Analogy Backfire

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Lucy: Well, Romeo and Juliet were only 14 when they did it.

Eric: Okay, maybe you didn't read the whole play because... they both died in the end.

Alice makes an analogy comparing someone to a well known source, often intending to sound positive. Bob then points out a further fact about the analogy, often inverting the meaning, and often painfully near the knuckle.

A common example is someone comparing two lovers to Romeo and Juliet, which suggests they've not read the ending (or the beginning, or the middle) of the play.

Compare Metaphorgotten, Sidetracked by the Analogy, Dissimile, What Did You Expect When You Named It?. Contrast So Was X.

Nothing to do with using a Tu-22M "Backfire" as a metaphor or simile.

Examples of Analogy Backfire include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Roy: You know running makes you look guilty.
Edward: We're running because we knew you'd come after us! Isn't that what every dog does when it's chased?
Roy: Yes, but a trained dog never defies the orders of its owner.
Edward: Then I'm a stray.
Roy: Really? Then maybe we'll just have to put you down.

    • This is playing up a theme that was built into the setting with the phrase 'dog of the military,' as well as being a shout-out to Fullmetal Alchemist creator Hiromu Arakawa's earlier successful one-shot 'Stray Dog,' which dealt with Mad Scientists making dog-themed Artificial Humans and the rights and wrongs of their conditioned loyalty and the use of it.
  • Another "named after something the person who came up with that name shouldn't want it to be like", the giant tower superweapon in Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis is named "Ziggurat", after towers said to be built by the Babylonians to show off their power, the most famous being the tower of Babel (guess what happens). What makes this especially ridiculous is that this is acknowledged in the actual movie.
  • In an episode of Digimon Adventure Izzy tries to explain to Matt's father how not all Digimon are bad, saying "They're not like those pretend monsters you see in the movies destroying all those Japanese cities." He quickly realises what a bad example this is, given that the good and bad Digimon had spent the last three days having destructive battles across Tokyo.
  • Toward the end of Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, Page notes that a "golden thread" binds Muhyo and Roji together. Lil and Maril mercilessly mock his choice of words, noting how easily a thread made out of gold would break.
  • In Bakuman。, Mashiro tells Takagi, while working on his manga despite being hospitalized, that he feels like Joe Yabuki going into his last match, and Takagi thinks to himself that Joe died in the ring. This is possibly a subversion, though, as Mashiro had earlier been shown to have been aware of how it ended, and found Joe's death admirable.
    • Later on, Fukuda, after not doing as well as he'd hoped in a romance one-shot writing contest, protests that he was "the Romeo of Hiroshima," as if to imply that he had a fair amount of experience. Interestingly enough, the winner, Aoki, had never been on a date before.
      • This makes some sense, since 'romance' as a genre has less to do with sexual experience than with poetic and persuasive depiction of human emotions. And a playboy is likely to have trouble with precisely the poetry part.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Watchmen had a recurring brand of door-locks from a company that was rather stupidly (but appropriately) named "Gordian Knot Locks". Guess how Rorschach got through them every time.
    • Watchmen also has a character who calls himself "Ozymandias" because of the greatness of that historical figure. Ozymandias is also a symbol for futility, from a famous Percy Bysshe Shelley poem that Moore even quotes, and the end of the series suggests that Rorschach's journal could be discovered and cause his plan to fail. It's mentioned he chose it in an attempt to redeem the name, so he likely knew this, but considering what happens later on it does backfire somewhat.
    • There's also Rorschach, who named himself the Rorschach inkblot test. He chooses the name because of what it represents, that there is no meaning beyond what we ourselves impose, just as the patterns of an inkblot are open to interpretation. Somewhat of a backfire in that he's named after a psychological test, and decidedly psychologically unsound later on his career after he crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
      • Futhermore, Rorschach likes the black and white ink blots because they exemplify his black and white perspective on life.... But the real Rorschach blots contain several multicolored cards.
  • An issue of Spider-Man had Hammerhead comment on how he'd "Go out in a blaze of glory. Just like the real Scarface." It was later pointed out that Al "Scarface" Capone died in prison of complications due to syphilis.
    • In another issue, Peter, who's been through hell lately, angrily tells Mary Jane that he feels like "that guy from Network". After he hangs up, MJ quietly observes to herself that the character he's talking about died in the end.
  • In a meta-ironic example, when Reginald Hudlin had the Black Panther and Storm of the X-Men married (pissing off many fans), Joe Quesada gave it the heads up, and called it the Marvel Comics equivalent of "Prince Charles and Princess Diana". The thing is, Princess Diana was believed to be trapped a loveless marriage, separated in 1993, had a romantic fling with Dodi al-Fayed, heir to Harrods owner Mohammed al-Fayed, before the couple were killed in a car crash after being zealously hounded by paparazzi. Maybe Joe's trying to tell us something here...
  • Inverted in Phil Foglio's adaptation of Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth, Aahz tells Skeeve, "We'll be famous for this! Like Napoleon at Waterloo - Custer at the Little Big Horn - the Light Brigade at Balaclava..." The inversion is that Aahz presumably knows that those battles didn't end well for the named person, and thus is fully aware of what he's saying, but Skeeve doesn't know, and is genuinely encouraged by the analogy.
  • Peter David's comment on Captain Marvel's Wisdom of Solomon: "God directly commands you to build no temples to other gods. Do you build temples to other gods? If you said "yes", congratulations! You have successfully displayed the Wisdom of Solomon!"
  • In Flight 714, Rastapopoulos swears to Tintin that he will crush him "like I crush an insignificant spider!" Unfortunately, the spider in question proves quite adept at dodging Rastapopoulos's foot blows.
  • In the Mad Magazine parody of Heaven Can Wait, Tony Abbott claims that he would never hurt Farnsworth because he loved him like a brother. Like Cain loved Abel.
  • In an early '80s X-Men story, Illyana Rasputin is pressing her best friend Kitty Pryde for details regarding Kitty's teenage romance with Illyana's brother Piotr, commenting, "Juliet was younger than you when she met Romeo." Kitty countered, "And look what happened to her!"
  • In a What If issue in which the Avengers disband rather than be seen as supporting an increasingly corrupt US government, Captain America (comics) tries to appeal to Hercules' honor to convince him to stay with the team. Hercules glances at Cap and sadly quips, "When in Rome, eh? Rome fell, you know."
  • In Java Joint, Tank says that he is "as serious as Garrison Keillor", apparently not realising that Garrison Keillor is a humorist.
  • In Captain America (comics), during Red Skull's youth, Hitler, when chewing out a Gestapo Officer, points to the bellhop (the man who eventually becomes Red Skull) and claims angrily that even he would make a better Nazi than him. Turns out Red Skull was far better at it than even Hitler would have realized.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • There was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic, can't recall the title, wherein it is maintained that Angel is in no way responsible for Angelus' Season 2 actions, just as Dr. Jekyll is not responsible for the actions of Mr. Hyde.
    • This is probably an example of the creator being unfamiliar with the original source material, in which Jekyll's Enemy Within problem was directly caused by his intentionally compounding and repeatedly taking a serum to turn him into somebody else who would indulge in all sorts of foul lechery and cruelty.[2] The whole thing is supposed to be an analogy for addiction and other bad habits, but it's turned into something of a Beam Me Up, Scotty because the Twist Ending is such an It Was His Sled.
  • Eyrie Productions, Unlimited introduced (the now-defunct) (Gryphon and Zoner Get) Hopelessly Lost with the line "Eyrie is back... and this time, we're not using condiments." As one MSTing group was quick to point out, if you don't use condiments, the result tends to be bland and tasteless.


Film[edit | hide]

Alexander: Did Patroclus stare at Achilles when they stood side by side at the siege of troy?
Hephaistion: Patroclus died first.

