Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
You don't say.

Describing an atomic explosion as being "somewhat noisy."

A statement which, while technically accurate in a strictly literal sense, fails to convey the magnitude of the situation being described.

There are many ways to use this trope. One common way is following the Rule of Three by having two strongly made points followed by something more casual. It may help to have a Deadpan Snarker who habitually presents things in the least exciting manner. The Ditz may make understatements unintentionally.

In any case, understatement only works where a tension level has been built to go "under". Note that like sarcasm, some people are completely blind to the effect.

British and Australian humor occasionally demonstrates this.

Please don't Sinkhole this article in your own attempt at an understatement on the wiki. It's tacky. The attempt either works or it doesn't.

Examples of Understatement include:


  • The Rubik's cube was initially advertised as having over 3 billion combinations. 3 billion is perhaps towards the upper end of human comprehension, probably exceeding it. In terms of configurations you can get by turning a Rubik's cube an arbitrary number of times, there are over 43 quintillion configurations, which is a number so big it's almost meaningless. The number you get is even higher if you include combinations achievable through only disassembling and reassembling the cube.

Anime and Manga

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS:
    • The title character employs this often in her everyday speech. Telling her daughter Vivio that "This is going to hurt a bit" before blasting her with five Starlight Breakers at the same time is just one of many examples. Another infamous example: "Shall I cool your head a little?", which she uttered to a rebellious Teana before bombarding her into unconsciousness using her own spell.
  • Code Geass has Nunnally become a master of understatement with "In the past, unfortunate happenings took place inside the Special Administrative Region of Japan." "Unfortunate happenings" meaning genocide.
  • The Major from Hellsing sums it all up with this little declaration: "Gentlemen, it has often been said that I like war." He then spends about 7 minutes clarifying what parts about war he loves the best. Somewhere along the line the understatement wears off.
  • Zelgadis, resident Deadpan Snarker of Slayers, is quite fond of understatement.
  • In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, there was this small exchange between Mokona and Fuuma during a battle:

Fuuma: It looks like my big brother-san is starting to take this seriously.
Mokona: What happens if Seishirou gets serious?
Fuuma: That's when things get just a little bit scary.

  • Guts from Berserk tends to be fairly nonchalant about things that would send other people screaming for the hills. One instance stands out, though, when he's fighting in his pain-nullifying Berserker armor. After getting bitten by what is basically a possessed sperm whale, picked up by a tornado and dropped from a height of several hundred feet, and catching a burning main mast (that would normally take 12 men and a bunch of pulleys to lift) before it falls on his friends, he remarks, deadpan, "Well, I'm gonna be sore in the morning."
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, there's this exchange:

State Alchemist: You were killed for disrespecting your superior officer's orders.
Kimblee: You could say that...or you could say I made women and children go boom. And when my superiors complained...
Gluttony: Boom!

  • Two good Mahou Sensei Negima examples. One, Tsukuyomi casually mentions to Fate that she's never gotten along with other people very well. Tsukuyomi only falls short of an Omnicidal Maniac in it For the Evulz because she lacks the power. Godel also sends Negi a brief note with a cheery smile about how their last meeting probably didn't go very well if he's reading this now. Godel just tried to chop Negi's limbs off and made a huge wound in 'Asuna's' shoulder.
  • In Digimon Tamers, one of the Digimon, which is shaped like a gear, does this a lot.

Hagurumon: It's fantastic! It's great. Nah, guess it's okay.
Hagurumon: (later) It's a disaster! It's terrible! Meh, guess it's not that good.

Comic Books

  • Batman saying he knows he's "not an easy person to know". Cue the dumbstruck look on the faces of the assembled Batfamily.

Oracle: Well... that's about the understatement of the century, I'd say.

  • A similar scene occurs in Watchmen when Sociopathic Hero Rorschach admits that it's hard to be his friend.
  • From some issue of some comic book written by some author:[context?]

Nick Fury: "The nuke... how'd it feel?"
Wolverine: "Warm."

  • A vintage Whitney Darrow cartoon for The New Yorker magazine has a trio of robbers emerging from a bank with their loot, to face an encircling cordon of heavily-armed police, a swarm of press vehicles and about a thousand rubberneckers. One of the robbers: "There must have been a leak."
  • Evey's reaction to V blowing up the Houses of Parliament in V for Vendetta: "But that... that's against the law!"
  • Empowered: "... guess th' white capes might be underestimatin' ol' Willy Pete jus' a li'l bit less, next time around."
  • The Mighty Thor: "Ultron. We would have words with thee."

