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Shaped Like Itself / Live-Action TV

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Examples of Shaped Like Itself where something is described by being compared to qualities it already possesses in live-action television, made by filming real humans with cameras.


  • During the coverage of the Boston bombing, one CNN anchor, Susan Candiotti, made the following astute observation on-air:
    Susan Candiotti: It's as though a bomb had dropped somewhere.

  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: "Dick disappoints me. I find him... disappointing."
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  • All Aussie Adventures' Russell Coight does this a lot:
    "Australia. A land as ancient as it is old."
    "The symbol of this land, the majestic wedge-tailed eagle, named for its wedge-shaped tail and the fact that it's an eagle."
  • On All That, Ed the Good Burger Guy thought that a girl was "as pretty as...as a girl who's pretty."
  • Seattle sketch comedy show Almost Live! had a skit where a man was sent to "Simile School" because he kept falling victim to this trope. "It's as great as... something that's really great!" "It's as slippery as... something that's really slippery!"
  • Arrested Development has GOB Bluth (pronounced "Jobe"). His first name actually stands for "George Oscar Bluth", and he was named directly after his father.
    • In "Shock and Aww", Maeby's failed retaliation to Steve for not allowing Annyong into their high school's Diversity Dance (the real reason was because he didn't attend the school):
      Oh, so you're not letting him in because he doesn't share your perfectly shaped nose, your round eye-shaped eyes, your strong square jaw...
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  • On Arrow:
    Felicity: What's the League of Assassins? And don't say "A league made of assassins."
  • From A Bit of Fry and Laurie (that show with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie):
    "We may be stupid, but we're not clever!"
    • While eulogizing Hugh, Stephen comes out with:
      Hugh Laurie, whose real name was Hugh Laurie, was better known by his stage name, Hugh Laurie.
  • Blackadder: "Disease and deprivation stalk our land like... two great stalking things."
    • And, of course, Mrs. Miggins bakes a pie in the shape of an enormous pie.
    • We can't also forget the Jumping Jews of Jerusalem that err... jump!
    • Two things must ye know about the Wise Woman!
    • Facing certain doom, Blackadder's usual skill for metaphors fails him:
    "It's over, Baldrick. The grave opens up before me like a...big hole in the ground."
    • You twist and turn like a... twisty... turny... thing.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    Raymond Holt: Are we going to add a velvet-voiced drunkard to our caroling group or are we going to lose miserably like a bunch of miserable losers?
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Harmony is worried that Buffy is coming for her, and cries to Spike, "She'll kill me to death!"
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    • One episode is actually called "Killed by Death".
    • The first episode had this exchange:
      Buffy: Dead?
      Cordelia: Totally dead. Way dead.
      Xander: Not just a little dead, then?
      Cordelia: Don't you have an elsewhere to be?
    • The third episode has Buffy, all loopy from a spell, telling Xander "...you're my friend. You're my Xander-shaped friend!"
    • The fifth episode has Buffy and Xander discussing her failed attempt to date her broody classmate Owen:
      Xander: You're acting a little overly, aren't you? I mean, you could have any guy in school.
      Buffy: He's not just any guy. He's more... Oweny.
      Xander: Sure, he's got a certain Owenosity, but that's not hard to find.
    • "Phases" has a bunch of them.
      Willow: Well, last night was the night before the full moon, traditionally known as... 'the night before the full moon.'
      [And also]
      Xander: You're Buffy. Eradicator of Evil. Defender of... things that need defending.
      [Willow reporting that Oz is a werewolf]
      He said he was going through all these changes. Then he went through all these... changes.
    • In the pilot, Buffy tells Giles that she's taken an early retirement, and suggests that if he's so keen on slaying, why doesn't he go slay vampires instead? Giles protests that he's a Watcher and his duty is to... "Watch?" Buffy pipes up.
    • After being inducted into the Scooby Gang ("The Harvest"), Xander and Willow are left discussing their new knowledge while the rest of the school parades around innocently. "It's like we got this big secret!"
