"Yknow how when youíre dating someone and you donít want to cheat on them, unless itís with someone really hot? Well this is the same kind of deal. If you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!"A comedy trope. Alice deliberately does something immoral or bad. Bob finds out and takes her to task — not because she did the misdeed, but because she did it incorrectly. Say, she had robbed a bank. "You idiot, Alice!", Bob might say. "You should have taken more money, robbed an outlet not so close to home, and done more to cover your tracks." This trope can also apply to situations where, for example, after Alice takes Bob's sports car out for a drive without his permission and returns, instead of scolding her, he asks her, "How did it run?" May sometimes overlap with Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. If kidnapping is involved, it can overlap with Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?. Related to Insult Backfire and You Make Me Sic. See also Because I'm Good at It. May come after a Chew Out Fake Out. See Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat for doing wrong, wrong, or Wrong Insult Offence for insulting someone wrong. See Your Approval Fills Me with Shame for when a person's (mis)deeds earn him a compliment from a badguy. Compare Milholland Relationship Moment, where Alice expects Bob to blow up in anger over something she's done to him, only for him to stay calm and react as if it's not a big deal. Also see Pragmatic Villainy, which is all about villains who do wrong right quite often. Not related to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
— Joey, Friends
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Anime & Manga
- At the beginning of the Chunin Exams in Naruto, the written test has only a 20% penalty for being caught cheating. Why? They were being encouraged to gather information stealthily. Given the outlandish methods of cheating some characters used, it's implied that the proctors allowed anything that would plausibly work for reconnaissance in the field to pass without comment, and only imposed the cheating penalties on incompetent cheaters.
- In one episode of Samurai Champloo, a pair of twins have been writing graffiti on every surface they can get their brushes on. When their former teacher sees this, he complains that it's awful... because their penmanship is terrible.
Teacher: They should be ashamed,
Woman: I agree.
Teacher: Dammit! YOU'RE WRITING IT WRONG!
- Control Freak Chiri Kitsu of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei does this quite a lot. She has a scene where she angrily objects to thugs beating someone half to death- not because she finds what they are doing wrong, but they need to beat him more so he's literally halfway between life and death.
- Soul Eater's introductory episode for Black Star and Tsubaki has the former try to peek on the latter taking a bath. Tsubaki throws a shuriken into his face—not for being a pervert, but because for doing such a terrible job of sneaking around.
- In the opening of episode 3 of Kotoura-san, Manabe and Kotoura walk in to their classroom to see that, after Manabe's rather loud and public Love Confession the previous day, their classmates have written their names together under an Umbrella of Togetherness. Manabe criticizes his classmates for it... because they didn't put any hearts on it. He then proceeds to draw several hearts all over it while his male classmates bow to him in respect.
- In Attack on Titan, Ymir is less irritated by Krista's suicidal martyr complex than her dishonesty in not admitting to herself that she has one.
- Unohana isn't insulted by Kenpachi attempting to fight her, but by his halfheartedness in doing so. In her opinion, someone shouldn't fight unless they intend to win- focusing more on having fun and/or fighting honourably is the mark of a dilettante. (Also, she wants to be treated seriously.)
- In the Soul Society arc, it turns out that Soifon isn't angry at Yoruichi (her patron and Protectorate) because the latter followed Urahara into exile and dishonor. She's angry because Yoruichi didn't give Soifon an opportunity to join her.
- Ms. Marvel (2014):
- Ms. Marvel is a teenage Muslim girl who can't resist smelling bacon ("Delicious, delicious infidel meat"). Her friends think she should either eat it or stick to her principles. "Chow or chow not, there is no smell."
- In another example, she explains to her teacher at the mosque that she is disobeying her parents (by sneaking out of the house) so that she can help people. Much to her surprise, his response is basically this trope:
Imam: Do what you are doing with as much honor and skill as you can.
- In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, when the Egg Boss Cassia catches one of her subordinates playing video games instead of monitoring the screens like he's supposed to, she tells him that if he's gonna slack off like that he can at least do it well enough to beat her high score.
- Loki in Vote Loki goes on a rant about how all politicians are liars (which he finds very amusing) but when someone called him a hypocrite for this he continued that his problem is that they don't lie well enough... and he would do it much better if he was running.
- In one Zits strip, Jeremy and Hector are caught driving their unregistered van on the streets. Jeremy's dad asks three questions: "Are you okay?" "Was anyone hurt?" and "How did it handle?"
- FoxTrot had an early strip where Andy is attempting to scold Peter for going 90 mph in their car, while Roger is more interested in how it handled, and whether Peter thought it could've broken 100.
- In an early April 2011 Beetle Bailey Sunday Strip, Sgt. Snorkel caught Beetle drawing insulting pictures of him on building exteriors throughout Camp Swampy. So Sarge hired an art teacher for Beetle.
- In the German comic Ingo Pien about humanized penguins, a neonazi sieg-heils in court. The judge reprimands him: "If you ever do the 'sieg-heil' again... do it smartly!"
- Buffy is shocked, in Tabula Avatar, when Dawn swears in Ilythiiri. Tara makes her say it again, this time with proper grammar.
- Naruto beats the hell out of Sasuke in Shards for insulting his teacher. Both Harribel and the other sensei punish him for it. Harribel punishes him because he didn't chamber his first kick properly, causing him to tear his abdominal muscles. The other sensei punish him for getting caught beating Sasuke.
- After Faith chokes out Xander in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Minutes, his first act upon waking up is to offer to teach her how to properly choke someone out.
Xander: I had time to tap out the William Tell Overture on your arm.
- Demons in Overlady rather dislike adultery because it barely counts as a sin (despite what the church says) and if the adulterer has permission, it doesn't stain their soul at all.
- In A Jedi, a Wizard, and a Scooby Walk into a Bar, Snape agrees with Xander's decision to fail several Slytherin essays when he learns Xander is failing them so badly because of how blatant their plagiarizing was. Shortly afterwards, he makes no comment on Xander deducting several points from a group of Slytherins for "being caught trying to spy".
