"'Broadcast Standards' - at all three networks at various times - frowned on characters not operating in lockstep with everyone thinking and doing as their peers did. The group is always right. The one kid who doesn't want to do what everyone else does is always wrong!"
An old Oscar Meyer commercial starts with a group of children singing the old "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener" song. Then it shows a boy singing his own version, informing the world at large just how glad he is that he is not an Oscar Meyer wiener, and therefore will not be eaten. He trails off as all the other children turn to glare at him, and then he joins them singing it right ways. Not creepy at all.
Jim Henson created some puppet characters to advertise Wilkins Coffee. One was called Wilkins and one was called Wontkins. Wilkins would go on about how wonderful coffee was and would offer some to Wontkins, who would refuse. Wilkins would then shoot Wontkins with a cannon or drop something heavy on him. In one ad, Wilkins erased Wontkins from existence before cryptically saying to the camera, "If you don't like Wilkins, you don't go anywhere!" Less The Complainer Is Always Wrong, more The Complainer Must DIE!
And as pointed out by a Cracked article, the muppet used as the Wilkins spokesman later evolved into Kermit The Frog.
Environmentalism group 1010 Global produced an ad called No Pressure in which a variety of people (teachers, bosses, etc.), asked their respective groups to come up with ideas for a new green initiative or contribute to it. "No pressure," they assure everyone. There's usually one or two dissenters... who are then blown up. Not in a cartoonish way, either, but in a shower of blood and guts. Children included. Needless to say, it was seen as being in poor taste, and taken down. But the internet is forever...
Anime and Manga
Subverted in Naru Taru. The Complainer is a girl named Miyoko Shitou who is a part of a group of girls, led by Aki Honda, that bully the local Lonely Rich Kid, therefore she's a complainer who's actually right. And she's the only one of the group who survives said Lonely Rich Kid's reprisal when she gets her Shadow Dragon.
This trope seemed to become a running gag in Sonic X, a recurring situation would come in which Knuckles would object to a team mission plan, usually leading the gang to use peer pressure and goad his ego and bravery until he gave in (just for Comedic Sociopathy humor, even normally sweet characters like Cream or unrelated background ones would join in bullying the poor guy). This was only worsened by the fact that a lot of times he turned out to be right to doubt their plans (like the idea of gambling a chaos emerald in a baseball game that Eggman surely wouldn't cheat in) yet oddly Knuckles rarely ever called them out on it nor did they really give much of an argument against it outside that he was a gutless hack for not agreeing to go along with their plan. Also led to Moral Dissonance since the gang also spent a lot of time explaining to Knuckles how he shouldn't constantly fall for Eggman manipulating or tricking him into working for him.
Snagglebit from The Littl Bits comes off as this sometimes, but the show tries not to make him look like a whiny prick or go out of its way to humiliate him into learning his lesson.
In Kekkaishi, poor Yoshimori is the target of this even when whatever happened wasn't his fault.
Between himself and his best friend Suzaku and dear sister Nunnally, it sure feels like this for Lelouch of Code Geass.
Taken to even greater heights in Turn 19 of R2 during Schneizel's meeting with the Black Knights; first with Tamaki and Diethard, who contend that anyone could have faked the recording, and after everyone has made up their minds, Kallen, who in an attempt to protect Zero from his would-be traitors, calls her fellow comrades out on being too one-sided, only to be warned to get out of the way or be shot down on suspicion of being geassed. Lelouch ends up lying to her in order for her life to be spared. The following episode, Diethard's earlier attempt to rein in an AWOL Ohgi by holding Villetta, the one responsible, captive, ended up with him getting a few bruises, and complaining to himself that Ohgi, who remains on the Black Knights and is now joined by Villetta, is miscast as a leader.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga Kaiba tried to murder Yugi and his friends in several ways, two of them involving a torturer and a serial killer. Even after this Kaiba still belittles and insults Yugi's friends whenever they meet. Jonouchi is apparently the only one to show suspicion or unwillingness to help Kaiba and he is always wrong for doing so.
The storyline seemed to be originally intended to be a bit ambiguous about who's right. Then there was Executive Meddling and a Writer Revolt, as everyone making the comics picked their preferred side and tried to make them the "obviously good" side. Now we've got an accidentally ambiguous storyline that nobody intended to be ambiguous. Mark Millar, who wrote the main series, seems to hold Americans in contempt and believe that having fascists win is what the audience wanted to see.
And they've now just thrown up their hands, said screw it and reached for the Reset Button. Iron Man committed what amounts to suicide by putting himself into a PVS and having his memory restored from a back-up made some (so far) indeterminate length of time pre-civil war, Captain America is back and doesn't want to talk about it and, apparently, the US President has power to repeal the Superhuman Registration Act, an act of congress, overnight on a whim.
Could apply to Batman in the buildup to Infinite Crisis. He didn't trust Supergirl when she first arrived, he refused to believe Hal Jordan was a good person again, and then he built Brother Eye when he stopped trusting everyone - which came back to bite him in the ass hard. And it's not the only time this happened to Batman (Granted, he has good reason to be distrustful but it gets taken up to eleven, and he has to 'learn' his lesson)
It was implied that Batman built Brother Eye and the OMAC Project as a direct result of him remembering the Mind Wipe Zatanna and other Justice League members performed on him when he caught them doing the same to Doctor Light during the Identity Crisis.
