A character expresses his displeasure for an idea by claiming a preferred alternative — except that alternative is clearly something the average person would find unthinkably undesirable, usually subjecting oneself to pain. This is mainly a Comedy Trope, deriving humor from the exaggerated, ridiculous description of unusual torture and possibly from Cool and Unusual Punishment.
Compare I Have to Wash My Hair and I Need to Go Iron My Dog as more mundane excuses. Contrast Fate Worse than Death as a more serious comparison. Anything but That! is another negative (over)reaction, though usually to threats. I'm Thinking It Over! is the related comedy trope where two lopsided alternatives are presented, and the character takes far too long to choose between them.
- Jeff Foxworthy has a bit about how people imagine southerners in white-collar professions, noting that the Southern accent is "not the world's most intelligent-sounding accent", including this doctor:
"A'right, now what we gonna do is, saw the top o'your head off, root around in there with a stick an' see if we can't find that dadburned clot."
"No, thanks, I'll just die, okay?"
- A Hellblazer comic subverts this: a couple are arguing, with the man saying that he'd rather shove red-hot needles in his eyes than talk to her family any more. A while later, due to demonic influence, he does just that, and tells her in a completely normal voice that he was wrong: this is much worse.
- In issue #2 of the (New 52) Blue Beetle series, at Brenda's quinceañera, La Dama suggests that Brenda should find a boyfriend.
Brenda: But I'm not interested in any boys I know.
La Dama: Oh come on. He looks handsome enough.
Brenda: Joey Gonzalez?! I'd rather crap broken glass!
La Dama: Well that was ladylike...
- In an issue of Teen Titans, Changeling traps Terra by wrapping around her as a snake during a training session. He offers to let her go for a kiss, but she says she'd rather kiss a wookie. Gar says that it's out of his range.
- In one Spider-Man story that takes place right after the Acts of Vengeance, the villains he defeated during the arc team up for revenge against him; after they think they've killed him (they haven't naturally) Trapster hits on Titania, suggesting they go out and celebrate (with "you, me, a bottle of vino?"; her reply is that she'd "rather gargle battery acid".
- Jon has gotten this repeatedly in Garfield. It was a kind of Running Gag for a while.
- Similarly, Michelle does this to Curtis sometimes when he asks her out.
- In one Peanuts strip, Snoopy played a mixed doubles tennis match with his partner Molly Volley, a girl notorious for her Hair-Trigger Temper. In the final strip, he was invited to another match. His reply? "I've had distemper and I've played the mixed doubles. I'd rather have distemper." (Ironically, he would be her partner again, and it would be even worse, seeing as one of their opponents was "Crybaby Boobie", who complained about everything, literally.)
- In Painted in the Worst Light Snape is unable to eat porridge of any variety.
Snape: It's an intolerance. It's not an allergy, but I'd rather eat nails. It wouldn't feel any different.
- In Season of Change a post-fifth year Harry would rather be subjected to the Cruciatus Curse than spend yet another summer with his relatives.
- In The Golden Age a number of supposed Muggleborn are informed they were the product of rape. One anonymous witch is extremely bitter about her parentage in her written reply.
It might have made all the difference when I was at Hogwarts, but now I would rather have hot needles stuck in my eyes than accept charity from Lucius Arsehole Malfoy.
- In The Best Revenge Snape needs to get a Christmas present for Charity Burbage.
He would rather stick needles in his eyes than set foot in some god-awful be-ruffled establishment full of witches' furbelows.
- In Old West, Rattlesnake Jake tells Delilah Rangler not to accept a bribe from his rival Irvin Worst, and she doesn't need to be told twice.
Delilah Rangler: Please, sugar. I may be a murderous criminal, but I ain't stupid. Plus, takin' money from Irvin Worst would mean I'd have to suffer him staring at my tits. I'd rather screw an exhaust-pipe.
- Knights of the Founders:
And, of course, if he was given the choice, he'd much rather chew off his own arm than go and stay with Aunt Marge, Ripper, and her other bulldogs — all of whom, thanks to lots of reinforcement from Marge, hated Harry with a passion.