    • The historical Alexander and Hephaestion would probably not have fallen into such a moment, but lived a much larger version of the same: they, or at least Alexander, had a whole romantic ideal of emulating the famous mutual devotion of Achilles and Patroclus. Hephaestion died first. Alexander sulked in his tent for weeks and yelled at people.
  • Ghostbusters: After the three are booted off the campus payroll, Venkman tries to console Ray by pointing out they don't need cushy university jobs; after all, "Einstein did his best stuff when he was working as a patent clerk."

Ray: Do you know how much a patent clerk earns!?
Venkman: No!

  • Baby Mama has a scene where Amy Poehler says, "We're partners like Tom and Jerry" and Tina Fey replies, "Tom and Jerry hate each other."
    • Arguably an unintentional subversion, since whenever Tom and Jerry are seen "off-screen", they're never portrayed as anything other than close friends.
  • From Clue: When discussing searching for the killer and the possibility that the killer might kill whoever finds him:

Col. Mustard: This is war, Peacock! Casualties are inevitable. You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs; every cook will tell you that!
Mrs. Peacock: But look what happened to the cook! (The cook was the second murder victim.)

Harvey: When the Republic was threatened, the Romans appointed one man to protect them until the danger had passed. It wasn't considered an honor, it was considered a public service.
Rachel: Harvey, the last man they did that with was called Caesar, and he never gave up his power.

    • Rachel leaves an even nastier retort on the table; the name for that office was dictator.
    • It's just a shame that Caesar was never appointed, he declared himself dictator. The other dictators usually served Rome successfully and saved them from whatever crisis was going on, giving Harvey the win. Though admittedly, the last two dictators preceding Caesar were of the same stripe, with virtually the same actions, except they didn't end up as corpses full of stab wounds.
    • Another example is when Bruce Wayne states that [Harvey Dent] is the face of Gotham at the party, which was meant to be an analogy of the improvement of Gotham by eliminating crime and corruption. Unfortunately, after the Joker's machinations, as well as Dent's injury both physically and mentally/emotionally, the analogy ends up being twisted to mean making crime worse.
  • The original script for Mystery Men has one, in which two wanna-be superheroes are arguing about why they aren't more successful:

Mr. Furious: What does Superman have that we don't have?
The Shoveller: Superman has the fact that he's Superman! Bullets bounce off him!

  • In the movie Serenity, the Operative tells Mal that River is a living bad luck charm, and that keeping her would inevitably doom him and his crew. He calls River an albatross, after the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," in which an albatross doomed the mariner to being lost at sea for years. Mal immediately responds with this awesome line.

Mal: The way I remember it, the albatross was good luck until some idiot killed it!
[Looks over at Inara]
Mal: Yes, I read a poem. Try not to faint.

Jaquimo: Samson loved Delilah...
Nostalgia Chick: That ended... kinda bad.
Jaquimo: Romeo, et Juliet... oh, impossible!
Nostalgia Chick: Al-so somewhat unfortunate...

    • The same film also subverts this precise thing during Ms. Fieldmouse's song, as the ending of Romeo and Juliet was the whole reason she brought it up.
  • In the 2009 Star Trek film, Spock and McCoy argue about leaving Kirk behind on a planet:

McCoy: You know, back home we have a saying: "If you wanna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don't leave your prized stallion in the stable."
Spock: A curious metaphor, Doctor, as a stallion must first be broken before it can reach its potential.

  • Used in Hoodwinked, where Wolf and Twitchy are lost in a dark cave:

Twitchy: We'regonnadiehere!
Wolf: Come on, that's what they said at the Alamo!

Juan: This will be our Alamo!
Hiram: We lost the Alamo, Juan.
Juan: Speak for yourself, gringo.

    • Of course, this brings up the Fridge Logic of just why Juan would bring up the Alamo as an analogy for something to be defended when he's looking at it from the side of the attackers.
  • Jurassic Park:

Dr. Hammond: All major theme parks have had delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!
Dr. Malcolm: But, John. If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.

    • In that same movie, Dr. Hammond compares his bringing back dinosaurs to reviving an extinct species of bird. Dr. Malcolm points out that the bird species went extinct through human meddling, but dinosaurs died out naturally and thus their being brought back was throwing out the natural order of things.
      • Of course, this analogy also fell flat to many viewers, who pointed out that this assumes that "nature" is a conscious, benevolent force, when really, extinctions that occurred naturally aren't necessarily any better for the environment than those caused by humans.
    • Not to mention Disneyland opened in 1955, not 1956.
  • Shrek tries to illustrate how ogres have hidden depths by telling Donkey that "ogres are like onions," only for Donkey to latch onto various aspects of onions that, while valid, aren't what Shrek was going for, as well as several foods with layers that otherwise have very little in common with either onions or ogres.
    • Though you gotta admit, Shrek handles the analogy pretty well. He does not let it slip under Donkey's various comments and remarks. And "Not everybody likes onions" just ties in perfectly well with ogres.
    • Shrek also completely misses the point in that onions don't have hidden depths at all - every layer is the same right down to the core, which is also just more onion. The onion metaphor originated in the play Peer Gynt, where it stood for the irredeemable Villain Protagonist's soul
  • In Avatar:

Neytiri: You have a strong heart, no fear, but stupid! Ignorant like a child!
Sully: Well, if I'm like a child, then maybe you should teach me.

  • A movie poster for Hannibal Rising featured the critic quote "An absolute shocker in every way imaginable." Presumably this was intended to play on the extreme/horrific content interpretation, and sound like a good thing, but to many people the expression describes a very bad film ("a shocker"). Unlucky, but still accurate.
  • From the Disney version of The Jungle Book, when discussing the idea of letting Mowgli stay in the jungle...

Bagheera: The jungle is not the place for him.
Baloo: I grew up in the jungle. Take a look at me!
Bagheera: Yes, just look at yourself! Look at that [black] eye!

Terry: If we were in the wild, I would attack you. Even if you weren't in my food chain, I would go out of my way to attack you. If I were a lion and you were a tuna, I would swim out in the middle of the ocean and freakin' eat you! And then I'd bang your tuna girlfriend.
Allen: Okay, first off: a lion? Swimming in the ocean? Lions don't like water. If you'd placed it near a river or some sort of fresh water source, that'd make sense. But you find yourself in the ocean, twenty foot waves, I'm assuming it's off the coast of South Africa, coming up against a full-grown, 800 pound tuna with his twenty or thirty friends? You lose that battle. You lose that battle nine times out of ten.

  • A rare dramatic example occurs in XXX 2: State Of The Union: Secretary Of Defense General Deckert has the President at gunpoint as part of the former's plan to overthrow the U.S. Government. The President asks why Deckert is doing this, to which he responds with a Thomas Jefferson quote...

General Deckert: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots."
President James Sanford: "... and tyrants." That's the end of the quote.

  • From Wonder Boys:

Crabtree: It's not a total loss! What about when Hemingway lost all those stories?
Grady: He was never able to reproduce them!

  • In Happy Gilmore when the titular golfer says he's going to beat his opponent.

Shooter McGavin: Yeah, and Grizzly Adams had a beard.
Lee Travino: Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    • Also:

Shooter: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!
Happy: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?

  • In The Pentagon Wars the Major General defends the weapons of the military before Congress.

Major General Partridge: I'm not going to sit here and tell you the Paveway never missed.
Madame Chairwoman: It missed by a mean distance of five miles, and nearly fifty percent of the time.
Major General Partridge: You know, in baseball, a guy that hits .400 is considered pretty damned great.
Congressman #1: In baseball, the losing team isn't killed by their opponents.

Rafael: Come back! You're like Juliet and he's your Romeo. Well, they both die at the end, but still!

  • In Contact, when the National Security Adviser, Kitz, asks the protagonist, Ellie, why she adamantly believes that the aliens are good intentioned:

Ellie: We pose no threat to them. (Them being hostile) would be like us wanting to exterminate some microbes on an anthill.
Drumlin: Interesting analogy. And how guilty would we feel after obliterating some microbes?

  • From The Trip, where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon review various restaurants:

Rob: *describing a drink* Tastes of a childhood garden.
Steve: Well, it's got a bit of alcohol in it, so it tastes-- Was there a lot of alcohol in your garden as child? I'm sorry, Rob.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • From the Discworld book Pyramids: "I knew the two of you would get along like a house on fire." Screams, flames, people running for safety...
    • The same gag is reused in Men At Arms ("Dwarfs and trolls get on like a house on fire. Ever been in a burning house, miss?") and The Wee Free Men ("I can see we're going to get along like a house on fire. There may be no survivors.")
    • Another commonly-reused Pratchett joke is the backfire of "the light at the end of the tunnel". Usually "the light is an oncoming train" but there have been variations, including (appropriately enough) "the end of the tunnel is on fire."
    • All of these are really examples of deliberate reversal of the analogy. This one actually seemed like an error by a character: "Light a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day. Set him on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."
    • In The Truth, on being told he and his fellow beggars will be paid a dollar a day for selling newspapers, the Duck Man remarks that by their standards, "We could live like kings on a dollar a day." Arnold Sideway starts rattling off a number of unpleasant ways that famous kings have met their end, to which Duck Man patiently replies "No, Arnold, that's dying like kings."
  • Good Omens: The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have messed up the world's computer systems and the world is about to end. The text notes that it's often been said that civilisation is two meals away from barbarism, and what's going to happen next will make barbarism look like a picnic: hot, nasty, and eventually given over to the ants.
  • The "tragic lovers metaphor" is a running gag in Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog. The guy using them doesn't get that particular girl in the end (and both parties are clearly better off for it).
  • One Russian story tells of a dog who told another dog that he was going to be famous like Laika. For those unfamiliar with the history, Laika was the first dog in space... and died up there. Sure enough, the dog dies at the end of the story while saving a young boy.
  • Margaret Atwood:

You fit into me
Like a hook into an eye
A fish hook
An open eye

  • The Ogden Nash poem "The Romantic Age," about a lovestruck teenage girl who:

Presses lips and tosses head,
Declares she's not too young to wed.
Informs you pertly you forget
Romeo and Juliet.
Do not argue, do not shout;
Remind her how that one turned out.

  • In a scene in Gone with the Wind, Dr. Meade argues that General Johnston cannot be dislodged from the Kennesaw Mountain.

Dr. Meade: The mountain fastnesses has always been the refuge and the strong forts of people since the ancient times. Think of - think of Thermopylae!
Rhett: They died to the last man at Thermopylae, didn't they, Doctor?

  • In Dave Barry's second novel, Tricky Business, a series of events lead up to an ordinary band member named Wally deciding to go after a group of dangerous drug dealers with nothing than a bottle opener to save some other passengers. He explains that it's like when the passengers on one of the 9/11 planes who refused to stand by and let the terrorists win. His friend points out that all of the passengers on that plane also died. On the other hand, it was implied that Wally did remember the fates of the passengers and was just being brave.
  • Twilight. Edward quotes lines of Romeo and Juliet into Bella's ear. Remember what happened to them? [3]
    • Bella also constantly broods over R&J and compares it to her own problems.
      • Which makes no sense of course. She compares Jacob to Paris even though Jacob is her friend whereas Paris was some random business associate of Juliet's father. Her problems of course pale in comparison but neither her or the author sees that...
    • Edward also mentions how magically wonderful imprinting is, comparing it to A Midsummer Night's Dream and apparently missing the Unfortunate Implications in the play—namely the rape/threats of rape and the fact that Demetrius would spend the rest of his life brainwashed into loving Helena.
    • In Eclipse, Bella compares herself to Cathy of Wuthering Heights and her love for Edward to Cathy's love for Heathcliff... seemingly forgetting that there is actually an Isabella in the same novel who does marry Heathcliff... to disastrous results.
    • In the same book, Bella claims that she's fascinated with Catherine's and Heathcliff's romance because "nothing can keep them apart -- not her selfishness, or his evil, or even death" when just the opposite actually happens in the novel. Everything, especially her selfishness and his evil, keeps them apart -- the lovers never get together and die miserable, painful, lonely, tragic deaths.
    • It is quite amusing though how Bella, and therefore Smeyer both completely miss the points of the texts they compare them to. Whereas Twilight asserts finding true love in your teens with a stranger is possible, Romeo and Juliet may be a SATIRE of this notion.
  • A once famous one analyzed in Vanity Fair. There was an old metaphor of romantic love describing a guy as a strong, solid tree, and a woman as a vine clinging to it. Since this actually means that the vine is slowly killing the tree, Thackeray refers to the heroine as a "tender little parasite" to add to the idea that the heroic Dobbin finally marrying her is a Bittersweet Ending at best, Downer Ending at worst.
  • Happens to Otto von Bismarck (of all people) in George McDonald Fraser's Royal Flash when he explains his visions for Germany's future to Flashman:

Bismarck: Germany must have its Napoleon, if it is to have its ...
Flashman: ... Waterloo?

Mr. Poe: You're so paranoid about Count Olaf. Remember at Professor Montgomery's house? You were convinced a visiting scientist was Olaf.
Violet: But he was Olaf!
Mr. Poe: That's not the point!

    • In something of a diversion from the rest of the series, in this instance, he turns out to ACTUALLY BE RIGHT.
  • In Betrayed, when Zoey meets with her boyfriend Erik after he returns from a trip, he greets her as his "Desdemona". Aphrodite quickly comments that if she's his Desdemona, she'd better not cheat on him or he'll strangle her at night. Given that Zoey was seeing her human boyfriend on the side while flirting with a teacher and that like Othello and Desdemona, Erik and Zoey are in an interracial relationship... yeah
  • "Zlata's diary" is a A diary written by a girl called Zlata, who lived in Sarajevo during Bosnian War and was 11 in 1991, when the war started. As her diary became known, people began to compare her with Anne Frank, who also had a diary. This was not reassuring to her, because:

Zlata: People compare me to Anne Frank. That scares me, I don't want to suffer her fate.

    • She's being disingenuous, then, because she compares herself to Anne Frank in the context of the diary, before anyone knows about it, and gives the diary a name, in imitation of Anne Frank. She began writing it, she notes at the outset, in the hope that someone would eventually publish it, just like Anne Frank's diary was published—although she does hope she will live to see it published.
    • This is part Be Careful What You Wish For, part bad translation. In original the second sentence sounds like: "And this fact [comparison with Anne Frank] now instills fear in me, fear to suffer her fate." The point is precisely that when she started her diary (before the war), she willfully compared herself with Anne, meaning the "published diary" part - and now the "didn't survive the war" part sounds more relevant.
  • The title of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is in some ways. In the myth of Atlas, Heracles holds the sky for Atlas while Atlas picks the apples of the Hesperides (only a god or Titan could pick them.) Heracles then tricks Atlas into holding up the sky again, but in some versions of the myth Heracles then builds the Pillars of Heracles to hold the sky and relieve Atlas of his punishment. This is the opposite of Rand's Objectivist philosophy, as Heracles' building the pillars was purely altruistic. Heracles had already gotten what he came for, but at seeing Atlas having to hold the weight of the sky (again,) he does not tell Atlas "to shrug" as Francisco does in the book, Heracles instead helps Atlas.
  • During the events of Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, while Harry attends his career consultation meeting with McGonagall in which Umbridge (after having Dumbledore ousted from the school) is also present, Umbridge makes more than one attempt to disparage Harry's desire to become an Auror, eventually stating he "has as much chance of becoming an Auror as Dumbledore has of ever returning to this school", to which McGonagall responds, "A very good chance, then."
  • In Richard Armour's "Twisted Tales of Shakespeare", a satire on high-school and college lit textbooks, Armour plays with this trope in a chapter on Shakespeare's sonnets: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Hot? Sweaty? Fly-infested?"
    • Which, of course, is done in the original sonnet; the entire point of it is that the love interest is better than a summer's day, because while a day in summer sounds lovely, many things, like heat and poor weather, ruin the experience.
  • In Alice's Birthday, abook from Alice, Girl from the Future series, Alice wants to save a planet. To give her more confidence, Gromozeka reminds her of Joan of Arc, who rescued France. Alice succeeds, but is captured in the process. While she awaits her trial she remember that the actual Joan of Arc was executed. Except she wasn't in that continuity, but Alice doesn't know that yet...


