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When the evil character is finally brought to justice, he claims that he would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those "meddling kids" (or whoever it was who foiled his plot). He may be evil, but he gives credit where credit is due. The classic form is, "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" The use of the phrase "meddling kids" is a classic Shout-Out to Scooby-Doo.
Not to be confused with those meddling executives or the Snooping Little Kid. May not apply if The Meddling Kids Are Useless.
In One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates would often be those kids in East Blue, when the crew only consisted of teenagers who were not famous pirates yet. Especially Kuro was annoyed by this trope several times. When Luffy got his first bounty, their surroundings started thinking of them as actual pirates and not just bunch of a teenagers, however.
The Rubberrobo Gang tends to use the phrase verbatim in Medabots.
Professor Cobra actually says this line in its entirety in an episode of the Season 3 dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Ditto for Bakura in the original's Season 5.
There is an Archie issue where Archie and Jughead solve a crime and the crooks are being led away in restraints by the police. One crook complains about being stopped by a bunch of dumb kids and Jughead fires back "This 'dumb kid' is not the one wearing handcuffs!"
In The DCU, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake investigate the sabotage of Grayson's circus. Eventually, they crack the case and catch the crooks. When one of the crooks says this quote, Grayson dismisses it saying that they were sloppy and the police would have figured it out on their own. However, since that would have created some really embarrassing press for the circus, it was better that the once and future Robins took care of this.
Pinky: I think so, Brain. But would the villains really have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those pesky kids and their dog?
Klarion (bum bum BUM!) the Witch Boy inverted this in an issue of Young Justice. "I would've got away with it if it wasn't for you meddling grown-ups." Which is even cooler if you realize the grown-ups in question were kids in grown-up bodies.
A The Simpsons comic book once parodied this trope when Lisa, Bart and Milhouse exposed one of Burns' plans:
Burns: Without you and your dog, I might have succeeded!
Lisa: But we don't have any dog!
Burns: O, it must be one of mine then (cut to one of his guard hounds growling behind the kids). I would advise you to run...
The Boys gives us the Scotland version: "But I woulda got away wi' it, if it hadnae been for ye pesky interferin' wee cunts!"
In The Amazing Spider-Man issue 10, Frederick Foswell, after being exposed as the Big Man, says a similar quote. It's an example of an unbuilt trope as it came out in 1964: before Scooby-Doo.
Foswell: I would've gotten away with it too, if not for some crummy luck.
A main theme of the Animorphs series, where the kids were constantly foiling plots by the Yeerks. Ironically though, the Yeerks were unaware of the fact they were foiled by kids, believing instead they were fighting Andalite warriors.
A line similar to this is delivered at several points, in dialogue or narration, in Galaxy of Fear, since the Arranda siblings and their uncle have an uncanny ability to stumble into trouble and foil plans.
Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge mentions a (fictional) Scooby-Doo movie in which the gang join up with some Columbian street urchins to fight a South American drug lord. Predictably, it ends with the villain proclaiming that he would have gotten away with it "if not for you Medellín kids."
Seen at the end of an episode of NUMB3RS in which Don, his team and his brother Charlie investigate spooky activity at a supposedly abandoned airbase. That was more of an inversion, though, as it was very ambiguous whether the person that said it was a villain at all, and he had helped them solve the case. He was also very wacky, talked in an invisible cell phone and appeared out of thin air. He also called three professors and an FBI agent meddling kids.
Given a Shout-Out by Adam in an episode of MythBusters where the Build Team gets him to walk across hot coals unprepared in order to see if it really is a case of mind over matter. After he supposedly hurts himselfnote He really had hurt himself, but he was playing up his injuries and had mostly healed by that point by running:
"And I would have made it across too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!"
Said almost verbatim by the obnoxious aristocrat Ashton in the Suite Life On Deck episode "Kidney of the Sea" when London's dog Ivana literally sniffs out the evidence that he had attempt to frame Zack for grand theft.
The now defunct Collectible Card GameHecatomb had a card named after this trope that would drain the mana of opponents.
Dr. Gilman: Little bastards.
Older Than Steam: In William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, after the inept police manage to catch Borachio, the henchman who framed Hero, the heroine, he says (to the noblemen he completely fooled): "What your wisdoms could not discover, these shallow fools have brought to light."
In the Second Golden Sun game, one of the Pirates delivers the line if you visit them in jail after turning them over to the local government.
An optional line of dialogue in Sonic Chronicles. If you know how this goes, you'll know what to say.
Cheshire Cat: We would've gotten away with it too, if not for those meddlesome...
Black Diamond: Oh, put a sock in it!
One of the things Hazama is known to chide Makoto over during Continuum Shift is how she "puts her nose where it doesn't belong". The big problem with this statement is that they're both NOL Intelligence officers (he's her CO, at that), meaning that he's lecturing her over doing the very thing she is being paid for. Given how little Intelligence work he does (onscreen, anyway), he's in no position to tell her what she should or shouldn't be doing, so it's safe to say that if he ever brings this up, things are going to turn violent right now.
The end of Slight Hope has Hazama spouting this trope at the proper time, with intent to torture and/or kill her over it as well.
"Honestly, though... I never expected YOU to turn out to be the proverbial squirrel in the ointment. Am I supposed to accept that this is another result of the continuum shift? I can't believe it's affecting the timeline like this... [...] Might as well ask for a pony, too, so long as you're wishing for unlikely things. Thanks to your flittering around doing as you please, my plans have gone fair-to-middling FUBAR! You're really starting to grate upon my nerves — sorry, but it's true. Relius was going to take care of you, but shit... I just don't think I can WAIT that long..."
Pegasus: I can't believe I failed. All I wanted to do was steal an ancient Egyptian artifact, seize control of a billion dollar company, and resurrect my dead wife. And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling—
Bakura: Don't you even think of making a Scooby-Doo reference!
Referenced directly in the Gag Dub of Ghost Stories, where Hajime exclaims, "And you would've gotten away with it too, if not for us meddling kids. I've been waiting five volumes to make that joke!"
The Trope Namer: While the exact wording sometimes varied, every episode of Scooby-Doo ended in this vein, making you wonder what the local police were doing all that time.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo consistently added "...and that mangy mutt!" and this seems to have become the most quoted version.
Also played with in recent installments, such as when a villain attributes his capture to an unrelated character who'd tripped him as he was fleeing, or when two 10-year-old perpetrators claim they'd have gotten away with it, "if it wasn't for you meddling grown-ups!"
Scooby Doo is even referred to as "those meddling kids" on Boomerang.
"Monster": Meddling, yes, meddling kids, and your blasted dog ruined everything!
The series then proceeds to goof around with it by making it a Mad Libs Catch Phrase. Often just "you meddling [X]", but sometimes a more involved joke including thanking the meddling kids, blaming the meddling kids only to have them point out that others were responsible for the capture, avoiding the phrase altogether and lampshading that something's missing, or even cutting off the line claiming that it's been overdone.
Outright parodied when the criminal is one of the other kids at the gang's school, who points out that if he would have got away with it, "if it weren't for you meddling...peers."
On another occasion, the villain says the classic "meddling kids" line, only for Mystery Inc. to point out that his scheme was so needlessly complicated that he probably would have messed up anyway.
On yet another, after the villain gives the line, Mystery Inc. points out that she did get away with it; she didn't do anything illegal, just rude, and thus can't be arrested. She did however ruin her relationship with her sister, so she didn't quite get away with it.
In Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire, the group investigates the bizarre circumstances surrounding a music festival by posing as a band. Naturally, they're known as "Those Meddling Kids". Similarly, it's the name of one of the songs by recurring characters the Hex Girls.
The criminal in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, the last of four videos depicting mysteries Scooby and his friends solve as adults, exclaims, "I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for..." Scooby's friends finish off the phrase with, "...us meddling kids!"
Then there was the one where the villain said "interloping adolescents" instead. The gang promptly corrects him: "That's 'meddling kids'."
In Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost, two crooks mutter "We'd have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for that meddling . . . writer." This is then lampshaded by Shaggy remarking "Zoinks. Like, that's a twist." and Fred agreeing but saying that he hates when the bad guys call the gang kids.
The Joker: "And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for me meddling with the kids!"
Subverted in the relatively new (as of 2009) PBS Kids series "Martha Speaks," in which the villain, being taken to jail, says "[The plan] would have worked, too, if it wasn't for... it not working."
In Sideshow Bob's first speaking appearance on The Simpsons, he takes this to its logical conclusion, adding "Treat kids as equals! They're smarter than you think!" Considering that he had spent most of his time that episode running quality children's programming, it's an especially good point.
South Park uses this trope in the episode Child Abduction Is Not Funny: "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling policemen."
In an earlier episode, Stan and Wendy (somehow) foil Mr. Garrison (really Mr. Hat's) plan to kill Kathie Lee Gifford, to which Mr. Hat replies "Yeah, and I would've gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling kids."
Oddly enough, no variant of the line was used whatsoever in "Korn's Groovy Pirate Mystery," despite the entire episode being an Affectionate Parody of Scooby-Doo.
Lloyd in Space, "The Ride Along", has this somewhat opposite version: "I almost got away with it too thanks to those meddling kids"... referring to Lloyd and his friend Eddie who turned out to have chased down an undercover cop (the real baddie was cornered by Eddie's dad).
Old Man Backoff: I would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for-
Harvey: "These meddling kids..."
Old Man Backoff: No, the damn cotton market!
A Shout-Out appears in the Daria episode 'I Loathe a Parade' when an obnoxiously overenthusiastic mascot collapses at Daria's feet because he can't breathe through his lion costume and Daria charitably pulls the head off.
Mr O'Neill: Oh.. hello... where am I?
Daria: I can't believe it, it's Mr O'Neill!
Tom: And he would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for us meddling kids!
Averted in the 100th episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, (in a Scooby Doo parody, no less) when the number 100's dubious plan is foiled.
"And I would have succeeded, too, if it weren't for the fact that I failed."
Hey Arnold!The Movie ends like this when the villain Scheck gets arrested for illegal demolition said, "And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for that meddling football head, that kid with all the hair, and that brat with the one eyebrow.