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Do Wrong, Right

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"If you're going to start a riot, at least learn what a Molotov cocktail is first!"

"Y’know how when you’re dating someone and you don’t want to cheat on them, unless it’s with someone really hot? Well, this is the same kind of deal. If you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!"
Joey, Friends

Alice deliberately does something immoral or bad. Bob finds out and takes her to task — not because she did the misdeed, but because she did it incorrectly. Say, she had robbed a bank. "I can’t believe you, Alice! Why did you do that?!", Bob might say. "You should have taken more money, robbed an outlet not so close to home, and done more to cover your tracks."

This trope can also apply to situations where, for example, after Alice takes Bob's sports car out for a drive without his permission and returns, instead of scolding her, he asks her, "How did it run?"

Primarily a comedy trope, but it can show up Played for Drama as well- say, giving the audience the Hope Spot of a villain stopping another from killing a helpless hero... so that they can demonstrate proper weapon technique by doing it themselves. Alternately, it is being used to set up an Even Evil Has Standards moment (say, "Don't overgloat"), or the objection is more pratical (e.g., "They could have traced you back to our hideout.")


May sometimes overlap with Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. If kidnapping is involved, it can overlap with Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?. Related to Insult Backfire and You Make Me Sic. See also Because I'm Good at It. May come after a Chew-Out Fake-Out or Berate and Switch. See Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat for doing wrong, wrong, or Wrong Insult Offence for insulting someone wrong. See Your Approval Fills Me with Shame for when a person's (mis)deeds earn him a compliment from a badguy. Compare Milholland Relationship Moment, where Alice expects Bob to blow up in anger over something she's done to him, only for him to stay calm and react as if it's not a big deal. Also see Pragmatic Villainy, which is all about villains who do wrong right quite often.

Not related to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • At the beginning of the Chunin Exams in Naruto, the written test has only a 20% penalty for being caught cheating. Why? Half the material wasn't even actually taught—the real point of the exam was to test the students' ability to gather intel through stealth. Given the outlandish methods of cheating some characters used, it's implied that the proctors allowed anything that would plausibly work for reconnaissance in the field to pass without comment, and only imposed the cheating penalties on incompetent cheaters. For example: Gaara is secretly creating an eye out of sand to see other people's tests. The examiner, Ibiki, can tell that Gaara is up to something, but is unable to discern the specifics, and therefore lets it slide without marking him down.
  • In one episode of Samurai Champloo, a pair of twins have been writing graffiti on every surface they can get their brushes on. When their former teacher sees this, he complains that it's awful... because their penmanship is terrible.
    Teacher: They should be ashamed,
    Woman: I agree.
    Teacher: Dammit! YOU'RE WRITING IT WRONG!
  • Control Freak Chiri Kitsu of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei does this quite a lot. She has a scene where she angrily objects to thugs beating someone half to death- not because she finds what they are doing wrong, but they need to beat him more so he's literally halfway between life and death.
  • Soul Eater's introductory episode for Black Star and Tsubaki has the former try to peek on the latter taking a bath. Tsubaki throws a shuriken into his face—not for being a pervert, but because for doing such a terrible job of sneaking around.
  • In the opening of episode 3 of Kotoura-san, Manabe and Kotoura walk in to their classroom to see that, after Manabe's rather loud and public Love Confession the previous day, their classmates have written their names together under an Umbrella of Togetherness. Manabe criticizes his classmates for it... because they didn't put any hearts on it. He then proceeds to draw several hearts all over it while his male classmates bow to him in respect.
  • In Attack on Titan, Ymir is less irritated by Krista's suicidal martyr complex than her dishonesty in not admitting to herself that she has one.
  • Bleach:
    • Unohana isn't insulted by Kenpachi attempting to fight her, but by his halfheartedness in doing so. In her opinion, someone shouldn't fight unless they intend to win- focusing more on having fun and/or fighting honourably is the mark of a dilettante. (Also, she wants to be treated seriously.)
    • In the Soul Society arc, it turns out that Soifon isn't angry at Yoruichi (her patron and Protectorate) because the latter followed Urahara into exile and dishonor. She's angry because Yoruichi didn't give Soifon an opportunity to join her.
  • In Killer Killer, Hijirihara is more concerned that the killers he's assigned to catch don't have the passion to back up their crimes than the fact that they're killing at all. In fact, he even grades them on it when he figures out their motivations.
  • In Accel World, Taku chides Nomi for using acceleration to cheat on tests, saying that always acing certain tests is obviously suspicious. While Taku is disgusted with himself for abusing the power of acceleration in the past (as well as Nomi by extension, since Nomi reminds Taku of how he used to be), he brought this up as the reason Taku was able to challenge Nomi despite him not being on the match list; Taku anticipated when Nomi would accelerate and did so at the same time in order to challenge him.

  • Josh Wolf once told a story about coming home from vacation to find a $200 bill for porn and naturally assumes his son was responsible. He mentions that the reason he was mostly mad wasn't because his son was watching porn, but because he ordered it when there was free porn on the internet.

    Comic Books 
  • Ms. Marvel (2014):
    • Ms. Marvel is a teenage Muslim girl who can't resist smelling bacon ("Delicious, delicious infidel meat"). Her friends think she should either eat it or stick to her principles. "Chow or chow not, there is no smell."
    • In another example, she explains to her teacher at the mosque that she is disobeying her parents (by sneaking out of the house) so that she can help people. Much to her surprise, his response is basically this trope:
      Imam: Do what you are doing with as much honor and skill as you can.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), when the Egg Boss Cassia catches one of her subordinates playing video games instead of monitoring the screens like he's supposed to, she tells him that if he's gonna slack off like that he can at least do it well enough to beat her high score.
  • Loki in Vote Loki goes on a rant about how all politicians are liars (which he finds very amusing) but when someone called him a hypocrite for this he continued that his problem is that they don't lie well enough... and he would do it much better if he was running.
  • Robin Series: Bruce confronts Tim upon realizing Tim has altered portions of his parents' wills and forged the papers for an "uncle" and hired an actor to fill the role in order to avoid becoming a ward of the state following his parents' murders and his step-mother having a breakdown and being committed. Instead of telling him off for the multiple forgeries or not coming to Bruce to find a way around the situation without breaking any laws Bruce tells him how proud he is while showing Tim how to make the deception foolproof.
  • In Diabolik it was believed that, once she recovered her sanity, Elisabeth Gay hates Diabolik for manipulating her into being an unknowing accomplice of his crimes, breaking her heart and driving her insane twice (the first by accident as a side effect of the other things and the shock of discovering she was living with a murderer, the second, done as soon as she had recovered from the first because he knew she was terrified at the idea of becoming insane, as revenge for calling the police when she discovered what looked severed heads and thus getting him arrested and exposed as Diabolik), but she eventually admitted she actually hated him for taking Eva Kant as a willing accomplice in her place. This gets worse when a Whole Episode Flashback reveals he had considered doing that and she had (barely) failed his test.
  • In one issue of The Simpsons, Bart, Homer and Grandpa (among several other characters) get stuck in a frozen area of the Krusty factory (It Makes Sense in Context). Homer decides that they should eat Grandpa, and Abe protests...because no sane person would want to eat a scrawny old man like himself.
  • Kaijumax: The reason that Hellmoth kills the Creature of Devil's Creek wasn't because he betrayed the Cryptids or asked his his father for a weapon to kill him, but because he didn't have the guts to even attempt to do so.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes story The Great Darkness Saga, the narration lampshades the billions of Daxamites brainwashed by Darkseid into blazing a path of destruction through the galaxy "[are] doing a very good job for a very bad cause."
  • In Kaput & Zösky, planet Jobi-Joba is a world of obstructive bureaucrats. The planet's denizens tell all visitors to fill out a series of many pointless forms... especially if their purpose is to take over Jobi-Joba. In fact, any invader who refuses to fill out those forms gets easily defeated.

    Comic Strips 
  • Zits:
    • In one strip, Jeremy and Hector are caught driving their unregistered van on the streets. Jeremy's dad asks three questions: "Are you okay?" "Was anyone hurt?" and "How did it handle?"
    • In another set of strips, Jeremy's parents go out somewhere for the evening, and he decides to walk around naked, only for various people to try to come visit him. Eventually, Pierce catches him after already entering, and advises him to pull such a stunt with confidence if he's gonna try.
  • FoxTrot had an early strip where Andy is attempting to scold Peter for going 90 mph in their car, while Roger is more interested in how it handled, and whether Peter thought it could've broken 100.
  • In an early April 2011 Beetle Bailey Sunday Strip, Sgt. Snorkel caught Beetle drawing insulting pictures of him on building exteriors throughout Camp Swampy. So Sarge hired an art teacher for Beetle.
  • In the German comic Ingo Pien about humanized penguins, a neonazi sieg-heils in court. The judge reprimands him: "If you ever do the 'sieg-heil' again... do it smartly!"
  • In one For Better or for Worse, Michael gives Ellie some flowers he picked from a neighbour's garden. Though she puts them in water, Ellie chastises him for picking someone else's flowers before telling him that if if he is going to pick them, he should leave them on the stem.
  • A strip by Joan Cornellà had a boy's mother catch her son watching porn, then smiling approvingly after getting him to watch a video of a man fucking a dog.

