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Compassionate Critic

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Gordon is always there to lend a hand... after he's done screaming about how much you suck, anyway.

To all their little weaknesses I open people's eyes;
And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise;
I love my fellow creatures— I do all the good I can—
Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
And I can't think why!
King Gama of Princess Ida

A person who believes, or pretends to believe that being bluntly negative in any evaluation of another person or object is for their own good, far better than using tact or encouragement. This can be a sincere thing or a thin excuse for being a Jerkass.

For example, a parent who tells their kid that their attempts at art are abysmal and worthless because they want the child to go into the family business, which the parent thinks will be better for them in the long run.

Or the coach who constantly insults and demeans their players in order to motivate them to do better.

Or the person who's just plain unpleasant to everyone because other people won't fix their flaws unless you point them out in detail, repeatedly.

If the compassionate critic's victim actually cares about their opinion and wants to earn their approval, this overlaps with "Well Done, Son" Guy. Drill Sergeant Nasty adopts this technique during the early part of training, though the competent ones will vary the routine once their troops improve. This is also a favorite tactic of the Evil Matriarch and the Stealth Mentor. If the Compassionate Critic is actually paid to give their opinions on a field of endeavor, this overlaps Straw Critic. When the critic really does mean well, this is a form of Cruel to Be Kind. It may also make them a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.

A related Internet Persona is the "concern troll", who assures the group a forum is based around that he has their best interests at heart, and "you feminists would get a lot more done if you weren't always nagging about wanting equal rights" or "by being fans of shows that haven't been commercially released in your area, you anime fans are destroying the anime importation industry."

In Reality TV, the compassionate critic will always offer unsolicited advice to the other contestants; act as a talebearer, keeping any minor disagreements stirred up to a high simmer; and, in shows where someone is voted out, will often spearhead at least one effort to vote out another player "for their own good".

Compare and contrast the Caustic Critic, who also accentuates the negative, but isn't as concerned with the "tough love" angle.

Compare/Contrast Constructive Criticism. If anyone else tries to criticize the critic's target, may lead to Hypocritical Heartwarming.


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    Anime and Manga  
  • Ranma Ĺ: Ranma Saotome. Raised by a maniacal martial artist father who believes psychotic abuse is the only way to teach martial arts, Ranma grows up being very insulting and critical of Akane, his unwilling fiancee who also happens to be a highly insecure Tsundere. He never seems to understand the connection between referring to her as clumsy and unskilled and her subsequent hitting him in the head with a mallet or her Megaton Punch.
    • Genma Saotome himself is one, in that his insults and jeers towards Ranma are often intended to make Ranma fight harder or train harder — essentially, he hopes that by making Ranma mad, Ranma will push himself harder just so he can rub it in Genma's face that Genma was wrong. It's probable that this is why Ranma recurrently tells Akane that she sucks at cooking and fighting; he's trying to make her get driven to improve the way Genma makes him want to improve by insulting him.
  • Naruto: Umino Iruka acts this way towards Naruto in the first chapter; he reveals this is because he recognizes himself in his student and wants Naruto to do better, so he's always pushed him. Of course, after the first chapter, he's nice as can be, probably because he realized that Naruto didn't know why he acted like that and thought he was just a Jerkass.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Satella is this way towards Azmaria at first, since her own mother was this way towards her as a child. Chrono convinces her — with the help of a memory that her sister used to be much more encouraging—that this isn't the best way to help Azmaria improve.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Mycroft Holmes has the same social skills as his younger brother Sherlock (which is to say: none), and constantly points out very bluntly what his brother is doing wrong, mostly in hopes that his brother will get better.

    Fan Works 
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Weiss is blunt and critical of Izuku's Chronic Hero Syndrome and tendency to completely disregard his own well-being. She conditions him like a dog with a spray bottle and threatens him with harm when he overworks himself. Despite this, she means well and is appreciative of his leadership, despite wanting the position for herself. Izuku welcomes said criticism and tries to apply it whenever possible, but old habits die hard.

    Films — Animated 
  • Ratatouille
    • Colette gives Linguini (and by extension Remy), scathingly critical advice up to and including threatening to kill him if he doesn't keep his station clear. But all of the advice is on-point and she sincerely thanks him for taking the advice while declaring Linguini to be another member of the team by the end.
    • Anton Ego is the most feared restaurant critic in Paris, who brutalizes any chef who, he feels, doesn't measure up. He ends up giving Remy's cooking a glowing review, even after learning a rat prepared it, showing that he really does appreciate great cooking that meets his high expectations. That he is a regular at Remy's new restaurant at the end shows that he's willing to stand by chefs that he believes to be great, even if said support means he's disgraced.
  • Averted in Tangled. Mother Gothel poses like this, but is really just mentally abusing Rapunzel into staying in the tower. Perhaps she even believes it.

  • Soul Music: Susan Sto-Helit. She constantly points out how stupid other people are and can't understand why they don't just change.

    Live-Action TV  
  • While Craig Revel-Horwood is generally seen as "the mean judge" on Strictly Come Dancing, this frequently takes the form of being the only one to give genuine, if unnecessarily blunt, constructive criticism (opening his comments with "you did this wrong, you did that wrong, you did the other wrong..."), whereas the other judges will often give gushing and unqualified praise before voting you a mediocre score anyway.
  • Game of Thrones: Jon Snow has superior martial training and doesn't shy away from pointing out the flaws of his companions, because he cares for them and incidentally for himself too, as he will be in the same boat should trouble arise.
  • Chef Gordon Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen. Of course, he's better known for being a Mean Brit (and thus this is the angle they push in his shows), but the compassionate side comes through on Kitchen Nightmares when he interacts with people who listen to him and respect his input (or when he's working with kids), as opposed to the standard egotistical Reality Show Jerkasses he deals with on Hell's Kitchen.
  • Dr. John Becker of Becker fame goes between this as Jerkass in his personal life, but in his professional life, he's this fairly exclusively, yelling at his patients in order to get them to listen and straighten up.
  • Dr. Cox in Scrubs is an excellent example of this, though at the same time he seems to put so much effort into some of his insults (i.e. calling JD by a different girl's name every day), it's hard to believe he doesn't derive some sadistic pleasure from it.
  • There's always at least one of these on just about every reality show, ever. Expect them to justify their behavior with "It's just who I am." and/or I'm Not Here to Make Friends.
  • Police Major "Bunny" Colvin from The Wire does a completely sincere and heartfelt version of this at one point with the hotheaded Segreant Carver who is under his command. Colvin goes into a speech comparing the increasingly harsh tactics used by the police to those of soldiers holding occupied territory, and expounds about how he feels young policemen, including Carver, are so focused on the game of making the right number of arrests, seizures, etc. that they forget the point of being police; protecting the neighborhood under their care. Carver himself evidently finds it to be Constructive Criticism, because we see in the following seasons that he takes Colvin's advice to heart, completely changing his style of being a cop, and becoming much more effective at the job. A part of Colvin's speech:
    You're a good man, sergeant. You got good instincts, and as far as I can tell, you're a decent supervisor. But from where I sit, you ain't shit when it comes to policing. Oh, don't take it personal, it ain't just you, it's all our young police. Whole generation of y'all. You think about it; you've been here over a year now, and you got nobody on the street looking out for you, nobody willing to talk to you. Isn't that right? This drug thing, this ain't police work. I mean, I can send any fool with a badge and a gun to a corner to jack a crew and grab vials. But policing? ... Before we took the wrong turn and started up with these war games, a cop walked a beat, and he learned that post. And if there were things that happened on that post, where there be a rape, a robbery, a shooting, he had people out there helping him, feeding him information. But every time I came to you, my DEU sergeant for information, to find out what's going on out on those streets... all that came back was some bullshit. You had your stats, your arrests, your seizures, but don't none of that amount to shit when it comes to protecting the neighborhood, now do it?
  • My Kitchen Rules: Colin Fassnidge is infamous among the contestants for his strict standards and brutally honest way of critiquing, which he claims to be his expression of tough love. Most of the contestants usually admit that his judging is fair, though, even if they do feel stung when the dish they work so hard for is not up to his standards.
  • Nailed It!: This is a show where amateur bakers try to make cakes and desserts that even professionals might find a challenge in the time slotted. All the judges may snark and crack jokes at the cakes, but they're never mean and always commend the participants gut to try something they never did and make it to the end of the challenge, while also giving them helpful bits of advice if they are to ever try again.
  • The Big Leap has Wayne Fontaine, who's meant to balance out the Caustic Critic Mallory. He treats the contestants with nothing but respect, and even points out that he's the only executive producer who actually sees them as people.


    Video Games 
  • Double Homework:
    • Tamara points out just about everything that the protagonist does wrong in her view, though she acknowledges that it does less good than she hoped it will.
    • Discussed with Morgan, who prefers blunt criticism to sugarcoating.
    • Dr. Mosely presents herself as this kind of school counselor.
  • Maximillian Galactica from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Ė Justice For All is this. He comes off as a prideful show-off, constantly rubbing his victory at the Magicians Grand Prix into the faces of the other performers at the circus he works at, seemingly putting himself on a pedestal above them. But what he really wants is for the other performers to become as big and famous as he is, not keep themselves at the lower level they're at.
  • Eiki Shiki from Touhou Project. As the Yama, the Highest Judge of the Court of Paradise, she can not only see everything in black and white, allowing her to make perfect judgments, she's the one in charge of directing souls to whatever fate awaits them after death. She honestly wants everyone's souls to be pure white so she can just fast-forward them to Heaven, but she's a merciless critic who never holds back punches when pointing out everyone's flaws.

    Web Comics 
  • Most of the cast of Something*Positive are often like this, especially Davan and Aubrey.
  • In Red String, Kenta really seems to think that belittling Kazuo will make him into the man he wants him to be.
  • Ysengrin in Gunnerkrigg Court has no patience for weakness and is a voice of Brutal Honesty when he thinks Antimony is underperforming or undervaluing herself. His advice causes Antimony a few extra problems, but it does force her to face some of her issues head-on rather than avoid them.
  • Skin Horse: In the 1/15/21 strip, Baron the unicorn says "I helpfully pointed all the crap wrong with her hair and clothes and music and robots...Telling people how they suck is a courtesy."