      Willow: [beat] We do. That's what a secret is, when you know something other guys don't.
    • Jenny Calender had a similar reaction to Giles demanding to know details of their "secret" date. ("Lie to Me") Unluckily for him, it was a monster truck rally.
    • To Willow's question about when the Reconstruction began, Buffy tries to focus and replies, " Um, Reconstruction...uh, Reconstruction began after the...construction, which was shoddy so they had to reconstruct." ("Angel")
    • In the same episode, Giles sits at Joyce's sickbed and chats about Buffy. Giles confesses that Buffy is having trouble in history class because she "lives very much in the now. And, um... history, of course, is very much about the, uh... the then."
    • In "School Hard", Buffy and Willow scurry around trying to keep Joyce and Snyder from exchanging words. Buffy, seeing Snyder coming, babbles that Joyce hasn't seen the boiler room yet.
      Buffy: "The boiler room is really interesting! What with the boiler being in the room and all."
    • Oz complimenting Cordy's Halloween costume, which consists of a black unitard with cat ears and drawn-on whiskers. "You're like a big cat."
    • Ms. Calender apologizing to Giles for spying on him for over a year. ("Passion")
      Jenny: I know you feel betrayed.
      Giles: Yes, well, that's one of the unpleasant side effects of betrayal.
    • In "Earshot", one of the headlines in the school newspaper reads, "APATHY ON THE RISE — NO-ONE CARES."
  • Brazilian comedy group Casseta & Planeta loves this trope. Examples from their first movie: "the Cup was conquered not only in definitive, but also forever", "women of the feminine sex" and "a just and filled with justice country".
    • Another Brazilian group, "Melhores do Mundo", has "He auto-self-suicided himself!"
  • Sean Hannity once infamously claimed that America is "the single greatest best country that God has ever given man on the face of the Earth". This was given a complex Venn diagram on The Colbert Report to explain how it was neither Department of Redundancy Department nor this trope.
  • The "Comedians of Comedy" tour.
  • From Community:
    Abed: 9/11 was pretty much the 9/11 of the falafel industry.
  • In a 2005 segment on avian flu, The Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry described the disease thusly: "A fatal killer that, when lethal, can be deadly."
  • One episode of Deadwood had this piece of dialogue as Merrick the newspaperman tries to write his newspaper:
    Merrick: "The vaccine will be distributed gratis."
    Al: Free gratis.
    Merrick: "Free gratis" is a redundancy.
    EB: Does that mean "repeats itself"?
    Al: Then leave gratis out.
    Merrick: What luck for me Al, that you have such a keen editorial sense. "Free. Distributed Free. Period."
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Doctor Who and the Silurians":
      Third Doctor: He's just frightened, that's all.
      Liz Shaw: So was I. What's made him like this?
      Third Doctor: Some kind of fear.
    • "The Deadly Assassin". All assassins are deadly, unless they are not good at their jobs (originally, it was titled "The Dangerous Assassin", which is not so much a tautology as a massive understatement). This was parodied with Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death. According to the DVD production notes, Robert Holmes, the story's author, didn't believe the title to be tautological as there were many incompetent assassins. The assassin in question actually manages to kill his target, never a sure bet when the person you're trying to kill may have 13 lives.
      • A character assassin would actually be pretty bad at their job if they were deadly.
    • From the Mockumentary Oh Mummy. Sutekh the Destroyer shows his varied interests, including entomology.
      "Abase yourself! Before me you are nothing but an ant, you... ant."
    • "Rose":
      The Doctor: So it needs a transmitter to boost the signal.
      Rose: What does it look like?
      The Doctor: Like a transmitter! note 
    • "The End of the World": Crossing over with Department of Redundancy Department:
      Rose: They're just so alien. The aliens are so... alien. You look at them... and they're alien.
    • "Bad Wolf": The Defabricator. It … defabricates fabric. (As opposed to fabricating, as in making, fabric, AKA weaving.) Jack calls it out for being Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace": "You're Mr. Thick Thick Thickety Thick-Face from Thicktown, Thickania. And so's your dad!"
