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Blunder-Correcting Impulse

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Great Sword hunter: Hmm... Looks like Magnamalo is an Elder Dragon, right?note 
[Magnamalo picks up the Great Sword hunter, takes his Pitfall Trap, places it on the ground, and plops himself into it]
Great Sword hunter: ...Definitely not an Elder Dragon.
NCHProductions, "Magnamalo, WIZARD of Malice"

A character is trying to do a certain task, but they're terrible. They're so bad another character can't take it anymore, so they take over the task for them just to make the pain of watching them stop.

Blunder-Correcting Impulse typically takes one of the following forms:

  • Alice asks Bob to do something for her and he refuses, so she tries to do it herself and does so badly that Bob changes his mind and does it instead because he can't stand watching her.
  • Alice asks Bob to do something and he refuses, so she turns to someone else (usually The Rival, The Ditz, or the Cloudcuckoolander) and Bob quickly changes his mind because he doesn't want either of them to do it.
  • Alice insists on doing it herself, but Bob can't stand how badly she's doing, so he does it for her.
  • Bob sees Alice struggling and takes pity on her, so he volunteers to do it instead.
  • Bob asks Alice to do something (or maybe she asks him if she can and he gives her permission), but she does such a terrible job that he regrets his decision and does it himself.

This is often Played for Laughs or used to lighten up a really intense situation, though it can also be Played for Drama. Blunder-Correcting Impulse can occur with just two people, or a group. This trope is also a key component of the Xylophone Gag.

Sometimes this is a way to show a Jerkass character as not so much of a jerk. They want to help, but they don't want to admit it, so they offer help in the least nice way possible by pointing out how much they suck at it (which may or may not be true). It can also be the also mark of a Tsundere showing their gentler side, or of someone Enraged by Idiocy.

Related to Fence Painting, Unwanted Assistance, and possibly Do Wrong, Right. Blunder-Correcting Impulse will often overlap with Suckiness Is Painful, though the nature of the reaction for each trope differs. See Reverse Psychology or Correction Bait for if Alice intentionally does badly or asks someone else specifically to coerce Bob into co-operating, and Obfuscating Stupidity for the invoked version of this trope.


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  • Many web ads for mobile puzzle games will show a very simple puzzle done very incorrectly. The idea is to exploit this trope to get people to purchase the game and solve it themselves.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Urusei Yatsura: Ran has a bad cold, and Lum comes by to help out. Among other things, she tries to cook some food, only to have the first dish overspiced. Directed to follow a recipe from "365 Recipes for the Terminally Ill", Lum finds it way too bland and tries to "improve" it. Ran catches her, and sees that Lum is bad at vegetable chopping too. Soon, Ran's taken the whole cooking chore over, working herself back into exhaustion.
  • Double Subverted in Space Brothers: Nanba's team is assigned an engineer for a rover design competition that has to do with their astronaut training. The engineer, Pico Norton, thinks they don't have a chance to win and doesn't want to help. You expect he'll help after being impressed by Nanba's ideas for the rover, but then it turns out he helps because they were going to screw up setting up the parachute that delivers the rover.
  • In an episode of One Piece, everyone except Luffy and Robin have had their memories stolen. Nami and Zorro left for a nearby island, and the remaining crew decide to go after them. Robin asks Usopp to build a raft to get them there, which he refuses, so Luffy, Chopper, and Sanji decide to make the rafts themselves. Their alleged rafts are so terribly designed that Usopp perfectly crafts one himself.
  • In Dogs: Bullets & Carnage, after watching Nill try and fail to fix Naoto's jacket, Badou takes over and does the job for her with surprising speed and skill.
  • In Dr. STONE, when Senku and Chrome are unable to make glass vessels for their laboratory, they kidnap Ishigami Village's craftsman, Kaseki, and force him to watch their failed attempts at glassblowing. Despite never having seen glass before, Kaseki ends up so infuriated by the duo's poor technique that he breaks free and, thanks to his skill in other crafts being a good enough starting point, quickly figures out how to actually make what they want.

  • The punchline of Bill Cosby's "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" stand-up bit. His wife wants him to make breakfast for the children, and he ends up giving them chocolate cake. He implies that it was Obfuscating Stupidity to get the Unishment of going back to bed.
  • Comedian Jon Richardson has a skit in his Funny Magnet show regarding his flat mates tendency to do the washing up in front of him to impress him.
    Flat Mate: I'm going to do the washing up!
    Jon: Yeah... So am I, five minutes after you think you've done it .

    Comic Strips 
  • In this Peanuts strip. Linus has taken over for Charlie Brown as the pitcher for their baseball team. When Charlie Brown sees that Linus is trying to pitch while wearing his blanket over his head, he comes out and takes over the pitching again.

    Films — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: During the archery contest part of the Friendship Games, Twilight Sparkle proves unable to hit the target, and her so-called "teammates" of the Shadowbolts are not helping at all, doing nothing but berating her. So much so that Applejack, despite being in the opposite team, gets fed up with it and advises Twilight on how to calm down and shoot straight.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In U.S. Marshals, the local sheriff is attempting to set up a dragnet for the missing prisoner Mark Sheridan, but his plan is so inept (and for very justifiable reasons, namely, that he's never dealt with an escaped fugitive in his career) that Gerard repeatedly interjects to offer suggestions. Eventually, the sheriff asks him, "What do you think?" and Gerard immediately lays out his own plan.
  • In Down Periscope Lieutenant Commander Dodge needs to have some tricky piloting but his dive officer is having a crisis of ability after a mess up earlier. So he intentionally gives less than perfect orders for his sub to pass through the propellers of a large ship Lt. Lake, the dive officer, tries to give suggestions. But when Dodge says he is not 100% sure, Lt. Lake takes charge and gets the sub through it. Later on she realizes what he did.
  • In the opening to Star Trek: Generations, the Enterprise-B is routed to answer the distress call of two transports caught in the Nexus. Captain Kirk (who is aboard solely as a "guest") struggles to avoid interjecting himself and undermining Harriman, the ship's actual captain. But as he watches Harriman's "by-the-book" approach failing and one of the ships blow up, it becomes harder for Kirk to hold his tongue. Finally, Harriman tacitly admits he's out of his depth and asks Kirk for help.

  • Discussed by the Ganymeans in the Giants Series, as an example of how alien they are.
    [A Ganymean] could stand and watch another perform a task that he knew he could do better, and say nothing — a feat almost impossible for most Earthmen.
  • Avoiding this is the definition of "Kent" in The Meaning of Liff:
    Politely determined not to help despite a violent urge to the contrary. Kent expressions are seen on the faces of people who are good at something watching someone else who can't do it at all.
  • The example of this trope in Polish media has to be Na tropach Smętka, a non-fiction story of how Melchior Wańkowicz and his younger daughter took a rowing trip to Mazury in the nineteen thirties. As they arrive and begin to assemble their boat, they deliberately do it in a very, very inept way to get the jetty loiterers to do it for them. Works like a charm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one segment on 1000 Ways to Die, a Henpecked Husband's wife criticizes the way he mows their lawn and decides to do it herself, but is too drunk to notice the cord to his arc welder and accidentally mows over it, getting electrocuted to death.
  • In the Elementary episode "A Landmark Story", Sherlock Holmes forces Joan Watson to break into a funeral home with him to perform an autopsy on the murder victim. Joan refuses, so Sherlock attempts to perform the autopsy himself. After getting frustrated with Sherlock's evident lack of medical training, she grudgingly performs the autopsy herself.
  • In an episode of season 3 of Game of Thrones, during the funeral of Lord Hoster Tully, Edmure Tully was charged to end the ceremony by firing a flaming arrow at the floating pyre. After he missed three times in a row, his uncle Blackfish took over and hit on the first try.
  • Played with in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; the team does fine, but May's frustration with serving as Mission Control and having no ability to influence the action as it happens leads her to return to combat in spite of her trauma and misgivings.
  • In an episode of Sister, Sister, one of the twins is trying to perform Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" at a recital but is doing so badly that when she's nearly staggered to the end, her teacher intervenes and finishes it for her.
  • Arrested Development had an episode where Michael Bluth was worried his son was too stressed out and beginning to show symptoms of OCD. As it turns out, he was just following his aunt around to fix her attempts at housework to minimize damage.
  • Doctor Who: In "Time and the Rani", the Rani's giant brain-powered supercomputer is performing a complex calculation. At one point, it misspeaks a value as "29," which the Doctor, ever the showoff, corrects to "39." And promptly kicks himself for it when the thing compensates.

  • Weird Al notoriously hates bad grammar. Long before he ranted about it in "Word Crimes" he took several photos of himself correcting bad grammar on signs, such as replacing "15 items or less" with "15 items or fewer" or adding an "ly" to the end of a street sign, changing it from "drive slow" to "drive slowly."

    Visual Novels 
  • Sweet Enchantments: In Runa's first season, Runa tells the heroine how to set the tables, then refuses to repeat herself. The heroine is forced to guess; Runa soon stops her, remarking that she didn't realize how annoying it would be to watch her do it wrong.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of American Dad!, Stan tries to give a rousing speech to the recently disbanded neighborhood watch committee, who have formed a rebel alliance against Roger after he took over the home owner's association. However, he keeps stumbling over his words until he's reduced to awkwardly repeating the word "bosom." Haley then takes over for him out of pity.
  • During the North Pole invasion story arc of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Water Tribe leader reveals his plan to have his men disguise themselves as Fire Nation soldiers in an attempt to infiltrate their ships. When the uniform is revealed, Sokka laughs out loud as he points out the numerous errors in the uniform, citing that the uniform is full of anachronisms that the Fire Nation army hasn't used in years, even decades.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, paraplegic Joe Swanson gets a leg transplant and is able to walk again, almost instantly becoming as athletic as he ever was and soon becoming very cocky about it, abandoning his old friends (who can't keep up with him in his newfound interests) and eventually about to walk out on his wife Bonnie. Bonnie says she wants her old Joe back and pulls a gun, trying to shoot his spine and reparalyze him. She keeps missing and wounding him in other places, until he finally yells "STOP, I'LL DO IT MYSELF!!!" He then takes the gun and shoots himself in the base of the spine.
  • There is a variation in an episode of Beverly Hills Teens, where Jett quits the band. In the end, the rest of the gang take her to Gig's solo concert. Seeing how badly he manages without her, she goes back. As she says "I can't handle all this humiliation. Even when it's someone I despise".