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"When someone says 'We've got people everywhere', you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!"

It is a staple of fiction, and indeed casual dialog, to exaggerate when describing something. Everyone has heard it before: "I'm gonna hit you into next week!" "I'm the biggest baddest guy in town!" "He's the size of a house." Of course we all know the people saying these things don't actually mean what they're saying. They're just using dramatic flair, that's all. It enhances the conversation or just makes it funnier. So when the Mighty Glacier tells his opponent that he's about to be punched through a wall, he can't actually do exactly what he just said.

Unless he then proceeds to do exactly what he just said.

That's where this trope comes in. Not Hyperbole is a massive subversion of the exaggerations and hyperboles that we've all become used to in conversation. The character means exactly what he just said and nothing less and usually proceeds to prove it.

Usually part of a Badass Boast. See also Literal Metaphor. Literal Ass-Kicking is a subtrope. Not Making This Up Disclaimer is a common variation.

Examples of Not Hyperbole include:

Anime & Manga

  • Mazinger Z: In the first episode, The Professor Dr. Kabuto tells The Hero Kouji whoever pilots Mazinger-Z has the potential to become a god or a devil. Such like later retellings and versions of the history (especially Z-Mazinger or Shin Mazinger Zero) have proved, Dr. Kabuto was *NOT* exaggerating.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the Arc Words, "[Simon's] drill is the drill that will pierce the heavens". Obviously this is a metaphor, right? But by the end of the series, it's not.

Comic Books

  • Pictured above: The Flash: Weather Wizard states despite being a family man, he was not kidding about threatening to place a tornado into someone's belly, and actually carries it out.

  Weather Wizard: That was never an empty threat.

  • X-Men: When Quentin Quire apparently died, Charlies Xavier realized that he was actually becoming an Energy Being. This is how he explained it:

 Professor X: Quentin Quire was liberated from his physical cocoon and born into a higher world at 4:32 this afternoon. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but in this case we believe it to be the literal truth.

  • Preacher (Comic Book): When Jody says he's going to "pull yore Goddamn head off so ol' T.C. can shit down yore neck", it's going to lead to T.C. saying "I better do my part. Either've you got any Kleenex, or'm I gonna have to wipe with my hand?"

Comic Strips

  • Dilbert
    • Alice will often follow through on her implausible threats, for instance when she stuffed Asok into his own shirt sleeve and punted him into the ceiling.
    • She's also promised to "punch someone into next week" (or next <insert day of week here>), only for the last panel to show them emerging from a time portal. Several times.
    • In another she threatened to punch a man so hard he'd have to drop his pants to say hello. The past panel shows a pair of arms sticking out of the top of a pair of pants, and Dilbert and Wally wondering what that odd "Melp, melp!" sound is.
  • Garfield once kicked Odie into next week. True enough, Odie didn't appear until the following Monday, when he fell on Garfield.


  • In The Dresden Files, a Black Court vampire, Mavra, once got away with successfully blackmailing Harry's friend Murphy, by having evidence that would destroy her. After nearly killing himself to ensure Murphy's protection, Harry tells Mavra in no uncertain terms that this will never happen again, and that if anything happens to Murphy, he's declaring war on her, personally, and that he will pick up every weapon he has at his disposal to end Mavra. Fast forward to Changes, and another vamp has kidnapped Harry's daughter. And he picks up every weapon he has, and is fully ready and willing to sell his soul and worse to get even more weapons. The only two in his arsenal he holds back on the Darkhallow and the Denarius. And then proceeds to exterminate the entire Red Court of vampires. All of them. And for the record, if he had to use the Darkhallow or the Denarius, he would have. Without hesitation. Fortunately for him, he had a less evil option.
    ** What's worrying is that selling his soul, then performing human sacrifice (of the woman he loves and mother of his child), to commit genocide and arguable pantheocide is the less evil option. And that's without all the evil-enabling consequences left by the power vacuum he creates. However, seeing that literally every member of the Red Court killed remorselessly multiple times: they reaped what they sowed.
    • He also didn't use Demonreach, but that's rather location-limited.
  • From Earth (The Book):

 Q: How many insects are there currently on Earth?

A: 500 quintillion.

Q: How rough an estimate is that?

A: That is the exact number.

  • The Wheel of Time has a woman break down in hysterics when she discovers the body of a man who's been murdered by the gholam: "However many times she had heard of a person torn limb from limb, she had never seen the results before."
  • In one Animorphs book, Marco comes out of a convenience store with a drink that Tobias claims he could take a bath in. Sounds like hyperbole until you remember that Tobias is a bird, and that some stores have drink cups so big you probably could fit a hawk in them. Not that you'd want to...

Films — Live-Action

  • Used and lampshaded by M in Quantum of Solace, for the sheer Refuge in Audacity, as per the quote above. For context: Bond drags in a bad guy at the beginning of the movie who is resistant to interrogation. When the bad guy smugly informs Bond that, "Well, one thing you should know is that we have people everywhere," one of M's personal bodyguards pulls out his weapon and tries to assassinate her.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick, when a couple of guards harass Riddick's friend Kyra, Riddick calmly informs one that he can kill him with a tea cup. And then he does. Next, he holds up a key to a sardine tin and puts it down meaningfully in the same place where the tea cup was — and the other two get the hell out of there.
  • From the John Ritter film Hero at Large, Steve is talking to his agent Marty about Marty not getting him any stage work (instead of all the commercials he's doing).

