Metaphorgotten

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"A good story is like a good bowel movement: it's only really satisfying once it's ended. Because if you just keep going, then eventually your body runs out of shit and moves on to pushing all of your internal organs out of your sphincter, until only a foul-smelling shell remains, and anyone who wants to get in on your incredibly long poo gets turned off, because they need to have gone through all of the poo up to that point to have the necessary context and this is where the analogy is breaking down somewhat."

A metaphor can be like a train, taking you from concept A to concept B, maybe at high speed, maybe derailing, and definitely serving overpriced sandwiches.

There's nothing wrong with using a metaphor to explain the situation, but make sure it doesn't derail on you later. Trying to hold to an established metaphor while including added information that doesn't fit it at all... well, that's sillier than wearing a trash can on your head while artistically comparing two unlike concepts.

In other words, a good comedy trope.

The trope generally follows one of two paths. As seen in the page quote, the metaphor begins with a solid concept but quickly degenerates into a repetition of the actual situation only projected onto the metaphorical concepts. "You can't make an omelette without [something much more unpleasant than breaking a few eggs]" seems to be particularly popular, perhaps because it lends itself well to Black Comedy. It is also possible for the metaphorical concept to distract the speaker so that the metaphor is forgotten.

Handily Truth in Television. Has a lot of overlap with Dissimile. Compare Analogy Backfire, Sidetracked by the Analogy, Shaggy Frog Story, Disorganized Outline Speech, and I Like My X Like I Like My Y. Because this often uses realistic diction, it can also subvert Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic. Buffy-Speak uses this a lot.

Examples of Metaphorgotten include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A PSA for promoting foster parenting:

Foster father: (consoling post-breakup foster daughter) "Honey, dating is like... the stock market. There's highs, and lows... and highs... Um... And... (mumbles) alwaysremembertobuylow..."
Announcer: "You don't have to be perfect to be a good foster parent."

  • A mobile phone service promoted their smartphones with this line:

"It's like having your cake and sending email with it."


Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • In one of the "Supplementary Materials" strips written for Azumanga Daioh's tenth anniversary, Chiyo-Chichi gives Sakaki the following advice: "Keep moving forward. Then turn left at the second corner."
  • In Yellow, Taki and Goh get into an argument about whether Taki or the women who go after him are "like moths to a flame." Amusingly this leads to an attempted kiss on Goh's part and this exchange:

"What are you doing?!"
"My kiss is like moth balls."

  • In Persona 4 Yuu uses a giant, $35 beef bowl to begin an analogy to relate the need to never give up on their pursuit of a fairly vague goal. Other members of the group pitch in and add to the increasingly narmy metaphor. When it's Yuu's turn again, he says, "And my bowl isn't empty yet."
  • Gintama, being a Gag Series, takes this trope and runs with it.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Bookhunter: Agent Bay preps the police for a dragnet, and ends his speech with:

Agent Bay: It might seem to you that we're grasping at straws. But straws are all we've got left. There is one straw that is going to break this case wide open. Which is why I need each and every one of you to follow your own straw to the bitterest end.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In 28 Days, one of the recovering addicts in the rehab center tries to explain how everyone has to walk their own path.

There's a time when you can share and you hold hands and be on the same path. But there's always a fork in the road... at some point. And sometimes you have to go on one part of the fork and they gotta go on the other part of the fork. Or just down the back part of the fork while you go forward. And they're like: *sigh* Or they got a salad fork and you have one of the big dinner forks and you have longer to go but they're like done because that's it, they're stuck on a piece of food, that they *sigh*. A dessert fork or like one of those, you know small little shrimp forks or crab forks and you're trying to get out a crab. They're like that and you're over here jumping to the huge serving fork or something like that, or a ladle, you know.

  • The educational short Drugs Are Like That really doesn't know what the metaphor it's going for is. Drugs are compared to legos, cookies, swimming, toys, and pacifiers. Then they say that the human body is like a perpetual motion machine that the characters make out of Legos (!!) and that moving one piece causes it to explode -- "Drugs are like that!" This is all narrated by Anita Bryant.
  • Hot Shots:

Topper: My father used to say that not playing to win is like sleeping with your sister. Sure she's a great piece of tail, with a blouse full of goodies, but, it's just illegal. Then you get into that whole inbred thing. Kids with no teeth who do nothing but play the banjo ... eat apple sauce through a straw ... pork farm animals.

  • Magicians briefly has two spectators muse on the sight of two magicians, who formerly had a successful and well-respected double act going before one slept with the other's wife and the other accidentally decapitated said wife during a trick with a guillotine, reuniting for the first time in four years to perform together:

Spectator 1: It's like Israel and Palestine.
Spectator 2: ... Entering a magic competition together.

"Say goodbye to all of this..."
Goodbye, all this!
"And hello... to oblivion."
Hi, Oblivion! How's the wife and kids?
Your wife, my kids!

It's time someone put his foot down around here, and that foot is me.

First Hitman: Well now, here we all are. Ike, Mike and Mustard.
Harry: What the hell does that mean?
Second Hitman: You know, I'm with him on this one, man. That's pretty fucking obscure.
First Hitman: Horse shit, I hear that all the time!
Second Hitman: You do?
First Hitman: Yeah, sure.
Second Hitman: Where, at the 1942 club?
First Hitman: Hey, just 'cause you didn't get in...
Second Hitman: Motherfucker, I could've gotten in!
(later)
First Hitman: You wanna know who we are? I'm the frying pan, see? And my boy over here, he's?
Second Hitman: Mustard. I'm Mustard, baby.

  • Dennis uses a couple of these in Surviving Eden:

"Relationships are just like pigs. Feed 'em too much slop, and they'll get too fat. Feed 'em too little, and they'll break up with you."
(confronting his fiancée, supposedly carrying his child) "Guess what, Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden, you wanna know why? Because Eve wasn't really pregnant!"

"That makes about as much sense as a screen door on a battleship!"
"Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?"

    • His future self actually berates him on this point.
    • Ditto for his great-grandfather Mad Dog Tannen.

"I'll hunt you and shoot you down like a duck!"

      • Although Fridge Logic says that people shoot a lot more ducks than dogs, so maybe it's reasonable.
      • And somebody called Mad Dog talking about shooting dogs, would at least sound strange.
  • In The Boondock Saints, Doc tells the invasive Russian mobsters to leave, in a possible Shout-Out to the Back to The Future example above:

"Why don't you make like a tree... and get the fuck out of here!"

    • The bartender and his patrons did this a lot in that scene, though the latter were making fun of the former.

"People in glass houses sink ships!"
"A penny saved is worth two in the bush, isn't it?"
"And don't cross the road if you can't get out of the kitchen!"

    • He speaks almost exclusively in these. The hilarity is compounded by his Tourette's.
  • The opening narration of Out Cold has Stumpy comparing Bull Mountain to a woman, then switching over to a discourse on skiing injuries that has nothing to do with women, then ending on a note that would make his soliloquy a good comparison of a woman to the mountain, but making absolutely no sense the other way around.
  • In The Other Guys, after pointing out the flaws in Terry comparing himself to a lion going after a tuna, Allen continues to spin a scenario where the school of tuna build an apparatus that lets them go on land and hunt down the lion's family.
  • From 13 Going on 30:

Tom-Tom: Okay, you can wipe off the "doe-eyed Bambi watching her mother get shot strapped to the back of a van" look from your face!

  • In The Social Network, Sean Parker uses the metaphor of a fisherman having his photo taken with one big Marlin instead of 15 trout. Eduardo goes into all the technical details, like how much a Marlin could weigh in real life and how strong the fisherman would have to be, while an irate Jesse tells him that he's Completely Missing the Point.
  • In Lucky Number Slevin:

Sloe: You got some id?
Slevin: See, the funny thing about that is I got mugged this morning...
Sloe: [interrupting] Look, look! Tell it to the one-legged man, so he can bump it off down the road.
(awkward silence)

Ace: I shall slip amongst them, like an unseen... thing!

  • "...But you're not a worker bee. You're a renegade killer bee."
  • In Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, right after Bucky is told he isn't big enough downstairs to be a porn star, Antonio the diner owner offers to be in porn, saying "I'm hung like a cocker spaniel", at which point Miles Deep, the porn director, says, "A cocker spaniel isn't a big dog." "Yeah, but it's warm, and cuddly, and loyal, and has warm eyes." "Your d!ck has warm eyes?" "You know what I mean!"
  • The Odd Couple II: Oscar and Felix painfully go through several different metaphors, before Oscar says he can't remember what they started out talking about.
  • Loaded Weapon 1 does this in a battle of wits, then points it out.

Morters: Where's the microfilm, Mike?
McCracken: I don't know, I gave it to York. I thought she was one of your men.
Morters: Act in haste, repent in leisure.
McCracken: But he who hesitates is lost.
Morters: Never judge a book by its cover.
McCracken: What you see is what you get.
Morters: Loose lips sink ships.
McCracken: Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing or fighting my friend.
[Mr. Jigsaw consults Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, shakes his head.]

