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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 other surrogate takes the place of a biological mother or father.

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.


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.


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    Fan Works 
  • Within the Twilight fandom, it's not uncommon to encounter spitefics 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. Das Sporking has an archive of them.

    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!
  • 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 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 "Reason You Suck" Speech that ends with Thor being stripped of his powers and banished to Earth.

  • Early in World War Z, Saladin Kader recounts that when Israel began offering asylum to Palestinian refugees, he was seventeen 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.
  • Throughout the present-day segments of The Haunting of Hill House, 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.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Dr Bashir I Presume" actually 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. However, when he 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.

    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 has 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 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.


Video Example(s):


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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Main / CallingTheYoungManOut

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