You don't know why it's so wrong. Maybe they did not do the research, and suffered from Critical Research Failure. 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 Super OCD 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. Sub Tropes include Grammar Nazi, Stylistic Suck, Edit War, You Make Me Sic, Fandom-Enraging Misconception. See also So Bad, It's Good, The Internet Is Serious Business, Accentuate the Negative. Distracting Disambiguation, Xylophone Gag. Compare Super OCD, The Perfectionist, Don't Be Ridiculous, Blunder-Correcting Impulse, Reverse Psychology, Flame Bait and Snark Bait. Contrast Bystander Syndrome. May result in Hypocrite, Let's See YOU Do Better!, "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer, Aluminum Christmas Trees.
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 Dr. Stone, Senku needs knowledge of glassblowing, which has been lost for 3700 years. So he gets his friends to tie up the craftsman Kaiseki and forces him to watch his failed attempts at glassblowing. Soon enough, Kaiseki 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).
- 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.
- In Blondie, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Holmes: Shes not that old green launch with a yellow line, very broad in the beam?
- 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.
Mrs Smith: No, indeed. Shes as trim a little thing as any on the river. Shes been fresh painted, black with two red streaks.
- 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.
- 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 the Columbo 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.
- 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 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.
- In one episode of The Mentalist, the team takes the case of a woman who was murdered while searching for the man who stabbed her father to death. Jane suspects a man who is known for correcting people, so he intentionally gets 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). The suspect — who claimed he had never met the victim — reflexively corrects him, thus revealing that he had met the victim and talked with her before her death.
- 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.
- In article for Cracked, Seanbaby called out the type of nerd that thrives on smugly correcting people for trivial mistakes and theorized that when they die alone, "they go to a hell where their mouth is taped shut for eternity next to people who keep saying that Carl Weathers was in Star Wars."note
- One Not Always Right story has some furniture salespeople who are fed up with a constant complainer. They intentionally bring furniture to her with an obvious flaw that they can fix in the truck, thus giving her a chance to complain but sparing themselves a trip to bring back the furniture if she complained after they left it.
- 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.
- 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.