    Fan Works 
  • Buffy is shocked, in Tabula Avatar, when Dawn swears in Ilythiiri. Tara makes her say it again, this time with proper grammar.
  • When Naruto beats the hell out of Sasuke in Shards for insulting his teacher, both Harribel and the other sensei punish him for it. Harribel punishes him because he didn't chamber his first kick properly, causing him to tear his abdominal muscles. The other sensei punish him for getting caught beating Sasuke.
  • After Faith chokes out Xander in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Minutes, his first act upon waking up is to offer to teach her how to properly choke someone out.
    Xander: I had time to tap out the William Tell Overture on your arm.
  • Demons in Overlady rather dislike adultery because it barely counts as a sin (despite what the church says) and if the adulterer has permission, it doesn't stain their soul at all.
  • In A Jedi, a Wizard, and a Scooby Walk into a Bar, Snape agrees with Xander's decision to fail several Slytherin essays when he learns Xander is failing them so badly because of how blatant their plagiarizing was. Shortly afterwards, he makes no comment on Xander deducting several points from a group of Slytherins for "being caught trying to spy".
  • Several Ravenclaws in Princess of the Blacks disapprove of the attempted murder of Jen merely because the perpetrators didn't follow proper protocol for declaring a blood feud.
  • In When Harry met Wednesday:
    • Wednesday Addams disdains Voldemort killing entire families because he always seems to leave a survivor or two; something Wednesday views as sloppy.
    • In the first chapter Wednesday informs Harry he shouldn't jump off the cliff they're on because it's only tall enough to horribly maim him. She does offer to go down to the water with him and drown him though if he's determined to kill himself.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Dr. Mizuno is concerned upon hearing about Ami getting drunk at the victory party held for defeating the assortment of Keepers, but consoles herself that the ensuing hangover would have taught Ami better. On being told that there was no hangover due to the alcohol being magically created and temporary...
    "Ami, that can't be healthy! Liquid suddenly disappearing from cells that are already using it - I shudder to think what that does to a metabolism. Next time you want to get drunk, use a real drink! Doctor's order!"
  • In Who the Heck is Naruto, Hashirama (in Naruto's body) scolds a young girl writing graffiti on the academy walls because she used the wrong kanji for Mizuki and whore. Even funnier, he's appalled that a 10 year old doesn't know the correct kanji for whore, stating that every Senju knows it by the time they turn eight.
  • The Dragon King: After Snotlout is outed for stealing from his own father, using the money to bribe Mildew and Dogsbreath to behave while he's acting chief and then let the twins take the blame for the theft, Spitelout chews him out. Not for stealing from him mind you, but because he got caught.
  • Mayor Wilkins is rather upset with Angelus in Alexander "Brand" Fraiser for his assault on Xander because it drew the attention of the US Air Force.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles, when Evelyn and Solas get caught while they’re having a tryst (it’s actually just a cover for Solas’s failed escape attempt), she gets a scolding from First Enchanter Monette but it’s mainly about Evelyn’s choice in partner and places to do it rather than her having a lover in the first place. As Monette put it, if Evelyn has to get a lover, it’s better to be someone with influence (like a Templar) rather than an apostate elf with no name or influence.
  • In the chapter "Devil Chess?" of Beyond the Outer Gates Lies... A high school library?, Harry seems ready to scold Sona for using her water dragon to intimidate Riser (after Ise gave him a severe case of dracophobia). Instead he tells her she could make the dragon much more scary, and proceeds to illustrate.
    • In the sequel, during the Kyoto school travel, Azazel warns the boys against trying to peek in on the girls... and that, if they do, at least use methods that will not get them caught, like a periscope or taking photos with a selfie stick.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji is big on this. His reaction to Misato saying he and Asuka better behave while she is away is: "She doesn't trust me to properly dispose of the evidence?"
  • In X-Men: The Early Years, Jean gets into trouble after hitting a pervert, and Scott and Xavier remind her that physical assault should be carried out when there are no witnesses around.
    Prof. Xavier: Listen to me. If you had put Will Anderson's head through that wall somewhere that wasn't in front of witnesses, I would say, yes, fight this. You didn't though; you put his head through the wall at Harry's on a very crowded night in front of a whole restaurant of witnesses. If you fight this, Jean, you are going to lose.
    Scott: See, next time, you wait in the dark parking lot for him to come out, jump him, and kick the crud out of him. Remember — no witnesses.
  • Kaito chews out Hattori when he catches him reading some confidential files in The Trouble With Soulmarks, yelling that he should be taking photos of the contents so he can peruse them later before stomping off to guard the door.
  • In The Evil Queen, Joker holds a cognition at gunpoint demanding information. His persona Arsene stops Joker. As he explains, a threat only works if you go through with it, and a pistol means killing their victim and getting no information. When Joker switches to holding a knife to the cognition's ear, Arsene approves. After all, a maimed victim can still talk.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: Ilia and Sun call out the White Fang wannabees for not only being imposters, but for their tactical incompetence and pathetic attempts at seeming edgy.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: When Mr. Turner witnesses Rainbow about to vandalize Dinkleberg's car with a crowbar, he admonishes her... for using a weak weapon, advising her instead to use a brick or a golf club so she can destroy his windshield much more quickly and make a clean getaway.
  • Fate/Sunny Order: After being freed from brainwashing while in Jasonland, Cu Chulain tells Emiya and Robin that his real problem wasn't with the brainwashing, but the execution. Cu was brainwashed into thinking he was King Cyzicus (Medea's father), but he thinks a more effective method would have been to make him believe he had to attack his former allies. Instead, an artificial personality was implanted and kept him from fighting at his full potential.
  • In A Glass Of Wine, Misato chides Shinji for drinking her wine and then putting the bottle back where she could find it instead of throwing it away.
    Misato: "Where did my wine go?"
    Shinji: "I'm sorry?"
    Misato: "See this empty bottle and how it was stashed away back on the shelf? If you drank the stuff, why did you put the empty bottle back where I could find it?"
    Shinji: I didn't—"
    Misato: "Kiddo, I'm not angry. You don't have to lie. Throw that away when you get a chance."

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Weasley brothers take their father's flying Ford Anglia car and rescue Harry from 4 Privet Drive, and their mother isn't too happy about it. Their father, however:
    Molly Weasley: Your sons flew that enchanted car of yours to Surrey and back last night!
    Arthur Weasley: Did you really? (Beat) How'd it go? (Muffled discussion; Molly hits him with a tea towel) I mean, that was very wrong indeed, boys, very wrong of you!
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian gets caught writing anti-Roman graffiti by a legionnaire who forces him to write it over and over again correctly, after correcting his atrocious Latin grammar at sword-point.
    Roman Centurion: (upon seeing graffiti vandalism) What's this, then? "Romanes Eunt Domus"? "People called Romanes they go the house"?
    Brian: It— it says, "Romans, go home".
    Centurion: No, it doesn't. What's Latin for "Roman"? Come on! (pinches Brian's earlobe)
    Brian: Aah!
    Centurion: Come on!
    Brian: "R— Romanus"?
    (after a lot more discussion on the proper grammar, they correct it to "Romani Ite Domum")
    Centurion: Now, write it out a hundred times.
    Brian: Yes, sir, thank you, sir, hail Caesar, sir!
    Centurion: (saluting) Hail Caesar. If it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.
  • In The Movie of The Addams Family, Morticia spots Wednesday carrying a cleaver. When she asks, "Is that for your brother?" and Wednesday nods, Morticia replies, "I don't think so"... and hands her daughter a bigger cleaver.
  • In Spaceballs, as Lone Star is infiltrating the mothership, he tries incapacitating a guard using the Vulcan nerve pinch. Unfortunately, the guard doesn't collapse. Instead, he turns to Lone Star chastising him for doing it wrong and instructs him on the correct technique. He then falls unconscious.
  • In Michael Moore's satire Canadian Bacon, about a drummed-up war between the United States and Canada, a group of gung-ho Americans drive through Canada in a van covered with anti-Canadian graffiti. A cop pulls them over to reprimand them... because in Canada all signage needs to be in English and French.
  • A sinister example in Ransom: Jimmy Shaker comes across the kidnappers' hideout, apparently by mistake. He sneaks in, discovers the whole operation, surprises the only thug present and holds him at gunpoint. It looks like the kid is saved! Shaker then... scolds Cubby for not protecting the hideout properly. He's a Dirty Cop, in fact the mastermind behind the kidnapping, and he merely tells Cubby not to be so stupid in the future. This being because just before this, Cubby went into a corner bodega where the NYPD were detaining a shoplifter, and bought childrens' cereal, the sort of red flag that could tip the cops off.
  • Secondhand Lions. Pop quiz: You're an old guy who just got out of the hospital for a heart attack. You go to a diner for some grub and get harassed by knife-wielding delinquents. What do you do? Well, if you're Hub McCann, you start teaching them proper knife-handling technique before they cut their own fingers off...
  • In The Dictator, the titular character, General Aladeen, is kidnapped by a racist xenophobic American who plans to torture and kill him on the orders of Aladeen's Treacherous Advisor. Being a Torture Technician himself, Aladeen repeatedly mocks his captor's technique and outdated tool set, much to the latter's annoyance.
  • In Skyfall, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee Gareth Mallory catches Q and Tanner creating a trail for Big Bad Silva to follow in his pursuit of M, whom James Bond is protecting at the eponymous lodge. Q and Tanner think they are in trouble, but Mallory instead gives them tips on the best path to give Silva to make sure he is taking the bait.
    Q: But, sir, what if the PM finds out?
    Mallory: Well, then, we're all buggered, aren't we?
  • In The Lost Boys, Sam steals his grandfather's precious car in order to engage in some vampire slaying. When next they meet, this exchange occurs.
    Grandpa: Do you know the rule about filling up the car with gas when you take it without asking?
    Sam: No, Grandpa.
    Grandpa: Well, now you do.
  • In the 2007 movie The Savages, when Philip Seymour Hoffman's character finds out his sister (Laura Linney) stole pain pills from a dead man's room, he only asks, "Do they work?"
  • The opening scene of The Godfather has Vito Corleone chiding a man for not showing him the proper respect when requesting an assassination.
  • Shows up a lot in the horror-comedy Tragedy Girls. Sadie and McKayla are aspiring Serial Killers, and take their work seriously, so they frequently critique each other's techniques during their kills. They're also appalled with a fellow murderer's victim turns out to be Not Quite Dead, McKayla snapping, "Really? You couldn't even do that right?"
  • Fair Game: When the hunters discover that Jessica has welded their gun together during the night, Sparks' reaction is:
    It's a good job of welding, but. (notices Death Glare from the other two) Maybe not.
  • In Liar Liar, Greta tells Fletcher about a friend of hers who was sued for $6,000 by a burglar who was injured in the course of breaking into her house. He lets out a horrified "No!", but then continues "I'd have gotten him 10."
  • A decidedly non-comedic example in The Breakfast Club. Andy Clark's father, who has plenty of experience bullying nerds in his youth, doesn't seem to care at all that his son pulled a painful and humiliating prank on another student — his only concern is that Andy got caught.
  • In Frankenstein 1970, Victor comments that the concentration camp commandant having his tongue cut out was 'a beautiful piece of surgery' (implicitly admiring his own work).
  • One scene in the two-part film Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills, has both infamous brothers robbing various places as a way to rebel against their strict father and to avoid the boredom of their privileged lifestyle. When they get caught, their father scolds them, not for being criminals, but for being so bad at it they got caught, which he points out is another in a long line of disappointments he is angry about.
  • In John Wick, everyone's criticism of Iosef for beating a man, killing his dog, and stealing his Cool Car is that he did it to John Wick of all people.