Fan Works

  • Used a number of times in With Strings Attached, but perhaps most famously when John enters the scene dragging Paul, who has been turned into a diamond statue: “Lads, we've a bit of a problem.”
  • In Turnabout Storm, Twilight refers to what Phoenix calls "kidnapping me with your freaky spell" as "a minor setback". Later on she says that Trixie has a habit for running her mouth, which isn't that much of an understatement, but after spending 2 minutes with her, Phoenix thinks that "running her mouth" just doesn't cut it.


  • Laurel and Hardy: In the short film Helpmates, Stan Laurel tries to help a desperate Oliver Hardy clean up after a wild party before the shrewish Mrs. Hardy returns home. One thing leads to another and Stan ends up burning Ollie's house down. He caps it off by stating, "I guess there's nothing left for me to do." Ollie sighs with resignation and says, "I guess not."
  • Apollo 13: "...they won't know where they're headed." "That's a bad way to fly."
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "He chose...poorly."
  • Ghostbusters - "Crossing the streams would be bad." And earlier, just after annihilating a cleaning cart, "Okay. Successful test."
  • Chosen One in Kung Pow Enter the Fist confronts the Big Bad in the climax of the film with "You killed my family. And I don't like that kind of thing."
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "Years ago, something happened up there. Something not very nice." In the trailers for the movie, this quote by Mrs. Lovett was used to refer to Sweeney's rather... bloody... killing spree. But in the context of the movie (and the play it was based on), it referred to Benjamin Barker's false transportation for life and would lead into the number "Poor Thing", where we find out that Judge Turpin, after the above Kick the Dog moment, had his way with the guy's poor wife.
  • Harry Potter
    • Goblet of Fire:

Harry: "Come seek us where our voices sound."
Hermione: The Black Lake, that's obvious.
Harry: "An hour long you'll have to look."
Hermione: Again, obvious, though admittedly potentially problematic.
Harry: "Potentially problematic"? When was the last time you held your breath underwater for an hour, Hermione?

  • Chamber of Secrets: Hermione, referring to Large Ham ghost Moaning Myrtle:

Hermione: She's a little sensitive.

  • In the same film, after surviving a harrowing encounter with the Hogwarts Express:

Harry: I think we found the train.
Ron: Yeah.

  • In Star Trek, Spock Prime's assessment of the bastard who destroyed Vulcan because SP failed to save Romulus in the future: "He is a particularly troubled Romulan." Leave it to Spock - any Spock - to be a master of understatement.
    • From the same conversation:

Kirk: "So you're saying I have to emotionally compromise you guys."
Spock Prime: Jim, I just lost my planet. I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised."

  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had a couple regarding the destruction of Praxis. The first was Brigadier Kurla's response to Excelsior's offer of aid: "There has been an incident on Praxis."
  • The other was provided, once again, by The Spock: "Two months ago a Federation Starship monitored an explosion of the Klingon moon Praxis." If you call being knocked off course and nearly shaken to pieces "monitoring".
  • In the ending of Kill Bill, Bill explains his massacre of everyone attending the Bride's wedding by saying that he "overreacted." Oh, and this little gem:

Earl McGraw: It would appear someone objected to this union and wasn't able to hold their peace.

  • In Gladiator, the Emperor says of his son, "Commodus is not a moral man." Even he had no idea.
  • Invoked in I Robot. After the robot rebellion that the appropriately paranoid protagonist Spooner predicted starts, Spooner shows up an expert in robotics who dismissed his warnings before and says with grim satisfaction:

You know, somehow, "I told you so" just doesn't quite say it.

  • Galaxy Quest‍'‍s Tech Sergeant Fred Kwan prefers these; his reaction to being unexpectedly teleported 8 million light-years in a gel-pod to land on an alien ship was a subdued "That was a helluva thing."
  • Fight Club: "You met me at a very strange time in my life."
  • Major League: "Juuuuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside..."
  • Flushed Away: "Thank you... For the lift."; "Warning: Rather Cold" written on a tank of liquid nitrogen.
  • X Men Origins Wolverine, when asked how his execution by firing squad went; "Tickled."
  • In Avatar, after Grace Augustine is shot: "This is gonna ruin my whole day."
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: "I would like, if I may,[1] to take you on a strange journey..." Strange doesn't even begin to cover what happens to Brad[2] and Janet[3].
  • The Tagline to Citizen Kane was "It's terrific!"
  • Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, just after the atmospheric entry tore off the bigger part of the Invisible Hand (the ship he happens to be flying): "We lost something." This was immediately lampshaded with Obi-Wan's reply: "Not to worry, we are still flying half a ship."
  • In Women in Trouble, when asked if she's a virgin, porn megastar Elektra Luxx replies "No."
  • Michael Caine is on The Daily Show to talk about his new movie Harry Brown, and a clip is shown of Harry torturing a thug for information on his friend's killers. Caine then describes his character as "upset".
  • In Zoolander, the title character is confronted by Matilda about his mysterious week-long absence, to which he doesn't believe. Then he checks his messages...

