Little No

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"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'Save us!' ...and I'll look down and whisper 'No.'"
Rorschach's Journal, October 12, 1985, Watchmen

The polar opposite of Big No. The Little No is a "no" that is very soft-spoken, yet extremely powerful and defiant. A character who uses it is indicating complete certainty. They do not view whatever is happening in front of them as any sort of serious threat or challenge. It is a threat to be swatted like a fly, or a plea to be dismissed like the trash, an expectation of submission that is met with absolute refusal.

An alternative use of the Little No is used by characters who aren't quite as Badass as the first type who have just realized something really bad is about to happen, and say a soft 'no', their voice being a single syllable of clarity right before something blows up.

Third use, and the little brother of the Big No: a tiny, pathetic "No", almost if begging for the reality in front of the speaker's eyes to not be real. Disbelief and denial, with a blank or horrified look on his/her face. When being hammed up, this little "No" will often be followed by the usual hysterics and a resounding Big No. Done effectively, conveys utter and complete vulnerability from characters too Badass to break down weeping and screaming. The Stoic will be the one to use this "No", in a moment of Not So Stoic. Also found in the midst of many a Tranquil Fury.

A subtrope of Dramatic Deadpan. Compare Stage Whisper or Blunt Yes.

Examples of Little No include:


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Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • Near uses this in the finale of Death Note after listening to Light's final Hannibal Lecture.
    • At the other end of the series, Light uses it after telling himself he doesn't have the right to choose who lives and who dies.
  • Bleach: Orihime gives one of these when she discovers the Espada Grimmjow only wanted Ichigo healed so he could fight him.
  • Asuka in End of Evangelion after Shinji desperately tries to connect to her during Instrumentality. It is the last push that causes him to finally completely break down, and he ultimately responds by strangling her.
    • Also Rei says this to Kaworu after he tells her that they are the same.
    • In episode 23 as Armisael is attempting to become one with Shinji and merge Rei's heart with his Rei's response to this is a defiant quiet "No".
  • Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru: Yuki gives one upon finding out that his best friend Kanata is actually the Big Bad Reiga.
  • Misty in Pokémon the First Movie, upon seeing Ash turning to stone whispers, "No, please no."
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn: Tsuna in the future arc after Byakuran asks him if he curses his fate of being forced into the mafia world when he dislikes fighting and getting hurt.
  • In episode 21 of Outlaw Star (japanese version) Melfina says this after Harry orders her to forget about Gene.
  • In chapter 52 of Rosario Plus Vampire II Akuha says this in retaliation to hearing Kurumu say she and Mizore are going to rescue Moka.
  • Naruto: In chapter 582 Itachi says this in response to Kabuto's Hannibal Lecture.
  • Utena of Revolutionary Girl Utena in episode 38 says this in response to Anthy saying she betrayed her.
  • Played for horror during the eclipse in Berserk when Casca is being raped by Femto. At this point, she's so delirious and weak from being assaulted by the apostle that all she can do in protest is whimper "no" and "stop" as Femto rapes her in front of Guts.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Rorschach of Watchmen is extremely well-known for this line, though he utters in only in the hypothetical tense. He does this as he imagines a world so torn apart in chaos that it begs him, at last to help—and he doesn't want to anymore.
  • V for Vendetta: At the end of some serious psychological torture complete with a life changing letter from a woman who's already dead, this is Evey Hammond's only response to being asked to submit herself as having been coerced into her actions by V.
  • Ex Machina: Mitchell Hundred's response to Suzanne when she tries to convince him to help her conquer the Earth.
  • In Elf Quest, a Little No of horrified denial is Treestump's immediate reaction to seeing his daughter Dewshine lying unconscious in Leetah's arms.
  • The Punisher's response to a group of misguided vigilantes' offer to make him their leader?

No.


