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Worse with Context

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Carlton: Will, you had us stop to talk to every pretty girl.
Will: So?
Carlton: We were on the freeway!

When a character describes a supposedly unpleasant situation, but it doesn't seem that bad. When the other characters don't understand what the big deal is, the character begrudgingly blurts out an additional detail, allowing the audience and/or other characters to grasp the gravity of the situation. For example, there's a big difference between your aunt being cut from her position, and her being cut from her position with a machete.

There are many ways this trope can occur, but these are two common examples:

  • Alice lambasts Bob for making a mistake or instigating an incident. Bob defends himself by downplaying the situation to make it seem like Alice is overreacting, but Alice counters by disclosing an aggravating factor that makes the incident much more dire or severe.
  • A character mentions an expected punishment or undesirable outcome of a situation which, while unpleasant, is still relatively benign. A detail is subsequently added that turns it into The Not-So-Harmless Punishment.

As a Comedy Trope, the gag is that the character didn't reveal the critical detail in the first place, even though they were trying to make a point. Can be Played for Drama if a character is using it to try to conceal their own mistakes or flaws.

The verbal version of a Reveal Shot. If multiple details are revealed in succession that make the situation progressively worse, Escalating Punchline also applies.

Can be a type of Bait-and-Switch Comment of From Bad to Worse situation. Compare If You Thought That Was Bad... and Less Disturbing in Context.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The first episode of Higurashi: When They Cry starts with a Cold Opening that may be shocking, but isn't quite disturbing until seen in the context of the arc. And then becomes more disturbing the more context is revealed after the arc.
  • In Yuusha Gojo Kumiai Kouryuugata Keijiban, the forum regulars react to a hero's description of their party with scorn when they realise that it's a harem situation. They're a little more sympathetic when they learn that the heroines hate each other, and the only thing they can agree on is their hatred for the hero, but only a little (after all, some guys like that sort of thing). It's only when the hero reveals that she's a girl that they realise just how bad the situation is.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe story "Gyro's First Invention", Donald and Scrooge explain the events of "Christmas for Shacktown" to Gyro and how it will take 272 years, 11 months, three weeks, and four days to get all of Scrooge's money out of the hole it's trapped in (all umpteen fantasticatillion, three multiplujillion, nine obsquatumatillion, six hundred and twenty-three dollars and sixteen cents of it), culminating with this exchange:
    Gyro: (smiling) No, Mr. McDuck! You miscalculated! It'll take six months...
    Scrooge: (cheering up) Really! Not 272 years? Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!
    Gyro: No, no! You had the years correct! Just a tad off on the months!
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The line "With corpses, I prefer to go through the eye sockets" is already bad enough. The fact that the bot giving the line (Chromedome) is referring to mnemosurgery, a method of viewing/altering a Cybertronian's memories responsible for everything from shadowplay to straight-up mutilation, cranks it from slightly to exceedingly disturbing.
  • The Ultimates: No, the Chitauri are not planning to destroy Earth. They will destroy the whole solar system.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Beau Peep strip, Beau asks Sergeant Bidet why he and Dennis have been thrown into the brig, having been too drunk the previous night to remember anything. The Sergeant tells Beau that he threw a glass through a window, which Beau doesn't think is too bad...until he learns that the colonel was holding the glass at the time.
  • For Better or for Worse:
    • In one comic, Michael tells his half-asleep mother that Elizabeth just went outside with her new umbrella and wearing her new boots, which just gets a series of grunts. Then he adds she's only wearing the boots. Elly runs outside to chase down her daughter while a grinning Michael muses that he likes telling the best part last.
    • Another strip shows Elizabeth retaliating after Michael puts soap on her toothbrush. When she tells him she used his toothbrush, it doesn't faze Michael in the slightest. Then Elizabeth tells him she didn't use it for her teeth, but for Farley's.

    Fan Works 
  • Lucky Number Thirteen has an example Played for Drama rather than comedy. Sharon gives a hypothetical context to Ana when they're talking about the submissive contract. When Sharon brings up that potential Doms and Masters complaining about a person's hard limits is a red flag, Ana questions why (Christian having done the same thing with her). Sharon says the following: "Because if he starts arguing with you and demanding something you don't want over, say, dinner, you can keep saying no. You can get up and walk away [...] You can't do that when you're gagged and bound to a table." As it turns out this is pretty much exactly what happened to Sharon when she was with Christian.
  • Give Not Into Sorrow elaborates on why Charm quit the Galaxy Team. The game implies that she resented having to work for a living. Charm here elaborates that she was a refugee the Galaxy Team exploited for child labor; the Galaxy Team's policy of 'no freeloaders' extended to children, and she was expected to risk her life every day in the Survey Corps because they didn't owe her food or shelter.
  • In This Bites!, when Cross called the crew together for a meeting, Usopp tells him that Soundbite made his voice come out of Merry's toilet. Cross admits that it sounds funny and doesn't see what the problem was. Usopp then reveals that he was using it at the time.
  • Turnabout Storm:
    Phoenix Wright: What is the punishment?
    Twilight Sparkle: Banishment...
    Phoenix: Well, that isn't so bad compared to—
    Twilight: To the moon...or even the sun.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In the episode "To Kill a Firebird", the immortal Princess Celestia describes one of her prior Mayfly December Romances:
    Celestia: And that was the day I met my 43rd True Love. His name was Washington Carbohydrate. And my, was he cute! [...] Anyway, the point of my story is, if I'm immortal, then really, age shouldn't be a problem for either of us. Of course, his kindergarten teacher wouldn't have any of it...

