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Metaphorgotten / Live-Action TV

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Tortuously drawn-out metaphors in live-action TV.

  • An episode of 8 Simple Rules features the following exchange:
    Paul Hennessy: Thank you very much, Mrs. Connelly. I'm sorry for all this. It's just that, uh, you know, I'm a concerned parent. Father bear, as it were, and I just want the best for my little cubs so that one day they can spread their wings and fly.
    Mrs. Connelly: Yes, I too would like to see a bear cub spread its wings and fly.
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  • The Babylon 5 episode The Exercise of Vital Powers has Garibaldi arguing with Wade about whether or not he is going to put on a blindfold before his first meeting with their seclusive wealthy employer, William Edgars.
    Wade: I ever tell you I have a master's in literature? Don't take it personal, but you don't seem the type. Everything is illusion, Mr. Garibaldi. Concepts of language, light, metaphor. Nothing is real. Except this blindfold.
  • Better Off Ted does this a lot.
    • When Linda is meeting an ex-boyfriend for coffee:
      Linda: I gotta go meet Don at the Who Cares What People Think Café, where if someone sees something that they want, they just have it, and it's the best thing they've ever had. Because that meal's been practicing yoga for seven years. In case you missed it, by "that meal" I mean me. I'm bad at metaphors, but I'm great at sex.
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    • There's also:
      Veronica: It's time for this fawn to strap on a machinegun, spread its wings and fly! <!— "fawn" as in young deer, or "faun" as in wood-sprite or satyr? —>
      • Although, this is technically not a metaphorgotten; the end of the episode revealed that Veronica honestly didn't know what a fawn was, and was just stringing ideas together as she came up with them.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, the Casanova Wannabe Howard tries to kiss The Chick Penny while she was trying to make him better. She hits him. When his friends ask what happened, his answer goes along the lines:
    Penny: He slipped and fell.
    Howard: Yes, I slipped and fell. In the bathroom. Bounced right off the tub.
    Penny: Yes, now he knows what bathtubs are capable of doing when you don't treat them with respect.
    Howard: Yeah. They sucker punch you when your eyes are closed.
    • Sheldon on Penny's singing voice:
      Sheldon: If cats could sing...they'd hate it too.
    • Raj tries to convince Leonard to ditch his date with his sister and go on a mission with the guys to track down the guy that hacked Sheldon's World of Warcraft account:
      Raj: Bros before... my sister.
    • This one is admittedly understandable, as Penny was drugged at the time (which is why it's lampshaded):
      Penny: You know people think you are this weird robot man who's so annoying all the time and you totally are. But then it's like that movie Wall-E at the end. You're so full of love and you can save a plant and get fat people out of their floaty chairs.
      Sheldon: Thats a fairly laboured metaphor but I appreciate the sentiment behind it.
  • In Black Books
    • When an illiterate thug reminds Bernard he only has a few days to teach him to read:
      Danny: ...if I can't read by Friday, you'll both be brown bread. Buttered. With Harry. On the boat.
      Bernard: [sobbing] Who's Harry?! I don't even have a boat!
    • When Manny works at Goliath Books, his manager makes one:
      Evan: You see, selling books is a game. It has rules. And you need to learn those rules and get serious about them, because it's not a game.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Angel, like Buffy below, inevitably inherits this. From "Home".
      Fred: You're like the MacGyver of Wolfram and Hart!
      Knox: You're not wrong! I can make practically anything out of a...a fully equipped, multi-million-dollar...lab.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer examples:
      • In "Ted", Buffy lets her annoyance at her mother's new boyfriend creep into a strategic discussion about killing vampires:
        Buffy: Vampires are creeps.
        Giles: Yes, that's why one slays them.
        Buffy: I mean, people are perfectly happy getting along, and then vampires come, and they run around and they kill people, and they take over your whole house, they start making these stupid little mini pizzas, and everyone's like, 'I like your mini pizzas,' but I'm telling you, I am...
        Giles: Uh, uh, Buffy! I-I believe the... subtext here is, is, rapidly becoming, uh, uh, text.
      • Willow has a particularly beautiful bit in "The Freshman":
        Willow: But here, the energy, the collective intelligence, it's like this force, this penetrating force, and I can just feel my mind opening up — you know? — and letting this place thrust into and spurt knowledge into... That sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in.
      • "Homecoming". Willow expressing her guilt about kissing Xander.
        Willow: We were so guilty about "the fluke" that we overcompensated helping Cordelia and spun the group dynamic out of orbit. Now we're just this meteor shower headed for Earth...
  • Michael's very first line on Burn Notice slips into this.
    "Know what it's like being a spy? Like sitting in your dentist's reception area twenty-four hours a day. You read magazines, sip coffee, and every so often, someone tries to kill you."
    • Though arguably, he's not derailing a metaphor — he's literally saying that being a spy is like sitting in a waiting room where someone occasionally tries to kill you.