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]

  • WALL-E: Twice, both times with EVE thinking that Wall-E is Killed Off for Real.
  • In Brother Bear, this is how Koda reacts when he learns that Kenai killed his mother.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Wilbur mouths 'no' in horror when he sees that Lewis has decided to help Bowler Hat Guy.
  • Mulan gives one when her family name is called to go away to war, meaning her elderly and injured father must go and will probably die.
  • Mother Gothel of Tangled gives a few after Flynn/Eugene cuts Rapunzel's hair.
    • Rapunzel does a defiant no during "Mother Knows Best (reprise)", resisting her demand to leave Flynn. This also interrupts a part in which Mother Gothel claims to "know best".
  • Happens to Scar at the end of The Lion King, as he is about to be ripped apart by the hyenas.
  • In Coraline after Coraline and Wybie throw the Other Mother's smashed hand and the key inside the well, if you listen closely, you can hear the Other Mother whispering 'No'.


Films -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • In The Matrix, right before Neo shoots the floor on which Morpheus is being held with his chopper machine gun, Smith gives out his little no.
    • ... And again, right before Smith and the other agents shoot Neo after his "resurrection", Neo does the same!
  • Equilibrium: "No. Not without incident." And then, awesome happens.
  • Sara of A Little Princess can't even bring herself to say 'no', all she does is shake her head when Miss Minchin tells her about her father's death.
  • In Batman, after Vicki Vale asks Batman that people will die because the entire shipments have poisoned, and Batman replies to her with a Little No, because the chemicals have to be mixed.
  • At the very end of The Godfather, Kay asks Michael if he is responsible for orchestrating the deaths of the heads of the five families and his brother-in-law Carlo. Michael looks her straight in the eye and quietly says "No." Kay actually seems to accept this, at least until the other goons kiss his hand and address him as "Don Corleone".
  • This happens when Isildur refuses to destroy the Ring in the prologue to The Lord of the Rings movie. Elrond is urging him to cast it into the fire, but Isildur whispers "no" and turns away.
  • Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan famously features the Big KHAAAAANN, but Kirk also mutters out a simple "No..." as he watches Spock die after his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Repeated, even more softly and heartbreakingly, when the scene is re-enacted (in a mind-meld with Spock's father Sarek) in the next movie.
    • Also in Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard said a Little No when Worf raising the shields when the Scimitar is decloaking.
    • Nero said it also in Star Trek, when Kirk and Spock beamed in.
  • Run Lola Run: At the end of her first run, Lola is shot in the chest by a nervous police officer and lies in the street dying. After a flashback to a bedtime conversation between her and her boyfriend, she quietly says "stop", which restarts her Groundhog Day Loop.
  • Return of the Jedi: Leia, when she's pleading for Luke to run away from Vader after she finds out he's her brother.
    • Leia also uses the little no in A New Hope when Tarkin orders the destruction of planet Alderaan.
  • Shilo gives one in Repo: The Genetic Opera when Rotti tells her to kill her father.
  • The well-known Big No in Tombstone from Wyatt Earp comes strewn with a cluster of Little No's.
  • Silent Movie: Marcel Marceau declines Mel Funn's offer.
    • "Non!"
      • "What did he say?" "I don't know. I don't understand French."
  • Evey Hammond in V for Vendetta is the queen of the Little No. At the end, she replies to Finch with one when he orders her not to blow up Parliament.
    • Also, V himself replies with a Little No when he faces down Creedy, and Creedy demands that he take off the mask. When he kills the two Mooks that try to carry out Creedy's will, it's very clear that when V says "No", he means NO.
  • The Fifth Element has Zorg do this. After disarming his own bomb five seconds from detonation, the Proud Warrior Race arms their own bomb.

Zorg: Oh, no.

  • Maria in West Side Story does this after news spreads that her Caucasian boyfriend, Tony, killed her brother, Bernardo. She also does this after the subsequent murder of Tony causes her to break down and threaten to start her own killing spree.
  • Back to the Future Part II has Marty say this after coming across his father's grave in the alternate 1985.
  • In Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the third movie in the 60s Planet of the Apes franchise, Cornelius recounts the legend of the rise of the apes. According to this telling the turning point came when an intelligent ape first said "no" to its master. In Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, this does happen, sort of, but only when Caesar's forces are about to beat a human to death and Caesar's love interest plaintively whispers, "n-no..."