    Film — Animated 
  • Deconstructed in Frozen (2013). Right before "Love is an Open Door," Prince Hans casually dismisses Anna's shocked reaction at his family ignoring him as "what brothers do," indicating that he has a warped view on how family relationships work. The creators have confirmed he was indeed neglected in youth, and the Broad Strokes Tie-In Novel A Frozen Heart reveals that the abuse was far worse than what he described.
  • In Rover Dangerfield, when Rover encounters his old dog act trope, he finds that one dog, Flappy, had been kicked out. Rover figured that, stating that Flappy was dumb, before going into a monologue of stupid things he had done, capping it off with:
    Rover: When Carmine paper-trained him, that was something. He went right on the paper. The only trouble is...Carmine was reading it!
  • Strange World: Searcher mentions an incident when arguing with his father about what it was like growing up with him.
    Searcher: You gave me a machete for my birthday!
    Jaeger: (chuckles) Classic Jaeger Clade.
    Searcher: I was two!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: There's a scene where John Goodman's character Howard shaves and puts on some nice clothes before preparing dinner for a nice young woman, even offering some ice cream. Seems innocent enough out of context. In context it's one of the most horrifying scenes in the entire film because of the sheer implications; Howard is an unhinged murderer and possible rapist who just murdered the only other man in the bunker the characters are in, seems unhealthily obsessed with the woman in question and keeps comparing her to his possibly dead daughter. The implication of the whole scene is that he's on the verge of raping and/or killing her.
  • Blazing Saddles. While masquerading as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Sheriff Bart tells Hedy (THAT'S HEDLEY!!) Lamarr why he should be a part of Lamaar's criminal army.
    Lamaar: Qualifications?
    Bart: Stampeding cattle.
    Lamaar: That's not much of a crime.
    Bart: Through the Vatican.
    Lamaar: Kinky! Sign here.
  • Me, Myself & Irene. While waiting for a train, Irene tells Charlie about her past as an aspiring actress.
    Irene: I got this eating disorder where I gained, like, twenty pounds.
    Charlie: That's not that bad.
    Irene: In a week.
  • There Will Be Blood: Most people who see the infamous "I drink your milkshake" clip expect the whole scene it appears in to be bizarre and silly. In reality, the context in which it's said is deadly serious and the line itself is a part of a massive Kick the Dog moment. It's also immediately followed by Daniel savagely bashing Eli's skull in with a bowling pin.

  • A man talking to a friend:
    I think my wife is trying to kill me.
    How so?
    She got me a swim club membership...
    Sounds like she's worried about your health.
    ...and a pair of ankle weights.
  • A man encounters an old friend. The old friend has blood on his clothes:
    Where are you coming from?
    From my mother-in-law's funeral.
    And why the blood?
    Because the old lady wasn't up to it...
  • My father was the town drunk. Normally that's not too bad... but of New York City?
  • "When I die, I want to go quietly in my sleep, like my grandfather... not screaming, like his passengers."