Answering Machine: You have twelve hundred new messages.
Zoolander: That is a bit above average...

Forrest: narrating A few years later, that angry little man at the schoolhouse door thought it would be a good idea to run for President.
cut to footage of Governor Wallace being shot
Forrest: narrating But somebody thought that it wasn't.

  • The opening narration of the Post-Apocalyptic B-movie Hell Comes To Frogtown tells that some years prior to the events of the film there was a "disagreement." Cue footage of a nuclear explosion.
  • Primer: "At this point, there would have been some... discussion."
  • From Clue:

Wadswoth: Three murders.
Mr. Green: Six altogether
Wadsworth: This is getting serious.

  • In the 2005 film adaptation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka says that cannibalism "is frowned upon in most societies."
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb:
    • General Buck Turgidson gets several of these in quick succession when he informs the President of the United States that General Ripper, a lower echelon American military commander, has ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union without the approval or knowledge of the White House or the Pentagon.
    • When the President asks how General Ripper could possibly order such an attack, Buck says:

"Although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority."

  • The President questions how the Human Reliability Tests didn't catch General Ripper's burgeoning psychosis:

"Well, I don't think it's quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip-up, sir."

  • Buck advocates following General Ripper's lead and to launch an all-out nuclear attack on Russia:

"Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops.


  • In "Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie", the parents are loudly arguing when the mom see the children watching.

Mom: It's okay. Your father and I were just having a little disagreement.
Main Character: Yeah, and Mount Everest is a hill.

  • "Wellerism" - binary explosive used by Sam Weller - was sometimes made of Understatement and Parable:

Sam Weller: There's nothin' so refreshen' as sleep, sir, as the servant girl said afore she drank the egg-cupful of laudanum.
Sam Weller: Wery sorry to 'casion any personal inconwenience, ma'am, as the housebreaker said to the old lady when he put her on the fire.

Adamist Officer: I've always been a massive admirer of the Edenist ability to understate. But I think defining a chunk of land fifteen kilometres across that suddenly takes flight and wanders off into another dimension as a little problem is possibly the best example yet.
The Edenist: I never said little.

  • In David Eddings' The Tamuli Emperor Sarabian is said, by his ambassador, to use this. A hurricane is "a light breeze"; the loss of half his fleet is "a minor inconvenience"; the imminent collapse of his empire as "some civil unrest." This is a tendency common among Tamuls as they have a racial tendency toward extreme politeness.
  • Eddings has a tendency to use this trope. In Belgarath the Sorcerer, Belgarath notes that "Alorns take a petty delight in gross understatement" after Beltira comments "we wouldn't want that" with regards to the ending of the world. The original example would be in Castle of Wizardry. A horde of Algarian cavalry so large as to make their approach resemble thunder falls on a small army that was pursuing the protagonists, slaughtering most of them and driving the rest away. Described by King Cho-Hag as an "interesting morning."
  • Left Behind: "To say the Israelis were taken by surprise is to say the Great Wall of China is long."
  • This is The Way The World Ends by James Morrow: "Chapter 5 - In Which the Limitations of Civil Defense Are Explicated in a Manner Some Readers May Find Distressing." This is the chapter in which, well... look at the bloody title.
  • "I thought you were dead. I lost my temper," says Daine Sarrasri, by way of explanation for levelling an imperial palace with SKELETON ZOMBIE DINOSAURS and then setting hyenas on the culprit.
  • The Silver Chair: "And you, who have told me a hundred times how deeply you pitied me for the sorceries by which I was bound, will doubtless hear with joy that they are now ended for ever. There was, it seems, some small error in your Ladyship's way of treating them."
  • Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks has a brief history of the interstellar war the novel is set in. The "Statistics" section says the war lasted for forty-eight years and a month and saw (among other losses) the death of over 851 billion sentient beings, and the destruction of 91,215,660 ships, 53 planets and moons and six stars, followed by a "Historical perspective":

A small, short war that rarely extended throughout more than .02% of the galaxy and .01% by stellar population. ... the galaxy's elder civilisations rate the Idiran-Culture war as ... one of those singularly interesting Events they see so rarely these days.