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Francis: Come on, guys, let's stand up. This will be our Alamo!
The other guys just look at him
Francis: Okay, bad example.

Hazel: You two are like a married couple these days.
Stuart: Except that we never have sex.
Hazel: Like I said, married couple.

  • Joe on News Radio insists on making his own components for every device he fixes rather than buy "any of that mass-produced garbage." When an impatient Bill asks Joe to just give up and buy the piece in question, Joe answers, "Did Thomas Edison give up?" Bill points out that "Thomas Edison wasn't trying to invent something that was readily available in a variety of stores near his home."
  • On The Daily Show, discussing changing racial demographics in America:

Larry Wilmore: That's what happens when you have a melting pot. The stew gets darker.
Jon Stewart: Unless, of course, you're talking about a Tuscan stew, which uses white beans.
Wilmore: But the stew still gets darker.
Stewart: Unless, and I don't want to split hairs here, but there could be some kind of a cream base-
Wilmore: What's up with you, Emeril? Did you miss lunch?

    • Mainstream Republicans showed the Tea Party coalition a clip from The Town to gain their support, which is pretty weird choice in itself, given the pitch: "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're going to hurt some people," but Jon then examines the characters' roles in the rest of the film.

"Hey! You know the violent unstable borderline sociopath from The Town, who's useful in a pinch but whose suicidal single-minded mania will ultimately be his downfall? That's you guys. And the guy who's stuck in an uneasy alliance with you but doesn't really like you and ultimately saves himself by walking away from you as you are dying? That's us. So. Do we have your vote?" I'm going to assume that most of the Tea Party coalition has not seen the whole movie.

The lesson is, keep the analogy short. "I'm like a pitbull, I'm tenacious." Yeah, that's good. "I'm like a pitbull, if you leave me in the room with a child I'll kill them." NO, PALIN! Keep the analogy short! "Once I get a hold of you you're gonna have to stick a finger up my arse to make me let go." NO, PALIN!

  • In an episode of My Family, Ben learns his daughter was nearly assaulted by a member of royalty she had been set up with on a blind date. He compares the situation with the opera "Don Giovanni" where where the titular lecherous noble was impaled with a sword by the father of a girl he tried to rape. However, Susan (who convinced Ben into listening to Don Giovanni in the first place) corrects him saying it was Don Giovanni who killed the father. Cue Ben having an utterly hilarious look on his face for about a minute.
    • A variant from the first episode has a perfectly valid analogy being used by someone who totally missed the point of it and thus screws it up. Ben's assistant Brigitte criticises him for not making the time to treat his own family, comparing him to the the story of the cobbler's children who had no food. When Ben corrects her, she replies, "That makes no sense, their dad was a cobbler."
  • The Britcom Coupling has done this several times. Usually with Jeff making an analogy and then Patrick translates into something that makes even less sense.
  • Dr. House loves to use farfetched metaphors in his practice, so his colleagues frequently try to imitate him, only to usually backfire:

Lisa Cuddy: She's already on a respirator, the machine is breathing for her... I can do whatever I want to her lungs. If you're playing catch in the living room and you break your mother's vase, you might as well keep playing catch. The vase is already broken!
James Wilson: Except, that room can't breathe without that vase.

    • In "All In", the team only have one chance left to save a boy's life:

House: Mighty Casey is down to his last strike.
Foreman: Mighty Casey struck out.

  • In The OC, Ryan tried to convince his girlfriend Lindsay to patch things up with her estranged father:

Ryan: Alright, look. Luke Skywalker was happy to find his dad, right? Even if he turned out to be Darth Vader.
Lindsay: Ryan, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader fought each other with lightsabers until one of them died.

Later, there was this exchange:

Kirsten: Well didn't you use that Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader thing?
Ryan: She poked a serious hole in that analogy.

    • Considering if Luke didn't make the reconciliation attempt he would have neither been able to redeem his father, and more importantly, not been able to kill the Emperor, maybe that should be an example of a backfire of an analogy backfire.
  • In Charmed, "The Seven Year Witch":

Drake: The point is, Leo and Piper's love, it's epic, it's massive. It's Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra... Brad and Jennifer.
Piper: All tragedies, I might add.

  • Subverted in Dollhouse, one of Echo's engagements had her as a safe cracker. When asked by her partners why they never heard of her if she's so good, she asks if they've ever heard of Bonnie and Clyde. Thinking she messed up the analogy, they pounce on the 'mistake'- only to have her counter the counter. Bonnie and Clyde didn't try to be the best, they tried to be famous. And they died.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:

Dick Solomon: I want ceaseless joy and never-ending passion like Romeo and Juliet.
Mary Albright: They both wound up dead.
Dick Solomon: Antony and Cleopatra.
Mary Albright: Dead.
Dick Solomon: That couple from Wuthering Heights.
Mary Albright: Insane and dead.
Dick Solomon: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.
Mary Albright: Drunk, insane and dead.
Dick Solomon: Sigfried and Roy.
Mary Albright: (beat) Okay, that's one.

Bob Kelso: Why is it that so many of your stories end with "and then he hung himself"?
Elliot Reid: Bad luck, I guess.

Howard: You're weighing me down! I'm a falcon who hunts better solo.
Leonard: Fine, I'll sit here, you take flight and hunt.
Howard: Don't be ridiculous, you can't just tell a falcon when to hunt!
Leonard: Actually, you can. (beat) There's a whole sport built around it. (beat) Falconry.

    • In another episode, after a month-trip to Antarctica as well as Sheldon learning that his friends falsified his report in an attempt to "prove" his theory, the latter being deeply hurt by the action, Penny tried to cheer him up by citing how Kirk tried lying to Spock that the woman that died in the Star Trek film wasn't his mom. This analogy didn't work, and had Sheldon breaking down further because, thanks to that Antarctica trip, he not only missed Comic Con, but also the new Star Trek film.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds", Picard, shortly before being abducted and assimilated by the Borg, has this conversation with Guinan:

Guinan: Trouble sleeping?
Picard: It's something of a tradition, Guinan - Captain touring the ship before a battle.
Guinan: Hmm. Before a hopeless battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.
Picard: Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.
Guinan: Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?
Picard: No, but the battle was won.

  • CSI: on finding an intact brain several metres from the victim's head, Greg remarks "it's hard to crack an egg without breaking the yolk". Greg is really bad at making analogies.
  • On the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Space Mutiny, the hero lambasts his love interest for putting herself in danger to save him from the evil forces who have mounted a nearly-successful takeover of the ship.

Rider: I wish your father could control you as well as he does this ship!
Crow: You mean have a mutiny on me?

  • In the Doctor Who arc "City of Death", there's this exchange between Romana and a hard-nosed cop Duggan:

Romana: You should go into business with a glazier. You would have a very symbiotic relationship.
Duggan: What's that supposed to mean?
Romana: I merely meant that you tend to leave a lot of broken glass behind.
Duggan: You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
Romana: If you made an omelette, I'd expect to find a pile of broken crockery, a cooker in flames, and an unconscious chef!

    • In "Voyage of the Damned", the Doctor finds himself on a spaceship called the "Titanic". (Although it turns out that the name might have been intentional.):

The Doctor: Titanic. Um...who... thought of the name?
Host: Information: It was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth.
The Doctor: ...Did they tell you why it was famous?

      • Not the first Titanic reference on Doctor Who. From "Robot":

The Doctor: Never cared much for the word "impregnable." Sounds a bit too much like "unsinkable."
Harry: What's wrong with "unsinkable"?
The Doctor: Nothing. As the iceberg said to the Titanic.
Harry: What?
The Doctor: Gloop, gloop, gloop, gloop, gloop...

