"Yknow how when you’re dating someone and you don’t want to cheat on them, unless it’s 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 asking and returns, instead of scolding her, he asks her, "How did it run?"
May sometimes overlap with Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught
. 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.
Not related to Set Right What Once Went Wrong
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Anime and Manga
- Deadcoders Reviews:
- He subtracted a point for Aelita making an extremely rude suicide attempt.
- "Even Minecraft can maintain a consistent moon, XANA!"
- Buffy's shocked, in Tabula Avatar, when Dawn swears in Ilythiiri. Tara makes her say it again, this time with proper grammar.
Films — Animated
- 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."
- In The Incredibles, Dash gets sent to the principal's office for using his Super Speed to put a tack on the teacher's chair during class. His father is genuinely impressed, especially about how Dash went too fast to be picked up on video. At least as far as the others in the room were concerned, it was also an example of Comically Missing the Point — primarily because it's clear that Bob's just living vicariously through his son's use of his powers in this case, at least in part.
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.
[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] Brian:
Come on! Brian:
[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 on the orders of the former's Treacherous Advisor who plans to torture and kill him. 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
"What was wrong with a simple cosh? Or even a hammer? I could have provided one if asked."
- 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:
"When you break rules, break 'em good and hard."
- 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 doesn’t deserve to die.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the villainous Roose Bolten 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.
- 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.
- Very much Played for Drama in Överenskommelser 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.
Live Action TV
- 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."
- On Babylon 5, 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."
- 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.
Garibaldi: I always leave a little window for someone to disappoint me. Thankyou for not doing it.
- One episode of Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) 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 peices of leftover meat. Joey gives her the following advice:
Joey: Y’know how when you’re dating someone and you don’t want to cheat on them, unless it’s with someone really hot? Well this is the same kind of deal. (drops two steaks in front of her) If you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!
- 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 Mash, 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.
- In the episode of Being Human 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:
- Breaking Bad: 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 in fear, runs off. This leads to the iconic "Stay out of my Territory" scene.
- In 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.
- 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!
- In 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- In an epic and Older Than Steam example Cyrano de Bergerac is insulted by a foppish nobleman who tells him "Your nose is rather large." Cyrano then proceeds to give numerous examples of how he could have insulted him in far wittier fashion.
- 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: Xtreme Legends, Sima Yi is forced out of retirement to stop a revolt by Zhong Hui. Instead of criticizing him for rebelling, he criticizes his rebellion.
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-
- 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):
, Audriel. If you insist
on distrusting me, at least
take a good go at it, not this half-assed snappishness for the sake of appearances
- 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.
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
- Cyanide and 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 diaphram".
- This trope is the punchline to approximately 40% of all Something Positive strips.
- Lampshaded 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.
- 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!
- 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!"
- 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!
- In 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."
- 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.
- In 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 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".
- 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.
- "If you want wrong doing done right, you have to wrong do it yourself." was the frequent lament of Dr. Badvibes on C.O.P.S.
- 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.
- 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.
"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 summarised by Adam Hills.
- The same reaction came about to the Times Square bomber, with Christopher Titus stating "I've been doing [comedy] for 25 years and I have NEVER been that funny!"
- 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 Childers 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.
- 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.