- Several Ravenclaws in Princess of the Blacks disapprove of the attempted murder of Jen merely because the perpetrators didn't follow proper protocol for declaring a blood feud.
- Wednesday Addams disdains Voldemort killing entire families in When Harry met Wednesday because he always seems to leave a survivor or two; something Wednesday views as sloppy.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: Dr. Mizuno is concerned upon hearing about Ami getting drunk at the victory party held for defeating the assortment of Keepers, but consoles herself that the ensuing hangover would have taught Ami better. On being told that there was no hangover due to the alcohol being magically created and temporary...
"Ami, that can't be healthy!" she shouted as she leaned toward the crystal ball. "Liquid suddenly disappearing from cells that are already using it - I shudder to think what that does to a metabolism." Very sternly, she continued "Next time you want to get drunk, use a real drink! Doctor's order!"
Films — Animation
- Just before the climax of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Sunset Shimmer admonishes Snips and Snails for destroying the decorations in the gym. Not because it was wrong — Sunset was the one who ordered them to do it, after all — but because they almost did it too well, threatening to push the Fall Formal back a week, which would have ruined the plans of both Sunset and Twilight Sparkle.
- In Monsters, Inc., Mike Wazowski corrects Randall's pronunciation of 'cretin', saying "If you're gonna threaten me, do it properly."
Films — Live-Action
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian gets caught writing anti-Roman graffiti by a legionnaire who forces him to write it over and over again correctly, after correcting his atrocious Latin grammar at sword-point.
Roman Centurion: [upon seeing graffiti vandalism] What's this, then? "Romanes Eunt Domus"? "People called Romanes they go the house"?
Brian: It— it says, "Romans, go home".
Centurion: No, it doesn't. What's Latin for "Roman"? Come on! [pinches earlobe]
Centurion: Come on!
Brian: "R— Romanus"?
[after a lot more discussion on the proper grammar]
Centurion: Now, write it out a hundred times.
Brian: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
Centurion: Hail Caesar. If it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.
- In The Movie of The Addams Family, Morticia spots Wednesday carrying a cleaver. When she asks, "Is that for your brother?" and Wednesday nods, Morticia replies, "I don't think so"... and hands her daughter a bigger cleaver.
- In Spaceballs, as Lone Star is infiltrating the mothership, he tries incapacitating a guard using the Vulcan nerve pinch. Unfortunately, the guard doesn't collapse. Instead, he turns to Lone Star chastising him for doing it wrong and instructs him on the correct technique. He then falls unconscious.
- In Michael Moore's satire Canadian Bacon, about a drummed-up war between the United States and Canada, a group of gung-ho Americans drive through Canada in a van covered with anti-Canadian graffiti. A cop pulls them over to reprimand them... because in Canada all signage needs to be in English and French.
- A sinister example in Ransom: A police detective comes across the kidnappers' hideout, apparently by mistake. He sneaks in, discovers the whole operation, surprises the only thug present and holds him at gunpoint. It looks like the kid is saved! The cop then... scolds the thug for not protecting the hideout properly. He's a Dirty Cop, in fact the mastermind behind the kidnapping, and he merely tells his conspirator not to be so stupid in the future.
- Secondhand Lions. Pop quiz: You're an old guy who just got out of the hospital for a heart attack. You go to a diner for some grub and get harassed by knife-wielding delinquents. What do you do? Well, if you're Hub McCann, you start teaching them proper knife-handling technique before they cut their own fingers off...
- In The Dictator, the titular character, General Aladeen, is kidnapped by a racist xenophobic American who plans to torture and kill him on the orders of Aladeen's Treacherous Advisor. Being a Torture Technician himself, Aladeen repeatedly mocks his captor's technique and outdated tool set, much to the latter's annoyance.
- In Skyfall, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee Gareth Mallory catches Q and Tanner creating a trail for Big Bad Silva to follow in his pursuit of M, whom James Bond is protecting at the eponymous lodge. Q and Tanner think they are in trouble, but Mallory instead gives them tips on the best path to give Silva to make sure he is taking the bait.
Q: But, sir, what if the PM finds out?
Mallory: Well, then, we're all buggered, aren't we?
- In The Lost Boys, Sam steals his grandfather's precious car in order to engage in some vampire slaying. When next they meet, this exchange occurs.
Grandpa: Do you know the rule about filling up the car with gas when you take it without asking?
Sam: No, Grandpa.
Grandpa: Well, now you do.
- In the 2007 movie The Savages, when Philip Seymour Hoffman's character finds out his sister (Laura Linney) stole pain pills from a dead man's room, he only asks, "Do they work?"
- The opening scene of The Godfather has Vito Corleone chiding a man for not showing him the proper respect when requesting an assassination.
- Dragon Bones: Oreg admits to Ward that he has been hiding a slave (Ward considers it a good thing, the slave's owners would call it theft), who belongs to some noblemen that have come to Ward to ask for help in catching her. Ward asks him if he has given her enough to eat and warm blankets.
- Played for Drama In Fire Starter: The assassin Rainbird reminisces about a mentor of his who taught him how to crack safes, and a story he once told about a pair of crooks trying to crack a safe who had some time to work on it and employed several techniques. When all else failed, they finally decided to blast it open, but used too much dynamite. The resulting explosion blew open the safe, but also shredded the money inside, rendering it completely worthless. The point of this story, as he explained to Rainbird, was that those idiots didn't beat the safe: you haven't beaten the safe unless you get what's inside it in a usable condition. Rainbird draws parallels between this story and what the Shop is trying to do with little Charlene McGee: if, in their efforts to Break the Cutie they attempt too much coercion, he's certain she'll commit suicide and they'll get nothing useful out of her either.
- Harry Potter:
- In The Chamber of Secrets, Ron, Fred and George steal their dad's car to rescue Harry. After flying the car back to The Burrow, their mother is livid. Their father, however... "Really? How'd it go?"