 Steve: Marty, how much can you do with, "That's what I call beer"? Marty, get me a play, any play.

Marty: It's not like you never had one. Last summer, Shakespeare in the Park.

Steve: I carried a spear. Marty, that's a joke. When an actor says he carried a spear, he doesn't mean he carried a spear. I. Carried. A spear.


Live-Action TV

  • Supernatural
    • There are some people who will claim that they're older than God. Death might actually be telling the truth. (Maybe. Neither Death nor God can remember anymore.)
    • Similarly, in "Dark Side of the Moon", Dean tells the men who are about to kill him that he'll come back and kill them. Sure enough....
  • In Arrested Development Lucille is one of the world's worst drivers. Her clip from World's Worst Drivers showed her responding to a space she might have had to parallel park into by driving in vertically, leaving her car covering half the road.
  • In one episode of Parks and Recreation, Ron goes into a diner and asks the waiter to give him "all the bacon and eggs you have." When the waiter starts to leave, Ron stops him and adds:

 Ron: I'm worried that what you heard was, "give me a lot of bacon and eggs." What I said was, "give me all the bacon and eggs you have."

  • In Babylon 5, Londo claims about G'Kar. "I will kill him one day." Without prompting, he explains it isn't a threat, it isn't him being annoyed. Centauri have prophetic dreams. He knows that they will die strangling each other. Years later, they do.
  • A interesting inversion, a Not Understatement / Not Sarcasm Mode if you want: In Sherlock, a reimagination of the Sherlock Holmes Mythos in the 21st century, the first episode has John Watson being kidnapped and confronted with an upperclass gentleman who casually refers to himself as "the closest thing [Sherlock] could consider a friend: An enemy; he would probably call me 'his arch-enemy' — he is always so melodramatic." He offers to put Watson on his payroll in exchange for information on Holmes' movements, since "I constantly worry about him; he is never far from my thoughts." All of this screamed Professor Moriarty to the well-read viewer, only for us to learn at the end of the episode that the shadowy figure was in fact Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's big brother.

 John: So when you say you're concerned about him... you really are concerned about him?

Mycroft: Yes, of course.

John: And when he says that it's a childish feud... it really is a childish feud?


New Media

Puppet Shows

  • In The Muppet Movie, Professor Krassman, the world's leading expert on mind control in frogs, promises a revelation so intense that the listener will have to hold on to his hat... and refuses to continue until Doc Hopper has a death-grip on his hat.

 "When a German scientist says hold on to your hat, it's not casual conversation! Hold on to your hat! Hat! HOLD!... Good!"


Video Games

  • Duke Nukem 3D
  • In Iji, one Komato is named "Iosa The Invincible". This is, as she will tell you outright, a title she earned. Among other things, the shield that surrounds her body was powerful enough to survive a planet-busting Alpha Strike. You can only ever harm her by hacking into her shields and deactivating them.

Web Animation

  • In an early season of Red vs. Blue, Church recounts a time when Tex pulled out an enemy's skull and then beat him to death with it. Naturally, upon hearing this, Tucker declares, "What? That doesn't seem physically possible!" to which Church replies: "That's exactly what Jimmy kept screaming." And sure enough...
  • In One Ring to Rule Them All, Sauron tells Wayne the goblin that he'll get a job as an evil henchman in 5 seconds. Literally.

Web Comics


 Lien: My parents were fishermen. When I was a little girl, I stood right here and learned how to clean the fish that they caught. I'm telling you this so that you know that when I say that if you take one more step, I will gut you like the catch of the day — IT IS NOT HYPERBOLE!

    • In another strip, when Heroic Comedic Sociopath Belkar says, "I am going to rip off your stupid bug head and piss down your neck hole!", he happens to be serious.
    • It appears that one of these was the last straw in the marriage of Elan's parents.

 Tarquin: You sound like your mother. "Oh Tarquin, you jerk! When you said that you would liquefy every man in the tavern if one of them grabbed my butt again during my shift, I didn't think you meant it!"


 Tagon: You know, for all I've threatened to do it in the past, this is the first time I've actually torn someone a new one with my bare hands.


 "...Would it be an understatement to say I was being sarcastic??"


Western Animation

  • An episode of The Angry Beavers focuses on Dagget annoying his brother Norbert. Norb threatens to punch Dag into last week, and he does... Only for Dagget to start annoying him all over again. It goes on and on, until finally when trying avoid annoying Norb, he ends up getting punched in prehistoric times.
  • On an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, Cree threatens to turn the treehouse upside down if Numbuh One doesn't tell her where her sister is. He tells her he'd like to see her try. Cut to the treehouse literally turned upside down and Numbuh One stating he didn't think she could actually do it.
  • Archer:

 Cyril: I got the 50 million in bearer bonds.

Spelvin: Unbelievable!

Cyril: (smiling as if complimented) Well, I...

Spelvin: No, I mean I literally don't believe you.


 Nathan: Aw man, I hate Finland. I need a hundred beers.

(cut to a bar)

Nathan: I need a hundred beers. Exactly. Exactly one hundred. Thank you.

  • Inverted in the American Dad episode "Moon Over Isla Island", where Roger has been duped into disguising himself and standing in for the dictator of an island nation, mistakenly thinking he's simply in in costume and the Presidental palace he is staying in is simply a 5-star hotel. When he is served dinner he doesn't like he describes in detail how the chef should be mutilated and killed, and unbeknownst to him his "order" is carried out.