After hearing Bob complain for so long, Alice will begin to complain about his complaining.
Complaining about complaining is an interesting phenomenon that happens when one group becomes fed up with the complaints of another group and begin to gripe about the latter griping. While it tends to be used mainly for humorous purposes because of the cycle, it may also show the cycle that comes with it while also showing how the characters react in certain situations. Everyone has limits to what they can tolerate and hearing someone complain about something so long can cause them to complain.
This of course can be played more seriously if the complaints are legitimately something the audience and or most characters would be concerned about, only to be shut down by the other party. This could showcase declining relations or growing apathy.
See also Hypocritical Humor.
- In Sailor Moon, Morga complains about Sailor Moon's complaining throughout the first episode.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus seemed to like this one:
- "I think all right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not, and I'm sick and tired of being told that I am."
- "I'd like to complain about people who hold things up by complaining about people complaining. It's about time something was done about it." (Cue 16-ton weight.)
- Community often points out the group's dysfunction:
Annie: "We fight about fighting about fighting!"
- This is how many flame wars get started, usually in a couple of ways.
- 1) Someone makes a criticism (different from 2 in that there is actually a reason). Large numbers of people tell them to just shut up. The first person tries to justify their claim. Flame war ensues.
- 2) Someone outright states they don't like the show for very little reason, or complains for the sake of complaining. People then attack the complainer for genuinely complaining. Usually both groups have at least some people who can't let it go and continue to fight while losing whatever reason was behind it (usually just flaming the other side). Back and forth flame war ensues.
- 3) Someone complains/flames about the fans themselves. Napalm Drop Instant Flame War.
- With YouTube's change from a five star voting system to a simple 'Like/Dislike' option, expect to see various comments with "[number of dislikes] people are [negative object related to the video]."
- Some online forums will ban people for posting their ignore lists (often used to not-see people who complain too much). Ergo, the moderators are forcibly complaining about people spitefully complaining about people endlessly complaining.
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- Calvin complains about people who can't let one of their pet peeves go... in a rant that lasts for three whole panels
- In another strip, Calvin complains about his grandfather's complaints that the art in newspaper comics isn't what it used to be and has been reduced to "a bunch of Xeroxed talking heads"... in a strip that is exactly that. (It stands out because the art in Calvin and Hobbes, even in the black-and-white, limited-space weekday strips, is always lush and unique. In the color Sunday strips it's downright painterly and genre-busting.)
- In MMOs with heavy chat traffic, it's not unusual to see people spamming, complaining, or otherwise being annoying. However, alerting that player that they are now on an Ignore list or are being reported to GMs gets you the treatment of a tattle-taler in preschool. The litany tends to go "Reported!" "Reported for reporting!" "Reported for reporting a report!" until people get sick of the joke.
- In The Rugrats Movie, Tommy and his friends are all complaining about Dil complaining about not getting his way throughout the film.
- In a Family Guy Flashback Twist, a slave on a ship heading for America keeps whining to the captain, "Are we there yet?"
Captain: Damn it! I swear to God I will turn this ship around.
Slaves: That works. Okay. That'll teach us a lesson. Yeah, that's even better.
Captain: All right, if that's what you... waaait a minute!
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "A Dog and Pony Show", the antagonistic Diamond Dogs complain about Rarity's "whining" over labour conditions. Her response:
- Real Life:
- Global Politics: '[media source, leader, etc.]'s disparaging depictions of [country, organization, etc.] play into the hands of [enemy group].'
- Local politics: 'Instead of proposing real solutions, my opponent has focused his campaign on spreading false statements.'
- National politics: 'X is not going to run a negative campaign like Y does.'
- Parenting: [Children complain] => 'I'm going to stop this car right now if you two can't get along!'
- TV Tropes: 'This trope is just Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.'
- Everyone who lives in Britain does this. We complain about the queues, queue up to complain about X; and then complain about having to queue to complain about X, why do we have to queue? All this queueing just to complain about X is simply horrendous! We should complain about this.
- The "You're not allowed to complain about X because these people have it worse" card.
- The (no longer extant) Just Bugs Me page about "School" had someone coming up with reasons to dislike school (which may or may not apply to them), in which someone responds by complaining that they're just complaining for the heck of it. Without, of course, knowing how much of a problem it was. (As if they went to a perfect school.) It used to be much messier, complete with an Overused Running Gag about "Learn to box" and "You'll get expelled for that".
- There's the various Unpleasable Fanbases — you know who they are, no need to get into specifics — which have a fair number of level-headed, open minded fans. After a while, these level-headed fans will finally get worn down about the seeming unending pessimism within the fanbase and make a comment about it. Which of course leads to flame wars—often between the offending complainers and the blind fanboys rather than the original poster—which lasts long after the original poster just gives up. This is one of the many, many reasons these fans tend to be embarrassed to admit being fans.
- Inverted occasionally in the case of someone who doesn't complain about a thing which everyone is complaining about and is then called delusional or a sheep or immature/uncritical thinker or fan-boy/girl/human for liking the show/book/artist/fanfic, for just enjoying the output, for being chilled about what they like. Complaining about not-complaining.
- In the US legal system, there exists a term called "vexatious litigant". This applies when somebody keeps filing suits over frivolous complaints until there are so many complaints about his frivolous suit that a judge formally tells him to cut it out.