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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Please don't throw me in the briar patch!

"Skin me, Br'er Fox, snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots, and cut off my legs, but do please, Br'er Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch!"

A deliberate use of Reverse Psychology in order to get a desired result. Alice begs and pleads Bob not to take a certain course of action—do anything, anything at all, but that! Terror, fear, hysterics, every scenery-chomping trick is pulled out to make Bob think that this is the worst possible thing he could do to Alice. And thinking that, he does it.

Naturally, it's exactly what Alice wants or needs.

If Bob takes pity on Alice, it's Springtime for Hitler. Alice may beg "Anything But That" at some point. Compare Try and Follow and Fake Weakness. May (still) be liable to Threat Backfire. Almost always a subtrope of Schmuck Bait. If it works, Alice gets an Unishment.

One of The Oldest Tricks in The Book.

Has nothing to do with the act of patching a game.

Examples of Briar Patching include:

Card Games

Comic Books

  • Captain America faced a Nazi spy who had stolen a powerful prototype disintegrator gun and was attempting to blast his out. Finally, Cap stopped him by begging him not to use the gun at full intensity; the mook of course puts it that setting and it blows up in his face.
  • Invoked by name in a War Machine story. After he fakes his death to get access to enough technology to rebuild himself, his ally Gloria Sandoval starts pleading for him: "Please! Please... oh please don't throw me into that briar patch."
  • Spider-Man once webbed Scorpion's tail to his leg, then pleaded "Just don't finish me off with that tail...please." Scorpy then attacks with his tail, causing him to break his leg
  • In the Batman: Shadow of the Bat "Road To No Man's Land" story, Dr Arkham tells his charges that he'll release them from the Asylum (since there's no food, no guards, no medication, and no chance of relief arriving) on condition they don't go to Gotham because "those poor people have suffered enough". The lunatics accept the deal, and head straight for Gotham ... just before the bridges get blown up and it's cut off from the rest of the country.
  • In one Mad Magazine The Lighter Side Of, a kid gets in trouble, and begs his mother not to tell his father. The mother gleefully says she's going to do it, and another kid tells him he was stupid to reveal his fear of his father, only to find out that the kid thinks his father will go easy on him.


  • At least one type of health cereal has used this trope in advertising, even adopting slogans along the lines of "You won't like it."
    • In the UK, Marmite is advertised in a similar way—they've turned the fact that 50% of the populace hate it into a selling point.
    • Similarly, Buckley's Cough Syrup: "It tastes awful, but it works". Probably intentional, given that they have pine needle oil as a non-medicinal ingredient.
      • It does taste awful. And it works. Needs about a gallon of [insert your favorite drink here] to get the rotten-turnip taste out of your mouth, though...
    • One of their advertisements went 'We're # 1, but we taste like number two."
  • After the first lunar landing, Volkswagen ran an ad depicting the moon-lander with the slogan, "It's ugly, but it gets you there."
  • "Arrogant Bastard Ale: This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory — maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you are mouthing your words as you read this." (From Stone Brewing. That's the copy on the back of the bottle.)
    • As it turns out, despite the advertising, quite a lot of people do like it, since it's a damn good beer.

Fan Works


  • In both movies, this was how Mr. Coriander convinced Bastian to read The Neverending Story.
    • Of course, in the novel Bastian just steals it. It turns out to be alright, because after it's gone, Coriander doesn't realize he ever had it. But he does know about Fantastica (Fantasia in the movies.)
  • Richard Pryor begs a judge not to release him to his parole officer in Bustin' Loose. When the judge ignores him, he and the parole officer exchange warm handshakes.
  • In the first Scooby Doo Live Action Adaptation, a mysterious voodoo man tells Daphne not to go into Spooky Island Castle. The supposedly Genre Savvy Daphne suspects that he told her this to try to get her to go into the castle, where he might have sprung a trap. In reality he simply didn't want her to go because he thought it was cursed.
  • In the 1998 adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask, Philippe does some impromptu and rather inspired Briar Patching after he's been recaptured, begging Louis to kill him rather than put him back in prison with predictable results. When Athos, Porthos, and Aramis arrive to rescue Philippe, he's ready and waiting for them rather than being the emotional wreck they were expecting.
  • In Let's Go To Prison, Nelson does this to Lenard when he finds the syringe of boat cleaner Nelson was gonna kill himself with.
  • Coonskin gives us another Br'er Rabbit to contend with. Cornered by thugs he pleads:

