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You Can't Handle The Parody

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Jessup: You want answers?!
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessup: You can't handle the truth!
— The source material for this trope, from A Few Good Men

You want this trope's definition? You can't handle this trope's definition!

We've all heard this phrase used a million times in a million different ways. Sometimes it's the exact phrase, but more often than not the writer will twist it in some way, just a bit, to impart a little comedy while not compromising the actual quote - like replacing "truth" with "tooth". Or maybe "parody".

The phrase itself comes from the famous rant by Jack Nicholson's character at the end of A Few Good Men. Thanks to Pop-Cultural Osmosis, and particularly this trope, this phrase has become more well known than the actual movie (which is by no means an "unknown" film, nor an unmemorable one).

The original line, as demonstrated in the page quote, was said by two characters. However, many of the parodies will instead be said by one person. This may be because the one-person variation of the quote ("You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!") is often incorrectly believed to be the real line.

A Stock Parody. Compare "Here's Johnny!" Homage for another stock parody of one of Jack Nicholson's roles.

Here is a compilation with a lot of examples.

You can't handle the trope list!

    open/close all folders 

  • Burger King's Rodeo Burger (a cheeseburger with BBQ sauce and 2-3 fried onion rings on it) was introduced in a full-on A Few Good Men parody, with a lawyer questioning Chip from Small Soldiers, who eventually shouts, "You can't handle the Rodeo Burger!"
  • There's a brand of hot sauce called "You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce" that features a Devil making this challenge on the label.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the dub of Digimon Adventure 02, BlackWarGreymon gets this thrown at him when he asks Azulongmon what his purpose is.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Gag Dub Evangelion: ReDeath, Gendo says so to Shinji after he asks him what the "nookie" is.
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC: During the climax of Zero Hour #7
    Deadpool: can't handle the truth!
    Green Goblin: Really? That's the line you use?
    Deadpool: What? It's a classic!
    Green Goblin: It's a cliché at best, bad Nicholson impression at worst.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In the episode "How to Control Freaks", the other ponies lambast Fluttershy for "hogging all the catchphrases." Her reply is "You can't handle the catchphrases!"

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 17 Again (2009), Mike's friend Ned marches into Mike's divorce hearing (which Mike can't show up for because he's been turned into a teenager) shouting "You can't handle the truth!" because it's a courtroom and that's the lawyer phrase he knows.
  • The Big Hit:
    Melvin: The truth?
    Cisco: Yeah, I want the truth.
    Crunch: You can't handle the truth!
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Daffy Duck tries to persuade Kate Houghton not to fire him by saying "I can do voices, listen!" and rattling off a rapid-fire string of impressions, the last of which is a gruff, "You can't handle the truth!"
  • In The Tooth Fairy, Dwayne Johnson plays a bruiser of a pro hockey player whose nickname is the Tooth Fairy. He has a line in tooth-related punny catch-phrases, including "You can't handle The Tooth!" It turns up as a tag-line on the posters for the movie as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick Solomon: You want the truth? You want the truth!? Well, I can't handle the truth!
  • 30 Rock:
    Liz Lemon: You want the truth?
    Kenneth: I can't handle the truth.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine the season 1 finale has this:
    Jake Peralta: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE ME!
    • In The Box, Jake is about to interrogate a dentist and he tells Holt how he plans to use "You can't handle the tooth!" somehow during the interrogation.
  • The Colbert Report:
    Stephen Colbert: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! But I've got oven mitts.
  • Community: One of Pierce's suggestions for ending verbal marketing presentations is by quoting Nicholson films. His is "You can't handle a moist towelette!".
  • Doctor Who episode "Smith and Jones":
    Francine Jones: (yelling at Annalise as she storms out of the pub) You can't handle Quizmania!
  • Farscape. In "Thanks for Sharing", John Crichton is being interrogated by an alien who needless to say has never heard of Jack Nicholson.
    Tolven: I want the truth.
    Crichton: You can't handle the... never mind.
  • Imitated in How I Met Your Mother when Ted found out that Lily had sabotaged six of his relationships. Interestingly, the scene uses several other lines from Jessup's Motive Rant but not "You can't handle the truth!"
    Ted: Did you break up me and Robin?
    Lily: You're damn right I did!
  • The MTV Movie Awards one year had a sketch with the cast of The Brady Bunch in a Brady-themed version of the scene (with Florence Henderson-as-Jack Nicholson-as-Carol Brady on the stand).
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the Red Zone Cuba episode, at one point a general is shown perusing a paper and then setting it down. This prompted Mike to chime in: "I can't handle the truth!"
  • Psych:
    • Episode "Dis-Lodged":
      Shawn Spencer: I want the truth. What really happened to my cat Chairman Meow?
      Henry Spencer: You want answers?
      Shawn Spencer: I want the truth!
      Henry Spencer: You can't handle the truth!
    • The episode "You Can't Handle This Episode" may qualify.
  • The Red Green Show has this exchange after Harold threatens to leave the show:
    Red Green: Harold, you want the truth?
    Harold Green: Yes!
    Red: You want the truth?
    Harold: I want the truth!
    Red: I can't handle the truth!
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce:
    Martha Stewart: You want answers?
    Judge: I think I'm entitled to them.
    Martha Stewart: You want answers?!
    Judge: I want the truth!
    Martha Stewart: You can't handle the truth! Because deep down in places you don't talk about, before the dinner party begins, you use words like centerpiece, garnish, decanting. I use these words as the backbone of a life spent turning me into a billionaire!
  • In December of 1997, Helen Hunt hosted Saturday Night Live and in her opening monologue discussed co-starring with Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets. The cast of the show abruptly interrupted her monologue with their increasingly bad impressions of Jack, until the real Jack Nicholson strolled on stage and told the others to let Helen finish her monologue. When Jim Brueur asked Jack what he thought of his impression, Jack answered (in a casual tone of voice), "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."
  • In one episode of Seinfeld George walks into Jerry's apartment and just says the line with no provocation or set up, apparently finding the line to be so cool that he couldn't wait for an appropriate moment to use it.
  • In an episode of Spin City mayor's staff must write a speech (about a gay pride parade) but waste their time watching A Few Good Men and fall asleep. They end up using lines from the movie in the speech, with the mayor and a reporter reenacting the "you can't handle the truth" dialogue.
  • In the Whose Line Is It Anyway? follow-up series, Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, Colin says the above Tooth Fairy line while talking about some toothless lions. Long story.

