Lame Comeback

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Scott: This band sucks.
Monique: That's what they'll be saying about you on Sunday.

Scott: At least I... wait... something... you... insult...

In a situation where the usual tropes call for a clever rejoinder, sometimes the absence of one can have the same effect (as far as the audience is concerned).

Related to Comeback Tomorrow, except here there is no comeback.

Also see Dissimile, Metaphorgotten and Buffy-Speak for different kinds of subverted verbal setups. See Your Mom, Big Stupid Doodoo Head and No, You for straighter examples.

Truth in Television, you know who you are.

Examples of Lame Comeback include:

Comic Books

Scott I... but... it's... not... it's totally... it's...'re not the boss of... me?

    • Later:

Scott: This band sucks.
Monique: That's what they'll be saying about you on Sunday.
Scott: At least I... wait... something... you... insult...
Ramona: Scott, that was not a good comeback.
Stephen Stills: That was actually not bad for Scott.

    • Even later:

Scott: Shut up, you... guy...
Wallace: Better comebacks, Scott!

    • This also happens to some of the Evil Exes, like Matthew Patel in the first volume...

Scott: C'mon, man, dish! Got any embarassing stories?
Matthew: Your Mom is an embarrassing story!

    • ...and Todd Ingram in the third volume:

Scott: I don't like you.
Todd: Tell it to the cleaning lady on Monday.
Scott: ... Huh?
Todd: Because you'll be dust by then.
Scott: ...?
Todd: Because I'm going to pulverize you sometime this weekend. And the cleaning lady, she... cleans dust. She dusts. And she has weekends off, so Monday...
Envy: What the hell are you talking about?


  • Singin in The Rain: "I make more money than... Calvin Coolidge... put together!"
  • The Big Lebowski contains an example that, due to the Dude's sheer unflappable laid-backness being combined with Jesus Quintana's over-the-top arrogance, turns this trope into an artform, to the point where Memetic Mutation has in fact made this an actual comeback that is successful:

Jesus: You ready to be fucked, man? I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we're gonna fuck you up.
The Dude: Yeah, well, you know, that's just like... uh... your opinion man.

  • In Tommy Boy, after Tommy sets a bag of M&M's on the dashboard and they pour into an open slot:

Richard Hayden: Oh that sounds good: melted chocolate inside the dash, that really ups the resale value.
Tommy: I think you'll be okay here, they have a thin candy shell. 'Surprised you didn't know that.
Richard Hayden: I think your brain has a thick candy shell.
Tommy: Your... Your brain has the shell on it.
Richard Hayden: Are you talking?
Tommy: Shut up, Richard.

  • In Funny People, George is verbally abusing Ira after Ira has inadvertently destroyed George's admittedly slim chances of getting back together with 'The One That Got Away'. Ira—having put up with all the shit he's willing to take from George by this point—proceeds to completely demolish the other man and basically pegs him as a pathetic, bitter, self absorbed and self loathing man who even if he had everything he ever wanted still would find some way to fuck it up and be completely miserable because he doesn't even know how to be happy himself, much less inspire it in other people. Faced with this verbal assault, George's comeback—that Ira isn't funny—is exactly as pathetic as it sounds. And unfortunately, Ira has a comeback for that also.
  • From Serenity:

Mal: You want to run this ship?
Jayne: Yes!
Mal: Well... you can't!

  • In Hook, Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan when he engages in the verbal duel with Rufio.
    • He quickly develops his own successful brand of insults, though. His opponent, Rufio, is eventually reduced to calling him "You stupid... you stupid man!"
  • Hercules Returns - Urses mocks Samson, trying to provoke him into a fight to see whether or not he's faking the loss of his strength. Samson's response?

Samson, pitifully: I'm really angry now. You know what you are? You're a big poop.

  • Brick Tamland, from Anchorman, has a few of these.

Brick: Where'd you get your clothes...the...toilet store?

Kip: Your mom goes to college!

    • And the original statement wasn't even directed at him. Or even an insult.
  • In Shallow Hal, after Jason Alexander brags that he is "bigger", Hal takes about 8 seconds to respond "Yeah, bigger than a mouse's". Jason calls him out on taking too long; that's why it's called a "quip", not a "slowp".
  • In Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, towards the end, when Harold confronts his two co-workers.