 “Please don’t throw me out the window to that cold ground below! Shoot me, strangle me, do anything you want…just don’t throw me into that garbage can!” Of course, they throw Rabbit out of the window ” ‘Cause I’se born and raised in a garbage can.”

  • In Steel, the titular hero is captured and Big Bad Nathaniel Burke is asking how the latter's hammer weapon works. Steel tells him not to press a certain button because "he can't handle it". In the beginning of the movie, said Big Bad was dishonorably discharged from the Army precisely for turning an experimental gun to full power after Steel told him not to causing a building to collapse and several people to be injured. You'd think he'd learn his lesson right? Not exactly:

 Burke: Well, you know me: I always take things to the next level.

    • The button then causes the hammer to fly into Steel's hands followed by the latter kicking Burke's ass.
  • In Little Big Man, General Custer hires Jack Crabb as a scout, reasoning that because Crabb hates him and wishes to get revenge on him for killing the Cheyenne, everything he tells Custer will be a lie, thereby making him a "reverse barometer". This leads to a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Crabb when they get to the Little Bighorn and Custer asks if they should attack:

 Crabb: General, you go down there.

Custer: You're advising me to go into the Coulee?

Crabb: Yes, sir.

Custer: There are no Indians there, I suppose.

Crabb: I didn't say that. There are thousands of Indians down there. And when they get done with you, there won't be nothing left but a greasy stain. This ain't the Washite River, General, and them ain't helpless women and children waiting for you. They're Cheyenne brave, and Sioux. You go down there, General, if you've got the nerve.

Custer: Still trying to outsmart me, aren't you, mule-skinner? You want me to think that you don't want me to go down there, but the subtle truth is you really don't want me to go down there!


  Riker: It's time to use the Briar Patch the way Br'er Rabbit did.

  • Superman 2. Superman tells Lex Luthor to try to lure the three kryptonian criminals into his depowering chamber counting on Lex to betray him and share this knowledge with the three and that they would force him into the chamber. Fortunately he'd reconfigured the chamber to depower all the Kryptonians outside of it.
  • In Election, lesbian Tammy Metzler falsely confesses to destroying the school election posters precisely so she'll get sent to a Catholic girls' school. At one point we see her "begging" her mom not so make her go there.
  • At the climax of Robert Altman's Popeye, Bluto forces Popeye to eat spinach because he knows the sailor hates the way it tastes. This turns out to be a bad idea.
  • In the film version of The Magic Roundabout when Dougal is caught, the soldier asks him how he should torture him for information. Dougal tells him never to feed him cake/biscuits because that's the worst thing they could do.
  • In Wild Wild West, when Artemus is caught and about to be executed, he begs to be "shot in my heart, which has loved this country so much" because he is wearing his prototype for a bullet proof vest. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.

 Loveless: Shoot him in the head.

Artemus: Damn.



  • The Trope Namer comes from Br'er Rabbit begging Br'er Fox not to throw him into the briar patch (Br'er Rabbit was born and raised in the briar patch so is not threatened by the thorns and is in fact safe from danger within). The 19th-century vintage of the original Uncle Remus stories would qualify this as Older Than Radio, but even earlier versions can be found in mythology the world over—particularly the African and Cherokee folk tales which became the Uncle Remus stories. Told in the Disney film Song of the South, which you will never see, and more or less faithfully recreated (with audience participation!) in Splash Mountain.
    • Subverted in the I'm Sorry Ill Read That Again radio parody of the Uncle Remus stories, which went something like this. Yes, with the hilarious accents.