It started with Batman getting kicked out of the League temporarily for having secretly devised contingencies to defeat each current member. It was meant to deconstruct his Crazy-Prepared reputation but being paranoid became his new default.
Parodied/inverted in comic strips when it comes to family vacations, since the complainers are often in the majority but are forced to go along with the one person who isn't complaining. Basically, the father alone chooses where the family goes on their trip, everyone else is forced to endure a horrible vacation, and then they let the father have it at the end. FoxTrot and Calvin and Hobbes were the leaders in this.
Though Fox Trot plays around with it. Sometimes mother Andy is the only complainer, usually because the trip is expensive and doesn't appeal to her. Other times all three kids are complainers because they've been taken somewhere they consider boring (read: educational). But most of the time, Andy and the kids are the complainers, because Roger dragged them out to the middle of nowhere, where they're eaten alive by mosquitoes and lose their food to a bear, and he absolutely refuses to pack it in early.
As for Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's suggestion that they go to a hotel, take a picture of themselves with a fish from a store, and lie to everyone is met with approval from his mom.
Averted with Danny Donkey in Pearls Before Swine. It's like Rat - and by extension, Stephan Pastis - created him to be the antithesis of this trope by making the complainer be the "hero" of Rat's children's stories.
In The Prayer Warriors, "Battle With the Witches," when the group is out of leads on how to get keys to Dumbledore's office in Hogwarts, they come up with the idea of having Ebonynote Not the My Immortal Ebony, but you can be forgiven for mistaking the two sleep with Harry Potter. Draco, who in this fic is a secret Christian and one of the Prayer Warriors, complains about this being sinful, but not only is he overruled by Michael and Ebony, but it's indicated he's angry because he's in a "satanic" mood.
Ace Ray of My Little Unicorn falls into this, as well as Strawman Has a Point. He gets kicked off the Wonderbolts for complaining about Starfleet, and is portrayed as a loser who lounges around the house all day- even his own sister disagrees with him and has little sympathy. He ultimately ends up getting arrested after threatening to kill his sister in a fit of rage, and is Brainwashed to like Starfleet. However, he comes off as more accurate than the authors intended regarding Starfleet's flaws and failures.
Two-man version in Quest for Camelot; Devon and Cornwall are a pair of conjoined dragons who can't agree on anything. Well, okay, they can agree on one thing: They're pretty shrimpy compared to other dragons, and they've had a pretty hard time of it because they can't fly or breathe fire like other dragons. Near the end it turns out that this is because they can't agree on anything; once they find themselves united in purpose, flying and flaming comes naturally (this is actually the most internally consistent thing in the movie, which isn't saying much).
Films — Live-Action
Christmas with The Kranks involves the Kranks being pressured into expensively celebrating Christmas by the entire neighborhood. Every house on their block is apparently supposed to have Frosty on the roof and soon protesters are demanding that they "Free Frosty!" At the end, their daughter decides to come home for Christmas so they and the neighbors can deck the house out in record time for a big, fluffy ending celebrating the joys of absolute conformity.
It doesn't help that the reason they didn't decorate was because, this being the first time their daughter hadn't been home for Christmas, they planned to go out of town, and everyone still had their panties in a twist about.
Worse yet the street/city reacts to the daughter returning like she was a saint so them going on a vacation is their way of coping with her not being around, a reaction many classify as "empty nest syndrome."
Satirized in the movie Erik the Viking (1989) by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. Hy-Brasil isn't sinking! And anyone claiming otherwise is obviously wrong-headed and insane!
The movie Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins has RJ complaining that his family just gives him the finger when all he wants is their "thumb ups". Turns out, he "forgot where he came from" despite being incredibly successful with his life.
Bob Roberts: ...But they complain and complain and complain!
Chirin No Suzu: Deconstructed quite a bit. Even though Chirin does not complain much around the sheep, he leaves the group after the death of his mother, one of the reasons being that he does not want to be like the other sheep. Instead, he turns into a demonic ram in an attempt to become a wolf. He then tries to kill all the sheep after becoming a demonic ram. He didn't do it, causing him to be thrown out permanently and left to go die somewhere. Even though this story is meant to be a cautionary tale warning people to not be the complainer, Values Dissonance sets in because Japan believes that the group trumps the individual, while the West believes that the individual trumps the group.
Independence Day The Secretary of State. From wanting to nuke the aliens (which was at least worth trying) to wanting to nuke them again to at least see if multiple bombardments might have a chance, to complaining about the final attack plan, he is wrong about everything either because the movie says he's wrong or because he is carrying the Idiot Ball.
A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. "Cold floors," he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, "Bad food." They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. "I quit," he says. "That’s not surprising," the elders say. "You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here."
Marco in Animorphs can either be this trope played straight or subverted. His cynical side is often useful for finding traps and not having the group rush in recklessly. One the other hand, despite being the best tactician of the team, he often ends up wrong simply because luck and the demands of the plot conspire to make him look stupid. So most of the time, he's just a wiseass, but a smart one.