Harold: Shut up, cock-boy.
Co-Worker: Cock-boy?
Harold: Yeah, cock-boy. You're just stalling for time because you're not quick enough to come up with a comeback.
Co-Worker: You don't think I'm quick enough - he doesn't think I'm quick enough. Well I got news for you! I AM quick enough... Cock-Boy!

  • Manta, Manta from Germany. The main character who drives an Opel Manta and becomes the Butt Monkey of a radio moderator who tells Manta jokes all the time. Finally, he gets revenge when he breaks in at the radio station and has the opportunity to say his opinion on the radio.

Bertie: "What's the difference between a guy telling Manta jokes and an asshole? There is none!"


  • In American Psycho, when somebody calls the protagonist a "fucking yuppie", he responds: "Hey... You may think I'm a really disgusting yuppie but I'm not, really."
  • Kate's banter tends to be hit-and-miss. When she's on her game, she's pretty witty. When she's off-balance, her inner monologue and the people around her are perfectly willing to point out how embarrassed she should be.

Live Action TV

  • Blackadder did this a couple of times despite usually being very good with a comeback.

Captain Rum: Aaah, courtiers to the Queen, you're nothing but lapdogs to a slip of a girl!
Blackadder: Better a "lapdog to a slip of a girl" than a... git!
Captain Rum: So you do have some spunk in you!

    • In Blackadder The Third, George combines this with Comeback Tomorrow, because he can't even think of a lame comeback on the spur of the moment:

George: Only the other day, Prime Minister Pitt called me an idle scrounger, and it wasn’t until ages later that I thought how clever it would have been to have said, "Oh, bugger off, you old fart!"

  • From Friends, when Chandler is in a fight with his girlfriend:

Girl: I'm leaving. Call me when you decide to grow up!
Chandler: Well don't expect that to happen anytime soon!

    • Chandler, despite being known for his sense of humor, has a lot of these:

Joey: (while playing football) Prepare to feel very bad about yourself.
Chandler: Hey, well, I've been preparing for that my entire life! ...Or something about you that's mean!

  • In the That '70s Show episode "Eric's Depression" Eric and Donna have a shouting match (it was shortly after their breakup) in which Donna calls Eric a dillhole. Eric's response is to call her a "double dillhole". As soon as Donna leaves he berates himself for saying something that stupid.
    • In the episode "Eric's Hot Cousin":

Jackie: Lobster face!
Donna: Little Red Riding... Bitch!

    • In the same episode:

Donna: Eric, my sunburn will fade, but your shame will last forever.
Eric: Yeah well, at least my shame won't... peel.

Ruby: It's called witchcraft, shortbus.
Dean: You're the shortbus... shortbus.

Hank: Hey, hey - you like your job?
Phil: No.
Hank:... Well watch it.

  • Glee: Shannon Beiste. Her comebacks are actually so lame that they leave her rival Sue speechless.

Beiste: Do not get up in The Panther's business, lady. You're all coffee and no omelette.
Sue: [whispering to herself] That doesn't make any sense...

  • The West Wing has this a couple times, one when Sam meets Mallory after she dumped him following his whole 'being-photographed-with-a-callgirl' scandal:

Sam: Can I just say I was the one who was in trouble? I was the one under siege, it was my picture in the paper and I don't know why I need to call you and explain myself.
Mallory: It was a picture of you and a callgirl.
Sam: Oh, like there aren't any pictures of you and a callgirl.
Mallory: No. There aren't any pictures of me and a callgirl.
Sam: ... Well, that's a crime.

Josh: Let's do this: find out what her problem is, solve it and then, I don't know, do something else.
Donna: You're the reason there are term limits.
Josh: Yeah? You're the reason... Nothing. Nothing's happening. Nothing's there.

  • Spaced, when Tim and Daisy are arguing about Tim's desire to get back with his unfaithful, selfish and manipulative ex-girlfriend, who has made overtures to him:

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.

    • Tim makes another lame comeback after claiming Daisy's dog, Colin, will eventually grow up to savage the man repairing the tumble dryer:

Daisy: "We don't have a tumble dryer..."
Tim: "You will my friend, you will..."

