Anything But That

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I would do anything for love

But I won't do that
—Meatloaf, "Anything for love"

Standard response when someone is threatened with something. It tends to come off as a bit of an overreaction; the speaker must know that there are far worse things that could happen, but might be jusified if it is their worst fear and/or a Fate Worse Than Death. Often played for comedy when the threat is relatively minor.

Classic reaction to when family or the Band of Brothers are threatened. For many heroes, someone they love being hurt because of them is literally the worst punishment they could possibly receive at the hands of a villain.

Sometimes the reaction to a Cool and Unusual Punishment and Suckiness Is Painful. See also Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?. When the speaker wants or needs whatever he or she is being threatened with, it's Briar Patching. Frequently paired with "We Have Ways of Making You Talk". See also I Take Offense to That Last One.

Examples of Anything But That include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Code Geass R2, this is how Kallen reacts to Suzaku interrogating her with Refrain. Understandable, since Refrain would cause her to give up the Black Knights' secrets. More importantly, her mother has been addicted to the drug for years, so Kallen is understandably terrified of being subjected to its damage.
  • Used humorously in an episode of Pokémon. Team Rocket demand that Misty hand over a water-type, when this happens:

Jessie: Give us a water-type Pokemon, twerp!
(Psyduck pops out of its Pokeball, with its usual dumb look)
James: NO! NOT THAT ONE! Please don't make us take Psyduck!

Film[edit | hide]

Dr. Klahn: The CIA thinks they can infiltrate the Mountain of Dr. Klahn!
CIA Agent: You can't scare me, you slant-eyed yellow bastard!
Dr. Klahn: Take him to... Detroit!
CIA Agent: No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that!

Carrie Laughlin: Please don't let them be as boring as Brian's friends. Anything but that.

  • Spaceballs: Rico's "Oh, shit! Oh, no-no-no-no! Please, no-no-no! No, not that!" followed by Dark Helmet's Schwartz-assisted Groin Attack.
    • "Yes. That."
  • Shrek.

Gingerbread Man: "Not my gum-drop buttons!"

  • Invoked in Max Keeble's Big Move: "I'm going to mete out a punishment to you that is so severe, future generations will refer to it as "The Keeble." They will beg on bended knee-- "Oh, please, sir! Not the Keeble, sir. I swear I'll never misbehave again, if you'll just spare me... The Keeble."
  • In the 1932 Bela Lugosi film White Zombie, when the evil zombie-master, Murder Legendre, suggests to the planter Beaumont that he can gain the heroine's affections by changing her into a zombie, Beaumont recoils shouting, "Not that!" He repeats the remark later, when learning that Lugosi has an avian familiar: "You! The vulture! No, no! Not that! Not that!"
  • In 1940's Crimes at the Dark House, the Dastardly Whiplash Villain Protagonist Sir Percival Glyde (Tod Slaughter) declares to the blackmailing lawyer, Isidor Fosco, "Oh, I've been longing to sink my fingers in your fat, greasy little throat!" to which Fosco replies, "No! No! No! Not that! Not that!"
  • In Mary Poppins, when Mr. Banks is being drummed out of the regiment bank, as the younger Mr. Dawes prepares to flip his umbrella inside-out, one of the board members cries out, "No! Not that!"
  • In 1980's Flash Gordon, Princess Aura utters the immortal line, "No! Not the Bore Worms!"
  • From The Wicker Man remake: "No, no, not the bees!"
  • Hairspray (2007): You almost miss it, but Penny shrieks "Not the jump rope!" as her mother threatens her.
  • In Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy, Big Boy Caprice tells his rival Lips Manlis that he looks dirty... he needs a bath... And as his men drag the luckless gangster away, he's screaming "Not the bath! Not the bath! Big Boy, not the ba-a-ath - ". Understandable, since the "bath" entails being drowned in concrete.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Mayson Drake: [after Lois saves her life] Keep that up and we may have to start liking each other.
Lois Lane: [smiling] Anything but that.

