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Bad Review Threat

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"Which one of you ding-dang dingleberries gave our restaurant a one-star review?!"
Maw Rugg, Jellystone!

We all know how important public opinion can be. Any restaurant, service or company can attest to that, so they often do their best to cater to their customers' needs in order to maintain a good reputation.

Unfortunately, there are some who take advantage of this by explicitly threatening to put in a bad word about them, using this threat as leverage to get whatever they want. These people are usually unpleasant people motivated by Greed and entitlement.

This trope has become more common following the introduction of online review apps, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor which allow anyone to make their opinions of a service quickly and publicly known, and exacerbated by so-called Influencers, some of which are more than happy to use their clout to demand preferred treatment and even free goods and services "in exchange for the free advertising" (not unlike a Protection Racket). Or they may have an unreasonable Bratty Food Demand. It is not uncommon for owners of these places to respond back with meticulous details of the reviewers' experience to defend their establishment (and their staff, for that matter), and out the reviewer for lying and being untrustworthy.

A sub-trope to Slave to PR. Can be seen as the opposite of No Such Thing as Bad Publicity. Compare to Convicted by Public Opinion and Insidious Rumor Mill. Can also be considered a darker version of Caustic Critic. Can overlap with Fabricated Blackmail if the reviewer threatens to spread lies. Compare Strongly Worded Letter and Poke the Poodle. May overlap with The Inspector Is Coming if a notable food critic (or someone mistaken for one) is involved. This can also be a tactic of the Obnoxious Entitled Housewife. See also How They Treat the Help.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Aggretsuko, Fenneko plans to play Heartthrob: Virtual Boyfriend for a couple hours, pawn it off and then review-bomb it online out of spite. Her plan quickly changes when she sees the main character.
    "I-It's you! You're that hot-ass unicorn!"
  • In Cyborg 009, 006 nearly drives himself and the other cyborgs who volunteer to help him crazy because of an incoming food critic — a loud and abrasive woman who keeps threatening to dock points, throwing out threats like "Docking -37 points for slow service" while eating an insane amount of food, and then declaring that it was all awful. After she runs off, a police officer reveals that the woman is a fraud who regularly pulls this stunt to get free food.

    Films — Animation 
  • Onward: While Ian and Barley are at the Manticore's Tavern, they ask Corey the Manticore if she can help them find a map to the Phoenix Gem. Some customers repeatedly interrupt to inform Corey that the karaoke machine is broken, and when she points out that she's busy with other matters, one of the customers threatens to give a 1-star review to the restaurant.
  • Ratatouille: Played With in regards to Anton Ego, a notorious restaurant critic. He's not so much the type to threaten to give a bad review to whichever restaurant he's visiting as his mere visiting to said restaurant being a death knell for their ratings. Him paying such a visit to Gusteau's in the past caused the establishment to lose a star when he didn't like what he was given — the heartbreak of which caused Gusteau to pass away and the restaurant to lose another star (as per tradition). When he decides to pay yet another visit to them when word of a hip new chef comes about, everyone panics and fears the worst.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley swindles a Beverly Hills five-star hotel into giving him a suite by pretending to be a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine and threatening to write a review article decrying the hotel as racist if they don't find the hotel reservation to his name (that does not exists) immediately.
  • Birdman: Tabitha Dickinson, a highly influential theater critic, promises Riggan that she'll give his play a terrible review and get it shut down early. She's not even blackmailing him; she just despises that he's a Hollywood actor trying to succeed on Broadway. Subverted in the end when, following Riggan's attempted onstage suicide, Tabitha ends up giving a glowing review of his "method acting" and makes the show a success.
  • Cold Pursuit: As part of his Everything Is Racist rant at the ski resort, one of Thorpe's threats is that he is going to leave a scathing Yelp review.
  • Parodied in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The main characters' stay at Pankot Palace results in them being captured by the evil Thuggee cult, which secretly runs the place. As she's being lowered into a lava pit, Willie declares that, "I'm not going to have anything nice to say about this place when I get back!"
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders: Jonathan Cooper is a professional reviewer for a newspaper, and he's distinctly unimpressed by the eponymous Merlin's shop. He tells Merlin that if he doesn't see some real magic, then his upcoming review will be quite negative — and smugly implies that his reviews have single-handedly driven other businesses to financial ruin.
    Jonathan Cooper: Do you know who I am? I am the supreme being! I chew places like this up and spit them into the toilet.