  • In this sequence on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert tries to explain a metaphor made by John McCain comparing Middle-Earth to the debt ceiling debate, using The Lord of the Rings figurines. Each one he brings out strains the metaphor a little more, until:
    "One more thing. [brings out a full-scale sword replica] This, of course, is Aragorn's sword Andúril, Flame of the West, reforged from the Shards of Narsil, given to me by Viggo Mortensen. Now, this has nothing to do with the metaphor; I just want to remind everyone that I have this."
  • Community:
    Britta: Raising him means letting him follow his dreams.
    Abed's Father: Dreams are for sleeping!
    Britta: You don't know that!
    Abed's Father: It's clinically proven!
    Britta: So's polio!
    Abed's Father: You lost me!
    • Troy and Abed are mesmerized by the Hot Librarian:
      Troy: I wanna be a book. She could pick me up... flip through my pages... make sure nobody drew weiners in me...
  • Corner Gas has a few.
    • One example:
      Davis: A billy club is a cop's best friend.
      Karen: I thought you said a gun was a cop's best friend.
      Davis: Well, a gun is more like a cop's lover. There's some things you tell your gun that you'd never tell a lover. And sometimes your lover and your best friend don't get along. Or maybe you go out with one and the other gets mad at you 'cause you didn't go out with it!
      Karen: You're divorced, right?
    • Another one:
      Hank: Check and mate! The hunter has become the hunted! The fox has become is...catching himself...
  • Coupling does this a lot.
    • Susan's father is talking to Steve about Steve's habit of "soloing" (singing in the shower). Steve takes it as a sexual metaphor, which leads to him saying this: "If music be the food of love, then masturbation is just a snack between meals."
    • Also when Steve accidentally sees Sally naked, and she starts a metaphor of how she is like Australia:
      Sally: Far away, vastly uninhabited, and filled with areas of great danger.
      Steve: Oh. I thought it was about having a lot of convicts.
      (Sally gives Steve a "The hell?" look)
      Steve: No, I understand. I'm welcome in your Melbourne, or your Sydney...
      Sally: Yes.
      Steve: ...but, not in your bush.
    • Patrick discussing monogamy while pretending to be involved with Susan as part of competing with a rival.
      Patrick: I don't share my woman. It's like finding the right tennis racket. Once you've got one you really like using, you keep on using it until it falls apart and you have to get a new one. Only more emotional.
    Though, this being Patrick, it's arguable that he didn't forget the metaphor at all, and means what it sounds like he means.
  • On one episode of Covert Affairs, Henry Wilcox doesn't waste much time getting here. Quoth Henry, when informed of all the collateral damage his scheme caused: "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few skulls."
  • The Daily Show:
    Jon Stewart: It's a great day when the president of the United States says on national television that gay people should no longer be regulated to only planning other people's weddings. It's not right. It's like putting a cat in charge of the Goldfish Toss game, it's not fair. You're just torturing the cat; just let him eat the fish or move him to Down a Clown. That's a better game for the cat. What are we talking about, I forgot already.
    • Also, he said that when the USA's enemies start trouble, they are waking a sleeping grizzly bear, one that could kill them easily but is feeling tired, getting low on salmon, and would rather that other large mammals pitch in, for example the panda, which just lies around all day and buys up the grizzly's debt.
  • In the Douglas Adams-inspired detective comedy Dirk Gently, this dialogue:
    Suspect: "Are you sayin' something's fishy, Mr. Gently?
    Dirk: Are YOU saying there's nothing to catch? In this river?
    Suspect: I'm sayin', your waders, have got an hole in 'em.
    Dirk: W-Well, I'm very adept with...a puncture repair kit.
    Suspect: ...What?
  • Doctor Who does this quite a few times.
    • Steven Moffat did this a lot in his episodes (which, given the length of the Coupling section above, is perhaps unsurprising).
      • "Blink" is the Trope Namer for the Timey-Wimey Ball trope. Sally remarks that the sentence started out well and the Doctor admits that "it got away from me". Whether he means the sentence or the ball is ambiguous.
      • "The Time of Angels" has:
        "A needle that looks like hay, a hay-like needle of death. A hay-like needle of death in a haystack of... er, statues. No, yours was fine."
      • "The Pandorica Opens" on the virtues of buying another half hour's breathing space... not so much meta but definitely forgotten: "There are fruit flies that live on Hopperton 6, that live for twenty minutes and they don't even mate for life." [pause] "There was going to be a point to that. I'll get back to you."
      • In the 2011 BBC Comic Relief Special, "Space", the Doctor mentions to Rory:
        "We're just entering conceptual space. Imagine a banana. Or anything curved. Actually, don't, because it's not curved or like a banana — FORGET THE BANANA!"
      • "The Day of the Doctor":
        "See, Clara, they're stored in the paintings in the Under-Gallery. Like Cup-A-Soups! Except you add time, if you can picture that. Nobody can picture that. Forget I said 'Cup-A-Soups'."