  • Dragon Bones: Oreg admits to Ward that he has been hiding a slave (Ward considers it a good thing, the slave's owners would call it theft), who belongs to some noblemen that have come to Ward to ask for help in catching her. Ward asks him if he has given her enough to eat and warm blankets.
  • Played for Drama In Firestarter: The assassin Rainbird reminisces about a mentor of his who taught him how to crack safes, and a story he once told about a pair of crooks trying to crack a safe who had some time to work on it and employed several techniques. When all else failed, they finally decided to blast it open, but used too much dynamite. The resulting explosion blew open the safe, but also shredded the money inside, rendering it completely worthless. The point of this story, as he explained to Rainbird, was that those idiots didn't beat the safe: you haven't beaten the safe unless you get what's inside it in a usable condition. Rainbird draws parallels between this story and what the Shop is trying to do with little Charlene McGee: if, in their efforts to Break the Cutie they attempt too much coercion, he's certain she'll commit suicide and they'll get nothing useful out of her either.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In The Chamber of Secrets, Ron, Fred and George steal their dad's car to rescue Harry from the Dursleys. After flying the car back to The Burrow, their mother is livid. Their father, however... "Really? How'd it go?"
    • And in Order of the Phoenix, when Umbridge becomes Headmistress, Peeves the Poltergeist begins to wreak havoc, to which the other Hogwarts teachers are remarkably insouciant. At one point, Professor McGonagall passes by while he's trying to unscrew a chandelier, and Harry swears that he hears her telling him, "It unscrews the other way."
    • When Umbridge is finally run out of the school, McGonagall notes she would have joined everyone but Peeves borrowed her walking stick to hit Umbridge over the head with. The tone implies less that Peeves took it and more he politely asked her for it, telling her exactly what he needed it for.
    • And a rare non-comedic example in the same book: when Harry tries to use the Cruciatus curse on Bellatrix, she admonishes him, saying that for it to work, you really have to want to cause pain. It helps him get it right against Amycus Carrow in book 7.
  • The Redemption of Althalus: After Dweia shows the assembled group examples of what has been happening in Perquaine (noblemen and priests collaborating to do whatever they want, which includes raping peasant women and seizing a well belonging to a peasant village so a nobleman can grow crops and throw the peasants out), someone asks why they're interfering in the rebellion, as it looks to be long overdue, and Dweia responds that the wrong people are leading the rebellion.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison, Bill Rumm is a thoroughly reformed cracksman. But he still can admire a good job and disapproves of dynamiting open safes.
  • Discworld:
    • Feet of Clay, the proprietor of the Dwarf Bread Museum is hit over the head with a loaf of bread (this is more serious than it sounds; dwarfs make bread to last, and not necessarily to be edible). His ghost laments to Death what a terrible waste this was... as there's now a dent in the bread's crust, and he said that since it's one of the exhibits.
      "What was wrong with a simple cosh? Or even a hammer? I could have provided one if asked."
    • In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax confronts her elder sister in the climax of the book and spends a good chunk of it berating her. For a lot of things; for disappearing when they were both young at a time that was hard for the whole family, for robbing Granny of the choice of whether to be the good sister or the bad one by running off and being the bad one, but most of all because the entire time, the last seventy-someodd years, Lilith has made herself the villain of the piece while being totally convinced that she's the good sister. Granny tells her that she could have at least had the common decency to enjoy herself in being the bad one, and raves about how much better a villain she, Granny, would have made, because she would have embraced being the bad one rather than deluding herself; but she had to be the good one, and when you know right from wrong you can't choose wrong.
    • Wyrd Sisters gives another quote, after things have deteriorated to the point where Granny Weatherwax decides to abandon her self-imposed "no meddling [in politics]" rule:
      Granny Weatherwax: When you break rules, break 'em good and hard.
    • In Night Watch:
      • Vimes yells at some citizens to tear down their barricade... because it's an Absurdly Ineffective Barricade and he wants them to make it better, along with putting the new one in a better defensive chokepoint down the road. While Vimes actually doesn't think it's wrong to build the barricades, it is illegal, and he has to make a decision.
      • When Mountjoy-Standfast is questioning Nobby about what's going on behind the barricade, Nobby mentions that he wants to join the army in order to steal boots off of the bodies. Mountjoy-Standfast gets indignantly angry and points out that the soldier who brought him in, Gabitass, would never stoop to stealing dead men's boots, and Gabitass agrees. However, a footnote adds that Gabitass's advice on the subject would be to skip the boots because there isn't much money in it and you can't carry that many, and that it's better to stick with jewelry, which is more valuable and portable.
  • When Phule's Company started, Sushi was extremely annoyed by Do-Wop, whom he called "petty thief" in his face. Do-Wop didn't notice which word was emphasized until it was pointed out to him directly, along with the minimum prize value Sushi (a former white-collar criminal) considered worth any risk at all.
    Phule: If I understand you correctly, Sushi, your objection to Do-Wop is not the fact that he steals, but rather the scale he operates on.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Fisk is endlessly exasperated with Michael's inability to lie.
  • In Azincourt, Hooke and Lord John have this conversation (paraphrased).
    Hooke: I hit a priest.
    John: You did a bad thing, Hooke. [beat] You should have killed him!
  • In Charles Stross's The Family Trade, when Miriam confesses to sleeping with Olga's fiancé Roland, Olga asks if Roland was any good.
  • In the Star Trek novel The Pandora Principle, Saavik knocks Spock out and leaves him behind so she can take on the potentially fatal job of destroying her hated home planet. Afterwards, Spock reprimands her severely...for not planning things out better, as one really must when choosing to disobey orders. He adds that he planned things very carefully, that time he hijacked the Enterprise.
  • Towards the end of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Edmund Bertram is nervous about his first encounter with Mary Crawford after her brother and his married sister were discovered having an affair. He's sure she'll be as ashamed and upset about it as he is. Oh, Mary's mad at them all right... for being stupid enough to get caught.
  • In The Godfather (the book), Vito chastises his 16 year old son Santino when he discovers that he was involved in an armed robbery, which could cause embarrassment to the family. He ends the diatribe with "And what did you earn for your night's work? Fifty dollars each? Twenty?" ... "Lawyers can steal more with a briefcase than a thousand men with guns and masks."
  • In Glory in the Thunder, Rashk lectures Vahagn about the correct way to murder a good person who doesn’t deserve to die.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The villainous Roose Bolton scolds his Axe-Crazy son Ramsay about his flagrant rape, murder and torture sprees. That's all perfectly fine, but you've got to be both selective and subtle about it to meet his standards. When Ramsay expresses intent on skinning one of their allies alive for an insult and turning her into a pair of boots, Roose frustratedly tells him that not only would this further alienate their key allies, but that human skin is also far too thin to make good boots in the first place.
    • Stannis Baratheon, being a Principles Zealot, has more respect for any honest foe doing their best to ruin him than any ally of his who shows disloyalty or treachery. He doesn't mind so much being opposed by someone who honestly believes in something that turns out to be wrong, but someone who's a mere opportunist, in it for themselves and, worse, incompetent annoys him whether they be ally or foe. And will get told how they should have been more like the guy on the other side (or some widely held historical villain example) who is/was at least good at this dirty job of politics.
    • Both Tywin and Tyrion Lannister make several, varied attempts to get through to Joffrey how to Evil King it correctly as his Hands — and, have to give up because he's only interested in The Caligula play-style and, seemingly, going for the speed record. Their attempts do, however, illustrate both their political and moral similarities... and differences.
    • During the sack of King's Landing in Robert's Rebellion, Tywin Lannister told Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch to find and kill the Royal family. Lorch killed Rhaenys Targaryen (a three-year old) by stabbing her 50 times. He claims it was because she kicked him and wouldn't stop screaming. Even Tywin was shocked by the brutal nature of her death, and later said a "clever" man would've used sweet words to calm her and then smothered her with a pillow.
    • In a way, this is Sandor Clegane's mission in life when he bumps into fools, naifs or naive fools. It's more a case of "How To Cynicism Correctly Before You Wind Up As Burned As I Was" in his case, however.
    • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is a dab hand at handing advice out that may as well come directly from Xanatos Speed Chess: The Users Guide for Good Form in a Gambit-Rich Environment. The problem is, he makes certain he usually does it via Sarcastic Confession, as part of generalized, hilarious snark or after somebody's utter failure, so it does other people very little good before they come a cropper. Mostly.
    • Daenerys finds she actually could use an experienced dash of this aimed at her, after making a complete hash of conquering and ruling a couple of the Free Cities. The problem is that she has almost too many advisors, all with differing takes on how to advise (or how flipping obliquely to vaguely hint around the bush in the case of Quaithe), combined with their clashing personal, cultural and/or moral agendas that don't make it easy for her to discern decent advise like this from complete and utter rubbish.
  • Played for Drama in Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt. Rosenschiöld is angry with Edvard for making a fourteen-year-old girl pregnant and abandoning her to die after an abortion. But not because doing it was wrong, but because Edvard was stupid enough to do this to a girl from an upper class family! If the girl had come from a working class family, Rosenschiöld couldn't have cared less.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Claire's mom, a former villain, encourages her daughter to do what makes her happy, even if that means super-villainy. She gives the protagonists advice on how to be the best villains they can.
  • In the novella The Austro-Hungarian Connection, after a bit of hearing Denise Beasely's potty mouth and noticing her expression suggested she was expecting to be told to not use foul language (one of her pet peeves), Janos Drugeth mentally comments that his father would have taken her to task for it were he there to hear it. Not for the fact that a 16 year old girl was swearing, but because of Denise's "free verse" foulmouthing, the senior Drugeth believing in a more formalized approach to cursing.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, our hero is being tortured using electroshock. When the machine breaks down, none of the bad guys are competent enough to fix it. The hero tells them how to go about it, which entirely freaks them out as it makes them realize a clear Aesop; not only do they need him more than he does them, even their tools of torture are dependent on men like him to make them work. They are nothing without those they oppress.
  • Menon's translation of The Mahabharata has a dramatic example. When Shakuni gambles with King Yudhishtira, he cheats and cheats obviously, winning every single throw. This convinces Krishna beyond all doubt that Shakuni was using loaded dice, and makes him far more vengeful than he would have been otherwise. Because of those dice, there can be no doubt that Shakuni's intentions were malevolent- and consequently, no hope of reconciliation between him and the Pandavas. In comparison, "just" cheating Yudhishtira out of his kingship, his family, and his wife would have been less insulting.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Lady Knight, not one but several people sneak off (disobeying army orders in the process) to help Keladry attack the opposing side. This results in one informing another that he's going the wrong way.
  • In "Null-ABC" by H. Beam Piper, Bodyguard Doug Yetsko objects when a gang of high school students grab pistols and burp guns instead of stun weapons to go quell a riot. Then he's pointed at a viewscreen showing just how bad the riot has become, and abruptly changes his mind:
    Yetsko: [handing a burp gun back] Look; you gotta press this little gizmo, here, to let the action shut when there’s no clip in, or when the clip’s empty. When you got a loaded clip in, you just pull back on this and let go—
  • Used to great effect in Molnfri bombnatt by Swedish writer Vibeke Ohlson. The main character is an elderly German woman who moved to Sweden after World War II. At one point, she encounters a bunch of Neo-Nazis on the streets of Stockholm, and she immediately starts yelling at them: "If you have to go around shouting those slogans, at least don't sound so damn Swedish! Sieg Heil! That's how to say it!"
  • If read at face value, The Prince is a how-to guide on doing this. Sooner or later, a Prince is going to be put in a position where he's going to have to do something morally reprehensible in order to preserve the stability of his kingdom. This is a simple fact and an inevitability of politics. In The Prince, Machiavelli offers advice on how to do this properly.
  • Kama Sutra: "I advise you not to commit adultery. But if you must, follow those rules: 1. Never woo two ladies who live in the same house..."
  • In The Malloreon, the heroes find an important prophecy recorded by the Angarak priesthood on Genuine Human Hide. Belgarath is disgusted - because human hide is downright terrible at holding ink, and the words have almost completely faded. He rants that the writers were so preoccupied with being gratuitously evil, they forgot practical considerations.
  • Every Heart a Doorway: Referenced by the self-professed Mad Scientist Jack after her fellow students start showing up murdered — as she says, if she were the one killing them, she'd never waste a perfectly good corpse like that.
  • Spy School: When it looks like Erica has turned on the CIA in the eighth book the most convincing argument in her defense is that if she was really trying to kill Ben then she could have easily done so in a less conspicuous and more intelligent way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. has Brisco playing poker with another guy, both of them cheating constantly until finally Brisco wins with five kings to the other man's five queens. The man gladly accepts the loss with "He cheated me fair and square."
  • Babylon 5:
    • In one episode set during the Earth Alliance blockade of the station, Ivanova threatens to throw a reporter out an airlock. The reporter isn't happy and complains to Sheridan. Sheridan rips into Ivanova - for not specifying that the reporter would be "stripped naked and thrown out an airlock." After all, they shouldn't waste perfectly good clothing. It gets a chuckle out of the reporter.
    • In another episode Ivanova challenges one of Brother Theo's monks to bet on the outcome of a chess game. Brother Edward counters that "gambling is one of the lesser sins. I've always felt that if you're gonna sin you should go for one of the really big ones", which also foreshadows brother Edward's past life as a serial murderer.
    • Garibaldi seems to have a rule about this: if someone is doing something illegal but for the right reasons, he'll give them tips on how to do so in a way that doesn't put Babylon 5 at risk, after sounding them out. G'Kar and Garibaldi in "Comes the Inquisitor":
      Garibaldi: I always leave a little room for someone to disappoint me. Thank you for not doing it.
  • One episode of Battlestar Galactica (2003) has Chief Tyrol find some of his deck crew illegally distilling their own alcoholic drinks on the flight deck. He proceeds to explain that their setup is exactly wrong and likely to make somebody blind, and tells them to come back later so he can show them how it's done. (This might be considered an inversion of this trope, since the toxicity of mis-made moonshine is a real danger, and thus doing it wrong really is the worst part of what they're up to.)
  • El Chavo del ocho: Often, El Chavo is about to punch Quico out in anger for something, and then la Chilindrina chastises him for it, before giving him a brick or another object so he can hit Quico harder.
  • In one Friends storyline, pregnant vegetarian Phoebe is agonising over her Wacky Cravings, and occasionally nibbling on pieces of leftover meat. Joey gives her the advice seen in the quote at the top of this page as he gets out a couple of steaks.
  • In an episode of Good News Week that aired the week after ex-Prime Minister John Howard had a shoe thrown at him on live television, Mikey talked about the event, saying that after the event had occurred, he had never been so ashamed of being an Australian... because it was the worst bloody shot he'd ever seen!
  • Hannah Montana. "If I still liked a guy, I would have done the same thing." "Really?" "Well, I would have done it a little better."
  • Colonel Potter does almost the exact same thing as the Battlestar Galactica example above in his first appearance on M*A*S*H, explaining that he received his WWII Purple Heart in Guam when a still blew up in his tent.
  • Happens between Fran Fine and the Sheffield children quite a few times on The Nanny. For instance, in "The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother", when Fran's sister-in-law dismissively realizes that Fran is a nanny, not Maxwell Sheffield's wife, Maggie says "Who asked you, you big green cow?!". Fran, however, calmly says "Maggie, it's turquoise...".
    • In another example, Fran discovers that Maggie has a hickey from her boyfriend. She immediately scolds her...for trying to cover it up with foundation. "You need oil-based concealer!"
    • When the family is eating pizza, Fran remarks that since it's a fattening food, she only wants one slice. She proceeds to pick up two pieces and put one on top of the other, claiming that it only counts as one because "the body doesn't know." It's not clear if she's genuinely unaware or simply believes or own lies.
  • Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby: On of Mr. Gormsby's signature traits is his tolerance for the 5-F student's uncivillized behavoir, so long as it is properly done. In one episode, his first reaction to a developmentally disabled teenager running through the halls pretending to be Spitfire (complete with droning propeller noises) is to yell at the student for getting the sound of a working Spitfire engine completely wrong and then proceeds to demonstrate the proper way to pretend to be a Spitfire, complete with arms extended like wings. In another episode, we get this lovely gem when a student admits to firebombing another teachers car (Note that Steve, the teacher, is quite toxic to everyone, especially 5-F students and Gormsby does not hide his contempt for Steve):
    Hohepa: Steve didn't blow up his car. It was me.
    Mr Gormsby: Me what?
    Hohepa: Me, sir. I've been having some pretty negative feelings lately, sir. Alienated from my friends, I've had some feelings of resentment towards authority figures. Sir.
    Mr Gormsby: Don't give me that Tibetan-mung-bean, I-wasn't-breast-fed-as-a-child, family-conference stuff! Blowing up machinery can be a commendable act in the right circumstances, but this is not El Alamein, and we are not fighting the Hun! Still, it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge that the sabotage was well planned and perfectly executed. You were a bit heavy-handed with the volatile substances, but I put that down to the fact that you probably helped yourself to chemicals and machinery from your uncle's methamphetamine lab.
    Hohepa: *nods*
    Mr Gormsby: Typical. Never use chemicals you haven't mixed yourself! It makes it much harder to estimate possible collateral damage.
  • In a short on You Can't Do That on Television, a brave Mountie confronts the Dastardly Whiplash tying the Distressed Damsel to the railroad tracks... to correct his knot-tying technique.
  • In a Thanksgiving Episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Uncle Phil happily remarks about his excitement for the "big ol' butterball" (meaning a turkey). Geoffrey naturally can't resist the opportunity and remarks "Well, you are what you eat." Uncle Phil, who is quite used to Geoffrey's jokes about his weight, decides to unleash some Tranquil Fury and tells him off for being unoriginal, pointing out other ways to insult him in a dangerously cheerful tone. It's notably one of the few times Geoffrey seems genuinely afraid of Phil.
    Uncle Phil: You could be poetic. "His corpulent flesh rolls around his bones like a thick chocolate pudding." Or scientific! "He is so huge, that food comes to him from the gravitational pull alone!" Or, you could be quizzical! "Is that your head, or is your neck blowing a bubble?" You could be ribald, ironic, vaudevillian—whatever! But be creative! (Dropping his jovial manner) You got that?
  • A very heartwarming example, from the revival of Upstairs Downstairs. It's revealed that Ivy has been sneaking cold leftovers outside, to feed the family's previous footman (fired and arrested several episodes back, after getting into a barfight). When she's caught, the other servants tell her "You can't bring him cold dinner outside! Bring him inside, and give him warm dinner."
  • An episode of JAG had a Marine Drill Sergeant Nasty being held at gunpoint by a kid working for a street gang. He informed him that not only was he holding the gun wrong, but that it was obviously so poorly maintained that the only one in danger from the gun being fired was the kid. Later, another gangster tries to shoot the same Marine, and ends up blowing his own hand off when his gun catastrophically misfires.
  • In the Doctor Who minisode Friend from the Future (which introduced Bill Potts), Bill involuntarily lapses into this after first encountering Daleks, noting that their cries of “Exterminate! Exterminate!” aren't very efficient and they'd save time by shouting "Kill! Kill!" instead, if they really must shout something at all. Cue the Doctor: "Do you really want them at peak efficiency?"
  • Parodied in the House episode "Euphoria," when House suspects the patient's symptoms are caused by an infection he got from using pigeon droppings as free fertilizer for his marijuana crop.
    House: Let's hope this experience teaches our cop a lesson — don't cut corners when you're growing your pot.
  • Being Human:
    • In the episode where George Sands teaches English as a Foreign Language, George finds that one of his students has vandalized the WC, writing "Mr. Sands Suck Cocks". George takes out a marker pen and corrects the grammar.
    • Earlier, George's students wanted him to teach them curse words, because they never know what people are saying to them when they're being cursed at. George figures he might as well go with it, since swearing is just as much a part of language as anything else.
  • Grey's Anatomy: On a slow day, resident jerk Alex keeps pranking the boyfriend of his latest intern, out of jealousy. Veteran Dr. Webber confronts him about it, saying "I thought you were better than that!" It turns out he just wants to suggest better pranks.
  • In season five of The Wire, the Major Crimes Unit's investigation into Marlo Stanfield is shut down due to Carcetti's budget cuts. This causes Jimmy McNulty to fabricate a Serial Killer by staging the bodies of dead vagrants, hoping media attention will cause the higher-ups to pressure Carcetti into allocating more funding for the police department. Bunk tries to have Lester Freamon set McNulty straight...only for Lester to realize that McNulty hasn't made this "serial killer" jazzy enough for the press to sensationalize.
    Lester: Yeah, you fucked up.
    Bunk: Yeah! Tell him!
    Lester: No, I mean if you wanna do it right, a straight-up strangle's not enough, not after some vagrant. Sensationalize it. Give the killer some fucked-up fantasy, somethin' bad. Real bad. It's gotta grip the hearts and minds, give people what they want from a serial killer.
    Bunk: Lester, what the fuck?!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tywin Lannister cottons on to the fact that Arya Stark is a highborn Northern girl posing as a lowborn Southern girl (although presumably not to her exact identity, which would have been of great interest to him) and corrects her pronunciation of "my lord" (commoners pronounce it "m'lord"), telling her that if she's going to lie to him, she ought to do it well.
    • Tyrion can't resist making aside, snarky comments and after-action reviews about inept assassinations and transparent frame-ups:
      • He denies any involvement in the attempt on Bran's life, pointing out he'd have to be an idiot to give the assassin his own blade.
      • Invoked when he realizes that it wasn't Cersei, but Joffrey, who ordered the assassination attempt on him during the Battle of the Blackwater, due to Tyrion being unafraid to call him out on his antics. He admits in retrospect, it should have been obvious who was responsible.
        Tyrion: So he wants me dead, fine, but his stupidity! He could have had me poisoned and no-one would have known! But the King, orders the Kingsguard, to murder the Hand of the King, in full view of his own army... the boy's an idiot!
      • Once again invoked when he stands accused of poisoning Joffrey. He takes some intellectual offense at being accused of an assassination so half-assed that it blatantly makes himself the primary suspect. If he really did do it, he says, he'd be smart enough to not stand around gawking as his nephew chokes out his last breaths.
    • Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark are riding past a group of Frey soldiers boasting of their part in the Red Wedding when Arya slips off the horse, walks up to one of them and stabs him repeatedly in the neck, forcing Sandor to kill the other three in her defense. Worse, she stole his own dagger to do it. Sandor's response?
      Sandor: Next time you're going to do something like that, tell me first.
    • "My mother told me not to throw stones at cripples. My father told me: Aim for their heads!" — Ramsay Snow. Ironically, Ramsay's antics with this victim earn him a lecture from his father about not torturing valuable hostages.
    • As Brienne tells Arya, Lord Selwyn Tarth became so tired of his daughter Brienne's belligerent attitude to all her potential suitors and her always getting into fights and losing because of her lack of discipline, that he shrugged and decided to get her the formal training as a knight which she needed to do it properly, in spite of Westerosi society being extremely disapproving of female fighters, reasoning if she is going to get in fights and beat people up, she might as well do it right.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Walt goes to a hardware store and notices a tweaker foolishly buying meth making equipment wholesale. He schools him on "Different Items, different stores" and buying the wrong kind of matches. The tweaker runs off in fear. This leads to the iconic "Stay out of my Territory" scene.
    • Skyler, once she gets dragged into Walt's secret-keeping, criticizes his money-laundering along the same line.
      "If you're gonna launder money, Walt, at least do it right."
  • Better Call Saul:
    • Mike gives advice like this often to Nacho and the hopelessly naive Daniel Wormald, neither whom think out their criminal plans all the way through.
    • Kim seems to have this attitude when it comes to Jimmy's scams.
  • Fresh Meat:
    • Discussing the fact that JP tried to store some of his sperm in the ice cube tray:
      Howard: That won't work. You'd need liquid nitrogen.
      Kingsley: I love how your reaction is "That won't work," instead of "I hope you haven't gotten cum on my frozen pizzas, because I don't like that topping."
    • Comes up again after JP cheats in a quiz competition and gets caught:
      JP: I just didn't want to look stupid!
      Sam: You can't even cheat properly. That's how stupid you are.
  • Person of Interest: said word for word by Zoe to a corrupt politician.
    Zoe: If you're going to do something wrong, do it right.
  • In Community when Gilbert gets caught using cheat codes to try and swindle Pierce out of his father's inheritance by manipulating the virtual reality game, Jeff lets him have it in this manner:
    Jeff: You're cheating, which I have no problem with, but you're getting caught, and that's not cool!
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Quark frequently berates Rom for not being a sufficiently greedy (and outright criminal) jerk, that being the Ferengi Hat of choice. The first-season episode The Nagus shows what it takes for Quark to praise Rom: conspire to kill Quark for his own profit. Quark takes it as a sign that Rom may have the "lobes" and guts for the cutthroat business world after all, and gives Rom a (meaningless) promotion at the bar.
    • When Julian pointedly tells Garak the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Garak's take on the Aesop is not "don't lie", but "don't tell the same lie twice."
    • In Time's Orphan, O'Brien is trying to sneak his daughter out of a holding cell, and off the station back to a time portal (she originally stepped into the portal at age 7 and came back a few days later at age 18, mostly feral by this point) and security catches them. Odo shows up and says he's disappointed... because he thought O'Brien would have been good enough to break her out and sneak off the station without being caught.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: The show's first season takes a trek into the Mirror Universe, where it turns out that Gabriel Lorca's motivation is this trope. The entire Empire is run under the murderous, xenophobic, and canibalistic Empress Philippa Georgiou, who's entire regime exemplifies the worst of humanity to a tee. But Lorca feels that she isn't being brutal enough, specifically because she keeps other alien species as slaves rather than exterminating them, and wants to overthrow her so he can run things to an even higher standard of brutality. He had even convinced Michael Burnham's Mirror counterpart to help him, in spite of her being the Emperor's adopted daughter, as Season 3 of the series revealed that Mirror Burnham hated Georgiou for elevating her to a higher status, as she was content with simply ruling over the trash heap she was found in.
  • In the second episode of How to Get Away with Murder, a man is accused of murdering his wife by stabbing her several times and leaving a lot of blood. The defense argues that the man, an experienced hunter, would know how to kill someone cleanly, with only one slash of the knife. They use a previous murder that he committed, but was acquitted of, as evidence of how he would kill someone. The jury returns an acquittal.
  • In the Season 3 opener of Melissa & Joey, Ryder is suspended from school for a full year for smoking marijuana on a field trip. Mel is rightly pissed off at him for this but as an addendum, she's annoyed that he was stupid enough to confess while everybody else who was involved denied it.
  • In Series 10 of Waterloo Road, Kevin expertly hacks the computer systems of a multinational technology firm but does no damage and leaves without a trace of him ever having been there. Leo tries it later working from Kevin's notes but neglects to use a proxy and leaves a digital footprint that gets traced back to the school. Guess what Kevin's most annoyed about.
  • On a Christmas episode of Roseanne, Jackie convinces Roseanne to put Christmas lights around a sleeping Nana Mary (as revenge for the cheap presents she gave them). When Bev walks in, she starts chewing them out for being irresponsible...because they're putting the lights on wrong.
    • "A Stash from the Past" sees Roseanne discovering a bag of weed hidden in the house. Dan reminds her that it's actually her pot (she gave it up when she got pregnant), and the two decide to smoke some for old times' sake. When Jackie walks in on the scene, she initially scolds them—then pushes Dan out of the way to show him the proper way to roll a joint.
  • On black•ish, Dre teaches Junior to takes his bullies down with insults. When he finds out from the principal that Junior has been "roasting" the other students, Dre is so happy he gets up and starts dancing.
  • On The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert declared station KTVU's gaffe at presenting the fake names "Sum Ting Wong", "Wi Tu Lo", "Ho Lee Fuk" and "Bang Ding Ow" as crew members of crashed Asiania Flight 214 as "wrong". Because those are Chinese names, and the airline is Korean. He then suggested "Captain Park Ma Plen Tu-Sun" and "Hau Yu Lan Dis Tang".
    Stephen: If you're going to make a racist joke, at least get the ethnicity right!
  • El internado: The pupils want to protest because the parents (apart from forcing Hector out of the Headmaster position) want to kick the main characters out of school, so they paint "Expulsarnos a todos" (roughly translated, To kick us all out) on a wall, and the parents complain.
    Parent: ¡Esto es indignante! (This is outrageous!)
    Héctor: Desde luego. Expulsadnos se escribe con D de Dinamarca. (Of course. It should be written with a D, like Denmark.)
    Parent: ¿Le parece gracioso? ¡Haga algo! (Do you think this is funny? Do something!)
    Héctor: ¿Yo? ¡No! Ya no soy el director de este colegio. (Me? Not at all! I am not this school's headmaster anymore.)
  • Knight Rider: The prisoners are planning a jailbreak, and feel they have no choice but to take Devon (who's been falsely imprisoned) with them. Devon insists that if they're going to break out, they'll do it Devon's way, since his plan has a chance of succeeding.
  • In Strangers with Candy, Jerri Blank, a middle aged woman who recently got out of jail and is picking up her life where she left off... back in high school, acknowledges this trope.
    Jerri: Oh, I'm still doin' the wrong things, but at least I'm doing them the right way.
  • Iron Fist (2017): Harold Meachum is totally unfazed by the fact that Ward is embezzling Rand company funds for himself, since pretty much everyone else on the board of directors has their private vices, and this was Ward's. All he does lament is that Ward is doing it so stupidly, forcing Harold to hide Ward's embezzling from the company accountants and the SEC.
    Harold Meachum: But honestly, Ward, couldn't you have just gotten a mistress? Much simpler.
  • Rory Bremner parodies US political attack ads:
    Bill Clinton says he smoked marijuana at Oxford, but that he did not inhale. Would you vote for somebody that doesn't know how to toke a joint?
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
    • In his segment on the Iran Deal, he responds to a clip of an Iranian leader threatening to topple "The Zionist regime"note  that "if you're going to threaten to destroy a country, at least get their name right" (similarly to the Colbert Report example above).
    • When Vice Admiral Tim Giardina — who until that point was in charge of America's nuclear weapons stockpile — was caught using fake poker chips, John's first comment was, ethical issues aside, if he were remotely competent for his position, he would never have been caught.
      John: I'm sorry, but a Vice Admiral has to have the mental fortitude to fool an Iowa pit boss. You have to!
    • Revisited when the Secret Service leaked Jason Chaffetz's failed application. Which is worse: that they acted like a table of high school mean girls, or that they didn't bother to learn he regularly embarrasses himself without outside help?
  • In Cobra Kai, Johnny's reaction when he learns about cyberbullying is especially incensed at the bullies not doing their bullying in person, differently from what he did when he was in high school:
    "What a bunch of pussies! Back in my day, if you wanted to tease someone you did it to their face! There was honor! Respect! These geeks hiding behind their computers, what a bunch of spineless losers. You're not afraid of these losers, are you? You're gonna take shit from these losers? Good, because when I'm done with you, you're gonna be sending a message back. Only it's not gonna be with your keyboard. It's gonna be with your fists!"
  • In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, Holmes once complains to Watson that the most interesting crime news in that day's Times is a report of a failed pickpocketing attempt:
    Mind you, Watson: a failed attempt. They forgot how to do the simplest things.
  • In LazyTown, the episode "Robbie's Dream Team" has Robbie Rotten trying to teach Bobby, Tobby and Flobby how to be a real villain. Mostly by trying to catch Sportacus. And of course, they fail every time.
    "Here's a little lesson in trickery, this is going down in history..."
  • One episode of Still Standing sees Brian volunteering at a widow's house. Judy's initially thrilled by his good deed, until she discovers that the supposed "little old lady" is actually an incredibly attractive sixty-something woman (for context, the widow is played by Bo Derek). She makes Bill give Brian a talk about not ogling women, and he does teaching him how to ogle without women realizing he's doing it. He offers Judy some False Reassurance later by claiming "You'll never see him staring at a woman again."
  • Pablo Escobar The Drug Lord: When Pablo is a young boy, he tries to cheat on a math test by stealing the answers beforehand, only to be caught by his teacher who then switches the test. When his mother berates him for what he did, she tells him that his real mistake was getting caught, a lesson he's inferred to have taken to heart in his subsequent criminal career.