  • Discworld:
    • Jingo: The D'Regs feel that 71-Hour Ahmed broke their Sacred Hospitality rules when he beheaded a man before the three days were up, just because he poisoned El-Ysa. The victim's actions seem pretty bad already, but when Vimes asks who El-Ysa was, he's told it was a village.
    • Guards! Guards!: Vimes gets this when he starts asking about a diner's terrible coffee.
      Vimes: How long has it been since the last time you cleaned the coffeepot?
      Harga: What day's today?
      Vimes: Grune 28, I think.
      Harga: What year?
    • The Last Hero: One of the wizards explains that when Cori Celesti explodes, the effects will last a few years. So when one non-wizard asks if they just need to bunker down and get back to life as usual once that's over with and enjoy a world free of magic and wizards...
      Ponder: The seas will boil. The sun will burn out and crash. The elephants and the turtle may cease to exist altogether.
      Downey: And that'll all happen in two years, will it?
      Ponder: No, sir. That'll all happen in the first ten minutes. You see, magic isn't just lights and fireballs. Magic holds the world together.
  • In The Elenium, at one point Vanion says that someone besides Kalten should forge a document, because Kalten's spelling is so bad that he once got every letter of a six-letter word wrong. Darellon points out that some words are hard to spell, and Vanion responds that the word in question was Kalten's own name.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry ends up in detention with the sadistic Professor Umbridge. When Ron later asks him what his punishment was, he replies he just had to write lines. Ron understandably notes that that wasn't too bad, expecting something worse. What Harry chose to leave out not to worry him or Hermione is that he had to write said lines with a magic quill that uses his blood as ink and carves what he writes onto the back of his hand. He ends up in detention so much that year that the lines he writes eventually permanently scar the back of his hand, on top of bleeding profusely after each detention (which is how Ron finds out the truth, he's suitably horrified).
  • Hollow Kingdom (2019): At one point, S.T. observes his neighbor Nargatha eating Triscuits. The next line clarifies that "Triscuits" is the name of Nargatha's dog.
  • The Last Unicorn:
    Schmendrick: He had me juggling teacups. With tea in them!
  • In The Lost Fleet, Captain Desjani reassures Captain Geary that even though Admiral Otropa outranks him, there's no chance of him trying to usurp Geary's command of the fleet because no one would accept 'Otropa the Anvil' in his place. Geary comments that 'The Anvil' sounds like a strong nickname, but Desjani tells him that Otropa got it by being beaten so often.
  • Rise of the Elgen: When Michael's group finds Tanner in lockup, they ask what he did to end up punished. Tanner says that he tried to crash a plane, which confuses them as that's why Hatch keeps him around. Then Tanner clarifies that he and Hatch were on the plane.
  • Tress of the Emerald Sea: Hoid reveals that the Sorceress' Curse on him took away his sense of taste, then later clarifies that he means "the important one. And with it went my sense of humor, my sense of decorum, my sense of purpose, and my sense of self."