  • In the novel version of Mobile Suit Gundam, Yoshiyuki Tomino mentions that Japan had "technically" lost World War II.
  • Ibram Gaunt's aide Beltayn uses the phrase "something's awry" for anything. Such as an enemy army on the doorstep. Gaunt learns to cut to the chase and ask what's awry.
    • Gaunt's Vox officer Dughan Beltayn has a habit of describing any problem, from vox interference to major Chaos incursion with "something's awry".
  • In From Russia With Love, a Soviet intelligence general says that if they don't do something to humiliate British intelligence, "There will be ... displeasure."
  • PG Wodehouse was somewhat inclined to the use of understatement for humorous effect.
    • Probably his most oft-quoted example:

"It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."

    • When Jeeves and Wooster quotes Shakespeare. Bertie comments that that Shakespeare fellow must have had a lot of clever things to say, and Jeeves replies:

"I understand he has given uniform satisfaction, sir."

"The Vervain invasion is now officially described as an unauthorized adventure. The erring officers have been corrected, thank you."
"What do they call the Cetagandan invasion of Barrayar in my grandfather's time? A Reconnaissance in force?"
"When they mention it at all, yes."
"All twenty years of it?"

  • The Discworld novel Soul Music features a ruthless Troll crime boss, Chrysoprase : "People tended not to speak to Chrysoprase in case they said something that offended him. They wouldn't know it at the time. They'd know it later, when they were in some dark alley and a voice behind them said: Mr Chrysoprase is really upset."
  • In Splinter of the Minds Eye, Luke tends towards these. Lampshaded by Leia in a fit of Purple Prose.

"You have this wonderfully evocative way about you, Luke, of reducing the most excruciatingly uncomfortable circumstances to the merely mundane."

The cataract of the cliff of heaven fell blinding off the brink
As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down a sink.
The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of hell to drink,
And Noah he cocked his eye and said, "It looks like rain, I think."

Live-Action TV

Wesley: (to Angel) I may have made a tiny mistake. The word Shanshu that I said meant you were going to die? Actually I think it means that you are going to live.
Cordelia: Okay, as tiny mistakes go - that's not one.

  • Regarding a character who's attempting to blackmail Westen into joining forces with a psychopath to commit 46 separate murders, and already has plans in motion to frame someone else for them:

Larry: That guy... he's kind of a dick.

"These guys are a little anti gay."

  • The Doctor Who episode "The Pandorica Opens" gives us this brilliant exchange.

The Doctor: I don't mean to be rude, but you're meant to be dead. How can you be here?
Rory:: I dunno. It's a bit fuzzy.
The Doctor: Fuzzy...?
Rory:: I died, and became a Roman. Its very distracting.

  • Dollhouse: Adelle reacts to learning that the Evil Corporation has the plans for a device that can Grand Theft Me the planet with "That's unnerving."
    • Adelle is one of the queens of these. When a man gets shot in the head in her office, her initial response is an annoyed "Well, I suppose this carpet is ruined."
  • Firefly:
    • Mal to Patience: "Well, we may not have parted on the best of terms...I realize certain words were exchanged...also, certain bullets..." (She had shot him).
      • Also from 'Serenity', is a good one from Wash: "I don't mean to alarm you, but I think we're being followed." A Reaver ship is in hot and very active pursuit at this time.
    • The opening narration from the "Train Job", provided by Book: "The central planets formed the Alliance and decided all the planets had to join under their rule. [intercuts with footage from the Battle of Serenity] There was some disagreement on the matter."
    • In Safe Mal says of River: "She makes things not be smooth."
  • Friday Night Fights: ESPN's Teddy Atlas frequently uses "he got a little bit careless" to describe a fighter who has just been spectacularly knocked out (or "you can see his power a little bit on that punch" for the victorious fighter).
  • The Incredible Hulk has the classic line from the main character.

David Banner: Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry.

Dr. K: Gem and Gemma have confronted me with the possibility that in an effort to protect myself from future emotional trauma, I may have treated some of you with a degree of forced emotional detachment, perhaps even bordering on coldness.
Flynn: "Bordering on coldness," you say?
Summer [sarcastically]: That's ridiculous, Doctor.
Dillon [sarcastically]: You must be imagining it.
Dr. K: No, no, I'm afraid it's true.