      • In the Twelfth Doctor's first episode, "Deep Breath":
        "Question; you take a broom, you replace the handle, and then later you replace the brush, and you do that over and over again. Is it the same broom? Answer; no, of course it isn't, but you can still sweep the floor, which is not strictly relevant, skip that last part."
    • From "The End of Time" (paraphrased):
      "The Time War was time-locked; sealed inside a bubble — it's not a bubble, just think of it as a bubble..."
    • From "Victory of the Daleks", in reference to the Daleks: "There isn't a sincere bone in your body [without pause] There isn't a bone in your body."
    • "Arachnids in the UK": In response to Robertson telling her it's too dangerous:
      The Doctor: I eat danger for breakfast. [to Yaz] I don't, I prefer cereal. Or croissants. Or these little fried, Portuguese... Never mind, it's not important.
  • In The Fast Show, this was mostly averted with Swiss Toni, whose metaphors tended to have hilariously offensive Insane Troll Logic:
    Washing a car, Paul, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman: you've got to caress the body, breath softly and gently on her, and give every inch of it your loving attention. And make sure you've got a nice wet sponge.
    Putting up a tent is very much like making love to a beautiful woman: you unzip the door, put up your pole, and slip into the old bag.
    • However, when Swiss Toni started to lose his self-confidence, the trope is played absolutely straight:
    Answering the phone, Paul, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. You... pick up... the receiver... speak loudly and clearly... oh, and always state your name... (To himself) You're losing it Toni...
  • Father Ted: When Mrs. Doyle pleads with Ted not to replace the broken tea-making machine, by espousing the pleasures of making tea by hand:
    Mrs. Doyle: The playful splash of the tea as it hits the bottom of the cup. The thrill of adding the milk and watching it settle for a moment before it filters slowly down through the cup changing the colour from dark brown to a lighter brown. Perching an optional Jaffa cake on the saucer, like a proud soldier standing at attention next to a... giant cup of tea.
  • From the Firefly episode "Ariel":
    Mal: [looking through the window] The next time you decide to stab me in the back... Have the guts to do it to my face. note 
    • And in "Jaynestown":
      Simon: You're like a trained ape. Without the training!
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "It's a Wonderful Lie", Will's friend tells him about a party. His friend tells him he should be careful because he's not single anymore and there's going to be a lot of women.This trope happens when they have a verbal exchange involving a metaphor about bees:
    Friend: But be warned, there's gonna be females up in there. Girlies swarming like bees!
    Will: Let 'em swarm on, bruh, because I got the queen.
    Friend: Okay. But once the party starts buzzin', you gon' wish your stinger was free.
    Will: The honey is always sweeter at the hive.
    Friend: But you know bees got to go from flower to flower.
    Will: Oh yes sir, but once they start pollinating, then they... what had happened and... Look can we just talk please?
  • Used at least twice in the horror parody Garth Marenghis Darkplace.
    • Most episodes end with Doctor Rick Dagless giving a conclusion to the story in monologue form. One of the most memorable is the classic first episode ending:
      Dagless: The doors of Darkplace were open. Not the literal doors of the building, most of which were closed. But evil doors. Dark doors. Doors, to the beyond. Doors that were hard to shut because they were abstract and didn't have handles. They were more like portals really.
    • Also used during the first episode at a funeral.
      The Padre: Larry Renwick will be remembered for his wit, and laughing eyes. And for being, above all, a good friend. I'm sure we all feel that he exploded too young, but, the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Sometimes, he'll come in at an angle. Other times, he can hover, then swoop. Sometimes he can even come in from beneath, like a worm, or mole. The Lord, it's his call how he chooses to maneuver.
  • In The George Lopez Show, George is telling his niece to stop being soft. He says this:
    "You gotta keep your heart hard, like... like a lobster. Then the only way for people to get in is to crack your shell and get at your meat with a tiiiiiiiny little fork."
  • Get Smart. A Tale of Two Tails:
    Max: There's an old Chinese proverb that goes: Life is like a pair of chopsticks. You grab them, you, er... that's not it.
    Max: Life is like a shirt. If you lose your buttons, you...
    Max: Let's see, I've got it. Life is like a kumquat.
    Agent 99: That's it?
    Max: Life isn't a kumquat?
  • Often part of the humor on Gilmore Girls.
    • At one point, Lane advises against giving your boyfriend a novel of Czech surrealism, as it would be equivalent to him giving you a football even though you like books and he's the one who like sport. She concludes that Kafka's Metamorphosis is a Czechoslovakian football.
    • When Lorelai is frustrated because a guy she dates is unclear about how serious he wants the relationship to be, she compares it to not knowing what your date wants at a Steak & Lobster place, because if he gets steak and you get lobster you can share.