- And in Order of the Phoenix Umbridge becomes Headmistress and Peeves the Poltergeist begins to wreak havoc, to which the other Hogwarts teachers are remarkably insouciant. At one point Professor McGonagall passes by while he's trying to unscrew a chandelier.
Professor McGonagall: It unscrews the other way.
- The Redemption of Althalus: After Dweia shows the assembled group examples of what has been happening in Perquaine (noblemen and priests collaborating to do whatever they want, which includes raping peasant women and seizing a well belonging to a peasant village so a nobleman can grow crops and throw the peasants out), someone asks why they're interfering in the rebellion, as it looks to be long overdue, and Dweia responds that the wrong people are leading the rebellion.
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison, Bill Rumm is a thoroughly reformed cracksman. But he still can admire a good job and disapproves of dynamiting open safes.
"What was wrong with a simple cosh? Or even a hammer? I could have provided one if asked."
- Feet of Clay, the proprietor of the Dwarf Bread Museum is hit over the head with a loaf of bread (this is more serious than it sounds; dwarfs make bread to last, and not necessarily to be edible). His ghost laments to Death what a terrible waste this was... there's a dent in the crust.
- In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax confronts her elder sister in the climax of the book and spends a good chunk of it berating her. For a lot of things; for disappearing when they were both young at a time that was hard for the whole family, for robbing Granny of the choice of whether to be the good sister or the bad one by running off and being the bad one, but most of all because the entire time, the last seventy-someodd years, Lilith has made herself the villain of the piece while being convinced that she's the good sister. Granny tells her that she could have at least had the common decency to enjoy herself in being the bad one, and raves about how much better a villain she, Granny, would have made, because she would have embraced being the bad one rather than deluding herself; but she had to be the good one, and when you know right from wrong you can't choose wrong.
- Wyrd Sisters gives another quote, after things have deteriorated to the point where Granny Weatherwax decides to abandon her self-imposed "no meddling [in politics]" rule:
Granny Weatherwax: When you break rules, break 'em good and hard.
- In Night Watch, Vimes yells at some citizens to tear down their barricade... because it's an Absurdly Ineffective Barricade and he wants them to make it better. While Vimes actually doesn't think it's wrong to build the barricades, it is illegal, and he has to make a decision.
- When Phule's Company started, Sushi was extremely annoyed by Do-Wop, whom he called "petty thief" in his face. Do-Wop didn't notice which word was emphasized until it was pointed out to him directly, along with the minimum prize value Sushi (a former white-collar criminal) considered worth any risk at all.
Phule: If I understand you correctly, Sushi, your objection to Do-Wop is not the fact that he steals, but rather the scale he operates on.
- In the Knight and Rogue Series Fisk is endlessly exasperated with Michael's inability to lie.
- In Azincourt, Hooke and Lord John have this conversation (paraphrased).
Hooke: I hit a priest.
John: You did a bad thing, Hooke. [beat] You should have killed him!
- In Charles Stross's The Family Trade, when Miriam confesses to sleeping with Olga's fiancé Roland, Olga asks if Roland was any good.
- In the Star Trek novel The Pandora Principle, Saavik knocks Spock out and leaves him behind so she can take on the potentially fatal job of destroying her hated home planet. Afterwards, Spock reprimands her severely...for not planning things out better, as one really must when choosing to disobey orders. He adds that he planned things very carefully, that time he hijacked the Enterprise.
- Towards the end of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Edmund Bertram is nervous about his first encounter with Mary Crawford after her brother and his married sister were discovered having an affair. He's sure she'll be as ashamed and upset about it as he is. Oh, Mary's mad at them all right... for being stupid enough to get caught.
- In The Godfather (the book), Vito chastises his 16 year old son Santino when he discovers that he was involved in an armed robbery, which could cause embarrassment to the family. He ends the diatribe with "And what did you earn for your night's work? Fifty dollars each? Twenty?" ... "Lawyers can steal more with a briefcase than a thousand men with guns and masks."
- In Glory in the Thunder, Rashk lectures Vahagn about the correct way to murder a good person who doesnít deserve to die.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the villainous Roose Bolton scolds his Axe Crazy son Ramsay about his flagrant rape, murder and torture sprees. Raping and murdering are fine, but you've got to be subtle about it. When Ramsay expresses intent on skinning one of their allies alive for an insult and turning her into a pair of boots, Roose frustratedly tells him that not only would this further alienate their allies, human skin is far too thin to make good boots in the first place.
- Stannis Baratheon, being a Principles Zealot, has more respect for any honest foe than any ally of his who shows disloyalty or treachery. He doesn't mind so much being opposed by someone who honestly believes in something that turns out to be wrong, but someone who's a mere opportunist and in it for themselves annoys him whether they be ally or foe.
- Both Tywin and Tyrion Lannister make several, varied attempts to get through to Joffrey how to Evil King it correctly as his Hands — and, have to give up because he's only interested in The Caligula play-style and, seemingly, going for the speed record. Their attempts do, however, illustrate both their political and moral similarities... and differences.
- In a way, this is Sandor Clegane's mission in life when he bumps into fools, naifs or naive fools. It's more a case of "How To Cynicism Correctly Before You Wind Up As Burned As I Was" in his case, however.
- Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is a dab hand at handing advice out that may as well come directly from Xanatos Speed Chess: The Users Guide for Good Form in a Gambit-Rich Environment. The problem is, he makes certain he usually does it via Sarcastic Confession, as part of generalised, hilarious snark or after somebody's utter failure, so it does other people very little good before they come a cropper. Mostly.
- Very much Played for Drama in ÷verenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt. Rosenschiöld is angry with Edvard for making a fourteen-year-old girl pregnant and abandoning her to die after an abortion. But not because doing it was wrong, but because Edvard was stupid enough to do this to a girl from an upper class family! If the girl had come from a working class family, Rosenschiöld couldn't have cared less.
- In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Claire's mom, a former villain, encourages her daughter to do what makes her happy, even if that means super-villainy. She gives the protagonists advice on how to be the best villains they can.