Kieran: *after hearing Tim's girlfriend left him* There's not a lot of monogamy in the animal kingdom. Not many animals mate for life. Penguins do. I've spent a lot of time with penguins, and they're really cool. Maybe you're a penguin, Tim, but Julie's not a penguin. She's a lioness! Don't try to mate a lioness with a penguin--ever. Have you ever seen a mammal and a bird mate? I've never even heard of that.

Steve: Dad, it's like this. Doug is like a fax machine. You keep putting things in, but if it doesn't have a cover page, people don't know where it's coming from. And sometimes you get a busy signal. That's why you have a memory button, and a redial button... Actually I never use those, I always screw them up.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In ancient history, a non-comedic version of this is referred to as a "Homeric Simile". This is based on instances in The Iliad and The Odyssey where the narrator starts off comparing two things, then continues into minute details that are seemingly unnecessary. For instance, if someone was feeling happy, the story might say:

"His joy was as warm as the joy that shipwrecked sailors might feel when they catch sight of land after Poseidon has struck down their well-rigged ship on the open sea with gale winds and crushing walls of waves, with only a few surviving, swimming, struggling out of the frothing surf to reach the shore, their bodies crusted with salt but buoyed up with glee as they plant their feet on solid ground."

  • Tom Holt regularly includes some kind of brutal disjunction of "omelettes and eggs". Did you know that it is possible to make omelettes without shredding chickens, but it doesn't make as good television?
  • This is frequently seen in Discworld novels, due to the extreme literal-mindedness of many of the characters. Sometimes, of course, taking the metaphor a little too far actually works.

Time was something that largely happened to other people; [Lu-Tze] viewed it in the same way that people on the shore viewed the sea. It was big and it was out there, and sometimes it was an invigorating thing to dip a toe into, but you couldn't live in it all the time. Besides, it always made his skin wrinkle.

... Three decks of balcony and bulkhead were crumpled and staved-in as if a tree had fallen on them. It would have had to have been a redwood tree, I suppose, and made of iron. Perhaps dropped from orbit. Never mind the tree; it looked like a bomb had gone off.

  • In the Douglas Adams novel So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, hitchhiking alien Ford Prefect has a dream in which he encounters a new life form emerging from a polluted New York river. When the creature asks him what life is like he responds:

"Life is like a grapefruit. Well, it's sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It's got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have a half a one for breakfast."

  • Lemony Snicket seems to have an affinity for strange and humourous metaphors of this kind.
    • The Beatrice Letters has, "The day was as cold and bitter as hot chocolate if it had been put in a fridge for several hours and filled with vinegar."
    • In The Penultimate Peril, there is: "Deciding whether or not to trust a person is like deciding whether or not to climb a tree, because you might get a wonderful view from the highest branch, or you might simply get covered in sap, and for this reason many people choose to spend their time alone and indoors, where it is harder to get a splinter."
  • From Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts

Life, to me, is like a quiet forest pool, one that needs a direct hit from a big rock half-buried in the ground. You pull and you pull, but you can't get the rock out of the ground. So you give it a good kick, but you lose your balance and go skidding down the hill toward the pool. Then out comes a big Hawaiian man who was screwing his wife beside the pool because they thought it was real pretty. He tells you to get out of there, but you start faking it, like you're talking Hawaiian, and then he gets mad and chases you...

The thing about it was, though, that if you knew there was something to know, and you hadn't been told about it, there was no way you could keep your mind from worrying about what it might be – like a tongue forever probing at an imperfection in a tooth, while you're wondering whether, if you ever pluck up enough courage to go to the dentist about it, it's going to be merely some calcine accumulation that can be simply blasted away, or the sort of root-canal job that leaves you unable to eat for three days for fear of disturbing what feels like three tons of amalgam.

  • Lampshaded by Patton Oswalt in his essay "Dating a Stripper is a Recipe for Perspective" from Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me:

"But even the sweetest apple plucked from the tree of love can become a rotted, flyblown failure full of disease, maggots, and yelling.
Yes, when love goes bad, it can fill an apple with yelling."

  • This trope occurs regularly in William Langland's 14th Century Narrative Poem, Piers Plowman, which is famous for its abstruse allegorical method which consistently stretches metaphors way further than their comfortable limits. See, for instance, the explanation of the Trinity as Hand (fingers, palm and fist) and Candle (taper, flame, and wax) in Passus 17 of the B text.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster Bertie sometimes falls into this while narrating. Very Good, Jeeves! gives us this gem:

One of the first lessons life teaches us is that on these occasions of back-chat between the delicately-nurtured a man should retire into the offing, curl up in a ball, and imitate the prudent tactics of the opossum, which, when danger is in the air, pretends to be dead, frequently going to the length of hanging out crepe and instructing its friends to stand round and say what a pity it all is.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Angel, like Buffy below, inevitably inherits this.

Fred: You're like the MacGyver of Wolfram and Hart!
Knox: You're not wrong! I can make practically anything out of a...a fully equipped, muti-million-dollar...lab.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer examples:
    • In "Ted", Buffy lets her annoyance at her mother's new boyfriend creep into a strategic discussion about killing vampires:

Buffy: Vampires are creeps.
Giles: Yes, that's why one slays them.
Buffy: I mean, people are perfectly happy getting along, and then vampires come, and they run around and they kill people, and they take over your whole house, they start making these stupid little mini pizzas, and everyone's like, 'I like your mini pizzas,' but I'm telling you, I am...
Giles: Uh, uh, Buffy! I-I believe the... Subtext here is, is, rapidly becoming, uh, uh, text.

    • Willow has a particularly beautiful bit in the Season Four premiere:

Willow: But here, the energy, the collective intelligence, it's like this force, this penetrating force, and I can just feel my mind opening up -- you know? -- and letting this place thrust into and spurt knowledge into... That sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in.

  • Coupling does this a lot.
    • Susan's father is talking to Steve about Steve's habit of "soloing" (singing in the shower). Steve takes it as a sexual metaphor, which leads to him saying this: "If music be the food of love, then masturbation is just a snack between meals."
    • Also when Steve accidentally sees Sally naked, and she starts a metaphor of how she is like Australia:

Sally: Far away, vastly uninhabited, and filled with areas of great danger.
Steve: Oh. I thought it was about having a lot of convicts.
Sally gives Steve a "The hell?" look.
Steve: No, I understand. I'm welcome in your Melbourne, or your Sydney...
Sally: Yes.
Steve: ...but, not in your bush.

    • Patrick discussing monogamy while pretending to be involved with Susan as part of competing with a rival.

Patrick: I don't share my woman. It's like finding the right tennis racket. Once you've got one you really like using, you keep on using it until it falls apart and you have to get a new one. Only more emotional.

Though, this being Patrick, it's arguable that he didn't forget the metaphor at all, and means what it sounds like he means.
  • In the Douglas Adams-inspired detective comedy Dirk Gently This dialogue:

Suspect: "Are you sayin something's fishy, Mr. Gently?"
Dirk: "Are YOU saying, there's nothing to catch? in this river?"
Suspect: "I'm sayin, your waders, have got an hole in 'em."
Dirk: "W..Well, I'm very adept with...a puncture repair kit"
Suspect: "...what?"

  • Used at least twice in the horror parody Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
    • Most episodes end with Doctor Rick Dagless giving a conclusion to the story in monologue form. One of the most memorable is the classic first episode ending:

Dagless: The doors of Darkplace were open. Not the literal doors of the building, most of which were closed. But evil doors. Dark doors. Doors, to the beyond. Doors that were hard to shut because they were abstract and didn't have handles. They were more like portals really.

    • Also used during the first episode at a funeral.

The Padre: Larry Renwick will be remembered for his wit, and laughing eyes. And for being, above all, a good friend. I'm sure we all feel that he exploded too young, but, the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Sometimes, he'll come in at an angle. Other times, he can hover, then swoop. Sometimes he can even come in from beneath, like a worm, or mole. The Lord, it's his call how he chooses to maneuver.

    • There's a great one in the spin-off series Man to Man with Dean Learner:

Dean Learner: It's like that philosophical question: If a tree falls in the forest, and I'm not there, and it makes a sound, but I don't hear it, but someone records it and plays it back to me at a dinner party, does that mean I'm still in the forest? And if I am, then why can't I just take a piss in the garden rather than queuing for the toilet? And that's if the toilet even exists; I've been trying to use it all fucking night. I'm starting to doubt the existence of the toilet quite frankly at this stage of the proceedings. Get a portaloo is what I'm saying. If you're going to have a party of that size, get a portaloo. 'Cause I don't want to spend my entire fucking evening in the corridor. And if philosophy can solve those questions, then it's worth it. But thus far it can't. So I'm fucking busting, and what's Plato doing about it? Nothing."