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Arrested Development episode ("Charity Drive") has Gob request George Michael and Maeby break into a municipal office and sneak a file into their file cabinet. This conversation occurs after Maeby sticks her gum on the side of the file cabinet:
    George Michael: What are you doing?
    Maeby: Leaving my calling card.
    George Michael: But they're going to know we were here.
    Maeby: Uh, they already know that. Our fingerprints are all over the office.
    George Michael: You said they wouldn't check for fingerprints!
    Maeby: I said, "Don't wear your mittens." They look ridiculous on the security camera.
    George Michael: THERE'S A SECURITY CAMERA?
  • During the first season finale of Better Call Saul, Jimmy explains that his previously shown arrest in Chicago was giving a guy he disliked a "Chicago sun roof": climbing on top of his car and crapping through the open sunroof. Then he noticed that the man's children were inside the car, which caused the man to try to get Jimmy labeled a sex offender.
  • In one episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, when Elly May is bathing her dogs in the 'cement pond', she explains to Jed that she has no choice as Granny had gotten mad the last time Elly used her tub to bathe them.
    Jed: I don't blame her. You shoulda waited until she climbed out.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In "The Donation Oscillation", Bernadette takes offense to her husband inviting someone else to a "Vomit Comet" excursion. Howard argues that she wouldn't enjoy it, pointing out that she got sick because of the Teacup Ride at Disneyland. Bernadette says that a lot of people do...and Howard mentions that she was still in line.
  • In the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Private Plane," the full extent keeps getting worse as Melchett tries to justify it.
    Melchett: Now George, you remember when I came down to visit you when you were a nipper, for your sixth birthday? You used to have a lovely little rabbit, beautiful little thing, do you remember?
    George: Flossie!
    Melchett: That's right, Flossie! Do you remember what happened to Flossie?
    George: You shot him.
    Melchett: That's right! It was the kindest thing to do after he'd been run over by that car.
    George: Your car, sir.
    Melchett: Yes, but that too was an act of mercy when you remember that dog had been set on him.
    George: Your dog, sir.
    Melchett: Yes, yes, my dog. But what I'm trying to say, George, is that the state young Flossie was in after we'd scraped him off my front tyre is very much the state that young Blackadder will be in now. If not very nearly dead, then very actually dead.
    George: But surely, Sir, you must allow me to at least try and save him.
    Melchett: No, George. It would take a superman to get him out of there, not the kind of weed who blubs just because somebody gives him a slice of rabbit pie instead of birthday cake.
    • And in the first season, it's up to Edmund, newly named Archbishop of Canterbury, to convince a dying noble to leave his lands to the Crown instead of the Church. Unfortunately, the guy is convinced that he's going to Hell, as he has committed the sin of adultery...over a thousand times...with his mother. Edmund convinces him via Hell of a Heaven in the end.
  • El Chavo del ocho:
    • We get this line when Profesor Jirafales chastised Don Ramón for threatening El Chavo.
      Chilindrina: This is the first time that my dad has threatened to hit El Chavo.
      Prof Jirafales: Really?
      Chilindrina: Yes, he always hit him without warning.
    • At the end of another episode, Chilindrina finds El Chavo crying and he confesses that he had thrown, dirtied and stomped on Quico's clothes, Chilindrina tries to calm him down saying he had it coming as he and his mother had done the same to her father's clothes, but Chavo adds that Quico was still wearing them (cut to a beaten and unmoving Quico laying on the floor).
  • Cheers:
    • In one episode, Woody refuses to bowl because he once injured a bowling alley maintenance man, leaving him unable to work there anymore:
      Woody: The last I heard, he was a clown at children's parties.
      Sam: Well, that's not so bad, is it?
      Woody: He wasn't invited to them.
    • When Sam and Henri are talking about their sexual exploits, Sam possibly inverts this:
      Henri: So, what's the strangest place you've ever made love?
      Sam: That would be the back of a car.
      Henri: That doesn't sound so strange.
      Sam: No, it was on the assembly line.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show:
    • In "Sally and the Lab Technician", Laura tries to matchmake Sally with her cousin Thomas, a lab tech, despite their differing personalities. While discussing how Sally spent the entire evening launching zingers at her prospective boyfriend, Rob tells Buddy that near the end of dinner, she told him he was witty and should do a lecture tour. Buddy can't see what the problem with that is, until Rob reveals that Thomas stayed quiet the whole evening.
    • In one episode, Rob tells Laura that during a high school dance, a girl slapped him for telling her that her slip was showing.
      Laura: Well, is that all?
      Rob: Well, I said it over a loudspeaker.
  • In Dinosaurs episode "Switched at Birth", after it looked like Baby's egg had been mixed up with a child belonging to the Molehills, the Sinclairs and the Molehills swap the kids. Within a single day, Mrs. Molehill can't stand Baby's behavior and brings him back, saying one of the things he had done was spitting up on her carpet. Earlnote  tries to tell her that a lot of toddlers do that. Mrs. Molehill then screams that Baby had eaten the family cat first.
  • Dog with a Blog episode "How I Met Your Brother And Sister."
    Tyler: You're the girl who got me detention!
    Avery: You're the kid who did a bike jump in school and ran over my backpack!
    Tyler: You can get another backpack.
    Avery: I was wearing it!
  • This exchange between Laura and Steve about Myra in Family Matters
    Steve: Last week, she signed up for my chemistry class!
    Laura: Well, what's wrong with that?
    Steve: She doesn't go to our school!
  • Frasier: Frasier and Niles need to fake their opinion on a play they haven't seen, and Frasier reminds Niles that it didn't go so well for him last time, when Niles had claimed another play had third act problems. Niles asks him why he considers that to be such a blunder, and Frasier replies that the play had no third act at all.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
    • Carlton complains one time about a long drive:
      Carlton: Will, you had us stop to talk to every pretty girl.
      Will: So?
      Carlton: We were on the freeway!
    • In "Blood Is Thicker Than Mud", this trope is used again when Carlton's Hell Week is more extreme than the others':
      Will: Carlton, you seem to be getting it worse than the rest of us.
      Carlton: Come on, Will, everyone had to re-tar the parking lot.
      Will: Yeah, but the rest of us got to wear shoes.
    • In "PS I Love You", Uncle Phil tries to defend Judge Robertson's erratic behavior to avoid running against him:
      Vivian: I asked him to pass the salt. He told me "Go long".
      Phil: I'm sure he was just joking.
      Vivian: He broke a window.
  • Gilligan's Island: Gilligan is going off on another one of his stories about the people he grew up with and mentions that Skinny Mulligan got in trouble for giving the teacher an apple. When the Skipper says people don't get in trouble for doing that, Gilligan reveals that the apple had a worm.
  • A large number of the gags in The Golden Girls used this trope. In one scene, Dorothy is under the impression that they have no cheesecake left because Blanche ate it all to cope with the stress of discovering gray hairs.
    Dorothy: Didn't we buy one yesterday?
    Blanche: Yes, but I found two gray hairs.
    Dorothy: Blanche[...]finding two gray hairs is no reason to eat a whole cheesecake.
    Blanche: I found the two gray hairs in the cheesecake.
  • In the episode "The Samurai" of Highlander, Hideo Koto warns Duncan about what happens to foreigners like him in Japan.
    Hideo: No matter, you are barbarian. If they see you, you will be crucified.
    Duncan Yeah...
    Hideo: And then BEHEADED!
  • Home Improvement:
    • Jill has Tim take a test of how good a husband he is from her magazine and he scores in the eighties range...out of three hundred. Tim retaliates with his own test, giving her a score in the nineties.
      Jill: Outta what?
      Tim: Seventy million!
    • Tim and Al get arrested for scalping hockey tickets and Tim asks another guy at the police station what he was arrested for. The guy says he gave somebody a tattoo.
      Al: That doesn't sound so bad.
      Guy: Well, he didn't want one.
  • In one episode of Hooperman, the title detective finds out that a criminal he put behind bars is getting out.
    Hooperman: He gave me the finger.
    Betty: So? A lot of criminals do that.
    Hooperman: Yeah, but he cut his off and mailed it to me.
  • iCarly: When Freddie is talking about his newfound freedom after his micromanaging overprotective mother is too busy taking care of Lewbert after being injured twice.
    Freddie: Last night, slept with my socks on.
    Sam: So?
    Freddie: Just my socks.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia uses this when Frank tries to make people think he's a veteran.
    Frank: Look, I didn't go to Vietnam just to have pansies like you take my freedom away from me.
    Dee: You went to Vietnam in 1993 to open up a sweatshop.
    Frank: And a lot of good men died in that sweatshop!
  • In one episode of Leverage, on the subject of Parker's past:
    Eliot: Parker, where'd you learn to drive?!
    Parker: Before I stole cars, I was a getaway driver.
    Hardison: Before?! You stole cars when you were twelve!
  • Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn has this at the beginning of "Quad-ventures In Babysitting" while they're complaining about their babysitter that stayed the night:
    Anne: How was your night with Tanya?
    Ricky: We were up half the night.
    Dawn: She sang us lullabies.
    Anne: Well, that sounds sweet.
    Dawn: About all the things they put in sausages.
  • In one episode of Night Court Bull discusses a defendant who's accused of performing surgery without a license. Turns out it was also without anesthetic, or permission.
  • Red Dwarf
    • Rimmer in the episode "Marooned," when he learns Lister lost his virginity at age twelve:
      Rimmer: The only thing I lost when I was twelve were my shoes with the compass in the heel and the animal tracks on the soles. Porky Roebuck threw them in the septic tank behind the sports ground. I cried for weeks. (Beat) I was wearing them.
    • When Lister learns the prison satellite will analyze his mind for any crimes he's committed in the episode "Justice," he's worried about going "scrumping" as a kid. Kryten assures him that the satellite will hardly care about stealing apples, and Lister clarifies that he and his mates scrumped cars. He also worries about the time he took stuff from a hotel. Again, Kryten tries to reassure him, but Lister explains it wasn't towels, it was all the furniture.
  • In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody season 1 "Dad's Back", when Carey gets mad at Kurt for making their home a mess and letting Zack and Cody watch a horror movie:
    Kurt: I know, you're mad.
    Carey: No, no, I was mad when you sold our car to buy a new guitar. I was mad when you came home from the playground with the wrong twins.
    Kurt: It was an honest mistake.
    Carrie: They were girls.
  • The Suite Life on Deck. Models come on the boat in one episode, so Zack suggests to Marcus they throw a party. Marcus's response:
    Marcus: If we throw a party and Mr. Moseby finds out, he'll make us clean the propeller—while it's on.
  • That's So Raven: The subplot for "Don't Have a Cow" sees Cory and William's trick-or-treat expedition ruined when William's working remote costume sets off every remote-controlled device in town.
    Cory: All we got was a stupid pack of breath mints.
    William: And three pennies.
    Cory: They threw those at you.
  • Three's Company:
    • One episode starts with the trio dancing to music. A neighbor calls the police to complain about the noise.
      Police Officer: She's also upset because she can't get her husband off the roof.
      Jack: Well, she can't blame us for that.
      Police Officer: Oh, yes, she can. He's up there with binoculars, watching these girls dance.
      • Moments later, Chrissy realizes that the police officer is actually a distant relative of hers, Jay Garfield, and invites him to stay for coffee. He declines, as he would get in trouble with his Sergeant.
      Jay: If the Sarge found out I was on a social call, he'd go through the roof.
      Chrissy: But we haven't seen each other for so long, I'm sure he'll understand.
      Jay: Not Sergeant Hamilton. He's had it in for me ever since I lost something once.
      Chrissy: What did you lose?
      Jay: My patrol car.
    • Inverted when Mr. Furley says that he's written many Strongly Worded Letters to his brother Bart, complaining about not being provided with enough funds to maintain the building. When the tenants are surprised that Mr. Furley would stand up to his brother that way, Mr. Furley says that if Bart doesn't shape up soon, he's going to start mailing them.
  • True Jackson, VP, when Oscar and Amanda are discussing why Amanda keeps losing assistants.
    Oscar: You made your last assistant pick up your dry cleaning.
    Amanda: So?
    Oscar: It was in Canada.
  • You Can't Do That on Television: The 'not-so-harmless' punishment version occurs in one sketch when Lance tells one of the kids to remove his shoes as he is grounded. The kid takes off his shoes but says that being barefoot won't stop him leaving the house. Lance says that he misunderstood, and that now he has removed his rubber soled shoes he is 'grounded' and then hands him a live electric cable, leading to Harmless Electrocution.
  • Zoey 101: Quinn is arguing with her dorm advisor and Zoey and Lola ask her what's wrong. Quinn tells them that the advisor put her in room 36D. They don't see why that's so bad, then Quinn tells them there is no room 36D note .