  • The official description for Prillitoos, a program aimed for older people, states that it awaits those who aren't very young anymore, to watch this program.
  • Red Dwarf. After the future Rimmer mentions they spend time with the Hitlers and the Goerings:

Future Rimmer:It's just a bit unfortunate that the finest things tend to be in the possession of people who are judged to be a bit dodgy.
Kryten: Herman Goering is a "bit dodgy"?!

  • Rome has Octavius explaining why it might be better to sit out a long siege rather than burn down Cleopatra's palace:

We are trying to keep the locals calm. Burning down the royal palace with their queen still inside might make them slightly peevish.

  • The Shield had Claudette, having destroyed Vic Mackey's life by exposing his sins to his fellow cops PLUS his betrayal of his last remaining friend Ronnie (who was arrested), banished Vic for life from the Farmington District Precinct with the four following words: "You Can Go Now."
  • Star Trek
    • "The Apple" when Spock is injured:

McCoy: Second degree burns. Not serious but I bet they smart.
Spock: Doctor, you have an unsurpassed talent for understatement.

    • Star Trek episode "I, Mudd" has this excellent exchange

Mudd: Well of course I... left.
Kirk: He broke jail.
Mudd: I borrowed transportation.
Kirk: He stole a ship!
Mudd: The patrol reacted hostilely.
Kirk: They FIRED at him!
Mudd: They've no respect for private property! They damaged the bloody spaceship!

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Peak Performance", the crew of the Enterprise comes up with a plan to make it seem as though they have destroyed the Hathaway by firing photon torpedoes at it and detonating them a millisecond after the Hathaway jumps to warp. The problem is, they don't know whether or not the Hathaway will be able to do this. Data describes the outcome of a failure to jump to warp as "unfortunate".
  • Occasionally played on Top Gear. One example comes from the episode where they take a trio of Alfa Romeos to the track. Richard (in the pits) radios Jeremy to see how he's doing. Jeremy replies that he's doing "Not brilliantly." Cut to Jeremy's car flipped onto its side.
    • Whenever some one says "That's not gone well" it's usually caught fire or crashed (There's even a poster)
  • Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak to the show's first $1,000,000 winner, Michelle Loewenstein: "You may be one of our bigger winners." (The previous winnings record being barely one-tenth of that.)


Well a nuclear strike could be recognised / It would stand out in a crowd /There's a flash, then a bang, then a blast of heat / And a bloody great mushroom cloud / So if you happen to see one at the end of your street / Would you please pick up the telephone and inform your local police

  • Weird Al Yankovic's "You Don't Love Me Anymore" has a description to what the narrator's mate has done (among other things, pushing the guy in an elevator shaft, putting piranhas in his bathtub and shaving his eyebrows). His response? "Got a funny feeling you don't love me anymore."


Arthur: What happened to the Earth?
Ford: It's been disintegrated.
Arthur: Has it?
Ford: Yeah. It just boiled away into space.
Arthur: Listen, Ford, I'm a bit upset about that.

Tabletop Games


  • Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio is fatally stabbed in a fight with Tybalt. When Benvolio asks if he's hurt, Mercutio replies, "Ay, a scratch.", then follows with, "But 'tis enough, 'twill serve." when he realizes that he's dying. In a play where everything is overstated and exaggerated, his understatement shows us how bad the situation really is, making it that much more heartbreaking.

Video Games

  • In Project Origin, Snake Fist comments that "They took her (Alma's) babies away. She didn't like that."
  • The official description of Cave Story says "This is a jumping-and-shooting action game. In a cave. ...Also you can save." Also, Momorin's "Chivalry is dead, let me tell you" after being thrown off a floating island.
  • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the Black Knight's Mastery Skill, Eclipse, states that it will inflict 5 times the Black Knights strength. The Black Knight has over 30 strength. The most health a player unit can have is 90, the final boss having 120. 150-120=DEAD.
    • This video shows a hacked battle between the Black Knight and the final boss (as said fight would be impossible in-game). Both characters are maxed out. Black Knight uses Eclipse on the final boss, whose HP is 120. BK's maxed out attack made each hit worth 58 damage (as said by the creator in the comments). 58 x 5 = 290 damage. No more need be said.
  • RuneScape gives us the description of the quest "One Small Favor" (a quest that's an infuriatingly long Chain of Deals):

Quest Length: Short (With some longer parts as well.)