  • A gag near the end of Brad Paisley's music video for Celebrity has a character inspired by Simon Cowell (played by William Shatner) invoke this trope. He stops Brad in the parking lot, and the following exchange occurs:
    Shatner: Hey! Where's my... Hey! Get out of my car!
    Paisley: I was... I was just-
    Shatner: Get out of my car! It's a valuable car!
    Paisley: It's really nice...
    Shatner: (checks information on car dashboard) You put 200 miles on my car!
    Paisley: Second gear... sticks a little bit.
    Shatner: You got it into second gear?
    Paisley: Yeah?
    Shatner: How'd you do that?
  • John Deere Green by Joe Diffie tells the story of a teenage boy who declares his love for a girl by spray-painting it on a water tower. The townspeople take issue not with the fact that he vandalized a water tower, but that he used green instead of red paint.
  • Called out by name in Do Wrong Right by The Devil Makes Three
    I ain't angry or a nut just to give you people some.
    Quiet in the head ain't no way to get it done.
    If you're gonna raise a ruckus, one word of advice:
    If you're gonna do wrong, buddy, do wrong right. [...]
    You wanna make a little mess? You wanna make a little crime?
    If you're gonna do wrong, buddy, do wrong right.
  • The point of The Heavy's Curse Me Good: If you're going to curse Kelvin's name, at least do it well.