 Br'er Fox: "I's gonna skin you and boil you and eat you up, Br'er Rabbit."

Br'er Rabbit: "Whatever you say, suh, just don't throw me in de briar patch."

Br'er Fox: "I know, I's gonna throw you in de briar patch!"

  • cry of pain*

Br'er Rabbit: "I said don't throw me in de flaming briar patch!"

    • The funny thing about Splash Mountain is that lots of people don't realize that Br'er Rabbit was using reverse psychology in that instance. Taken out of its original context, it looks like he really didn't want to be thrown in, and that it's just by luck that things turn out okay for him.
  • The marketing for A Series of Unfortunate Events revolves around them warning the readers that the books are about an absurd amount of bad things happening to people, and the faint of heart should probably go read something more cheerful.
    • Ironically, of course, they're right on the money.
  • The title character of Bud, Not Buddy does this when his foster parents threaten to send him back to the orphanage. He doesn't want to go back to the orphanage necessarily, but knows it's better to have them impose a punishment they think is terrible rather than something that really would make him miserable.
  • In Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, Hermione fakes tears and uses this strategy to trick Dolores Umbridge into a position where she can be ambushed.
  • Mulch uses this in the third Artemis Fowl book, convincing two Mooks to bury him alive. At which point, he unhinges his jaw and burrows away.
  • In Bored of the Rings, Frito, cornered by the Nozdrul, does his best Br'er Rabbit impersonation. It's the oldest trick in the book, and they fall for it.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, when Karkasy dissects Erebus's behavior at the meeting, he points out that first he speaks, with provocative words, in front of the largest crowd possible, and then suggests it had best be talked over privately; and when he had provoked Horus into going to the moon of the world, he argued against it.
  • In The Vor Game, the Dendarii mercenary fleet is having a bit of a power struggle, and an enemy delivers Miles to them to worsen the situation. Miles realizes that if he gets tossed in an escape pod he'll get picked up by a captain personally loyal to him, and begs his captors to not do it. Naturally, they do.
  • In Ice Station, Scarecrow tricks Mr Nero into opening a retractable bridge during a Mexican Standoff by looking nervously at the controls. He'd also tied two grenades across the opening so the pins would be pulled when it retracted.
  • In the book Catherine, Called Birdy, Perkin, the goat-boy, pays the yearly rent on his grandmother's cottage with a goat. In the preceding weeks before the rent is due, he will tell people that he will give up any goat except a certain one for the rent. When it comes time to pay, Catherine's father, the lord of the manor, will insist on being given that goat, thinking that he's gotten the best of Perkin. Each time, it turns out that the particular goat is either the meanest or smelliest one of the flock, or the one that will try to eat the laundry.
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "The Only Game In Town", the protagonist warns his captors that the modern distilled spirits he's carrying are "too strong for Mongols". Naturally, they take that as a dare, and quickly succumb to booze much stronger than they're used to.
  • In the Star Trek Mirror Universe: Glass Empires story "The Worst of Both Worlds," Luc Picard (mirror alternate of Jean-Luc Picard) successfully uses this method to trick a Cardassian gul into destroying his own ship. The Br'er Rabbit story is mentioned by name, Picard suggesting in his head that maybe they shouldn't have been so quick to destroy Earth culture.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, the heroes are confronted by the three demons who have stolen Mephistopheles's Staff of Summoning. Mephisto screams to his compatriots that if the demons use his staff against them, he will surely be killed. Miranda can't believe he is attempting this, and Mab even sarcastically sites Br'er Rabbit under his breath. Thus, Miranda is stunned when the ploy works, and the demons actually choose to use the staff to summon Chimera, not knowing that the staff only allows summoning creatures—not controlling them. Cue Mephisto happily scratching all three of Chimera's heads.
  • Stealthily referenced by the Reassignment Backfire in Robert Asprin's No Phule Like An Old Phule. The rabbit-like Thumper, nee Zigger (the Space Legion encourages and expects pseudonyms), is hoping to get sent to one of the best groups in the Legion. After someone frames him for a prank, the pranked commanding officer sends him to what he for personal reasons considers the absolute worst unit in the Legion: A widely respected former Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that always has a space for another outcast.
  • In The Hero of Ages, TenSoon tells his captors that to stand trial wearing the dog bones he was found wearing when he was captured, would be supremely degrading, and to please give him human bones to wear instead. Of course they give him the dog bones; quoth, "that was exactly what TenSoon had been counting on." Because being in the form of a dog, especially that dog, made escaping much easier than his captors expected.
  • Explicitly referenced in the YA novel Don't Look Behind You, about a girl in the Witness Protection Program. The guy who was chasing her catches up to her in the climax, and she tells him about her claustrophobia and begs for him to stash her anywhere but the tiny, dark closet. When he does, a relative who is stuck with her tells her that she shouldn't have told him she was claustrophobic, and she just giggles, says "Don't throw me into the briar patch!" and climbs out the crawlspace in the ceiling.
  • Explicitly referenced and used as a ploy in Live Free Or Die, to prevent the Horvath from bombarding Earth's major cities over maple syrup. Prior to revealing that was his plan after the Glatun intervention, all Tyler Vernon would say of his plan was "I am of the South. We have our ways." Once the Glatun sent a battlecruiser to get the Horvath out of Earth's orbit, he answered in an interview "In the words of the smartest rabbit I know; 'Don't throw me in dat dere briar patch, Br'er Fox!'"
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, the Fudir, inveilging his way off planet, tells the man who's taking him, "You'll have to arrest me, Br'er Fox."

