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Air Control Guy: Hey...you're not just impersonating a pilot so you can drink here [at the pilots-only bar], are you?...

Homer: *ashamed* Yeah. That's exactly why I'm here.

Air Control Guy: [laughs]] You fly boys crack me up!

*cut to outside the plane*

Homer: But I keep telling you, I'm not a pilot!

Air Control Guy: And I keep telling you; you fly boys crack me up! *throws him into the cockpit*

For whatever reason, Alice has been mistaken for an authority on some matter of vital importance, or the keeper of some terrible secret, or perhaps is simply normally known for sarcastic wit. When questioned on a subject she flat out denies it, but her denials are instead pounced on and taken as a winking admission instead, so each denial has a stronger and stronger opposite effect.

Can be caused by Does Not Understand Sarcasm, Nonverbal Miscommunication, Poor Communication Kills or Cassandra Truth. Often part of a Kafka Komedy. See also Once For Yes, Twice For No for instances where "No" means "Yes, yes".

Examples of "No" Means "Yes" include:


  • Famously used in Monty Python's Life of Brian, when Brian is cornered by his cult. He denies being the Messiah, but one of his followers shouts "Only the true Messiah denies his divinity!", leading them to become even more fanatical. Of course, changing tack and claiming to be the messiah doesn't work either.
  • Moonside in Earthbound plays this trope straight: "no" and "yes" options are reversed there.
  • In Yellow Blue Tibia, the sci-fi writer Skvorecky ends up at a club for UFO fanatics. He flat-out denies that UFOs exist, but because they live in Soviet Russia, everyone simply assumes that when an authority figure denies something, that means it must be true, and so "no" is an even stronger affirmative than "yes".
  • Dave Barry mentions this in one pre-1992 column: The readers know that whatever the official press agency says, it's pretty much always a lie, such as announcing the glorious Soviet troops riding in nuclear-powered tanks had scored yet another victory against the evil widow-stabbing baby-eating oppressive capitalist dogs.
  • I've seen this used in many a series for a flawed argument (for example about drug addiction): If you say yes, you're addicted, if you say no, you're in denial.
  • During an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants Sandy warns Spongebob and Patrick not to get in her treedome because she is undergoing hibernation and doesn't want to be disturbed. Despite her warning, Patrick still goes in, reasoning this to Spongebob on why they should still go inside.
  • "The culprit is always the one who claims to be innocent." This one has been used in various places. Really makes you wonder what an innocent person would claim.
  • As a joke goes: "If a lady says 'No', she means 'Maybe'; if she says 'Maybe', she means 'Yes'; if she says 'Yes', she's no lady." Conversely: "If a diplomat says 'Yes', he means 'Maybe'; if he says 'Maybe', he means 'No'; if he says 'No', he's no diplomat."
  • In Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum", the protagonists make up a Templar World Domination Plan, based on verified historical facts, for their own amusement. When a group of occultists gets wind of this, they think "The Plan" is genuine and want to know about it. The protagonists' denial of the existence of a Plan are, of course, taken as proof of The Plan's existence. Note that even if the book somehow mocks occultists and their beliefs in "Master Plans" or "Secret Messages" (One of the characters, Lia, says this openly), there were people who actually thought Eco was giving a codified message with this book.
  • Positively skewered in Pride and Prejudice: Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth and takes her increasingly firm rejections of him as her just Playing Hard to Get until she becomes fed up and leaves the room.
  • A lot of Yaoi manga mix this with Rape Is Love with the domineering Seme telling the weepy Uke some variation of "Your mouth says no, but your body says yes" during sex.
    • Sadly, Truth in Television. Some actual rapists do try to justify their crime with that line.
  • Used in just about any media in which a character says they don't want a birthday party.
  • Some languages like Japanese put the negative right at the end of the sentence, meaning that refusal or denial sounds like an affirmation until the last second. Naturally this can be a problem with impatient individuals.
  • Mater runs into this in Cars 2 once he realizes that spies Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell think he's also a spy:

 Mater: But you know I'm just a tow truck, right?

Finn: Right. And I'm just in the import-export business.

  • The ritual of assigning blame for flatulence sometimes includes the claim "He who denied it supplied it"
  • Phineas and Ferb Christmas Special: When Carl made a comment on the Sal Tuscanny CD Perry won at O.W.C.A.'s Secret Santa, Major Monogram assumed it was Carl's way to tell he gave the CD. No matter how many times Carl denied being the one who gave it, Monogram wouldn't believe. When it was finally revealed the CD was given by some intruder, Monogram accused Carl of lying about it. Carl tried to point out he never claimed to be the one who gave it but Monogram interrupted him and asked if Carl hasn't caused enough problems.
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