      • And from "The End of the World":

Jabe: This facility is purely automatic. It's the height of the upper class. Nothing can go wrong.
The Doctor: Unsinkable?
Jabe: If you like. The nautical metaphor is appropriate.
The Doctor: You're telling me. I was on another ship once. They said that was unsinkable. I ended up clinging to an iceberg. It wasn't half cold.

Bingley: I am invulnerable, like Ajax.
Darcy: Ajax cut his own throat.

    • Bingley eventually becomes rather nervous around Amanda, leading Jane to marry Collins...which drives Bingley to drink.
  • That '70s Show:

Kelso: Man, having no parents would be cool. Like the Lord of the Flies!
Eric: Kelso, did you ever finish Lord of the Flies?
Kelso: . . . no.

  • Analogies often backfire in The Thick of It, and most spectacularly in the Drama Bomb episode where Malcolm gets fired. The script features a running theme of theatre-related metaphors:

Marianne Swift: "Malcolm, we get it, you're still the star of the show"
Malcolm Tucker: "Warm them up, tell them Olivier's on his way but in the meantime here's An Audience With Peter fuckin' Bowles... what happened, did you get heckled off?"
Steve Fleming: "The show's over, it's curtains..."

  • In The Office (US), Michael's analogies almost always backfire, but in one case he backfired (executive) Ryan's when Ryan wanted him to leave designing the ad to the advertising professionals:

Ryan: It's not part of your job. It's like, maybe you can cook, but that doesn't mean you should start a restaurant.
Michael: Well, actually I can't cook and I am starting a restaurant: Mike's Cereal Shack.

  • Done excellently in the Boy Meets World episode where Topanga moves to Pittsburgh. Since Cory is reading Romeo and Juliet at the time, he keeps proclaiming that he and Topanga will be fine just like them...until Mr. Feeny tells him to skip ahead to the end.
  • In Blackadder Goes Forth, the interrogation of a suspected German spy:

Darling: "Look, I'm as British as Queen Victoria!"
Blackadder: "So you father's German, you're half-German, and you married a German?"

Jesse: What's the point of being an outlaw when you got responsibilities?
Badger: Darth Vader had responsibilities. He was responsible for the Death Star.
Skinny Pete: True dat. Two o' dem bitches.
Badger: ...Just sayin'. Devil's advocate.

  • Inverted example in a Quantum Leap episode (intended as negative but taken as positive)- Sam warns a mobster that he could end up like Jimmy Hoffa, but since at the time of the story, Hoffa wasn't famous for being whacked, the mobster replies something like, "You mean become head of the teamsters?" and takes that as a positive goal.
  • In the Ellen episode "What's Up, Ex-Doc?", Ellen attempts to explain to Spence's father that Spence no longer wants to be a doctor; using the same elaborate baking analogy that Spence had used with her about leaving out a vital ingredient and having to throw out the entire mixture. However, Spence's father, who is a baker, points out that there is a very simple fix to the situation she describes that would save the mixture.
  • In Falling Skies, the protagonist is a former history teacher in a world six months after an Alien Invasion. He is captured by a gang of racist outlaws, and their leader strikes up a conversation with him. The outlaw thinks the protagonist is stupid for thinking the aliens can be defeated (they have already wiped out most of the major cities and much of the population of Earth). The protagonist compares this invasion to many others throughout our history where the locals have managed to repel the invaders, specifically referencing The American Revolution. The outlaw is quick to point out that this analogy is very wrong given the enormous technological and numerical gap between the "skitters" and humans. His analogy is more appropriate, that of Native Americans defending against invading Europeans with a much smaller success rate.
  • Spaced: Tim's justification for getting back with his ex-girlfriend by comparing it to Daisy's desire for a holiday meets a snag.

Tim: This is something that I've always wanted! You have things you want -- you're always going on about going to Asia and seeing the Taj Mahal.
Daisy: I do want to go to Asia! I do want to see the Taj Mahal! The difference is, the Taj Mahal didn't sleep with its boss behind my back and break my heart!
Tim: Yeah, well... it might if you go to Asia.

  • In Bottom, when Richie and Eddie are on a camping holiday, and Richie is bemoaning the difficulties they're facing:

Richie: Honestly! Alexander the Great never had this trouble!
Eddie: Yeah well, he wasn't a complete dickhead, was he?

  • From According to Jim, when Jim's brother-in-law dates a girl Jim doesn't like, Jim (on separate occasions to his wife and his brother-in-law) makes up a hypothetical scenario of himself dating Osama bin Laden as a comparison. Too bad for him this trope haunts him when his target audiences think differently (his brother-in-law considers the possibility of turning bin Laden in for cash reward, and Jim's wife asks Jim if his relationship with bin Laden is serious).
  • Young Blades: When D'Artagnan says that a woman wears his compliments "like silk," Jacqueline points out that silk is spun by worms.
  • An exchange between Bernard and Sir Humphrey in Yes Prime Minister:

Bernard: Well I can’t accept that, Sir Humphrey, no man is an island.
Sir Humphrey: I agree, Bernard, no man is an island, entire of itself, and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee, Bernard.

  • On The Cosby Show, Cliff once compared himself to Old Yeller, who protected the family. His wife pointed out that Old Yeller was shot.
  • Two examples from Mash:

Major Burns: "Aw, how come I always have to be the Indian, and not the good guy?"
Colonel Potter: "I am one-fourth Cherokee."
Major Burns: "How."

    • In the second example, a patient is claiming to be Jesus Christ. Colonel Flagg shows up, wanting the soldier either in combat or imprisoned for faking.

Colonel Potter: "It takes more than a sound body to make a stallion run. It takes a sound heart, and a sound mind."
Colonel Flagg: "It also takes a rider who's not afraid to go to the whip!"

  • Twice in the same episode of USA High when first Bobby tries to give Lauren a motivational speech and uses Vincent Van Gough as an example...only to be reminded that he cut his ear off. Ashley then tries with this example.

Ashley: I once fell off a horse and a man came up to me and said 'young lady, you better get right back on'. Of course this horse was on a merry-go-round...

Music[edit | hide]

  • There's an old song by The Reflections called "Just Like Romeo and Juliet". The first couple of stanzas use the titular simile to refer to how famous their romance is going to be. By the end, the singer is speculating about how, if he doesn't get his act together, their love will be destroyed by tragedy. Just like Romeo and Juliet.
    • Which provides a little Fridge Horror, actually, about the song. You can see the headlines about a murder-suicide brought on by his lack of employment.
  • The Blue Oyster Cult song "Don't Fear The Reaper" manages to get the Romeo and Juliet analogy right - "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity; we could be like they are".
  • Lady Gaga named herself after Queen's "Radio Gaga," a song about how horrible mainstream radio has gotten. Given her general sensibilities, this is quite possibly intentional.
  • The song "I Found a Loophole" by wizard rock band the Whomping Willows contains this tongue-in-cheek aversion: "We'll be like Romeo and Juliet, except we won't be dead."
  • Taylor Swift's "Love Story" has the singer ask her lover to be her Romeo while she'll be his Juliet and "Scarlett Letter". Possibly an aversion, since the point of the song is how their love is very difficult (like in Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter), but the end of the song shows that both end up Happily Ever After, so yeah...
    • The scarlet letter is actually a badge of shame given for adultery, so I don't think he'd want that...
      • And the "Scarlet Letter" is barely a romance novel, as Taylor Swift understands the term "romance." It was written in the "Romantic Era"
    • What makes this possibly more painful is that the Happily Ever After is just handed to her without any effort. One moment she's questioning whether he even loves her anymore, the next all the problems have gone away and he's proposing to her.
  • In the Black Eyed Peas' song "Imma Be", one of the singers compares himself to a sperm bank. As Todd in the Shadows points out, people also deposit sperm there.
  • Another example Todd pointed out is "Firework".

