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Kim: Gee...where are the snakes?

[Several snakes appear]

Kim: I was just being sarcastic!!

This line results from a conversation between unequally genre blind characters. Basically, Alice says something meant entirely as a joke that Bob takes completely seriously.

Two general variations:

  • Alice uses a metaphor that she either forgets or is unaware applies perfectly literally in Bob's case, e.g., "You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost."
  • Alice makes a wild, off-the-wall suggestion as a joke that Bob takes literally, such as, "Well, unless you want to go rob a bank, we're broke." / "That's a great idea!" / "What? I was just joking!"

If Alice's suggestion had reminded Bob of a different idea instead, that's a Eureka Moment.

A particularly cruel variation: I Wished You Were Dead. Not to be confused with the "Just Joking" Justification. For the inversion, where a character mistakes a serious statement for a joke, see My God, You Are Serious.

Compare Ha Ha Only Serious.

Not to be confused with the "Weird Al" Yankovic song, I Was Only Kidding.

Examples of I Was Just Joking include:


Anime and Manga

 Asuka: I know you tried to kiss me when I was sleeping!

Shinji: No fair! You were awake?!

Asuka: Oh, my gosh, I was just kidding! Did you really kiss me?!!

Shinji: N-n-no, I d-didn't. I-I stopped!

 Rivalz: He's even got a housekeeping book.

Lelouch: How do you know!?

Rivalz: Crap, you really do?

  • Koizumi from Suzumiya Haruhi uttered this at least on one occasion. The thing is, he did it just after one of his countless philosophical monologues. Just as he actually made Kyon feel uneasy about it, he responds "Just kidding, that's not what I think at all."
    • He also inverts the trope at one point, when suggesting that they deal with Haruhi's latest Reality Warp by convincing her that "It was all just a dream. *long pause* I wasn't joking, that was my idea."
  • Axis Powers Hetalia

 England: God, [American Independence Day] is the worst day ever. I can't sleep for a week whenever it comes around; I just remember things. I feel sick, I feel terrible in the morning, I have nightmares, I can't eat, I can't work (and so on). Good that it's the end of this shit. I figured I might as well join a party or two at the end of this torturous week.

America: Me too, England. Whenever today comes around, I think of your white-eyed chagrined face. And how much of a poor loser you were. And I always feel awesome a week in advance.

England: Ah.

America: I lied.

  • This is November 11's Catch Phrase in Darker Than Black. His sense of humor is rather... Dark, shall we say, to which the deadpan addition of this sentence usually doesn't help much.

 Mooks: ...And what do you plan to do with this 'acquisition', Mr. Smith?

November 11: * Completely deadpan* Well to start I thought I'd walk through the doors of a rival company and kill 3000 of their best men.

Mooks: ...

November 11: ...Kidding.

    • Also an example from Mao which has the benefit of actually being funny. At the end of the episode with the body-stealing Contractor, he's talking to Hei about the benefits of the cat body he's trapped in. He asserts that he likes being a cat "because of all of the delicious kibble he's able to eat". After Hei gives him a look, he tells him he was joking and winks at the viewer.
    • There's some other very good ones too, like the one where November 11 might actually have been telling the truth:

 Kirihara: So, is this your first time in town?

November 11: No, I've been here for a couple of assassinations.

Everyone else: ...

November 11: Just kidding.

    • He also tends to be the victim of the occasional Ironic Echo, and Kirihara came up with the most fitting memorial to him possible after his death.

Comic Books

  • In one Astro City storyline, Jack-in-the-Box is visited by two insane alternate-timeline versions of his future son. One of them declares that he took his father's line "Of course you realize this means war!" as a mantra for his ruthless war on criminals. He does not react well when Jack-in-the-Box tries to explain that he was jokingly quoting Bugs Bunny.
  • In the "Possession" arc of New Avengers v.2, Doctor Strange has been trying to protect the Eye of Agamotto from various supernatural attempts to take it from him, while trying to figure out who is behind it all. Spider-Man suggests maybe "Agamotto" wants his eye back. Cue the reaction panel, while Spidey asks "You mean there really is an Agamotto.. and that really is his eye?"