  • Not exactly the same wording, but when Jesse proposes a sing-off with Finn for Rachel's heart in Glee, Rachel's horrified, breathy little "No!" expresses a similar sentiment.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, Jack cries "Not him!" when the 456 expels its virus into the air, infecting Ianto.
  • "No, not the mind probe!" line from the Doctor Who special "The Five Doctors".

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Played horrifyingly straight in 1984. " DO IT TO JULIA!!!"
    • And spoofed brilliantly in Mystery Science Theater 3000's version of "High School Bigshot" when the smart kid gets caught writing a paper for the pretty girl "She's the thought criminal! Put the rat mask on her!"
  • Br'er Rabbit is possibly an ur-example (at least in American folklore) -- then Subverts it. Turns out, he's quite at home in the briar patch.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Meat Loaf would do anything for love. Yes he would do anything for love. Oh he would do anything for love...but he won't do that.
    • Arguably subverted, the only thing he won't do for love is betray his lover's trust.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Dr. Klahn: Show him Batman and Robin!
CIA Agent: No! No, please! Anything but that!

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Danger Mouse: I'm taking the direct approach.
Penfold: Direct approach! Oh no, no no! Not that! Anything but that, please!

  • Used in the Robin Hood episode of the ALF Tales cartoon, when King Richard sentences Prince John and the Sheriff to 200 Hours of Watching the Home Shopping Channel. They are dragged off kicking and screaming, "No! No! Anything but that!"
  • Looney Tunes: "NOT HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! NOT HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!"
    • This was a recurring gag in the Looney Tunes shorts It's Hummer Time and Early To Bet, both directed by Robert McKimson. The unnamed cat protagonist is put by his bulldog antogonist through a series of bizarre punishments, each of which he recoils from with a "No, no! Not that! Not '________'! Not that! NOOOOT THHAAAATT!"
    • Superman: The Man of Steel #3 featured a dark Shout-Out to these cartoons when Magpie's version of "Happy Birthday" had a lit dynamite stick in a mook's mouth, as another mook sobbed the above line.
  • The Lion King.

Scar: Sing something with a little...bounce in it.
Zazu: (sings) It's a small world after all...
Scar: NO! No. Anything but that.

    • And earlier in the film:

Zazu: Oh, NO! NOT THE BIRDY BOILER!

  • In an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails is rescued from Robotnik's clutches by Sonic, but wants to stay and help fight off the baddies. Sonic convinces him to leave by threatening to tell everyone his real name is Miles if he doesn't. A mortified Tails screams, "NO!! NOT THAT!!" before flying away THROUGH the nearest wall.
  • The Futurama movie Bender's Game had a scene where Bender, believing himself to be a knight of yore, started firing silverware at Fry, Leela's family and Zoidberg.

Zoidberg Not the SPORK!

  • In a Dexter's Laboratory episode featuring a James Bond style photo-workshop villain, one of his female henchmen reacts thus to a punishment of...being blinded with a camera-flash producing eye.
  • Bugs Bunny in the spoof of 1001 Arabian Nights. As they prepare to throw him in boiling oil he says that's quite fine, but just as long as they don't throw him down that deep, dark hole. The hole of course is his way out of the place and he escapes once they throw him in.
  • When Peter Venkman of The Real Ghostbusters encounters a phase-shifting ghost in "Drool, the Dogfaced Goblin", he sees a giant cockroach. Even after all the beasts he's encountered, cockroaches are still the only thing that terrifies him. (Then again, we are talking about New York...)
    • Extreme Ghostbusters later revisited the concept with "Fear Itself," a being that caused one's fears to actually materialize. Again, the creature wasn't evil: When the Ghostbusters cornered it, they found a wizened, bug-eyed thing cowering before them. They decided to leave it alone.
  • Ms. Wakeman says this in the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Puppet Bride" after Little Acorn threatens to sing "the song" over and over.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Put a phobic person with the thing they fear.