    • "Doomsday": Dalek Thay describes the Cybus Cybermen as "Outline resembles the inferior species known as Cybermen." The key word here is resembles: these Cybermen are a completely different type to those the Daleks would have encountered before, since they come from an Alternate Universe.
    • "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky":
      The Doctor: The ATMOS System could make things worse.
      Rattigan: Yeah, well, you see, that's a tautology, 'cause ATMOS stands for Atmospheric Omission System, so you're saying "Atmospheric Omission System System". Do you see, Mister "Conditional Clause"?
    • In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", when Donna is asked what she meant by a giant wasp, she answers, "I mean a wasp, that's giant!" She then expands on that thought: "When I say giant, I don't mean big, I mean flipping enormous!"
    • "Midnight": "That's the headphones for Channels 1 to 36, modem link for 3D vidgames, complimentary earplugs, complimentary slippers, complimentary juice pack, and complimentary peanuts. I must warn you some products may contain nuts."
    • "The Time of Angels": Amy asks River what the Doctor is like in the future, and River says that "the Doctor... is the Doctor". Amy is unimpressed.
  • A variant from The Dukes of Hazzard:
    Bo: We'd better get there quick. Couldn't have been more than a gallon of gas in that can.
    Luke: Really? In a one-gallon can?
    Bo: Yeah, I can't believe I said that, either ...
  • One of the segments on the sketch comedy show The Edge was entitled "What the really bad author is doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE," wherein we would watch a writer compose such similes as "The rat ate the cheese like a rodent devouring fermented cow's milk."
  • Engine Sentai Go-onger: "Why are pathetic people so pathetic?"
  • From Firefly: This exchange:
    Mal: Well, looks can be deceiving.
    Jayne: Not as deceiving as a low down... dirty... deceiver.
  • Frasier: After Frasier's father has suggested the city is like a woman, he snaps, "A city is not like a woman—it's like a city!"
  • In one episode of Friends:
    • Chandler and Joey insist that Rachel and Monica follow through with the terms of a rashly made bet and swap apartments with them:
      Rachel: Y'know what, you are mean boys who are just being mean!
    • In the same episode, Joey tells them why they can't get out of the bet's terms:
      Joey: You bet on a bet, and if you lose, you lose the bet!
  • Game of Thrones: An overly smug Petyr Baelish tells Cersei that "knowledge is power" when taunting her about her secrets. She responds by telling her guard to kill Baelish, only to make the guard stop at the last moment, then tells Baelish, "Power is power."
  • From a series 19 episode of Have I Got News for You
    Angus Deayton: Well, elephants would be elephant-sized.
    Paul Merton: Would a baby elephant be elephant sized?
    Angus Deayton: Well, that would be the size of a baby elephant.
Angus also mocked a national newspaper for describing a squirrel as being "the size of a small cat", by suggesting that it would in fact be the size of a squirrel.
  • Hogan's Heroes: The Allies have managed to take down several disguised German munitions trains, and the boys at Stalag 13 are wondering what the Germans might try next. Carter suggests they might try to disguise one as... a munitions train.
  • Moss in The IT Crowd bursts out with one now and then.
    Moss: You stole it?
    Roy: Well... yes.
    Moss: But that's STEALING!
  • Kamen Rider Decade turns his fellow Rider, Kamen Rider Blade, into a BFS called the Blade Blade. There is a slight difference in pronunciation between the two words when they're written in katakana, though - the name is written as ブレイドブレード (Bureido Burēdo).
  • In the LazyTown episode "Rottenbeard", Robbie Rotten describes a treasure chest as "All locked up with locks".
  • Molly Connell, in the Leverage episode "The Carnival Job", she doesn't really have anyone to talk to these days. Except "Daria... our eastern-European housekeeper. Talking to her is like... talking to an eastern-European housekeeper."
  • From Look Around You comes the following on the brain: "Think of it as a kind of modified heart, only with a mind, or brain."