  • In episode four of Mystery Show, Starlee talks to a former 911 operator, who tells her about a call involving a man who taught his dog to drive his car.
    Carol: We cited him for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive the vehicle.
    Starlee: Wait a minute! If the dog got a license would it then be legal?
    Carol: Probably.
    Starlee: This is probably not the lesson I'm supposed to be learning from this, but I want to teach my dog to drive as soon as I get off the phone.
    Carol: Well, don't do it on a busy road. That's all I have to say.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • CM Punk has a series called Grammar Slam, where he corrects the grammar of his haters, and chews them out for not even being able to insult him correctly.
    [after reading a tweet that said 'your a bitch'] You! Are! You are a bitch! You're a bitch- learn some correct grammar, for Christ's sake!

  • Bleak Expectations: At one point in series 4, Mr. Benevolent fires Pippa Bin from the position of Saucy Evil Consort because she hasn't gotten the distinction between doing something bad, and doing something evilly. For example, washing up badly isn't evil, merely unhygienic. Washing up evil involves at least two smashed plates and one crying orphan.
  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Qikiqtarjuaq", when an angry client reports Douglas to Carolyn for altering the cabin address to include the titles of Hitchcock films, Carolyn asks how many he got in and congratulates Douglas for managing thirteen.

  • In an epic and Older Than Television example Cyrano de Bergerac is insulted by a foppish nobleman who tells him "Your nose is rather large." Cyrano then proceeds to give numerous examples of how he could have insulted him in far wittier fashion.
  • In Lizzie, Emma gets an entire song called "What the Fuck Now, Lizzie?!", chewing Lizzie out for axing her father and stepmother to death... but not for the reasons you'd think.
    Lizzie, my love, is this the best that you could do?
    Damned if I leave you alone for a minute!
    What possessed you to murder the old man, too?
    Made a deal, had a plan, and an axe wasn't in it!
    What the fuck! What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck now, Lizzie?!

    Video Games 
  • Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum in BioShock was such a scientific prodigy, she would assist the Nazi scientists with their experiments and even correct their scientific errors when she was only 16 years old... and a prisoner in a concentration camp. One understandably confused Nazi scientist asked her why the hell she would want to help the people doing such horrible things to her, and she responded with, "If you're going to do such things, at least you should do them properly."
  • Happens regularly in EVE Online: Player thieves, spies and saboteurs are frequently chastised for either using Paper Thin Disguises or blowing their covers too early.
  • Early in Dragon Age: Origins, the group is attacked by Bandits who set up a toll booth. After you beat them, one dialogue option for the Warden is, "This shoddy operation is pathetic. I could do better."
  • In League of Legends, Sivir is a mercenary who's Only in It for the Money. For a while she was working for Noxus, but quit after their unprovoked invasion of Ionia. Not because she had a moral objection, but because she correctly expected it to turn into a quagmire and didn't want to be working for idiots.
  • Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V has this reaction if you're playing as him during one of the thief-related Random Events.
    "You call yourself a bank robber? You're a disgrace."
  • In the hypothetical route for Jin in Dynasty Warriors 8, Sima Yi is forced out of retirement to stop a revolt by Zhong Hui. Instead of chastising him for his treachery, he criticizes the rebellion itself.
    Sima Yi: Just what is the point of this rebellion?! Your foolishness knows no limits! Honestly! I would have prepared properly, and made sure that—
    Zhang Chunhua: My lord. I think that's quite enough.
  • Undertale:
    • Toriel has this opinion of Asgore's plan. She didn't condone the plan to begin with, but once she finds out he had second thoughts and went for a much more passive Plan B, she calls him a coward for trying to avoid the issue. She's not happy at all that he's planning to kill seven humans and take their souls so he can shatter the barrier, but what really steams her is that he's just waited for those humans to fall into the underground by coincidence... instead of the far more efficient plan of Asgore using the first soul he got to walk through the barrier and kill six more humans on the surface. The second plan's advantages are obvious, and Asgore's hesitance to do a very bad thing efficiently has kept the monster race trapped far longer than they needed to be.
    • Similarly, if you do a lot of killing but don't quite reach a No Mercy run, at the end, Sans will call you out on not being good enough at being evil.
  • Arachnos of City of Heroes is pretty much made of this stuff. They consider it their calling to show the evil doers of the world the proper way to evil do.
  • The Illuminati of The Secret World tends to have this sort of attitude as a default for opposing the various evil organizations the player goes up against.
    Kirsten Geary: Now clearly Orochi has been compromised from the inside, which saves us so much time on setting it up ourselves. Whatever endgame they had in mind has blown up in their faces. Now they are going down like their share index. This is wide open for us to really turn the apocalypse around, and be clinking mojitos when the others are still crawling from the wreckage.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • In Warlords of Draenor, Gul'dan manages to overthrow Grom by bringing attention to the fact that for all his promises of conquest, he's accomplished little beyond getting most of the Iron Horde killed.
    • A warlock spying on a Burning Legion invasion site criticizes their layout to the point he says it causes him physical pain to see someone so incompetent.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Some of the Sith feel this about Darth Malak's betrayal of Darth Revan. Sith are supposed to kill each other for power, but the philosophy behind it is that the strongest should rule, so the betrayal should be a display of power or cunning. Stabbing your extremely capable superior in the back in the middle of a battle against your mutual enemies, on the other hand, is just self-destructive opportunism.
    • One sidequest at the Sith Academy has you recover an ancient blade and two fakes from a tomb. One of your fellow students tries to threaten you for the blade, as he was unwilling to risk the traps himself. Assuming you don't just kill him, you can give him a fake and let him run back to the head Sith. He'll get force-choked for the trouble, not because his methods were underhanded, but because he was too stupid to check the authenticity of what he was stealing.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Occasionally, a Light Sided or Neutral Empire character can use this reaction when encountering some of the Republic's less-than-heroic actions. There's also Dr. Lokin of the Imperial agent's party, whose reaction to being tortured is to snark that his captors' technique stinks. He's done worse to family.
  • In Papers, Please, Grestin Border security guard Calensk is rather pissed off about a bomb being dropped on your desk. Not just because he'll lose a potential part of his paycheck, but he spends the entire process of you defusing the bomb mocking on how easy it is to defuse. Basically, the terrorist decided to helpfully label which wires to cut in order and "protecting" them with a cover it takes you less than five seconds to remove with a screwdriver. After this, he sells the bomb and gives you a cut of the profits.
  • In one part of the Hive in Planescape: Torment, you find a blood-splattered woman begging for help. If you have a high enough wisdom, you'll figure out that she's just trying to lure you into a trap set to be mugged and murdered. One possible dialog option after that is to point out the flaws in her technique and suggest improvements (chief among them being "don't pick marks who are big, heavily armed, dangerous-looking people").
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, after first encountering and fighting Major Ocelot, Naked Snake can't help but give the latter some pointers on his gun handling (as Ocelot is focusing far more on style than utility at this point in time), most notably recommending that Ocelot replace his automatic pistol with a revolver, seeing as it's more appropriate for Ocelot's instinctive recoil reduction technique. Amusingly, you can call Para-Medic after this, where she'll outright question why Snake is giving pointers to an enemy - and even though he doesn't have a real answer, he continues doing it anyway the next time they fight, when Ocelot gets his hands on the flashiest-looking revolver he could find and then fails to account for its lower capacity.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, a random encounter has you stumble upon a pirate vessel terrorizing a colony. If you have the Fire Bomb or Fire Beam weapons, you're given the option to show him how to do it properly by burning their cities from orbit, which earns better rewards than the normal options.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, the games' various Big Bads tend to have this opinion about each other depending on what they're out for—warlords like the Emperor want to subdue the place, while the showboating Kuja is disgusted with other villains' lack of elegance and stagecraft. And none of them can stand Kefka - even Seymour, an Omnicidal Maniac himself, is disgusted by the sheer purposelessness of Kefka's wanton destruction.
  • In Mass Effect 3 it turns out the turians planted an enormous bomb on Tuchanka shortly after deploying the Genophage. At the time it made a brutal kind of sense, but now it's a problem and must be disarmed. Jarvik will tell Garrus that the turians' mistake was planting it and then just leaving it, as they should have detonated it immediately or used it as leverage/blackmail to keep the krogan in line.

    Web Animation 
  • In one episode of Teen Girl Squad, Tompkins gets called into the Principal's Office. We find out why in an Easter Egg at the end:
    Tompkins: Aw, c'mon, [sic] Prinicpalnote  Strong Bad! I only stole one Sega tape!
    Strong Bad: That's just it, Tompkins. You could have stolen upwards of one Sega tape!
    Tompkins: Aw, peas!
  • In the Doodle Toons episode, "The Way the Cruncher Crumbles", Cruncher catches Crumbles trying to commit suicide. She uses a giant eraser to erase herself from existence, but Cruncher gives her a gun to use instead since it's much quicker.