Live Action TV

  • Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks. The Doctor begs Davros not to use the Hand of Omega, knowing full well it will only encourage him to do so. Davros does, and it turns out to have been rigged, destroying Skaro. Whether or not this lays the ultimate blame for the planet's destruction on the Doctor is a hotly contested philosophical issue in fandom.
  • The Tomorrow People: "The New Gods". An ancient alien consciousness leads John to destroy its idol, thinking it to be the source of the being's power. In fact, the idol was restraining its power, so its destruction set it free.
  • Stargate SG-1: In a reversal, the bad guys are the ones who do the Briar Patching. In the episode "Beachhead", SG-1 tries to blow up a stargate with a nuke, only to find out the Ori wanted this to happen so they could draw enough power from it to create a supergate.
  • A non-verbal example from Malcolm in the Middle. Malcolm is shown making what looks to be the world's most disgusting sandwich, taking crud from the fridge, from the sink drain, from under the couch, etc. and putting it all between two slices of bread. He sits down to eat it...and Reese immediately swoops in to steal it, and takes a bite before he realizes he's been had.
  • On Lost, Ben does this to get Locke to blow up the sub, thus allowing him to avoid his promises to let Jack and Juliet leave to and cut off the Others from the outside world.
  • In House, Cuddy tries this on House by asking him to come to her baby daughter Rachel's simchat bat, a traditional Jewish baby-naming ceremony. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Inverted in Scrubs. The Janitor is getting married, and he invites everyone in the hospital to it—however, it's 3 days from the receipt of the invitations, and it's in the Bahamas. Naturally, everyone who got invited started wondering out loud how he could expect them to go, and nearly went back to their regular business... until JD gives a heartwarming speech about how they don't appreciate The Janitor enough and need to pay him back for everything he does. Turns out The Janitor really didn't want anyone to come, and he gets incredibly annoyed when a whole bunch of major characters show up.
    • Dr. Kelso does this once, too, uniting the hospital by being a complete and utter asshole.
  • On one episode of Married... with Children Bud begs Al, when the time comes for him to decide a punishment, to do anything but send him to his room. Let alone for a week. Al, slow-witted as ever, thinks it over and, with a cartoon light bulb almost literally appearing over his head, says, "You go to your room!...For. One. Week." Bud wanted to spend as much time in his room as possible because for the first time in his life he was having a hot fling with a neighbor who regularly came in through his window.
  • As befits a show with a Guile Hero, Burn Notice has done this quite a few times.
  • Katherine Pierce of The Vampire Diaries is very good at this: she begs Damon not to kill Elijah, leading him to believe that doing so will trap her in an underground tomb for the rest of eternity. Imagine his surprise when he completes the mission only to find Katherine in his shower.
  • Done in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode about Lunch when a gluttonus kid called "One Bite" keeps eating everyone's lunches before they can. Ned hits upon the idea to make a sandwich with some of the hottest condiments he can find (Tabasco sauce, wasbi, hot mustard, etc). So when lunch comes, naturally One Bite sets his sights on it. Ned drones "No stop, please, don't" before pretty much handing the sandwich over to him.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Bloom County, Binkley tries this gambit out with the monster in the anxiety closet, pleading "Don't send out Natassja Kinski to give me a Swedish massage!" He overplays his hand when he adds "With a big slice of cheesecake."
  • Subverted in FoxTrot, when Jason gets in trouble for damaging the car. He asks that Roger not make him eat a whole box of Ding Dongs and instead take away his computer. Roger takes this suggestion and gives him the latter punishment.
  • In Prickly City, Kevin's first step in angling for the VP nomination is to announce he would never accept it.