  • In a flashback on the first season of Lost, Shannon is asked by Sayid to watch his bag and instead decides to report it as unattended. Leading to this:
    Shannon: Some Arab guy left his bag downstairs.
    Security Guard: Can you describe him?
    Shannon: Um... Arab?
  • Malcolm in the Middle: When Malcolm made himself dumb: "I can't believe the awesomeness of how awesome this is!"
  • On one episode of The Man Show, Adam and Jimmy ask several guys what they nicknamed their penises. Most names are rather creative, but one guy in the line-up gives his penis's name as "Penis".
  • Radar on M*A*S*H does this all the time, a running gag the actor invented for himself.
    Radar: I'm looking for Mrs. Henry Blake. She's pregnant... with a baby and everything.
  • The Mentalist: In the first episode, title character Patrick Jane says of an over-enthusiastic crime scene person at the scene of the crime "He irks me. He's irksome."
  • Merlin has made at least one notable use of this trope.
    Merlin: It's very... swordy.
  • Monk occasionally says these sorts of things: "She was your sex mistress."
    • "Mr. Monk and the Psychic":
      Monk: It's a small pebble — about the size of a... small pebble.
    • "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service":
      Monk: What are you talking about? I'm not going in there alone. That would be like... me, going in some place alone.
    • In the episode where Adrian Monk discovers the joys of the internet:
      Monk: It made me "L-O-L" out loud.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Genius":
      Monk: To me, quitting would be like giving up.
  • A sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus warning of the threat of penguins:
    "Now, if we increase the size of the penguin so that it is the same size as the man, we see that the penguin's brain... is still smaller. But, and this is my point, it is LARGER than it WAS!"
    • In another sketch, nearly every word out of one character's mouth is an exploration of this trope: a dinosaur expert, Miss Anne Elk, being interviewed for television, repeatedly claims ownership of a theory in various tautological ways ("Well, this theory, that I have, that is to say, which is mine... is mine") and finally allows the interviewer to actually drag the Shaped Like Itself theory from her ("All brontosauruses are thin at one end; much, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end. That is the theory that I have and which is mine and what it is, too.") Eventually the interviewer has to shoot her to keep her from going over the entire trope yet again with a second theory.
    • A Vox Pops from another episode had the following gem:
      Vicar: I agree. If there were fewer robbers, there wouldn't be so many of them — numerically speaking.
  • In a Mr. Show sketch, after being forced to go see Coupon: The Movie, two patrons played by Mary Lynn Rajskub and Jack Black have this to say about it:
    JB: We saw "Coupon!"
    MLR: The woman totally used a coupon to buy some socks!
    JB: Yeah, and it was a movie!
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured a parody of Narmy love songs titled "When Loving Lovers Love."
  • MythBusters:
    • After Jamie has driven Adam blindfolded to a secret location:
      Adam: Where are we?
      Jamie: We're right here.
    • The narrator in "Thermite vs. Ice" says, when Adam expresses some doubt, "Adam thinks this myth is, well, a myth."
  • During its first season, NCIS was actually titled "Navy NCIS" until the producers realized that was redundant. Oops. (NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, so there's no need to tack "Navy" in front of it.)
    • The subtitle for the first season was, egregiously, "Naval Criminal Investigative Service."
      • Not so egregiously, at the time CSI was very popular and they wanted to distinguish themselves apart so viewers wouldn't mistake them for either the show itself or a spin-off.
    • A running gag throughout the show is the number of people they have to explain this to, because they've never heard of it, so the subtitle could be allowed. "Navy"... no.
      Airport officer: NCIS? Is that like CSI?
      Dinozzo: Only if you're dyslexic.
      • Which itself became redundant after the show's popularity took off, which made the NCIS initialism so well known, it's now one of the best known government agencies, matching the FBI and CIA in identifiability.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • This line from Andy Dwyer:
      Andy: In order to think like one of these guys, you have to think like them.
    • Perd Hapley has these lines:
      "We will begin the show by starting it."
      "There is such a thing as journalistic integrity. And it is something I have as a journalist with integrity."
      "For a female perspective on this scandal, we turn to a woman."
      "Up next is my introduction to the next segment, and my introduction to the next segment is as follows: here's the next segment."
  • The Partridge Family: While awkwardly trying to avoid hurting a fan's feelings, Keith says, "I liked your salad! It was worth its weight in... salad."
  • A few examples from Pushing Daisies:
    • The town of Coeur d'Coeurs. It should be noted this is French for "Heart of Hearts". Still redundant, but also not an Ass Pull on the part of the creators.
    • Heroine Charlotte "Chuck" Charles and her deceased father Charles Charles.
    • Boutique Travel Travel Boutique.
    • The Darling Mermaid Darlings.
    • Uber-Life Life Insurance and the Wish-A-Wish Foundation.
  • Red Dwarf: Holly's description of the Stasis Leak from the eponymous episode:
    Holly: A stasis leak is a leak, right, in stasis. Hence the name 'a stasis leak'.
    • Rimmer has one of these in Holoship:
    Rimmer: Well, thank you, commander, for a most fascinating afternoon. It's been most ... fascinating.
  • On Saturday Night Live, Chris Farley's "motivational" speaker character Matt Foley had the Catch-Phrase "You'll have plenty of time for [fill in the blank] when you're LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!" In his first appearance, the character played by guest host Christina Applegate became Genre Savvy.
    Matt: Young lady, what do you want to do with your life?
    Stacy: [sarcastic] I want to live in a van down by the river.
    Matt: Well, you'll have plenty of time to live in a van down by the river when you're... [dramatic pause] ...LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!
  • In the ninth season premiere of Scrubs Dr. Cox mentions that he can't stand when med students make him reiterate things "especially when I have already iterated them".
  • Seinfeld
    • In "The Keys", Jerry and George are in Elaine's apartment, looking for Jerry's spare keys. George asks what they look like, to which Jerry responds: "Keys George, they look like keys. They look exactly like keys. (Mockingly) What do they look like."
    • In another episode we have Elaine's Big Salad, which is "like a salad... only bigger."
  • In an episode of 'Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell, Bovina Jhizquax reports on an explosion in Melbourne's western suburbs, and takes issue with Ian Dream's description of the event:
    Ian: I heard this almighty explosion. It sounded like a bomb going off.
    Bovina: A bomb had gone off.
    Ian: Yeah I know, I heard it.
    Bovina: So it sounded exactly like what it was?
    Ian: Well yeah, but I didn't know what had happened.
    Bovina: Why wouldn't you have thought a bomb had gone off?
    Ian: Well, it sounded like a bomb had gone off, but I didn't know what actually happened.
    Bovina: Why couldn't it have been a bomb going off?
    Ian: It only sounded like a bomb going off. It could have been anything.
    Bovina: What else could it have been, other than a bomb going off, that sounds more like a bomb going off than a bomb going off?
    Ian: I don't know, I've never heard a bomb go off.
    Bovina: Yes you have, about an hour ago.
    Ian: Yeah, yeah, but before that.
    Bovina: If you'd never heard a bomb go off, how did you know it sounded like a bomb going off? [beat as Ian struggles to answer.] You couldn't have, could you?
    Ian: ...No.
    Bovina: You're a liar, Mr. Dream. [Ian gets taken away by a police officer.] Back to you, Shaun.
  • Smallville
    Clark: Lois is so...
    Chloe: Lois?
    Clark: Yeah.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1 looks on the surface to be an example, because "SG" does stand for "Stargate". However, SG-1 is the name of the Four Man Band that goes through the stargate itself (as distinct from the other teams, SG-2 through SG-25), so this is, while slightly confusing, at least a partial aversion.
    • In Atlantis, there's a brief flash of a computer screen in the episode "McKay and Mrs. Miller" when we see the power levels of the ZPM Module. ZPM stands for Zero Point Module.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Defiant", Commander Sisko offers Gul Dukat his assistance in tracking down and neutralizing the USS Defiant, which has been hijacked by a terrorist and brought into Cardassian territory.