  • A common joke structure in The Goon Show> One example:
    Neddie: How did you know he was dead?
    Grytpype-Thynne: He's been lying on his back for three days.
    Neddie: That doesn't mean a man's dead.
    Grytpype-Thynne: In this case it did. <Beat> He was on the bottom of the lake.

  • Next to Normal: The song "There's A World" is a slow, calm "Somewhere" Song, where the singer is telling someone about a place where they can go where they will be happy. In context, the song is actually about the embodiment of a mental illness convincing a woman to slit her wrists.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Stretching Room portraits in The Haunted Mansion start seemingly innocent. Then the portraits slowly stretch to reveal something bizarre, and then something terrifying before the Ghost Host does his "There's always my way" line.
    • The classic group:
      • There's a lady...walking a frayed tightrope...over an alligator's jaws.
      • A distinguished official...wearing no trousers...standing on a powder keg being set alight by a candle.
      • An old woman...sitting on a tombstone...of the husband she murdered.
      • A businessman...on the shoulders of another man...on the shoulders of another man waist-deep in quicksand.
    • Phantom Manor's original portraits were of Melanie Ravenswood, with the same effects:
      • Melanie having a picnic with her ants raid the picnic...along with a rattlesnake, scorpion, spider and beetle.
      • Melanie holding a a boat...about to go over a waterfall.
      • Melanie picking roses...from above a tombstone...from which a zombie skeleton is emerging.
      • Melanie outside...wading through a a water monster reaches for her foot.
    • Phantom Manor's 2019 portraits start as portraits of Melanie Ravenswood with her first four suitors. Then Melanie is erased from them and they stretch:
      • Barry Claude...sitting on a tree branch...missing one of his shoes...while an angry bear and her cub roar at him from below.
      • Sawyer Bottom...straddling a log...being sawed in half by a huge industrial buzzsaw.
      • Captain Rowland Falls...riding in a rowboat...about to head over a huge waterfall.
      • Ignatius "Iggy" Knight...standing atop several crates of TNT...and a barrel of dynamite being licked by flames.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts has a very dark version of this. A minor plot throughout the game is the pursuit of the Ansem Report, written by a man who was studying The Heartless. Across the game, Sora and his friends gradually collect the odd-numbered Reports, which offer insights into an individual who is curious and concerned about these dark beings. The last boss before the whole game increase in difficulty is Ansem himself (possessing Sora's friend Riku). On the return trip to that world, you obtain the even-numbered Reports. These reveal that he made the Heartless via deliberate experimentation with darkness itself, was willing to expose living beings to them, realized that they were after hearts of both people and worlds, started manufacturing Heartless en masse, and voluntarily turned himself into a Heartless in order to help the Heartless find what they're looking for. For better or for worse, the second game reveals that 'Ansem' was a stolen name, and the guy responsible was unrelated to the wise ruler that the name belonged to.
  • Tales of Symphonia has an optional scene where all of your party members (including the ones you'd need to deliberately put off the sidequest for) take a test that Genis has been challenged to. Lloyd's score is 25 points, and he remarks that it's the best score he's ever gotten. Turns out the test is out of 400. Sheena is the only other party member to score less than 100 points.

