Too Many Halves
"Some have challenged my mathematics that Phil Reeves is 1000% local. I stand by my statement 10000% :-)"—Kevin Rudd, via Twitter
A person or object is described in some way that involves fractions. Oddly, those fractions don't add up to one. The most common form this description takes is "half [one thing], half [another thing], and half [something else]" or extended versions thereof—hence the name—but it can also involve more complicated addition problems. Another common variation is to have a character refer to splitting something "fifty-fifty," then realizing there are more people to split it among, and adjusting the proposed split to "fifty-fifty-fifty," etc.
Sometimes this is used to suggest that the described thing is paradoxically larger (or smaller) than itself. It is almost always Played for Laughs, unless it's a really bad example of Writers Cannot Do Math.
Film -- Live Action
- In Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, Willy says "Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple." Someone points out that that adds up to 105%.
- Caddyshack II:
Jack Hartounian: My father was Armenian. My mother was half Jewish, half English, half Spanish.
Chandler Young: That's three halves.
Jack Hartounian: Oh, she was a big woman.
- The Discworld novel Eric has the Aztec-flavoured god Quezovercoatl, who is described as "half-man, half-chicken, half-jaguar, half-serpent, half-scorpion and half-mad", making him three homicidal maniacs.
- An epigram by Alexander Pushkin describes one of his contemporaries as a "half-milord, half-merchant, half-fool, half-ignoramus, half-scoundrel, but there's a hope he'll finally be full".
- In Animorphs, Ax—and by extension the Andalite race in general—is once described as half blue deer, half centaur, and half scorpion. Then the narrator Lampshades it by saying they realize that it's too many halves.
- From the Known Space book Destiny's Forge:
- At the end of the Seinfeld episode "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry describes his shirt as "half silk, half cotton, half linen".
- One episode of All That revealed that Britney Spears is "half girl, half robot, half ravioli."
- From a Demetri Martin bit discussing his ideas for mythological creatures:
Demetri: A very beautiful mythical creature is called the Zebratard, and this animal is one-half pig, one-half eagle, one-half zebra, making it an improper fraction - so that's three halves of a creature, that's one-and-a-half mythical creatures - and it's surprisingly graceful, and very rare.
- The Non-Prophets song "Xaul Zhan's Heart" has the line:
"Half shark-alligator, half man, half amazing."
- WWE: Montel Vontavius Porter: "I am half-man, half-amazing, half-tag-team-champion... I'm so great, I'm the only man on Earth with three halves!"
- This can happen in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition due to abuse of the various "half-x" templates.
- Played with in Munchkin. Despite being built from the ground up to parody various role playing game clichés (and the entire concept of role playing games in general), the "Half-Breed" card only lets you play two Race cards at once, as the name implies. To play three Race cards, you'll need a "1/3-Breed" card. (But then, the rules encourage cheating...)
- In this Darths and Droids strip, Jim improvisationally describes Wookiees as being "kind of half-ape, half-dog, half-yeti hybrids." Pete notes that this makes them one-and-a-half times as big as you'd expect.
- When Grace, Nanase and Ellen return from fighting Damian in El Goonish Shive, Mr Verres's reaction is "half-overjoyed that nobody he cared about was seriously injured, half-enraged over their recklessness, half-exhausted after a long night, and half-relieved that the Damian threat was over".
- In the South Park episode "ManBearPig", Al Gore describes the eponymous monster as being "half man, half bear, half pig." When we actually see ManBearPig exactly as Gore imagines him in the Imaginationland episodes, it does in fact look part man, part bear, and part pig in some proportion.
- Other characters point out that this is too many halves, and instead describe it as "half man and half bearpig", or some such version.
- The Charlie Dog character from Looney Tunes had jokes about this as one of his main schticks. He would claim to be 50% of about half a dozen different breeds.
Charlie: I'm 50% Pointer (There it is! There it is! There it is!), 50% Boxer, 50% Setter (Irish Setter), 50% Watch Dog, 50% Spitz, 50% Doberman Pincher. But, mostly, I'm all Labrador Retriever! If you doubt my word, get me a Labrador and I'll retrieve it.
- Bender from Futurama has claimed at various points to be 30% Iron, 40% Zinc, 40% Titanium, 40% Lead, and 40% Dolemite (that last one having at least some demonstrable truth to it because he survived swimming in molten lava). According to the professor he's mostly made up of a Titanium-Osmium alloy with a .3% nickle impurity.
- A House of Mouse short has the Big Bad Wolf telling his son that catching pigs is "fifty percent" whatever lesson he's trying to teach at the moment. Eventually, the son dryly informs him of just what all the "fifty percents" add to by that point.
- One standard email forward of student errors contains:
Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.
- The "ninety-ninety rule" of computer programming, which is due to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs:
"The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time."
- This quote from Yogi Berra:
Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.
- Milton Jones has a variation on this trope: he makes a joke about his granddad, and then about his other granddad, and then about his other granddad, continuing through about eight different granddads. He then later calls back to this by complaining about family reunions. "Too many granddads."
- A non-comedic example; an old post on Fundies Say the Darndest Things had a poster who claimed Barack Obama was 50% white, 44% Muslim, and 12% black.
- Mentioned by one of our wiki's admins off-site:
the two hardest problems in programming:
- Naming things
- Cache invalidation
- Off-by-one errors