"Feel like a brief flash of light that exists for 2 seconds before disappearing and is immediately forgotten by the audience."

  • Since Helen Keller was mentioned, 3Oh!3's "Don't Trust Me" has the line "Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips" (Keller was blind and deaf, but learned to talk!).
  • Ke$ha's "Blah Blah Blah" has this lyric: "zip your lip like a padlock." I'm not an expert on padlocks but I'm pretty sure they don't zip.
  • There's a Flight of the Conchords song full of these. Bret is describing a girl he just met and supposedly had a love affair with, and Jermaine keeps undermining his comparisons: "'She was comparable to Cleopatra' 'Quite old, then?' 'She was like Shakespeare's Juliet' 'What, thirteen?'"

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In a Dilbert comic, the Pointy-Haired Boss used an apple to represent the company's "core values". Dilbert pointed out that the apple's core is the part you throw away and added "maybe the stem can represent our loyalty to the company".
    • Dilbert was actually very fond of this. In commentary, Scott Adams wrote that all analogies are bad.
    • Another one.
    • Yet another one has the PHB tell Asok that interns are as important to a company as minks are to a coat. Asok pointed out that minks do not enjoy the benefits of a coat.
    • "I was admiring your insightful analogy."
  • In FoxTrot, Peter once used The Metamorphosis as an example to Jason, who had been transformed into a girl (It Was All Just a Dream), commenting on how well things had worked out for Gregor Samsa. Jason says that Gregor starved to death, abandoned by his family. It then transpires that Peter had never actually finished was still on the first page of the book.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • Hello Cheeky had this, which isn't so much 'exposing another fact about the analogy' as 'exposing the way the analogy couldn't possibly work':

Tim: Did you know that if the entire population of China started marching past your window right now, due to the immensely high birth rate in China, the procession would never end?
Barry: ...But how could they if they were mar--
Tim: Shut up.
Barry: They're marching! They can't--
Tim: No. Shut up, Barry.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Steam: At the beginning of Act V of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, recently married lovers Lorenzo and Jessica recite to each other a poem comparing themselves to other famous lovers. However, the stories of all the other lovers they mention end in deception, death, or both. It may not be obvious to modern audiences and, as Shakespeare never has anyone call Lorenzo and Jessica on this, it may not have been caught by the audience of his day. Still, it counts.
  • In Reefer Madness: The Musical, Jimmy and Mary compare themselves to Romeo and Juliet, not having read the ending. Mary dies because of Jimmy, and Jimmy is arrested for her murder. It's surprisingly tragic for such a funny movie.
    • Mary unintentionally makes the comparison more apt as she's dying: "We are just like Romeo and Juliet; we're happy, young, and ? (cough) ? hemorrhaging blood..."
  • The Drowsy Chaperone has the song "Love Is Always Lovely in the End", in which the singer, Mrs. Tottendale, is blissfully oblivious to the fact that every couple she mentions in the song (Romeo and Juliet, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, (Samson and Delilah) had an unhappy ending. Her butler tries to point this out to her, to no avail.
  • Bye Bye Birdie:

Kim: Miss Alvarez, I'm coming with you!
Rosie: Kim, don't be ridiculous! You're only fifteen!
Kim: Juliet was fourteen when she left home.
Rosie: And look what happened to her!

Georgina: Well, what do you think I am, some kind of a jellyfish that's just going to sit and let you--
Clark: If you'd ever tangled with a jellyfish you'd know they're anything but submissive creatures.

  • In the musical adaptation of Frankenstein, Victor sings a song where he proudly and excitedly calls himself "the modern Prometheus" (the subtitle of the source material novel). Henry Clerval quickly points out he should neither want nor strive to end up like Prometheus and that if he proceeds with his insane plans, "Your fate will be the same as his!"
    • The point, ofcourse, is to show two incompatible worldviews against each other. The myth of Prometheus has been interpreted throughout ages either as going against divine plan and suffering the price, or as fighting against all odds for the betterment of all mankind, regardless of the risks to oneself.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In the very first case of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Larry Butz insists he and his late ex-girlfriend were like "Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Marc Anthony!", and Phoenix thinks, "Didn't they all die?"
    • In the third case of the second game, Moe the Clown insists that he saw clearly the defendant that night as he has eyes like a hawk, and Phoenix thinks "Umm... Don't birds have terrible night vision?".
    • And in the fifth case of the third game, Godot says that "a cornered fox is more dangerous than a jackal". Phoenix counters that a cornered fox is "scared and petrified", which catches the prosecutor off guard for a moment before he can recover.
    • In the bonus case of the first game, Angel Starr compares a rookie detective to a fresh white cheese (just go with it), and the judge says that then he himself is then, "seasoned, yellow, and sharp as a tack!" Ema cheerfully pipes up, "I bet you smell, too!"
  • May occur in a flirtatious exchange between Commander Shepard and Ash Williams in the original Mass Effect. The latter quoted Whitman's "O captain! My captain!" line, and the former was quick to point out that the captain is "fallen cold and dead" in the poem. Which is kind of Harsher in Hindsight when the sequel came out, due to Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome.
  • In the final part of Ghost Trick, Sissel is prompted to possess a fountain and spray "as if your life depended on it!"


Webcomics[edit | hide]

"Most roleplayers have little to no practical experience in military strategy and tactics. So when it comes to playing massed combat situations, one way to decide what to do is to take guidance from historical military campaigns. Emulating the victor is the easy way. If attempting to defend an impossible position with bowmen and knights on foot against Genoese crossbowmen and tens of thousands of armoured, mounted knights, make sure you are heavily outnumbered. If attempting to repel a force of cavalry and men-at-arms with longbowmen on St Crispin's Day, make sure you are vastly outnumbered. If defending a hospital stockade against Zulus, make sure you are enormously outnumbered.
You can choose a different, and more creative, path by doing the opposite of what the losers did. If you field an overwhelming force against a paltry number of defenders, whatever you do, make sure the defenders are not English!"


Web Original[edit | hide]

Penny: You're not really interested in the homeless, are you?
Billy: No, I am, but... It's a symptom. You're treating a symptom, and the disease rages on, consumes the human race. The fish rots from the head, as they say. So what I'm thinking is, why not cut off the head?
Penny: ...Of the human race?
Billy: It's not a perfect metaphor...

    • It's actually a very good analogy, although Penny doesn't know it - Dr. Horrible, being a supervillain, wants take over the world; that is, replace the current leadership; that is, metaphorically cut off the head.
      • She did, in fact, know that—not about the supervillain part, but about changing the system and thus, the leadership. Unfortunately, he was speaking rather quickly, and he was talking about cutting off the head of the human race, so metaphor or no metaphor, that's... a bit grim.
  • Zero Punctuation has had a few, such as this one from his Assassin's Creed II review:

"In heaven the food is Italian, the police are British, the platformers are French (with a pop-up of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), and the shooters are Croatian and it's all run by two international software giants and an electronics corporation. In Hell the food is British the shooters are Canadian and I forget the rest..."

    • This is an analogy backfire when you realize that the Prince of Persia series, the Assassins Creed series, the Tom Clancy games, and Far Cry 2 were all made by Ubisoft Montreal.
    • I think the point of this analogy was to point out that nobody likes the Italians...
  • Me and My Dick:

Joey's Heart: "What do all of history's greatest lovers have in common? Romeo and Juliet! Anthony and Cleopatra! Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet's character!
Joey: "All the guys die horribly first."
Joey's Heart: "Uh eh- BAD EXAMPLE. How about Spider-Man and Mary Jane?"
Joey: "Oh yeah they worked out PERFECTLY."

