Steve Stronghold: All right, if your mom asks, you tell her I read you the riot act and I took away your Xbox. Will Stronghold: But I don't have an Xbox. Steve Stronghold: Are you sure? [Reveals his new Xbox]
Junior is in trouble. He tried to pull off the greatest prank he could think of, but it went horribly wrong — mostly because he got caught. Now the principal has suspended him and he has to face his parents.
His dad takes him aside and is giving him a stern look. Junior knows this is it, his chickens have come home to roost, he's going to be grounded until the cows come home, and he won't see daylight again until the hogs catch their 9 am flight to Miami. After an unbearable silence, dad has only one thing to say: He thinks what Junior did was hilarious, and he's pretty proud that he managed to pull it off.
In short, this trope is where a character expects to be dressed down by an authority figure, only to find out the authority figure is pretty impressed. What Junior did was still wrong, of course, but Dad doesn't care so much about that little detail.
If the authority in this case is an official one (commanding officer, for example), they'll likely give a reprimand that both parties recognize as a token nod to the rules. If it's a parent, it's almost always the father. If the authority figure is particularly impressed, this may even result in Promotion Not Punishment.
Compare Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving, Not so Above It All, and Milholland Relationship Moment. May include Do Wrong, Right if afterward the parent/authority gives the protagonist tips on how to not get caught next time.
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Tim Drake/Robin, after losing nearly all of his biological family, sets up an actor to pretend to be his fake uncle so that he doesn't have to go into the foster care system. Batman, being Batman, naturally finds out, and Robin assumes he's about to be reamed out for going behind Bruce's back... but all Bruce can say is that he's so proud of Tim for taking the initiative, and gives him some tips on how to make the deception foolproof.
In the old Super Mario Bros. (in Nintendo Comics System), Bowser and Lemmy Koopa take Toad (dressed as Muk) and the Mushroom King's (dressed as Pipe Ooze) place at a Dirk Drainhead cosplay convention. He was training Lenny in the ways of being evil and decided to let him "have fun" for a while. Lemmy, being a huge Dirk Drainhead fan, mentions that since they're acting out the story in which Muk pulls a Heel-Face Turn, he has to attack Pipe Ooze. What follows is Lemmy beating the shit out of Bowser. At the end of the story, he asks Bowser if he failed his test, to which Bowser replies that he gets extra points for beating up a family member.
The Student Prince: When Merlin asks Kilgharrah for help with reaching Nimueh, he rephrases Merlin's question so that it sounds downright treasonous, before replying, "I should be delighted to oblige you, my dear boy."
In Chapter 269 of "Shards To a Whole", an NCIS fanfic, after an investigation led my McGee took down a terrorist who would have killed hundreds of innocent people, CIA agent Kort visited Director Vance to protest the handling of the incident, as the terrorist in question was regarded as a valuable "asset". McGee, speaking on behalf of NCIS, told Kort to "Fuck off and die," pointing out that his team accomplished in five days what Kort's team couldn't do in five years. When Kort accoused McGee of being "impolitic", Vance laid down his punishment(this chapter takes place in late July):
"McGee! You and your entire team are being placed on paid leave. Once your reports are filled out, I don't want to see any of you here again until August. For the next week, I want you to go home, rest, relax and and think about the grave severity and dire consequences of saying impolitic things to pretentious assholes who upon being offered cake, ice cream and cookies, complain about the lack of whipped cream and sprinkles on top and deserve to have their ungrateful asses kicked."
In Sky High, Will Stronghold trashed the school cafeteria, got into a fight, and used his powers when he wasn't supposed to. His dad punishes him by telling him no Xbox for a week. Will protests that he doesn't have one...at which point his dad reveals he's so proud of him for having powers that he bought him one.
In Kindergarten Cop, Arnold beats the snot out of a man who's been beating his kid. The Principal takes Arnie into her office, and he expects her to throw him out of the school. But regarding the beating, the only thing she has to say is to ask how good it felt to smack him around.
"What did it feel like to hit that son of a bitch?"
In The Incredibles, Dash gets in trouble for placing a tack on the teacher's chair. His father is more impressed by the fact that Dash managed to avoid being caught on a hidden camera than upset about the prank.
In a scene cut from Love Actually (but included in the DVD extras), Karen (Emma Thompson) is called to her son's school because his teacher is upset by a theme paper he wrote, in which he described how the world would be different if people's farts were visible. Karen listens attentively to the teacher and principal, and then quietly takes her son into the hallway to talk to him;
Bernie: Sorry, Mum.