Roger Manning in Tom Corbett: Space Cadet is the complainer of his Power Trio, and almost always wrong, especially in the earlier books.
The titular Milieu in the Galactic Milieu trilogy believes this, whether the author agrees with them is unknown.
An illustration for one of the Captain Underpants books is a big poster with such inspirational phrases as "Be like everyone else!" and "Individuality causes pain!".
In the Chronicles of Narnia, complaining in the form of failing to maintain a Stiff Upper Lip is always discouraged (which is fair enough, since the situation is often dire). There's also Trumpkin with regards to the existence of Aslan, and each of the children minus Lucy with regards to his visibility when he actually shows up, and many more. There are also instances of the complainer being right, though.
The quarrel over Aslan's visibility is a subversion - Lucy, the complainer, is right, and the rest of the group - minus Edmund, who decides not to be a prat this time - is wrong.
It should be noted that even in cases where the character is dead wrong on one thing, Lewis tends to give the character many redeeming qualities in other areas. Trumpkin may not have believed in Aslan or the legendary rulers of Narnia, but he was also brave, loyal, smart, and kind.
Inverted completely in The Silver Chair where Puddleglum - a complainer from a race of complainers - turns out to be right at a critical moment.
The most annoying thing about The Sisters Grimm books is that the main character embodies this trope by the ton. Sabrina says "I don't think we should believe this daft-acting old woman who claims to be our grandma and believes fairy tales are real." Yeah well, She's wrong and her little sister is right. Sabrina says "You know, maybe we shouldn't hang out with a guy who's losing control over the Big Bad Wolf that possesses him." That may sound sensible, and she does end up getting possessed by the Big Bad Wolf herself but so far as her grandmother and sister are concerned, she's being the bitch to end all bitches. Even something that ought to be sensible, like "I don't think my little sister should be trusted with really powerful magic just yet," results in Sabrina being treated like she's an idiot who can't see that her little sister is all grown-up. At the age of seven. Sometimes Sabrina is genuinely wrong, because she has lots of trust issues and makes bad calls. However, sometimes Sabrina seems to be wrong just because sensible behaviour has been flipped on its back as part of a conspiracy to ensure that she always is.
The character Thersites in book two of Homer's The Iliad. He suggests, quite reasonably, that Achilleus' refusal to fight is an example of his cowardice, and that Agamemnon is only continuing the war into its tenth year out of arrogance. His appearance is described as hideous, in contrast to the fawning praise Homer dispenses when describing the muscle-bound, shining specimens of superb Greek manhood. For his suggestion that perhaps, after ten years fighting away from home with effectively no progress, some of the Achaians might want to go home, he is savagely beaten by Odysseus with Agamemnon's scepter and never spoken of again.
In other myths related to the Trojan War, Thersites is referenced several times as a character who does not respect authority, with this scene used as one example of many. He finally goes too far when he mocks Achilles for crying over the body of the Amazon queen Penthesilia (who Achilles had just killed); Achilles kills him on the spot. In some versions, the tipping point comes when he acts disgusted when Achilles shows his "love" for the beautiful queen a little too much.
1984 is an extreme example of a system that believes in this trope. Anyone who even thinks against the government is treated as a criminal in the eyes of the state and is dealt with accordingly.
Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Jack Emery, Ted Robinson, Joe Espinosa, Harry Wong, Bert Navarro, and Charles Martin pretty much have this trope happen to them, on the grounds that they are men, and disagreeing with the female Vigilantes will automatically make them wrong. Yoko Akia had this trope happen to her in Weekend Warriors. Isabelle Flanders had this trope put on her in Under The Radar, where she stated the opposite opinions and made herself look like an idiot for disagreeing with her fellow Vigilantes.
Referenced in The Gone-Away World, in which the main character envies movie heroes because everyone accepts their climactic summation of the plot immediately except for a single complainer who either dies or apologizes afterwards.
Allegra's Window: The class was asked what their favorite vegetable was, and they all answered "blue zutabaga," note a fictional vegetable that often featured in the show except Allegra, who had never had one before, and said that her favorite vegetable was the carrot. Over the course of the episode, Allegra was urged by everyone she knew to try blue zutabagas, until the end, when she finally tasted one, and decided it was, in fact, her favorite vegetable. The intended Aesop of that episode was likely "don't be afraid to try new foods," and the classroom scene was probably to emphasize how good everyone thought this vegetable was, so why still insist you won't like it? Good point, bad approach.
Surprising aversion in Power Rangers RPM. The way things usually work is for the Rangers to defend Corinth from one monster attack at a time, but newcomers Gem and Gemma are unimpressed, saying that they'd rather take the fight to the bad guys. They strike out on their own, and Scott, who couldn't get Colonel Truman to listen to his theory about the villains' real plan, goes with them. Naturally, the reckless rebels learn their lesson about going off on their own, right? Wrong. The villains had found a way to suck the air out of the city through its force field, and with the shields powered as high as they were, they couldn't be powered down in time to save everyone. The outpost Gem and Gemma wanted to attack? Guess what it was being used for? Yeah. If not for the trio doing everything you're not supposed to do on Saturday morning TV, everyone in Corinth, the last human settlement on Earth, would be very dead by now.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, where none of the heroes ever have any legitimate disagreements with each other. Any time they do, even if there's a reason for it, it's actually because of an evil spell by Rita Repulsa, and once it's broken, the conflict is immediately resolved and everyone's best friends again.
iCarly: iMeet Fred. Freddie is bashed with a tennis racquet because he said Fred wasn't that funny. And then tossed out of a treehouse. Among other things.
