Follow TV Tropes


Correction Bait

Go To
Careful choice of words can effect this effect, which will affect the affect of your reader.

"The best way to get a question answered online is to post an incorrect answer to that question."
Gene Spafford note 

Decribe Correction Bait here.

Correction Bait, a sister to Flame Bait, lures you by the urge of correcting something wrong from your inner mind, and draws attention from the people by this progress.

You don't know why it's so wrong. Maybe they did not do the research. Maybe they knew it all along, but then decided to ignore it. Maybe it's done deliberately. Maybe they just want to lure you out. But whatever, you're annoyed by the wrongness, and now you can't stop your urge to correct it!

This is a Truth in Television, since somehow we all have different extents of Obsessively Organized to become perfect, and correct every mistake we find. And bad things are usually more memorable than normal ones, which may also have contributed to it. And oh well, did we tell you that correcting others provides a form of superiority?

A form of Schmuck Bait, and one of the common ways of invoking You Just Told Me. Sub Tropes include Grammar Nazi, Stylistic Suck, Edit War, Grammar Correction Gag, Fandom-Enraging Misconception, and possibly Censor Decoy. See also So Bad, It's Good, The Internet Is Serious Business, Accentuate the Negative. Distracting Disambiguation, Xylophone Gag. Compare Obsessively Organized, The Perfectionist, Don't Be Ridiculous, Blunder-Correcting Impulse, Reverse Psychology, and Flame Bait. Contrast Bystander Syndrome. May result in Hypocrite, Let's See YOU Do Better!, "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer, Aluminum Christmas Trees.

It's also the very reason of TV Tropes to have Repair, Don't Respond, as well as preventing Natter and Flame Bait.

Please only list in-universe examples here — some people may think every Real Life occurrence of this is intentionally done, which is not true. Also, no work is perfect — to a sufficiently picky/smart audience, there's always something that can still be corrected, so it'll end up listing every work there.

In-Universe Examples Only

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dr. STONE, Senku needs knowledge of glassblowing, which has been lost for 3700 years. So he gets his friends to tie up the craftsman Kaseki and forces him to watch his failed attempts at glassblowing. Soon enough, Kaseki is infuriated enough to burst free from his ropes and show Senku how it's done... even though up until now, he had no idea what glass even was (even though he doesn't know precisely what glass is, he has enough general knowledge of crafting that can transfer over to glassblowing). Kaseki even acknowledges that he's obviously getting baited, not that it stops him.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman story Slayride, Robin / Tim Drake is trapped in a car with the Joker on Christmas. He buys enough time to finish freeing himself by quoting the Marx Brothers, then deliberately misidentifying the source of the quote.
  • In Shazam!, this is how Black Adam was defeated in his first appearance: Uncle Dudley kept purposefully misspeaking Shazam's name, until an exasperated Black Adam corrected him — and thus turned back into his powerless mortal form, which (given that he had been in his empowered form for 5,000+ years) quickly succumbed to Rapid Aging.
  • The Inspector (from the theatrical short subjects) admonishes Sgt. Deux Deux for his syntax in "Le Quiet Squad" (Pink Panther #5, March 1972):
    Sgt. Deux Deux: Inspector! I have spotted something you may be interested in!
    Inspector: Sergeant! How many times do I have to tell you...never end a sentence with a preposition. You should have said "In which you may be interested"!
    Sgt. Deux Deux: Si.

    Comic Strips 
  • Blondie (1930): Dagwood once noticed a bakery with a misspelled hand-lettered sign advertising something. He went in to correct it, and came out with food. The bakery owner indicated that he had intentionally done it, and it was bringing in a bunch of business.
  • Beetle Bailey featured the same gag, with a misspelled "Dougnuts." After Beetle and Sarge leave with a bag of doughnuts/donuts (having stopped to report the error), the proprietor comments that the missing h brings in ever more business.
  • In one strip of Dilbert, Wally intentionally turned in a document in the wrong font. The idea was that the boss always finds something stupid to change (see Parkinson's law of triviality), so he made something that was obvious but easy to change.
  • A The Wizard of Id strip had a merchant selling eggs, his sign reading "25 cents each, 3 for a dollar". A buyer points out that he should get four eggs for a dollar. As the buyer walks away with four eggs, the merchant gleefully thinks to himself that no one ever bought more than one egg before he put up his sign.

    Films — Animation 
  • Turning Red: When Stacy and friends see Mei as a panda in the bathroom, Mei hides in a stall while her friends try to convince them that they didn't see that. It falls apart when one of Stacy's friends comments "So she's like a magical bear?", prompting Mei and her friends to simultaneously correct her, complete with Mei poking her panda head over the stall door to say "Red Panda!" with the others.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Nightbooks: In order to get the final ingredient of a sleeping potion to use against her, Alex and Yaz decide to trick Natacha into giving it up by writing a story that deliberately uses an incorrect ingredient, knowing she'll be compelled to correct it. They're right.
  • In Now You See Me, Daniel tries to mimic Merritt's mentalism and makes a comically bad attempt at "reading" their boss. Tressler is quick to tell him how off his guesses are — too bad he's being mined for his bank account security questions.
  • Operation Finale. Aharoni, the Mossad interrogator, comes up with the idea of taunting Eichmann into admitting his identity by continually getting his SS identification number wrong during questioning. It works, as sheer irritation leads Eichmann to correct them and admit his true name.
  • Tampopo has the titular ramen chef learn another chef's methods in this way. She orders a bowl as a customer and then speaks with him, claiming something about her order seems off. She accuses him of neither soaking the noodles long enough nor boiling them the proper number of times, and he is quick to tell her precisely how they were prepared.

  • The Murderbot Diaries: After Guarathi doesn't believe that Murderbot has actually watched Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon, Ratthi asks for confirmation.
    Ratthi: The one where the colony’s solicitor killed the terraforming supervisor who was the secondary donor for her implanted baby?
    Murderbot: She didn't kill him, that's a fucking lie.
    Ratthi: It's watching it.
  • Sherlock Holmes has used this to good effect. In The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, he's tracking the origins of a Christmas goose which was found to be carrying a stolen gem. He insists to a dealer that the goose was farm-raised — which he knows almost certainly isn't true — and under the guise of a bet gets the man to prove him "wrong" by showing him the ledgers telling exactly where in the city the goose came from. Holmes later says he could have offered to pay the man a hundred times the wager and not been able to buy the information.
    • In The Sign of the Four, Holmes gets the description of a boat he's looking for from the captain's wife not by asking, but by pretending that he knows the boat but can't remember it well and getting all the details wrong.
      Holmes: She’s not that old green launch with a yellow line, very broad in the beam?
      Mrs Smith: No, indeed. She’s as trim a little thing as any on the river. She’s been fresh painted, black with two red streaks.
  • The example of this trope in Polish media has to be Na tropach Smętka, a non-fiction story of how Melchior Wańkowicz and his younger daughter took a rowing trip to Mazury in the nineteen thirties. As they arrive and begin to assemble their boat, they deliberately do it in a very, very inept way to get the jetty loiterers to do it for them. Works like a charm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Discussed in the The Big Bang Theory episode "The Hawking Execution".
    Penny: I know what it means. And yes, you love correcting people and putting them down.
    Sheldon: Au contraire. When I correct people I am raising them up. You should know, I do it for you more than anyone.
    Penny: Come on, you do it to feel superior. I see that twinkle in your eye when someone says "who" instead of "whom" or thinks the moon is a planet.
    Sheldon: Or Don Quixote is a book about a donkey named Hotay.
    Penny: See, there it is, there's that twinkle.
    Sheldon: Well, I can't help it. That's an involuntary twinkle.
    • In "The Locomotion Reverberation", Leonard and Howard need Sheldon back on the project, but Sheldon is too obsessed with trains as a result of the gift Leonard gave him. Leonard decides to put something on the board, pretending it's what they've figured out on their own. According to him, Sheldon won't be able to resist correcting it. Sheldon "corrects" it, but because the thing Leonard drew was a random curlicue resembling Charlie Brown's hair, it doesn't help.
      Sheldon: [After drawing Charlie Brown around the curlicue] Nice try, Blockheads.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Captain Holt once deliberately submitted a proposal to his superiors with extremely minor grammatical errors (improper colon/semicolon use, split infinitives, etc.) so that his superior (and sworn nemesis) Madeline Wuntch would see them and reject the proposal. The reasoning being rejecting a proposal for such petty reasons would allow him to go over her head and have a better chance of getting what he wants.
    • Amy Santiago's perfectionist tendencies leave her vulnerable to this trope. Co-workers will often mess with her by leaving something ever so slightly out of place so that she has no choice but to flip out while trying to correct them.
    • While interrogating a murder suspect, Jake Peralta paints a story about how he must've killed the victim in a moment of rage, with a series of hasty improvisations and lucky breaks allowing him to stumble into a seemingly airtight alibi instead of getting caught right away. Infuriated, the suspect rants that he actually planned every step of the plot long in advance and didn't need any luck, only realizing once he's done that he just confessed.
  • Columbo:
    • Lieutenant Columbo plays this game on Paul Galesko who murdered his wife and an associate ex-convict "fall-guy" to make it look like a kidnapping-murder. By mirroring a photo and playing it off as "proof" that the murder took place at a different time (due to the analog clock being mirrored). Paul gets upset, loses his sense of avoiding self-incrimination, and impulsively reaches for the camera he used to show Columbo where the originals are. But how would he know which camera to pick unless he took the photos himself?
    • In the episode "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case", Columbo constructs the contraption the killer used to make it sound like the murder happened while he was outside the room. However, Columbo deliberately put an error into the contraption, knowing the murderer wouldn't be able to resist correcting it. The killer is stunned at what he just did and impressed that Columbo outsmarted him.
  • In one episode of Open All Hours, Arkwright put up a sign with deliberately bad grammar in the hopes that people would come into the shop to correct it.
  • In one episode of Sherlock, the title character gets a lot of information out of the victim's wife very quickly by voicing several incorrect assumptions about her husband. He explains to John that, while people are often reluctant to answer questions, they are almost always eager to correct a mistake.
  • Hogan's Heroes had this as a way Hogan got information, he would say the wrong thing and be corrected with the right information, then change subjects before it was noticed. It was even lampshaded in one episode when a "German citizen" giving away classified SS orders turned out to be an Allied agent.
    Spy: Are you sure you've wormed enough information out of me, Colonel Hogan?
  • Blanche does this in one episode of The Golden Girls:
    Blanche: You come to me when you want advice on men. You go to Dorothy when there's grammar you need help with.
    Dorothy: You ended that sentence with a preposition just to bait me.
    Blanche: What would I do that for?
  • In one episode of Person of Interest, a gang of masked mooks have spread out across New York City to cause mayhem to distract law enforcement from a major terror event. Two main characters get hold of the masks the mooks are using, stroll up to a mook, and accuse his group of being too close to the event while showing him a map. The mook is quick to defend himself, pointing out where the event is on the map and how they were nowhere close to it.
  • Gilmore Girls: A variant, since it involves an opinion, but in one episode Kirk is trying not to break character as a medieval-era waiter; Lorelai compares him to one of the British Royal Guards from I Love Lucy and comments that the European episodes were the best in the series. Kirk replies that the Hollywood episodes were better.
  • In the Matlock episode "The Stripper", Matlock is interviewing a witness and deliberately botches a joke he heard, prompting the witnesses' other personality, that comedian, to correct him and expose 'herself'.
  • In one episode of the The Office (US), Dwight goes on a tear about "time theft", and insists that he never talks about anything non-work-related in the office. Jim proceeds to needle him by giving a ludicrously incorrect description of Battlestar Galactica (2003), causing Dwight to visibly struggle to keep from correcting him.
  • Done in Criminal Minds; the victims were two whole families, and when the suspected Serial Killer was brought in but refused to admit the crimes, the photo of the boy of the second family was placed under the heading of the first. When the suspect corrects this, the results are obvious.
  • Done by Jane in one episode of The Mentalist involving the case of a woman who was murdered while searching for the man who stabbed her father to death. Jane thinks he knows who did it, but the suspect claims he never met the victim and Jane has no proof otherwise; however, the man is known for compulsively correcting people, so Jane tests him by intentionally getting a detail wrong while discussing the father's case in front of the suspect (he states that the father was stabbed 14 times, when the real number was 18). Sure enough, the suspect reflexively corrects him, thus revealing that he had met the victim and talked with her before her death. Since the only reason he'd lie about that is if he had something to hide, this gives the CBI reason to arrest and question him.
  • The Professionals. In "Wild Justice", Bodie and Doyle are undergoing a CI5 assessment, and the instructors identify that Bodie is having problems. So Cowley accuses Doyle of letting him down by failing the evaluation. Doyle blows up, wanting to know why he's being failed and not Bodie...then realises he's just confirmed what Cowley was really after.
  • In the Malcolm in the Middle episode "Funeral", Malcolm tries getting out of going to the title event so that he can go on a date by claiming he has to write an essay on A Tale of Two Cities, which he hasn't started reading yet. However, Lois asks if that's the book with Jean Valjean, and ignores Malcolm insisting that she's thinking of Les Misérables by adding that Valjean ends the book by saying "It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done before." Malcolm falls for the bait by angrily declaring that Sydney Carton said that line - revealing that he has read the book.
  • Being Human (UK): During the second series George Sands starts teaching an English As Foreign Language class. After one lesson he goes into the bathroom and finds one of his students has written "Mr. Sands Suck Cocks" on the mirror. George is so annoyed at the grammatical error that he whips out a pen to change it to "Sucks"...which is the exact moment the headmaster walks in.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In the episode "Back to Max", Alex and Justin accidentally turned Professor Crumbs into a ten-years-old boy indefinitely in an effort to keep him from finding out that they turned their brother into a little girl a few episodes before, with the two claiming it's a way to teach Justin's class how to reverse an Indefinite spell. After struggling to come up with an antidote, Alex tricks Crumbs by saying a list of wrong ingredients for a counterspell, and as she expected he lists the correct ingredients.