Emperor Dornkirk: Listen, you can't bake a cake without breaking a few eggs!
Hitomi: Yes, you can. My Grandma used to make me vegan cake all the time!
Dornkirk: You can? Oi, Folken! Did you know you can bake a cake without breaking any eggs?
Folken: Yes my lord, yes you can.
Dornkirk: Do you think that means we should stop killing people?
Folken: No my lord, I think you just need a better metaphor.
Dornkirk: Right! Now listen, you can't test cosmetics without killing a few bunnies!
Hitomi: Yes! Yes, you can!
Dornkirk: Oi, Folken! Did you know -
Folken: Omelet, my lord!
Dornkirk: Folken says you can't make an omelet without killing a few bunnies.

  • This failbook post.
  • During the Two Best Friends Play video of Heavy Rain, Matt calls Heavy Rain "The God of War of video games", because of all the quick time events it has.
  • A parody of "The Creation of Man" has Thunderf00t giving the finger to God, with semi-prominent apologists in the place of angels. The shroud, however, is still in the shape of a brain...
  • Analogy backfire is major theme of the political cartoon commentary site A Good Cartoon, whose title is actually sarcastic; it takes cartoons arguing one perspective and then discusses why its visual elements suggest it would be better used to argue the opposite perspective, and analogy backfire is one aspect of this.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Eek! The Cat tried to cheer some people up by saying they're like a nearby campfire, but the campfire is going out.
  • Rugrats:

Didi: So when do you plan to finish this great invention?
Stu: Did Mozart's wife ask him how long it would take to finish his requiem?
Didi: Stu, Mozart died without finishing his requiem.

  • The Simpsons:
    • Chief Wiggum: "Fat Tony is a cancer on our city! He is the cancer, and I am the... what cures cancer?"
    • Homer: "It's like David and Goliath, but this time David won!"
  • In Freakazoid!, Lord Bravery argues with his wife and mother-in-law about his unsucessful superhero career: "You think Superman started right at the top?" "YES!"
  • In the South Park episode "Damien", Stan is trying to convince Jesus not to give up during his boxing match with Satan.

Stan: What would Nancy Kerrigan do? Huh? Nancy Kerrigan wouldn't give up! When things were looking their darkest, Nancy Kerrigan fought to be the BEST! She wouldn't stop until she was Number One! Nancy Kerrigan wouldn't settle for second best! She wouldn't quit until she brought home the gold!
Kyle: Stan!
Stan: What?
Kyle: Nancy Kerrigan got the silver, dude. She came in second.
Stan: Really?
Kyle: Yeah, dude.
Stan: Oh...Never mind, Jesus. Nancy Kerrigan sucks.

Pinky: Egad Brain, brilliant! Oh, wait, no, you've never play basketball in your life.
Brain: Pish posh. Remember when everyone told Michael Jordan he couldn't play baseball?
Pinky: They were right, Brain.

  • Played with in Beast Wars. Silverbolt compares Blackarachnia to the planet Venus, presumably intending that it be equated to beauty. It backfires because she immediately sums it up as "hot, poisonous, deadly," three traits that describe her rather well, and gets subverted when she thanks him for the compliment. Silverbolt takes a minute to realize she's completely misinterpreted his comparison, positively or not.
  • On The Critic, Marty is chosen for the school play.

Marty Sherman: But I can't act!
Drama Teacher: That's what a young Steve Guttenberg said to me, but look at him now! No, wait... look at him four years ago.

Peggy: Oh, just give me the freaking thing.
Bobby: But you haven't even heard the part about balance.
Peggy: Bobby, I'm sure riding a bike is just like swimming. You hold your breath and kick like crazy. [Tries to ride away and quickly crashes]
Bobby: Mom, are you ok?...You don't know how to swim, do you?
Peggy: Not so much.

  • Pepper Ann uses the Romeo And Juliet analogy as she tries to help her sister and her boyfriend see each other. Nicky points out that Romeo and Juliet ended up dead. Pepper Ann lists off other famous couples that met unfortunate ends, and Nicky shoots each one down.
  • Phineas in Phineas and Ferb decides to make a romantic boat ride around Danville Harmor for Baljeet and his friend Mishti in "That Sinking Feeling"... leading to the very obvious conclusion that he and Ferb had watched Titanic and completely overlooked the tragedy of the ending. Sure enough, the ship ends up getting damaged and sinking. Good thing they had plenty of life preservers.
    • In the same episode, Candace wishes her relationship with Jeremy could be more romantic, like in Romeo and Juliet, but "without all the dying."


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Trojan condoms. Sure, the city of Troy withstood a siege for 10 years, but the adjective "Trojan" in every other case comes from the Trojan Horse, which was used to sneak a bunch of seamen inside the walls and ruin the place.
  • Similarly, Ramses condoms are named after a guy who fathered over 100 children.
  • Hillary Clinton tried to compare herself to Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. A lot of people commented that he lost in the first movie. Presumably the desired implication was that she'd stick it out 'til the end. Even worse, Rocky loses to a charismatic black man. Hillary should have seen it coming.
    • Stephen Colbert used the same metaphor in reference to George W. Bush at the Correspondents' Dinner, and was halfway into it before he realized that Rocky lost to Apollo Creed.

...The point is, it is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face.

      • Colbert seems to like this. He once discussed one politician who used an analogy of the Men of the West's diversionary attack and Iraq distracting the Bush Administration from the election, pointing out that by the terms of the man's analogy, this makes the US Mordor.
  • In the 2007 NCAA Basketball tournament, U. of Memphis center Joey Dorsey, upon being asked about his match-up with future NBA #1 pick Ohio St.'s Greg Oden, infamously remarked that this was a 'David and Goliath' match-up..."and I'm Goliath." Turns out, he was right after all: Dorsey was held scoreless and Oden had a monster game.
    • Even worse, Oden is significantly taller than Dorsey.
  • Anti-Biotechnology groups often refer to genetically modified crops and farm animals as "Frankenfood," presumably arguing that because it was created in a lab like the Frankenstein Monster, it must be as dangerous as the Frankenstein's Monster. Of course, anyone who has read the book or seen the movie knows that the monster was originally innocent and benign and only turned to evil when provoked by the bigotry of humans. On the other hand, it's entirely possible that they did read the novel, and were thinking of Dr. Frankenstein's failure to forsee or take responsibility for the ultimate results of his attempt to play God For Science!. Naturally, Bio-Engineered Food Scientists are quite concerned with testing or tracking their creations, but whether or not they are required to do so enough or to have their research independently verified by non-industry sources is the central issue here.
  • As Jimmy Carr has pointed out, this applies to the people who have described Barack Obama as a cross between JFK and Martin Luther King. Both of whom were shot. Let's hope we won't get something worse than a bad analogy.
    • Being a legislator from Illinois who was elected president, he's also often compared to Abraham Lincoln, another victim of assassination.
    • This rather funny video has a group of Obama campaigners singing One Day More shortly before the election. Youtube commentary was quick to point out that most of the characters of Les Misérables died.
  • When it was revealed that Garry Trudeau had only prepared a single Doonesbury for election day 2008, depicting Obama as the victor, Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for John McCain, said to the media that "We hope the strip proves to be as predictive as it is consistently lame."... I mean, I think I know what he was trying to analogize, but I don't think it parses right.
    • I'd have to say Bounds hit the mark on both counts.
  • After World War I, there were the Communist Spartacist uprisings in Germany. Named after the famous Spartacus who lead the slaves' uprising against the Roman republic-verging-on-empire. And was defeated by Crassus (the richest man in Rome, and maybe in the world history), and crucified together with 6000 of his fellow slaves. Guess what happened to the German Communists. (OK, they weren't crucified, at least not literally.)
  • In the best Romeo and Juliet example, a Swedish ad campaign for pasta sauce used the slogan "What would Romeo be without Juliet?" (The correct answer being "alive". But a very Emo Teen, however.)
  • Glenn Beck compared himself to Howard Beale, apparently missing the fact that Beale went insane... and eventually was murdered by his own network.
    • Keith Olbermann has compared him to Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd. Less an example, because Olbermann fully knows what happens to Rhodes at the end of the movie...
      • Plus the fact that all the evidence points to Beck believing his own hype. Rhodes never does, just telling viewers what he knows they want to hear.
      • Olbermann also compares himself to Beale, to the point of imitating the famous 'Mad as hell' scene (complete with raincoat) on Countdown.
  • A deliberate case of backfiring analogy. When member of Soviet Academy of Science Sakharov became a dissident, the speaker of the academy held a meeting:

(Speaker) -Comrades, we have an unprecedented issue here: about nullifying the membership in our Academy for Sakharov...
(Capitza) -Why unprecedented? Hitler once nullified the membership of Einstein in German Academy...
The issue was promptly dropped.