    • When a pregnant Sookie freaks out about whether the child will like her, insisting that it's not a duvet cover, Lorelai reassures her that duvet covers notoriously like whoever they go home with, just like golden retrievers.
    • Taylor argues that a tick sucks the equivalent of a 150 pound man drinking 9000 gallons of human blood.
    • Trying to figure out how she feels, Lorelai lands on "sashimi".
    • TJ claims that the word "okay" is to him what glue is to a horse.
    • Lorelai doesn't want Rory's college application process to be a breeze, because breezes mess up your hair.
    • Lorelai is disappointed that Luke didn't tell her he was moving, as she felt that together they were a dog with a nice collar and a fancy leash.
  • On Glee, the new football coach, Shannon Bieste, does this quite a bit:
    Shannon: You watch your tone with me, missy. You crap on my leg, I'll cut it off!
    • Also, Sue "threatening" Will:
    Sue: I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then on some dark, cold night, I will steal away into your home, and punch you in the face!
  • The Golden Girls: Sophia's thoughts on lesbianism.
    Sophia: Jean is a nice person. She happens to prefer girls instead of guys. Some people prefer cats instead of dogs. Personally I'd rather live with a lesbian than a cat. Unless the lesbian sheds, then I dunno.
  • Gossip Girl does this a few times.
    • This dialogue snippet:
      Rufus: I dated a girl like Serena, once. Actually, a lot like Serena. And girls like that might be challenging. That's true. And they're complicated, and enigmatic. And usually worth it. And the only way you know for sure is to jump it with both feet.
      Dan: What happened with you?
      Rufus: I swam for a while. Till I drowned.
      Dan: Oh. Well, thanks, Dad. That's a great story.
    • Blair, after having been lured away with Chuck on an all-night trip to find Georgina, which ended with Blair driving off in Chuck's limo after finding out he didn't need her to come along in the first place:
      Serena: It doesn't make sense!
      Blair: Feelings never do. They get you all confused. Then they drive you around for hours before they drop you right back where you started.
  • Grace Under Fire: When (smart, sarcastic) Grace's ex-husband Jimmy (dumb) is telling their children what far away part of the States he's moving to, he uses his his body to represent the country. Grace quips "Don't ask him where Florida is." When one of the children asks where they are on the map, Jimmy places a hand on the right side of his chest and says they'll be there, right next to his heart. Grace moves his hand to the other side, "across the Mississippi", to which Jimmy replies, thanks, he was never good at geography.
  • This was done almost Once an Episode on Home Improvement with Tim trying to repeat Wilson's metaphorical advice from memory, and... failing.
    "You know Mark Twain? Scared to death of the Village People."
  • One of the many varieties of snark available on House is the intentional Metaphorgotten.
    • At one point in season 4, Cuddy is badgering House to hire a new team to replace his old one. His response?
      House: You have sex before you get married. You test-drive a car before you buy it. I can't hire a team based on a ten-minute interview. What if I don't like having sex with them?
    • Another example, this time a subversion:
      Stacy: If I wasn't married to Mark, I'd be on you like red on rice.
      House: But rice isn't... oh, you.
    • In season five, after House drives Cameron to resign as Cuddy's temporary replacement (Cuddy wanted to spend time with her new baby), Cuddy secretly marks the elevators "out of order", forcing House to use the stairs.
      House: Elevators keep crashing. Is Mercury in retrograde, or what?
      Cuddy: Elevators can be capricious. Sometimes it just seems like they're out to get you.
      House: Why do you think the elevators would be out to get me?
      Cuddy: I don't know. Maybe they wanted to take time off to spend with their little dumbwaiter. But then they had to leave it at home with an elevator sitter because you drove the replacement elevator to quitting because you're incapable of listening to anybody but me. That's just a theory.
      House: You're wrong. I don't even listen to you.
  • How I Met Your Mother has several of these.
    • There's:
      Barney: I can't hit on women in my own bar. Remember the old Barney? He was a lion. The king of the jungle; stalking whatever prey he chose. Going in for the kill.
      Ted: You've got a whole meatlocker at home full of corpses, don't you?
      Barney: Now look at me. Declawed. Neutered. What was once my jungle is now my zoo and I am forced to mate with the same old lioness again and again and again, while families pay to watch.
      Ted: Yeah, this metaphor has really fallen apart.
    • When Marshall and Lily are trying to decide whether or not they should try to conceive a child:
      Lily: Well, Marshall was going to come home early from work so that we could... have dinner... but then he couldn't make it, and it got me thinking - what if I'm not ready to... have dinner?
      Ted: Well, I had an early lunch, so I'm ready for dinner.
      Lily: Dinner is a baby!
      Robin: Lily, that's horrible!
    • Barney anticipating finally having sex with Nora:
      Barney: Hey kid. You know how your mom won't let you have ice-cream till after dinner, but the waiting kinda makes it taste better? Well, I've been waiting two months for that bowl of ice cream.... and tonight, I'm going to have sex with it.