  • The commander of the Earth Defense Force in Earth Defense Force 2017 calls the player character, Storm 1, a "great soldier" later on in the game. For reasons on why this is an absolutely HUGE understatement, read the description for Badass in that games article.
  • When Metal Gear Ray is curbstomping an oil tanker into oblivion in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Snake says to Otacon "This is bad..."
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has this wonderful number from EVA (Snake's love interest), "Not good." What makes this an understatement is that EVA says this after Ocelot (Snake's rival) had shot out the engine of the WiG with his revolver that she was piloting to get Snake and her out of Russia, Ocelot then jumps onto the plane and proceeds to engage Snake in a hand to hand brawl with Snake not having a gun to defend himself should Ocelot pull his out (which he does), all the while EVA is trying to keep the plane stable so it doesn't crash into the lake they happen to be over. Yeah EVA, of course your current situation is not good.
  • The creator of Dwarf Fortress has said:

"I think I made the fish too hardcore."

  • The official Strategy guide for StarCraft has a picture captioned with:

"When a Nuke goes off, you'll know it."

Mordin: "Trying to determine how scale-itch got on the Normandy. Sexually transmitted disease . Only carried by Varren. Implications unpleasant."
Mordin: "Suggest you stay clear. Explosion likely to be... problematic."

  • "There are violent and disturbing images in this game." This warning posted in certain video games lacks a sense of scale when the games in question are from the Silent Hill series.
  • In Portal, the mildly psychotic supercomputer, GLaDOS, also likes to understate things.

GLaDOS: While safety is one of many Enrichment Center goals, the Aperture Science High-Energy Pellet seen to the left of the chamber can, and has caused, permanent disabilities, such as vaporization. Please be careful.

    • GLaDOS: (later) As part of a previously mentioned required test protocol, we can no longer lie to you. When the testing is over you will be... missed.
    • At first it sounds like GLaDOS just likes you so much that it is going to miss you, but listening to GLaDOS' later line "The Enrichment Center reminds you, that in the end you will be baked, and then there will be cake", you should know what to expect.

GLaDOS: (even later) Due to mandatory scheduled maintenance, the appropriate chamber for this next testing sequence is currently unavailable. It has been replaced with a live-fire course designed for military androids. The Enrichment Center apologizes for this inconvenience and wishes you the best of luck.
GLaDOS: (again)Although the euthanizing process is remarkably painful, 8 out of 10 Aperture Science engineers believe that the companion cube is most likely incapable of feeling much pain.
GLaDOS: Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death.

  • In Assassin's Creed II, Cristina Vespucci said of her cousin to a prospective employer of his: "Try Amerigo out. I bet in a decade you'll have named your shipping company after him." Biggest understatement of the century.
  • In horror/survival RPG Koudelka, the text descriptions that you get when clicking on environments are often this. For example, in one room featuring a towering guillotine with a crimson-stained blade, blood-splattered walls and floor, and later a couple of corpses, both shot through the head and lying in pools of their own blood, you get this text: "You see dried blood spots here and there."
  • In Obs Cure 2, after one character turns into a giant, mutated abomination, pins another character to the wall with a knife, and crushes the skull of another under his foot, his friends burst in and confront him with this line.

Stan: Kenny, you've become a major jerk, man.

Web Comics

Mega Man: We have a slight problem. There's about five million Robot Masters outside, and they all wanna kick my ass.
(Beat Panel)
Alternate Mega Man: We may wanna work on your definition of the word "slight."

Smic: [The best part of Christmas] used to be building the gargantuan robotic Father Christmas powered by atmospheric engine, who would duel with my brother's contraption for the right of the first choice of Faberge egg.
Hannah: You had a strange childhood, Smic.

Brooke: "seems"? "nearly"?

Vanamonde: um — I wonder if growing up here might make us a little... weird...

  • Schlock Mercenary has a few.
    • The cake goes to nice blimp creature Hioefua Far-Wanders, who described Eina-Afa as "large facility with attractive open spaces", but "currently infested with vermin". The chapter about adventures in that place is named "Can Full of Sky". Because Eina-Afa turned out to be a cylinder big enough to store Mars, Luna and Europa inside, and you'd still need a lot of bubble wrap to prevent them from rattling. The "open space" is most of its internal volume, and sometime during last more than ten millions of years it developed its own ecosystem, which includes several species adapted to symbiosis with runaway industrial-grade nanorobots (and sporting nice metal-plated skeletons or exoskeletons, which also allows many of them to be absurdly huge, without being sluggish). In part thanks to its AI, who got bored after the builders gone extinct and arranged a stable pair of hurricanes across the can's diameter to make a few new biomes and ramp up selection pressure in hope something will eventually evolve enough to talk with it.
    • Author's notes, fairly often. "Note: [...] the officers and crew of the UNS Battleplate [...] great many of them can no longer be reached in order to comment on exactly how much better the operation could have gone." (under the comic with remnants of the battleplate in pieces just big enough to recognize what it was)
    • Kathryn the retired military intelligence analyst can do it too:

Kathryn Flinders: …And that's the snag I was talking about.
Karl Tagon: That's not a snag. That's a can of flying, venomous worms.