  • Lyle's inability to come up with a decent comeback is what drives his romantic interest in a recent episode of Kingdom
  • In The Big Bang Theory:

(Sheldon's phone rings) Leslie: Don't turn it off, you might miss your call from the Nobel committee letting you know you've been nominated as Dumbass Laureate of the year.
Sheldon: Oh yeah? Well... you wouldn't even be nominated!

  • The Monkees: Famous line by Micky (who often mixes up his words).

Ronnie: I'm going to contact the authorities!
Micky: ...You do and I'll be sorry!

  • Requisite Buffy the Vampire Slayer example:
    • In "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" Cordelia is giving out chocolates to drum up votes to become May Queen.

Cordelia: Here's a chocolate... (realises it's Buffy) Oh, I don't think I need the loony-fringe vote.
Buffy: Well, I don't even like chocolates! (to herself) Okay, that was the lamest comeback of our times.

    • And this one...

Buffy: Let's be realistic Willow, your basic spells are usually only about 50/50.
Willow: Oh yeah? Well... so's your face!

    • In "Superstar" reality is changed so Buffy is overshadowed by another superhero, affecting her confidence and therefore Deadpan Snarker skills.

Spike: Back off Betty.
Buffy: It's Buffy, you big bleached...stupid guy.

  • The plot of an episode of Seinfeld was George trying to come up with a good comeback to use on a guy who burned him. All he could come up with was "The jerk store called, and it's running out of you." He's so proud of this that he travels to a city he doesn't want to go to, and makes an ass of himself again, just so the guy will insult him again so he can make this comeback. After all that, the guy deflects it in two seconds with "why should they worry when you're their main supply?"
    • In the episode, "The Dealership", Elaine criticizes Puddy (her boyfriend) for constantly giving the high-five to people:

Elaine: You’re a salesman now - and the high-five is.. it’s very grease monkey.
Puddy: What did I tell you about that?
Elaine: I’m sorry, but the high-five is just so stupid.
Puddy: Oh yeah? I’ll tell you what’s stupid. You. Stupid.
Elaine: Well, that is really mature.
Puddy: Yeah? So are you.
Elaine: Huh?
Puddy: You’re the grease monkey.

Bob Fossil: Hey Moon. What are you supposed to be, Zorro on gay night?
Howard: ...
Bob Fossil:... Nice comeback.
Howard: (after Fossil leaves) Uh, yeah well... your uniform is too tight and you look stupid!

  • From Lost, in one of the instances where Hurley gets tired of Sawyer's nicknames:

Sawyer: What's your problem, Jumbotron?
Hurley: Shut up, red... neck... man.
Sawyer: ...Touche?

  • In the Better Off Ted episode "The Impertence of Communicationizing", Phil laments his lack of ability to insult people:

Phil: The best comeback I ever came up with was, "You're right, I'll work on that."

Sam: Hit it, Fred-Weiner!
Freddie: Sure thing, Sam... jerk.

Echo: You're so corny.
Paul: You're...fat!

Dr. Cox: Look, newbie, if you go ahead and leave this hospital knowing only one thing -- and God save me, it looks like there's a real chance that might happen -- please let this be that one thing: I'm in charge, and I don't care about your opinion. Now [whistles] go get me a cup of coffee.
J.D.: [thinking] Whatever. Just avoid the shoulder bump, catch the elevator, and make a great wise-ass remark before the doors close!
J.D.: Hoohoo, hey, Dr. Cox, if you're so smart, maybe you should just... go ahead and be the... you're the kind of... [elevator door closes] Oh, dammit!

    • In the episode "His Story IV":

J.D.: I know all about the war.
The Janitor: Really? (takes out a globe) Point to Iraq.
J.D.: Why do you keep a globe on you janitor cart?
The Janitor: In case I get lost. I'll give you a hint. It's not the country shaped like a boot.
J.D.: (points to a country) That's Iraq.
The Janitor: That's China.
J.D.: You're China! (walks away)
The Janitor: ...That's an outrageous accusation.

    • J.D. also claimed at one point to have a comeback for every situation. Unfortunately, this comeback was always "so's your face".
    • Occurs twice in the same conversation here.