- eXtra power twin:
Neville: If you came to us and asked us nicely, we would have considered giving you some tips. But what did you do? You came to us, called us losers, demanded us to help you and now you're threatening us. I'd rather be fed to a Venomous Tentacula than to help you.
- In the song "On the Open Road" from A Goofy Movie
All in all, I'd rather have detention
All in all, I'd rather eat a toad
And the old man drives like such a klutz
That I'm about to hurl my guts
Directly upon the open road
- From Shrek the Third, we have a pair of college girls having a conversation, with one of them saying, "And then I said, 'I'd rather get the black plague or get stuck in an iron maiden than go out with you!'"
- In Brave, during an explosive argument with her mother, Merida shouts "I'd rather die than be like you!"
- In Toy Story 3, the toys try to escape the daycare by sneaking out through the garbage chute, but their path is blocked by Lotso and his henchmen, who threaten to throw them in the dumpster if they don't stay with them and be part of their "family". Jessie responds with: "This isn't a family! This is a prison! I'd rather rot in this dumpster than join any family of yours!"
- Recess: School's Out: Miss Finster would rather eat playground dirt than go back to be with Benedict.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show has a dramatic example when Edd and Eddy have a falling-out after one cruel joke too many.
Edd: I'd rather face my consequences, Ed, than wander aimlessly with a so-called friend!
- In Ever After, Marguerite and her mother make plans for her to wear a dress which belonged to Danielle's deceased mother to the masquerade ball. After walking in on Marguerite about to try on the dress, Danielle angrily declares "I would rather die a thousand deaths than to see my mother's dress on that spoiled, selfish cow!"
- In George of the Jungle, Ursula's mother is trying to drive George away from Ursula.
George: So you no want Ursula to love George?
Mom: I'd rather have my tongue nailed to this table every morning at breakfast.
- A dead-serious Played for Drama example in Star Trek (2009). When Nero's ship is caught up in the black hole created by the Red Matter, Kirk (against Spock's better wishes) offers a lifeline: to show that humans are decent enough to give an enemy a chance. Nero's reply?
Nero: I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times. I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you.
Kirk: You got it. (to Sulu) Arm phasers. Fire everything we got.
- Happens in High School Musical when Zeke tries to ask Sharpay out.
Sharpay: I'd rather stick pins in my eyes.
Zeke: But wouldn't that be uncomfortable?
- Happens in Singin' in the Rain when Don kisses Lina for a film scene after learning that she got Kathy fired from her job because she knew he liked Kathy:
Lina: Oh Donny! You couldn't kiss me like that and not mean it just a teensy bit!
Don: Meet the greatest actor in the world. I'd rather kiss a tarantula.
Lina: You don't mean that.
Don: I don't— Hey Joe, bring me a tarantula!
- Lockout: The leading man, Snow, initially refuses the call to save the president's daughter with the line "I'd rather castrate myself with blunt rocks."
- In the aftermath of getting a dick farm branded on his ass on Jackass 2, Bam Margera has this to say:
Bam Margera: I'd rather rip my dick off and throw it in the river than to do that again. God damn.
- In A Christmas Carol Scrooge suggests that the indigent go to prisons or workhouses instead of him giving to charity. The person he's talking to says "Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
- Dave Barry once wrote in a column that he "would rather undergo vasectomy via Weed Whacker than attend an opera."
- Variant: In The Dresden Files: Summer Knight Harry informs his literal Exposition Fairy Bob the Skull about how his latest client is Queen Mab of the Winter Court. Bob says something to the effect of "Here's where I ask you why you don't try a safer profession, like administering suppositories to rabid gorillas."
- In Tomi DePaolo's book Helgas Dowry, the eponymous troll maiden comes back after earning her own dowry so she can afford to marry. However, in the process, she's learned that her intended doesn't love her and is only interested in marrying wealthy. She tells him she'd rather wander the world forever (the penalty for being an unmarried troll maiden) than marry him. (Fortunately, she winds up being able to take a third option.)
- Roger Ebert's review of Seven Days in Utopia began, "I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again."
- Red Dwarf: Lister bluntly informs Rimmer he'd rather drink his own diarrhea, or anyone else's for that matter — every hour on the hour for the next fifty years — than spend the rest of his life having to put up with him.