Who Wants to Be a Superhero? kinda flip-flopped on this sort of thing. Both US seasons had a point where the entire team was given new costumes designed by Stan Lee himself — except that one contestant got a really dorky-looking suit. In the first season, said contestant was eliminated because he wouldn't admit to Stan that he didn't like the costume; in the second, the contestant was eliminated because he did tell Stan that he didn't like it.
You should tell the truth. And the truth should be that you like Stan's costumes.
Happens to Claire on Modern Family to distressing amount. For example even when armed with videotaped evidence to support that Phil put her in physical danger while he flirted with another woman, the Moral of the Story is Claire went too far to prove she was correct while Phil pulls a Karma Houdini.
And even on one of the few occasions when his mom and wife made peace—so that they could send out a Christmas letter for the sole purpose of spiting a distant relative—Ray still ends up getting rebuked: he points out "This is Christmas!" and asserts that they really shouldn't be doing something nasty like this, especially at this time of year. His mom and wife jointly give him a death glare and scare him out of his kitchen.
Nearly every episode of House has the team break into the patient's home; anyone who objects to these illegal searches comes across as paranoid or ungrateful.
One episode had them break into a wrong house, as the patient turned out to be a Gypsy and didn't have a permanent address, so he simply gave them a fake address. They break in and catch a couple having sex. They immediately assume that the guy is the owner of the house, and the woman is the maid, since she doesn't have a ring (and the guy does). Thus, they smugly threaten to expose the affair and casually mention that she's a terrible maid given the state of the kitchen. The woman then reveals it's her house, and the guy is her lover (although there is still an affair, given that he's married), and demands that they elaborate on the state of the kitchen. The doctors quickly run away before she can call the cops. Naturally, this is Played for Laughs.
Finnish band Eppu Normaali has a song called "Rääväsuita ei haluta Suomeen" ("We don't want hooligans in Finland"). The song is mostly about the conflict between right-left-left-right-whatnot factions in politics during 70's, but the main message of the song can be sang through times.
"Mikko on siisti ja turvallinen, Mikko on yhteiskuntakelpoinen...Mitä enemmän, nostatte kohua, sitä enemmän lapsenne rakastaa mua." ("Mikko is clean and safe, Mikko is fit for society...the more you create rockus the more your children love me.")
Henrik Ibsen was generally not fond of this trope (perhaps because, as a critic of Victorian society, he ended up being shouted down a lot) and used pretty much every one of his plays as a celebration of individualism and subverting The Complainer Is Always Wrong. Especially An Enemy of the People is particularly harsh in criticizing such form of thinking, despite the complainer ending up something of a Doomed Moral Victor.
Dr. Stockman: (...)The strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone.
Played for laughs in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: L'Arachel and Dozla are both constantly happy and hyperactive, while Rennac is cynical and wants nothing to do with their adventures. Naturally, he always gets dragged along for the ride. His ending hints that he eventually got used to them, though; his many escape attempts failed, but admittedly he didn't try very hard to get away in the first place.
Well, there's nothing saying she can't stop fighting. It's that she's endlessly complaining about escaping, even after knowing that allowing even a single person to leave will result in humanity being screwed, yet never stops to think that she can just leave the party and wait with the rest of the survivors. On top of that, she doesn't think about the consequences of breaking out of a lockdown of the capital of Japan.
Subverted in the Zerg campaign of StarCraft with Zasz, an obnoxious lieutenant in the ranks of the alien race. He spends the first half of the campaign being obviously jealous because The Overmind has chosen Kerrigan has his ultimate creation. Then Zasz gets killed for good because nobody else listened when he said the Protoss were setting up an obvious trap and Kerrigan was falling right into it.
Ultimately double subverted in Hanako's route of Katawa Shoujo, Hisao spends most of the route complaining, in his narration and occasionally to others, that no one, not even the teachers, cares whether Hanako attends class. In the good ending, he realizes that he is being overprotective and understands why Mutou allows Hanako to leave if she needs to do so.
In Sluggy Freelance (Chapter 60: Paradise), 4U City is built entirely around this notion, though the story itself hardly has this moral. Not only must everyone obey and agree, they are mandated to be happy all the time. If you wake up unhappy, you're given a drug injection, and this is repeated until you wake up happy. Most people are "happy" simply because they're drugged out of their minds. Any actual dissenters are tossed down the "Judgment Chutes" and never seen again. In the end there is no moral at all. It's revealed that the whole city is periodically "reset", and even the dead are brought back. It's just that the one ruler has higher priorities and can't be bothered with citizens.
In Charlie The Unicorn — except for right until the end, when his two friends steal his kidney. Since the other two are really annoying from the start, even abusive, there is a sense of parody.
KaBlam!: Billy from "The Off-Beats", The running gag in the series usually involved Billy saying something that would get Tina mad, and then the Populars would literally throw him out of the group, causing Billy to crash into something.
Inverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Complainer of the group, Sokka, is also The Smart Guy. Of course, Sokka is also The Butt Monkey, so it is played straight on occasion. Basically, if the thing being discussed is a trivial matter, Sokka will almost always be wrong, often for comedic effect. If it's something plot-relevant, he's almost always right.
Fortunately, this trope was also subverted by the show: In some episodes, primarily in season two, there are cases where Eric is right and everyone else is wrong. One of the writers has since said that Eric was originally supposed to be right a lot more often, but the Moral Guardians basically forced this trope. The script for the unproduced final episode subverts this trope in that the group splits in two, and looks like Eric's group may be getting set up for this, but it turns out that both groups are wrong. Fortunately, they figure out what they really need to do just in time.
They even had a group verse to express the sentiment:
"Oh, we are the Buddy Bears, we always get along Each day, we do a little dance and sing a little song If you ever disagree, it means that you are wrong Oh, we are the Buddy Bears, we always get along!"
Their other verse, with double your creepy, goes:
Oh, we are the Buddy Bears, we never have a fight Anyone who disagrees is never, ever right If you have a point of view, then keep it out of sight Oh, we are the Buddy Bears, we never have a fight!
Questioned by Garfield...
Garfield: But what about having an individual point of view? B1: I have an individual point of view. B2: And I agree with him. B3: And I agree with both of them. All: We all have an individual point of view!
In another episode, Garfield hires the Buddy Bears to clean his house, then manages to get out of paying them by saying he already did. When the Buddy Bears claim to have never gotten paid, Garfield accuses them of disagreeing with him, and as a result, they are wrong. They despondently leave, empty-handed.
Similarly, an episode of U.S. Acres featured Roy Rooster, the cast's prankster and resident smart-aleck, getting fed up with the farm and joining the Buddy Bears as "Big Bad Buddy Bird" in order to exemplify this trope: their 'episodes' involved little skits showing kids what happens when you don't agree, even over trivial things: a 16-ton safe gets dropped on your head. Roy gets safes dropped on his head throughout the episode, once for wanting chocolate ice cream when the rest of the bears wanted vanilla, and they were all buying individual cones. He eventually gets them to promise not to drop a safe on him, so he gets on with his act... and they drop two safes on him. Roy gets fed up and yells at the audience, "Don't do everything your friends do, just because they do it! Have a brain of your own!"
There has been a sequel to this episode called "Roy Gets Sacked", which followed Roy as he thinks his friends don't want him anymore and finds himself back as a co-star to the Buddy Bears (who are this time accompanied by an Affirmative Action Girl) in essentially the same role as before, but this time he is relieved to hear that they don't have any 16-ton safes to drop on him anymore. Unfortunately for Roy, they drop other things on him instead, such as a piano, a 1988 Convertible, and a 27-ton safe. Roy just makes a break for it after that last one, rather than tell the audience to make their own decisions like last time.
Muppet Babies: Fozzie Bear, The jokes he tells are booed at regardless.
Though it was subverted when Fozzie finally got fed up with the boos and decided to give up jokes. This eventually made everyone sad as they realize that seeing Fozzie miserable is worse than enduring his jokes and at least knowing he's happy. Piggy ultimately puts it best: "We love to hate your jokes!"
In The Land Before Time television series episode "The Bright Circle Celebration", Petrie seems to worship the sun in an almost fanatic way, and the others just kinda go along with it. Except Cera, who says that it's just a sun, it's not alive. Then a meteor shower starts a fire and threatens to burn down the entire valley, and Cera learns that you should accept your friends opinions. It would have been nice to see Petrie get knocked off his high perch too, but no.
The 2000s version of Strawberry Shortcake seems to have this aesop quite a bit, specifically in The Costume Party and Mind Your Manners, where both complainers are tricked into complying with Strawberry and her friends' views via parties. A lot of episode conflicts are solved by tricking or distracting the troublemaker into forgetting they had any reason to disagree or be upset, especially when it involves differences of opinion and personal choices.
There are some moments in W.I.T.C.H. where they take The Power of Friendship a bit too far, where the moral feels like "if someone is your friend, the two of you must agree on everything and do everything together." Their Limited Social Circle makes it even worse. And you can bet that half of the time, the victim of this is going to be Cornelia.
Wheeler of Captain Planet and the Planeteers. This reaches ridiculous levels in a Season 4 episode where he's portrayed as a heartless jerk because he's the only one who doesn't want to take every injured or endangered animal they find on their missions back to Hope Island, which even Gaia told them they shouldn't do. Even on a show founded on the Green Aesop premise, removing exotic species from their natural habitat is okay if everyone agrees with it!
In the Season 4 episode, "Hollywaste", the Planeteers are playing stunt doubles in a movie based on one of their adventures. The eco-friendly actress who plays the movie version of Linka, Bambi Blight, is the younger sister of recurring villain Dr. Blight. Trouble happens as usual — and clues point to Bambi. Most of the Planeteers are quick to blame Bambi but Wheeler alone trusts her. In the end, Dr. Blight reveals herself as the guilty party. After a battle and the arrest of Dr. Blight, Captain Planet says, "Bambi is proof that one bad Blight doesn't spoil the whole crop." Note that Wheeler was right, but not because he disapproved of guilt by association - he thought she was innocent because she was an attractive Hollywood actress.