    Sisko: I helped design it. I know its vulnerabilities, and its weaknesses.
    • Although like the Intelligent/Smart comparison above, a vulnerability can be different than a weakness. For example, the battleship Yamato was one of the most heavily armored warships ever built. Had she ever engaged in a one-on-one fight with an American battleship, her heavy armor would have allowed her to withstand a substantial amount of fire from the 16" guns on the largest American battleships (the Iowa-class). She did possess a weakness however: Her larger 18" battery relied on manually acquiring a target, aiming, and range-finding, whereas her American counterparts possessed sophisticated radar-controlled target acquisition, range-finding and fire direction, providing them with much greater accuracy. This made Yamato no more vulnerable to enemy shell fire, but it was a glaring weakness in that her opponent would be able obtain a firing solution more quickly and could better evade return-fire from Yamato's more powerful battery (at the Battle of Surigao Strait the American battle line had the Japanese battleships targeted before they even knew they were there).
    • Rules of Acquisition #16: "A deal is a deal." One-upped by RoA #17: "A contract is a contract is a contract... but only between Ferengi." And since a contract is simply a deal that is documented...
  • Similarly, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, at one point, Picard refers to the Klingon Imperial Empire. As opposed to those non-imperial empires out there.
    • Worse: there are empires in Star Trek that, in certain senses, are non-imperial. At the time, the Klingon Empire was one of them.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. An alien inventor describes his graviton catapult as "a device that can catapult a vessel across space, in the time it takes to say 'catapult a vessel across space'."
  • Supernatural, "Repo Man":
    Sam: Demon summoning! What for?
    Lucifer: To summon a demon, jackass!
  • That '70s Show... Oh, that Kelso:
    "Angie's so pretty. Looking at her is like looking at... something else pretty"
    "25 years! Man, if you were dogs, that would be... 25 dog years"
  • In episode 2 of The Tudors Henry has received a copy of Machiavelli's The Prince from an Italian noble and is discussing it with Thomas More, and comes out with the rather... insightful comment "It is not like your book Utopia. It is less... utopian."
  • Used in the second ever episode of The Twilight Zone, "One for the Angels".
    Lou Bookman: "Number one, I find you a very devious sort. Number two, I think that you're dishonest. Number three, why don't you say what you mean?"
  • The title of the series Unsolved Mysteries — well, if they were solved, they wouldn't be mysteries. Although perhaps the adjective is to distinguish it from the more common detective stories, which are labeled "mysteries" even though they end up solved.
  • The West Wing:
    Abbey Bartlet: ...and I think that making a big thing out of it is what makes it a big thing!
    Oliver Babish: Really?
  • One episode of Wheel of Fortune had a puzzle where the category was Place... and the answer was SECRET HIDING PLACE.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? has its fair share of this for laughs, an example in one of the most famous sketches, The Cat (Improbable Mission: The laundry), has this little conversation:
    Ryan: What was it?
    Colin: A burnoose!
    Ryan: Any idea what it looks like?
    Colin: It looks like... a burnoose!
  • Xena: Warrior Princess, "A Comedy of Eros":
    Xena: No, Gabrielle, this is crazy. You can't be in love with Joxer. Wh- he's Joxer!
  • The X-Files, paraphrasing Shakespeare (and speaking about senators), but to a different effect:
    Cancer Man: They're all honorable, these honorable men.
  • Yes, Minister:
    Joan Littler: What does "inert" mean?
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Eh, it means it's not... ert.
    Bernard Woolley: Wouldn't 'urt a fly.
  • Young Blades: In the first episode, as the Musketeers are in the middle of dungeon cleaning duty:
    D'Artagnan: You know what I hate about hard work?
    Siroc: It's hard?
    D'Artagnan: Exactly.
  • In The Young Ones episode "Summer Holiday" Neil asks Mike:
    "Don't you think robbing a bank is, well, tantamount to stealing, really?"


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