    • Marshal talking about Ted's girlfriend who cheats on him every time they get back together:
      Marshal: Ted is Charlie Brown always trying to kick the football, and Karen is Lucy who pulls it away at the last second and has sex with it.
    • A subtle one from Ted's boss (regarding Ted's newest task of designing Styrofoam trees): "This isn't just about trees, Ted. This is about life. And sometimes, in life, you have to get the trees just right, or you're fired."
  • Series 6, episode 5 of Hustle gave us obnoxious, management-speak-spouting mark Mervyn Lloyd:
    As far as I'm concerned, moving forward: young is the new old. People who don't just think outside the box, they rip up the box, tramp on it, fly it around the room for a bit and put it back together again. As a circle.
  • The Inbetweeners: "Women are like fairground rides, son. Fucking mental..."
  • In The IT Crowd:
    • Douglas has a very good one.
      "Well, I'm the boss. Head Honcho. El Numero Uno. Mr. Big. The Godfather. Lord of the Rings. The Bourne Identity. Er... Taxi Driver. Jaws. I forgot the question quite a while back. Who are you, again?"
    • Moss has one when Roy criticizes his plan in Series 2:
      "Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame, set at gas mark 'egg on your face'!"
    • Then there's Mr. Reynholm's lecture about stress.
      "I am declaring war. A war on stress! Stress is a disease and I am the cure. I am a doctor - no, wait, I'm a general, and I'm still fighting a war against disease - no, stress!"
  • From Jeeves and Wooster:
    Spode: Because he's a butterfly, who toys with women's hearts and throws them aside like soiled gloves!
    Bertie: Do butterflies do that?
  • The Madam Secretary episode "There But for the Grace of God" has one of Liz's staffers tell her there are conspiracy theories developing around the Iran regime change attempt and that if it takes hold "you're gonna be spending way too much time talking the people off the ledge."
    Liz: Well, we'll cross that ledge when we get to it.
    Blake: Uh, Madam Secretary, I just got word that Senator Caruthers is on his way to your office. I told him you weren't available. He doesn't seem to care.
    Liz: [to her staff] This is not the ledge. This is a thing before you get to the ledge, which is still a long way from the ground. I'm officially retiring this metaphor.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    "Women. They're just like the woods-mysterious. Full of wolves."
  • Man to Man with Dean Learner: Dean begins pontificating: "It's like that philosophical question: If a tree falls in the forest, and I'm not there, and it makes a sound, but I don't hear it, but someone records it and plays it back to me at a dinner party, does that mean I'm still in the forest? And if I am, then why can't I just take a piss in the garden rather than queuing for the toilet? And that's if the toilet even exists; I've been trying to use it all fucking night. I'm starting to doubt the existence of the toilet quite frankly at this stage of the proceedings. Get a portaloo is what I'm saying. If you're going to have a party of that size, get a portaloo. 'Cause I don't want to spend my entire fucking evening in the corridor. And if philosophy can solve those questions, then it's worth it. But thus far it can't. So I'm fucking busting, and what's Plato doing about it? Nothing."
  • Shaun Micallef was fond of this on The Micallef Program:
    • One particular example that springs to mind, from an opening monologue:
      Shaun: You know, political humour and satiricalness is very much the bag I'm into laughwise. I see an injustice in our society and I pounce on it like a cougar, ripping it open like a fawn and eating it whole. Now, the suits here tell me to cool it, but I tell them to back off. 'Cause I'm calling the shots here and it's my arse on the line. And if there's a fawn around selling off public housing, or pushing economic rationalism when the cats aren't digging it, or doing other bad things, then this fawn is going down. Down as far as it can burrow. And if the public want to see me kill and eat a burrowing fawn on national television, then by Godfrey they shall!
    • It's common to his role as "Fabio, the handsomest man in the world", along with Disorganized Outline Speech.
    • He's described his more recent show Talkin' 'bout Your Generation as "QI meets It's A Knockout, goes out with each other for a few weeks, then QI gets dumped and takes up with Spicks and Specks, but awkwardly runs into It's A Knockout again a couple of months later and they have an affair. Spicks And Specks finds out, shoots It's A Knockout in a jealous rage and goes to jail"
  • Mock the Week: Zoe Lyons, who is very much a lesbian, stepped up for "Scenes We'd Like to See - Unlikely Chat-Up Lines" with "I like my men like I like... women."
  • Modern Family:
    • Jay and Phil arguing over confronting problems.
      Jay: No, see, this is exactly why we sweep things under the rug. So people don't get hurt.
      Phil: Well, yeah, until you sweep too much under the rug. Then you got a lumpy rug. Creates a tripping hazard. Open yourself up to lawsuits. Boy, you can go a really long time without blinking.