This trope becomes a bit hilarious when comparing the two episodes dealing with overpopulation, where in each one Wheeler is on an entirely opposite side of the debate, yet both times the "lesson" he "learns" is the same. The first season episode "Population Bomb" had him learn having too many kids is irresponsible via an obvious Lilliputian dream sequence. Four years later in "Numbers Game," Wheeler wonders why people had kids if they couldn't afford to raise them. Cue Gi jumping down his throat and putting words in his mouth simply for asking a damn question. This time, he has a dream that again, warns him of the danger of overpopulation. It's treated as if he's learned a lesson by the time he wakes up, despite him being right from the beginning.
And it's especially grating when you remember Wheeler's background. He's from a bad neighborhood in New York, and his own family's home is basically a hole in the wall apartment. He should be fully aware more than anyone else what happens to families who have more kids than they can afford.
Care Bears: most of the characters are characterized by unique personality quirks, but Grumpy Bear is unique in being the only bear to make a hobby out of finding the cloud wrapped around every silver lining (understandably, since the universe's opinion of him tends towards the Butt Monkey-esque.) Nonetheless, he remains quite possibly the most awesome character on the show, having cobbled together a fully-functional teleporter, survived an attack from a renegade bowl of fruit and playing baseball with lightning. Even the latest TV series, which gives all the bears a special power unique to their symbol, happily grants Grumpy arguably the most broken power on the show... The complainer may usually be wrong, but even hunting for clouds among the silver linings sometimes has a silver lining.
The trope is outright subverted in at least one Care Bears story involving Grumpy Bear; the other Care Bears spend the entire story trying to cheer Grumpy Bear up and only succeed in irritating him. Eventually they reach the revelation that Grumpy Bear is happy being grumpy and that they should just let him go on being so. Although one might interpret this as the Family-Unfriendly Aesop "If someone you care about is unhappy, don't bother trying to cheer them up because it won't work."
There was a similar episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, in which the animals attempted to cheer up Eeyore because he spent all his days staring gloomily at clouds. In a nice twist, after each of their heavy-handed attempts failed, Piglet simply sits and talks to Eeyore, who reveals that he's not depressed - he is, in fact, playing an imaginary game with the clouds. A nice avoidance of this trope, in that the gang is encouraged to find out more about Eeyore's unusual behaviour and even appreciate it on its own terms.
Winnie-the-Pooh tended to subvert this frequently with Eeyore, with the others and even himself suggesting making him over to be happier and fit in more, in the end however they usually decide both Eeyore and the others are happy with his usual "depressed" self. This is occasionally played more straight with Rabbit however, whose objections to the antics of the others (usually Tigger) are usually shot down, though granted his Control Freak tendencies and extremely prudish demeanor justifies it a little.
Writers of G.I. Joe admit that this was one of the bits of Executive Meddling they had to deal with, requiring them to depict the "good" teamwork of the G.I. Joes, and the "bad" arguing of the Cobra organization. However, they also admit this worked out in the end, since the constant squabbles and power-plays between Commander, Destro, Zartan, Baroness, and the Crimson Twins made for better plots, and made them much more interesting characters than many of the comparatively blander Joes.
Eventually satirized in "The Wrong Stuff", where the viewer gets a brief glimpse of a Cobra-produced kid's cartoon show. It features non-conformists being magically transformed into "right-thinking" clones.
On the Joes side, the token complainer is usually Shipwreck, though constant bellyaching is usually echoed by his allies. ("Oh, man, not push-ups, I hate push-ups..." "Everybody hates push-ups, Shipwreck, but we gotta do 'em. So pick up the pace!"). Still, while an effective member of the team, he tends to get in trouble when he goes off on his own.
But the trouble he gets into tends to foil Cobra plots.
In The Simpsons Homer shoots this quote to his nagging wife Marge, who is always way more sensible than him but wrong this one time, it's a Halloween episode so it's Loose Canon in a series with varying continuity over the years anyway.
Another gag in The Simpsons involves Homer and Marge going to see the school counselor to find out why Bart's having such a hard time in school; he suggests that Bart try to remove his personality and be more of a "faceless slug". It is of course played as a joke rather than straight.
On the episode when Lisa becomes a vegetarian, we see Ms. Hoover and Lunchlady Doris push a silent "independent thought alarm" when she questions school policy, which sends an alert to Principal Skinner.
Principal Skinner: Uh-oh. Two independent thought alarms in one day. The students are overstimulated. Willie! Remove all the colored chalk from the classrooms.
Groundskeeper Willie: I warned you! Didn't I warn you?! That colored chalk was forged by Lucifer himself!
Rankin-Bass's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas takes the Santa Claus myth in a creepy direction. A know-it-all preteen mouse writes a letter in the paper saying that Santa is a myth and signs it 'All of Us', meaning him and his friends. Santa decides not to deliver presents to the whole town, even though the very concept of a naughty/nice list means he could easily tell who the offender was. Everyone decides they have to build him a giant, expensive clock as a peace offering so he'll come visit. The mouse who started the whole mess is then taken on a tour of the town by his father to show how he "ruined everyone's Christmas with [his] opinions" and "doesn't know as much as [he] thinks [he does]."