Dr. Cox: Did you feel that you weren't quite annoying enough without adding a delusional sense of grandeur? Because, I promise you, you are annoying enough. In fact, you're the number one contender for the middleweight annoyance crown!
J.D.: Well you're the number one jealous... w-weight, for the... jealous weight, jealous... ch-champ.
Dr. Cox: HE'S DONE IT! HE'S DONE IT! DORIAN'S THE MOST! ANNOYING! MAN! IN THE WORLD! Who would have ever thought? A Journeyman annoyer like Dorian...
J.D.: (As Dr Cox is leaving the room) You were a close second.

Topanga: I can't believe you said that to me, you stunted little whiny brillo-head!
Cory: Oh yeah, well you're a short little nasal voiced blimpo lipped... so and so! (whispering) I need more time.


  • An embarrassing scene in the opera Le Grand Macabre, by Gyorgy Ligeti, has the White and Black Ministers calling names at each other—in alphabetical order. It starts out strong with "Ass-kisser" and "Bloodsucker", until:

White: I...I can't think of anything with I...[1]
Black: I can't think of anything with J...Kidnapper![2]

Professional Wrestling

  • Dave Batista became infamous for saying to CM Punk, "Yeah,'re a punk!"
    • SPEAKING of Batista, there was that hilarious time where Batista was to face The Great Khali for the world championship, and Khali was demonstrating his strength by crushing a basketball in his hands. Batista's response was, "Basketballs... don't hold grudges! Basketballs don't wanna knock your teeth down your throat! And you're not gonna be in the ring with a basketball Summerslam for the World Heavyweight Championship!"
  • Kurt Angle in the WWE, when he was still on his square American Hero persona.


  • In Hello Cheeky, John Junkin gets one of these to Barry Cryer.

John: Here, Barry, I'll tell you something interesting.
Barry: Why change the habit of a lifetime?
John: I'll have you know, I'm taking repartée classes.
Barry: Alright, let's hear your witty repartée, then.
John: Uhh... ...shut up. ...I start classes tomorrow.


Keating: Oh, no, they sent the Doctor to get us,
It's like being flogged with warm lettuce
And cabbages, the feral abacus
Come to savage us, he must be ravenous, ravenous!
Mr. Mediocrity from the Bunyip Aristocracy
The Member for Wentworth should be in bed
He's like a lizard on a rock, alive but looking dead
Old Dozy knows when I've got him
He always turns around when I drop one on him
It's something he can't psychologically handle
Him and his band of constitutional vandals
Drones and pansies, frauds and mugs,
Blackguards, harlots, pigs and thugs,
And your mindless, stupid, foul-mouthed grubs,
You couldn't even raffle a chook in a pub.
Your barnyard bullies, crims and ghouls,
Dullards, dimwits, clowns and fools and born-to-rules,
Over here we're born to rule you
Your dishonest crew, you almost make me spew.
Loopy intellectual hobos,
Brain-damaged dummies and desperadoes,
Harebrained hillbilly cheats, cheats, cheats
(They'll always be cheats, cheats, cheats)
Useless motley corporate crooks and clots!
Stunned-mullet rustbucket boxheads!
Scumbags, and alley cats!
You wanna fight back? FIGHT BACK! FIGHT BACK FROM THAT!
Hewson: Oh, you bloody... your mom's a... bitch!

I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall -- I will do such things --
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth.

Video Games

Teammate: You had -3 kills and 41 deaths!
Master Chief: Your Mom had -3 kills in bed last night.

Saddler: Perhaps you are disillusioned with overconfidence just because you killed my small-time subordinate?
Leon: Saddler, you're small-time!
Saddler: Oh... hahahahahaha! Writhe in my cage of torment my friend.

  • The MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing includes a mini-game called Insult Beer Pong, in which you have to respond appropriately to various insults (e.g., if your opponent says "When I'm through with you, you'll be crying like a little girl," you say "It's an honor to learn from such an expert in the field"). But you can't just start with battle; you have to research the insults and comebacks. So you grab The Big Book of Pirate Insults, get into fights with various pirates, insult them at random from the book, and learn various witty comebacks, which are then available for you during the match.[3] If a pirate can't think of an insult, he'll stammer out something like "Yeah? Well... so's your face!" - and there are five possible Lame Comebacks for you to use during the match (if you want to lose), including "Stop waving it around like a featherduster!" - an extended reference to Monkey Island.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Sniper has a domination quote in reference to the Spy:

The Spy: I never really was on your side.
The Sniper: I was never on your side either! ... Wanker!

  • As mentioned above, the "insult swordfighting" in Monkey Island is based not around actual fencing ability, but about being able to come up with clever comebacks to your opponents' insults to gain advantage in the duel. There are a couple of stock lame comebacks - "I am rubber, you are glue" or "Boy are you ugly!" - which don't work on any insult. In later games, "how appropriate - you fight like a cow!" goes from being a legitimate retort to Guybrush's go-to Lame Comeback whenever somebody insults him.
  • In Portal 2, during the Final Boss fight, if you let Rick the Adventure Sphere talk long enough, he will eventually ask if you have a "Cool Line" prepared for when you kill Wheatley. After some unsuccessful attempts to think one up himself, he will try to invoke one by asking Chell to get Wheatley to say "You two have been a thorn in my side for long enough!", reminding you to do so as he is plugged in. Once all three cores are plugged in and the final part of the fight starts up, Wheatley's dialogue will have now changed slightly to include Rick's setup line word-for-word. Rick then delivers his "Cool Line". It's... a little underwhelming.

Rick: "Yeah? Well this thorn... is about to take you down. Man, that sounded a whole lot better in my head."

Desmond:(stereotypical Italian accent) Ey, what's-a-matter you Altair?
Rebecca: That's racist!
Desmond: You're racist!

  • In the remake of Splatterhouse (made worse by the fact that the villain had something like 200 years to think carefully to an appropriate comeback:

Rick: (after hearing Doctor West's Motive Rant): "Yeah, well... Fuck you."
West: "No, Rick! Fuck you!"

Leng: You're still slow, Shepard!
Shepard: I'm only slow because I'm not running! You ran at the Citadel! You ran on Thessia!
Leng: Sh...Shut up!

Web Comics

Hitlerella: Oh my, did you just make a sweeping generalization that all Germans have masculine features? What about Heidi Klum? She's German.
Wonderella: So's Your Mom.
Hitlerella: Um, YES? Wait, did you just actually say that?

Black Mage: What did you THINK I meant every time I said I was going to burn the world?
Red Mage: Who cares?
Thief: Yeah, you're a weiner. You couldn't burn a match.
Black Mage: Yeah, well... Your face... is ugly. Shut up!

Angus: Does that mean you're gonna wash [your hair] more than twice a year now?
Marigold: I'll- I'll wash you more than twice a year! B-because you're a stupid jerk! Who smells!

Rice Boy: You aren't very helpful, Bor.
Bor the Very Large: Uh-huh, well - you aren't very large.

  • In DMFA, Aliph Soulstealer (a.k.a. Dark Pegasus) goes on a rant that starts here, continues here, and ends here with the following exchange:

Kria: Yeah, well... You're a buttface.

Cleo: I'm gonna warn you, my character has crazy good range.
Ivy: Your face has crazy good range. From ugly to... super ugly.
Cleo: Hee hee. I love when they do the little victory dance.
Ivy: I love your face when it's ugly. Which is all the time.

  • In Goblins, Minmax is notoriously bad at witty banter.

Kin: Minmax! Stop throwing your clothes into the hole!
Minmax: I haven't thrown anything into the hole yet! You're the one throwing craziness into the hole 'cause you're craz... No, wait, you're... You're throwing... Yourself... No. Wait. You're... Yeah! Yeah! You're throwing yourself into the crazy hole!
Minmax: Heh. Burn.

Vaarsuvius: And how would your cunning master plan have accounted for the fact that Durkon would have required 5000 gp worth of diamonds as a material component to power the Raise Dead spell?
Diamonds, I hasten to add, that he does not, in fact, possess?
Belkar: Well, uh...
Obviously, I would have...
Belkar: SHUT UP!