    • In "Earthquake", when Claire is trapped in the bathroom after an earthquake, conveniently giving Phil time to fix something he had told her he had earthquake-proofed weeks ago.
      Phil: You know what they say, sometimes, when God closes a door... he closes it so hard your wife can't get out.
    • In "Come Fly With Me", Phil describing his relationship with his father-in-law.
      Phil: The thing about me and Jay, is our relationship's always been stuck in that primal place where it started. You know, he's the old silverback protecting his females. Then along comes this younger, stronger gorilla swinging in, beating his chest. You know naturally, the ape-ladies come running, presenting their nice scarlet behinds. Papa ape wants to stop all that, but he can't. You know, that's life. I'm not the enemy. The enemy is poachers.
    • When Claire and Phil are trying to convince Haley not to move in with Dylan, we only see the tail end of Phil's speech.
      Phil: Next thing you know, you're an old woman in rags, trudging through the shattered ruins of civilization!
      Haley: Wait, I'm confused. How did Dylan get the nuclear launch codes?
      Phil: In the robot war!
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Inverted by Randy who, after he allowed two convicts to walk into an ice cream shop unsupervised, was offered the 'bull in a "Chinese" shop' analogy:
      "How could you even get a bull in a Chinese shop? The doors would have to be huge. And even if you managed to get him in there all he would do is start wrecking... oh."
    • Also:
      Gwen: Look, just forget about this okay. It's not your fault, you were just the straw that broke the camel's back.
      Earl: But that's the thing! I’m the straw. Without the straw, the camel wouldn’t have a broken back.
      Gwen: Yes, but if you remove the straw from the camel’s back, that doesn’t fix it. The camel is still dead.
      Earl: [beat] Camels can go forty days without water…
  • My So-Called Life: "Life of Brian" involves Brian, Graham, Angela, Delia the new girl, and a metaphor involving wallpaper that covers (pun intended) most of the episode.
  • This line from NCIS: Los Angeles:
    Callen: Sam sees the glass as half-full. I see the glass as half-empty; that's why we make such a good team. Kensi, on the other hand, drinks straight out of the bottle, Nate wonders why it's a glass and Eric usually breaks the glass by putting his feet on the table.
  • Not Going Out:
    Lee: Yeah, you can talk the talk and you can walk the walk, but can you... talk and walk?
  • The Office (US) is notorious for using derailed metaphors:
    • In the episode "The Coup", Michael describes Dwight's attempt at betrayal and loses track of his point:
      "Business is like a jungle, I am like a tiger, and Dwight is like the monkey that stabs the tiger in the back with a stick. Does the tiger fire the monkey? Does he transfer the monkey to a different branch? (eyes light up) Pun! There is no way of knowing what is going on inside the tiger's head. We don't have that kind of technology."
    • One episode has Dwight attempting to explain his relationship with Michael:
      "We're like one of those classic famous teams. He's like Mozart, and I'm like... Mozart's friend. No... I'm like Butch Cassidy, and Michael is like Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart, you're going to get a bullet in your head. Courtesy of Butch Cassidy."
    • Jim in "The Delivery, Part One", re: Pam's decision to not leave for the hospital to deliver her baby until the contractions are five minutes apart:
      Jim: "So the plan was seven minutes, but we're calling an audible. Because that's her call. 'Cause she's the quarterback. I'm just the left tackle who happened to get her pregnant."
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • In "Born & Raised", Leslie goes on Wamapoke Public Radio, an Affectionate Parody of NPR, to promote her book. The host then confuses her with a long metaphor.
      Derry Merbles: Leslie, could one say that a book is nothing more than a painting of words, which are the notes on the tapestry of the greatest film ever sculpted?
    • Ron Swanson gives us a variation on the common "Teach a man to fish" metaphor:
      "Give a man a fish, and he feeds for a day. Don't teach a man to fish, and you feed yourself. He's a grown man; fishing's not that hard."
    • In another episode, Leslie tells Ben why she included a write-in option in an online government poll, with unfortunate results:
      Leslie: That's how democracy works! I'm not a dictator. If I were a dictator, I would throw the Douche in jail! I would be a very strong dictator, and you would be my bodyguard and the leader of my army...
      Ben: I realize this is a serious situation, but thinking of you as a dictator is getting me really turned on: is that wrong?
      Leslie: No.
      [They make out]
  • In Peep Show:
    • Jez is railing against his aunt's decision to give his religious uncle a secular funeral during his eulogy, except that he tries to compare Jesus to the Irish musician Enya, capped off by claiming "Enya died for our sins".
    • In the episode where Sophie has her baby Super Hans compares it to seeing the channel tunnel. "And then imagine a fucking huge baby coming out of there!"
  • Pixelface: In "The Problems of Dr. Nigari", Kiki says that taking an exam is exactly like dancing because it's all about "planning ahead, knowing your next move, and wearing a spangly leotard".