- In the novella The Austro-Hungarian Connection, after a bit of hearing Denise Beasely's potty mouth and noticing her expression suggested she was expecting to be told to not use foul language (one of her pet peeves), Janos Drugeth mentally comments that his father would have taken her to task for it were he there to hear it. Not for the fact that a 16 year old girl was swearing, but because of Denise's "free verse" foulmouthing, the senior Drugeth believing in a more formalized approach to cursing.
- In Atlas Shrugged, our hero is being tortured using electroshock. When the machine breaks down, none of the bad guys are competent enough to fix it. The hero tells them how to go about it, which entirely freaks them out.
- Menon's translation of The Mahabharata has a dramatic example. When Shakuni gambles with King Yudhishtira, he cheats and cheats obviously, winning every single throw. This convinces Krishna beyond all doubt that Shakuni was using loaded dice, and makes him far more vengeful than he would have been otherwise. Because of those dice, there can be no doubt that Shakuni's intentions were malevolent- and consequently, no hope of reconciliation between him and the Pandavas. In comparison, "just" cheating Yudhishtira out of his kingship, his family, and his wife would have been less insulting.
- In Tamora Pierce's Lady Knight, not one but several people sneak off (disobeying army orders in the process) to help Keladry attack the opposing side. This results in one informing another that he's going the wrong way.
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. has Brisco playing poker with another guy, both of them cheating constantly until finally Brisco wins with five kings to the other man's five queens. The man gladly accepts the loss with "He cheated me fair and square."
- Babylon 5:
- In one episode set during the Earth Alliance blockade of the station, Ivanova threatens to throw a reporter out an airlock. The reporter isn't happy and complains to Sheridan. Sheridan rips into Ivanova - for not specifying that the reporter would be "stripped naked and thrown out an airlock." After all, they shouldn't waste perfectly good clothing. Hilarity Ensues.
- In another episode Ivanova challenges one of Brother Theo's monks to bet on the outcome of a chess game. Brother Edward counters that "gambling is one of the lesser sins. I've always felt that if you're gonna sin you should go for one of the really big ones", which also foreshadows brother Edward's past life as a serial murderer.
- Garibaldi seems to have a rule about this: if someone is doing something illegal but for the right reasons, he'll give them tips on how to do so in a way that doesn't put Babylon 5 at risk, after sounding them out. G'Kar and Garibaldi in "Comes the Inquisitor":
Garibaldi: I always leave a little room for someone to disappoint me. Thank you for not doing it.
- One episode of Battlestar Galactica (2003) has Chief Tyrol find some of his deck crew illegally distilling their own alcoholic drinks on the flight deck. He proceeds to explain that their setup is exactly wrong and likely to make somebody blind, and tells them to come back later to show them how it's done. (This might be considered an inversion of this trope, since the toxicity of mis-made moonshine is a real danger, and thus doing it wrong really is the worst part of what they're up to.)
- In one Friends storyline, pregnant vegetarian Pheobe is agonising over her Wacky Cravings, and occasionally nibbling on pieces of leftover meat. Joey gives her the advice seen in the quote at the top of this page.
- In an episode of Good News Week that aired the week after ex-Prime Minister John Howard had a shoe thrown at him on live television, Mikey talked about the event, saying that after the event had occurred, he had never been so ashamed of being an Australian... because it was the worst bloody shot he'd ever seen!
- Hannah Montana. "If I still liked a guy, I would have done the same thing." "Really?" "Well, I would have done it a little better."
- Colonel Potter does almost the exact same thing as the Battlestar Galactica example above in his first appearance on M*A*S*H, explaining that he received his WWII Purple Heart in Guam when a still blew up in his tent.
- Happens between Fran Fine and the Sheffield children quite a few times on The Nanny. For instance, in "The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother", when Fran's sister-in-law dismissively realizes that Fran is a nanny, not Maxwell Sheffield's wife, Maggie says "Who asked you, you big green cow?!". Fran, however, calmly says "Maggie, it's turquoise...".
- Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby.
Hohepa: Steve didn't blow up his car. It was me.
Mr Gormsby: Me what?
Hohepa: Me, sir. I've been having some pretty negative feelings lately, sir. Alienated from my friends, I've had some feelings of resentment towards authority figures. Sir.
Mr Gormsby: Don't give me that Tibetan-mung-bean, I-wasn't-breast-fed-as-a-child, family-conference stuff! Blowing up machinery can be a commendable act in the right circumstances, but this is not El Alamein, and we are not fighting the Hun! Still, it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge that the sabotage was well planned and perfectly executed. You were a bit heavy-handed with the volatile substances, but I put that down to the fact that you probably helped yourself to chemicals and machinery from your uncle's methamphetamine lab.
Mr Gormsby: Typical. Never use chemicals you haven't mixed yourself! It makes it much harder to estimate possible collateral damage.
- In a short on You Can't Do That on Television, a brave Mountie confronts the Dastardly Whiplash tying the Distressed Damsel to the railroad tracks... to correct his knot-tying technique.
- In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will simply says "You're fat" to Uncle Phil instead of coming up with an inventive way of saying it as he usually does. Uncle Phil blows up at him for not being creative with his insults.
- A very heartwarming example, from the revival of Upstairs Downstairs. It's revealed that Ivy has been sneaking cold leftovers outside, to feed the family's previous footman (fired and arrested several episodes back, after getting into a barfight). When she's caught, the other servants tell her "You can't bring him cold dinner outside! Bring him inside, and give him warm dinner."
- An episode of JAG had a Marine Drill Sergeant Nasty being held at gunpoint by a kid working for a street gang. He informed him that not only was he holding the gun wrong, but that it was obviously so poorly maintained that the only one in danger from the gun being fired was the kid. Later, another gangster tries to shoot the same Marine, and ends up blowing his own hand off when his gun catastrophically misfires.