    Web Comics 
  • One Evil, Inc. strip started with the surprising knowledge that Evil Atom worked in his neighborhood watch group. Moments later, it's subverted when he sees a man with a club robbing an old woman, takes it from him- and shows him that his downswing's all wrong.
  • Similar to the Spaceballs example above, in The Last Days of FOXHOUND, a guard instructs Liquid Snake in the proper technique of snapping his own neck. (The context being that The Sorrow is taking Liquid on a trip through the other side, but Liquid has some amnesia and doesn't actually remember doing most of the impressively bad(ass?) things he's being shown; he's taking notes as he asks the guard what exactly he did.)
  • The Prime of Ambition provides good advice (after one related Beat Panel):
    Thanatos: Really, Audriel. If you insist on distrusting me, at least take a good go at it, not this half-assed snappishness for the sake of appearances.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • In Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tails, blackguards will not just eat babies. They are insufficiently tasty to do so without the application of mustard.
  • Cyanide & Happiness has a typically sadistic angle involving a man interrupting a self-hanging... in order to show the suicide how to tie a noose properly.
  • Digger and Murai discover the cave in which a dead god's followers are mechanically forcing his disembodied heart to beat.
    Murai: I'd hoped it was the madness. This is horrible.
    Digger: And inefficient! Man, a couple of pulleys here and there, and they could have halved their labor.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Eglamore tells Annie, while punishing her for breaking Court rules, that she should try harder to avoid getting caught, as her mother would. Annie actually calls him out on it.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Dr. Bunningus barges into Tagon's bathroom while he's sitting on the toilet to berate him for his manipulation of Nick. Tagon's vocal reply finishes with "if you're going to yell at someone, do it from the diaphragm". After demonstrating, no less.
    • The entirety of Sergeant Schlock's Character Development consists of learning this in various ways. As a result, he's gone from a randomly murderous Blood Knight who periodically induces chaos just for the sake of entertainment, to a controllably murderous Blood Knight who can strategise, show restraint, work as part of a team, lead a team, and generally only eat the people he's told to.
  • Subverted in Shortpacked!. After Mike (who goes out of his way to be a creative asshole) cuts off Amber's hot water mid-shower...
    Amber: Really? That's it? Something out of a bad Rob Schneider movie? I think I'm more mad that you didn't even try than I am that you pulled this stunt.
    Mike: Gotcha.
  • Original Life: Abigail's Mad Scientist tendencies lean towards this; she's not angry about people using radical and untested methods to better themselves, as long as they follow scientific procedure. Also, her homicidal imaginary friend:
    Abigail: BONK! STOP [BLOWING UP MY TOYS]! Your targeting matrix is off.
  • 8-Bit Theater: The Warriors of Light, White Mage and Black Belt are trying to set up an ambush on some monsters... but then Fighter warns the monsters about the ambush. And when the group is going to attack, Fighter attacks his partners. Black Mage has a good long rant about what he has done.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: After Tuuri disobeys Mikkel's orders and tags along with him on his own exploration of an abandonned fort, Mikkel's reaction is to tell her to not do such a thing again. And that should she do so anyway, she should at least avoid taking the civilian under the crew's protection along with her.
  • 6 Gun Mage: When an untrustworthy new recruit is missing, her friend tells their commander that she's having "women troubles." The commander says they'll both be punished, not for lying, but for lying poorly. The commander doesn't even bother actually finding out why the recruit is missing; he just wants to make sure they all know that lives could depend on them successfully lying for a friend.
  • Dumbing of Age: Galasso fires Syndey Yus from her waitress job not for messing up an order on purpose, but rather because her intended victims are not cowed, merely confused, and this has brought shame to Galasso's Pizzas (and Subs).

    Web Original 
  • A Practical Guide To Evil revolves around Villains who make (relatively) sane, easy to implement plans in order to defeat their enemies.
    • The Empire of Praes has such a proud tradition of Villainy that they consider "two-faced" to be an insult because it implies only one layer of deception.
    • The Calamities once mocked Tyrant for his use of Blood Magic to power his Floating Siege Engines. Not only is that a dated tactic, but his technique was sloppy. Any of them could have achieved the same effect with far fewer sacrifices necessary.
  • A sentiment expressed by the Gord of Acts of Gord, a video game store owner who frequently catches people trying to steal his merchandise. He will sometimes admonish the thieves not only for stealing, but for stealing really crappy games, many of them worth five dollars or less.
  • In a season 2 episode of Marble Hornets, one character's reaction to another's breaking into their current home is this. Instead of being mad about the actual trespassing, they are more annoyed at the character's shoddy attempt to be a master spy.
    Alex: You broke into my house! I was taking out the trash! What were you possibly hoping to find in that amount of time?
  • The live show of What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? occasionally has "Be a Better Criminal With Tara", where Tara points out the problems with criminals' logic and plans. One wonderful example of this: "If you're gonna sell your balls, sell them for something awesome! That car better be a fucking Transformer!"
  • Epic Rap Battles of History:
  • The whole point of the Evil Overlord List is pointing out common flaws in the plans of fictional evil overlords.
  • Not Always Learning
    • In this story, a gym teacher has his students practice shooting basketballs, but tells them "no trick shots". One group of students gets bored and starts attempting trick shots, and the teacher tells them to stay after class. They do, and he tells them "Well, if you're gonna break the rules, do it the right way," and shows them how to do some real trick shots.
    • In this story, while the teacher is out of the room during a Spanish-language class, one student starts teaching others some of the Spanish swearwords they learned from their friend's housekeeper. The teacher comes back, catches them, and chews them out... for their poor dialect and pronunciation. The teacher spends the rest of the lesson teaching the class the correct usage of Spanish swearwords (although with the warning that if the teacher catches anyone actually using them in school, they get detention).
    • This teacher finds a drawing of a penis ejaculating onto a girl's face on the classroom whiteboard, and proceeds to lecture the vandals about the incorrect anatomy, thoroughly mocking them in front of the entire class.
    "If you're going to do such immature jokes, at least do them properly! You obviously not only didn't pay attention in (sex ed and art) class, you apparently never even bothered to look at your own genitals. I'm very disappointed in you."
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses:
    The Narrator: I am dying and only have 24 hours left to live. I don't know what to do. Should I go around killing people I have always hated, or should I engage in some other random activity?
    Ask That Guy: Well don't go killing people you've always hated. Do something much more random, like... killing people that you've never met.
  • Deadcoders Reviews:
    • He subtracted a point for Aelita making an extremely rude suicide attempt.
    • "Even Minecraft can maintain a consistent moon, XANA!"
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Kirito defuses a standoff with the Laughing Coffin PK guild by pointing out how they provide "an essential service", and gives them tips on how to improve their business by dropping the "Bible-quoting serial killer" motif they've got going.
    Kirito: What you guys need is a total rebranding: ad campaign, PR blast, get your faces out there! Let people know you're not just about the fire and brimstone - you are multifaceted, three-dimensional killing machines, and you have got a little something for everyone. Because contract killing... is a beat we can all dance to.
    Laughing Coffin Member: Ohhh man, I got chills...
    PoH: You've given us much to think about, young man.
  • In the Whateley Universe, Imp (a former supervillain) berates students who have spent weeks solid trying to catch her in her evil acts, performing such breaches of the law and student code as sneaking into her classroom to plant bugs, sneaking into her other classroom and stealing a bag of fish candy she kept in a locked safe, and breaking into her apartment. She's particularly irked at the lattermost, but what really gets her dander up is the fact that the Spy Kids were so bad at it, and she even offers to train them to get better.
  • This Tumblr post about four Satan worshippers who stabbed four Russian teens 666 times each before eating them.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: In Episode of Bardock, Bardock criticizes Chilled's minions for being so pathetic at terrorizing innocent civilians. In the credits, Bardock even demonstrates by killing a sick child himself.
  • Todd in the Shadows: In "Top Ten Songs About Mediocre Romance", Todd accuses the couple in "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" of being so bad at romance, they can't even cheat on each other properly.