    • Karl Tagon returns the favour:

Karl Tagon: It looks like somebody smushed it.
Kathryn Flinders: Let's consider your word choice, there. A framework of ultra-strong material the size of Saturn[4] was warped, cut and crushed until it was about the size of Earth.

Web Original

"What have we learned today, boys and girls? Boys and girls, we have learned that that bridge has officially been burned."

  • "Here's the thing about rape: it sucks."
  • Red vs. Blue Revelation: "Agent Tex is a bit of a Badass." This was said during an epic beatdown being delivered by the aforementioned person to Red Team and Tucker.
  • Everyman HYBRID: The boys break Damsel out of the institution, but are caught by a security guard. Jeff bodily tackles him to give the others time to run. As Evan says, "That escalated quickly."
  • "It's a bit late to hear this exactly from myself, isn't it?" This is the exact words from Frelean Maleau in the beginning of Chaos Fighters II-Chemical Siege after she confessed her love to Enrei before she dies.
  • Linkara at the very start of his review of Pokemon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu.

"Missingno.]'s a legend in game glitches and in particular Pokemon history...and apparently in some parallel universe, it spawned off into some kind of outer god that intends to consume and absorb all reality in every dimension. And it's also standing outside my door. Yeah, it's been a bit of a day."

Western Animation

  • South Park: : At the end of "Scott Tenorman Must Die:"

Kyle: Dude, I think it might be best for us to never piss Cartman off again.

Lex Luthor: We have a little problem.

Sokka : My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
Zuko : That's rough, buddy.

    • In "The Drill," after the Fire Nation's massive, incredibly expensive super-weapon/siege-breaker is completely destroyed, Mai sums things up for the Fire Nation.

Mai: We lost.

Lucius: You may sweat a tad.
Jimmy: You don't say (wrings his arms like a towel, causing a waterfall of sweat).

Harley: "Ok, so he roughed the kid up a little, but I'll make it right."

Sarah: Ew, Jimmy! You stink!
Nazz: That's putting it mildly.

Nazz: Dude, Eddy's brother is a real jerk.

Ant-Man: Easier said than done, I take it.
Mahr Vehl: I enjoy your species' gift for understatement.

"Someone has to count the votes, and The Delightful Children promised me a slice of their birthday cake next year if I... fudged the results a little."
"Fudged!? They weren't even on the ballot!"

  • One episode of ReBoot has all of Mainframe infected with a bug that turns everyone and everything to stone; that is, except for Hexidecimal's lair, since it was her bug to begin with. Bob, the only one immune to the bug, storms Hexidecimal's lair and, via zip-line, kicks her right out of her throne.

Hexidecimal: "Funny. I sense a presence."