  • Shawn Spencer in Psych frequently comes up with metaphors. Problem is, they either make no sense in relation to what he's talking about, or he veers off in his meaning and... loses it.
    • One example:
      Shawn: Pack it in, pull the plug, shut it down, leave the dead meat in the freezer, and put on your Sunday best, 'cause it's Arbor Day, baby!
    • Or from the Disco episode:
      Shawn: You are no longer a cop. And unless you plan on going back to the academy, and climbing the high wall, and doing the obstacle course where you shoot the bad guys but not the old lady with the sack, or the blind guy with the cane, or the cute little squirrel with the bushy tail and the big fat nut... It started off well.
    • It's not just Shawn. In the episode "There's Something About Mira", Mira's mother offers us this gem:
      • Which gives Shawn the opportunity to reply with
        "That makes no sense. None whatsoever."
  • Pushing Daisies is absolutely filled with this sort of thing and related tropes, due to the eccentric speech patterns of most of the characters. One typical example comes when Olive and Chuck are discussing their scheme to get Chuck's aunts to start swimming again.
    Olive: Phase 2 has experienced a hiccup.
    Chuck: The kind of hiccup that goes away if you drink a glass of water or hold your breath?
    Olive: No, the kind of hiccup that keeps you up for days on end till you go crazy and you give away all your cherished mermaid mementos and refuse to get back in the pool again.
  • Michael's speech right at the end of Queer as Folk: "People are like snowflakes: every one special and unique... and in the morning you have to shovel them off them driveway."
  • The Celebrity Jeopardy sketch in Saturday Night Live:
    Sean Connery: What's the difference between you and a mallard with a cold? One's a sick duck, and I can't remember how it ends but your mother's a whore.
    • Chris Kattan as Antonio Banderas on The, How Do You Say? Ah Yes... Show sketch was prone to this kind of thing:
    She will be back. For she is like a bird. And I am like a tiger. And when we make the sex, we will produce a bird... ger... Well, you know what I’m saying.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Frank Constanza says to his son's boss: "You couldn't smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a dame... I lost my train of thought."
    • When George's mother catches him masturbating and insists he see a psychiatrist, he complains "If everyone who did... that had to see a psychiatrist..." then veers off realizing he has no idea how to end that thought. At prompting from Jerry he just says "Whatever!"
    • When Kramer accuses Jerry of being prejudiced toward dentists:
      Kramer: You're a RABID anti-dentite! Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs: "Hey! Denty!" Next thing you know you're sayin' they should have their own schools!
      Jerry: They do have their own schools!
  • Spaced:
    • In the Pilot episode, Tim gives his cheating ex-girlfriend an elaborate metaphor for why he's leaving her.
      Tim: You can't dangle the bogus carrot of possible reconciliation in front of my face whilst riding some other donkey.
    • When Daisy discusses her recent breakup with her now ex-boyfriend:
      Daisy: In the end, our relationship was just like a sandwich toaster. You know, you just forget you've got one. And it just sits there on the top of the cupboard collecting a layer of greasy fudge. And even if you do see it you just assume it's broken, you think if it's working I'd be using it all the time, but you don't and it just sits there. Then one day, you get an overwhelming desire for toasted sandwiches, you know? And you get it down and it works, and you can't believe it, you know? And then you make every kind of toasted sandwich there is, you have toasted sandwich parties. [...] And then as quickly as the desire comes, it just goes. And then you put the toaster sandwich maker away. And, you know what?
      Tim: What?
      Daisy: You don't miss it.
      Bilbo: So what you're saying is "Don't hide the toasted sandwich maker away, use him regularly and you'll get the most out of him"?
      Tim: No, she's saying "Chuck your boyfriend, have a sandwich".
    • Tim's classic comparison between waiting for a possible reunion with his ex-girlfriend and masturbation:
      Tim: I just had a moment of clarity, you know, I woke up. It's like... you know when you have an orgasm on your own? (Daisy looks increasingly disgusted and uncertain during the following) You know, you're sort of lying on the sofa watching some porn movie you bought on a drunken lonely night in Soho, and you're lying there and everything's going really great, you're getting totally turned on by these absurdly graphic images, everything seems so right, and suddenly - phht! Bingo! You wake up. And you're lying there sweating, desperately looking for the tissue which you know is still in your pocket, and the remote control which is somewhere on the floor, and it's like walking in on yourself, you know? It's just like "What you doing?" That's how I felt tonight feeling my heart miss a beat every time the door opened. "What the fuck are you doing?"
      Daisy: Well... that's love, isn't it? Load of old wank.
    • When Tim tells Daisy he thinks his ex might want to take him back:
      Daisy: What do you mean, you have a "funny feeling"?
      Tim: I can read her like a book.
      Daisy: Never judge a book by it's cover.
      Tim: He who dares, wins.
      Daisy: Look before you leap.
      Tim: Do you believe in life after love?
      Daisy: That's a song.
      Tim: Shit.