Fanfic

  • When a complete stranger seems to recognize him in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon jokes to Haruhi that she might be a Slider that recognizes alternate versions of them from other worlds. Before he could say the trope name, Haruhi ran off after her. Kyon was right.

Film

 Casey: Everyone's been acting really weird, especially the faculty.

Stokely: Tell me about it, it's like they've all turned into fucking pod people or something.

Casey: Into what people?

Stokely: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Small town gets taken over by aliens... That was a joke.

  • Hudson Hawk: Darwin Mayflower gives a pair of mooks a You Have Failed Me speech that ends with "We'll just have to kill you." His wife Minerva promptly shoots both of them, causing Darwin to protest, "God, Minerva, I was only joking!" Since they're the villains, though, he's not particularly upset about it.
  • From Clear and Present Danger

 Chavez: "What are you going to do, just knock on his door?"

Cut to Ryan knocking on a door in the outer wall of Escobedo's compound and handing the guards a business card.

  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981). Theo Brown (George Peppard) has just threatened that something nasty will happen to Gilbert Carson (Donald Pleasence) if he doesn't lead him directly to the Yankee Zephyr, a crashed WW 2 airplane holding a fortune in gold.

 Gilbert Carson: Well it's a bit tricky. You see, the first time I saw the Yankee Zephyr, I was suspended arse-over-elbow underneath a Mixmaster.

Theo Brown: That can be arranged. (Cut to Gilbert Carson tied up in a deer net beneath the villain's helicopter)

  • In Madagascar Skipper does this almost deliberately with Gloria.

 Gloria: Where are the people?

Skipper: We killed 'em and ate their livers.

(Gloria stares at him in horror)

Skipper: (grinning hugely) Gotcha, didn't I?

Literature

 Dumbledore: (sarcastically) If she means so much to you, surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son?

Snape: I have – I have asked him...

Dumbledore: You disgust me.

  • In the non-fiction book Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets by journalist David Simon, one of the detectives receives a phone call from a police officer reporting another body and asking what they want done with it.

 Detective: "We're a bit busy right now, so just throw it in the trunk of your car and bring it down to the homicide office."

Uniformed cop: "OK." (cop hangs up).

Detective: (frantically searching for the division's phone number) "Oh shit, he believed me..."

Live-Action TV

 Denny Crane: You dreamed that we slept together last night.

Denise: (flabbergasted) How did you know?

Denny Crane: (also flabbergasted) I say that to everybody! You're the first person who said yes!

  • In The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, when they've horribly damaged a wall close to an inspection in their apartment, as well as the other side of the wall in their neighbour's flat:

 Col: (sarcastically) Oh yeah, what are we going to do? Make the hole big enough for both of us to fit through, patch the wall from Mitchell's side and then just let ourselves out?

Frank: ...That's actually not a bad idea.

Col: ...Yeah, I know!

Frank: But you were being sarcastic.

Col: ...No I wasn't...

  • Particularly sexy version done in Scrubs:

 JD: Or, we could have sex again. I'm just throwing it out there.

Elliot: Bite me.

JD: Oh, come on. It was a joke!

Elliot: No, I mean it. Like you did last night. (Takes off shirt) Come and bite me.

  • Pushing Daisies, after Chuck and Ned almost walk into each other, which could kill Chuck if they touch:

 Chuck: Maybe I should wear a bell.

Ned: Actually-

Chuck: I'm not wearing a bell.

    • Made even funnier when, in "Bzzzzzzzz!", Ned has slippers with bells on.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Doppelgangland": Willow enters the library, where Giles, Buffy, and Xander are trying to come to terms with the fact that she's dead, because Xander and Buffy have seen her (vampire) counterpart from an alernate dimension:

 Willow: What's going on?

[no response]

Willow: (lightly) Geez, who died?

[no response]

Willow: (panicked) Oh, God, who died?

    • Also when Xander and Buffy were about to get into a fight in "Dead Man's Party".

 Oz: Okay, I'm stepping in, Mr. Referee Guy.

Willow: No, let them go. Talking this out isn't working, so let's try violence. * Zombies burst through the window* I was being sarcastic!

 

 Alex: (jokingly) Who died?

Elliot Stabler: (seriously) Dorothy Rudd. (the perp they're prosecuting)

pause

Alex: Please tell me you're kidding.

 Dean: She could be faking.

Sam: What do you want to do? Poke an old lady with a stick?

Dean: (considers it)

Sam: You are NOT poking her with a stick.

  • There's an episode of Friends in which Rachel starts smoking in order to get in the important conversations her boss and coworker have in the smokers' room. The first time she lights a cigarette the following transpires:

 Boss: I thought you didn't smoke

Rachel: Oh no, I thought you meant marijuana, I do smoke regular ones

Boss: We like drugs

Rachel: Me too

Boss: I'm kidding

Rachel: Me too

    • Subverted in an episode where Joey tries to come up with a new stage name. Chandler sarcastically suggests "Stalin" in response to "Joe." Joey, not knowing his history, takes him seriously. Subverted in that, while Chandler has this reaction visually, he then encourages Joey to actually use the name. His next audition does not go well.
  • The pilot episode of MacGyver;

 Barbara Spencer: Blow an opening. With what? Don't tell me you know how to make a bomb out of a stick of chewing gum?

MacGyver: Why, you got some?

  • Played kind of horribly on The Big C when Cathy finally tells Sean about her cancer and Sean breaks down entirely. In a panic, Cathy blurts out that she was kidding, getting revenge on him for an early scene where he'd made her believe their father had molested him.
  • On Band of Brothers, Martin and Perconte have this exchange in the first episode:

 Perconte: (showing off his polished boots) Now, just think, if you had any class or style like me, somebody might've mistaken you for somebody.

Martin: (show insignia on his uniform) Oh, yeah, like your fucking sergeant?

Perconte: (meekly) I was just kiddin'.

 Taylor: The Dooses have been the backbone of Stars Hollow High hockey for years. I, myself, was the goalkeeper for our team in the last regional finals.

Lorelai: I did not know that.

Taylor: Oh yes. I was responsible for the game-winning goal.

Luke: So the puck just ricocheted off your head and into the net?

Taylor: Still counted.

Luke: For God’s sake, I was making a joke. You really got pucked in the head?

Taylor: No, I was making a joke, too.

A moment later Luke looks and claims that he can see the dent.

  • In Smart Guy, when Marcus learns that the "girl" he asked out were actually twins, TJ jokingly suggests that Marcus create a twin brother to get himself out of the situation. Unfortunately, Marcus seemed to take it as an actual idea suggestion from TJ and decides to ask them out, with TJ, horrified, then attempting to tell him that he was just kidding.

Music

Newspaper Comics

 Calvin: It's too darn hot out here.

Hobbes:You could go wading in the creek.

Calvin: (at the creek) This water is too darn cold.

Hobbes:You could go sit in the shade then.

Calvin: (sitting in the shade) This shade is too darn dark.

Hobbes: (exasperated) You could go sit in your room with the windows shut and the fan and lights on.

Calvin: That's what I was doing when Mom threw me out here.

Hobbes: I was kidding.

Theatre

Western Animation

 Timmy: I'm really sorry about this, Chip.

Chip: Oh, that's all right, little pal -- it's not like you wished for this to happen.

  • Too many times to count on Daria, when someone (usually the Too Dumb to Live characters Kevin and Brittany) takes one of Daria's snide remarks as a suggestion.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Painted Lady," though in this case, she knew he was joking and was just making an excuse:

 Katara: I kind of destroyed their factory...

Sokka: You what?!

Katara: It was your idea.

Sokka: I was joking! I also said to use spirit magic and made funny noises! (Face Palm)

 Aang: Maybe we can make some big pots of glue, and then I can use gluebending to stick his arms and legs together so he can?t bend anymore.

Zuko: (sarcastically) Yeah, then you can show him his baby pictures and all those happy memories will make him good again.

Aang: (sincerely) Do you really think that would work?

Zuko: NO!

    • Zuko finds himself on the other end of one of these in "The Boiling Rock":

 Zuko: How did you know I was here?

Mai: Because I know you so well.

Zuko: But, how...

Mai: The warden's my uncle, you idiot!

  • Kim Possible, the episode "Monkey Fist Strikes", as Kim attempts to retrieve an ancient monkey statue from a booby-trap-laden temple...she provides the page quote.
  • A variant, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends; after an episode-long Running Gag re: Bloo's propensity for sarcasm, some random hobo-type guy tries to use "I was being sarcastic!" as a "Just Joking" Justification for being behind the shenanigan around which the whole episode revolved. Bloo and Mac are able to call him out, with extensive research to back it up.
  • In the Futurama episode Love's Labours Lost in Space, when Leela seems strangely unwilling to ask Zapp Brannigan for help:

 Bender: So what's the problem? It's not like you slept with the guy. (Beat) Oh...my...god.

Video Games

 Vincent: Monsters? They look like monsters to you?

Heather gasps.

Vincent: Don't worry! It's just a joke.

 Joker: Argh! You want me to go crawling through the ducts again?

EDI: I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees.

Joker: (Eye Take)

EDI: That is a joke.

 EDI: Don't worry, Shepard. I only forget to recycle the Normandy's oxygen when I discover something truly interesting.

Shepard: (Eye Take)

EDI: That is a joke.

  • Done in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney during the second case. The day before his trial, Maya asks Phoenix is there's anything that she can do to help. The player is then given three opinion to say: "Defend Me", "Be my cheerleader" and "Break me out of here". Whatever one you pick, Maya takes it seriously and starts to go to prepere for it, to which Phoenix states that "He's Kidding".

 Maya: Is there anything I can do to help?

Phoenix: [Upon choicing "Defend me"] Alright, you can be my lawyer in court tommorow.

Maya: OK!

Phoenix:Uh...?

Maya: I'll rush to the liberay and pick up a copy of 'Law for Rookies'!

Phoenix: W-Wait Wait Wait! I was kidding! It was Joke!

Real Life

Girl: So what do you want to do?

Guy: Oh, why don't we rent a porno?

Girl: All right!

Guy: ...Really?
—** It's worth noting that Lisa Ramirez, one of the conspirators in the Michelle Renee hostage situation/bank robberies, said during her confession that she had been the one to "jokingly" suggest that they rob a bank.
  • This Twitter exchange between some guy and Jason Scott, who is known for archiving tons of historical information about computers:

 jaybird110127: You deleted a bunch of spam? I assume you printed each message in hardcopy, and you're headed to the information cube right now?

Jason Scott: Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Damn, that's the second time you've done that joke. And yes, a mirrored system archives the spam.

jaybird110127: Um. Wow. Seriously? You * are* archiving the spam you get? That's... Just... I dunno.

In some cases, the idea is taken SO seriously it's actually used

  • From X-Men, on a happy holiday to sunny Genosha, where Magneto is rallying his army...

 Wolverine: "By my count, there are only a few thousand of them. Cover me -- I'm going in." * Extends his claws*

Cyclops: "Okay."

  • Pause. Wolverine puts away his claws.*

Wolverine: "I was just kiddin'."

Cyclops: "... Me too."

  • Dead Girl from X-Statix once suggested she was considering leading an army of the risen dead against the living. After a Beat Panel, she assured her teammates she was only kidding.

Live-Action TV

  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q loses his powers temporarily and ends up working for Picard. The local planet is in danger, and the characters are brainstorming to prevent catastrophe. Q mopes that if he had his powers he could change the gravitational constant. Geordi suddenly realizes that it might be possible for the ship to generate a force field that would have an analogous effect.
    • Data having No Sense of Humour does this a fair bit; one memorable example is where Picard jokes Riker should be taken to the brig because of his actions during the episode. Data doesn't gets the joke and leads Riker away while he's protesting "Data he's joking, you know that right?".
  • Babylon 5:

 Londo: Why don't you just eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you're at it?

Morden: One thing at a time, ambassador.

 Mal: If you can't do it from here, you put on a suit and get out on the side of the boat and...

Wash:: And what? Wave my arms around?

Mal: Wave your arms around, jump up and down. Divert the nav sats to the transmitter. Whatever.

Wash:: Divert the...? Right. Because teenage pranks are fun when you're about to die!

Mal: Give the beacon a boost, wouldn't it?

Wash:: Yes, Mal. It'd boost the signal, but even if some passerby did happen to receive, all it'd do is muck up their navigation!

Mal: Could be that's true.