The Busy World Of Richard Scarry has the brothers Pig Will and Pig Won't, who somehow manage to embody this Aesop using only two people. As their names suggest, one agrees to every request or offer, and the other refuses every offer. In the original book Pig Won't would always say "I won't", without even thinking about it. So one day when their father asks who wants to go with him to visit the fire station, Pig Won't declares "I won't". At the fire station, Pig Will gets to play with the dalmatian, wear a fire suit, play with the fire hose (with adult supervision), and it all ends with an all-you-can-eat hot fudge sundae orgy! When Pig Won't sees all the fun Pig Will had, he immediately becomes Pig Me Too.
Subverted in Transformers. Gears complains about everything but the other Autobots actually like having him around because they find his complaints amusing and his behavior never leads him to trouble. In fact, the one time he was content and helpful it was because the Decepticons were controlling him. Played straight with Starscream, whose constant complaints about Megatron's leadership often gave the Autobots an opening for victory. The complainer is always wrong even when the group is evil.
Another reason why they like Gears is because for all his complaining he also tends to point out legitimate flaws that need to be addressed and fixed, and sometimes it's things they hadn't actually thought of until he brought it up.
Starscream's complaining isn't always wrong, in fact many times he points out legitimate flaws in Megatron's plan. The rest of the time though, it's played completely straight with him.
Subverted in the Justice League episode "Panic in the Sky". Batman was the only one who refused to surrender himself to the authorities. If he didn't go to confront Amanda Waller, the rest of the League would still be imprisoned and Luthor would have completed the powerful and immortal android he was going to transfer his consciousness to and make himself a living god.
Batman subverts this Trope quite a lot in Justice League. In the episode Hereafter, while the rest of the Justice League discuss what should be done after Superman's apparent death and who they should recruit to replace him, Batman refuses to take part (although he does show up for the funeral). He instead focuses on trying to find out what happened to Superman, being Genre Savvy enough to know he's still alive somewhere.
Superman also subverted this trope when Darkseid came to the Justice League for help. Superman initially refused having been brainwashed by him in the past and then let loose on earth, something his reputation never fully recovered from. Everyone, even Batman, chalked it up to Superman holding a rather understandable grudge, and went to help anyway. Darkseid ended up stabbing everyone in the back.
In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Bloo is the only one to be on to Bendy being, well, a total prick. Nobody believes Bloo. Even when he proves that Bendy was guilty, Bloo screws himself by proving it in the most convoluted way possible and ends up destroying most of the house while Bendy stole a cookie.
Rugrats tends to play with this trope, especially in the early days. The formula usually has Tommy suggesting they do something, Phil and Lil agreeing, Chuckie mentioning that it's not such a good idea, one of the three calling Chuckie a "big baby" and dragging him along. It's usually subverted when the adventure goes south, but they still had a blast.
Of course in said early days Chuckie's more temperamental attitude led him to point this out more frequently. In one episode he even lampshades how in every argument Tommy tricks him into following him and suggests to just skip it and go along with the plan right away.
An interesting subversion is the episode "Touchdown Tommy". The B-Plot has the dads watching a big football game, though Chaz wants to watch the chess tournament. They blow him off and he's stuck watching the game. Apparently, he knew what he was saying - because the dads were too busy watching football, the babies covered the living room in chocolate milk and Didi and Betty were pissed when they got back.
Chaz: I told you we should have watched the chess tournaments.
(The others glare at him)
Also subverted in "Farewell My Friend", after Chuckie is berated into joining the others on an adventure into his dad's greenhouse, and actually abandoned and left to face the assumed "monster" they face, he finally snaps at Tommy, refusing to go back and claiming him to be a bad friend for forcing him to suffer all his schemes. Tommy goes without him and is "captured" inside, leaving Chuckie to rescue him after the twins bail out again. While Chuckie admits to over reacting, Tommy admits it was a bad idea and should be more considerate to Chuckie (for that episode anyway).
Chuckie: I don't think this is a good idea...
Tommy:(bored) Oh come on, Chu-
Chuckie:(angrily) I'M NOT GOING!
There's even a third instance of this happening. The episode "Chuckie's Wonderful Life" has Tommy and the twin convince Chuckie to take Chaz's favorite CD so they can play with it. When Angelica sees it and pulls a cruel Look Behind You to steal it, Chuckie quickly blames the babies for its disappearance without even thinking Angelica might have done something to it. However, it takes its so hard that he declares It's All My Fault and ends up initiating the It's a Wonderful Plot when he thinks he shouldn't have been born. The trio are very sorry for what happened and try to make up for it by giving him even more CDs to replace the one lost. Thankfully, Laser-Guided Karma hit Angelica.
Again averted with the episode Griffon the Brush Off, where Pinkie accuses Gilda of being a bully and a liar. Twilight tells her that maybe she's just jealous, but by the end of the episode Pinkie is proven to be right. In many ways, this show can be considered an apology letter for previous versions that played the trope painfully straight.