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Jobe Wilkins, at the Super Hero School Whateley Academy. He talks down to everyone, no matter how competent they may be. At the Whateley Weapons Fair (don't ask), most of his appearances are as he walks up to a student vendor and lambastes him or her for design flaws. Except for his last appearance at the Weapons Fair, where he demonstrates that he really knows what he's talking about.
  • Zero Punctuation: Yahtzee Croshaw styles himself like this (in the vein of his inspiration, Charlie Brooker) when he takes the time to notice the endless accusations that he "just hates video games", retorting that he only rips on games because he sees "potential being squandered in mediocrity". Indeed, even with games he admittedly liked, he tends to focus more on the aspects he had a problem with, at least partly because that's what helps make his videos both entertaining and thought-provoking.
  • Doug Walker, the real one, not his characters. Even with Twilight: Breaking Dawn, a movie that broke him due to its ill-treatment of abortion, he still said you weren't an idiot if you liked it and he'd be genuinely interested to know why you did. (he later pushes the dare even further with his least favorite movie of all time, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, given he never learned of anyone who liked it and is open to hearing on the reasons for someone who does)
  • Guardian Acorn She is often hesitant about being too harsh on games she dislikes because she knows fully well the developers may be reading, and she hopes to inspire devs to improve rather than tear them down and berate them. Thatís not to say that some games arenít bad enough to push her into caustic critic territory.
  • SF Debris mixes this with Caustic Critic in that even in a bad episode he will point out the positive parts and he will also tear into the bad parts of a good episode. He also points out (and it is in the title of his Star Trek reviews) that it is only his opinion and that you can think and believe anything you want as long as you think about it. In fact, one of the few things he takes offence to is when someone calls someone else an idiot for not sharing the same opinion.
  • Evil Editor writes a popular blog wherein he hilariously mocks query letters that Real Life writers send for his critique— but beneath the snark is tons of genuinely good advice on writing an effective query.
  • Max Christiansen (AKA Maximilian Dood) has been playing Fighting Games for decades and knows the mechanics inside and out, but is also a very humble and down-to-earth guy. He never dismisses a game as pure garbage, but instead gives it credit for what it does right and explains how to fix what it does wrong. As a result, companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco Entertainment offer him first looks at upcoming games because they trust he'll give players the honest truth about them, and when he offers suggestions about how they can improve games that are currently in development, they actually listen.
  • Among the toys reviewed by Jobby the Hong are model kits, some of which were built and mailed to him by fans. Jobby likes to give advice on how the modelers can improve their future builds (albeit while still maintaining his style of humor).

    Western Animation 
  • Jay Sherman, the eponymous character of The Critic, only panned every schlock movie he ever saw because he believed that if people continued to watch bad movies, Hollywood would continue to make bad movies, as shown in his Rousing Speech.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Norman Osborn mercilessly critiques his son Harry in this way, dismissing all of his problems while criticizing his successes. ("Football? Not really your strong suit is it?") He even manages to critique Harry by praising his best friend Peter Parker, in a way that makes it clear that Harry is a failure by comparison. As a result, Harry has issues.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), The Lancer Tygra is one to his adoptive younger brother, Rebel Prince Lion-O, frequently criticizing his many deficiencies and his failure to conform to Thunderian Proud Warrior Race culture or their father's expectations. This stems from Tygra's deep resentment that as The Dutiful Son, he has no chance at the throne, while Lion-O, an irresponsible Cloudcuckoolander, has the necessary Royal Blood and status as The Chosen One.
  • Raven on Teen Titans Go! describes herself this way. She calls it being "nean," because she's being nice by being mean.

    Real Life 
  • Every military drill instructor everywhere. They really do want you to succeed, no matter how it sounds.
    • R. Lee Ermey, despite being the poster boy for Drill Sergeant Nasty, has said in interviews that drill instructors frequently read the obituaries coming from the front lines, praying that none of the dead were a soldier they'd trained, and that it was their worst fear to have that happen.
    • It also essential that they figure out who just can't succeed. Failing to cut it in training is one thing. Failing to do so in the field can be dangerous to both the person in question and anyone else present.
    • Additionally, eliminating those who can't make it early is a mercy to them, saves the taxpayers' money, and allows those with a shot more attention. This is true in any type of training with a decent wash-out rate, from military training to law school. Dropping a student who can't make it opens a seat up for another student and prevents a student from accumulating debt and wasting time.
  • Usually parents. Especially parents who are stricter and have high expectations for their children.
  • Chinese critic Cheng Qingsong, whose magazine Youth Film Handbook eventually started giving out a mocking award for disappointing films, the Golden Broom, said his intent wasn't a simple hall of shame like the Golden Raspberry Award, but an stimulus to improve Chinaís booming film industry and shine a light on movies that only care about scoring big at the box office.
    Our criticism is positive and healthy. Itís like pills and injections when people get sick.