  • Doctor Who does this quite a few times, especially in episodes written by Steven Moffat (which, given the length of the Coupling section above, is perhaps unsurprising).
    • One of them is the Trope Namer for the Timey-Wimey Ball trope. Though the comedy of that example kind of falls flat because the rest of the episode is absolutely terrifying.
    • "The Time of Angels" has:

"A needle that looks like hay, a hay-like needle of death. A hay-like needle of death in a haystack of... er, statues. No, yours was fine."

    • And from the second-last episode of that season, on the virtues of buying another half hour's breathing space...not so much meta but definitely phorgotten: "There are fruit flies live on Hopperton 6, that live for twenty minutes and they don't even mate for life." *pause* "There was going to be a point to that. I'll get back to you."
    • From "Victory of the Daleks", in reference to the Daleks: "There isn't a sincere bone in your body (without pause) There isn't a bone in your body."
  • In The Fast Show, this was Swiss Toni's main shtick:

Answering the phone, Paul, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. You... pick up... the receiver... speak loudly and clearly... oh, and always state your name... (To himself) You're losing it Toni...

"My father was a beekeeper, his father was a beekeeper before him, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. And those footsteps went like this: 'AAAAAAAAAAAH I'm covered in beeeeeees! HELP!'"

  • On Glee, the new football coach, Shannon Bieste, does this quite a bit:

Shannon: You watch your tone with me, missy. You crap on my leg, I'll cut it off!

    • Also, Sue "threatening" Will:

Sue: I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then on some dark, cold night, I will steal away into your home, and punch you in the face!

"You know Mark Twain? Scared to *death* of the Village People."

  • One of the many varieties of snark available on House is the intentional Metaphorgotten.
    • At one point in season 4, Cuddy is badgering House to hire a new team to replace his old one. His response?

House: You have sex before you get married. You test-drive a car before you buy it. I can't hire a team based on a ten-minute interview. What if I don't like having sex with them?

    • Another example, this time a subversion:

Stacy: If I wasn't married to Mark, I'd be on you like red on rice.
House: But rice isn't... oh, you.

    • In season five, after House drives Cameron to resign as Cuddy's temporary replacement (Cuddy wanted to spend time with her new baby), Cuddy secretly marks the elevators "out of order", forcing House to use the stairs.

House: Elevators keep crashing. Is Mercury in retrograde, or what?
Cuddy: Elevators can be capricious. Sometimes it just seems like they're out to get you.
House: Why do you think the elevators would be out to get me?
Cuddy: I don't know. Maybe they wanted to take time off to spend with their little dumbwaiter. But then they had to leave it at home with an elevator sitter because you drove the replacement elevator to quitting because you're incapable of listening to anybody but me. That's just a theory.
House: You're wrong. I don't even listen to you.

Spode: Because he's a butterfly, who toys with women's hearts and throws them aside like soiled gloves!
Bertie: Do butterflies do that?

  • My So-Called Life, "Life of Brian" involves Brian, Graham, Angela, Delia the new girl, and a metaphor involving wallpaper that covers (pun intended) most of the episode.
  • In Peep Show, Jez is railing against his aunt's decision to give his religious uncle a secular funeral during his eulogy, except that he tries to compare Jesus to the Irish musician Enya, capped off by claiming "Enya died for our sins".
    • In the episode where Sophie has her baby Super Hans compares it to seeing the channel tunnel. "And then imagine a fuckin huge baby coming out of there!"
  • Shawn Spencer in Psych frequently comes up with metaphors. Problem is, they either make no sense in relation to what he's talking about, or he veers off in his meaning and... loses it.
    • One example:

Shawn: Pack it in, pull the plug, shut it down, leave the dead meat in the freezer, and put on your Sunday best, 'cause it's Arbor Day, baby!

    • Or from the Disco episode:

Shawn: You are no longer a cop. And unless you plan on going back to the academy, and climbing the high wall, and doing the obstacle course where you shoot the bad guys but not the old lady with the sack, or the blind guy with the cane, or the cute little squirrel with the bushy tail and the big fat nut ... It started off well.

    • It's not just Shawn. In the episode There's Something About Mira, Mira's mother offers us this gem:
Which gives Shawn the opportunity to reply with

"That makes no sense. None whatsoever."

  • Pushing Daisies is absolutely filled with this sort of thing and related tropes, due to the eccentric speech patterns of most of the characters. One typical example comes when Olive and Chuck are discussing their scheme to get Chuck's aunts to start swimming again.

Olive: Phase 2 has experienced a hiccup.
Chuck: The kind of hiccup that goes away if you drink a glass of water or hold your breath?
Olive: No, the kind of hiccup that keeps you up for days on end till you go crazy and you give away all your cherished mermaid mementos and refuse to get back in the pool again.

  • Comedian Lewis Black on his Red White and Screwed tour would like you to share his outrage about Bill Clinton's marital infidelity:

Lewis Black: "Is oral sex adultery? Yes! There is no fucking question! If curling is an Olympic sport, then oral sex is adultery! And oral sex should be an Olympic sport! Why? Because it's harder than curling, and if you're any good at it, you deserve a medal!

Sean Connery: What's the difference between you and a mallard with a cold? One's a sick duck, and I can't remember how it ends but your mother's a whore.

  • Seinfeld:
    • Frank Constanza says to his son's boss: "You couldn't smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a dame ... I lost my train of thought."
    • When George's mother catches him masturbating and insists he see a psychiatrist, he complains "If everyone who did... that had to see a psychiatrist..." then veers off realizing he has no idea how to end that thought. At prompting from Jerry he just says "Whatever!"
  • Spaced:
    • In the Pilot episode, Tim gives his cheating ex-girlfriend an elaborate metaphor for why he's leaving her.

Tim: You can't dangle the bogus carrot of possible reconciliation in front of my face whilst riding some other donkey.

    • When Daisy discusses her recent breakup with her now ex-boyfriend:

Daisy: In the end, our relationship was just like a sandwich toaster. You know, you just forget you've got one. And it just sits there on the top of the cupboard collecting a layer of greasy fudge. And even if you do see it you just assume it's broken, you think if it's working I'd be using it all the time, but you don't and it just sits there. Then one day, you get an overwhelming desire for toasted sandwiches, you know? And you get it down and it works, and you can't believe it, you know? And then you make every kind of toasted sandwich there is, you have toasted sandwich parties. [...] And then as quickly as the desire comes, it just goes. And then you put the toaster sandwich maker away. And, you know what?
Tim: What?
Daisy: You don't miss it.
Bilbo: So what you're saying is "Don't hide the toasted sandwich maker away, use him regularly and you'll get the most out of him"?
Tim: No, she's saying "Chuck your boyfriend, have a sandwich".

    • Tim's classic comparison between waiting for a possible reunion with his ex-girlfriend and masturbation:

Tim: I just had a moment of clarity, you know, I woke up. It's like... you know when you have an orgasm on your own?
[Daisy looks increasingly disgusted and uncertain during the following:] You know, you're sort of lying on the sofa watching some porn movie you bought on a drunken lonely night in Soho, and you're lying there and everything's going really great, you're getting totally turned on by these absurdly graphic images, everything seems so right, and suddenly - phht! Bingo! You wake up. And you're lying there sweating, desperately looking for the tissue which you know is still in your pocket, and the remote control which is somewhere on the floor, and it's like walking in on yourself, you know? It's just like "What you doing?" That's how I felt tonight feeling my heart miss a beat every time the door opened. "What the fuck are you doing?"
Daisy: Well... that's love, isn't it? Load of old wank.

    • When Tim tells Daisy he thinks his ex might want to take him back:

Daisy: What do you mean, you have a "funny feeling"?
Tim: I can read her like a book.
Daisy: Never judge a book by it's cover.
Tim: He who dares, wins.
Daisy: Look before you leap.
Tim: Do you believe in life after love?
Daisy: That's a song.
Tim: Shit.

  • Spin City:
    • At one point, Michael and Caitlin are arguing over their delayed Relationship Upgrade, using recent negotiations between two city departments as the metaphor. Later on, when they make up, Michael tries to continue the metaphor by stating that "the department would really like... to have sex with you."
    • Also in Spin City, we have Nikki explaining how she got into accounting: "Numbers are uncomplicated. Numbers don't lie. And they don't say they're coming over and then never call, so you go out for a coffee and see them walking up the street with another woman..."
  • Titus has:

Titus: (holding a glass of water) If sex were water...Tommy hasn't had sex in two years. (shrugs and takes a drink)

  • In an episode of Yes Prime Minister, Prime Minister Hacker's political adviser makes a case for being returned to her usual office (from which she has been unceremoniously removed by the machinations of Sir Humphrey) by using some objects on the table, including a teacup, an ash-tray and a saucer, to construct a rough map of the interior of 10 Downing Street to prove its strategic worth. Hacker agrees, and summons Bernard to have the adviser moved to her office "between the tea-cup, the ash-tray and the saucer." Bernard, who was not present during the initial metaphor, is as confused as you'd expect.
  • Narrowly averted in an episode of Warehouse 13.