- Parodied in the House episode "Euphoria," when House suspects the patient's symptoms are caused by an infection he got from using pigeon droppings as free fertilizer for his marijuana crop.
House: Let's hope this experience teaches our cop a lesson — don't cut corners when you're growing your pot.
- Being Human:
- In the episode where George Sands teaches English as a Foreign Language, George finds that one of his students has vandalized the WC, writing "Mr. Sands Suck Cocks". George takes out a marker pen and corrects the grammar.
- Earlier, George's students wanted him to teach them curse words, because they never know what people are saying to them when they're being cursed at. George figures he might as well go with it, since swearing is just as much a part of language as anything else.
- Grey's Anatomy: On a slow day, resident jerk Alex keeps pranking the boyfriend of his latest intern, out of jealousy. Veteran Dr. Webber confronts him about it, saying "I thought you were better than that!" It turns out he just wants to suggest better pranks.
- In season five of The Wire, the unit is so under-funded that McNulty fabricates a Serial Killer by staging the bodies of dead vagrants, hoping media attention will draw extra cash from the higher-ups. Bunk (his best friend) brings in resident Cool Old Guy Lester to set him straight. It doesn't go quite like he planned.
Lester: Yeah, you fucked up.
Bunk: Yeah! Tell him!
Lester: No, I mean if you wanna do it right a straight-up strangle's not enough, not after some vagrant. Sensationalize it. Give the killer some fucked-up fantasy, somethin' bad. Real bad. It's gotta grip the hearts and minds, give people what they want from a serial killer.
Bunk: Lester, what the fuck?!
- Game of Thrones:
- Tywin Lannister cottons on to the fact that Arya Stark is a highborn Northern girl posing as a lowborn Southern girl (although presumably not to her exact identity, which would have been of great interest to him) and corrects her pronunciation of "my lord" (commoners pronounce it "m'lord"), telling her that if she's going to lie to him, she ought to do it well.
- Invoked by Tyrion when he realises that it wasn't Cersei, but Joffrey, who ordered the assassination attempt on him during the Battle of the Blackwater, due to Tyrion being unafraid to call him out on his antics. He admits in retrospect, it should have been obvious who was responsible.
Tyrion: So he wants me dead, fine, but his stupidity! He could have had me poisoned and no-one would have known! But the King, orders the Kingsguard, to murder the Hand of the King, in full view of his own army... the boy's an idiot!
- Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark are riding past a group of Frey soldiers boasting of their part in the Red Wedding when Arya slips off the horse, walks up to one of them and stabs him repeatedly in the neck, forcing Sandor to kill the other three in her defense. Worse, she stole his own dagger to do it. Sandor's response?
Sandor: Next time you're going to do something like that, tell me first.
- "My mother told me not to throw stones at cripples. My father told me: Aim for their heads!" — Ramsay Snow.
- Once again invoked by Tyrion when he stands accused of poisoning Joffrey. If he really did do it, he says, he'd be smart enough to not stand around gawking as his nephew chokes out his last breaths.
- Lord Selwyn Tarth became so tired of his daughter Brienne always getting into fights and losing, he decided to get her the training she needed to do it properly, in spite of Westerosi society being extremely disapproving of female fighters.
- Breaking Bad:
"If you're gonna launder money, Walt, at least do it right."
- Walt goes to a hardware store and notices a tweaker foolishly buying meth making equipment wholesale. He schools him on "Different Items, different stores." The tweaker runs off in fear. This leads to the iconic "Stay out of my Territory" scene.
- Skyler, once she gets dragged into Walt's secret-keeping, criticises his money-laundering along the same line.
- Fresh Meat:
- Discussing the fact that JP tried to store some of his sperm in the ice cube tray:
Howard: That won't work. You'd need liquid nitrogen.
Kingsley: I love how your reaction is "That won't work," instead of "I hope you haven't gotten cum on my frozen pizzas, because I don't like that topping."
- Comes up again after JP cheats in a quiz competition and gets caught:
JP: I just didn't want to look stupid!
Sam: You can't even cheat properly. That's how stupid you are.
- Discussing the fact that JP tried to store some of his sperm in the ice cube tray:
- Person of Interest: said word for word by Zoe to a corrupt politician.
Zoe: If you're going to do something wrong, do it right.
- In Community when Gilbert gets caught using cheat codes to try and swindle Pierce out of his father's inheritance by manipulating the virtual reality game, Jeff lets him have it in this manner:
Jeff: You were cheating and I can totally respect that, but you got caught and that's not cool!
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Quark frequently berates Rom for not being a sufficiently greedy (and outright criminal) jerk, that being the Ferengi Hat of choice. The first-season episode The Nagus shows what it takes for Quark to praise Rom: conspire to kill Quark for his own profit. Quark takes it as a sign that Rom may have the "lobes" and guts for the cutthroat business world after all, and gives Rom a (meaningless) promotion at the bar.
- When Julian pointedly tells Garak the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Garak's take on the Aesop is not "don't lie", but "don't tell the same lie twice."
- In the second episode of How to Get Away with Murder, a man is accused of murdering his wife by stabbing her several times and leaving a lot of blood. The defense argues that the man, an experienced hunter, would know how to kill someone cleanly, with only one slash of the knife. They use a previous murder that he committed, but was acquitted of, as evidence of how he would kill someone. The jury returns an acquittal.
- In the Season 3 opener of Melissa & Joey, Ryder is suspended from school for a full year for smoking marijuana on a field trip. Mel is rightly pissed off at him for this but as an addendum, she's annoyed that he was stupid enough to confess while everybody else who was involved denied it.
- In Series 10 of Waterloo Road, Kevin expertly hacks the computer systems of a multinational technology firm but does no damage and leaves without a trace of him ever having been there. Leo tries it later working from Kevin's notes but neglects to use a proxy and leaves a digital footprint that gets traced back to the school. Guess what Kevin's most annoyed about.
- On a Christmas episode of Roseanne, Jackie convinces Roseanne to put Christmas lights around a sleeping Nana Mary (as revenge for the cheap presents she gave them). When Bev walks in, she starts chewing them out for being irresponsible...because they're putting the lights on wrong.