  • Freefall: Sam Starfall made a list of everything that tried to eat him before he got a complete environment suit. Winston reads it and discovers one item on the list is papilio rutulus - the western tiger swallowtail butterfly. Sam clarifies that technically, it was the caterpillars that found him tasty.
  • In Girl Genius, Agatha tries to reason with a ravenous intelligent locomotive by asking it what it wants:
    The Beast: What do I want? I want to travel the world and see the rich diversity of wonders which fill it—
    Agatha: Oh, now that sounds—
  • In Greasy Space Monkeys, Lieutenant Ash recognizes the monsters that Nathan is describing to the Captain. He says that long ago, his species designed a creature to be a fast, stealthy Living Weapon that could wipe out squads of soldiers effortlessly...and that Nathan has encountered the creatures that ate them.
  • Irregular Webcomic! after Steve is bitten by a snake:
    Terry: That's a red mamba! The 301st most venomous snake in the world!
    Jane Goodall: 301st? That can't be too bad then.
    Terry: The top 300 all live in Australia.
  • Kick the Football, Chuck. does not outwardly state that Charlie Brown has cancer. Without this context many of the strips look like normal Peanuts comics.
  • Nodwick: When pushed, Piffany threatens to give a man religious literature every day for the rest of his life. In suppository format.
  • Questionable Content: Inverted in this strip:
    Momo: I think Faye is doing her a lot of good.
    May: They gonna fuuuuuck
    Momo: You have been saying that about every group of two or more people we have seen today.
    May: Are you tellin' me that bus full of soccer players isn't gonna bang the limousine full of models?
    Momo: That was a traffic accident!
    May: They were pouring champagne on each other!
  • In Schlock Mercenary, when Kevyn (who had earlier prepared a contingency plan to assassinate King Lota; a secret plan, he thought) suggests modifying a particular set of Credomar's systems, Lota angrily responds that:
    Lota: Those systems house Lota's consciousness. They are not to be tampered with. More to the point, in consideration of your previous assassination plan, should any of you so much as approach those systems Lota would be required to fire you.
    Kevyn: Okay, I get it.
    Lota: Out an airlock.
  • In Tales of the Questor, the Duke of Fenwyck came out of a clash with The Fair Folk having the fae princeling's entire accumulated hoard transferred to him. He knew as soon as he saw it that the treasure in that room would spread Gold Fever over a three-duchy radius (and his formerly-destitute duchy had no real army), but when he asked his seneschal how much there was, he was told that what he was seeing was just some of the stuff they hadn't shifted to the dungeons yet.
    Duke: Ah, good. I'd hate to think this rising feeling of panic wasn't entirely justified...
  • In Vexxarr, the plant AIs' sentence for Vexxarr's theft of services is forcing him to degauss their ship's engines. Vexxarr comments that hard labor seems a bit lenient for them, and is told that when he is finished they will activate the engine.
  • The Whiteboard:
    • After Doc repaired a player's thoroughly trashed paintball marker:
      Customer: Wow, it looks great. What all did you have to replace?
      Doc: Well, I checked it carefully, and...see this fitting? And the trigger? Those I kept. Everything else I had to replace.
    • After one spectacularly well-turned-out match, Bandit told Bruno that he'd run out of propellant, having only gone in with one small tank. Bruno suggested that now was the time to get out another, and Bandit said that he had only brought one 12-gram for the day (usually he doesn't need more) and that he'd had to finish the match using a blowgun.
    • One player suspected that another was shooting hot, because his paintballs really stung and left big welts...even after punching through a metal bunker.