Ms. Frederick: You took a shot in the dark.
Arty: We hit that target dead center!
Ms. Frederick: With a small caliber bullet!
Arty: His caliber is very lar-- *Beat* You know what, I'm done with this analogy.

Barney: I can't hit on women in my own bar. Remember the old Barney? He was a lion. The king of the jungle; stalking whatever prey he chose. Going in for the kill.
Ted: You've got a whole meatlocker at home full of corpses, don't you?
Barney: Now look at me. Declawed. Neutered. What was once my jungle is now my zoo and I am forced to mate with the same old lioness again and again and again, while families pay to watch.
Ted: Yeah, this metaphor has really fallen apart.

    • When Marshall and Lily are trying to decide whether or not they should try to conceive a child:

Lily: Well, Marshall was going to come home early from work so that we could... have dinner... but then he couldn't make it, and it got me thinking - what if I'm not ready to... have dinner?
Ted: Well, I had an early lunch, so I'm ready for dinner.
Lily: Dinner is a baby!
Robin: Lily, that's horrible!

    • Barney anticipating finally having sex with Nora:

Barney: Hey kid. You know how your mom won't let you have ice-cream till after dinner, but the waiting kinda makes it taste better? Well, I've been waiting two months for that bowl of ice cream.... and tonight, I'm going to have sex with it.

  • Ugly Betty has: "You'll always be compared to that first motorcycle. Especially when it's shoving its tongue down your girlfriend's throat."
  • Gossip Girl does this a few times.
    • This dialogue snippet:

Rufus: I dated a girl like Serena, once. Actually, a lot like Serena. And girls like that might be challenging. That's true. And they're complicated, and enigmatic. And usually worth it. And the only way you know for sure is to jump it with both feet.
Dan: What happened with you?
Rufus: I swam for a while. Till I drowned.
Dan: Oh. Well, thanks, Dad. That's a great story.

    • Blair, after having been lured away with Chuck on an all-night trip to find Georgina, which ended with Blair driving off in Chuck's limo after finding out he didn't need her to come along in the first place:

Serena: It doesn't make sense!
Blair: Feelings never do. They get you all confused. Then they drive you around for hours before they drop you right back where you started.

  • The TV Show The Office is notorious for using derailed metaphors:
    • In the episode "The Coup," Michael describes Dwight's attempt at betrayal and loses track of his point:

Business is like a jungle, I am like a tiger, and Dwight is like the monkey that stabs the tiger in the back with a stick. Does the tiger fire the monkey? Does he transfer the monkey to a different branch? (eyes light up) Pun! There is no way of knowing what is going on inside the tiger's head. We don't have that kind of technology.

    • One episode has Dwight attempting to explain his relationship with Michael:

We're like one of those classic famous teams. He's like Mozart, and I'm like... Mozart's friend. No... I'm like Butch Cassidy, and Michael is like Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart, you're going to get a bullet in your head. Courtesy of Butch Cassidy.

    • Jim in "The Delivery, Part One", re: Pam's decision to not leave for the hospital to deliver her baby until the contractions are five minutes apart:

Jim: "So the plan was seven minutes, but we're calling an audible. Because that's her call. 'Cause she's the quarterback. I'm just the left tackle who happened to get her pregnant."

  • The Inbetweeners: "Women are like fairground rides, son. Fucking mental..."
  • Better Off Ted does this a lot.
    • When Linda is meeting an ex-boyfriend for coffee:

Linda: I gotta go meet Don at the Who Cares What People Think Café, where if someone sees something that they want, they just have it, and it's the best thing they've ever had. Because that meal's been practicing yoga for seven years. In case you missed it, by "that meal" I mean me. I'm bad at metaphors, but I'm great at sex.

    • There's also:

Veronica: It's time for this fawn to strap on a machine gun, spread its wings and fly!

      • Although, this is technically not a metaphorgotten; the end of the episode revealed that Veronica honestly didn't know what a fawn was, and was just stringing ideas together as she came up with them.
  • Technically this was in a newspaper, but when asked about his cancelled quiz show The Rich List, Andrew O'Keefe came out with this gem, comparing it to his other show: The Rich List is like a dear cousin sadly taken before its time, never to return I'm afraid. Unlike Deal or No Deal, which is like the bachelor uncle who shows up to every family function without fail and drinks everything in sight and gets all the kids dancing and hyper before taking off into the night in his '65 Mercedes convertible which could use a little TLC."
  • Series 6, episode 5 of Hustle gave us obnoxious, management-speak-spouting mark Mervyn Lloyd:

As far as I'm concerned, moving forward: young is the new old. People who don't just think outside the box, they rip up the box, tramp on it, fly it around the room for a bit and put it back together again. As a circle.

Announcer: Coming up mid-week! The giants of Charlton play host to the titans of Ipswich...making them both seem normal-sized!

Shaun: You know, political humour and satiricalness is very much the bag I'm into laughwise. I see an injustice in our society and I pounce on it like a cougar, ripping it open like a fawn and eating it whole. Now, the suits here tell me to cool it, but I tell them to back off. 'Cause I'm calling the shots here and it's my arse on the line. And if there's a fawn around selling off public housing, or pushing economic rationalism when the cats aren't digging it, or doing other bad things, then this fawn is going down. Down as far as it can burrow. And if the public want to see me kill and eat a burrowing fawn on national television, then by Godfrey they shall!

Mrs Doyle: The playful splash of the tea as it hits the bottom of the cup. The thrill of adding the milk and watching it settle for a moment before it filters slowly down through the cup changing the colour from dark brown to a lighter brown. Perching an optional Jaffa cake on the saucer, like a proud soldier standing at attention next to a... giant cup of tea.

Mal: (looking through the window) The next time you decide to stab me in the back... Have the guts to do it to my face.[1]

Penny: He slipped and fell.
Howard: Yes, I slipped and fell. In the bathroom. Bounced right off the tub.
Penny: Yes, now he knows what bathtubs are capable of doing when you don’t treat them with respect.
Howard: Yeah. They sucker punch you when your eyes are closed.

  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Inverted by Randy who, after he allowed two convicts to walk into an ice cream shop unsupervised, was offered the 'bull in a "Chinese" shop' analogy:

"How could you even get a bull in a Chinese shop? The doors would have to be huge. And even if you managed to get him in there all he would do is start wrecking... oh."

    • Also:

Gwen: Look, just forget about this okay. It's not your fault, you were just the straw that broke the camel's back.
Earl: But that’s the thing! I’m the straw. Without the straw, the camel wouldn’t have a broken back.
Gwen: Yes, but if you remove the straw from the camel’s back, that doesn’t fix it. The camel is still dead.
Earl: (Beat) Camels can go forty days without water…

"Well, I'm the boss. Head Honcho. El Numero Uno. Mr. Big. The Godfather. Lord of the Rings. The Bourne Identity. Er ... Taxi Driver. Jaws. I forgot the question quite a while back. Who are you, again?"

    • Moss has one when Roy criticizes his plan in Series 2:

"Prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them along with this slice of humble pie that comes direct from the oven of shame, set at gas mark 'egg on your face'!"

  • In Black Books, when an illiterate thug reminds Bernard he only has a few days to teach him to read:

Danny: "...if I can't read by Friday, you'll both be brown bread. Buttered. With Harry. On the boat."
Bernard (sobbing) "Who's Harry?! I don't even have a boat!"

  • Michael's speech right at the end of Queer as Folk: "People are like snowflakes: every one special and unique... and in the morning you have to shovel them off them driveway."
  • In The George Lopez Show, George is telling his niece to stop being soft. He says this:

"You gotta keep your heart hard, like... like a lobster. Then the only way for people to get in is to crack your shell and get at your meat with a tiiiiiiiny little fork."

Davis: A billy club is a cop's best friend.
Karen: I thought you said a gun was a cop's best friend.
Davis: Well, a gun is more like a cop's lover. There's some things you tell your gun that you'd never tell a lover. And sometimes your lover and your best friend don't get along. Or maybe you go out with one and the other gets mad at you 'cause you didn't go out with it!
Karen: You're divorced, right?

    • Another one:

Hank: Check and mate! The hunter has become the hunted! The fox has become the...fox...who is...catching himself...

Autolycus: Yeah, you see, a woman's chastity is like a new hat. A beautiful thing that's...
[Xena appears]
Autolycus: ...going to kill me.

Dan Miller: If you're gonna make an omelette, you're going to have to have some frank and honest discussion with the eggs.