- In Happy Days, Potsie asks a girl to do something romantic with him, and she retorts, "I'd rather catch diptheria!"
- Burn Notice: Andre Dekker, one of the Villains of the Week in "Unpaid Debts" and a black market courier, tells Michael he would sooner cut his own throat than allow anyone to interfere in his deliveries.
"Do you think I would hesitate to cut yours?"
- Babylon 5: At the end of the first season, faced with going into the council chamber and ceding all claim to a sector of space to the Narns, Londo comments, "I think I'll go stick my head in the station's fusion reactor; it would be less painful. And after a while, I might even come to enjoy it."
- In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj is about to lose his work Visa and is in danger of deportation, so Sheldon offers to let Raj work for him. (Not with him, for him.) Raj says he'd rather swim naked across the Ganges River with paper cuts on his nipples and die a slow agonizing death from infection than work with Sheldon. Then he takes the job.
- In the fifth season of Chuck, Morgan, who's lost bits of his memory and is trying to regain them by watching his old favorite movies, in this case Star Wars, says he'd rather claw his eyeballs out than hear any more of Jar Jar Binks.
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Stefan and Damon are forced to visit their old girlfriend Katherine, who's trapped in a tomb by a spell. She asks them to join her, and Damon says he'd rather poke his eyes out.
- When Klaus is out hunting for werewolves to turn into hybrids, one of them says she'd rather die than become a vampire.
- This is just one of the many snide weapons in the vocal arsenal of Blackadder, particularly in the fourth season.
[George suggests he do a stage act after ripping on Music Hall]
Blackadder: Thanks George, but if you don't mind, I'd rather have my tongue beaten wafer-thin by a steak tenderizer, and then stapled to the floor with a croquet hoop.
- House of Anubis:
- Patricia does this at least once.
Amber Maybe I could find you a boyfriend, too, Patricia.
Patricia: I'd rather chew on glass.
- Eddie does this as well, when Fabian suggests he takes Patricia to the movie on Ancient Egypt. Being that the two of them had a fight just before this, he replies that he'd rather take Victor.
- Patricia does this at least once.
- Married... with Children:
- Al once claimed he would rather have a catheter the size of a garden hose than get a second job to support Peg's shopping.
- In "Buck Saves the Day", he claimed he'd "rather slam my nose in a car door. I'd rather have a proctologist named Dr. Hook. I would rather watch Roseanne Barr do a striptease than take these little booger machines camping."
- When Peg was pregnant, Al stated that he would "rather sleep in a bunk bed underneath Oprah. I would rather engage in a threesome with Roseanne and her really cool husband. I would rather play naked Twister with every one of The Golden Girls than to share a room with that little doody-geyser."
- Voyagers!, "An Arrow Pointing East": When the Sheriff asks Maid Marian how she's enjoying their excursion through the woods, she compares it to eating live lizards.
- The Cosby Show: The regular actors ended up acting out a storybook scene from a story Rudy wrote, where an evil henchman makes romantic advances on the good song leader, and she rejects him:
Henchman: ... And then there's two weeks out of the year that I get to go on vacation and cruise and pillage. And if you played your cards right you could come along and pillage with me.
Song Leader: I'd rather sit on a cactus plant!
Henchman: We could do that, too, if you'd like.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: In "The Piranha Brothers," Luigi Vercotti describes the prospect of having to meet Doug Piranha:
Luigi: Well, I was terrified. Everyone's terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was afraid of Doug.
- Red Dwarf: Kryten is aghast that Lister and the Cat would rather face horrible (if prolonged) death at the hands of Simulants in the slim hope of looting their ship for food rather than live off Kryten's dandelion soup. The Cat states that if it was the option of a Simulant using their ribs as a xylophone, he'd hand them the sheet music.
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: On June 15 2018, Colbert mocks the deleterious work conditions at the White House, and the difficulties of hiring staff. To the question "Interested in a job in the white House?", he jokes that the GMail app offered the auto-suggested responses, "No", "Hell no", and " I'd rather eat a muffin made of broken glass."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's "One More Minute," singing about an ex.
That's right, you ain't gonna see me crying
I'm glad that you found somebody new
'Cause I'd rather spend eternity eating shards of broken glass
Than spend one more minute with you.
