penfold is telling them the truth—a fish ate the manuscript—but nobody believes him.)
  • Spoofed in the opening scene of Archer:
    Russian Agent: ...and it may be old cliche, but... *holds up electrified jump cables* ve have vays of making you talk.
    Archer: ...What, your little go-kart battery?
    Russian Agent: Golf-cart!
    Archer: Whatever! And would you pick an accent and stick with it?
  • In South Park while playing "Americans vs Bosnians", Cartman pins Kenny down and gives the stock phrase. And then he farts on him.
  • Gargamel says this to Clumsy in The Smurfs episode "The Chief Record Smurf" after Clumsy is given photographic memory and is able to perfectly recall Papa Smurf's invisibility formula.
  • The Daffy Duck cartoon "Plane Daffy": Hatta Mari gets an American carrier pigeon to blab out many military secrets after slipping him a Mickey.
  • Parodied in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog when Scratch and Grounder capture someone they believe knows Sonic and Scratch threatens her with this exact sentence only for Grounder to ask "what ways?" which leads to Scratch's frustration, a dope slap and the response "stupid" which makes Grounder finally understand and say "yeah we have stupid ways of making you talk". Not.
  • Used in a Kaeloo episode where Mr. Cat is dressed as a Nazi:
    Mr. Cat: Me und mein bazooka have ways of making you talk!
  • In Gravity Falls Grand Finale, Bill Cipher threatens Ford Pines this way before inflicting Electric Torture on him in the next scene.
    Bill Cipher: Everyone has a weakness, tough guy! I'll make you talk! It's only a matter of time.

    Real Life 
  • There is a legend of two policemen who interrogated a gullible suspect by putting a colander on his head, wiring it to a copy machine, and copying the message HE'S LYING when they thought he was. The man thought it was a real polygraph and confessed. This originated from David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets which depicted a year's work in the Baltimore City PD homicide division, later adapted into the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street.
  • Ringworld author Larry Niven played with this during an awards dinner that was running long — interrogating his lobster: "Now, wretched bottom-feeder, you will tell us of your troop movements!" He was afterwards nicknamed "Speaker-to-Seafood", a reference to the Kzin Ambassador, Speaker-to-Animals, who has a large role in the Ringworld series.
  • World War II Luftwaffe interrogator Hans-Joachim Scharff became famous for being extremely successful and getting useful information out of Allied airmen who were taken prisoner by Germans. His method was borne out of his actual character: he was a genuinely nice guy who really cared about the well-being of the captives in his charge and did what he could to accommodate their wishes and needs while making small talk. (He supposedly arranged for an Allied pilot to take a joyride alone in a German fighter!). Prisoners of war would end up unintentionally letting slip important information during ordinary conversations, which Scharff and others would pick up and incorporate into their body of knowledge.
  • There's a story about the Al Qaeda operative who was defeated by cookies. A new interrogator noticed that the uncooperative prisoner wasn't eating what he'd been given, because he was diabetic and couldn't have sugar. When they provided sugar-free cookies, he started talking.


Video Example(s):



One gets the impression that Toht thoroughly enjoys his line of work. Even after Marion freaks out upon seeing him with the poker and offers to tell him everything, he tries to use it on her just for kicks.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / Sadist

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