- On Black-ish, Dre teaches Junior to takes his bullies down with insults. When he finds out from the principal that Junior has been "roasting" the other students, Dre is so happy he gets up and starts dancing.
- On The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert declared station KTVU's gaffe at presenting the fake names "Sum Ting Wong", "Wi Tu Lo", "Ho Lee Fuk" and "Bang Ding Ow" as crew members of crashed Asiania Flight 214 as "wrong". Because those are Chinese names, and the airline is Korean. He then suggested "Captain Park Ma Plen Tu-Sun" and "Hau Yu Lan Dis Tang".
- El Internado: the pupils want to protest because the parents, apart from forcing Hector out of the Headmaster position, want to kick the main characters out of school, and paint "Expulsarnos a todos" (roughly translated, To kick us all out), and the parents complain.
Parent: ¡Esto es indignante! (This is outrageous!)
Héctor: Desde luego. Expulsadnos se escribe con D de Dinamarca. (Of course. It should be written with a D, like Denmark.)
Parent: ¿Le parece gracioso? ¡Haga algo! (Do you think this is funny? Do something!)
Héctor: ¿Yo? ¡No! Ya no soy el director de este colegio. (Me? Not at all! I am not this school's headmaster anymore.)
- Knight Rider: prisoners are planning a jailbreak, and feel they have no choice but to take Devon (who's been falsely imprisoned) with them. Devon insists that if they're going to break out, they'll do it Devon's way, since his plan has a chance of succeeding.
- A gag near the end of Brad Paisley's music video for Celebrity has a character inspired by Simon Cowell (played by William Shatner) invoke this trope. He stops Brad in the parking lot, and the following exchange occurs:
Shatner: Hey! Where's my... Hey! Get out of my car!
Paisley: I was... I was just-
Shatner: Get out of my car! It's a valuable car!
Paisley: It's really nice...
Shatner: (checks information on car dashboard) You put 200 miles on my car!
Paisley: Second gear... sticks a little bit.
Shatner: You got it into second gear?
Shatner: How'd you do that?
- Do Wrong Right, by The Devil Makes Three, is this trope in song format.
- In the Cabin Pressure episode "Qikiqtarjuaq", when an angry client reports Douglas to Carolyn for altering the cabin address to include the titles of Hitchcock films, Carolyn asks how many he got in and congratulates Douglas for managing thirteen.
- Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum in BioShock was such a scientific prodigy, she would assist the Germans with their experiments and even correct their scientific errors — while imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp.
Dr. Tenenbaum (audio diary): 'Well,' I said, 'if you're going to do such things, at least you should do them properly.'
- Happens regularly in EVE Online: Player thieves, spies and saboteurs are frequently chastised for either using Paper Thin Disguises or blowing their covers too early.
- Early in Dragon Age: Origins, the group is attacked by Bandits who set up a toll booth. After you beat them a dialogue option for the Warden is, "This shoddy operation is pathetic. I could do better".
- In League of Legends, Sivir is a mercenary who's Only in It for the Money. For a while she was working for Noxus, but quit after their unprovoked invasion of Ionia. Not because she had a moral objection, but because she correctly expected it to turn into a quagmire and didn't want to be working for idiots.
- Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V has this reaction if you're playing as him during one of the thief-related Random Events.
"You call yourself a bank robber? You're a disgrace."
- In the hypothetical route for Jin in Dynasty Warriors 8, Sima Yi is forced out of retirement to stop a revolt by Zhong Hui. Instead of chastising him for his treachery, he criticizes the rebellion itself.
Sima Yi: Just what is the point of this rebellion?! Your foolishness knows no limits! Honestly! I would have prepared properly, and made sure that—Zhang Chunhua: My lord. I think that's quite enough.
- Toriel has this opinion of Asgore's plan in Undertale: She's not happy at all that he's planning to kill seven humans and take their SOULs so he can shatter the barrier, but what really steams her is that he's just waiting for them to fall into the underground by coincidence instead of the far more efficient plan of using the first SOUL to walk through the barrier and kill six more humans out there. The second plan's advantages are obvious. It's implied that Asgore insisted on the first plan so he could pretend he wasn't responsible for what he would have to do.
- Arachnos of City of Heroes is pretty much made of this stuff. They consider it their calling to show the evil doers of the world the proper way to evil do.
- The Illuminati of The Secret World tend to have this sort of attitude as a the default for opposing the various evil organizations the player goes up against.
Kirsten Geary: Now clearly Orochi has been compromised from the inside, which saves us so much time on setting it up ourselves. Whatever endgame they had in mind has blown up in their faces. Now they are going down like their share index. This is wide open for us to really turn the apocalypse around, and be clinking mojitos when the others are still crawling from the wreckage.
- In World of Warcraft, a warlock spying on a Burning Legion invasion site criticizes their layout to the point he says it causes him physical pain to see someone so incompetent.
- In one episode of Teen Girl Squad, Tompkins gets called into the Principal's Office. We find out why in an Easter Egg at the end:
Tompkins: Aw, c'mon, [sic] Prinicpal Strong Bad! I only stole one Sega tape!
Strong Bad: That's just it, Tompkins. You could have stolen upwards of one Sega tape!
Tompkins: Aw, peas!
- One Evil Inc. strip started with the surprising knowledge that Evil Atom worked in his neighborhood watch group. Moments later, it's subverted when he sees a man with a club robbing an old woman, takes it from him- and shows him that his downswing's all wrong.
- Similar to the Spaceballs example above, in The Last Days of FOXHOUND, a guard instructs Liquid Snake in the proper technique of snapping his own neck. (The context being that The Sorrow is taking Liquid on a trip through the other side, but Liquid has some amnesia and doesn't actually remember doing most of the impressively bad(ass?) things he's being shown; he's taking notes as he asks the guard what exactly he did.)