- The song "Beg, Borrow, and Steal" by Ohio Express is all about how he'd rather do those three things for a living than go back to his Tsundere girlfriend.
- Stuart Campbell used this in some of his more negative Amiga Power reviews:
- The review of International Rugby Challenge featured a "scientific" comparison of the game with other "most-bad things." The Bosnian war, the Somalian famine, the Rodney King beating, and the depletion of the ozone layer were all judged to be not as bad as International Rugby Challenge, though "Having Electrodes Attached To Your Genitals And Being Flogged Senseless With A Knotted Rope" would probably be just as bad.
- The short review of the Porting Disaster of ThunderJaws included the statement "I'd rather have my liver pierced with a rusty fork and undergo a particularly unpleasant series of rabies inoculations than have to play this quite disgracefully boring and incompetent production-line conversion job again."
- My Fair Lady: In "I'm An Ordinary Man," Higgins says that he'd "be equally as willing for a dentist to be drilling than to ever let a woman in my life," and, in the second verse, that he'd "prefer a repetition of the Spanish Inquisition."
- The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures throws up a randomized message each time the Nerd dies, usually following the template: "I'D RATHER (colorful verb phrase) FROM A (animal's body part) THAN CONTINUE THIS (colorful adjective) GAME!!"
- In a level early in Video Game/Delicious 6: Emily's Childhood Memories five-year-old Emily states that she'd rather be stung by bees than play with the boy next door.
- During the part in Secret of Mana where you get rescued from dying in the desert by the Tasnican Republic sandship and subsequently enslaved by the obnoxious bratty commander, when the Boy and the Sprite find the Girl, the commander is trying to make her serve him, but she's not being very cooperative.
Commander: Massage my back!
Girl: I'd sooner have my gums scraped.
- Nerf NOW!! has Jo called out on his hyperbole when he tries to invoke it in regards to playing Skullgirls.
- Lucas from Ctrl+Alt+Del once described customer service as "like chewing on broken glass, only 100 times less fun."
- Ozy and Millie once had Millie wishing to have a normal family. After realizing how she'd phrased it, she added "Well, okay, I'd rather eat nuclear waste than be like everybody else, but even so!"
- Discussed on The Order of the Stick: "Before meeting Elan, I would never have weighed the pros and cons of being eaten by a dragon."
- There are two serious examples in Blood Runs In The Family: Haley's father Ian would rather rot in prison than let the Order break him out because he thinks Elan is a pawn of his father and manipulating Haley, and Girard's family would rather stay dead than let Durkon resurrect them (as the Resurrection spell tells the target the caster's alignment, and Durkon has the same alignment as the paladins Girard loathed and taught his family not to trust).
- Terminal Lance: Abe has better things to do than his Marine Corps Institution courses. Like nailing his penis to a table.
- In Freefall, a starship inspector is suspicious of how the Savage Chicken was refurbished for flight (by contractors that got paid!) and feels he should investigate Sam further...
Inspector: But that would mean spending more time with you than I absolutely have to. Frankly, I'd rather be dipped in bees. Good bye.
- A regular occurrence with The Angry Video Game Nerd, often in a profane matter. For example:
- In the first Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde episode, he advises to destroy the game instead of playing it, saying, "You'd rather super-glue your asshole shut than play that game. You'd rather drown in gasoline."
- The episode on Back to the Future for the NES included two such lines that became part of the lyrics of the Theme Tune: "I'd rather have a fucking buffalo take a diarrhea dump in my ear than subject them to this horrendous garbage... I'd rather eat out the rotten asshole of a roadkill skunk than play this game, ever again."
- Cranky Steve's Haunted Whorehouse (now hosted on Something Awful) includes a colorfully described "Pain Level" for each awful map reviewed.
- SF Debris:
- He says when reviewing the Stargate Atlantis episode "Duet" that other Atlantis comedy episodes are less painful, "but so is a prostate exam."
- He hated Kannazuki no Miko so much that he said, "If you gave me a choice between watching this entire series again or breaking my leg, I would have to think about it first," and clarified that this was Not Hyperbole in the slightest.