  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Greg writes a negative review of Papa Tony's restaurant in his newspaper "The Neighborhood Tattler". Tony isn't very happy about it, as he had paid for ad space in the paper, so Greg offers to write a more positive review in the next edition if Tony buys a bigger ad.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alice: "The Last Review" has a tough newspaper critic threaten several times that he will be writing a negative review of Mel's Diner because of the poor service he receives. This is even before he samples Mel's chili. Averted, but darkly so: The man suddenly falls ill moments after taking a small bite of the chili and becomes unresponsive, and medics are unable to revive him.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon, arguing with a Thai restaurant about portioning over the phone, ends the conversation by saying that his harshly worded review on took down a local muffin stand.
  • Columbo has the episode "Murder Under Glass" where restaurant reviewer Paul Gerard is extorting money from restaurants to live a good life, but one restaurateur Vittorio Rossi has had enough and threatens to expose Paul. Paul laces a bottle of wine with Fugu Fish poison for Vittorio to unwittingly drink later, sits down with Vittorio for a parting dinner, and Vittorio later dies after drinking the poisoned wine. Columbo is on the case.
  • In the Community episode "App Development and Condiments", due to how the social rating service MeowMeowBeenz uses a weighted system where higher-ranked people have greater influence on ratings, students who have five out of five Beenz can easily coerce other students by threat of a low review, such as when Shirley knocks Vicky down to a one after she ranks Shirley a four.
  • A variant in the iCarly episode "iNevel", wherein Nevel Papperman, owner of the popular web show review site, invites Carly Shay for an interview and expresses his like for the show. However, he then flirts with and kisses Carly on the cheek out of nowhere, causing her to reject him by smearing tapenade on his face. Furious, he writes a dishonest bad review to get back at Carly for rejecting him and will only revise it if she agrees to date him.
  • Jessie: A rare heroic example is shown in "World Wide Web of Lies"; After Agatha takes over the local playground by threatening to expose the other nannies' indiscretions over the Internet, Christina Ross turns the tables by threatening to use her celebrity influence to destroy Agatha's reputation via a single negative post.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • In "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders", Mike and the 'bots exaggerate professional reviewer Jonathan Cooper's Small Name, Big Ego tendencies even beyond what they were in the original movie: "Look, my reviews have destroyed whole cities!" Then in a later host segment, Tom Servo and Crow get inspired by Cooper to become niche reviewers themselves. They start by reviewing each other — at first Damning With Faint Praise then getting increasingly harsh as they go.
      Crow: [reading his review] "From the moment I saw Tom Servo, I was taken with his gay, even naughty, bright red color and the unexpected clear Pyrex dome. The little dangly arms, though the function was unclear, added to the light-hearted feel of the experience. Flawless? No. But I recommend this Tom Servo for children and anyone looking for a bare-bones kind of robot!" There you go.
      Tom Servo: Huh. My turn? Good. [reading his review] "Everyone's talking about the new Crow T. Robot out on Highway 6. Insouciant, eclectic, it seems to promise a kind of excitement. Yet the overall effect becomes rather more garish than fun, and I left feeling altogether empty... and sad."
    • At the end of "Avalanche", Jonah and the 'bots pretend to be customers reviewing David's ski resort in the aftermath of the film's catastrophic avalanche.
      Tom Servo: Dear TripAdvisor, too much snow. Did not appreciate avalanche. Service staff was all dead. Cannot recommend.
      Crow: Dear TripAdvisor, tried to get room service. Chef said kitchen was on fire. Not the kind of service I'm accustomed to.
      Jonah: Dear TripAdvisor, man at disco only knew one song. Probably nice for singles but not for families who want to keep their children alive.
      Tom Servo: Dear TripAdvisor, vending machines only had Cheez-Its. Chairlift electrocution ride not nearly as fun as advertised.
      Crow: Dear TripAdvisor, found cheerleader in my salad. Wait staff refused to help. One out of five stars.
      Jonah: Dear TripAdvisor, spent a magical weekend with the owner's mother. She's a bright, sassy lady. Seemed to think we were in Hawaii. Surprisingly good on keyboard. Died in a horrible explosion. Three stars.
  • The Nanny: In the episode "Sunday in the Park with Fran", Maxwell is seeking to get a positive review of his play from notorious critic Frank Bradley. As part of this, he agrees to let Frank Jr., the critic's spoiled brat of a son, go on a play date to the park with Gracie, despite the fact that Gracie doesn't like the boy because he is such a brat. At the park though, Fran is forced to discipline him for his actions (by hitting him on the rear with a baguette) when Frank Jr. has grabbed onto Gracie piggyback-style and refuses to let go. The boy promptly threatens to tell his father on her for doing this, and to make sure that he gives Maxwell's play a bad review. Later on, Max tries to get Fran to apologize for her actions in the park...only to wind up standing up for her and refusing to suck up to Mr. Bradley anymore, prompting the man to threaten to destroy Maxwell's career (having indicated that he's done so to other people before) in retaliation before he storms out. In the end, Mr. Bradley is unable to carry through with his threat because he came down with food poisoning and missed the play's premiere, while a television news team that was present asked a random audience member (who turns out to be Fran) for her opinion and got a glowing review from her.
  • The Office (US): One episode has Jim and Pam discover Dwight is running his beet farm as a bed and breakfast and Pam decides to book a stay. Dwight initially refuses, but relents after Pam implies she'll write a bad review on Trip Advisor.
    Dwight: Trip Advisor is the life blood of the Agrotourism industry. A couple of bad reviews there, you might as well close up shop. That's what took down the Stalk Inn. One of the cutest little asparagus farms you'll ever see.
  • We Are Lady Parts: Ayesha, the drummer for all-female, all-Muslim punk rock band Lady Parts, also drives for Uber. She is giving a ride to a trio of rude guys who see her in her hijab and ask if her dad is making her drive. She responds sarcastically ("Yeah, he said if don't drive simple, dickless pissheads around, he's going to send me to Iraq to marry my cousin.") One of them thinks she is serious but another threatens to give her a one-star rating. Ayesha does not care and deliberately puts on loud heavy metal music just to mess with them.

  • In the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Tacky", one of the many tacky things listed in the song is "threatening waiters with a bad Yelp review". And the narrator apparently does this for fun.

  • In the Ability episode "Ranting and Rating", Matt writes a social media post about how disabilty-unfriendly a restaurant is and is surprised to find it makes him mildly famous and people encourage him to do more. He starts out with the intent of a genuine crusade, but then realises he can also use it to get free stuff.
  • In the first episode of The Train at Platform 4, the official Arrivista app lets you rate your journey in real time. When one passenger comments that this sounds like a way of making the train staff hostages to fortune, the train manager replies "Well, that's only because it is." Coffee-related crises lead to the rating getting steadily lower, but even once they've solved the problems, it doesn't improve. It turns out nobody remembered to give the driver his coffee, and he's been sitting in the cab giving increasingly bad ratings.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, Lolorito Nanarito is the richest man in Thanalan, if not the world, and a Picky Eater who's known in culinary circles as "Chefsbane". His expensive, terribly hard-to-please tastes means that only the finest culinarians can satisfy him, while his vast economic influence means a bad review from him is a career death sentence. Even the Bismarck, often regarded as the finest restaurant in Eorzea, is thrown into a panic when he books a table. Even worse, its best cook, Master Lyngsath, is out of commission due to a burnt hand when Lolorito comes for a visit during the Culinarian questline. This forces the Warrior to step up and make an utterly flawless serving of Lolorito's favorite meal to placate him. Even then, Lolorito feels so insulted by his inability to leave a bad review that he purposely engineers a diplomatic visit from the sultana and makes things as difficult as possible to prepare a feast in an attempt to humiliate the Warrior.
  • Hiveswap: In Act 2, one of the ways that you can obtain a train ticket is to tell Zebruh about Chixie's plan to protest at the event she's going to, leading to him blackmailing her into giving up her ticket by threatening to say bad things about her on social media. Since Chixie is a lowblood who relies on the support of highbloods like Zebruh and doesn't want to put herself at even more risk of being culled, she relents.
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash: In the Dark Bloo Inn, one resident Toad is unsatisfied with his room because his bedsheets are crumpled. He trashes the room and tells Mario he's going to leave a bad review unless the problem is fixed.
  • Played for Laughs in Psychonauts, at the beginning of Gloria's Theater, Jasper Rolls threatens to write a terrible review of the Theater and get it shut down.
    Becky: Well, I'm off to go kill myself.
  • During certain business shakedown missions in Shakedown: Hawaii, even after completing the goals, the shopkeeper will still refuse to comply. In response, your character will open up a tablet and threaten to leave a one-star review, which gets them to comply.
  • Played for Laughs during Watch_Dogs 2. The Player Character Marcus takes a temporary gig as a driver for an Uber knockoff and picks up ally Miranda Comay so they can have a discussion about Dedsec. At the end of the drive, Miranda sarcastically says she's going to give Marcus a "shit" rating in the app.

    Web Animation 
  • Etra chan saw it!: In this story, when Karin, Yuri, and Yuzuriha visit Akamatsu's organic cafe a second time, Karin notes that the cafe was empty despite being so crowded one week ago. When Yuzuriha shows her a 0.5-star review of the cafĂ©, it turns out Akamatsu himself only let pretty moms get in without reservation, and he sexually harassed them after they breastfed their babies. To top it off, Yuzuriha plays a video on social media that shows him being an asshole to a mom whose baby puked on the table.
  • Manga Soprano: Lisa writes a zero-star review and voices a phone complaint for the bento shop Kanade works at, even referring to her as "that staff with purple hair" to get her fired. However, she finds out the reviews ended up targeting her purple-haired mother-in-law instead when Kanade revealed it wasn't the bento shop she worked at.
  • My Little Pony: Tell Your Tale: In "Mane Melody", Phyllis threatens to give Pipp's mane salon a review bad enough to put it out of business (which she claims to have done to several other businesses) if she's not one hundred percent satisfied.
  • Sunset Paradise: When Chet refuses to tell them where the cat burglar went, Meggy threatens that she'll make a complaint to the regional manager, to which Chet starts quivering and tells them quickly.
    Meggy: This card from your hotel was left at the scene of a burglary, so don't play dumb with us. Tell us what you know!
    Auri: Or else!
    Chet: Or else what?
    Meggy: Or we'll make a complaint to your regional manager.
    Chet: A w-written complaint?!
    Auri: The most writtenest complaint that was ever written.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: In "Mario's Bed and Breakfast", Bob and Breakfast 2 is such a success that it's stealing business from every other hotel in town, much to the disdain of Tom Nook and the Hotel Owner's Association. In response, they send an army of Nostalgia Critics to invade the hotel and mass-review-bomb it into oblivion.
    • SMG4 Crew: In "Mario Joins Discord", the gang are trying to prevent Tari from looking up the full image of an explicit GIF, which is achieved by having Meggy and Melony break in to Google in a bid to shut down the internet. What gets Google to do the deed? Meggy threatening to give the Google Stadia a one-star rating.

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic: The Nostalgia Critic reviews a Teddy Ruxpin doll. He criticizes it for being creepy, only for the toy to come alive to attack the Critic. Teddy Ruxpin threatens to shoot the Critic in order to give him a more positive review.
  • SuperMarioLogan: Near the end of "Bowser Junior's Nintendo 3DS!", Junior attempts to trade Bowser's older Game Boy systems for a 3DS at GameStop, but Brooklyn T. Guy is only able to give him a 2DS, which Joseph and Cody diss for being unable to flip open and not having 3D graphics. Junior destroys his 2DS out of frustration by smashing it with a hammer and tossing it down the stairs, then when he goes back to GameStop, he shows Brooklyn the broken 2DS, claiming he sold it to him that way. Brooklyn correctly guesses that Junior destroyed his 3DS, but Junior insists that Brooklyn is accusing him. Junior makes Brooklyn trade his broken 2DS for a 3DS, threatening to leave a bad Yelp review unless he does.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged: In episode 7, Kirito gets Lisbeth to tag along with him to find the ultra-rare metal needed to craft the best sword in the game by threatening to tell everyone she's been passing off weak, easily-breakable swords as high-quality ones.

    Western Animation 
  • 6teen: In the episode "Employee Of The Month", Jonesy becomes a "Secret Shopper", where he was required to shop at stores in the mall and rate their employees' work. He also discovered that the stores will give him stuff for free in the hopes of getting a good score if he lets slip that he's the secret shopper. Naturally, he exploits this for all it's worth. When he tries to let Jen in on it, she doesn't believe him and orders him to leave under threat of physical assault. When Jen finds out Jonesy was telling the truth, she goes back to him to try and get in his good graces, resulting in her giving him a large pile of stuff from the store for free, with him giving disapproving looks whenever she speaks up about it.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball weaponizes this in "The Stars" when he realizes he can get his way by threatening bad reviews. Gumball convinces Larry to build an app that lets people rate anything. Gumball starts to abuse this to get everything he wants, such as threatening to give a restaurant lower ratings if Larry doesn't do what he asks. Each rating literally changes the environment from a swanky 5-star restaurant down to a 3-star diner, to a 2-star Bad Guy Bar, to a couple of hobos fighting over garbage at 1 star. Gumball starts abusing other aspects of society, as well as other citizens, resulting in society grinding to a halt because everyone is too scared to do anything at all for fear of a 1-star review completely destroying anything they have left.
  • In the American Dad! episode "Big Stan on Campus", when Roger runs a bed-and-breakfast, in order to keep his perfect five-star rating, he and the Smiths need to perfectly service a particularly uptight guest (who subtly implies that he won't give them that rating unless they provide everything he asks of them). It ends up being All for Nothing because the guest turns out to be an asylum escapee who spent all his time in Steve's room putting his feces on and in everything.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Touch of Eval(uations)", Mr, Frond provides the students of Wagstaff with evaluation sheets for their teachers, intending for them to provide constructive criticism. The students quickly start using the threat of giving a bad evaluation to force their teachers to let them do whatever they want.
  • Family Guy: In "Our Idiot Brian", Stewie takes Brian to a fancy restaurant in hopes of restoring his intelligent, sophisticated side. Instead, Brian immediately demands to be given free food, or else he'll give the restaurant a bad review on Yelp.
    Stewie: Oh, that's right. Yelp is a weapon for dumb people.
  • House of Mouse: When word gets out about a critic coming to the titular restaurant, the staff mistakes Mortimer Mouse for said critic. He uses this to his advantage throughout the night until the real critic, Lumiere, clears things up with the House of Mouse staff, after which the tables quickly turn.
  • Jellystone!: In "VIP Baby You Know Me", Shag borrows money from the Banana Splits so he can make his family's cafe cooler. When the Splits demand the loan be repaid, they inform him that if he doesn't pay them back soon, they'll all go online and post one-star reviews for the cafe. When they accidentally leave one review active, Shag's family storms the Splits at the end to lay the hurt on them.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Spice Up Your Life", Zesty Gourmand, Canterlot's top critic, uses her position to force every restaurant in the city to cater exclusively to her excessively Plain Palate, and badmouths any who don't.
  • In the PAW Patrol episode "Pups Save the Kitty Rescue Crew", Mayor Humdinger (disguised as a hipster) threatens Mr. Porter's cafe with a "frowny face rating" after staging a seagull attack.
  • South Park: In "You're Not Yelping", Cartman and several other townspeople use the threat of posting bad reviews on Yelp to get whatever they want from local restaurants. The restaurant owners eventually get sick of this and decide to have Yelp reviewers banned from their establishments. Unfortunately, because all of the Yelpers are self-absorbed assholes, they go on a rampage and restaurant owners end up scared of not serving them. However, specifically because the Yelpers are self-absorbed assholes, each and every one of them assumes they are leading everyone else. Kyle devises a method with the Mayor so the Yelpers are all given "special medals" to signify their status as Yelpers, so the people in restaurants know to give them food that is unspeakably soiled by doses of boogers, piss, shit, and cum.