    Web Original 
  • From Fat, French and Fabulous, Janel accuses Jessica of being far too into cannibalism as a topic and that eventually she's going to start offering recipes, to which Jessica responds that she has a cannibal cookbook close at hand. Not because she carries it on her person, no, she was just recording near the kitchen today.
  • This trope stuctures most stories on FMyLife.
  • At some point in Noob, Arthéon and Omega Zell overhear their guildmate Sparadrap trying to form a Pick-Up Group for a quest from afar. Due to the fact that Sparadrap is actually walking around while making an announcement, he eventually bumps into them:
    Sparadrap: Don't you want to help me with my quest?
    Arthéon: Let me remind you, we've already done that quest. You were with us!
  • Inverted with the "Ordinary Muslim Man" and "Successful Black Guy" Image Macro; the first caption is about something stereotypically bad about the Muslim or the black guy, and the second caption turns the first one better in context.
  • In the Team Four Star version of Dead Zone, Garlic Jr. berates his henchmen for bringing back a dragon ball with the toddler it was on. Son Gohan then says his father will come for them, the mooks just laugh saying that they ganged up on and beat Piccolo. Gohan says his father fought against him and won as well, and he was alone.
    Garlic Jr.: Oh God your father's Goku. Oh my God you morons stole Goku's kid?! How?! How did you steal Goku's kid?!
    Cinnamon: Well, first we beat up his wife...
    Garlic: Oh my shit.
  • Texts from Superheroes once had Spider-Man volunteer for street patrol on Black Friday:
    Spiderman: Great. Aunt May plans on shopping and I need to keep an eye on her.
    Iron Man: You're a good kid.
    Spider-Man: Thanks. I really want to see what she's getting me for Christmas.
    Iron Man: You're a mediocre kid.
    Spider-Man: If she gets me DVDs I'm making her return them. I keep telling her, Blu-Rays or nothing!
    Iron Man: You're not a good kid.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Drama in Adventure Time. When Finn asks Marceline why she's on such bad terms with her demonic biological father Hunson Abadeer, she bitterly says that he ate her fries, which sounds hilariously petty. Later on you learn he did this back when Marceline was a young kid... which was right after the nuclear apocalypse. Marceline was a little girl probably on the verge of starvation, both scavenging to survive and mourning over her recently-deceased mother. And Hunson still felt the need to steal his daughter's food, likely the first food she had found in days, despite being an immortal demon that does not have to eat. Needless to say, with that context, Marceline's anger sounds a lot more justified.
  • In the season four finale of Archer, ISIS must stop Captain Murphy from launching nerve gas missiles on the Eastern Seaboard.
    Lana: So how many men does Murphy have?
    Cecil Tunt: About two...
    Lana: That's not so bad.
    Cecil Tunt: ...Score. Two score. So, forty.
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Rival Busker", Anya does not want to marry her fiance because his family is normal while her family does bad things. Molly tells her every family has issues, until Anya reveals her family deals with murder, arms dealing, and fixing the Oscars.
  • Futurama gives us The Not-So-Harmless Punishment variety in the pilot episode "Space Pilot 3000":
    Fry: What if I refuse?
    Leela: Then you'll be fired.
    Fry: Fine!
    Leela: ...out of a cannon, into the Sun.
  • In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield dreams he and Jon have switched roles with him being the owner and Jon being the cat. One of the things he deals with is a neighbor coming to the front door to tell him Jon tried to eat his "Fern".
    Garfield: Well, that's no big deal. A cat trying to eat a plant.
    Neighbor: Fern is not a plant. (holds out a bandaged bird on his finger) She's a toucan!
  • In Mike Tyson Mysteries, "Jason B. Sucks", Mike and the gang go to Jason B.'s house where Mike demands Jason B. to take down his negative review on his mystery business.
    Jason: Why? You ruined my life!
    Mike: Oh, my goodness! Exaggerate much?
    Jason: My wife died because of you.
    (Marquess and Yung gasp)
    Mike: Well, in that case, maybe it's not exaggerating.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Midnight Towboy", Flanders comes to Homer to pick up the church bus he towed...with the children still in it!
    • In "Marge In Chains", Lionel Hutz has an Oh, Crap! moment when he finds out which judge their case is to appear before:
      Lionel Hutz: Uh-oh, we've drawn Judge Snyder.
      Marge: Is that bad?
      Hutz: Well, he's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog.
      Marge: You did?
      Hutz: Well, replace the word "kinda" with the word "repeatedly", and the word "dog" with "son."
    • The "Hungry Are The Damned" segment from the first Treehouse of Horror special does a wildly Zig-Zagging Trope version when Lisa finds an alien cookbook called 'How To Cook Humans'. The alien blows some dust off the show the title 'How to Cook For Humans'. Lisa blows more dust off for 'How to Cook Forty Humans'. The alien finally blows the last bit of dust off to reveal 'How to Cook for Forty Humans'. According to the DVD commentary, Matt Groening wanted a final reveal for the book to be 'How to Cook for Forty Humans and Then Eat Them'. Luckily, he was overruled.
    • In "D'oh-in' In The Wind", Mr. Burns' instructional video featuring Homer doesn't go so well:
      Homer: Well, there were script problems from day one.
      Lisa: It doesn't look like anyone read the script.
      Homer: That was the problem.
    • In the "Treehouse Of Horror XVI" segment "Survival Of The Fattest", Homer turns to cannibalism, eating Professor Frink, after just six hours of being hunted by Mr. Burns.
      Lenny: There's bananas in that tree up there.
      Homer: Oh, they look a little green.
    • In "Dangerous Curves", Homer is driving with Marge and her sisters, where he argues with them.
      Patty: I can't believe Homer ruined another family picnic.
      Homer: Hey! Everybody pees in the pool!
      Selma: Not from the diving board!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "No Free Rides", after SpongeBob finishes his boating test.
    SpongeBob: Okay, Mrs. Puff. How many points was that?
    Mrs. Puff: Six.
    SpongeBob: Whoooo! And how many points do I need to pass?
    Mrs. Puff: Six.
    SpongeBob: Whooooo...
    Mrs. Puff: ...hundred.
    SpongeBob: Wha?
    Mrs. Puff: Six hundred. You need six hundred to pass. You got six.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Omi loses the Heart of Jong to Jack and Wuya. Master Fung tries to cheer them up:
    Master Fung: While we should endeavor to win all the Shen Gong Wu, it is not the end of life as we know it if we occasionally lose one. So, Omi, which Shen Gong Wu did you lose?
    Omi: The Heart of Jong.
    Master Fung: (Gasps, turns deathly pale) But that means...the end of life as we know it!


Video Example(s):


Judy Made the Players Cry

Before Judy was kicked off her curling team, she revealed that she made the other players cry. But not the other team, her own teammates, including her coach.

How well does it match the trope?

4.17 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / WorseWithContext

Media sources: