Well, nobody ever drove me to school when it was ninety degrees below, We had to walk butt naked through forty miles of snow. Worked in the coal mine twenty two hours a day for just half a cent, Had to sell my internal organs just to pay the rent!"
Benjamin J. Grimm indulges in this from time to time, especially when comparing the undisciplined kids of today to the high-spirited teenagers of his youth. Ironically, due to Comic Book Time, the generation at the young, disliked end of that comparison is now the generation at the old and reminiscing end.
Jimmy Five's father once told Jimmy that, with Jimmy's allowances, he once bought stuff for home. Jimmy then asked how his parents did to live off ice cream and sweets.
While complaining about how low his nephew's grades were, José Carioca told said nephew his grades were different back in his day. When said nephew asked how they used to be, José told the boy not to change the subject.
"When I was your age, we didn't have all this fancy shiny techno-gear! Our servant rays were made out of straw and leather!"
Calvin's dad also says this in the same episode.
Films — Animated
On Chicken Run, Fowler would carp about his days at the Royal Air Force whenever he felt the chickens went out of line. Then when they build an airplane to escape, they expect Fowler to pilot, but then he reveals that he was only a mascot at the RAF, and never actually flew a plane. Ginger gives him an inspiring speech about how "today is your day" to get him into the cockpit.
47-year-old Marty pulls this on his son in a deleted scene of Part II, saying that when he was his age, when he wanted to watch two shows at once he had to put two televisions next to each other.
In The Princess Bride, the grandfather tells the kid at the beginning, "When I was your age, television was called books," before reading him the story.
A man told his son he didn't have TV back in his day. The son then asked him what his Dad forbade him from doing in that case.
In Cloak Of Shadows Storm tried to inspire young Harpers complaining about having to raise early, then Elminster finished them off with a handful of tall tales:
Storm: What sort of Knights and Harpers is Faerun breeding these days? Why, when I was your age...
Sharantyr: I know, I know. [...] Then you had to run two miles to the river to bathe and draw enough water for all the horses to drink, run back with it, and get the axe to go out and chop firewood for the kitchen fires, before y—
Elminster: When I was your age, axes hadn't been invented yet. Nor horses. We walked everywhere to gather our firewood.
My uncle said, "How old are you?" I said, "Nine and a half," and then My uncle puffed out his chest and said, "When I was your age, I was ten."
In the Warrior Cats series, an elder does this at a Gathering in Forest of Secrets, claiming that young cats nowadays don't know what hardship is.
Played for Laughs in the Discworld book Reaper Man, where the complaining is done by an elderly mayfly, complaining to the young'uns how much more light you got back when he was a lad (i.e., several hours ago). We had a proper sun, right up in the sky, none of this red nonsense. As a contrast, there's also a forest of extremely long-lived pine trees with a particularly old one saying that they had proper glaciers back in the day.
Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segments in the late 1980s would regularly feature Dana Carvey's "Grumpy Old Man" delivering one of these as a commentary. He'd always glamorize the past even as he described it in the most horrific terms.
"Everything today is improved and I don't like it. I hate it! In my day we didn't have hair dryers. If you wanted to blow dry your hair you stood outside during a hurricane. Your hair was dry but you had a sharp piece of wood driven clear through your skull and that's the way it was and you liked it! You loved it. Whoopee, I'm a human head-kabob! We didn't have Manoxidol and Hair Wings, in my day if your hair started falling out when you were 16, by 19 you were a bald freak. There was nothing you could do about it. Children would spit at you and nobody would mate with you so you couldn't pass on your disgusting baldness genes. You were a public menace, a chromedome by age 20 and that's the way it was and we liked it! We loved it! Hallelujiah look at me, I'm a bald freak, O happy day!"
And about a decade later, Garth Brooks played another such character on the fake game show Who's More Grizzled? ("When I was your age, we didn't call our elders by their Christian names.")
Every night for dinner, we had a big old chunk of dirt / If we were really good, we didn't get dessert! ... Nobody ever drove me to school when it was 90 degrees below / Had to walk butt naked, through 40 miles of snow!
George Hrab's When I Was Your Age is a mild version, culminating in a Not So Different view.
Programmer: When I started programming we didn't have any of these sissy "icons" and "windows". All we had were zeros and ones — and sometimes we didn't even have ones. I wrote an entire database program using only zeros.
Dilbert: You had zeros? We had to use the letter "O".
Inverted in a Mafalda strip where she comments with Miguelito how it dawned on her that the twenty-something year olds of today who complain about the older generations nagging them, will be the ones to nag on her generation tomorrow. Hilarity ensues.
Spoofed in a Calvin and Hobbes strip in which Calvin imagines himself as Spaceman Spiff being hauled off to a torture chamber by disgusting aliens. Spiff is surprised to find himself in an exact replica of his parents' living room, and one of the aliens announces that Spiff will be subjected to "a calm discussion of wholesome principles." The next panel shows a Big "NO!" from Calvin in the "real world" as his father spouts various Standard '50s Father cliches. ("Yes, life is tough and suffering builds character! Nothing worth having ever comes easy! Virtue is its own reward" - and then the Trope Namer.)
Garfield: When he had Jon's age, Jon's Dad was already married and had a kid. Jon's reply ("Yeh, me") prompted him to state it was a good argument but he still thought Jon should get married.
In Lum And Abner, any time Lum prepares to give a speech he invariably talks about being a "barefoot kid of a boy" having to walk several miles to school in the snow.
Cedric: I like to hear Mr. Lum's speeches, so's I can hear how many miles and how many feet of snow it is this time.
Bill Cosby has a stand-up routine about grandparents where he talked about how grandfathers always talk about how much tougher they had it in their day, especially about how they had to walk to school in the snow. He mentions a friend whose grandfather spent his entire life in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and still claimed that he had to walk to school in the snow.
From Bill Cosby - Himself:
Bill Cosby: My father walked to school. Four o'clock every morning. With no shoes on. Uphill. Both ways. In five feet of snow. And he was thankful! (pause) I asked my father to give me a dollar for the school picnic and he told me how he killed a grizzly bear with his loose-leaf notebook.
Doc: Why, when I was your age— Action: When you was my age; when my old man was my age; when my brother was my age! You was never my age, none of you! The sooner you creeps get hip to that, the sooner you'll dig us.
Cranky: Oh, look who's come crawling back for advice, even though things are easier than ever! Why don't you ask your newfangled super guide for help? Back in my day, we had to play through the levels ourselves! And this controller-shaking thing? We didn't need fancy doodad-filled remotes... four buttons, that's all we had! Also, what's the big deal about playing simultaneously nowadays? When I was younger, we had to be tagged in to play...!
Elderly Diddy Kong: ...And by gum, Junior, we liked it!
EverQuest added into the game an NPC "Old Man McKenzie". The official description of him is:
"Old Man McKenzie, a frequent patron of the taverns in the Plane of Knowledge, thinks you adventurers have it too easy these days! Back in his day they didn't have all this fancy armor and magical weaponry, they relied on their wits and not a little luck to survive! Think you've got what it takes to survive in McKenzie's Gold era?"
When I was in the corps, we didn't have any fancy-schmancy tanks. We had STICKS! Two sticks, and a rock for the whole platoon! And we had to share the rock! So buck up, 'cause you're one lucky Marine.
The soundtrack of Halo Reach includes the track "Uphill, both ways". Given the way the Halos are constructed, it actually makes sense.
In the finale of the Guild Wars Beyond: War In Kryta storyline, you can see a group of old men complaining about how the victory was hardly heroic by their standards, mocking actions taken by the developers in reducing difficulty and adding controllable "hero" characters.
Antwyn: Hah? These young'ns call this a final battle? Back in my day, we didn't have these newfangled Asuran magics to protect us from Spectral Agony. We just had to tough it out. Kids these days don't know how good they've got it!
Jorith: I remember the day you had to walk fifteen miles uphill in the Shiverpeaks, then kill a spectral abomination just to get one piece of armor infused! And we liked it that way!
Carden: That's nothing! You wouldn't be sitting here if me and my two buddies hadn't killed the Lich Lord twice while he was on the bloodstone. And we did it without help from any fancy pants heroes.
In Katawa Shoujo, Jigoro Hakamichi, Shizune's father, does this repeatedly, even when his complaints are false (claiming that Yamaku students don't have cleaning duty) or exceptionally petty (bringing up the ratio of desks to student council members, and claiming his student council met in less luxurious conditions).
In Final Fantasy V, Faris needles Galuf about his reluctance to cross the Desert of Shifting Sands. He responds "When I was your age, we crossed burning sand every day—and we liked it!"
Dragon Quest VII has Grandma Pendragon complain bitterly about how the Lefans are becoming overreliant on the BlissRock, which keeps ideal levels of wind constantly circulating through Gorges. She insists that it's more important to mantain the Fane, and is proven right when the wind stops entirely, stranding all the Lefans on their backs.
"This never would've happened when I was a boy! You kids these days and your Millennium Items and your Card Games and your loud music and your hula hoops and your hopscotch and your dungarees and your lollipops and your Sony Playstations and your voice-activated light switches and your leather pants and your artificial insemination..."
It was even picked up again after the credits:
"...your Blu-Ray Discs and your pierced scrotums and your bull frogs and your telekinesis and your Marvel Comics and your YouTube.com and your nuclear physics and your ingrowing toenails and your Gears of War and your Quentin Tarantino and your power steering and your elevators and your illegitimate offspring and your... Hey, why did it Fade to Black? Am I dead?"
When I was your age, we rocket jumped all the way to school uphill, both ways... IN BOILING LAVA
Referenced by John Cheese in a Cracked article when he says that, when parents talk about not having video games or Internet and playing outside when they were young, he notes that they only played outside because they had nothing better to do (video games were too expensive and there was nothing good on TV).
On Franklin, when Franklin first went to school, he was told that his father, instead of taking a bus, had to walk two and half miles to school and back, even in the rain and the snow. His parents didn't go so far as "uphill both ways," though.
Timmy's paternal grandfather in The Fairly Oddparents is quite fond of the trope. His first non-flashback line was a rant about how he doesn't like things as how they're today when compared to what they used to be.
I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.
Hesiod, Eighth Century B.C.
Even older than that. There are clay tablets from Sumeria, ca. 2500 BC with similar sentiments about youth not respecting their elders.
Believe it or not, old people have been complaining about young people for almost three millenia. If even half of them were right, civilization should have completely decayed by now.
Of course they were taught to be polite, wait their turn and be respectful of their elders. Like every generation before and since, they didn't pay attention then, just as today's young don't pay attention now.
Variant heard at VMI from cadets who had previously been enlisted servicemembers: "when I was in Kuwait, we had to walk three times as far to get to the bathroom."
Golfer Sam Snead, playing a practice round against the much younger Buddy Cole at Augusta National, mused aloud about the trees between them and the hole: "When I was your age, I'd drive the ball right over those trees". After Cole took up the implicit challenge and failed, Snead pointed out that when he was Cole's age the trees were much shorter.
Note that this is actually a really old joke.
When you find yourself saying this, (or "Kids today!") it is a sure sign that you yourself are officially middle-aged.
Bah, you young'uns have it so easy now. Back in my day, we had to figure out when the examples list ended, without your silly stingers!
And we LIKED it that way!