Real Life

  • British example: Somali pirates fired a rocket into the side of a cruise ship and it passed through a cabin containing British passengers, one of whom described it as "a bit of an unpleasant experience."
  • Graham's number: An upper and lower bound were found for a certain mathematical problem. The upper bound was the largest number ever seriously used in a proof. The lower bound was 6. "Clearly, there is some room for improvement here." And it was improved: the lower bound is now 13, and the upper bound has been decreased to a much smaller (but still HUGE) number. The entire observable universe isn't big enough to write the number in full. Even the number of digits in Graham's number is too big to fit in the universe, as is the number of digits in the number of digits, and so on to a depth of recursion itself too big to fit in the universe, by a not inconsiderable margin. And THAT is an understatement in and of itself!
  • Similarly, the Principia Mathematica by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, upon proving that 1+1=2, remarks "The above proposition is occasionally useful." For bonus points, it actually says that on page 86. Of Volume 2.
  • "Uh, Houston, we've had a problem." is actually an aversion (though it could be considered an example in retrospect); the astronauts didn't realize how dire their situation really was until about fifteen minutes later. All they knew is that something had gone wrong; they weren't sure exactly why one of their power distribution units was low. They even debated whether or not it was merely an instrumentation problem... and then Jim Lovell looked out the window and saw the ship venting.
  • Jim Lovell also spent 14 days on Gemini 7 with Frank Borman in 1965. 14 days in a tiny spacecraft, eating dehydrated food that was prepared with cold water, having no privacy at all and dealing with several technical glitches. Plus the purpose of the flight was to test the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body, so the astronauts were wired with medical sensors and constantly had to take their temperatures, test their blood pressure, etc. On Day 10 of the mission, Borman commented, "I'm getting a little tired of all this stuff, Lovell." Lovell said, "I am too."
  • "The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage." - Emperor Hirohito, when announcing Japan's surrender.
  • The speech made by Captain Eric Moody on BA Flight 009 Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress. Some years later he remarked that "It was, yeah, a little bit frightening."
  • Similarly the captain of US Airways Flight 1549 when talking to flight control and informing them in a very casual and almost bored voice: "We're gonna be in the Hudson." Listen to the audio about halfway through the site linked above.
  • "It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed."—USAF Manual.
  • Tragically: "Obviously a major malfunction," a NASA Public Affairs officer moments after Challenger exploded.
  • The quote marks in the BBC news headline "Microsoft Zune affected by 'bug'" may as well be Faux HTML Tags.
  • An ancient Greek general is alleged to have said "A shipwreck can ruin your entire day."
  • During the Korean War, one of the Crowning Moments of Awesome was the defence of the Imjin River crossings by the British 29th Infantry Brigade (including a Belgian battalion). The 4,000 men of the 29th were told to hold their positions when 70,000 Chinese attacked, and held with insane bravery before finally being overcome. It has been said that one reason the 29th were not ordered to withdraw immediately was because there was a communications breakdown between their commander and his (American) superior. The latter failed to realize that when a British officer says "Things are a bit sticky here," he means that the situation is critical.
  • David Beatty, commander of a portion of the British fleet in the Battle of Jutland (World War I), after two of his battle cruisers exploded within half an hour: "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today."
  • Flight engineer Taffy Holden accidentally took off in an English Electric Lightning while performing maintenance checks in preparation for a test flight, having only previously flown Tiger Moths, Chipmunks and Harvards, all of which are propeller-driven trainer aircraft. After managing to land it by the skin of his teeth, his superior officer recommended that, considering his limited flight experience, the test would have been better left to an experienced and current Lightning test pilot.
  • Rick Astley called his nomination for Best Act Ever "A bit weird."
  • The American Civil War was at times referred to as the "late unpleasantness." Umm...
  • The extended civil conflict and terrorism in Ireland in the 20th century is called by a rather bland name, The Troubles.
  • Similarly, the Hebrew term for the Holocaust is Shoah, "the calamity".
  • After Upper Canada defeated the Americans in the War of 1812, Nathan Ford had this to say:

Two years war and no conquest? The little province of Upper Canada holds out two years against the whole force of democracy? This is very grating.

  • "The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 02.41, local time, May 7th, 1945." Eisenhower announcing the toppling of the Third Reich.
  • An urban legend states that when BBC TV resumed broadcasting after being off air for the whole of World War II, the channel started with the same programme that was on air at the time of the switch-off, with the same presenter, who merely said: "Now, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted..."
  • The Daily Mirror columnist William Connor, known as Cassandra, really did resume his column after the war with "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, it is a powerful hard thing to please all of the people all of the time."
  • When a British police officer who discovered the body of a man who had cut his own head off with a chainsaw was asked by the coroner if it was a shock, he replied "In some ways it was, sir".
  • British fighter ace Douglas Bader lost both of his legs in a crash in 1931 (yes, eight years before the war). His logbook entry? "Crashed slow-rolling near ground. Bad show." And how.
  • After her husband told her that her son was dead from heat stroke, this woman stated that, "Those words were not what I wanted to hear."
  • From Watson and Crick's groundbreaking article detailing the structure of DNA for the first time: "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material."
  • George W. Bush: "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating."
  • Mark Twain: "James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration."
  • A guy who was a particular special brand of crazy, thinking his shed was repeatedly being broken into, set a variety of obscure and violent traps. It then caught on fire and the unsuspecting firefighters and policemen went to help. One man was in for a surprise when he "made the mistake of pushing open a door and got instantly whacked with a beartrap made out of solid steel with eight nails soldered onto it (what the police are calling a "man trap"). [The man said] he felt it go right down into the bone and, providing the typical British understatement, said it was "quite painful."
  • A man who was walking away from the ruins of the Twin Towers declined an interview because he, "had a bad day at work."
  • Richard Dawkins once remarked that young Earth creationists believe the Earth is l0,000 years old, when it's actually 4.6 billion years old, and that this is "a non-trivial error."

This site has a few tropes.

  1. (YOU MAY NOT!)
  2. (ASSHOLE!)
  3. (SLUT!)
  4. actually larger, but would still fit inside the rings