  • Brooke "Aphrodite" Lennox Rival Angels is a ditz. The following exchange is just one of many, many examples:

Monica: Maybe that'll shut you up, idiot!
Brooke: You're not smart!

Web Original

  • Red vs. Blue has a lot of these, despite the fact that the initial insults are hardly clever themselves.

Simmons: Suck it, Blue!
Caboose: No, YOU suck it... Blue...

    • From Reconstruction:

Washington: You guys are the most immature soldiers I've ever met!
Grif: Your face is immature!

Church: Wow, that guy's dumber than you are.
Tucker: You mean he's dumber than you are.
Church: Wow, Tucker. That was a classy comeback.

Dear strong bad,
Can you please write a book about
come-back jokes!
Strong Bad: More like, you write a book about come-back jokes, NERD!

Western Animation

Professor: Marge, it's statements like that that make people think women are stupid.
Marge: Well, it's statements like that that... are mean!

    • A better one comes from Sideshow Bob:

Marge: You awful man! Stay away from my son!
Bob: I'll stay away from your son alright. Stay away... forever!
Homer: Oh no!
Bob: Wait a minutes, that's no good. (Leaves, groaning in frustration. Hurries back a moment later.) Wait! I've got one now! Marge, say 'Stay away from my son' again!
Marge: No!

Dwight: I heard alcohol makes you stupid.
Fry: No, I'm... doesn't!

Giant Douche: I would hope that those students and their parents who question my qualities would simply look at my opponent. He is a turd sandwich.
Turd Sandwich: You're a turd sandwich.

    • Also, Towelie

You're a towel!

Flash: Mirror Master!
Mirror Master: You're quick as ever.
Flash: Yeah? Well you're... you're not really all there!
Mirror Master: Oh, nice try. If you had another minute you'd probably think of a decent comeback.

    • He does come up with a better one after the battle:

Flash: While you're waiting for me to come arrest you, why not take some time and reflect on your mistakes! Hey, that was pretty good.

    • There was one in the Justice League episode "Brave and the Bold" when Gorilla Grodd gets snippy with Flash and he responds with: "Oh yeah? Well, you're... naked! (he shrugs to Solovar behind him because he knew it was lame). The more hilarious part is that the comment was actually pretty funny.
  • This 'Marvel / DC' spoof:

Nightwing: You're nothing but a hack, McGinnis!
Terry McGinnis: You got issues, Dick.
Nightwing: No you're the... issues person.

Fei Long: You've got sloppy and weak, you've never had fallen from this move before!
Look at you! You've ignored your training, and have turned against all of your friends!!
Ken: And you! You're a loser!!!

  • Daria: Kevin and Brittany get into one of their weekly arguments; before stalking off, Britney snaps at him,

"Don't you fretranize me!"
Kevin: "...You think I don't know what that means? I know what that means!!"

Barry: So don't try to do anything stupid.
Archer: I don't have to try. [[[Beat]]] Shit. Whatever. Move.

Magikoopa: Hey, watch where you're goin', ya egghead!
Luigi: Who's an egghead, eggface!?
Magikoopa: You are! [turns Luigi into an egg] So, whaddaya have to say now, egghead?

Abe Lincoln: Who dares disturbs my slumber?!
George Bush: Who dares question my... daring of his..dare... Jerk!

Matt Damon: Hey, Ben, Armageddon ready to kick your ass!
Ben Affleck: Oh, yeah? Well, I'm not gonna save your privates, Ryan!
Matt Damon: You really are dumb, bro.

Chris: Good luck getting home.
Dan: Good luck being stupid.
Chris: Well, good luck... you're stupid!

Barry: Where's the jerk who calls himself 'The Tick'?!
The Tick (animation): *I* am that jerk; who wants to know?

Meatwad: Your belt is stupid.
Err: Oh yeah, well your face is stupid!
Meatwad: Oh, good one. You really got me.

  1. Troper note: how about Idiot?
  2. Further troper note: Judas? Jerk? Jackass?
  3. The book insults are different from the beer pong insults, but if you learn every possible comeback, you should be able to come up with one that fits each new insult. For instance, you can learn the aforementioned comeback in combat if you use "I'll teach you the meaning of fear, you gutless coward!"