  • In one of the Big Finish Doctor Who audios, a Nazi has gotten hold of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver (and the Doctor himself) and thinks that, despite the Doctor's comments to the contrary, it's a weapon. During this exchange he is examining it.

 Nazi: Who are you with, Doctor? The SOE? The OSS? Hmm? Where is your aircraft hidden?

The Doctor: (Calmly) One thing at a time, Major. Oh, and I wouldn't press the button on the end in particular.

Nazi: Answer me! (Presses button, promptly incapacitating himself with the sound waves)

Doctor: Especially not when you're pointing it right at your own head. (Takes it back) I bet that rattled your fillings. I think I'd best look after it, don't you?


Video Games

  • Inverted in Portal: GLaDOS the AI drops its Morality Core and constantly encourages the player's character to leave "that Aperture-Science-Thing-We-Don't-Know-What-It-Does" alone, expecting that the character's distrust towards it will cause her to destroy it. GLaDOS even hangs a lampshade by saying, "Do you think I'm trying to trick you with reverse psychology? I mean, seriously now..."), but Stupidity Is the Only Option to continue. However, it's an inversion because, while doing this causes GLaDOS to begin actively trying to kill you, this in turn provides the only way to beat her.
    • Used again in Portal 2, in the Final Boss fight. You are presented with the opportunity to press a button that the boss in question apparently very much does not want you to. Except that when you try to press it, it turns out to have been booby trapped (and rather obviously, making this another case of Stupidity Is the Only Option).



Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • A Jimmy Neutron special where he begs the villains to do anything but make them eat the "deadly" powder he brought (it gives them super powers).
  • In Ben 10, Gwen tells the villains not to throw them out of the space station into the vacuum of space. The villain of course attempts this but once their space suits are removed, she is able to use her magic attacks like normal again.
  • One episode of Darkwing Duck has the hero beg his captors to do anything but scald him with water from an oversized tea kettle (It's a long story.) Luckily the Mooks forget Darkwing's friend Comet Guy's powers are triggered by the sound of a whistle...
  • Subverted in an episode of Angela Anaconda. Angela's rival Nanette ends up getting the job of casting people for a play based on Greek mythology, and Angela wants to be Hercules. Since she knows Nanette will cast her in a role she'll hate, Angela loudly complains about not wanting to play Hercules. Nanette, however, sees past the ruse, and casts her as Medusa.
  • Danny Phantom: Tucker has been corrupted by Be Careful What You Wish For ghost powers and has Danny at his mercy. Danny says, "No, don't throw me into the Ghost Zone!" and uses this to trick Tucker into losing his powers.
  • Bugs Bunny did this a few times. For example, he was facing Yosemite Sam as an alien. He counters a robot "ferret" with one of his own design. Bug's robot says "I'll go with you on one condition: that you don't press this button." and points to a big red button on his chest. The alien robot hates the condition and presses away in defiance. Cue a CRUNCH as a lump of metal pops out and punches the robot.
  • In the crossover between Disney's Aladdin and Hercules, one of Hades' minions gets his hands on Genie's lamp. Jasmine yells "Oh no! Don't rub it! Whatever you do, don't rub that lamp!" Minion rubs anyway and gets punched by Genie.
  • Galaxy Rangers episode "Mindnet:" the Artifact of Doom is an Electronic Telepathy machine that, on natural telepaths, acts as an Amplifier Artifact. The Queen of the Crown has one half, the Rangers have the other. The Queen's got the Rangers surrounded. Niko shrugs and says the Queen can have it if they go free, knowing damn well the Queen won't uphold her end of it. Niko warns Her Majesty to start with a low setting. Sure enough, no sooner are both parts fit together than the Queen cranks it Up to Eleven. Niko barely gets the team together and they pull their Mental Fusion tactic to shield themselves. Meanwhile the device has caused everyone else in the room to read each other's minds. Considering the room's inhabitants are The Queen, her scheming Mooks, and the psychotic mercenary Ryker Kilbane...all hell breaks loose, the device gets smashed in the dust-up, and the Rangers are able to escape.
  • Star Trek the Animated Series episode "The Practical Joker". Passing through an energy field causes the Enterprise computer to play jokes on the crew. Captain Kirk pretends to be scared of the field and tricks the deranged computer into taking the ship through the field again, which reverses the effect that made the computer go bonkers.
  • Superman, having lost most of his powers due to red sunlight, used a double-reverse version in the Animated Series episode "The Main Man, part II". He specifically tells the thugs attacking him that "they don't want to" throw him into the enclosure to which he's just knocked down the door, knowing full well they'd do just that. They do, and discover that instead of a bloodthirsty beast, it contains a dodo. From Earth. Cue ass-kicking.
  • In the Underdog story "A New Villain" Underdog begs his would-be killer not to dump him in the lake - because Underdog knows that the water in the lake will remove the electricity effect the villain (the Electric Eel) used on him.
  • Done in a Looney Tunes short when Daffy tried to hitchhike his way to the south and forces his way into Porky's car. He practically gets Porky into trouble with the law and fellow motorists with his brashness. Fed up, Porky comes up with a plan to buy a present from a gift shop and puts it into his trunk. Telling Daffy not to open it till later, naturally Daffy can't resist temptation and opens the trunk where all of his baggage that was stuffed to compacity flies out into his face. Allowing Porky to drive off, free from Daffy's side seat driving. For added revenge, the present turned out to be a novelty hitch hiking thumb.
  • Villianous version in Adventure Time when Finn and Jake visit the underworld. At one point they come across a river which Jake want to drink from. A talking skull urges him on, Finn of course realizes its a trap and tells Jake not to. So the skull tells him to not drink from the river. This is all the convincing Jake needs to jump in. The result is that he ends up losing his memory of who Finn is.
  • Attempted by Homer on The Simpsons when the family ends up on a painful, humiliating game show. During the literal lightning round, Homer says out loud that he hopes there isn't an ice cream round. The hosts see right through it and he gets hit with another bolt of lightning.


 "I was bred and born in the briar patch, Br'er Fox," he called. "Born and bred in the briar patch."