- The Prime of Ambition provides good advice (after one related Beat Panel):
- The Order of the Stick:
- Inverted in one strip, when Lord Kubota praises a minion he knows is shamelessly lying to his face, because it shows how well her training is progressing.
- Tarquin considers Nale, Elan's Evil Twin, a failure not because Nale's a villain, but because he cares more about his ego than about being the most successful villain possible.
Elan: Does that mean you wouldn't have cared what he believed in, as long as he went about it in the correct way?
Tarquin: Well, I suppose, after a fashion, but—
Elan: Good! [draws sword] Because I'm pretty sure a climactic duel is the proper procedure for dramatically defeating corrupt tyrants!
Tarquin: On a rooftop, no less. Exquisite.
- Nale, for his part, despises Tarquin for lacking flair and ambition in his villainy.
- Cyanide & Happiness has a typically sadistic angle involving a man interrupting a self-hanging... in order to show the suicide how to tie a noose properly.
- Digger and Murai discover the cave in which a dead god's followers are mechanically forcing his disembodied heart to beat.
Murai: I'd hoped it was the madness. This is horrible.
Digger: And inefficient! Man, a couple of pulleys here and there, and they could have halved their labor.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Eglamore tells Annie, while punishing her for breaking Court rules, that she should try harder to avoid getting caught, as her mother would. Annie actually calls him out on it.
- In Schlock Mercenary, Dr. Bunningus barges into Tagon's bathroom to berate him for his manipulation of Nick. Tagon's reply finishes with "if you're going to yell at someone, do it from the diaphragm". After demonstrating, no less.
- Subverted in Shortpacked!. After Mike (who goes out of his way to be a creative asshole) cuts off Amber's hot water mid-shower...
Amber: Really? That's it? Something out of a bad Rob Schneider movie? I think I'm more mad that you didn't even try than I am that you pulled this stunt.
- Original Life: Abigail's Mad Scientist tendencies lean towards this; she's not angry about people using radical and untested methods to better themselves, as long as they follow scientific procedure. Also, her homicidal imaginary friend:
Abigail: BONK! STOP [BLOWING UP MY TOYS]! Your targeting matrix is off.
- 8-Bit Theater: the Warriors of Light, White Mage and Black Belt are trying to set up an ambush on some monsters... but then Fighter warns the monsters about the ambush. And when the group is going to attack, Fighter attacks his partners. Black Mage has a good long rant about what he has done.
- A sentiment expressed by the Gord of Acts of Gord, a video game store owner who frequently catches people trying to steal his merchandise. He will sometimes admonish the thieves not only for stealing, but for stealing really crappy games, many of them worth five dollars or less.
- In a season 2 episode of Marble Hornets, one character's reaction to another's breaking into their current home is this. Instead of being mad about the actual trespassing, they are more annoyed at the character's shoddy attempt to be a master spy.
Alex: You broke into my house! I was taking out the trash! What were you possibly hoping to find in that amount of time?
- The live show of What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? occasionally has "Be a Better Criminal With Tara", where Tara points out the problems with criminals' logic and plans. One wonderful example of this: "If you're gonna sell your balls, sell them for something awesome! That car better be a fucking Transformer!"
- Epic Rap Battles of History:
- The whole point of the Evil Overlord List is pointing out common flaws in the plans of fictional evil overlords.
- In this story from Not Always Learning, a gym teacher has his students practice shooting basketballs, but tells them "no trick shots". One group of students gets bored and starts attempting trick shots, and the teacher tells them to stay after class. They do, and he tells them "Well, if you're gonna break the rules, do it the right way," and shows them how to do some real trick shots.
- Ask That Guy with the Glasses:
The Narrator: I am dying and only have 24 hours left to live. I don't know what to do. Should I go around killing people I have always hated, or should I engage in some other random activity?
Ask That Guy: Well don't go killing people you've always hated. Do something much more random, like... killing people that you've never met.
- Deadcoders Reviews:
- He subtracted a point for Aelita making an extremely rude suicide attempt.
- "Even Minecraft can maintain a consistent moon, XANA!"
- In an Anthology of Interest episode of Futurama, Leela murders Hermes, and is trying to dispose of the corpse using the food disposal. Bender enters, leading to the following line:
Bender: Hermes' dreadlocks? And his arm?! Leela. I'm shocked! Food goes in the disposal, hair and flesh go in the trash!
Leela: I'm sorry, I couldn't stop — w-wait. Don't you care that I murdered Hermes?
Bender: Not even a little!
- King of the Hill:
- Hank Hill catches Bobby smoking and decides to punish the boy by forcing him to chainsmoke until he's green in the face. Hank then feels compelled to correct his son's smoking technique: "If you're going to do something wrong, do it right."
- In another episode, Bobby tries to lie to cover up that Joseph made out in the janitor's closet, but Hank is not impressed:
Bobby: He was just, um, selling drugs.
Hank: [admonishing] That was an awful lie, son. Terrible.
- One of the pilot shorts for The Powerpuff Girls, "Crime 101", had the girls trying to teach the Amoeba Boys how to commit crime. Of course, the girls end up getting arrested for it.
- The Simpsons:
- Bart gives Homer an altered report card containing straight A-pluses. Homer quickly realizes that they were previously D-minuses and chides Bart for getting greedy. "You know, a D turns into a B so easily." Before that on the bus ride home, Lisa lamented that he should have at least forged plausible grades.
- In another episode, Mr. Burns lists one of the black marks on Homer's performance record as "selling plutonium to the Iraqis without any mark-up."
- South Park:
- Kyle is visited by his cousin, also named Kyle, who is a ridiculously neurotic Jewish stereotype. Kyle pays the incredibly anti-Semitic Cartman $40 not to make fun of him. When Cousin Kyle finds out it looks like he'll be hurt, but instead he just wants to know if Kyle tried haggling for a lower price. Kyle is... kind of stunned.
- In the "Chickenlover" episode, Officer Barbrady steps down because he's illiterate, and Cartman comes on as temporary replacement. Throughout the episode, Cartman is beating people up with his nightstick, telling them to "respect mah authoriteh!" At the end, Cartman hits the Chickenlover in the kneecaps until Officer Barbrady stops him and demonstrates proper police procedure: hit 'em in the head, they go down quicker.
- In the "Sexual Healing" episode, several sex addicted celebrities are taken into therapy and taught the key lesson of "not getting caught".
- In "Freemium Isn't Free", Satan dislikes using Freemium games as the sin of temptation since rather than actually tempting mortals with something they would actually want it's simply playing on people with addictive personalities and "Skinner Box manipulation".
- During the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Tales of Ba-Sing-Se", a mugger makes the mistake of trying to rob Iroh. He easily shoves him over, takes his knife... then demonstrates a better stance for him to use. (However, he uses this to have a long talk with the man and persuade him to give honest work another shot.)
- In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, Master Tenzin chastises young airbending prodigy Kai for whaling on a sky bison calf poacher he has already rendered defenseless, as such vengefulness is against Air Nomad morality... and then praises him for his good technique while doing so.
- "If you want wrong doing done right, you have to wrong do it yourself." is the frequent lament of Dr. Badvibes on COPS
- Subverted in the first scene of Beware the Batman: the first gun a criminal uses against Batman runs dry and when the criminal reaches for a knife Batman tells him he'll be better off with his backup gun. When that doesn't work, Batman informs him that he was lying.
- In Moral Orel, many of Clay's Family Unfriendly Aesops amount to this when correcting Orel.
- In Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, after Eddy crashes Rolf's tractor:
Eddy: Cool crash, huh Ed?
Ed: I've seen better, Eddy.
Ed: Look. The tractor is still intact, you could have done a lot more with the tree, and you hardly wrecked Kevin's fence. And the steering wheel should be rammed over your head like so. [he demonstrates]
Eddy: Oh, excuse me! I'm such a hack.
- In the American Dad! episode "Crotchwalkers" when Steve is found shoplifting Francine lambastes him not because he was shoplifting but because he got caught, since she's been shoplifting for years without ever getting caught.
- In most Transformers series this is the Decepticon (and later Predacon) attitude towards treachery in the ranks. The general idea is that if the former leader was too incompetent to keep his people in line than he deserved to be overthrown. Therefore if you try to take over but are bad at it, than you're in for a serious ass-kicking. In Beast Wars Megatron explicitly says this to Tarantulas, commenting that he could forgive being betrayed and overthrown if Tarantulas wasn't a complete idiot about it.
- Archer: One episode has Archer criticize Cyril for cheating on Lana. When Cyril points out that Archer cheated on Lana just as much when they had a relationship, Archer then criticizes him for cheating on Lana with Cheryl, as opposed to an actress, model, duchess, etc.
- Mark Twain, on when his wife repeated his cursing: "You got the words right, Livy, but you don't know the tune."
- According to a rather shocked French ambassador, the most widespread reaction among the more politically powerful of England's aristocracy in the wake of Earl Essex's failed rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I was not so much outrage as contempt for how poorly it was planned; many of those people said (in private conversation, of course) that had they been doing it, they would've done it much better and would've won.
- After the failed terror attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007, many in the national press and entertainment industry lamented how poorly planned and executed it was.
Rab C. Nesbitt: It was just another ramraid, after all.
- There were two failed car bomb attacks the previous day in London, organised by the same group of incompetents. One was parked illegally and was promptly ticketed and towed away before being routinely inspected (whereupon the bomb was discovered). The other was abandoned suspiciously in front of witnesses. When smoke began to come out, the police were called and the bomb was discovered. The whole thing was planned so badly, no-one could really believe that there had been any danger. Plus successful unrelated terrorist attacks less than a month ago had the country on high alert making even the timing a terrible decision. More info on the other wiki. Hilariously summarized by Adam Hills.
- The same reaction came about to the Times Square bomber. The terrorist in question not only rigged up a car bomb with material that wouldn't explode, but he locked his keys in the car bomb. Christopher Titus would later state "I've been doing comedy for 25 years and I have NEVER been that funny!"
- Disturbingly, the Islamic State released guidelines on how to "properly" rape any slaves captured through combat. The only thing they exclude entirely is Cold-Blooded Torture.
- This is a general sentiment behind any "dumb crooks" spotlight: "If you're gonna commit a crime, at least do it right."
- Robert Erskine Childers, Irish Nationalist, told his firing squad to take a few steps forward so that they didn't miss. Likewise, Cicero told his executioners "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but at least try to do it properly". Possibly more badass than Cicero because he said that line while holding his neck out for a gladiator to cut off, but if the result of a botched job is having said executioner hack at your neck over and over — with you feeling every stroke — this may have just been a wise precaution.
- Harry Houdini once wrote a book entitled "The Right Way to Do Wrong".
- When the documentary "Major Fraud", about how Major Charles Ingram and his wife cheated their way to a million on the British edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, was uploaded to YouTube, several of the comments were about how obvious their cheating was, and gave examples of less-detectable ways to do it. Made worse by the fact that Ingram had originally planned to stop at £500,000 but then kept going, making it more obvious.
- Part of Spartan boys' Training from Hell was to send them out with no food or supplies except what they could steal. If they were caught they were punished; not for stealing, but for being poor thieves. The point being, of course, to make them develop cunning and smarts along with good physique.
- Needle exchange programs make it easier for people who use heroin* or other injected drugs to minimize their risk of catching or transmitting HIV or other bloodborne viruses.
- A British fascist attempted to burn an EU flag in his back garden, but failed spectacularly. Commentators on Reddit and Facebook (including other fascists, no less) pointed out that not only had he failed to use any kerosene to speed up the process, but he'd utterly failed to read the label which said "fire retardant", leading to him constantly staring at the flag in disbelief and wondering why his tiny cigarette lighter (also a point he was criticized for) was only singeing the flag's corner. The fact that he went on to upload the video after all of this was just the icing on the cake.