Please help me figure out the meaning of the sentence "How bad could it be?" from the following text in the description of the app Dadish 2:

Your naughty little sprouts have shown up to your job unannounced and need help getting out of trouble. How bad could it be…?

I am wondering if the said sentence can work as a fixed idiom.

There can be two possibilities. One is that the situation couldn't be worse. Another is that the author wants to know about the scale of the difficulties faced by the author.

Here is a description of the app from Google Play:

He’s a dad, and a radish, and he’s back in his biggest adventure yet! After an impromptu “Bring Your Kids To Work Day” goes awry, Dadish sets off to find his missing children. Along the way he’ll wade through swamps, ride rockets, climb a big tree, and even visit outer space!

2 Answers 2


"How bad could it be?" is a commonly used phrase in storytelling. A character (in your example, the player character Dadish) thinks of doing/saying a certain thing, and then decides to do it, thinking to themselves How bad could it be?. The character is talking themselves into doing the thing by asking this rhetorical question and, it is implied, answering themselves that Nothing bad will really happen. This is an example of irony because the person reading/listening to the story knows that the story will continue to describe exactly how bad it could be and, in fact, was.

In this context it is not a guarantee that the outcome will be disastrous (a player would probably not like to start a game if they know the ending will be a bad one) but the player is expected to see the question and know that the "naughty little sprouts" will not be dealt with quickly. Instead, their showing up to work will cause some issues that Dadish will have to deal with, thus setting up the entire motivation to play the game (which is: solve Dadish's problems).

I would say How bad could it be? is not a "fixed idiom" but rather a stock phrase used in storytelling.

  • See also "what's the worst that could happen?", "what could go wrong?", etc.. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong (warning: time sink) has extensive writing on the phrase as well as numerous examples from various media. "I'll go check this on TV Tropes; what could possibly go wrong?" 6 hour later "... whoops!"
    – minnmass
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 15:02

I believe that the meaning of it is that the author is giving the idea of couldn't get worse. like: oh come on how bad could it be? and then something far worse happens. (consider it as comedy situation)


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