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Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth!

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You want this trope's definition? You can't handle this trope's definition!

We've all heard this phrase used a million times in a million different ways. Sometimes it's the exact phrase, but more often than not the writer will twist it in some way, just a bit, to impart a little comedy while not compromising the actual quote - like replacing "truth" for "tooth". Or maybe "trope".

The phrase itself comes from the famous rant by Jack Nicholson's character at the end of A Few Good Men. Thanks to Popcultural Osmosis, and particularly this trope, this phrase has become more well known than the actual movie (which is by no means an "unknown" film, nor an unmemorable one).

A Stock Parody.

See also A Few Good Men.

Examples of You Can't Handle the Parody include:

Advertising

  • Burger King's Rodeo Burger (a cheeseburger with BBQ sauce and 2-3 fried onion rings on it) was introduced in a full-on A Few Good Men parody, with a lawyer questioning Chip from Small Soldiers, who eventually shouts, "You can't handle the Rodeo Burger!"
  • "You can't handle the tooth!" was used as a marketing slogan for the film Tooth Fairy.
  • There's a brand of hot sauce called "You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce" that features a Devil making this challenge on the label.

Film (Animated)

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Lil De Ville: You want the button, Phillip? You can't handle the button!

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Film (Live Action)

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Melvin: The truth?
Cisco: Yeah, I want the truth.
Crunch: You can't handle the truth!

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Live-Action TV

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Dick Solomon: You want the truth? You want the truth!? Well, I can't handle the truth!

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Francine Jones: (yelling at Annalise as she storms out of the pub) You can't handle Quizmania!

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  • Psych episode "Dis-Lodged":
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Shawn Spencer: I want the truth. What really happened to my cat Chairman Meow?
Henry Spencer: You want answers?
Shawn Spencer: I want the truth!
Henry Spencer: You can't handle the truth!

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Stephen Colbert: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! But I've got oven mitts.

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  • The MTV Movie Awards one year had a sketch with the cast of The Brady Bunch in a Brady-themed version of the scene (with Florence Henderson-as-Jack Nicholson-as-Carol Brady on the stand)
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the Red Zone Cuba episode, at one point a general is shown perusing a paper and then setting it down. This prompted Mike to chime in: "I can't handle the truth!"
  • In the Whose Line Is It Anyway? follow-up series, Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, Colin says the above Tooth Fairy line while talking about some toothless lions. Long story.
  • In one episode of Seinfeld George walks into Jerry's apartment and just says the line with no provocation or set up, apparently finding the line to be so cool that he couldn't wait for an appropriate moment to use it.
  • Parodied in one of the ads for WrestleMania 21 with John Cena and JBL as Kaffee and Jessep, respectively.
  • Imitated in How I Met Your Mother when Ted found out that Lily had sabotaged six of his relationships. Interestingly, the scene uses several other lines from Jessup's Motive Rant but not "You can't handle the truth!"
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Ted: "Did you break up me and Robin?"
Lily: "You're damn right I did!"

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Martha Stewart: You want answers?
Judge: I think I'm entitled to them.
Martha Stewart: You want answers?!
Judge: I want the truth!
Martha Stewart: You can't handle the truth! Because deep down in places you don't talk about, before the dinner party begins, you use words like centrepiece, garnish, decanting. I use these words as the backbone of a life spent turning me into a billionaire!

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Liz Lemon: You want the truth?
Kenneth: I can't handle the truth.

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  • Farscape, in episode "Thanks for Sharing," while being questioned, Crichton responds to "I want the truth" with "You can't handle..." but doesn't finish.
  • Community: One of Pierce's suggestions for ending verbal marketing presentations is by quoting Nicholson films. His is "You can't handle a moist towelette!".

Music

  • One of Tooth & Nail Records' compilation albums was titled You Can't Handle the Tooth.

Professional Wrestling

  • During WWE's "WrestleMania Goes Hollywood" campaign for Wrestlemania 21, John Cena and JBL did a commercial themed on A Few Good Men based on this scene, with Jonathan Coachman playing the judge.

Video Games

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Web Comics

  • Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del tells Zeke "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!". Zeke immediately replies "This conversation is over until you decide to stop imitating Jack Nicholson on me."
  • Darths and Droids:
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Poggle the Lesser: Does that conclude your statement?
Padmé: You want my statement? You can't handle my statement!

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Florence: Do you want the truth? [about a hurricane about to destroy the building she's in]
Mr. Kornada: I CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!

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Western Animation

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Ron Stoppable: You want proof? You can't handle the proof!

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Homer: Look Marge, you don't know what it's like — I'm the one out there every day putting his ass on the line. And I'm not out of order! You're out of order! The whole freaking system is out of order! You want the truth? You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! 'Cause when you reach over and put your hand into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do! Forget it Marge, it's Chinatown!!!

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    • From the episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts":
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Sideshow Bob: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! No, truth-handler, you! I deride your truth-handling abilities!

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    • From the episode "Mommie Beerest":
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Jack playing card: You can't handle the twos!

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Waitress: You just gotta tell him the truth.
Kronk: I can't handle the truth!

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  • There was that one episode of The Critic, concerning a remake of A Few Good Men, starring Jack Nicholson, Christian Slater, and William Devane. One shared voice, naturally. That's the joke.
  • ReBoot had an episode where the main characters were in a game that required beating the user to a tooth (the goal of the game). The user breaks in at the 11th hour to announce that he he wants the tooth. One of the temporary characters responds with "You can't handle the tooth!"
  • Avatar Deleted Scenes 3 (YouTube video):
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Katara: Tell me the truth, how's my hair?
Aang: You can't handle the truth!

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