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Can't Take Criticism

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"A fool spurns a parent's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence."
Proverbs 15:5, New International Version.

It's hard to listen to criticism, whether it's being put down in a blunt manner because we aren't doing certain things correctly or it's being criticized for our decision making, especially if it's moral. Instead of taking heed to it, some would break down miserably and are unable or unwilling to make themselves better. Then there are some would go as far as to become unexpectedly enraged by it. This character hates being criticized in every way possible. At best, they often mistake the criticism for an insult more than Constructive Criticism, or maybe the criticism was too unpleasant and harsh for them to handle. At worst, the character just naturally hates criticism period and would rather listen to something they want to hear. Even gentle criticism will cause the character to dish out Disproportionate Retribution. Not even a Compassionate Critic or an Honest Advisor can deal with this character.


In moral situations, a character who resents being rebuked for taking a dark turn (usually a hero bordering to Anti-Hero territory) can make him worse than ever. If the character is a villain, showing displeasure in criticism for his wickedness can demonstrate how they cannot comprehend good. This can be seen as a character getting revenge on those who had a justifiable reason to criticize them, which makes them petty.

This encompasses narcissistic characters like the Insufferable Genius, Entitled Bastard, and The Prima Donna. It is also the hallmark of a Small Name, Big Ego character. Can easily make the character prone to Wangst.

Compare Minor Insult Meltdown if it's one single criticism that shakes up a character. A Fragile Flower can easily be prone to this, though they would break down in tears instead of reacting angrily. Often overlaps into With Due Respect. The trademark method of ensuring a Bad Boss will be set on destroying you is to commit this trope. Can be a response to a complainer who actually is right for once. If someone's constructive criticism ends up being a Fisticuff Provoking Comment, it's a sure sign that person's attempt has failed. Contrast Heroic Self-Deprecation. A Straw Critic character might stem from this flaw on part of the author. This is unfortunately Truth in Television (and got many messengers shot).



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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is Light Yagami's biggest flaw (springing directly from his overwhelming Pride) in Death Note. Suggesting or outright stating that what he is doing as Kira is wrong or evil is a very good way to end up dead. He also walks out on a family meeting where his father is calling Kira nothing but a murderer and later he looks visibly upset when the Kira Taskforce begins to (rightly) doubt his innocence again. In fact, when Lind L. Tailor insulted him on national television, calling what he was doing evil, Light's immediate response was to use the Death Note to kill him on the spot, writing his name extra big in there!
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it is implied that Isabel the Artist Witch was once a magical girl who didn't like criticism. Like what her card description says, "In order to defeat this Witch, remember to bring a critic."
  • Played for Laughs In CLANNAD. Sanae runs out crying when anyone says her bread is bad. Of course, it's almost inedible.
  • Rosario + Vampire: In the anime, during the fight against Kuyou, Inner Moka tells him that he's nothing but a corrupt bastard and has no right to "preach about preserving order and protecting the peace." In response, Kuyou angrily tells her to shut up right before Moka drop-kicks him through the roof.
  • Hell's Chef, the golem like candle of Gregory Horror Show, does not take criticism of his cooking, real or perceived very well. One rude pig patron in The Last Train found this out the hard way, and was served up as the evening's pork dish. Befitting the symbolism of human psychology in the series, Hell's Chef physically embodies this trope in general.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Frieza nonchalantly mentions that when he was told he'd never be worthy of the Namekian Dragon Balls, he killed the elder who said so. As he puts it, he's never taken bad news well.
    Frieza: Well, as you can imagine, I had quite a difficult time convincing the poor fellow to see me as worthy. I was told flat-out I'd never obtain a single Dragon Ball. And since I've never been one to take bad news well, I'm afraid I killed him.
  • Sword Art Online: When Kirito pulls off his Heroic Second Wind and tears him down verbally, declaring he's nothing but a "king of thieves, sitting alone on a stolen throne," Sugou/Oberon is outraged that Kirito dares speak to him in such a manner and tries to summon Excalibur to cut him down with; unfortunately for him, thanks to Kayaba's intervention, Sugou no longer has admin privileges.
    Sugou: You little punk... you dare... you dare talk to me like that?!

    Comic Books 
  • The Plutonian from Irredeemable actually deconstructs this tope a fair bit. Back when he was a hero, he had an intense need for affection and to be liked and while he had millions praising him, he could not shake off the thousands of critical comments at him. The deconstruction comes from te fact that his super senses are so powerful he could hear every single one. Even if it is not much criticism, being able to hear thousands of it is still psychologically damaging.
  • Frank from Mini Monsters is prideful with his knowledge and doesn't take critics very well. This is due to his own lack of self-esteem, which tries to hide with a mask of happiness and self-confidence, all for the well-being of the Frank's gang. However, he slowly begins to overcome it.
  • Dodge from Robin reacts to Robin's attempts to tell him that a stolen teleportation belt is not a substitute for training and study when it comes to heroics by jumping into a hostage situation, endangering all the hostages and then having his belt damaged. When the belt malfunctions and he wakes up a month later in the hospital he decides that it's Robin's fault things went sideways and chooses to turn villain in order to teach Robin a lesson.

    Fan Works 
  • For His Own Sake: Naru and Motoko really don't take it well when someone calls them out on their flaws or actions, especially when they're true. Case in point: when Shinobu tells them point-blank that they're nothing but bullies who use violence to try to get their way, Motoko responds by slapping Shinobu across the face and standing back to watch as Naru prepares to beat her to a pulp, which does nothing but prove Shinobu right.
  • At the end of Eugenesis Rodimus Prime asks Ratchet a question deliberately intended to upset him just to stop Ratchet from lecturing him about doing something that would cause debilitating psychological harm to a group of badly traumatised patients.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In Act III chapter 23, the girls of the group call out Apoch and Astreal for their uncharacteristically harsh treatment of Yukari, stating that they can't just act like that. Apoch and Astreal's response? They scream at the others not to tell them what to do, and then blow up Felucia with little-to-no provocation before lying to Ms. Nekonome to get the girls kicked out of class.
    • Virtually every time someone tries to lecture Arial Kuyumaya about her Hair-Trigger Temper or her Jerkass behavior, she responds angrily and violently. For example, in Act VI chapter 44, after Mizore tells her that she's going to end up driving away all of her friends due to her temper, Arial responds by shooting Mizore in the forehead with an ice shard and screaming at her to "do them all a favor" and shut up.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, the clearing team gets trapped in a boss room by a Game-Breaking Bug and starts complaining to each other about SAO's many glitches. Unbeknownst to them, the game's lead developer has been masquerading as a player, who starts to get really defensive toward the game, which leads to Kirito Spotting the Thread.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Stand:

  • In Theatre of Blood Vincent Price plays an actor who kills the critics who gave him bad reviews, each murder in the theme of a Shakespeare play he was in which the reviewer panned.
  • In the film adaptation of The Lorax, when the forest is nearly wiped out, the Lorax asks the Once-ler if the sight of him makes him feel guilty or remind him of "the man you used to be?" The Once-ler responds by aggressively driving him back down a staircase and snarling at him that he's done nothing wrong.

  • In The Dresden Files Winter Queen Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness is this in a public forum. If Harry criticized and called her out for her machinations, while holding a gun to her head with people present, she would have killed him without hesitation. In private, she will accept Harry's suggestions and arguments, but if they delve into any moral judgement, she will smack him hard enough to dent an elevator's wall.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: In "Say My Name", Mike Ehrmantraut massively chews out Walter White for his Pride and ego getting in the way of the meth business. Walt's response? He gets pissed off and shoots the hitman inside the latter's car.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Whenever Ramsay is resisted or challenged, he reacts with poorly-suppressed rage.
    • Any attempt to call Cersei out on her poor decisions or dysfunctional plans will result in her brushing it off or entering a state of cold rage.
    Cersei: I've done nothing.
    Tyrion: Quite right, you did nothing...when your son called for Lord Stark's head!
    Cersei: I tried to stop him...
    Tyrion: Did you? You failed! That bit of theatre will haunt our family for a generation! Now the entire North has risen up against us...
    Cersei: Robb Stark is a child...
    Tyrion: Who's won every battle he's fought!
  • The Mighty Boosh: Howard Moon is so bad at handling criticism that he punches Mrs. Gideon when she begins criticising his book. He can only be calmed down with a photo of some kittens in a barrel.
  • Revolution: General Monroe (episode 12, episode 16, and episode 17) and Tom Neville (episode 2, episode 5, episode 11, episode 13, and episode 16) have shown more than once that they respond very poorly to criticism. The sort of response that involves death threats, attacking or killing the critic.
  • Akashia, Shannel, and Sharon Needles of Ru Pauls Drag Race:
    • Akashia would always argue with the judges when they said anything negative about her. However, she matured a bit between her elimination and the reunion episode, where she surprisingly became the voice of reason when the other queens were taking the judges to task for criticizing them, reminding the girls that it's a competition and critiques are bound to happen.
    • Shannel didn't like criticism so much that she decided to leave the competition for it.
    • While she was performing, Sharon argued with producer Max Mutchnick and professional dancer Candis Cayne, much to the horror of the other queens.
  • In Supernatural, Lucifer didn't like it when Gabriel, his brother, tells him that he was acting like a whiny, spoiled child and that he needed to grow up. In response, Lucifer kills him.
  • Big Brother 16 has a variant with Zach. He spent much of the season insulting people and zinging them (Including calling Nicole a "Fruit Loop Dingus") When Kathy Griffin entered and gave him a zing, what was his response? Sit down, put his hands over his head, and talk about how that hurt him in the diary room.
  • America Unearthed has Scott Wolter who fits this trope in spades and demonizes anyone that does criticize him.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • From the Dilbert series:
    Catbert: So you want a job here, Tubby.
    Recruit: It's Toby.
    Catbert: Did you just correct me?
    Recruit: Er...
    Catbert: I ALONE WILL DETERMINE YOUR NAME!!! ...Now what is your name?
    Recruit: Tubby.

  • The Bible:
    • The Book of Proverbs has some verses that imply that those who resent reproof and correction are labeled as fools, in contrast to those who are wise (see page quote above). It also insists that we should avoid this trope and just take heed to the criticism.
    • The Book of Ecclesiastes says better a young and wise person than an old and foolish king that won't be admonished anymore.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook on the Nine Hells mentions an ice devil who spends its free time working on an art project of sorts, a monument on the layer of Stygia made out of the frozen heads of its victims. The devil can't resist asking any passersby what they think of its work, but flies into a murderous rage at any crude or dismissive responsive. It is open to constructive suggestions on how to make the structure more grandiose and intimidating, however... in that it offers such critics the choice of whether to die by its claws or spear.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock: In the middle of the Fort Frolic mission, Sander Cohen decides that you are a doubter (keep in mind you literally said nothing to him), and launches a four wave splicer assault on you set to a Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Regime!Superman kills or tries to kill anyone who dares criticize him.
  • The Walking Dead: Kenny gets pissed at criticism of his plan to find a boat, even when they find there's not a single boat in the entire Savannah Dock, and expects anyone who agrees with him to continue agreeing with him, no matter how bad the idea was.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: In Chapter 22: Scorched Feathers, Dark Pit blatantly tells Palutena and Viridi that they and their "stupid wars" are just as responsible for throwing the world off balance as Hades is; Viridi is just pissed that a "little nothing" like him would dare speak to her like that, whereas Palutena actually has the guts to admit that Dark Pit isn't entirely wrong.
  • Caesar from Fallout: New Vegas puts on a show of being patient and listening to your opinions when you finally confront him. In truth, he's totally set in his beliefs and if you even slightly criticize him or refuse to join the Legion, he throws a massive temper tantrum, complete with name calling.

    Web Comics 
  • Gabe from Penny Arcade doesn't handle criticism in the most graceful manner. During one playtest of his game Thornwatch, one person admitted that he didn't fully understand how initiative works. Gabe pounces on him and accuses him of being illiterate.
  • Tecmo from Consolers can't handle anyone saying anything less-than-positive about his DoA series, and even swears revenge against Namco after he said it was "just ok".
    • Digital Homicide is also terrible regarding criticism, to the point where he thinks his game getting bad reviews is a bug.

    Web Videos 
  • Jim Sterling has this to say about the notion of not taking criticism:
    “When they (critics) insult you, and they become the straw that broke the camels back and you snap at them or just defend yourself, the first thing they’ll say is “I thought you had a thick skin, you should learn to take criticism,” after they insulted you and your family. And they don’t realize they are comment number 1,000 out of a 1,000 comments that week. A thick skin is just that: Thick. It’s not impervious. It’s not invulnerable. And it’s not infinite. It gets ground down, worn away, and eroded. It needs to heal to grow back in time, and if you’re getting a constant stream of abuse you’re gonna snap, you’re gonna be sensitive, and you’re gonna get raw.”
    • By the same token, as a professional critic himself Jim takes a very, very dim view on creators who attempt to censor criticism of their work through such dishonest methods as false DMCA strikes on YouTube reviews. Digital Homicide tried to take him to court to sue him for $15 million because of "damage" his criticisms of their shitty games had supposedly done to their business. In the following year, Digital Homicide would proceed to attempt to sue one hundred customers for bad reviews (which got Digital Homicide kicked off of Steam), but they continued to try to sue Jim until Jim's lawyer convinced them that they would never win the court case. Digital Homicide were only one of countless developers who perplex Jim because it's not just that they can't take criticism, it's that they can't take criticism despite their games being blatantly obvious, complete and utter worthless trash!

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of American Dad! revolves around Stan deporting his entire neighborhood (including his own family) because he heard them criticizing him.
    • Another had Roger trying to kill the Smiths for roasting him, something which he wanted them to do (though he didn't seem aware what a "roast" actually was).
      • Though he was unaware what a 'roast' actually meant and when he tried to get the family to insult one another, he was surprised they were okay with it. Turns out they know that as a family, they know it's not really meant to be hurtful.
  • In one episode of Ben 10: Alien Force, Cash wants to humiliate Ben by beating the crap out of him for it. How? By stealing an adaptable suit of armor and going crazy with power. This is all because Ben calls him and JT out acting so immaturely after all these years and telling them to grow up.
  • The reason the main character was put in charge of the company's new project in the Dilbert Animated Adaptation is because he dared to suggest the Pointy-Haired Boss got the steps to making it mixed up on the slideshow (whether or not he did is undetermined, but either way he is vehement the name is the first and most important part of the project).
  • Rose from Hip-Hip and Hurra is usually the most calm character on the show, but she gets hysterical (if not paranoid) by the mere thought of the art critic (the Peacock) not liking her art, to the point of having nightmares about it.
  • Painter Smurf in The Smurfs is this way, particularly from Brainy when it comes to his work. In one episode, Painter can't take that Brainy won't make any criticisms concerning his work when Brainy's essence has been sapped away.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Algae's Always Greener", Plankton, having switched lives with Mr. Krabs, tells SpongeBob that he's using too much sauce on the Krabby Patties. SpongeBob, despite having literally begged Plankton to give him constructive criticism of his work, is reduced to a sobbing, whimpering wreck.
  • King of the Hill: Criticism to Peggy Hill is something she never considers or contemplates in later seasons, being too much of a Know-Nothing Know-It-All to even consider her faults. If anything it just make her more determined to prove her arguments are right.
  • Pearl from Steven Universe likes being the Smart Guy of the team and is normally right, but her tendency to ignore advice and raise hell if she's ever actually accused of being wrong has got her in hot water on numerous occasions.
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo, despite having tons of character flaws, refuses to accept criticism and sometimes even goes as far as yelling at or beating up the person who pointed out one of her flaws.
    Kaeloo: I dodn't ask for your opinion, Mr. Cat!
    Mr. Cat: You can never take criticism, can you?
  • The title character of the ChalkZone episode "Vincent Van NoGo" literally exploded with rage whenever people pointed out flaws in his artwork, no matter how minor they were.
  • The Legend of Korra: Anytime someone questions Kuvira the main antagonist of Book 4 actions or give criticism she reacts by quickly losing her temper, give cruel threats, and act on them. As a result, it only makes her actions less justifiable.
    • Inverted with Prince Wu who not only does he can take and accept criticism. He make it a point to take the criticism to heart and learn from it.
  • In one episode of Rick and Morty, the pair need help from a lighthouse keeper who insists on reading Morty his ridiculously clichéd screenplay, then demands honest feedback. Morty reluctantly offers some very mild and constructive criticism, which enrages him and causes him to throw them out. Things go downhill from there.
    • Rick is almost totally incapable of handling critiques of what he creates and becomes extremely defensive when he faces some, no matter how insignificant and/or petty the criticism is.
      • He throws an outright tantrum when his business-partners in the Anatomy Park project points out that concept behind "The Pirates of the Pancreas" is kind of hard to understand.
      • He gets extremely grumpy when Beth discusses how silly the name of "Froopy Land" is.
  • Bojack Horseman, BoJack's father Butterscotch spent his entire life writing a novel which he truly believed would become a bestselling American classic. When he finally finished it, no stores wanted to carry it and the only newspaper that covered it gave it a mockingly scathing review. Butterscotch was enraged and challenged any critics to a Duel to the Death, which ultimately led to his demise before the series began when a crazy person accepted the challenge (he tripped on an exposed root and bashed his head open on a rock during the ten paces). It's not even clear if the person who challenged him actually read his book or just wanted to duel.