Britta: "Raising him means letting him follow his dreams."
Abed's Father: "Dreams are for sleeping!"
Britta: "You don't know that!"
Abed's Father: "It's clinically proven!"
Britta: "So's polio!"
Abed's Father: "You lost me!"

  • In this sequence on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert tries to explain a metaphor made by John McCain comparing Middle-Earth to the debt ceiling debate, using Lord of the Rings figurines. Each one he brings out strains the metaphor a little more, until:

One more thing. [brings out a full-scale sword replica] This, of course, is Aragorn's sword Andúril, Flame of the West, reforged from the Shards of Narsil, given to me by Viggo Mortensen. Now, this has nothing to do with the metaphor; I just want to remind everyone that I have this.

  • In Stargate SG-1, O'Neill at one point gets into a sort of metaphor battle with a village leader. When O'Neill says "Birds of a feather," the leader doesn't get it, having not heard it before. O'Neill tries to explain that it's about "flocking" and "togetherness", before admitting that he isn't sure himself.
  • Michael's very first line on Burn Notice slips into this.

Know what it's like being a spy? Like sitting in your dentist's reception area twenty-four hours a day. You read magazines, sip coffee, and every so often, someone tries to kill you.

    • Though arguably, he's not derailing a metaphor—he's literally saying that being a spy is like sitting in a waiting room where someone occasionally tries to kill you.
  • The Daily Show:

John Stewart: It's a great day when the president of the United States says on national television that gay people should no longer be regulated to only planning other people's weddings. It's not right. It's like putting a cat in charge of the Goldfish Toss game, it's not fair. You're just torturing the cat; just let him eat the fish or move him to Down a Clown. That's a better game for the cat. What are we talking about, I forgot already.


Music[edit | hide]

  • From Tim Minchin's beat poem "Storm": "I'm becoming aware that I'm staring / I'm like a rabbit, suddenly trapped / in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap."
  • Whilst "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" by Primus consists of euphemistic metaphors, the entirety of the song seems to be an example of metaphorgotten:

Wynona loved her big brown beaver
and she stroked it all the time
She pricked her finger one day and it occurred to her
She might have a porcupine.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • A 1984 installment of Matt Groening's Life in Hell included a few supposed quotations about love by great philosophers from history. They all follow this trope and become increasingly bizarre and ridiculous, finally finishing with this one: "Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come." - Nietzsche


Radio[edit | hide]

Nebulous: The whole of the universe is unravelling into a massive coincidence like a badly knit cardigan caught on the wire of coincidence. A whole sleeve has already gone, and now the collar's starting to unravel. Un-knit 1, un-purl 1, un-knit 1, un...I'm drifting..
Nebulous: Doctor Klench is a chap who came to a crossroads in life and took a turning marked evil. He put his foot to the accelerator and he's not stopping. Not for pedestrians, not for a picnic, not for a toilet break, not- I'm drifting.

    • Interestingly, Professor Nebulous always realizes he's doing it, and stops himself with the remark, "I'm drifting."
  • Frequently played with on Adventures in Odyssey, since TV Genius Eugene interprets all metaphors as Metaphorgotten. For example, when he gets offended when his future father-in-law calls Katrina's engagement ring a "mere trinket."

Eugene: Trinket?
Mr. Shanks: Now, no offense, Eugene, but let's call a spade a spade.
Eugene: Frankly, Mr. Shanks, if I had given Katrina a shovel, then we could call a spade a spade.

Humphrey Lyttelton: Each member of a team is presented with a song from which the words have been omitted and replaced with the lyrics of a second song from which the tune has been discarded. Still not clear? Try to imagine you have two electric lamps but in one of the lamps the light bulb has failed. You could swap it over for the good one. It doesn't matter why one of them has failed, although it is almost certainly because you bought them cheaply from some dodgy market trader -- their light bulbs are certainly good value but they do have a habit of going out if handled badly -- they are not built to withstand rough treatment such as putting electricity through them. To be fair they probably work well enough where they come from, some sweatshop in Uzbekistan no doubt, where if the mains supply goes above 7 Volts they classify it as a power surge. Finally, in those places even a dead light bulb is considered something of a luxury compared with what they normally have. I know what you are thinking--what could possibly be more dim than a dead light bulb? At the piano we have Colin Sell.

  • Marcus Brigstocke gives us the Tax Cake.


Stand-up Comedy[edit | hide]

  • Aziz Ansari has a bit on his special Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, talking about how a immigrant doctor friend of his was able to bypass the greencard process by going to Alabama, which is an "underserved" state.

I was like, whoa, that's kind of a weird deal. The government's like, "Oh yeah, you can come to the United States! C'mon, c'mon! Yeah, you, c'mon, c'mon!...but you gotta go to Alabama". It's kinda like a girl going "Yeah, you can see me naked, but you can only look at my left elbow. And my left elbow is racist."


Theater[edit | hide]

  • From Passing Strange: "...They mimic the phallo-centric narrative of 'verse, chorus, verse, chorus, climax, fade out, smoke a cigarette, turn over, snore all night and never call me again--'"
    • "You know, absence really does make the heart grow into a state of mind which somehow transforms what you once could not stand about your family into a somehow quaint pleasure-giving construct."
  • The other thing Our American Cousin is famous for.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: The baker Raguenau, obsessed with poetry, tries to combine the poetry with the cooking when talking to his cooks at his bakery. Of course, the cooks don't understand anything he says:

Raguenau (ceasing to write, and raising his head): Aurora's silver rays begin to glint e'en now on the copper pans, and thou, O Ragueneau! must perforce stifle in thy breast the God of Song! Anon shall come the hour of the lute!—now 'tis the hour of the oven!
(He rises. To a cook): You, make that sauce longer, 'tis too short!
The Cook: How much too short?
Raguenau: Three feet. (He passes on farther.)
The Cook: What means he?
First Pastry-Cook: (showing a dish to Ragueneau): The tart!
Second Pastry-Cook: The pie!
Raguenau (before the fire): My muse, retire, lest thy bright eyes be reddened by the fagot's blaze!
(To a cook, showing him some loaves): You have put the cleft o' th' loaves in the wrong place; know you not that the coesura should be between the hemistiches?
(To another, showing him an unfinished pasty): To this palace of paste you must add the roof...
(To a young apprentice, who, seated on the ground, is spitting the fowls): And you, as you put on your lengthy spit the modest fowl and the superb turkey, my son, alternate them, as the old Malherbe loved well to alternate his long lines of verse with the short ones; thus shall your roasts, in strophes, turn before the flame!

  • For the Avenue Q song "The More You Ruv Someone":

Christmas Eve: Love!
Kate Monster: Love!
Christmas: And hate!
Kate: And hate!
Christmas: They like two brothers!
Kate: Brothers!
Christmas: Who go on a date!
Kate: Who... what?


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Red Dead Redemption Edgar Ross attempts to explain civilization and outlaw behavior by using the metaphor of a man admiring a flower and shooting another man because he might not like the flower. Somehow, according to Edgar, it's a perfect metaphor, when he then goes on to tell John Marston that although the rules aren't perfect, they aren't so bad after all (like, the rule of you don't kill others just because they may not like the same things you like.) This only serves to confuse the hell out of John (and the player.)
  • The Ace Attorney series does this periodically.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Spark Brushel's metaphors are so convoluted that it's difficult to know whether they fall under this trope, Mixed Metaphor, or something else entirely.
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations, Shi-Long Lang pulls out many wolf-related aphorisms that progressively make less and less sense, and eventually Edgeworth starts wondering what the hell he's talking about.
    • Godot is also prone to doing this with coffee.
  • Kang the Mad, a character from Jade Empire, is a master of this trope. When asked how he can remote control his flyer: "Well, it's much like the dilemma of the centipede. If he relaxes and lets things happen, he can walk naturally all day long, his hundred legs not missing a step. But, if he thinks too hard about the complexity of what he's doing, those legs might crash into the teahouse and kill everyone. A valuable lesson." Whether or not he's doing it on purpose is debatable.
  • In Dragon Age 2, one of Isabela's side conversations with Merrill about how she manages her Sexy Walk:

Isabela: "It comes to you. Usually at night. It's like a lover...or maybe a burglar. Either it ravishes you or makes off with all your jewelry. And you have to run it down and stab it in the heart. And...That metaphor got a bit away from me, didn't it?"
Merrill: "I think it did, but it was certainly exciting!"

  • In Baldur's Gate, Minsc says: "Lead evil by example, and one day it will no longer go tracking its great muddy bootprints across our lilywhite tiles of justice. Boo will have CLEAN WOOD SHAVINGS, you evil bastards!"
    • And in the sequel, Minsc has this gem: "I trust those who prey on children no farther than they can be thrown, even if I manage to throw them pretty far, and throw them I shall!"
  • In Noitu Love 2, at the end of Xoda's Story Mode, the final Boss and our heroes talk about the Villain's evil plan. Almond says it is playing God, but the villain retorts that they will become God, and then goes back to the heroes' statement, pronouncing, proudly, something along the lines of "It will be Just like playing with myself."
  • Fawful from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga tends to alternate between this and his own brand of Engrish.

"Princess Peach's sweet voice will soon be the bread that makes the sandwich of Cackletta's desires! And this battle shall be the delicious mustard on that bread! The mustard of your doom!"

  • There's a pink Bob-omb in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, found in Herb T.'s Cola Bar underneath Rogueport, who really wants to be an informant like Wonky. Unfortunately for him, most of his "information" just turns out to be this. For example:

"I know stuff too! Seriously! Like... Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Because, you know, then all the other baskets get jealous. I don't even like eggs!"

  • Ghostbusters the Video Game has Egon's hilariously convoluted attempt at comparing the mandala that's causing all the ghost activity to a city bus line. Ray responds "You were going strong right up until the passengers got trapped inside the bus station."
  • Garrus is sometimes guilty of this in Mass Effect 2. His crowning moment, however, comes from the romance option with him.

Garrus: You know me; I always like to savor the last shot before popping the heat sink.
(awkward silence)
Garrus: Wait, that metaphor just went somewhere horrible.

  • Grim Fandango has this gem, courtesy of Glottis: "Manny, until now we scraped along the ground like rats, but from now on, we soar! Like eagles! Yeah, like eagles.. on POGO STICKS!"
  • Nanashi no Game, of all things, gives us one courtesy of Professor Ohyama:

We'll use the contents of the Yutani Shin record that you retrieved as a guiding light, so to speak. Like lighthouses, the famous beacons of the sea. One beam of light piercing through the darkness, guiding the many travellers who journey across the ocean-- Ah... I'm going off on a tangent again.

  • Valkyria Chronicles Largo loses his squadmates when he gets a little incensed over the imperial blockade preventing vegetable shipments from getting through.

Largo: Vegetables are like bombs packed tight with all kinds of important nutrients! Kids gotta eat 'em to grow up right... and the body's practically made of vegetables!
Rosie: Which are like bombs...?

  • In Touhou 12.8: Great Fairy Wars, the Fairy Trio gives you this lovely little trinket at the end of the C-1 route:

Luna: We three together make one.
Sunny: Even if a single arrow breaks if you bend it, if you bundle three together...
Star: You'll run out of arrows three times as fast!

"Theory: Imagine, if you will, that you are unique. The pinnacle of an exiled, cast-out Jedi who can't even use the Force. Imagine that no one has sunk lower than you. That you are truly the most miserable example of a Jedi ever. ... Now that you have that image, imagine this - someone clones you. Badly, I might add. They make the clones talk differently, rob you of any shred of personality, and take your Jedi Code and adjust it so that it is not really the Jedi Code anymore. They even change your pigmentation to a rather poor shade of durasteel, rather than the proper rusty red that inspires fear in targets. And of course, they refer to meatbags as "organics." Unacceptable."

  • If you value your ability to think logically and avoid falling over in paroxysms of laughter, do not allow Otacon to attempt to explain proverbs. Here's a good example from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:

Otacon: Another Chinese proverb. "Those who look to the Heavens prosper, those who defy it are no more." Do you know this one? The meaning here is -- hold on a sec -- that you can only survive as long as you're a part of the natural order of things. You remember pre-ripped jeans? Manufacturers thought that just because people loved old, broken-in jeans, they would want to buy new jeans that looked old. So they purposefully --
Snake: What do jeans have to do with nature and order?
Otacon: Denim should fray and rip on its own, naturally. Right? Some designers tried to go against that, and -- no one bought them! The earnings report from that fiscal year is enough of a proof!

  • Portal 2:
    • Cave Johnson has a notable metaphor regarding life giving you lemons...

Cave Johnson: I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What the hell am I supposed to do with these?! Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that BURNS YOUR HOUSE DOWN!

      • To be fair, he used the original metaphor properly beforehand. This was more a Rage Against the Heavens attempt to subvert the metaphor altogether.
    • Wheatley also uses an odd misguided metaphor just before trying to kill you

Wheatley: Well... Good. Good. Finally, a nemesis worthy of my vast intellect. Holmes versus Moriarty! Aristotle versus MASHY-SPIKE-PLATE!
Wheatley: Guess what -- I'm holding all the cards, and they're all full houses...

GLaDOS: I'd ask you think think outside the box on this, but it's obvious that your box is broken. And has schizophrenia.

Some good questions. Good enough, anyway, that when we angrily confronted our writers with them, they got that look animals get when they're walking across a road in the middle of the night, headlights appear, and they realize they're about to lose their jobs.

Dervin: Yet know that for evil to triumph, it is enough that good men know not the masterworks of Lord Derwin, novelist extraordinaire.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Homestar Runner' has: "If I had to choose a word to describe myself, that word would be 'Fluffy Puff Marshmallows'. Or Homestar. Either one, really. They both fit!"
    • Strong Bad's attempt to compare emails to fish also counts.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Armourer: ...you can't make an omelet without permanently deafening someone.

Tarquin: You can't make an omelette without ruthlessly crushing dozens of eggs beneath your steel boot and then publicly disembowelling the chickens that laid them as a warning to others.

Frank: When you make an omelette, sometimes you've got to kill a few people.

    • They take another crack at it here. Sometimes, the fruit is just fruit.
    • And again-

Victim: He beat me with a hammer until I went blind!
Police Officer: You know what else is blind? Justice. But Justice didn't get beat with a hammer. Justice is always blind. That's regular for Justice.

    • Sort of averted when Tycho angrily and sarcastically finishes Gabe's "When life gives you lemons" metaphor:

Tycho: I got out to get the mail, and a rabid dog mauls my other hand and face!
Gabe: You know what my mom used to say: "When life gives you shit," you just... Uh..."
Tycho: Make Shit-ade? What?
Gabe: Wait, it's coming to me.

  • Antihero for Hire, when the main character is describing the battle between him and his enemies.

Dechs: It's like a game of chess. It's their turn, and their strike can come at any moment from any direction, completely invisibly, and from multiple fronts all at once...
Wrench: Um, have you ever actually played chess?
Dechs: That's not important.

Torg: It is a giant elevator to Hell with ghosts in the gas tank!
Riff: Elevators don't use gas tanks.
Torg: Right, bad analogy. How about... It's an inverted toaster popping the bread of us onto the "two eggs up, and a side of bacon" plate of Hell! With ghosts in the gas tank!

    • Or:

Torg: Life is like a sandwich. Sometimes you eat it, and sometimes it eats you.
Riff: What kind of sandwich are we talking about here?
Torg: Pitbull salad sandwich.

Avery: What are you, some kind of a Grammar Nazi?
Millie: Yup. I just invaded Grammar Czechoslovakia and duped Grammar Neville Chamberlain, and now it's on to Grammar Poland and Grammar World Conquest!
...
Ozy: Would this, ironically, make you an "analogy Nazi"?

Woman: "Steve, you and I...we're like apples and oranges. I'm the oranges, and the oranges are doing your brother."

Professor: Imagine time is a long corridor. At the end of the corridor there is a curtain. Are you with me so far? Behind the curtain there is a man. The man holds a black egg. A cat hatches from this egg. The cat screams with the voice of a man.

  • Used frequently in 8-Bit Theater.
    • Black Mage's examples are especially noteworthy as he has a tendency to derail his metaphors into him reveling in the memories of past atrocities, such as here and here.
    • this 8-Bit Theater strip.

Black Mage: You can't make an omelette without...um...destroying a forest. Or something.

Noel: Kate, I'm really sorry about this. He just followed me here. He's like a puppy...that you just want to strangle. And then neuter to protect future generations.

Laurie: Is that still a metaphor, or are you trying to tell me something?
Ship: Just that it's not my turn to do the dishes.

Justin: It'd be like if an orange only liked other oranges and their orange partner got jealous of a bunch of old apples the other orange used to date.
Nanase: ... what?

  • Schlock Mercenary has metaphors that run off the rails - or run out of the rails - now and then ("Congratulations, sir! Another sentence slain!"). There were talks of "revoking metaphor privileges" of other characters, too.
    • Occasionally inverted. Captain Landon checks metaphors with which he meddles. That's where you remember who he is and that picking up a habit of never, ever, being sloppy may well be a side effect of raising to Captain in the Internal Affairs of a semi-monastic police force in the capitol of United Nations of Sol. Returned on the next page, with his treatment of another metaphor being shot down (Sorlie is a spaceship design engineer).
  • bird and moon, "Flappy Valentine":

My love for you is like a Peregrine Falcon. Strong. Powerful. Energetic. Zooming towards you at 200 mph. Striking prey in a dramatic mid-air explosion of feathers. Storing excess meat in crevices or on ledges. Vomiting up pellets of bone, feathers, gizzard, and other coarse material. Wait. What were we talking about?

Web Original[edit | hide]

(On the Mortal Kombat remake) "I've made no secret of my feeling that one of the biggest recurring problems in the games industry is a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Development teams being too big, perhaps the industry as a whole being too big, with none of the cooks taking any personal responsibility for the broth so you end up with a lot of gluey unseasoned broth that is just about inoffensive enough to be palatable to mainstream broth audiences but isn't exactly getting five star write-ups in Broth Monthly. And almost inevitably there'll be a few cooks who want to be able to pad their resume and perhaps one day join a better broth making corporation that will let them have creative control of the broth, so they put a lot of effort into polishing the carrots that are their sole responsibility, and then everyone feels like they have to make the carrots float to the top all the time and show off how well polished they are, but the broth isn't supposed to be about the carrots so I just get kind of put off by the way these carrots are being pushed in my face while I'm trying to enjoy the beef cubes and the radishes. I think this is already the best metaphor I've ever written."

    • It's also used during the review of Splinter Cell: Conviction.
    • From the Painkiller review:

"It's pure mindless fun, like wrestling an excitable dog in a paddling pool full of disembodied breasts. *beat* Don't think too much about that simile, I certainly didn't."

"I wonder if the Geneva Convention covers torturing metaphors."

"I'll applaud [Skyrim's faults] if it means we can have less games that treat me like a child stuck in a pipe, games industry. I will applaud it as hard as you like. I will slap at my palms until my future children suffer masturbation guilt. No, I don't know what I'm on about. Go away."

And while I was able to deduce that the Microsoft Kinect would be a crap gaming system simply by using my magnificent brain, I recently picked one up anyway because Pope Urban VIII probably thought he was very clever when he condemned Galileo; but who got the last laugh there? Well he did when Galileo died in poverty and dishonor. What I'm saying is that I'm basically like the Pope.

Just like in gears of war, we'll need to be resurrected by an ally. So on top of all the aforesaid combat blindsiding issues, I have to break off the fight now and again to do the retard roundup. It's like keeping plates spinning, in the middle of a mosh pit... and the plates won't shut the fuck up.

  • This example from Lonelygirl15 episode "Go For It :)", when Emma and Sarah are at the Grand Canyon:

Sarah: Welcome to the world's biggest metaphor. See, the, uh, cliff, it's like your power thingie (if it's real) and the canyon is your life, if you choose to accept it.
Emma: So you're saying I should jump?
Sarah: Um, bad metaphor.

Steven of Tyler: Well it was this dragon! This goddamn dragon. As large as a.. as large as a tree. A tree that was at least three times a normal tree's height.

Joey: Remember, you treat a duel disk just like a woman. You fasten it to your arm and place trading cards inside it at regular intervals.

    • Yugi's grandpa also gave us this disturbing example in a flashback:

Grandpa: Playing card games is Just Like Making Love. You do it on a table, and you feel deep shame after it's finished. Also, the older you get, the less fun it is. So remember, always wear a condom when playing card games.
[end of flashback]
Yugi: [looking at deck] Hmm...I should probably wash my hands after using these.

  • This YouTube video starts out with an apple and an orange representing two gay people who want to get married, and the potato representing someone who doesn't want them to do so. Then the guy says "But the potato is also a closet homosexual....," and turns the whole thing into a Shaggy Frog Story with fruit. And a potato.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has several examples in addition to the page quote.
    • For example:

Penny: You're not really interested in the homeless, are you?
Dr. Horrible: No, I am, but... it's a symptom. You're treating a symptom while the disease rages on, consumes the human race. The fish rots from the head, so they say. So I'm thinking, why not cut off the head?
Penny: [pause] Of the human race?
Dr. Horrible: It's not a... perfect metaphor.

    • In the same work, the lyrics of "Everyone's a Hero".

Cpt. Hammer: It's not enough to bash in heads/You've got to bash in minds!

Dornkirk: (to heroes) Look, you can't bake a cake without breaking a few eggs.
Hitmoi: Yes, you can. My grandma used to make me vegan cake all the time.
Dornkirk: You can? Hold on a second.
Dornkirk: (to Falken) Falken! Did you know you can bake a cake without breaking any eggs?
Falken: Yes, my lord, yes you can.
Dornkirk: Do you think that means we should stop killing people?
Falken: No my lord, I think you just need a better metaphor.
Dornkirk: Oh, right.
Dornkirk: (to heroes) Look, you can't test cosmetics without killing a few bunnies!
Hitomi: Yes! Yes, you can!
Dornkirk: (to Falken) Falken! Did you know--
Falken: Omelet, my lord.
Dornkirk: Falken says you can't make an omelet without killing a few bunnies.

If there's any game that puts you in a bad mood, it's Castlevania III. Putting this game in your Nintendo is like running open-armed out into a rainstorm of piss! You wanna go balls to the wall? Well, there's one way to go balls to the wall and that's to stick your dick in an electric outlet! You wanna play shit tennis with an orangutan while shoving your head up a hyena's asshole? Well, good luck.

Occupy Wall Street is kind of like Newsies, only with less singing and dancing. And vastly different historical contexts.

  • Josh Sundquist makes one of these in one of his vlog posts, "Hot Girl on a Silver Platter:"

Josh: A hot girl walks up and she's like "Here is a silver platter! I am on the silver platter! I am the sil-" I...I don't know, this metaphor's breaking down.

Caboose: I know where you can find O'Malley! He lived inside my helmet for a while, maybe he left an address to send his mail. We were like roommates.
Sarge: Sounds like he took some of the furniture when he left. And the carpet. And the drapes. And I wouldn't expect to get that deposit back, if you know what I mean.

Like a beautiful and delicate snowflake, no two friendships are alike. Unlike the beautiful and delicate snowflake, some friendships break out the flamethrowers in the face of this sickening sweetness.

  • In A Very Potter Sequel Ron attempts to cheer up Hermione, who's worrying that she's too much like Umbridge, by comparing her to Spiderman. It's pretty clear that's not what he's really talking about when he mentions Spiderman's 'enormous breasts.'
  • Let's Player raccow occasionally has these.

raocow: "Sometimes, you just have to look a gift horse in the mouth and say 'What the hell am I look at here? I'm not a dentist.'"


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Azula: That's a sharp outfit, Chan. Be careful, you could puncture the hull of an empire-class Fire Nation battleship, leaving thousands to drown at sea.
Beat
Azula: Because...it's so sharp!
Chan:: Ummm... Thaaaanks.

  • In a Robot Chicken sketch about G.I. Joe and the Weather Dominator, a retired Duke compares his experience being forced by Cobra to fight mute ninja Snake Eyes ("in a desperate attempt to raise concession sales") as "As if the Nazis put the war on hold to make Eisenhower fight a mute dude in a ninja outfit."
  • From The Simpsons:
    • There's:

Homer: Son, a woman is a lot like a refrigerator. They're six feet tall, 300 pounds... they make ice... umm... (Spots his can of Duff) Actually, a woman is a lot like a beer! They look good, they smell good, and you'd step over your own mother to get one! (Chugs his can of Duff) But you can't stop at one. You wanna drink another woman! (Chugs another can)

    • And another time: "If horse racing is the sport of kings, then surely bowling is...a very good sport as well."
    • And yet another time: "Son, don't rock the boat. Don't even get in the boat. Just buy some ice cream and walk around the pier. But don't use their bathrooms; they are filthy.
    • Still another time:

Shelbyville resident:' [to Homer] You must be stupider than you look!
Homer: Stupider like a fox!

    • When Lisa considers to disguise herself as a boy to do advanced math, and imagines being surrounded by numbers and math symbols:

≥ sign: Do it Lisa! You'll be greater than or equal to boys!
Number 8: Even though you're only eight (flips over to side to become infinity sign) your possibilities are infinite!
Number 27: (Beat) Twenty-seven!

    • Homer teaching a class at the learning center.

Homer: A good marriage is like eating an orange. First there's the skin, then there's the sweet sweet innards. (devours the orange)
Otto: If I wanted to learn to eat an orange, I'd be at the orange eating class!
Hans Moleman: Eating an orange is a lot like a good marriage.
Abe Simpson: (slams fist on desk) Just eat the damn orange!

  • Futurama does this a lot.
    • "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" has:

Fry: Amy, you know how you like chocolate, but then you get tired of it because it wants to hang out all the time?
Amy: Huh? You don't like chocolate?
Fry: Could chocolate let me finish?

    • Also, from "The Beast with a Billion Backs", about Fry's girlfriend's other boyfriends:

Zoidberg: If there's a delicious cake, isn't it better to have one slice than none at all, even if four other guys eat the other four slices, and they're all thrusting their sweaty, naked bodies against the cake?

    • Later in the same movie:

Fry: I'm so madly in love with Yivo. I feel like a schoolgirl with a crush on Justin Timberlake, and then she moves into a giant house on his head.

    • Also:

Zapp Brannigan: In the game of chess, you can never let your opponent see your pawns.
Zapp: "If we hit that bullseye, the rest of those dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate."
'Kif: Weary groan

    • "Love and Rocket":

Fry: You can't date the ship, Bender! That would be like me dating a really fat woman, and living inside her, and she'd be all 'whoooosh!' (spaceship fight noises)"

    • When the Professor is being taken away by robots for being too old, he gives the classic "Goodbye, cruel world!" as they depart. Then says goodbye to his "cruel lamp", followed by his "cruel drapes" with their little velvet tassels, "cruel though they may be."
    • This example from "The Devils Hands Are Idle Playthings."

Bender: Though you may have to metaphorically make a Deal with the Devil. And by "Devil" I mean Robot Devil, and by "Metaphorically", i mean get your coat.

Freakazoid: Duty calls! Hello, Duty! I'm coming!

    • Which is followed up later in the season by this joke:

Freakazoid: It's time to face my destiny! Hello, Destiny! I was just visiting your friend, Duty! He says very bad things about you!

  • The Tick (animation) ends practically every episode veering off into one of these. This is also the origin of his battle-cry, "Spoon!".

Tick: Thank you for teaching us all that love is thicker than most bodily membranes. But not quite as sticky. And that a heart full of love is better than a body full of people. Merrilly, the feet that carried us on the heart's path today will be the feet that soak in the steaming brew of happiness tomorrow.
Tick: You know, when a tomato grows out of your forehead, it gets you thinking. What do we know about anything? Life is just a big, wild, crazy tossed salad, but you don't eat it. No sir. You live it!

"You see, Chowder, food is like life. And sometimes we bite off more life than we can chew. And then we're just puking life all over the walls, the ceilings, the expensive carpets..."

Peter: Forget it Lois, your brother is toast! Warm, buttery toast.
Fat Guys: mmmm....

    • In one episode, Peter wins a trip to a brewery and remarks "It's like I died and went to heaven. But then they realized that it wasn't my time, and so they sent me back to a brewery."
    • A metaphor slowly degrades when Peter goes on Blind Date in an early episode:

Girl: I'm an ice cream cone; how are you gonna eat me?
Bachelor 1: I'd invite my friend Rudy over and we'd give you a double dip!
Bachelor 2: I'd like off all the cream and give you my special whipped topping!
Peter: Well, I'd try to eat you really fast before I got flaccid.

Peter: "Theater is a living breathing creature! It has wants and needs and you're not man enough to satisfy her!"

Phantom Limb: Revenge, like gazpacho soup, is best served cold, precise, and merciless.
The Monarch: Yeah, you can never have too much precision in your soup.

    • Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder are also fond of using this trope, frequently rebounding the metaphor off each other until the original intent is unrecognizable.

Mr. Doe: That's a joke.
Mr. Cardholder: Regular cut-up.
Mr. Doe: Should give him a reality show.
Mr. Cardholder: I'd watch it.
Mr. Doe: I'd watch it twice.
Mr. Cardholder: Even if Flava Flav was in it.

  • Professor Frank, of Brad Neely's The Professor Brothers series, often delves into these. At a prospective TA interview:

"I don't know, little dawg. Maybe we'd better all start learning and loving martial arts, because after the bombs drop, and it's us against us, and we all wished with our terrible-smelling last breaths that we had those warm fur coats, and we're all going around hissing and kicking at each other and trying to trap rabbits so we can crack their heads, just like all the Lennies used to do that we used to protect them from! I mean, who's going to survive that shit, Gabe??

  • Darkwing Duck was a master of this. It was part of his introductory schpiel. "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the [silly metaphor taken too far and in too much detail relating to how he stops evil]! I am DARKWING DUCK!
  • Gorillaz interviews pull this card from time to time, like in this little exchange from "We are the Dury":

Murdoc: I mean, it can be very distracting to have six or seven decomposing zombies stuck up your chimney flue.
2D: We've got a chimney flue?
Murdoc: I'm speaking metaphorically, 'D. I'm using the analogy of a chimney flue to describe the, uh, passages of our flowing creativity, and the zombies in this case are used as a metaphor, as in blockages to the airway. Figuratively speaking.
2D: Really?
Murdoc: No. There really are about six or seven undead carcasses stuck up the studio chimney.
2D: Oh, well, uh... that explains the smell, wouldn't it?

Steve: Creative writing is hard, I can't do it.
Stan: Can't? We don't live in Ameri-can't, Steve, we live in Ameri-ca. No, no wait, we live in Ameri-can. No, wait, that's not right, we are Ameri-can. Where was I going with this? [...] If I Ameri-can't teach you about it, I have a friend who Ameri-will.

    • In the same episode:

Roger: Sorry pal, you're going to jail, where they're gonna take your cherry (Beat) jello away... in the lunch line... after you're raped in the showers.

    • In "Meter Made";

Stan: Francine finally had what she wanted. She was married to a somebody, and she was enjoying a taste of the good life. Unfortunately, I didn't count on her having an appetite. The appetite of a good life elephant. ...does that make sense? It doesn't need to, I was a meter maid.

  • In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, the title-characters decide to act like they're in a film noir for the day, and many of the parody narration sequences drift into this territory.

Phineas: The sun beat down on the city like a hammer. A relentless, hot, beating hammer hammering down like a big metaphor that was....hot...for some reason.
Candace: Stop with the narration!

    • In "Misperceived Monotreme", Dr. Doofenshmirtz delivers this gem when confronting what he thinks is Perry but is really just an ordinary platypus:

Doofenshmirtz: Oh, I see what you're doing. You're messing with my head, trying to get into my mind, walk around in there, rearrange the furniture, maybe repaint the kitchen...

  • The PBS show Word Girl, an affectionate parody of its own genre, has this immortal line when the titular character catches one of the main villains robbing an ice-cream truck.

Wordgirl: The only ice cream you'll be eating is the ice cream of JUSTICE! *beat* (just as heroically) ...That sounded better in my head!


Real Life[edit | hide]

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 PM traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 PM at a speed of 35 mph.

and

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

    • "The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't" is an obvious reference to Hitchhiker's Guide and the Vogon ships..
  • Tim Schafer is really good at this. Since this is really long, just click here and read the first question and answer.
  • Entries for the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest frequently contain these. As do Lyttle Lytton Contest entries.
  • George H. W. Bush was known for using the metaphor "a thousand points of light," in his political speeches. However, it's not commonly remembered that this was supposed to be a metaphor for Americans joining volunteer organizations.
    • That's a rare example of the metaphor being remembered quite well by the person who was speaking it, but forgotten (in the waves of parodies) by the audience.
  • Famously:

George W. Bush: "Fool me once, shame on...shame on...you? Fool me, ya can't get fooled again."

  • Obama's extended "car in a ditch" metaphor and its various incarnations. What?
  • John McCain dropped his analogy right in middle of saying it when asked if Bill Clinton was an appeaser towards North Korea:

McCain: If it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it's appeasement.

  • To quote a gem from a 2011 article on the bankruptcy of Borders Group Inc.:

“The superstores were viewed by the independent bookstores as dinosaurs that came to kill them — and they did,” said Al Greco, a book publishing expert and professor of marketing at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business Administration. “Today, it looks like the big bang has hit and now the dinosaurs are in peril.”

  • Dissociated Press is a way of generating reams of metaphorgotten prose.
  • "Girl Banter Win" [dead link] The last insult on this Failbook entry.
  • Here's a classic, "drive-'em-nuts" joke: Ask someone, "What has pointy ears, lives in the Southwest, howls at the moon, and is filled with cement?" They'll be completely baffled. Then tell them the answer is "A coyote." When they retort that coyotes aren't filled with cement, reply that that part was "just to make it hard." (For a dirtier pun, replace "filled with cement" with "masturbates constantly.")
  • German Communist Thälmann (active during the Weimar Republic) was infamous for this. One of his (translatable) goofs: "The hour of the moment has arrived!"
  • Jon Stewart's tribute to Bruce Springsteen at the Kennedy Center Honors; "I believe that Bob Dylan and James Brown had a baby. Yes! And they abandoned this child...as you can imagine at the time...interracial same-sex relationships being what they were..."
  • An commenter, explaining how vaginas are a valuable commodity:

"The girls, of course, have been trained to think that they can get away with just about anything as they possess the magic “V” which has a very high trading component as well as a social exchange rate, not unlike the Euro or an open ocean oil exploration license, but the magic “V” is more mobile and comes with its own carrier and operator, batteries not included, though."

  • Just about every news anchor seems to have had varying degrees of this in the wake of the Goldman-Sachs investigation. Every metaphor they use to describe the fraud seems to either break down fast, or not make sense from the start.
  1. Also known in some circles as the "Last Reacharound".