  • One of Tooth & Nail Records' compilation albums was titled You Can't Handle the Tooth.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del tells Zeke "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!". Zeke immediately replies "This conversation is over until you decide to stop imitating Jack Nicholson on me."
  • Darths & Droids:
    Poggle the Lesser: Does that conclude your statement?
    Padmé: You want my statement? You can't handle my statement!
  • Parodied in Freefall:
    Florence: Do you want the truth? (about a hurricane about to destroy the building she's in)
    Mr. Kornada: I CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!
  • Sandraand Woo:
Quoted almost word for word when Richard asks what costume Sandra ordered. Turns out he really can't handle the truth and has Marisa removed the memory of him learning it

    Web Original 
  • On film review site Letterboxd, reviews which contain spoilers are often marked with a message that says "This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth."

    Web Videos 
  • At the end of CollegeHumor's Hardly Working sketch "You'll Never Guess" some of the staff are re-enacting the iconic scene from A Few Good Men, so the line of course gets said. They're also not wearing shirts while doing it.
  • The Spoony Experiment: The Spoony One dropped one of these parodies at the end of a vlog post reviewing Survivor Series 2014. He specifically was angry over the debut of Sting, saying that it was lackluster and boring.
    Spoony: We use words like "Kayfabe", "Mark", "Workrate". We use these words as the backbone of a childhood spent loving wrestling. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time or the inclination to explain myself to a mob who rises and sleeps demanding to know my every opinion on every goddamn thing in the world, and then questions the manner in which I provide it!

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar Deleted Scenes 3 (YouTube video):
    Katara: Tell me the truth, how's my hair?
    Aang: You can't handle the truth!
  • One episode of The Critic concerned a remake of A Few Good Men, starring Jack Nicholson, Christian Slater, and William Devane. One shared voice, naturally. That's the joke.
  • Kim Possible episode "Return to Wannaweep":
    Ron Stoppable: You want proof? You can't handle the proof!
  • ReBoot has an episode where the main characters are in a game that require beating the user to a tooth (the goal of the game). The user breaks in at the 11th hour to announce that he he wants the tooth. One of the temporary characters responds with "You can't handle the tooth!"
  • In the Recess episode "The Trial", during which Randall accuses Spinelli of throwing a rock at him during a dirt-clod war, Spinelli reveals that she was helping Miss Finster's cat out of a tree during this time. Everyone glares at Randall for his perjury.
    Randall: What? Why is everyone looking at me? I'm not the one on trial, right, Gretchen?
    Gretchen: Actually, Randall, I too would like to hear the truth for a change!
    Randall: The truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!
  • The Simpsons:
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, the joke is made by Deadpool after Spidey is fed up with his many silly "origin stories".
    Spider-Man: Why aren't you telling me the truth?
    Deadpool: You can't handle the truth!
    Spider-Man: Really?


Video Example(s):


Homer's Movie Quotes Rant

When Marge tells Homer not to talk about their marriage with his night school class, he responds with a series of movie quotes that have nothing to do with anything.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpeaksInShoutOuts

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