  • Spin City:
    • At one point, Michael and Caitlin are arguing over their delayed Relationship Upgrade, using recent negotiations between two city departments as the metaphor. Later on, when they make up, Michael tries to continue the metaphor by stating that "the department would really like... to have sex with you."
    • We also have Nikki explaining how she got into accounting: "Numbers are uncomplicated. Numbers don't lie. And they don't say they're coming over and then never call, so you go out for a coffee and see them walking up the street with another woman..."
  • In Stargate SG-1, O'Neill at one point gets into a sort of metaphor battle with a village leader. When O'Neill says "Birds of a feather," the leader doesn't get it, having not heard it before. O'Neill tries to explain that it's about "flocking" and "togetherness", before admitting that he isn't sure himself.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock, trying to confuse some robots: "Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell BAD."
  • Star Trek: Voyager features an instance of metaphysical metaphorgotten. In their first Q episode, in order to help Janeway understand the nature of the conflict shes judging, Q and Quinn agree upon a metaphorical representation of their home. That works fine. But in a follow up episode, the Q are at war, Voyager ends up visiting the Q Continuum which is represented as a battlefield with factions wearing the American Civil War era regalia. Q weapons are represented a muskets and shotguns. The metaphor breaks down when Voyager crew members are somehow able to pick up and wield these weapons and pose a real threat to the Q. Also, when Q is "wounded" by a Q-gun, Janeway treats the "wound" as though it were a normal human shotgun wound.
    • The episode seems to suggest that humans in the continuum gain access to some of the Q's power, such as being able to use their weapons against them to lethal effect. Following this logic, Janeway's treatment of Q could be a metaphysical representation of her harnessing some other latent Q power to heal his injuries. Or, it could just be shoddy writing. YMMV, of course.
    • To be frank, Voyager seems to do this quite often. In the second episode of the show, "Parallax", they explain a highly complicated spatio-temporal problem by using a metaphor - and then solve the problem in the metaphor and then re-apply the metaphorical solution to reality. Don't try this problem-solving strategy in real life, ever.
  • In season one of Supernatural, an argument between Dean and his ex-girlfriend got phorgotten:
    Cassie: Whenever we get, what's the word, "close", anywhere in the neighborhood of emotional vulnerability, you back off or make some joke or find any way to shut the door.
    Dean: Well, that's hilarious. See, I'm not the one who took that big final door and slammed it behind me.
    Cassie: Wait a minute...
    Dean: I'm not the one who took the key and buried it.
    Cassie: Are we done with this metaphor?
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look gives us this announcement about an upcoming football match:
    Announcer: Coming up mid-week! The giants of Charlton play host to the titans of Ipswich... making them both seem normal-sized!
  • From The Thick of It:
    Dan Miller: If you're gonna make an omelette, you're going to have to have some frank and honest discussion with the eggs.
  • Titus has:
    Titus: [holding a glass of water] If sex were water... Tommy hasn't had sex in two years. [shrugs and takes a drink]
  • Ugly Betty has: "You'll always be compared to that first motorcycle. Especially when it's shoving its tongue down your girlfriend's throat."
  • Narrowly averted in an episode of Warehouse 13.
    Ms. Frederick: You took a shot in the dark.
    Arty: We hit that target dead center!
    Ms. Frederick: With a small caliber bullet!
    Arty: His caliber is very lar— [beat] You know what, I'm done with this analogy.
  • The Weekly with Charlie Pickering: In a season 7 episode, Frank Woodley is interviewing a scientist about the urban heat trap effect. On being told that one way to alleviate the effect is to plant vegetation on buildings. Frank likens this to a 'hobbit house', which the scientist agrees with. However, Frank then attempts to expand the Tolkien analogy and ends up totally derailing himself, wondering if Tolkien elves can interbreed with Santa's elves while the scientist looks on blankly.
  • On the 21st season premiere of Wheel of Fortune, Pat and Vanna were discussing at the end of the show just how long they had been hosting it. Pat then quipped, "It's like riding a bicycle: I'm all sweaty and my rear end hurts."
  • Xena: Warrior Princess, "The Royal Couple of Thieves":
    Autolycus: Yeah, you see, a woman's chastity is like a new hat. A beautiful thing that's...
    [Xena appears]
    Autolycus: ...going to kill me.
  • In an episode of Yes, Prime Minister, Prime Minister Hacker's political adviser makes a case for being returned to her usual office (from which she has been unceremoniously removed by the machinations of Sir Humphrey) by using some objects on the table, including a teacup, an ash-tray and a saucer, to construct a rough map of the interior of 10 Downing Street to prove its strategic worth. Hacker agrees, and summons Bernard to have the adviser moved to her office "between the tea-cup, the ash-tray and the saucer." Bernard, who was not present during the initial metaphor, is as confused as you'd expect.
    Jim Hacker: The saucer is the gents' loo!


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