    Video Games 

  • A xkcd comic shows Cueball baiting a Grammar Nazi into making a false correction. note 
  • One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic involved a psychopath taking revenge on his old grammar teacher - he locked him in a cellar with a bomb and a cellphone, telling him that he will receive a text and the bomb will go off if he texts back. The text contained a grammar error...
  • Invoked in a World of Warcraft-based webcomic which had someone asking a polite question in chat and getting abuse and stupidity in answer. Someone sent a private message saying he doesn't know the answer, but he knows how to get it. He answers the question with blatantly incorrect information, and is immediately corrected by the trolls.
  • In the Western arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, the sign for the Glatisant Saloon says "Salooon" with three "o"s. People come in to point this out to Pellinore, and he says he'll have to fix that, but while they're here...
  • In this Something*Positive, Rory is reading Frankenstein, but not wanting to raise his parents' expectations of him, tells Davan that he's just doodling pictures in it. Davan tricks him by mentioning Igor, whom Rory notes isn't in the book.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In one episode of Retsupurae, slowbeef makes a joke about the laziness of Pokémon's animators, saying "They players won't care; they spent their 100 yen!" Later, when Proteus jokes that Kabuto is that "Japanese theater with the face paint 'n shit," he then immediately follows up by preemptively cursing out the people rushing to comment that he's talking about kabuki. Slowbeef then says that it's probably the same person who's about to post "you know slowbeef, 100 yen is not a lot of money." "100 yen is not a lot of money" immediately became the "Well, actually..." of the Retsupurae fandom.
  • This video by comedian Julie Nolke features Zeus accusing Pandora (Anna Akana) of opening Pandora's Box during 2020. Pandora vehemently denies it, but Zeus tricks her into admitting it by offhandedly mentioning that there were aliens in the box, prompting Pandora to correct the false information.

    Western Animation 
  • The first episode of Dilbert has the title character taking a shower that uses voice commands to adjust the temperature. It's only calibrated to answer to his own voice, but Dogbert manages to mess with him by fudging some numbers. First, he brings up how Dilbert had training wheels until he was 17, which Dilbert corrects to 14, prompting the shower to turn freezing cold. Then Dogbert remarks that the shower's computer voice reminds him of the AI from "Something, Something, A Space Odyssey" and Dilbert corrects him again, unable to even finish his sentence before being hit by the screaming hot temperature of 2001 degrees.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, this is Lisa's reaction when Bart describes Zorro as a history lesson come to life when they go to see a film about it.
  • In every version of Superman, Mr. Mxyzptlk can be defeated only by tricking him into saying, spelling, or otherwise indicating his own name backwards ("Kltpzyxm"). In one episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Superman (as Clark Kent) defeats him by casually telling him he can't fight him until he finishes proofreading the article he's just written. Mxyzptlk, impatient and annoyed at not being taken seriously, quickly proofreads it for him, crossing out his mistakes. The crossed-out letters spell out Kltpzyxm and he vanishes before he realizes what he's done. In the same episode, Superman gets him by deliberately mispronouncing Kltpzyxm, prompting Mxyzptlk to correct him by saying it correctly.
    • In an earlier cartoon, Superman claims he'll spell Mr. Mxyzptlk's name backwards in fireworks, and the sight will force Mr. Mxyzptlk to say it. He misspells it, and Mr. Mxyzptlk corrects him, saying his name backward in the process.
  • An episode of Pinky and the Brain had Brain filing a lawsuit, claiming to have been "transformed into" a mouse (he had used his robotic suit to pass as human earlier in the episode). The opposing lawyer pointed out that mice were not intelligent, and Brain, whose lawsuit was going poorly already and was starting to panic, tried to pretend that he was an idiot. The lawyer then threw a bunch of false statements at him, and Brain obviously struggled (and ultimately failed) to stop himself from blurting out corrections.
  • In the "Folk Art Foes" episode of Victor and Valentino, after Huehuecoyotl is released, they utter the phrase "Estas etrapado" twice, and as soon as Huehue sees the misspelled phrase written out, he spells it properly, uttering it in his boast for a third time, and he's trapped inside the alebrije Vic and Val made.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Power of Shazam!", Batman defeats Black Adam with a variant of the trick listed above under "Comic Books".
  • In DePatie-Freleng's Inspector series, whenever Sgt. Deux Deux replies "Si" (as he's obviously of Spanish descent), the Inspector (who is French) chides him, saying "Don't say 'si'...say 'oui.'"
  • Looney Tunes: The key to turning the Xylophone Gag on someone: purposely play a couple of wrong, discordant notes, missing the key that will set off the booby-trapped instrument, and the one behind the trap will get fed up with your errors, shove you aside, and play the song properly, blowing themselves sky-high.
  • One episode of Arthur has DW starting a neighborhood science class where she teaches blatantly wrong facts, such as that H2O stands for "Hose + Oxygen", hence why water comes out of the hose. Arthur gets so fed up with it that he takes her to the science museum to teach her the proper facts, where she reveals she had been getting them deliberately wrong so Arthur would take her to the museum, when previously he claimed he never would.

I can't take it anymore! It's spelled "Describe"! How could you forget the freaking "s"?


Video Example(s):


Old Man Kaseki

The dedicated craftsman of Ishigami Village, who is first brought in to help make glass tools. After getting riled up seeing Senku and Chrome fumble with glassblowing, he shows them how it's really done, despite never before having seen glass in his life.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TrueCraftsman

Media sources: