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Take That: Literature


  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had a sinking ship called the Walter Scott. Mark Twain hated Walter Scott.
  • Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians parodies fantasy in general, books and authors in general, and anything else the author can think of, but there are at least two specific Take Thats. One mentions a dinosaur eating the C section of the Science Fiction books out of annoyance with a certain author keeping a character alive because he didn't die in the film version. The other occurs when Alcatraz's grandfather comes to pick him up from his Muggle Foster Parents and wonders aloud what sense it would make to leave Alcatraz to live in a place he doesn't even like, where no one appreciates his magical powers and his enemies know exactly where to find him. Sound familiar?
  • A Memory Of Flames contains some pretty unsubtle jabs towards people who think that life would be so much better if dragons were in it, or want to become dragon riders/dragon soul mates, as per its deconstruction of the Dragon Rider trope. This is especially apparent in the character Jaslyn.
    Jaslyn: (to herself, but the dragon, Silence, can read her thoughts) Silence! This is my Silence! Why is my Silence so cold and hostile?
    Silence: Because you are my enemy, Princess Jaslyn. You would like to have me as I was. Stupified. I can see it in you, a great desire. I am not the creature you once flew. I am not some beast of burden. I am a dragon, and dragons do not serve men. Find another creature to be your slave. Be gone.
    Jaslyn: Could we not live together? Work together?
    Silence: Why? What could you possibly offer us?
  • America (The Book) mocks Mallard Fillmore's use of Strawman Political rants in lieu of humor by posting a satirical Fillmore strip that begins with Fillmore talking about something that bugs him, and ending on the last panel with "Oops! I forgot to tell a joke!"
    • Bruce Tinsley, the comic's author, didn't take this well, and proceeded to make a follow-up strip specifically blasting Jon Stewart.
  • In Vikram Seth's An Equal Music, Helen, the violist and the only woman in the protagonist's string quartet, remarks that "In the Quartetto Italiano, the woman was serially married to all three of the men."
  • Animorphs has an interesting application leveled at its own TV show. The series is based on an "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers" style paranoia and the TV show decided to indicate the invading aliens by having them stick their finger in their ear. The author then had one character lament that it would be so much easier if the villains would go around sticking their fingers in their ears.
    • #48 The Return, on describing the prospect of dramatizing the morphing process Rachel lists a handful of studios who she's convinced "wouldn't get it right." She explicitly lists Nickelodeon, who produced the Animorphs TV series, which K. A. Applegate has been vocal in her distaste for.
    • Also, the Andalites were originally supposed to resemble stereotypical Grey aliens. Scholastic vetoed the original design and asked Applegate to be a little more "creative" so that if an Animorphs TV series was ever produced, they would have an interesting looking alien race to showcase. She then went ahead and made them as complex as possible—out of spite—to the point where they proved virtually impossible to properly dramatize when said TV series finally came into fruition. Take that, indeed.
    • One of the most hated books is #28 The Experiment, which is loaded with plot holes and only exists to voice the ghostwriter's opinions about eating meat. Then the last chapter features the Animorphs all eating hamburgers, which was later revealed to be because KA Applegate didn't think much of the ghostwritten book and added that final chapter herself. The book's ghostwriter, Amy Garvey, was one of only two ghostwriters who were never allowed to write another Animorphs book again.
    • From The Proposal:
    UPN Executive: "You want to put this lunatic on the air? Try Fox News Channel, I'm not interested.
  • After a messy divorce from her first husband, Laurell K. Hamiliton, author of Anita Blake had Richard grow increasingly "Jerkass" in mannerisms, and was only allowed to have sex with Anita when no one else in her "Rotisserie of Dicks" was available, and implied with the weight of a 16 ton anvil that he lost out on a very good relationship by leaving her. It must be noted, however, that, for many readers, this was something of an Insult Backfire.
  • Parodied in John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise with the Attack Ads segment, one of which accuses Jonathan Coulton of being a bad catsitter, Coulton has personally appeared in ads for the book and at signings, and even wrote a song to promote the book, so it looks like Hodgman meant nothing by it, and "has only masturbated out a window once".
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, the Eight Family of the People, the Demons, adapted a romance novel called Lady Heatherington Smythe's Hedgerow as their gospel. Minerva Paradizo's comments on the novel could be a Take That to Twilight. Since Twilight was published in 2005 and Lost Colony in 2006, it is possible.
    Minerva: You remember that one, Papa? The most ridiculous fluffy romance you are ever likely to avoid like the plague. I loved it when I was six. It's all about a nineteenth-century English aristocrat. [...] Oh, who's the author . . . Carter Cooper Harbison. The Canadian girl. She was eighteen when she wrote it. Did absolutely no research. She had nineteenth-century nobles speaking like they were from the fifteen hundreds. Absolute tosh, so obviously a worldwide hit. [...] Well, it seems our old friend Abbot brought it home with him. The cheeky devil has managed to sell it as gospel truth. It seems he has the rest of the demons spouting Cooper Harbison as though she were an evangelist.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events.
    • Lemony Snicket takes some not-so-subtle jabs at various political figures via Sunny's "baby talk": There's "busheney" for "You're an evil man" in The Slippery Slope and "scalia" in The Penultimate Peril, both of which have somewhat unkind translations).
    • Then there's his association of poet Edgar Guest with the villains in The Grim Grotto, even stating outright that it's because his poetry sucked in a Tastes Like Diabetes way. Kind of jarring in a series so focused on Black and Gray Morality.
  • In Dave Barry's Big Trouble, one of the villains fires a bullet into a TV showing Jerry Springer. "About time" is another character's comment.
    • In 1990, Dave Barry ran a survey polling his readers on what America's national insect should be. One of the choices he suggested, Senator Jesse Helms, placed fifth.
      In closing, let me stress one thing, because I don't want to get a lot of irate condescending mail from insect experts correcting me on my facts: I am well aware that Senator Helms is, technically, a member of the arachnid family.
  • Michael deLarrabeiti's Borribles novels feature as the Borribles' natural enemies the Rumbles — giant, technologically savvy rodents with a penchant for fascism, and whose scathing resemblance to long-time British children's favorite The Wombles is of course pure coincidence. And in the first volume of the trilogy, the rag-and-bone man Dewdrop and his son Ernie are vicious caricatures of Steptoe And Son.
  • Brave New World is one long Take That at H. G. Wells's Men Like Gods.
  • James Hogg's "The Brownie of Bodsbeck" and John Galt's Ringan Gilhaize both include Take That to Scott's Old Mortality. Hogg, Galt, and quite a few other people took offense at Scott's not-too-positive account of the Scottish Covenanters.
  • The victim in the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Cask of Amontillado" resembles a then-popular author whose most recent novel had featured a No Celebrities Were Harmed insert of Poe as a comical villain.
  • The song for Mike Teavee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is pretty much a two-page rant against television and in favor of books. Real subtle, Mr. Dahl.
    The most important thing we've learned
    As far as children are concerned
    Is never, never, ever let
    Them near a television set
    Or better yet, just don't install
    The idiotic thing at all
    • Tim Burton's film of the book reproduces a good chunk of the song word-for-word... which is a Broken Aesop, because Mike Teavee in the movie is addicted to video games, not TV, and his biggest problem is that he's an obnoxious know-it-all.
    • The same kind of anti-TV sentiment appears in Matilda, too, albeit much more subtly. The heroine is a brilliant child who loves reading, while the parents are shallow, petty, and mean, spending all their free time watching TV.
    • Note that in Charlie, Willy Wonka notes that that he thinks TV is okay "in small doses"; it's just that "children don't seem to take it in small doses."
  • Coraline is also a Take That at Down the Rabbit Hole fantasy. The whole Magical Land is just one evil Trap to lure children from our world and feed on them. The "Adventure" consists mostly of making it out alive, and with your eyes intact. And saving your parents.
  • In Anne Ursu's Cronus Chronicles series, the incompetent, egomaniacal head god Zeus describes himself as "The Decider". You may remember former president George Bush calling himself the same thing.
  • Stephen King's finale to his The Dark Tower septology includes a scene in which the main characters have to save Stephen King from dying in his real-life near-death accident. The guy who hit him is portrayed as a high, drunk idiot who is fighting with his dogs over meat instead of driving at the time. As a side note, the real Bryan Smith had been dead for four years by the time the book was published. Overdosed, possibly on purpose, on King's birthday.
  • The character of Uriah Heep in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield is said to be based on Dickens' experience with Hans Christian Andersen, who mooched off him for over a month. In addition to remaining oblivious to Dicken's increasingly constant hints that it was time to go, Andersen often complained about the tea being cold, and remained confused when Dickens never replied to his attempts at correspondence.
  • The character of Karmazinov in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Demons is a caricature of the author's contemporary and sometime friend, sometime rival and ideological opponent Ivan Sergeievich Turgenev. The whole novel, really, is a "tract-novel", polemicizing against contemporary political and ideological movements that Dostoevsky regarded as dangerous or abhorrent.
  • Quite common in The Devil's Dictionary. For example, in the definition for Incompossible: "Two things are incompossible when the world of being has scope enough for one of them, but not enough for both — as Walt Whitman's poetry and God's mercy to man."
  • A small Take That occurs in the Discworld novel, Night Watch, where the narrator points out the sheer stupidity/illogical nature of the famous "They may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!" speech of Braveheart.
    • Susan Sto Helit makes a rather blunt jab against The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland during her first appearance in Soul Music, and Vimes has turned one of Sherlock Holmes' explanations on itself with his own brand of thought.
    • Susan Sto Helit takes a not-so-veiled shot at Mary Poppins in Hogfather, when she is working as a nanny. She also thinks that Jack and the Beanstalk's moral is that you can get away with ecoterrorism, theft, and murder as long as people think that you're a hero.
    • And Susan's appearance in Thief of Time seems to be a jab at overly-lenient "progressive" schools.
    • Also in Hogfather are several from Death himself, directed at various 'uplifting' Christmas stories. The best, however, makes it into the film adaptation, in which he rips apart the idea that the spirit of Hogswatch is somehow bolstered by a little girl freezing to death in the street.
  • Dante's Inferno is arguably one long Take That, seeing as that every one of Dante's enemies makes a personal appearance in Hell. He even includes friends and mentors who weren't living what he considered a virtuous life within the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nice guy, that Dante. To approach it from the opposite direction, some believe that certain aspects of Inferno are a Stealth Parody of traditional Church teaching at the time.
  • Don Quixote: Cervantes uses his book to attack several people and institutions of the XVII century, always in a funny manner:
    "Your first difficulty about the sonnets, epigrams, or complimentary verses which you want for the beginning, and which ought to be by persons of importance and rank, can be removed if you yourself take a little trouble to make them; you can afterwards baptise them, and put any name you like to them, fathering them on Prester John of the Indies or the Emperor of Trebizond, who, to my knowledge, were said to have been famous poets: and even if they were not, and any pedants or bachelors should attack you and question the fact, never care two maravedis for that, for even if they prove a lie against you they cannot cut off the hand you wrote it with."
    "As to references in the margin to the books and authors from whom you take the aphorisms and sayings you put into your story, it is only contriving to fit in nicely any sentences or scraps of Latin you may happen to have by heart, or at any rate that will not give you much trouble to look up; so as, when you speak of freedom and captivity, to insert ''Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro;'' and then refer in the margin to Horace, or whoever said it...With these and such like bits of Latin they will take you for a grammarian at all events, and that now-a-days is no small honour and profit."
    • Cervantes also mocks the authors attributed to another author famous lines by way of Popcultural Osmosis, despite the fact that those lines were never uttered by them:
    ... when you speak of freedom and captivity, to insert ''Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro; and then refer in the margin to Horace, or whoever said it
  • Jim Butcher did not like Child's Play. When a bunch of nasty fae take on the shapes of horror movie monsters in the The Dresden Files book Proven Guilty, Chucky's Captain Ersatz gets smashed effortlessly, and someone says this:
    "Personally. I never understood how anyone could have found that thing frightening to begin with."
    • Someone also gets snarky about "tortured, sentimental vampires" in a book released not too long after the Twilight craze started.
    "Some of the bloody fools I've known can't stop talking about how tragic they are. The poor lonely vampires. How they're just like us. Bloody idiots."
    • And to make it even better, the audiobooks are read by James Marsters. For that particular character, he pretty much just used his Spike voice.
    • The outsides of the books always show Harry with a fedora to match his duster. The inside of the books have been getting progressively louder about Harry's dislike of hats, and in Dead Beat he makes fun of someone specifically for wearing "an honest-to-God fedora." The issue began when the books shifted from a first-edition paperback to first-edition hardback release, with a change in cover artists. The cover artist had not read the novels yet when he got the commission, so he had to work off the publisher's description which mistakenly included "an honest-to-god fedora". For consistency, the hat's remained on the cover and more and more jokes have appeared in the novels about the hats.
  • Euripides' Electra mocks the signs that Electra used to infer Orestes' presence in the earlier Oresteia of Aeschylus — e.g., the idea that Electra could find one of Orestes' hairs and recognize it as his. Not surprisingly, Take That is Older Than Feudalism.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham, he quotes the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of a blunderbuss, which concludes with the statement that it is "now superseded in civilized countries by more sophisticated firearms" and says that as the hero's country hadn't been civilized yet, the blunderbuss was the only sort of gun around and rare at that. A Take That to the O.E.D.'s editors and to those who equate a "civilized" society with one that has the best guns.
  • Using an in-universe movie as a proxy, The Privateer by S.M. Stirling and James Doohan delivers a nice whack on the head to the episode of Star Trek: The Original Series where Space Is Noisy was taken to an absurd conclusion: to wit, that the Enterprise could be stealthy by running silent, and then be given away by a crewman dropping something.
  • Horror author Johnny Mains received a negative review for his first collection of short stories, which were described as too "cosy and mild" for the horror genre. He went on to publish a gorier second collection titled Frightfully Cosy and Mild Stories for Nervous Types as a Take That at the writer of the review.
  • The Warhammer 40,000Gaunt's Ghosts novel Straight Silver can be seen as subtly mocking those who consider the Imperial Guard to be little more than a poorly led Redshirt Army.
    • Similarly, the Ciaphas Cain series can be seen as a slight Take That to the over the top portrayal of Commissars and their role in the Imperial Guard.
  • Gone.
    Lana: "Maybe you're attracted to dangerous unbalanced people, but listen up: I'm not Edward and you're not Bella."
    Sanjit: "I don't understand what that means."
  • The Great Gatsby mocks the white-supremacist beliefs of a thinly-veiled version of Lothrop Stoddard's then-famous tract The Rising Tide of Color.
  • The scene involving the destruction of the Slytherin Locket from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is seen by many fans as a giant Take That to the still-vocal segment of Potterfen who continued to see Harry and Hermione as destined soul mates, despite "Anvil-sized hints" as to Hermione and Ron eventually hooking up. It turns out that Voldemort is a Harmony shipper.
    • Some fans also believe this was done more subtly in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in which the Hippogriff that Harry and Hermione had ridden on together was (temporarily) renamed from "Buckbeak" to "Witherwings." As ever, it was Fan Wank who got the last laugh.
      • It was hardly "subtle".
      • And yet in an interview that happened in 2008 she said:
      J. K. Rowling: "Just because someone had a view on Harry/Hermione didn't mean they weren't genuine, or that they were necessarily misguided ... Now the fact is that Hermione shares moments with Harry that Ron will never be able to understand and I think it could have gone that way." And yet she said that in an interview in 2008.
    • Another Take That in the series could be the character of Romilda Vane, a parody of every PotterSue who thought Harry would fall in love with her.
    • The character of Rita Skeeter is by Rowling's own admission an extended Take That at those portions of the British media obsessed with the personal lives of celebrities, whose speculations about her own life she refutes on a section of her official website called the "Rubbish Bin".
    • Also, the art of divination is considered trickery. Even in the magic world(!).
    • Dolores Umbridge and the actions of the Ministry in the fifth book could be seen as a Take That to the Moral Guardians who've railed against the series.
    • She states categorically in her Rubbish Bin that Lockhart was not based on her ex-husband, despite some rumors, and that she considers this speculation very hurtful.
      • Lockhart was actually based on another person, she doesn't specify who exactly, but Lockhart is barely an exaggeration of him.
    • She brought out a book called The Tales of Beedle the Bard that's set in the same universe. It is presented as a collection of wizard fairy tales with editorial notes from Dumbledore. In the notes to one story he observes that some readers had thought themselves cleverer than others and believed the author was leaving hidden messages for them in the text.
    • There's also the offhandedly mentioned character Beatrix Bloxam, who felt that children were too young and tender for Beedle's fairy tales and rewrote them as senselessly corny stories meant for three-year-olds. The notes say that absolutely nobody liked her work. A chocolate frog card in one of the licensed video games mentions that Bloxam's writing is capable of causing uncontrolled vomiting.
      • Not to mention the aside regarding the role of women in Fairy Tales, as opposed to the superior heroines of Wizarding - that is to say, J. K. Rowling's - fairy tales.
    • The 6th book is also one big Take That at the idea of Voldemort as once sweet kid mistreated in the muggle world and shunned in the wizarding world, and thus becoming evil. Specifically the idea that Riddle grew up in Orphanage of Fear is turned on its head - it was an Orphanage of Fear - because of Riddle himself: all other children feared him!
      • Especially since Harry himself suffered such abuse. A Take That to the fan fictions in which Harry turns evil?
  • While the first two books aren't too bad in this regard, the third book of His Dark Materials is a massive Take That to organized religion. Given that the author has himself stated that he hates the Narnia books, it is easy to conceive of it as an indirect Take That to Narnia as well.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • A human named "Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings" is credited as the writer of the very worst poetry in the universe (it's stated to be even worse than Vogon poetry, which is a near-impossible feat to top in-universe). This is a disguised reference to a real individual (Paul Neil Milne Johnson) whose name was actually used in the version originally broadcast on radio but altered in all later versions due to legal threats.
    • The short story "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" first published in 1986, ends with a not-terribly-stealthy-at-all Take That at Ronald Reagan.
    • In Life, The Universe, and everything, there's The Running Gag about Paul McCartney, noting that the royalties from even a single Macca song would enable him to buy first a medium-sized town, then the whole of Hampshire (one of England's most affluent counties) and finally, should Macca hit on a theme half as lovely as the one hummed by the Krikkiters, escalating to ownership of massive swathes of the South of England. This derives from performing rights issues for the LP version of H2G2, where Trillian faces death and oblivion whilst humming A Day in the Life. McCartney's copyright lawyers hammered Adams and his production company for serious money, for the use of just two bars of a Beatles' song. Sung by somebody else. Adams worked this experience of being fleeced into this novel.
  • In H.I.V.E.: dreadnought, Wing and Otto are talking. Wing makes a sarcastic comment, to which Otto replies "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit". Wing retorts with, "I thought funny pictures of cats from the internet was the lowest form of wit." Otto concedes, saying, "Okay, that's the lowest form of wit, but sarcasm comes in a close second."
  • David Weber's Storm from the Shadows contains a very obvious Take That for anyone who frequents his forums — by explicitly calling anyone who thought that the hundreds of years of technology advantage that the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven have over the Solarian League has rendered their massive fleet obsolete. Weber apparently spent a long time battling the horrible ideas of his forum members. In Torch Of Freedom he uses most of them in a single battle that ends up onesided.
  • In Universe example: In Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse, companies that make flying carpets and car companies take pot shots at each other in their ads. (The main character has a magic horse that turns into a car.) Hell also does ads that are sometimes Take That at Heaven. Out of Universe: Could Anthony be doing a Take That to advertisement in general?
  • Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's joint retelling of the Inferno in the imaginatively titled Inferno follows in the same vein, condemning to Hell people who supported banning diet foods, people who shut down nuclear power plants based on bogus science, and a teacher who knowingly and wrongly suggested that some her students had dyslexia because they were hard to teach. And of course, they deliver a massive Take That to Kurt Vonnegut for supposedly being a terrible writer. They followed up with a sequel, Escape From hell, which includes attacks aimed at the New Orleans authorities.
  • Invisible Man doesn't even bother veiling its insult to Horatio Alger. Most other insults fall under No Celebrities Were Harmed, but are fairly obvious if you know enough about the time period.
  • In a further Stephen King example, IT contains a flashback to one of the protagonists' college years where he took a Creative Writing class. The teacher and the other students are all snooty, pretentious jerks who see no value in any story that isn't some kind of symbolism-filled indictment of the evils of modern life. The protagonist makes several rousing speeches to them about how stories should be good entertainment, no more and no less. It's hard to see it as anything other than a point that King really wanted to make.
    • King wrote that he met people like that in his book about Writing.
  • James Bond
  • In an interview, British novelist Jilly Cooper admitted that a goat in her latest novel, Jump!, was named Chisholm after the critic Anne Chisholm. Cooper explained that Chisholm's offence had been to reveal too much of the plot of her earlier novel, Rivals, in a review, rather than being a Caustic Critic. She added that "he's a terribly nice goat."
  • One of the books in the Just William series by Richmal Crompton featured the character of insufferable child star Anthony Martin, cited by some critics as a Take That at Christopher Robin in the works of A. A. Milne.
  • One caller from Shreveport in Kitty Goes to War tells Kitty Norville that Speedy Mart owner Harold Franklin can control the weather and causes storms wherever he goes. The caller says that Franklin should be brought to justice for Hurricane Katrina. Kitty notes that he isn't the only one who thinks someone should be brought to justice for what happened to New Orleans, but most people are thinking about events that happened after the hurricane, not the storm itself.
  • Boris Vian's L'ecume des jours is full of vicious-seeming Take Thats at Jean-Paul Sartre (called "Jean-Sol Partre"), culminating in him being murdered and his books burned. However, Vian and Sartre were, and remained, good friends.
  • Several in British statesman Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son:
    • The Earl describes the Arabian Nights as "Oriental ravings and extravagances".
    • He also includes one against Samuel Johnson in letter 132.
    • "I love 'la belle nature'; Rembrandt paints caricatures" (letter 142)
    • "There [at the theological society of the Sorbonne] unintelligible points are debated with passion, though they can never be determined by reason."
    • "I discovered, that, of the five hundred and sixty [in the House of Commons], not above thirty could understand reason" (letter 196)
  • William Golding's Lord of the Flies was a Take That on The Coral Island, a popular children's book about three young men who live out an idyllic life on a desert island before being threatened by "the savages". Golding took umbrage at the racist undertones, but also at the idea that savagery was some sort of external factor that threatened poor Anglicized civilization rather than an internal factor that could be cultivated under the proper conditions.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Depending on how you look at it, the Scouring of the Shire at the end could be seen as a rather vicious Take That against the concept of Happily Ever After. More Tolkien's opinion of industrialization. Though not everybody lives happily ever after. Frodo for example is so badly wounded by his trials that he must leave Middle Earth.
    • There a a few take thats against Macbeth, all taken from Act IV, Scene i, when the Witches tell Macbeth their prophecies of his death. The Ents' besiegement of Isengard and the Witch-King's defeat by Éowyn are references to the prophecy that it will not happen until "Great Birnam Wood...shall come against him", only for Macduff's army uses their branches as camouflage. Tolkien always hated the fact that the wood which came to Dunsinane was just men in disguise, so he wrote a scene with a real marching wood. The "none of woman born shall harm" him where Macbeth is killed by a man who was not born, but removed from his mother's womb, is referenced by Witch-King, who can be killed by "no living man," is killed by a woman.
  • In The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park, some mooks try the first movie's tactic of staying still to avoid being seen by a T. rex (which was present in the book, but implied to be the result of frog DNA, not a natural handicap). Predictably, they get eaten. The main characters, who are watching this through a camera, comment that this behavior was based on incorrect information, and suggest the T. rex in the first book just wasn't hungry. The scene in general feels like a take-that against the movie in that regard. One of the main characters even calls the archaeologist who suggested the T-Rex had motion-based sight an "idiot".
  • Monster Hunter International contains this one against Literature/Twilight.
    "What is it with people who think vampires are sexy?" "I blame it on Twilight." In real life, vampires don't sparkle unless they're on fire.
  • In The Good, the Bad and the Mediochre, Mediochre Q Seth has, in his expansive library, a pile of Edgar Rice Burroughs books with an attached post-it note reminding himself not to bother reading any of them again.
  • In My Godawful Life by Michael Kelly, a parody of Misery Lit, all characters react with extreme horror at the mention of Northumberland. Being forced to live in Northumberland is described as far and away the most horrifying event in the main character's life, even though he's suffered every kind of misery imaginable. He marvels at the poverty and degradation suffered by a woman he met there, whose husband forced her to live in Northumberland "with only a £70 000 book advance to tide her over." This is a Take That at the "Wife in the North" blog, written by wealthy middle-class Judith O'Reilly about her struggle to adjust when she moved from London to rural Northumberland with her family. Kelly has also admitted in interviews that he dislikes O'Reilly and her blog.
    • Also, the chapter about being abused by nuns in an Irish convent school is probably a dig at Kathy O'Beirne, the author of several memoirs about her abuse in a Magdalen Laundry.
  • In response to criticisms that his stories didn't have morals, Edgar Allan Poe wrote the humorous short story "Never Bet the Devil Your Head", which is a Take That against both the entire idea that stories need to have morals and against some of his contemporaries that endorsed the idea. It combines a Spoof Aesop with a patently and intentionally ludicrous Space Whale Aesop — technically being a "story with a moral", as they insisted on, but not what they meant at all — while taking jabs at specific literary figures of the time along the way.
  • In The Bride Wore Black Leather, when message-bearing ravens keep arriving at John's office, Cathy deliberately lets their messages expire, ensuring they won't return to their source and she can find them good homes where they'll no longer be exploited as couriers. Probably a Take That at Harry Potter.
  • Paradise Regained, the follow-up epic to Paradise Lost, has a rather powerful shot against Rome that may be interpreted as the Protestant Milton's attack on the Catholic Church. With Paradise Lost itself, the ancient gods of the Egyptians and Babylonians are listed amongst the forces of Hell.
  • China Miéville's Perdido Street Station had a part where the heroes hire some professional warriors, who are obviously modeled on both D&D type adventurers and post-Tolkien fantasy heroes. They're greedy and uncaring, and almost all of them are killed horribly.
    • That said, Miéville said in an interview with Dragon that he had played D&D when he was younger, and that it was an Affectionate Parody. And let's face it — D&D characters do have a tendency to die horrible deaths on a regular basis!
  • William Burroughs' The Place of Dead Roads contains some monumental Take Thats on England in general and W. Somerset Maugham in particular.
  • In-story example: In Christopher Moore's Practical Demonkeeping, God made humankind as one big Take That to the demons and the djinn for (if I remember correctly) being able to create and for being free. As the King of the Djinn remarks: “Jehovah is infinite in his snottiness.”
  • P.J. O'Rourke's writing style is filled with them, due to his Gonzo Journalism roots. One particularly particular example:
    "Freddie Aguilar, who's billed as "the Bob Dylan of the Philippines." This is unfair, since he's good-looking, plays the guitar well, can carry a tune, and writes songs that make sense."
  • In The Presidents Vampire novel Red, White, and Blood, President Curtis wants Cade to accompany him on the campaign trail. His partner Zach questions if that is a good idea as the scariest thing voters would expect is a mention of Sarah Palin.
  • One story in Rev. Wilbert Awdry's The Railway Series contains a jab at Clarence Reginald Dalby, a former illustrator for the books, a jab that had previously been delivered to him personally by the author. After Percy arrives late one time too many Thomas complains that he crawls about like a "green caterpillar with red stripes". Dalby, in spite of graduating from Leicester Art College, was an incompetent illustrator who frequently got the engines' proportions wrong even though he had reference pictures and drew things inconsistently. The last book he illustrated was "Percy the Small Engine", in which Percy was drawn stretched-out and somewhat short. Awdry was not happy, and told Dalby that Percy looked like a green caterpillar with red stripes. Dalby, naturally, did not take that well and he quit.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Rolling Stones you have to wonder if some of Roger Stone's rantings about his much hated science-fiction show contract had anything to do with Heinlein's experiences working on Destination Moon, or Tom Corbet Space Cadet.
  • Some theories have it that the line "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was a Take That to the Rose Theater, rival to the Globe Theater, the one for which Shakespeare produced his plays. The Rose Theater also had a sewage problem, so this is very likely. Though it seems more likely it was meant as a reference to the War of the Roses. Of course there are examples older than television,
  • Henry Fielding's Shamela is a barely concealed Take That at Pamela by Samuel Richardson, which was wildly popular at the time. The introduction, for good measure, was a Take That at its fans. Apparently on a roll, Fielding followed up with Joseph Andrews, which is another mocking parody of Pamela, though a bit more subtle.
  • In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes takes jabs at two famous literary detectives:
    • He gives some grudging credit to Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin: "He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."
    • Holmes angrily tears into Emile Gaboriau's Monsieur Lecoq:
    "Lecoq was a bungler," he said, in an angry voice; "he had only one thing to recommend him, and that was his energy. That book made me positively ill. The question was how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might be a textbook for detectives to teach them what to avoid."
    • Word of God however states that this was intended to show Holmes's jerkass nature; in real life Doyle was a fan of both Poe and Gaboriau.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Hoo, boy! FM is clearly very fond of it, and is not subtle about it either! Weekend Warriors fires one at three rapists who happen to be dentists. Payback fires this at a Democrat senator and a Health Maintenance Organization (which is Republican, by the way). Vendetta have some unflattering things to say about China and its people. The Jury throws one at a Domestic Abuser, who happens to be the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States - and his good pal! Free Fall pokes at Hollywood. Hide And Seek shoots one at the FBI. Fast Track hurls this at newspapers like the Washington Post, and the Department of Homeland Security. Final Justice essentially says that Las Vegas casino security teams are one step away from the Gestapo and the Mafia. Under The Radar says that polygamists in Utah are a bunch of pedophiles and cultists, as well as mocking the National Guard. Razor Sharp fires one at johns/pimps, and portrays congressmen, senators and the Vice President himself as part of this group. Vanishing Act throws one at identity thieves. Home Free fires one at the CIA. The POTUS is never given a name, but it's a Republican man, and might be none other than George W. Bush! FM is a 79-year-old woman going on 80, and it seems that she is angry at the world, and probably sees a lot of topics as those bratty kids that won't stay off her lawn!
  • The Val/Caelan subplot in Skulduggery Pleasant is a Take That at Twilight / Deconstruction of the vampire romance genre. Caelen insists he isn't the brooding vampire type. He also believes that Stalking Is Love and makes the heroine confused. One a whole, he just acts very stalkerish and creepy.
    • Death Bringer ends with Fletcher calling Caelan a moany little whinge-bag and then killing him when he turns into a vampire and attacks.
      • Edward and Bella are mentioned by name. By Valkyrie. While she is dumping him.. The chapter in which Caelan gets his Yandere on was actually called My Twilight. Subtly is for the weak.
  • Song at Dawn: In-universe. Al-Hisba sends one to the Archbishop. When asked why he saved Dragonetz from belladonna poison he replies: "I am a physician. It is not permitted to me to kill nor to let someone die." A bishop for a Thou Shall Not Kill religion would be keenly aware of this and indeed he winces.
  • In Sonic The Hedgehog And The Silicon Warriors Two of Sonic's animal friends become convinced their are world famous plumbers who must save a princess by jumping on people's heads. The descriptions are less than flattering "...I musta wear a stupido hat and daft-looking blue overalls, and I musta have a abig bushy moustache, and I musta run very slowly and say daft things-a in a silly fake accent..."
    • Later when asked if he would like to play Super Gimbo Land Sonic is insulted; as if he would ever play something so slow!
  • In Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, an alien species is given a copy of The Bible... and a copy of a book written by the protagonist. Guess which one got used for firewood and which one was the foundation of a new religion. The guys who wrote the Bible apparently has nothing on Ender Wiggin. Interestingly, Card himself is known for his conservative, Mormon beliefs, the Book of Mormon being a sequel/replacement to the Bible. By the time of the sequel, Xenocide, though, most of the aliens have been converted to Christianity by missionaries.
  • Spellfall by Katherine Roberts is a Take That at the whole Down the Rabbit Hole subgenre. The one who introduces the heroine to magic is NOT a wise mentor, but an evil Wizard who wants to mount an attack on the Magical Land. Said attack is possible because the people who rule that land are arrogant, intolerant, ignorant and backward-oriented. It is up to heroine and some banished wizards to save everybody.
  • In the first of the William Shatner/Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens Star Trek Novels The Ashes of Eden Kirk orders the Enterprise NCC-1701-A to go to warp on a course that would skim her through the atmosphere of the nearby planet. When the helmsman objects they would burn up Kirk says something like "Who are you going to believe, the manuals or someone who's done it?" Felt like a Take That to the Nitpicker's Guide objection to them taking the Klingon Bird of Prey to warp in atmosphere in ST:IV.
  • Timothy Zahn's Hand of Thrawn duology, while well-written and entertaining by itself, contained an extended Take That directed at everything Zahn hated about what had happened to the Star Wars Expanded Universe since he published The Thrawn Trilogy. The excessively powerful Jedi of earlier books had been unwittingly channeling The Dark Side. The lingering romantic subtext between Mara Jade and Lando Calrissian was resolved by revealing that nothing happened between them, that they'd been working together on a massive information-gathering project and sometimes had to pretend to be lovers. And then Luke proposed to her, and she accepted.
  • After Michael Crichton wrote State of Fear, which was heavily critical of those promoting the existence of anthropogenic global warming, science writer Michael Crowley wrote an article attacking the book for The New Republic. When Michael Crichton's next book, appropriately-titled Next, came out, there was an off-hand reference to a "Mick" Crowley, a pharmaceutical industry shill who was a pedophile with a small penis. No, seriously. You can't argue with solid scientific evidence like that.
  • Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a family Take That aimed at sister Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. The female protagonist of Tenant falls in love with someone bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Rochester. Things proceed to go very badly.
    • This is the background to Kate Beaton's "Dude Watchin' with the Brontes"!
    • Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is another Take That on Jane Eyre.
    • Jane Eyre is a Take That at itself. It just tends to get lost in the accretion of romanticism around it.
      • Don't forget the school. Not so much a Take That as a thinly disguised portrayal of a horrific reality. It had been cleaned up and reformed by the time the book came out, but Charlotte nonetheless had the satisfaction of sitting on a train behind an elderly gentleman who said loudly "Why, they have got Cowan Bridge School here, and Miss Temple and Mr. Wilson!" Hah hah hah.
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol, Everard wishes that people from his time — the author's own — who talked of the "noble Nordic" could see the Dark Ages peasants he is seeing.
  • Lord of the Flies got it's own Take That in the form of Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky: Teenagers on a survival test get stranded on an alien world. The selfish, aggressive, independent ones manage to get themselves killed, while the cooperative ones willing to help each other out manage to build a functioning society by the time they're rescued.
    • Insu-Pu by Mira Lobe is also a Take That at Lord of the Flies, but more child-friendly: eleven children are stranded on an island, and manage to build a functional society, and even the more aggressive children manage to fit in afterwards.
  • Privates Carr and Compton, the two drunken British soldiers in the "Circe' episode of James Joyce's Ulysses, are named after two British consular officials in Zurich that Joyce was mad at.
  • The UNIX Haters Handbook at first seems like a lighthearted jab at UNIX and including some creative language, funny cartoons, and a hilarious Anti-Forward from UNIX co-creator Dennis Ritchie. Once you start reading it you begin to realize that many of the points are serious problems in the design of UNIX complete with usenet postings from very frustrated users of what is supposed to be a production system.
  • Son of the Witch was written in 2005, after the musical, and the Tonys, in which it lost to to a show that gives new lyrics to classical Broadway Songs. Early in the book, Dorothy and Company remember how hard it was to get in the first time. Good thing Scarecrow notices that the guards are distracted by a motley crew advertising some strange new show done mostly with puppets so they can sneak in.
  • Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall sends a fairly blatant one to the generally very positive media portrayals of Thomas More, describing him as a religious fanatic and emotionally abusive towards his wife.
  • 1066 and All That mentions Queen Anne passing an "Occasional Conformity Law" that people only had to follow once in a while, and goes on at how this was the only law of its kind... until the speed limit.
    • The whole of 1066 and All That was a Take That aimed at the then fashionable 'Whig History' style of teaching which saw the whole of history as a history of progress towards the unimprovable liberal democracy. The book satirises this by mentioning 'The Disillusionment of the Monasteries', Bloody Mary being wrong to bring Catholicism back to England because 'England was bound to become protestant' and history coming to an end when America became Top Nation.
  • The 1632 series is filled with various historical Take Thats. In the first book, for instance, it's clearly stated that William Shakespeare was a nobody and that his plays were written by someone else. This was walked back a bit in later books, however.
  • It's been suggested that Captain Hastings was based on Agatha Christie's first husband. After the divorce Hastings suffered galloping Flanderization, before being written out.
  • Ben Elton, who is a successful writer for television, attacks reality TV in his novels Dead Famous and Chart Throb.
    • And books like Popcorn and Blind Faith contain increasingly random and non-plot-related Take Thats at any number of things, including New Age spiritualism, Soundtrack Dissonance in movies, bloggers, MySpace, and a really ridiculous amount of pagespace in Blind Faith is given to bitching about women who shave or wax their pubic hair and men who find that attractive.
  • A critic named Platt wrote some rather contemptuous and, in David Drake's opinion, ill-informed remarks on one of Drake's early stories. Since then, people named "Platt" in Drake's books are invariably unpleasant in one or more ways — usually being stupid; unsavory sexual tastes sometimes come in as well.
  • It's apparent that David Eddings had some issues with academia, and went to the effort to portray universities and professors in particular as arrogant, aloof and disconnected from reality.
    • In The Belgariad 'Verse, characters mostly dismissed out of hand any literature from an academic source, and a visit to the Melcene University, largest in the world, was almost entirely fruitless because almost no one there had the slightest inclination to put there knowledge to any actual use.
    • In The Elenium, an entire college of physicians is easily bribed to refuse treatment to a main character, except for one old rascal who only helps because of the chagrin his colleagues will feel when the bribe money doesn't come through, thanks to his intervention.
    • And in The Tamuli, set in the same 'Verse, the main Tamul university exists primarily as a propaganda machine for the empire.
  • Upon hearing Gertrude Stein's quote, "A rose is a rose is a rose," Ernest Hemingway responded, "A bitch is a bitch is a bitch."
  • The famous quote of Sir Isaac Newton, "If I have seen further than other men, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants" was nothing more than a veiled Take That to a colleague and rival, Robert Hooke who was, shall we say, vertically challenged. Newton was really not that nice a man; then again, supposedly Hooke wasn't either. By modern standards, although both were geniuses, they were also...loosely hinged.
  • Jonathan Swift launched so many Take Thats at other authors, classical poetic styles, and famous people, that he finally wrote a poem about the Royal Court that got him in so much trouble he had to flee the country for years. Oops.
  • Jung's response to The Wasteland was to deem T. S. Eliot schizophrenic.
  • P. G. Wodehouse was widely denounced for his wartime broadcasts from Berlin, and leading the attacks on him was his erstwhile friend A. A. Milne. Stung by the bitter and personal nature of Milne's remarks, the usually-mild Wodehouse was driven to take revenge, and wrote a short story, "Rodney has a Relapse", in which the author of hard-boiled detective stories turns to writing the most sickening poems about his son, Timothy Bobbin. "I am not a weak man," says the narrator on hearing one, "but I confess that I shuddered."
    • P.G. Wodehouse also aimed a Take That at the British Fascist leader Oswald Mosley by creating 'Roderick Spode' a preposterous figure leading the 'black shorts' who leads a double life designing ladies underwear. His put down by Bertie Wooster deserves to be read in full. "It's about time some publicly-spirited person told you where to get off. The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you've succeeded in convincing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting "Hail, Spode!" and you imagine it's the voice of the people. That is where you make your bloomer. What the voice of the people is actually saying is, "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your life see such a perfect perisher?"
  • One of the oldest examples of this comes in the very first English dictionary. Samuel Johnson defined 'oats' as 'a grain which is principally fed to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.'
    • The retort was "England has beautiful horses, Scotland has beautiful women."
    • Samuel Johnson was full of anti-Scots lines. When he was first introduced to James Boswell, Boswell said "I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it." Johnson's reply: "That, sir, is what far too many of your countrymen cannot help."
    • Johnson was one of the great Take That champions of his time. His letter to Lord Chesterfield is a masterpiece of Take That: an enormous "go to hell" couched in the most ostensibly respectful language imaginable. note 
  • Stephen King's interview with MSNBC has him stating flat-out that in his opinion, Stephenie Meyer 'can't write worth a damn'.
  • One author named two villains after his first wife's divorce attorneys; on another occasion, while having problems with investments, he named five villains Merill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith.
  • A short story by Zora Neale Hurston features a poor black woman who sells songs to a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Elvis Presley. Later, Elvis returns to ask what her songs were about. The woman insists that the lyrics are self-explanatory, but he doesn't have the life experience or character to understand them. Hurston was a musician herself, and obviously not happy by the way white performers co-opted black music.
  • 8-Bit Theater: The ending of Brian Clevinger's Nuklear Age was meant to be a massive Take That at Cerebus Syndrome.

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