- Joueur du Grenier:
- Fred has this to say about the Indiana Jones franchise and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
JdG: You'll have to cut my balls with rusty shears drenched in vinegar before I'd admit that the fourth movie is part of the saga!
- Also, in JdG: La Revanche for Dragon's Lair:
JdG: I am as eager to play this game than to cut off my own balls with a shovel....
- Fred has this to say about the Indiana Jones franchise and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
- Arkle, host of the YouTube show Shameless Cashgrab, said that his at-the-time recent tooth canal was a less unpleasent experience than watching Film/My Mom's A Werewolf.
- In the Arthur episode "Arthur And The Square Dance", after Arthur spends the entire episode believing that he and Francine are in love, this exchange follows:
Arthur: You don't want to kiss me?
Francine: Are you kidding?!? I'd rather get head lice!
- Montana Max's relationship with Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures is like this. In the episode, "Prom-ise Her Anything", Monty tells Elmyra he'd rather get a lobotomy than be her date. In "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special", he tells her he'd rather eat dog food than kiss her Under the Mistletoe. Both times, he doesn't just say this to her, he yells it to her, really loudly.
- In one episode, a businessman sitting next to the Warners, who pester him and want him to be their "special friend", tells them that "I'd rather be stranded on an island and be eaten by cannibals than be your 'special friend'!" Which is exactly what happens to him at the end.
- In her debut cartoon "Meet Minerva Mink", Minerva listens to her phone messages, one of which is from a nervous Lawrence, asking, "I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me?" Minerva, Breaking the Fourth Wall, replies, "I'd rather chew aluminum."
- In the Bonkers episode "I Oughta Be in Toons", Bonkers mentions that former child star Babyface has an ego so obnoxious, that people have said that they would dance barefoot on the surface of the sun rather than work with him again.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Squidville", after SpongeBob and Patrick accidentally destroy Squidward's house, Squidward tells them that "I would rather tear out my brain stem, carry it into the middle of the nearest four-way intersection, and skip rope with it, than go on living where I do now."
- In "Just One Bite", when SpongeBob asks Squidward if he'd like to try a krabby patty for the first time, he responds "If I were trapped in a well for three days with nothing to eat but that krabby patty, I'd eat my own legs first! (beat) And not just the extra ones."
- In "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful", when SpongeBob asks can he help Squidward, Squidward tells him that "I would rather be beaten to a pulp."
- On Metalocalypse Murderface buys his grandma a new moterized scooter. She tells him that he's going to heaven for it, and Murderface flatly says that he'd rather die than go to heaven.
- In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Albatross", after another fight with Spock, McCoy tells Kirk that if he lands in jail again, Kirk should leave him there rather than sending Spock to effect another jailbreak.
- In Xiaolin Showdown, after Raimundo pulls a Face–Heel Turn and joins Wuya, she makes the same offer to the now captive Clay and Kimiko; Kimikio's response is rather unsubtle, while Clay says he'd "rather kiss the rear end of a very ugly mule."
- In an episode of The Critic where Jay reviews a really junky movie (a parody of Dirty Harry that involves, a dinosaur, robot, leprechaun, and mime, all but the first exploding) Jay unveils a scale that measures the movie in terms of diseases he'd rather have than watch it, which goes past leprosy and "unidentified yellow substance" before settling on spastic colon.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: When Jimmy is faced with the offer of visiting Eustace's place after the former beat the latter in a kite battle, Jimmy says he'd rather gargle liquid nitrogen.
- The Loud House:
- Samurai Jack: In a Season 5 episode, when Jack saves Ashi from a crab creature and expects some gratitude for it.
Jack: You're welcome.
Ashi: I'd be happier as this creature's excrement that be grateful to you!
- BoJack Horseman: Near the end of "That Went Well", when Mr. Peanutbutter receives a visit from his ex-wife about a proposition she wants him to take up.
Katrina: Listen, butt-sniffer, I work for a guy and we're looking for a guy. You're supposed to be this big hero now, so someone brought your name in a meeting and now I have an opportunity for you.
Mr. Peanutbutter: Oh, is it being married to you again? Because I'd rather get euthanized. Spoiler alert for Marley and Me.
Katrina: It wasn't a spoiler until you said the name of the movie.