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Calling the Young Man Out

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"You will listen to me and not speak a word. I am your father, and you, boy, are not yourself. You are too quick to temper. You are rash, insubordinate, and out of control. This will not stand. You will honor your mother and abandon this path you have chosen. It is not too late."
Kratos, God of War (PS4)

It's very common for mistreated children to be depicted Calling the Old Man Out, finally taking their abusive or neglectful parents to task for their failings. However, sometimes, it's the kid who's the bad guy in the usual equation, and thus it falls to a father or mother to deliver a well-placed diatribe aimed at their selfishness.

It's very common for the parents who deliver these speeches to be shy, non-confrontational, or just extremely devoted to the child in question — until said child pushes them too far. It may even be a plot point that the parent's inability to say "no" to their offspring has actually given rise to diatribe-worthy behaviour in the first place, adding the subtextual need to correct old mistakes to the monologue. However, it's also possible for this to be delivered by a "hard-but-fair" no-nonsense parental figure.

Also note that this isn't necessarily delivered by the literal parent: from time to time, a mentor, Parental Substitute or another surrogate takes the place of a biological mother or father. Other times, it may be another adult who does this on behalf of the parents.

Also, a key aspect of the trope is that the provider of the speech has to actually have a point, otherwise it's just abuse. Any parent can insult or demean their child; far more impactful is a parent taking aim at real character flaws and explaining how their child has hurt someone through those flaws. If an Abusive Parent does this, it may be used to point out that Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse if their child continues to blame their actions on the parent instead of taking responsibility for them.

May involve the words "Disappointed in You", "When I Was Your Age..." or "I Have No Son!".

A Sub-Trope of "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Can overlap with What the Hell, Hero? if the young one being called out is The Hero themselves or Belated Child Discipline if a Spoiled Brat is getting called out for their bratty behavior.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Super: Following a one-sided sparring match with his father, Future Trunks feels confident that Vegeta and Goku can defeat Goku Black with Super Saiyan Blue, and he need not contribute. However, Vegeta refuses to let his future son stay complacent, reminding him that threats after Goku Black will follow and Future Trunks must be ready to face them himself. Additionally, Vegeta tells Trunks that if he is a Saiyan, and his son at that, he will strive to get stronger.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed returns to his hometown to find his long-absent father Hohenheim. While Ed is rather bitter about Hohenheim abandoning them, Hohenheim instead lays into Ed for attempting human transmutation and burning down his house in an attempt to remove the evidence of what they'd done.
  • Lady!!: When George drops Lynn off at their house, only Lynn's grandmother greets him. She tells him that Misuzu's father doesn't want to see him because he can't stand him. She then reminds him of the conflict they had when George married Misuzu, as he viewed George as taking her away, and also believes he wasn't a good father to Lynn.

    Fan Works 
  • Highlander Penance: When Black Hat tells Whip and Medici that he's enjoyed working with the FBI because Good Feels Good, Medici counters that the real reason he's so pleased is because he likes having control of others, even if that control happens to have positive results, and ultimately only cares about having power over people.
  • Moxxie Morningstar has Lucifer laying the mother of all guilt trips on his adoptive son Moxxie for having runaway from home and avoided any contact with them for over a decade.
    Moxxie: (irritated) Did you bring me up here just so you could take me on a guilt-trip?
    Lucifer: No, not entirely. But we've been mourning you for over ten years now, so don’t expect me to give you a reprieve anytime soon. You brought this guilt on yourself.
    Moxxie: Great, just perfect.
  • In My Hero Academia fics where Katsuki's Barbaric Bullying of Izuku becomes known to his parents, expect them to lay into him thick.
    • In Deku in Class 1-B, his parents go through a personality flip: Mitsuki goes quiet and looks haunted by the realization of what her son had become, while the normally reserved Masaru furiously reads him the riot act, making clear how disappointed he is and that Katsuki has nobody to blame for his problems other than himself. He even declares that he blames himself for believing better of his son.
    • Failure to Explode has the Bakugous find out about how their son treated Izuku when he attempts to assault him after learning he got into U.A. while Katsuki himself failed to make it in. Katsuki digs himself deeper by protesting that nobody ever cared about him attacking Izuku before, and he promptly finds himself grounded for the rest of the year.
    • With Confidence: When Katsuki protests being punished for his actions, Masaru roars at him to shut up, slapping the table hard enough that his own chemical sweat to leave burns behind in the wood. Mitsuki muses that while her husband is generally slow to anger, his rage runs deep.
  • Parodied in Njal Gets Burned, where Valgard the Grey calls Mord out on being insufficiently evil and scheming.
  • Telling Lies? No, Mama: Upon finding out about the many lies her daughter has been spreading, Lila's mother goes to her school and chews her out in front of her classmates and teachers.
  • Think Before You Speak: In a Moment of Weakness, Tensei publicly blames Izuku for how his brother Tenya was injured during a training accident, unaware that Aizawa lied to him about what happened as part of a scheme to get Izuku Convicted by Public Opinion. After the public turns again Tensei and Aizawa instead, Tensei's mother calls him out on his thoughtlessness. Not only was he slandering a completely innocent teenager, his father has been forced out of retirement in order to take over the Iidaten agency, as none of Tensei's sidekicks are qualified to run the business during his probation.
  • Within the Twilight fandom, it's not uncommon to encounter spite fics in which Charlie finally calls Bella out on her selfish, self-destructive behaviour and her habit of treating him like dirt — sometimes to the point of just kicking her out of his house (which isn't much of a punishment because she could just live with the Cullens, but still). Das Sporking has an archive of them.
    • Tough Love serves as a good example — as Charlie is threatening to punish her for running away from home while he was attending a friend's funeral, Bella threatens to move out. He promptly calls her bluff, spelling out all the things she failed to consider and refusing to let her take it back when she attempts to backtrack.
  • What is a Person Worth?: Albert spends much of Chapters 8 and 9 calling Rita and Lynn Sr out on being Abusive Parents who drove their son away over silly superstitions. When both express remorse, however, he also encourages them, noting that there are far worse parents out there and their willingness to admit their mistakes means there's still hope for them, provided they're willing to work on becoming better people.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King (1994): After saving him and Nala from the hyenas in the Elephant Graveyard, Mufasa expresses his disappointment in Simba for deliberately disobeying his order to never go there and putting himself and Nala in danger.
  • In Turning Red, this is subverted. Instead of Ming chewing Mei out for sneaking out, lying, and hustling her panda form, she blames Mei's friends for influencing Mei to do those things.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Towards the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Salt finally stands up to his Spoiled Brat of a daughter when she whines for her own flying glass elevator. He responds by ignoring her demands and ordering her to take a bath once they get home.
  • In Hereditary, Annie and Peter begin arguing at dinner over Charlie's death, and when he fires off a Precision F-Strike at her, she blows up at him.
    Annie: Don't you swear at me, you little shit! Don't you ever raise your voice at me! I am your mother! You understand? All I do is worry and slave and defend you, and I get back is that...fucking face on your face! So full of disdain and resentment and always so annoyed. Well, now your sister is dead! And I know you miss her... and I know it was an accident, and I know you're in pain and I wish I could take that away for you. I wish I could shield you from the knowledge that you did what you did! But your sister is dead! She's gone forever! And what a waste... if it could've maybe brought us together, or something, if you could've just said "I'm sorry", or faced up to what happened. Maybe then we could do something with this. But you can't take responsibility for anything! So now, I can't accept. And I can't forgive. Because... BECAUSE NOBODY ADMITS ANYTHING THEY'VE DONE!
  • How Funny (This Country Is): After Muluk, Pipit, and Samsul ends their help to the pickpocketing kids out of guilt that they are being paid with stolen money, the kids decide to go back to their pickpocketing way. Their boss (and the closest thing they have to a father) Jarot goes on a rant calling out the kids for not wanting to be anything more than pickpockets, even after Muluk tries to give them the way, and how uneducated pickpockets like them has no future besides dying in squalor.
  • The Kissing Booth 3: When Elle insults her dad's new girlfriend Linda in front of everyone over a Monopoly game and says she'll never be part of their family, Elle's father confronts her about her attitude. Elle calls her father "selfish" for dating again after her mother died, prompting Mr Evans to point out that although he was also devastated by Elle's mother dying, he had to stay strong to look after her and her brother, that he hasn't dated anyone else until now for his kids' sake, and that Elle isn't the only one who deserves love and happiness. It doesn't help that Linda is far from being a Wicked Stepmother and no one else has a problem with her. Elle later realizes that her dad made some good points and apologizes to Linda.
  • Early in Thor, the eponymous hero is caught starting a brawl with the Ice Giants, nearly paving the way for a war between Asgard and Jotunheim, and has to be bailed out by his father Odin. Normally the golden boy of the family, Thor is raked over the coals for this, but in an astonishing display of arrogance, tries Calling the Old Man Out for perceived cowardice. Odin's response is a full-blown "The Reason You Suck" Speech that ends with Thor being stripped of his powers and banished to Earth.

  • Discworld: Zig-zagged in the climax of Mort; here, Death returns to his domain to find that his apprentice Mort has spared the life of someone who should have died, resulting in a paradox that's reached reality-breaking proportions during Death's absence. Normally a Benevolent Boss, Death is enraged for the first time in the entire novel and reads Mort the riot act for his mistakes (real and perceived) in a thunderous "Reason You Suck" Speech that concludes with ALL IN ALL, BOY, NOT A GOOD START TO YOUR FIRST JOB. However, once Death crosses the line into demanding the lives of the people Mort saved in order to square the debt with reality, Ysabell turns this moment on its head by pointing out that Death himself has bent the rules more than once, most prominently for her sake, eventually giving way to a Calling the Old Man Out moment. In the end, Death concedes Ysabell's point and is able to reorder the timeline so that Mort's alteration becomes accepted history.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Professor Lupin, one of the kinder teachers and an old friend of Harry's father, calls out Harry for using the Marauder's Map to sneak out of Hogwarts while alleged murderer Sirius Black is at large, supposedly looking for Harry. Lupin brings up that not only could the Map have aided in capturing Sirius Black the last time he was in the castle had Harry handed it in sooner, but that Harry undervalues his parents' sacrifice by being so reckless. He confiscates the Map, and Harry walks away feeling ashamed. While Sirius turns out not to be the criminal everyone believes he is, it is only after Lupin confiscates the Map that he discovers the truth about the real murderer, Peter Pettigrew.
  • Bail and Breha Organa in Leia, Princess of Alderaan have a good kid overall but at sixteen, her naivete, willfulness, and temper, as she goes from being a precocious child to a young adult capable of and expected to make decisions with serious effects on other people, cause them some trouble, especially since they're secretly in La Résistance. They scold her at various points for such things as trying some Loophole Abuse to help refugees without considering broader context like what that would do to larger scale attempts to help them, for approaching a Rebel outpost offering her help without considering that they might be alarmed and shoot her, and a lot more. Bail is particularly angry and afraid for her and sometimes becomes harsh, especially as she retreads the same moral dilemmas he only just painfully worked his way through. Leia can accept some of these as fair and internalize them but also fires back, herself, that if they didn't keep her in the dark about their activities, she wouldn't end up stepping on them!
  • Early in World War Z, Saladin Kader recounts that when Israel began offering asylum to Palestinian refugees, he was 17 and already radicalized — and didn't believe that an imminent Zombie Apocalypse was prompting this offer. Though his father attempted to accept this, young Saladin refused, instead boasting that he would instead join a fundamentalist terrorist group, mocking his father for his timidity, even referring to the poor man as "a whore of the yehud". Unknown to him, his normally-sedate father had actually seen the zombies during his work at the local hospital and for once was not in the mood for Saladin's attitude: slapping the crap out of his son, he made it clear in no uncertain fashion that they were all going to Jerusalem. As he laughingly recounts, Saladin was left too scared to be his usual brash self and meekly joined his father in accepting the offer of asylum.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Malcolm Merlyn cuts Tommy off financially when he finally has enough of his son's lazy, philandering ways, and in the confrontation that follows, he coldly dismisses Tommy's attempts at rebuttal by pointing out that it's truly his own money and all Tommy does is waste it on extravagant parties and drugs. While he is a jerkass about it, Tommy eventually comes to realize that he was right and begins to genuinely change for the better, eventually taking an actual job at Oliver's nightclub to work for his money.
  • The Crown (2016) season 4 finale has Queen Elizabeth II scolding her eldest son and heir, Charles, for his behavior, such as his jealousy of his wife Diana and his affair with Camilla, which affected Diana's mental health and the public perception of the Royal Family. When Charles demands a divorce, Elizabeth angrily tells him to fix his marriage with Diana first and not let either side back down if he wants to be king.
  • On ER, Doug Ross blasts his abusive father for what a lousy parent he was, then describes his own miserable life, capping it off by disgustedly declaring "I'm you". His father looks him straight in the eye and truthfully informs him, "You're 34 years old. How you live your life is your decision."
  • Feel Good: Linda reminds her child Mae that she and Mae's dad basically have let her simply do whatever she wants with her life and have never tried to push her in any direction, so if she's not happy with where she is, it's her own fault.
  • Throughout the present-day segments of The Haunting of Hill House (2018), Hugh Crain has been constantly on the defensive whenever his eldest son lashes out, being usually too crushed by his past failings to retaliate against Steve's constant scepticism; plus, he's more interested in protecting his adult children from the Awful Truth than winning any kind of debate. However, in the episode "Witness Marks," Hugh finally shuts down Steve's endless dismissals by providing incontrovertible proof that Hill House is a very real threat to the family — and refuses to let Steve interrupt him this time. For good measure, he provides incontrovertible proof that Steve has unknowingly encountered the supernatural before, meaning that the supposedly sane, rational member of the family has been wrong about everything. For once, the professional debunker has nothing to say.
  • Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace: Zhen Huan calls Hongli out for slapping Ruyi.
    Zhen Huan: You're the emperor and you lay a hand on your own empress? Emperor, I think you've gone mad.
  • Sadakatsiz: Because of all the drama stirred by his parent's divorce, Ali develops kleptomania as a coping mechanism. His mother doctor Asya eventually finds out and, after consulting with a psychiatrist friend, decides to retrieve the stolen items from Ali's bedroom and return them to the school on the condition that the thief's identity remains unknown. Unfortunately from her, the opposite happens. Ali's classmates start alienating him, so he lashes out at his mother and decides to go live with his father Volkan out of spite. Volkan scolds Ali for his disrespectful, dismissive attitude — telling him that his mother only wants to help him and that he's hurting her greatly by acting like this.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Dr Bashir I Presume" provides a back-to-back example of Calling the Old Man Out and Calling the Young Man Out: after being accidentally outed as a genetically-engineered superhuman, Julian Bashir is fully prepared to resign from Starfleet, resulting in yet another argument with his father — this time over the decision to have Julian genetically altered in the first place. At first, Julian has the high ground in this argument, given Richard Bashir's habit of vicariously living through his son and refusing to apologize for his own shortcomings. However, when Julian bitterly accuses his parents of having him altered out of shame for his apparent mental deficiency, his normally placid mother finally shocks "Jules" into silence by pointing out that he's never understood their motivations, nor has he ever tried to: they weren't ashamed, but guilty — blaming themselves for his childhood difficulties. The revelation instantly defuses the argument.
  • Throughout The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Masks," the dying Jason Foster spends his final hours quietly snarking at his family, always sailing just below the line of flat-out insulting them. However, once it finally becomes clear that they're more interested in getting his inheritance instead of actually connecting with him on any level — or even pretending to be anything other than utterly hateful people — Jason blasts the entire group with a bitter diatribe targeting their many, many flaws: his daughter's hypochondria and selfishness, his son-in-law's greed, his granddaughter's narcissism, and his grandson's cruelty. He then dies, leaving them disfigured by the enchanted masks he's had them wear.
  • In the The Twilight Zone (2002) Sequel Episode of "It's a Good Life", "It's Still a Good Life", Anthony Fremont's still using his Reality Warper powers to get his way, until finally his own mother, who had been tormented by her own son since he was a baby, finally tells him off and concludes by saying that he has been a "very, very bad man!"

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • It happens a lot, especially whenever God needs to speak some sense into His children.
    • A considerable chunk of the Book of Job is God giving Job a stern lecture, then giving an even sterner one to Job’s crappy friends.
    • The most famous is probably in the Book of Jonah, where God gives the titular prophet a good What the Hell, Hero? speech regarding Jonah's selfishness and the importance of mercy.

  • Everybody's Talking About Jamie: Ray, the honorary aunt, gives a short one to Jamie when he returns after running away, telling him to step up and make up with his mom.
  • Hamilton: In "Meet Me Inside", Washington, a father figure to Hamilton who is stern but fond of him, reprimands him for encouraging Laurens to duel Charles Lee over his slander against Washington, stoking infighting within the Continental Army. When Hamilton refuses to apologize, and even begs Washington for a command, Washington sends him home. Downplayed since Washington was going to send him home anyway, without the Lee issue, to be with his newly-pregnant wife, on her request.
  • In the Heights: In "Enough", Camilla spends the second half of the song calling out her daughter Nina for not coming home during the city-wide blackout, as well as hiding for months that she had dropped out of Stanford after losing her scholarship because they would have helped her more had they known.

    Video Games 
  • Bioshock 1:
    • Dr Tenembaum, as a Motherly Scientist, commonly acts as a surrogate parent to the Little Sisters and a mentor to Jack, even calling him "child". As such, she offers compliments if Jack spares the Little Sisters and disparages him for harvesting them; in the Evil Ending, she concludes the game with a bitter, despairing rant on how the player character's greed and cruelty have unleashed the horrors of Rapture on an unsuspecting world.
    • The final confrontation with Andrew Ryan quickly transforms into one of these: Ryan is actually Jack's biological father; furthermore, he has been gradually learning of how you were sold to Frank Fontaine and remoulded into a Manchurian Agent to help him take over Rapture. For this reason, Ryan judges you his "greatest disappointment," and spends most of his final monologue lambasting you for your oblivious compliance with Fontaine's orders, before using your conditioning to commit suicide just to prove a point.
  • In Fallout 3, James is usually a fairly easy-going parent, but he won't hesitate to deliver a What the Hell, Hero? if the player character commits bad-karma actions over the course of the game — most prominently nuking Megaton.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, some of the parent-child conversations in the child recruitment Paralogues involve this, often mixed with Calling the Old Man Out.
  • In God of War (PS4), after Atreus learns that as Kratos' son, he is part-god, he becomes increasingly temperamental and arrogant, from telling off Sindri for constantly complaining about Brok to killing Modi when provoked. When he and Kratos encounter Baldur when they're about to cross into Jotunheim, Atreus' recklessly attacking Baldur results in the gate to Jotunheim being destroyed and them being stranded in Helheim. When Kratos finds Atreus, he gives him the "The Reason You Suck" Speech quoted above, and for the rest of the game, Atreus is significantly more cooperative.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (2017): While Della acts as more of a Cool Big Sis than a mom to Huey, Dewey, and Louie when she first returns from the moon, nearly losing her family to Louie's scheme in "Timephoon!" causes her to put her foot down and call Louie out for not thinking of the consequences of his actions. When Louie points out that Della is in no position to criticize him since this same behavior got Della stuck on the moon all those years ago, Della responds by grounding him until he understands the gravity of the situation.
  • The Simpsons: In "Old Money", Abe calls out Homer for not believing that Bea existed and making him miss the final moments of her life.
  • In South Park, Mrs. Cartman has been a doormat to her son throughout the series, constantly spoiling him and giving in to his demands. However, she finally puts her foot down in "HUMANCENTiPAD" after Eric throws a massive tantrum at Best Buy over her not wanting to spend money on an iPad and offering a cheaper alternative, dragging him out of the store and refusing to buy anything for him at all.


Jeff calling out his son

Jeff calls out his son for being continuously indecent to a guest around the dinner table

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