The Triple

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In comedy, two normal items followed by a non sequitur or humorous third item. The classic example is "Can I get you anything? Cup of coffee? Doughnut? Toupee?" from The Dick Van Dyke Show, to the point where a bumper running on Nick at Nite specifically explained the structure of the joke.

Not to be confused with My Friends and Zoidberg, where the things listed are one or more categories, and the non sequitur is an insult to an individual who ostensibly fits one of the categories.

Informed by the Rule of Three.

Subtrope of The Last of These Is Not Like the Others. See also Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking, The Three Certainties in Life, Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick, A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma.

Examples of The Triple include:


Advertising

  • An old Sega ad had a stewardess saying "Coffee? Tea? SEGA!"

Anime and Manga

  • In an episode of Excel Saga, Il Palazzo is playing a dating sim, and the third option is always "put it in".

Comics

  • A Judge Dredd story where the title character is chasing after Count Dracula sees the infamous vampire run into a Hall of Horrors tourist museum, prompting the following exchange between Dredd and an employee at the exhibit.
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Dredd: You! Close the Hall! Get everyone out! Dracula's in there!
Employee: 'Course he is! So's Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Margaret Thatcher...

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Film

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Clark: Can I refill your egg nog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

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  • Working Girl: "Coffee? Tea? Me?"
    • The line is from a 1967 book. In fact, it's the title. (Well, Coffee, Tea, or Me?)
  • The Nutty Professor (the Eddie Murphy one): "Anything I can get for you? Juice? Coffee? Rack of lamb?"
  • Miss Congeniality: "By the way, what are you planning to do for your talent: sing, dance, chew with your mouth closed?"
  • In The Addams Family, Morticia is clearing out a closet and finds three bags. In bag #1, "Uncle Knick-knack's Winter Wardrobe". In bag #2, "Uncle Knick-knack's Summer Wardrobe". In bag #3, "Uncle Knick-knack."
  • In Ice Age, Manny to Sid: "Is there no-one else that you can annoy? Friends? Family? Poisonous Reptiles?"
  • In Harold & Kumar go to White Castle: "Go on inside, boys, and make yourselves at home. You can rest up, get something to drink, fuck my wife, whatever you want. Just don't do anything the good lord would'nt do."
  • Cogsworth's suggestions in Beauty and the Beast as to what The Beast could give Belle as a gift. "Well, there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep." The last of these was actually a Throw It In by Cogsworth's voice actor, David Ogden Stiers.
  • In The Princess Bride, Humperdinck declines Count Rugen's invitation to his torture session by saying, "You know how much I love watching you work. But I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped!"

Literature

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"In those days... men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri."

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  • The 1978 essay "The Three Most Important Things in Life" by Harlan Ellison; they're sex, violence, and labor relations.
  • In her book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss remarks that, if people went about saying "Elizabeth'r Reign," instead of "Elizabeth Her Reign," there would be "...the regrettable result of making people sound a) a bit stupid, b) a bit drunk, or c) a bit from the West Country." (39)
  • The book Coffee Tea or Me?, a memoir of two airline stewardesses that was a best seller in 1969.

Live Action TV

  • Friends did a variation on this. When Rachel's pregnancy became a plot point at the beginning of season eight, Phoebe tries to figure out who the father is. When she invites the (wrong) man to the coffee house and it's revealed that, no, Tag is not the father, Phoebe is understandably embarrassed.
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Phoebe: Can I get anyone anything? Coffee? Tea? Poison? Just me? Okay.

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Captain Montgomery: Feds say he is a white male, 25 to 45 years old.
Castle: (to himself) Could be me.
Captain Montgomery: With a dysfunctional relationship with his mother.
Castle: Still me.
Captain Montgomery: He has a menial, unimportant job.
Beckett: Definitely you.
Castle: Just for that, my next book is based on Esposito.

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Park: Still a lot of other potential post-operative drawbacks. Infection, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction...

  • everyone except Volker snickers*

Volker: Why is that funny?

  • everyone else snickers again*
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  • In Eureka, Dr. Boyle lists off his grandmother's missing heirlooms after the bank is stolen. She had a gold wedding ring, a pearl necklace, some antimatter...

Radio

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Miss Brooks: Toast?
Mrs. Davis: Toast.
Miss Brooks: Cereal?
Mrs. Davis: Cereal.
Miss Brooks: Hat-coat-and-bicarbonate?
Mrs. Davis: ...

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Theatre

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Donna Donna: You worm! You skunk! You yellow-bellied imperialist running-dog!

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Video Games

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KNOW YOUR ALLERGENS: Pollen. Animal dander. Plastics. Antimatter.

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Web Animation

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"TOMAYTOOZ!!!!" [whap]
"K0RNN!!11!1!!!!" [whap]
"LAYYZDR GNU!!!!!!!" [pewpewpew]

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Web Comics

  • Order of the Stick: In #709, Tsukiko complains about how Paladins forbid things left and right: "Don't walk on the grass, don't litter, don't rape the cycle of life with your unclean power".
    • Also, #20: "Fireball!" "Arrrgh!" "Lightning Bolt!" "Arrrgh!" "Evan's Spiked Tentacles of Forced Intrusion!" "Wait, what? --AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!"
  • This Questionable Content:
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Marigold: Large Phillips screwdriver.
Momo: Large Phillips screwdriver.
Marigold: Thermal paste.
Momo: Thermal paste.
Marigold: Squirrel.
...
Momo: S-SQUIRELL!

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George: My car got smashed. The guard rail by the river got smashed. And people probably got smashed after watching the fight video!

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Web Original

  • In The Lazer Collection 3 a gritty new detective comments that a detail of the case he was assigned is, quote, odd. This launches his senior officer into a mini-rant.
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Senior Officer: Odd? Odd is Benjamin Franklin playing tetherball with Van Helsing. Odd is a big-toed tadpole tainted by the tides of a dawn since past. Odd is a 40 year old senior officer who cries himself to sleep every night dreaming of a life on the road as a traveling naked contortionist, never returning home, never stopping or breaking his stride! ... Unless he saw a TGI Fridays. He f**king loves that place.
Detective Randall: * stare*
Senior Officer: This isn't odd, Randall. This... is a mystery.

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Western Animation

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Calculon: I was all of history's great acting robots; Acting Unit 0.8, Thespomat, David Duchovny.

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Crocker: Can I offer you anything with that? Cream, sugar, magic?
Wanda: What was that last one?
Crocker: (unsure) Sugar?

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    • The live-action film has Timmy's parents attempting to offer gifts to Tootie when they try to marry their son off to her:
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Mr. Turner: We'll give you money!
Mrs. Turner: Livestock!
Mr. Turner: Raisins!

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Real Life

  • This article.
  • During the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards were the three candidates left in the race, Obama mentioned in one of the debates how historic a time it was, because it included the first African American final contender for the presidential campaign, the first woman, and John.