Pilot: Welcome to the Titanic of airliners.
—Delta plane, La Guardia
  • When Angus Deayton was fired from his job on Have I Got News for You after the second round of wacky cocaine-and-prostitute hijinks, longtime panelist from the show said "We've lost Zeppo, it's no big deal". You'd think a very big aficionado of old comedy (to the point of having written a book on the subject) like Merton would remember that while Zeppo is often perceived as the blandest, a lot of people claim he's just as funny as his brothers, but subtler and more of an acquired taste.
    • Although like the Marx Brothers post-Zeppo, Have I Got News for You managed to continue clicking along quite nicely without Deayton, which restores the validity of the analogy.
  • The analogy that life is like a roller coaster in that it has its ups (good times) and downs (bad times). When a rollercoaster is going down, isn't that when it is the most fun?
    • Getting to the peak (good points in life) takes a lot of work, making your way through problems, getting everything taken care of, etc. Heading down to the bottom generally involves just messing around and having fun. Think of the trip down as a transition from good to bad, until you notice the bad stuff (hit the bottom) you're having a great time.
      • So... Life is about suffering? You're putting a ton of effort into getting to the point where you want to be (which can apparently only be unpleasant) and the second you try to enjoy what you've worked up to, everything is bound to get worse for you? If that generalization were true, then that means that, no matter what anyone does, they're ultimately going to be unhappy.
      • In the same vein you could say that life is about lifting yourself from unhappiness to enjoy the sweat of your brows, even if only for a few moments. Especially since Roller coasters end on one final drop, you die doing what you love.
        • Or you could say that the ups and downs just add excitement and drama. After all riding a roller coaster at its peak would be fun—you could see the horizon, tower over the city—but you'd always be worried about falling; and even if you weren't, after awhile you'd realize that you're just coasting along. There's no problem or intrigue. That's what the drops and turns are: not necessarily bad things but dramatic, scary, life-changing events that add to the drama of life—that make you sick and excited and scream, and then eventually kill you. ... So I guess it's not a perfect metaphor.
  • There are several companies named for Midas, the king whose touch turned things to gold. Excellent, until you remember that this included all the things he touched that were better before they were solid gold (water, food, air, his daughter...)
  • Changing Values Dissonance and meaning along with poor phrasing or lack of context can cause an Analogy Backfire backfire. For example, the phrase "It's always darkest before the dawn" (a common cliche for comedians' complaints) is not inaccurate because of false dawn, but rather means "It's darkest before it starts to get lighter".
  • Often times political debates, such as the healthcare debate, involve comparisons that run against point one is trying to make. Real Time with Bill Maher involved Bill mimicking sarcastic anti-government questions before answering them with a Blunt Yes.

Bill: I mean, how stupid is it when people say "oh that's what we need, the federal government telling Detroit how to make cars, or Wells Fargo how to run a bank, you want them to look like the post office?"
[beat]
Bill: Yeah. I mean, a place that take a little note from my hand from LA on Monday, to give it to my sister in New Jersey on Wednesday, for 42 cents? Well let me be the first to say that I would be THRILLED if America's healthcare system was anywhere near as functional as the post office.

    • Too bad Maher is just pushing over a strawman here, since the real comparison everyone makes is to the DMV, not the post office.
      • Also an issue is the steady decline of postal services, including shuting down many rural/small town offices, steadily increasing rates and recently plans to shut down processing centers so, no, that letter mailed on Monday WON'T be getting there by Wednesday after all. What might have been a good line once is looking a bit hilarious in hindsight.
  • Look at the Critical Research Failure page.
  • During the 2010 British Airways strike, Sir Ian McKellen said "Nice well-behaved hobbits don't join unions". David Langford was quick to point out that "nice well-behaved hobbits were easy meat for Saruman until the rough aggressive ones got home."
    • and when they did get home, the hobbits took "collective action" to a whole new level (as in, shooting their oppressors by hundreds).
  • PETA recently attempted to put up a billboard in Ohio depicting a sow, a piglet and a human microwaving a pork chop in reference to the China Arnold murder case along with the caption "Everybody's somebody's baby." For those unfamiliar with the case, Ms. Arnold was convicted of cooking her own child. While this behavior is congruent with that of many domestic pigs toward their offspring, that was probably not the message that PETA intended.
  • Back in the older days of GameFAQs, the old administator, C Jay C, compared notorious message board Life, the Universe, and Everything to "a cancer" due to its tendency to invade other boards and cause general mayhem wherever it goes. LUE was quick to point out that "there's no cure for cancer", which briefly became the message board's motto.
  • In April 2011, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, trying to connect to younger voters, said that "If this was a Lady Gaga song, the relationship between the youth vote and Barack Obama would be 'Bad Romance.' " Apparently he missed the point of the song—to want all of someone, their good AND their bad.
  • During the 2010 California gubernatorial election, Meg Whitman said in a speech she wanted California to be like it was back when she first moved there. It took approximately 30 seconds for Jerry Brown's campaign to put out a commercial helpfully pointing out that when Whitman had moved to California, Brown had been the governor.
  • Not exactly an allusion, but upon being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, point guard Jason Kidd said that he was going to turn his team (that had been doing poorly) around 360 degrees. Hopefully he meant 180, otherwise he's not going to help much.
  • A TV Tropes related one! Walt Disney has an extensive Corporate responsibility page. In the "Children and Family" section, they have a Standards and Practices page located here. The show they use to illustrate it? Wizards of Waverly Place, noted for getting the you-know-what past the you-know-what.
  • A Mexican left-leaner informative/satirical political magazine ran an informative strip criticizing the Mexican Drug War, denouncing it as being orchestrated by "greedy U.S. capitalists" in order to take control of Mexico just as the Opium Wars were orchestrated by "greedy British capitalists" to take control of China; unfortunately if the parallel was correct then it would be the Mexican greedy capitalists the ones who would want to take control of the U.S. and impose the legal sale of drugs.
  • The saying that encourages people to be nice rather than coarse: "You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar." Some cynical people will quickly point "Who would want to attract flies?"
    • Or as Xkcd would point out, you actually attract more flies with vinegar. I guess Nice Guys Finish Last, then.
      • It is also true, that you can attract more flies with a nice pile of manure then either of the above.
    • Winston Groom once wrote in Forrest Gump that "...you can catch more flies with garbage than either of them other two things; assuming you're into catching flies."
  • The saying "sure as the sky is blue". Most of the time the sky isn't blue - at night it's black, at sunset & sunrise it's all the colors of the rainbow, and if you count clouds it's grey / white a lot of the time as well.
  • People often use the phrase "like Daniel in the lions den" or "the trials of Job" when discussing someone going through a horrible situation. The reference is usually meant to discourage people from taking risky steps, etc. However most people fail to remember that the lions didn't eat Daniel, and that after all his trials and tribulations, Job was rewarded with twice as much as he had lost. The metaphor ends up actually encouraging people to take risks in the hope that things might work out for the best.
  1. In The Bible, the walls of Jericho crumble because of sound. Okay, more like a divine, sonic Holy Hand Grenade, but the point is, the walls of Jericho crumbled from practically no impact at all - the Israelites didn't even toss a pebble at it. Clearly the word "impenetrable" was grossly misapplied.
  2. There are delicate references to Jekyll having some particular unmentionable tastes in whores.
  3. It's worth noting that him saying the lines was not supposed to be a spontaneous romantic gesture, as he was saying the lines over the actor.