Also frequently averted by the rest of the series. The main complainer of the heroes, Twilight Sparkle, is actually right about half the time. It also derails the Big Bad's plot in the first season when she points out the factual errors in a prophecy about how she'd be sealed up again.
It derails the second season's Big Bad's plot as well. Twilight Sparkle was the only one to realize that something was wrong with Princess Cadence's newfound Jerkass behavior, but when she declared her "evil", she lost her friends' and family's trust. Actually, it turns out Twilight Sparkle was right to complain, but for the wrong reason: Princess Cadence didn't suddenly turn evil; she was replaced by an evil Changeling Queen.
However, it's played straight occasionally, too. In the very first episode, Twilight Sparkle is complaining that being ordered by Princess Celestia to make friends in Ponyville is a complete waste of time, completely unrelated to the much more imminent threat of Nightmare Moon's return. She's right about Nightmare Moon's return being an extremely urgent situation. Making friends being an unrelated waste of time, however? Notquite.
Likewise, Twilight spends all of "Feeling Pinkie Keen" complaining that Pinkie's "Pinkie Sense" is illogical, and that she intends to prove it's all a big coincidence. By the end of the episode, Twilight is forced to admit that even though she still doesn't understand "Pinkie Sense", it's very much real.
Rainbow Dash, being the Hot-Blooded egotist of the group, tended to face the brunt of this in a good few episodes, especially in Season Two. Increased Character Development and the show's rotation of the Sanity Ball tends to keep it downplayed later on however.
Played with in "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000". While Rainbow Dash is the only one of the main six to question the Apple family's (admittedly hap hazardous) dispensing of cider, and is treated accordingly, she pretty much succeeds in spearheading the rest of the town into agreement.
Given both characters' track record, it's hard to tell whether Rainbow Dash shooting down Twilight Sparkle's suggestion to call off the Pegasi's tornado in "Hurricane Fluttershy" is meant to be playing or subverting this trope.
Subverted in an episode of Horseland where the kids were afraid to tell a photographer that the costumes he chose are impractical for riding. Shep gives an aesop at the end stating that it's good to speak up when you think something is wrong and that this is very different from complaining.
In the Chinpokomon episode of South Park, Kyle is constantly criticized for not keeping up with the latest fad, even when it involves bombing Pearl Harbor. When all the other children abandon the fad, he tries to maintain his independence by going on the bombing run anyway. Stan gives him a hastily-thought up speech about following the crowd, and while this doesn't really convince him, he's confused enough to relent.
In the episode "Douche and Turd", Stan refuses to vote for either of the titular school mascot replacements because he thinks that both choices are stupid, and gets kicked out of town for his troubles. In what may be a combination of Family-Unfriendly Aesop and Broken Aesop (considering Trey and Matt's own voter apathy), the episode ends with a message that a person should vote even if the choice is between a douche and a turd.
Not really an issue in any country where voting is mandatory.
South Park plays with this trope later in the run when Stan becomes cynical and critical of all the dumb things he and his friends enjoy. In the end Stan reverts to his previous persona but at the cost of becoming a secret drinker....
In the Futurama episode "I Second That Emotion", Bender is put through no shortage of grief on Nibbler's account. Leela is more concerned with Bender yelling at Nibbler, who she coddles.
Also keep in mind that Nibbler is supposedly faking all of it. While Bender has no way of knowing this, he is right to think that Nibbler's destructive actions aren't just innocent animal stupidity.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes once has Technical PacifistAnt-Man try to break up a battle between the Avengers and the Serpent Society by suggesting the Serpent Society talk their problems out with him instead. The Serpent Society refuses to cooperate, and instead, the fight between them and the Avengers intensifies. After the criminals escape, the Avengers scold Ant-Man for chastising their violent means of tackling villains.
Although in the second season, after quitting the team, Ant-Man has a nervous breakdown that leads a complete personality shift resulting in him becoming a new action-oriented hero who gets in trouble with the rest of the Avengers for looking like he's going around killing the members of the Serpent Society. Even when it turns out he was only teleporting them to a microscopic prison, he's still like that for the rest of the show.
Subverted in an episode of Thundercats 2011: the cats need to get into an elephant village held by the lizards, Lion-o decides they should go in quietly and use stealth, but Tygra argues that, given the lizards' superior firepower, they should charge in with the Thundertank. The cats are spotted and Lion-o's plan fails, then, just when it looks like the cats are doomed, Tygra comes in Big Damn Heroes-style with the Thundertank and saves the day
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo is an odd case. It's a subversion in the fact that the complainer, Daphne, is right in that the Monster of the Week is never real, yet she'll panic and run like the rest of them, crying out "Ghost!" when it jumps out to scare them. Granted, having a six-foot freaky looking creature hop out at you would make you panic, even if you didn't believe in them.
In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the trope subverted in that Gruffi is the hardest to please of Gummi Glen and complains a lot, but his practicality is deeply respected as being typically right in his field of expertise, and as such he is usually the de facto leader of the colony.
Danger Duck of Loonatics Unleashed was nearly always relegated to this role. In one episode he even gets in trouble with the group for daring to suggest that people should own up to their mistakes, and that it's better for one person to sacrifice themselves when the alternative is doom for everyone else.