Literature[edit | hide]

  • At the start of the Discworld novel Sourcery, Death interrupts a ranting wizard with a "No."
    • We get another one in I Shall Wear Midnight: After being accused of all sorts of evil acts, Tiffany (the local witch) sarcastically asks her main accuser (Roland's future mother-in-law) if she was going to "start going on about spinning wheels next." The Duchess takes this at face value and orders all the spinning wheels in the castle destroyed. Roland mentions one of his late mother's favorite things was a ornate spinning wheel. When The Duchess doesn't take the hint and reiterates her order of all the spinning wheels, Roland shuts her and her personal guard down with a firm "no." It's the first time we see Roland stand up to The Duchess and a sign he's starting to lose his grip on the (partially magic-induced) Idiot Ball he'd been carrying for most of the book.
  • At the climax of Farworld: Land Keep, Marcus is about to "save" Farworld, but will really end up destroying it. Unable to see past his own glory, he prepares to use the whole world's magic—and Kyja whispers "no" before passing out from blood loss.
  • Dumbledore gives Harry a few of these in Order of the Phoenix when he's furiously demanding to be let out of his office. Dumbledore forces him to hear him out and explains basically the entire motivation of the story, so it's a good thing he listens.
  • In the Warrior Cats novel Sunrise, when Tigerstar asks Lionblaze if he is going to kill him, Lionblaze replies, "No. You're already dead." Lionblaze then leaves the Dark Forest forever, proving to Tigerstar that he wasn't going to let himself fall to the level of the villains.
  • When Ysanne Isard is cornered by New Republic officer Iella Wessiri, she attempts to provoke the woman into a pained, furious Big No by talking about Wessiri's late husband, whom Isard had turned into a Manchurian Agent. Iella's unexpected Little No is every bit as effective as a Shut UP, Hannibal and makes Isard realize that she doesn't have the least bit of control in this situation—something she is absolutely not used to.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the High Sparrow uses this on Cersei when she starts making demands of him. Though she was too arrogant to immediately realise the implications of it, a major Oh Crap moment follows when it becomes apparent that the newly resurrected Faith Militant are not going to simply be puppets of the Crown.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Star Trek the Next Generation episode Yesterday's Enterprise, Guinan gives one of these not long before the Enterprise-C appears and alters history.
  • Sheridan in the Babylon 5 episode "Intersections in Real Time":

Interrogator: You can't win, you know.
Sheridan: Every time I say, "no".

    • Also used by G'kar in the episode "Convictions".

Londo: Perhaps I have not made myself sufficiently clear: There is no telling when help will come! Unless we get ourselves out of here, on our own, we'll probably die here! So we must work together!
G'kar: No.
Beat
Londo: ..."No"? What do you mean, "no"?
G'kar: (shrugs) No. (starts giggling)
Londo: You want to live as much as I, hm?
G'kar: (still giggling) Oh yes, but I would much rather see you dead!

  • The Ninth Doctor delivers a spectacular Little No to the Daleks in the Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf." He defies the Daleks' plans to kill Rose, after almost losing her to one in "Dalek" earlier. The Daleks cannot comprehend the "meaning of this negative".

The Doctor: No.
Dalek: EXPLAIN!
The Doctor: I said "no."
Dalek: WHAT-IS-THE-MEANING-OF-THIS-NEGATIVE?!
The Doctor: It means no.
Dalek: BUT-SHE-WILL-BE-DESTROYED!
The Doctor: No! 'Cause this is what I'm going to do: I'm going to rescue her. I'm going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet! And then I'm going to save the Earth! And then, just to finish off, I'm going to wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky!
Dalek: BUT-YOU-HAVE-NO-WEAPONS! NO-DEFENSES! NO-PLAN!
The Doctor: Yeah! And doesn't that scare you to death?