Wash:: Damn right it's true! They'd be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could go anyplace! (pause) Well, maybe I should do that, then!

    • In this case, I think Mal was actually trying to snap Wash out of the funk he'd induced earlier when Mal forced Wash from Zoe's side. He knew exactly what he was doing.
  • Often on House, one of House's team will make a sarcastic suggestion that is hugely dangerous, bordering on unethical, whereupon House will say something like 'Well let's do that then' or 'That's just what I was thinking.'
    • Once used the other way around, when House sarcastically snarls that since their patient is a kid they should cure her with puppies and sunshine. Which leads to Chase solving the mystery.

Video Games

  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Case 4, at one point it seems that Phoenix is completely out of leads, so the prosecutor tauntingly suggests that they cross-examine the killer's parrot just for the sake of comic relief. Phoenix decides to take him up on his offer.
  • In the intro for the "VISTA" stage in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, shoe salesman Santarou Zaiko is getting chewed out by his wife for buying an oversupply of tacky, loudly-colored shoes. He tells her "It's not like we can sell them to aliens..." The next thing he knows, he's being shot into space to sell his wares to Venusians.

Web Comics

  • Occurs in Questionable Content in this strip.
  • In Girl Genius, when Agatha is imprisoned, a cellmate says that she would have better luck having her clank try and unlock the door. Before the cellmate can stop her, Agatha says it's a good idea, gives the clank her lockpick (she wasn't having any luck), so it opens up the drain and disappears. Then the cellmate states that she wasn't actually serious.
    • The best part? It worked. Clank eventually found its way to the door from outside and opened it.
  • Played straight in Sequential Art in this strip.

Web Original

 Tariq: What? We pay in gardening?

Cut to Tariq digging in the garden.

Tariq: I was only joking!

 Anonymous programmer: So [Yuji Naka] just says: "F**k it! Let's just make Sonic the Hedgehog 2 again!" It turned out that he was being sarcastic. However, we were much too far into development at that point.

Western Animation

  • The Lion King: "What're we supposed to do, kill Mufasa?"
    • "Precisely." *cue "Be Prepared"*
    • Plus, there's this classic line of Timon's: "What do you want us to do, dress in drag and do the hula?!"
    • A variation occurs in Lion King 1 1/2. Timon is unhappy with his life, and Rafiki tells him to seek Hakuna Matata, and to go beyond what he sees, prompting Timon to go on a journey to find a place where he'll be happy. The problem comes when Rafiki is talking Timon's mother later.

 Rafiki: I told him to go beyond what he sees.

Timon's Mother: Is that a metaphor?

Rafiki: Well-

Timon's Mother: YOU USED A METAPHOR ON TIMON?! Don't you know he takes everything literally?!

  • The Great Mouse Detective: "We may as well set it off now!"
  • Gus in Recess is prone to delivering these lines: "What are we going to do, get the entire playground up here?" "What are we going to do, give everyone negative fives?"
  • In Donkey Kong Country episode Legend of the Crystal Coconut, after being told by the Idol of Inka-Dinka-Doo that "To Know everything one must give up everything" Donkey Kong wonders what he could give up...

 DK: Little buddy, I'm giving you my tie collection!

Diddy: I think Inka-Dinka-Doo is looking for something more important than that, DK.

DK: What's more important than my tie collection?

Diddy: The Crystal Coconut, for one!

'DK: (Gets Idea Bulb) That's it! I have to give the Crystal Coconut away!

Diddy: (Mortified) I was kidding!

DK: I'm not. Once I give the Crystal Coconut away I'll know all the secrets, so I won't need it anymore. It's so simple!

Diddy: Who're ya give it to?

DK: Who else? (Cut to King K.Rool's lair)

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: When Naoko Takeuchi came to her boss one day in the 1990's and said that she would like to draw a manga about a female superhero, the editor remarked: "Right. A female superhero. Maybe a schoolgirl at that, who is a crybaby, and yet saves the day?" And thus, Sailor Moon was born.
  • Behind the scenes of the Superman comics, Clark's wedding to Lois had to be held back in order to coincide with event's occurence in Lois and Clark. When the writers were talking about what to do in the meantime, one said "Why don't we just kill him?" He was kidding, but they did it. And it was awesome.
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