Karen: I'm sorry too, Bernie. Sorry and ashamed and embarrassed... that I have put you in a school with such total and utter pricks that they don't get a good gag when they see one! I mean, this is high-class comedy. This is first-rate stuff! Look, you're my son and obviously I have to love you. But right now, I really love you! (Mother and son dissolve into laughter)
In A Bridge Too Far a tough old sergeant (Played by James Caan in the movie) has just held a surgeon at gunpoint to force him to work on the sergeant's commanding officer. As soon as the surgeon is done, the Sergeant gives him his pistol. The surgeon chews him out slightly, and places him under arrest, for sixty seconds. The surgeon in question had declared the man dead on arrival and refused to waste time on a corpse. In order to convince him otherwise the sergeant pulled a gun and ordered the surgeon to treat him anyway. After a quick examination the man was found to be both alive and have good chances of survival. Until that point, neither the audience nor the sergeant had been given any indication that the officer had been alive at all.
In the third Mission: Impossible film, Ethan has been brought into HQ because his superiors think he's gone rogue ( He's really trying to save his wife, who has been kidnapped by the villain). As he's lying immobilized, his immediate superior begins chastising him (for the benefit of those listening in), while simultaneously mouthing an escape plan, knowing that Ethan can read lips.
In Thor, Sif and the Warriors Three are discussing what to do about Loki taking the throne, and they worry that Heimdall might be watching them. He is, and calls them to his post, gravely asking them if they really plan to defy their king's explicit orders, which Sif admits to. Heimdall immediately exclaims, "Good!" and lets them do just that.
Merrick: (Dying) You do everything wrong... Buffy: I'm sorry, I take it back! Merrick: No. Do it wrong. Don't play our game.
The Magdalene Sisters has several of the characters working in the convent laundry. As they do, one of the more experienced patients tells them about the one who ran off the previous night under the guise of admonishing them.
In Rush Hour, Da Chief calls Carter into his office to chew him out for screwing up a drug sting—before congratulating him for sending a message about how hard-core the police are. In reality, he's buttering Carter up so that he'll accept a bad assignment from the FBI.
First happened in The Philosopher's Stone when Harry decided to get on a broom to chase after Malfoy, despite Madam Hooch explicitly telling them not to. Professor McGonagall arrived, hauled him inside and put him on the Quidditch team.
In Chamber of Secrets, when Harry arrives at the Weasleys', Molly, who is in fact scornful of how he got there (her sons stole their flying car), all Arthur could ask was "how was it?", which Molly berates him for.
Later on there's this scene:
Dumbledore: You both realize, of course, that in the past few hours you have broken perhaps a dozen school rules.
Harry, Ron: Yes, sir.
Dumbledore: And that there is sufficient evidence to have you both expelled.
Harry, Ron: Yes, sir.
Dumbledore: Therefore, it is only fitting that you both receive [pause] special awards for services to the school.
In the Lord Peter Wimsey short story "Talboys", Peter's eldest son catches a snake and Peter is expected to tell him off, but as soon as the two are alone, he not only tells his son that he thinks it's actually pretty cool, but conspires with him to use it to prank an unpleasant guest.
In Nicholas Nickleby, John Browdie appears that he's going to beat the crap out of Nicholas for attacking Wackford Squeers and rescuing Smike. Instead, he congratulates him for a job well done.
At the end of Feet of Clay, the Patrician summons Commander Vimes to his office. He notes that in the course of investigating an attempt to poison Vetinari, Vimes has managed to infuriate all the important figures in the city, and therefore he clearly has no choice but to increase the man's wages.
Vimes himself does it to Moist von Lipwig in Raising Steam, much to the Boxed Crook's surprise, since Vimes understandably has never liked him much. After explaining why it was totally inappopriate for Moist to attempt to capture a terrorist by himself, Vimes gives him an "official reprimand" ("Don't do it again!") and shakes him by the hand.
In Strata, Kin Arad does in fact sentence the perpetrators of a nuclear-disarmament-protesting plesiosaur to a punishment. But it's a remarkably lenient one, and after switching off the tape she all but openly congratulates them, and tells them of her own, even more spectacular, act of rebellion. It turns out that everyone does something of the sort, and if they do it well enough they're more likely to be promoted than fired.
Played with and subverted in the first Song of the Lioness book. Alanna is continually getting in trouble for fighting thanks to Jerk Jock Ralon's brutal bullying. She has to claim she "fell down" in order to keep her honor, and Duke Gareth is forced to follow the rules and punish her. At one point, after Ralon breaks her arm, the Duke ends one of his lectures with "I wish you would thrash him. He deserves it."
Finally, when Alanna turns things around on Ralon by beating the snot out of him, he does go through with the impressive lecture and punishment, but she can tell that he's actually impressed with her.
In the X-Wing Series novel Wraith Squadron, Kell Tainer and Runt Ekwesh of the eponymous fighter group pull off a spectacular misdirection ploy, bluffing the Imperial Star Destroyer Implacable into thinking they're the Millennium Falcon. Implacable chases after them, missing out on a major battle where it would have been devastating to the defenders. However, they also break several New Republic protocols (mostly by taunting the Imperials on a clear channel) in the aftermath while they're all high on adrenaline. Their commander, Wedge Antilles, calls them out on it, says he's considering putting them on report despite their heroism, and then concludes that, as a means of reward and punishment, he's simply going to give them medals... pinned directly to their heads. The whole incident quickly goes away as it becomes evident that the Wraiths are simply like that.
Live Action Television
Matthews has a word with Deborah in Dexter after she says the f-word during a press conference. He tells her that he took a lot of crap for promoting her, and that not 24 hours later, she's already proven...that he made the right choice; that kind of bluntness was exactly what he wanted from her.
Malcolm in the Middle: When Hal goes to visit Francis's military school, he's at first appalled that all Francis is doing is goofing off, playing pranks, and getting into all manner of trouble. But when he learns that Francis is doing it to Stick It To Commandant Spengler, who is unnecessarily cruel, Hal is all sorts of proud of his son.
Later, Hal tries to do this on Lois' birthday, when he learns that the boys (like himself) forgot about it. While in their room, he yells disaprovements to them while whispering about how much trouble they're in. Unfortunately, when Malcolm speaks, he gets mixed up, and:
Hal: (whispering) Sorry isn't going to help yourself, mister! (shouting) I forgot your mother's birthday! (cue Oh, Crap face
After Hal's family treats Lois horribly at the family reunion, the four boys wreck the party in a golf cart. In the way home Hal is delivering a very unsincere scolding to them.
Hal:' Next time you drive a golf cart into a pool there will be consequences.
In the children's sitcom Out Of Tune, the Vicar discovered his niece Midge had been modifying the buttons on Tony's suit to make him think he was getting fatter or thinner throughout the episode.
Midge: Are you angry...?
Vicar: Angry? I'm furious... furious I didn't think of it first!
How I Met Your Mother has a version of this, spousal instead of parental. Marshall loudly rebukes Lily for forgoing her morals for cash (accepting money to paint a nude picture of Barney). In between his chastisements, he whispers to her that he's actually glad she found a way to get so much cash and is criticizing her as loud as possible so that Barney, in the next room, will come back in and offer even more money.
In Scrubs, Dr. Kelso delivers a lecture during which he mentions a recent case in which Dr. Reid gave a patient a course of treatment that resulted in his death. He then gives her kudos for having the balls to act instead of equivocating over the best course of action, during which time the patient likely would have died anyway.
In Babylon 5, Sheridan chewing Ivanova out for threatening to airlock a reporter - and not specifying that he would be stripped naked first. After all, one shouldn't waste perfectly good clothing in the middle of a rebellion.
Happens in Home Improvement when the kids get revenge on a bully by gluing his butt crack closed. Tim, the father, is impressed and makes only a token effort to tell them they were wrong, and that only after his wife gets mad.
The Big Bang Theory had a complicated episode where Penny's dad Wyatt came to visit and she asked Leonard to pretend they got back together because he was the only guy he approved of dating. Leonard had a blast bonding with him but eventually Penny had enough and told him the truth. Wyatt sat them both down and told Penny how hurt he was that she felt the need to lie to him and dismissed her to her room so he could talk to Leonard. Once she was behind the door Wyatt grabbed Leonard by the collar and pleaded "Please don't give up on her." He then tried Reverse Psychology by pretending to be angry with him so Leonard would seem more appealing to her.
In Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck tells Seelix, then a deckhand, that she's been accepted for fighter pilot training by turning up on deck first thing in the morning and pretending to chew her out for not getting to the training session on time.
In Series 2 of Downton Abbey: Mrs Patmore, Mrs Bird and Molesly are caught skimming food from the main house to feed wounded and homeless vets out of Mrs Crawley's kitchen by O'Brien; she brings Cora to the house in order to tear into them. Instead she gets mad that they were taking food provided to the house by the military for fear Downton would be accused to mismanagement of the wounded vets they were taking care of. She promptly grabs a ladle a joins in dispensing food.
An episode of LALaw had Grace prosecuting the theft of bull semen (long story). The testimony gets more and more lurid until the apparently incensed judge demands that Grace and the defense attorney join him in his chambers . . .only for all three of them to dissolve into hysterics the minute the door is closed.
In another LALaw episode , the juniormost attorney has just made mincemeat of a routine deposition— in a way that is ultimately beneficial to the firm, but definitely unethical bordering on illegal. An associate is delegated to tell him off, and takes him aside for the lecture: "You bad, bad boy. Don't you ever let us catch you doing that again."
Did you say What I think you just said My hat looks good on me? I agree, I agree!
Assassin's Creed 2 has this gem around twenty minutes into the game, shortly after Ezio Auditore has a gang battle and a night of passion with his girlfriend. Ezio returns to his home, seeing his father at the door, expecting the worst when...
Giovanni Auditore: This behaviour is unacceptable... it... it... *laughs* it reminds me of myself when I was your age!
In City of Villains, a high-level story arc has you helping apsiring Mad Scientist Vernon Von Grun. After one mission where his creations ran amok in an Arachnos lab, Arbiter Daos asks to speak to both of you.
Arbiter Daos: We've been watching you help out Vernon von Grun, Character. In fact, we've had our eye on him for a while now. Von Grun is a genius, alright. He's also reckless, immoral, obsessed, and likely a danger to everyone around him. In other words, a perfect mad scientist candidate. We've been wondering when he'd finally make his big break, and it looks like what he needed was some professional help. A pro-level villain, I mean. Like you.
Caesar in Fallout: New Vegas does a version of this if you have low reputation before you're given the Mark of Caesar. You're read a List of Transgressions, and then comments that he's just messing with you before giving his list of things he's impressed with you doing.
In Wing Commander III, Eisen pulls Blair aside just before he's to have a simulator duel against visiting test pilot "Flash" as part of a challenge, after Flash ignores a scramble call and stays in bed while everyone else is out defending their carrier. It looks like Eisen is about to chew Blair out for acting rashly in issuing the challenge, but instead he offers some advice: "Kick the little twerp's ass."
In DOUBLE K, Kamina tells Kittan the story of a drug bust he handled, and he honestly expects the goody-two-shoes Kittan to berate him over it. Kittan instead proclaims, tears in his eyes, that it's the greatest story he's ever heard, and reveals that he's just as crazy as Kamina, and that his by-the-book image was just a fake-out so he could transfer to another department.
In thisMaximumble strip, a father berates his son for dressing as Bat-girl... because the skirt classes with the Bat-symbol, and his shoes are impractical.
In the Danny Phantom episode "13", Danny intentionally lets himself get caught spying on Jazz and Johnny. When his parents find out, they initially seem angry... But then quietly congratulate and thank him for doing so, before yelling in earshot of Jazz not to do it again, and then quietly tell him to do it again.
Occurs in Generator Rex, when the protagonist's pseudo-father-figure acknowledges that Providence may have denied him just a bit too much normality in his life.
Agent Six: Sneaking off to spring break was foolish and irresponsible and... completely normal for someone your age.
Happens in the Extreme Ghostbusters episode "Grundelesque." Kylie is nearly-despondent about disobeying Egon, but he tells her that she did the right thing, and that he was working from a contaminated sample.
In the American Dad! episode "Francine's Flashback", when Hayley confronts Jeff over taking her amnesiac mother to Burning Man.
Hayley:Let Me Get This Straight. You ran off with my memory erased mother to a pagan festival, just to get my attention?
Flash: I am very, very disappointed in you young man.
Flash: Super speed high five!
In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter tries to keep himself clean by laminating himself. Unfortunately, he slips and slides all over the room and breaks everything. At first it seems him mother's going to yell at him for making such a mess, but she's really happy he's finally clean.
In the Adventure Time episode "Love Games", Elder Plops seems about to humiliate Slime Princess's sister Blargetha after her atrocious song.
Elder Plops: As Elder Plops, I've heard many songs in my life, and I can only say this: Finn, you win this one.
A Real Life example might be the internet's response to a video of a kidpowerslamming a kid who was bullying him (and subsequent memetic mutation, including a version with Street Fighter music and a version with Team Fortress 2 sound effects). Averted by his school, since he was suspended for his actions (mainly since the bully's ankle was broken by the slam, which is kinda hard to ignore no matter what the circumstances).
What kid hasn't had this happen to them? "Mom, Dad, I got in a fight at school today..."
Mom's response: "Grounded for a week, and you have to apologize to the other kid." Dad's response: "Did you win?"
Two sneaky teenagers in a bookstore hid all the copies of the Twilight saga from a shopping Twihard, who ended up buying the Harry Potter series instead. The employee who found out about it was impressed, but had to report them to the store's manager... who gave them both $10 gift cards.
A teenager got into a fight when a classmate started beating up and threatening her disabled friend. The vice principal punished her by assigning her a paper about how to win a fight (the other was suspended).