  • Less Badass and more creeped-out, but Jon Stewart does this before suggesting getting a restraining order for CNN here.
  • One of the most powerful moments in The Sopranos occurs when Dr. Melfi tells Tony "No" when he asks her if there's anything he can do when she starts crying in a therapy session. It's powerful, because she'd been raped earlier in the episode, and had seriously contemplated telling Tony and using her connection to him to have the rapist killed.
  • James Wilson in House, when House revealed that he replaced the wall between their offices with a remote-controlled garage door.
  • Done brilliantly in A Scandal In Belgravia. It's a precursor to Sherlock revealing a fatal flaw in the villain's plan that causes everything to unravel around them. When he's done, the receiver is well and truly broken.

Mycroft: And here you are, the dominatrix who brought a nation to its knees. Nicely played.
Sherlock: No.
Irene Adler: Sorry?
Sherlock: I said no. Very, very close, but no.


Pro Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Common response to a referee by a professional wrestler getting choked or stretched. Most are too manly to verbally submit.


Radio[edit | hide]

John Boy: Can you say that [the name] again?
Rhubarb: Uh... no.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Kingdom Hearts, Namine says this to Marluxia when he asks her to break Sora's heart, thus removing all his memories.
  • The cave cutscene from Hotel Mario:

Mario: Gee, it's kinda dark.
Luigi: Didja bring a light?
Mario: (turns to look at Luigi) No...

SHODAN:"...I could improve you... transform you into something more efficient. Join me, human, and we can rule... and we can rule, together." ]
The Hacker:"Nah" [Shoots SHODAN]

Warden: I've never met a Qunari before. Tell me about your people.
Sten: No.
Warden: I...didn't expect that.

Cynder: (whispered) "Oh no..."

Web Animation[edit | hide]


Web Comics[edit | hide]

Fighter: Gravity was all "This time I've got you," and I was all, like, "No."


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog: Dr. Horrible does this during Penny's death scene. It looks like he's trying to work up to a Big No, but is too shocked and grief-stricken to manage it. And then his emerging Heel Realization segues into the triumphant dirge Villain Song "Everything You Ever".
  • The Randomverse has a parody of the Rorschach line featuring Rorschach completing the line, as well as Wolverine and Sabertooth add their own endings. Wolverine's is "Sorry, darlin", while Sabertooth asks about the quality of the whores.
    • In After Hours, Superman utters this twice, once when Spiderman disappears from existence and the second time when Batman also disappeared, leaving Superman alone.
  • Ted Crusty, with the help of his headless dummy friend Joe, has more or less elevated this trope to comedy gold.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Raven does this during her Mind Rape at the hands of Slade in the "Birthmark" episode of Teen Titans.
    • Robin does this in the same episode when he sees that Slade is alive.
    • Raven does another one in the episode "Nevermore" after learning that Beast Boy and Cyborg went into her mirror.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Katara gives a Little No at the last second before Jet blows up a village dam.
    • Also the final fight between Zuko and Azula:

Azula: "I'm sorry it has to end this way, brother."
Zuko: "No, you're not."

    • Also Suki's reaction to Sokka's "we're not going to make it in time" in the finale.
  • Kind of a variation of this, from Sealab 2021:

Stormy: You mean there's a... Black Stormy?
Doctor Quinn: (after lengthy pause) No.

Hexadecimal: Forgive me my lady...
Daemon: No. *slams Hexadecimal into a wall and leaves her*


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A particularly cool real-life example is Ioannis Metaxas, the prime minister of Greece during World War II, who answered the long list demands of Italian ambassador Emmanuelle Grazzi to allow Axis troops into Greece or face war with a simple "όχι" (okhi), or "No". Scholars insist that the actual phrase used was the only slightly less laconic "Alors, c'est la guerre." (French for "Then it is war."), but this didn't stop Greek citizens from gathering in the streets that day and repeatedly chanting the word in response to the arriving Italian troops. October 28, the anniversary of the incident and that of Greece's entrance into WWII on the Allied side, is celebrated in Greece to this day as the "Day of the 'No'".