    Western Animation 
  • In an Anthology of Interest episode of Futurama, Leela murders Hermes, and is trying to dispose of the corpse using the food disposal. Bender enters, leading to the following line:
    Bender: Hermes' dreadlocks? And his arm?! Leela. I'm shocked! Food goes in the disposal, hair and flesh go in the trash!
    Leela: I'm sorry, I couldn't stop — w-wait. Don't you care that I murdered Hermes?
    Bender: Not even a little!
  • King of the Hill:
    • Hank Hill catches Bobby smoking and decides to punish the boy by forcing him to chainsmoke until he's green in the face. Hank then feels compelled to correct his son's smoking technique: "If you're going to do something wrong, do it right."
    • In another episode, Bobby tries to lie to cover up that Joseph made out in the janitor's closet, but Hank is not impressed:
      Bobby: He was just, um, selling drugs.
      Hank: [admonishing] That was an awful lie, son. Terrible.
  • One of the pilot shorts for The Powerpuff Girls, "Crime 101", had the girls trying to teach the Amoeba Boys how to commit crime. Of course, the girls end up getting arrested for it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart gives Homer an altered report card containing straight A-pluses. Homer quickly realizes that they were previously D-minuses and chides Bart for getting greedy. "You know, a D turns into a B so easily." Before that on the bus ride home, Lisa lamented that he should have at least forged plausible grades.
    • In another episode, Mr. Burns lists one of the black marks on Homer's performance record as "selling plutonium to the Iraqis without any mark-up."
    • Substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom coaches his class on how to make fun of his name.
      Mr. Bergstrom: Feel free to make fun of my name if you want. Two suggestions are Mr. "Nerdstrom" and Mr. "Boogerstrom".
    • Lisa catches Bart taking the non-marshmallow pieces of his Lucky Charms and putting them back in the box. Instead of suggesting he eat them, she suggests he just put them in the trash.
    • In "Grade School Confidential," Bart sees Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner kiss. In order to prevent the word from spreading, Skinner and Krabappel pull Bart aside and tell him that what he saw was just a figment of his overactive imagination. Bart's immediate response is to chide them for not coming up with a more convincing lie.
    • In "Make Room for Lisa", when Chief Wiggum sees what he thinks is litter in the ocean, he is upset that people dump their trash... without a permit.
      Chief Wiggum: It's not like those permits are hard to get!
  • South Park:
    • Kyle is visited by his cousin, also named Kyle, who is a ridiculously neurotic Jewish stereotype. Kyle pays the incredibly anti-Semitic Cartman $40 not to make fun of him. When Cousin Kyle finds out it looks like he'll be hurt, but instead he just wants to know if Kyle tried haggling for a lower price. Kyle is... kind of stunned.
    • In the "Chickenlover" episode, Officer Barbrady steps down because he's illiterate, and Cartman comes on as temporary replacement. Throughout the episode, Cartman is beating people up with his nightstick, telling them to "respect mah authoriteh!" At the end, Cartman hits the Chickenlover in the kneecaps until Officer Barbrady stops him and demonstrates proper police procedure: hit 'em in the head, they go down quicker.
    • In the "Sexual Healing" episode, several sex addicted celebrities are taken into therapy and taught the key lesson of "not getting caught".
    • In "Freemium Isn't Free", Satan has a mix of this, Even Evil Has Standards and Pragmatic Villainy when it comes to Freemium games. As the lord of temptation, he explains to Stan the nature of how the whole temptation thing works. He's pretty PO'd when he discovers the Canadian Devil has making Freemium games. After all, temptation has to be over something worthwhile and people making a conscious decision. Freemium games were just blatant Skinner box manipulation. Satan says it lacks nuance though he also shows disdain at the exploitation of mental issues rather than free will.
  • During the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se", a mugger makes the mistake of trying to rob Iroh. He easily shoves him over, takes his knife...then demonstrates a better stance for him to use. (However, he uses this to have a long talk with the man and persuade him to give honest work another shot.)
    • Later, in "The Boiling Rock- Part 1," Zuko catches Sokka hijacking Appa to attempt to break his father out of the titular prison. Sokka's ready to defend his intentions and fight Zuko if necessary. Zuko just points out that prisons don't have flying bison daycare, so he'll take Sokka in his war balloon.
  • In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, Master Tenzin chastises young airbending prodigy Kai for whaling on a sky bison calf poacher he has already rendered defenseless, as such vengefulness is against Air Nomad morality... and then praises him for his good technique while doing so.
  • "If you want wrongdoing done right, you have to wrongdo it yourself." is the frequent lament of Mad Scientist Dr. Badvibes on C.O.P.S.
  • Subverted in the first scene of Beware the Batman: the first gun a criminal uses against Batman runs dry and when the criminal reaches for a knife, Batman tells him he'll be better off with his backup gun. When that doesn't work, Batman informs him that he was lying.
  • In Moral Orel, many of Clay's lessons amount to this when correcting Orel. For example, Clay didn't care that Orel used a satanic book to raise the dead. He was annoyed that the dead themselves didn't have any clothes to wear after rising from the grave (Orel thought it was their original clothes that smelled bad instead of their decomposing bodies, which was why he took them off).
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, after Eddy crashes Rolf's tractor:
    Eddy: Cool crash, huh Ed?
    Ed: I've seen better, Eddy.
    Eddy: What?
    Ed: Look. The tractor is still intact, you could have done a lot more with the tree, and you hardly wrecked Kevin's fence. And the steering wheel should be rammed over your head like so. [he demonstrates]
    Eddy: Oh, excuse me! I'm such a hack.
  • In the American Dad! episode "Crotchwalkers", when Steve is caught shoplifting, Francine lambastes him not because he was shoplifting in the first place, but because he got caught, because she's been shoplifting for years without ever getting caught, so she decides to teach him what she knows and go on a shoplifting spree with him.
  • In most Transformers series, this is the Decepticon (and later Predacon) attitude towards treachery in the ranks. The general idea is that if the former leader was too incompetent to keep his people in line then he deserved to be overthrown. Therefore, if you try to take over but are bad at it, you're in for a serious ass-kicking. In Beast Wars, Megatron explicitly says this to Tarantulas, commenting that he could forgive being betrayed and overthrown if Tarantulas wasn't a complete idiot about it.
    Megatron: Treachery requires NO mistakes!
  • Archer:
    • In "Dial M For Mother", Archer criticizes Cyril for cheating on Lana. When Cyril points out that Archer cheated on Lana just as much when they had a relationship, Archer points out that it's not the cheating he disapproves of, it's cheating on Lana with low-hanging fruit like Cheryl, who's willing to have sex with most people — whereas Archer only skipped out on Lana to nail super-hotties like starlets, models, oh, and one time two actual princesses. At the same time. Sisters. Sploosh. Archer's boinked Cheryl as well, but not while he was actually dating anyone else. In Archer's eyes, Lana is way too awesome to cheat on for anything except the best, which is as close to respectful as he's capable of being.
    • In another episode, Pam is being held hostage by a group of thugs who meant to snatch Cheryl to extort a huge ransom from her family, since it's revealed in the same episode that Cheryl was Secretly Wealthy the whole time and using a fake last name so none of her coworkers would realize that she was actually a member of the extremely rich Tunt family. The thugs are trying to torture Pam into giving them information, but nothing they do fazes her for a second, and when one of them is repeatedly punching her in the face, she makes fun of his form and tells him to see if "your daddy will give you a roll of nickels."
  • In one Hey Arnold! episode, Harold is caught trying to steal a ham from Mr. Green's butcher shop. His parents send him to their rabbi, who gives a passing complaint about the theft but seems especially annoyed that he stole something that wasn't even kosher.
  • In an episode of Descendants: Wicked World, Audrey is admonished by Freddie for stealing a necklace from her father's shop...because the necklace isn't worth stealing and she should've gone for something that looked cuter.
  • In a short in House of Mouse Mickey lands in jail and calls on Goofy to try to get him out. Goofy's first attempt is a Jail Bake, but the guard says filing the doors would never work and the easiest way to escape would be to knock the guard out and take his keys.
  • In the Bojack Horseman episode "Escape from L.A.", BoJack is chaperoning a group of high school kids to their prom. When he discovers one of the girls sneaked in a flask, he was disgusted. Not because they were underage kids drinking, but because her flask contained vodka mixed with Red Bull which he says will make them sick. He then goes to a liquor store and buys them bourbon but he tells them to cut it with water so they don't get a hangover.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: A group of cadets are due for a lesson from Goose and a couple set up a prank involving a bucket of water timed to drench their guest instructor. The rest of them are questioning the sanity of the pranksters, as Goose has a scary enough reputation. But they aren't able to defuse the prank in time, Goose gets drenched, and the cadets are going Oh, Crap! Goose then raises an eyebrow and changes his lesson plan to how to properly pull off a prank.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind", Rick criticizes the Morty Dome — a giant dome covered in hundreds of alternate universe copies of Morty being tortured continuously as a sort of psychic shield — for being gross overkill, citing that the same effect could be accomplished by a mere five Mortys and a jumper cable.
  • Harley Quinn (2019):
    • Bane catches Penguin's nephew Joshua putting out a hit on a fellow member of the Legion of Doom and chews him out... for using the Legion's corporate credit card for the down payment.
      Bane: The credit card is for emergencies only! When you put out a hit, you pay in cash!
    • Played straight in "Inner (Para) Demons" where Ivy states that Harley’s reckless use of Parademons gifted to her by Darkseid, causing mass genocide... had no actual purpose. She had no endgame to the chaos she was causing.

    Real Life 
  • Mark Twain, on when his wife repeated his cursing: "You got the words right, Livy, but you don't know the tune."
  • According to a rather shocked French ambassador, the most widespread reaction among the more politically powerful of England's aristocracy in the wake of Earl Essex's failed rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I was not so much outrage as contempt for how poorly it was planned. Many of those people said (in private conversation, of course) that had they been doing it, they would've done it much better and would've won.
  • In 1804, Napoléon Bonaparte had a minor and distant relative of the Bourbons who might have been marginally implicated with a royalist plot kidnapped from the supposed safety of a minor German principality, tried before a drumhead court-martial, and summarily executed. This act was highly provocative, and led several European monarchs—particularly the Russian Tsar—to turn on Napoleon. These acts and their results led someone (either a legislative deputy or Napoleon's Minister of Police Joseph Fouché) to remark of the prince's execution, C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute ("It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake"). (Contrary to popular belief, Napoleon's foreign minister Talleyrand did not say this, though knowing him he doubless agreed.)
  • An incompetent group of terrorists ended up doing this in 2007 with separate attacks, each of which ended in an Epic Fail. The whole thing was planned so badly, no one could really believe that there had been any danger. Plus, successful unrelated terrorist attacks less than a month ago had the country on high alert, making even the timing a terrible decision.
    • There were two failed car bomb attacks in London, organized by this group. One was parked illegally, and was promptly ticketed and towed away before being routinely inspected (whereupon the bomb was discovered). The other was abandoned suspiciously in front of witnesses. When smoke began to come out of the car, the police were called and the bomb was discovered. More info on the other wiki. Hilariously summarized by Adam Hills.
    • After the failed terror attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007, many in the national press and entertainment industry lamented how poorly planned and executed it was. The terrorists had planned to ram their car into the Glasgow airport, but not only didn't hurt anyone, they totaled their car on cement poles specifically designed to prevent such a thing, including one terrorist setting himself on fire. Not only did the intended victims not put out the fire, one kicked the burning terrorist in the groin so hard that he tore a tendon in his foot. The newspapers across the UK the following day all mocked the would-be terrorists for how incompetently everything was planned.
      Rab C. Nesbitt: It was just another ramraid, after all.
  • The Times Square bomber. The terrorist in question not only rigged up a car bomb with material that wouldn't explode, but he locked his keys in the car bomb. Christopher Titus would later state "I've been doing comedy for 25 years and I have NEVER been that funny!"
  • Disturbingly, the Islamic State released guidelines on how to "properly" rape any slaves captured through combat. The only thing they exclude entirely is Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Robert Erskine Childers, Irish Nationalist, told his firing squad to take a few steps forward so that they didn't miss.
  • Likewise, Cicero told his executioners "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but at least try to do it properly". Possibly more badass than Cicero because he said that line while holding his neck out for a gladiator to cut off, but if the result of a botched job is having said executioner hack at your neck over and over — with you feeling every stroke — this may have just been a wise precaution.
  • Hannie Schaft, a famous Dutch resistance fighter during World War II, was a similar example. When she was finally captured and sentenced to death by firing squad, the officer initially mishandled his gun and missed, and Schaft made sure her last words were "I could shoot better!"
  • In World World II, during the North Africa campaign, the British launched a commando raid on a bunker where Erwin Rommel had previously spent a couple of nights, mistakenly thinking it was Rommel's HQ. After Rommel was peeved that the British would do such a thing - not that they would dare try to raid his HQ, but that they would make the error of thinking a man like him (who preferred to be right in the thick of battle) would be cowering in a bunker 50 miles away from the front.
  • When the documentary "Major Fraud", about how Major Charles Ingram and his wife cheated their way to a million on the British edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, was uploaded to YouTube, several of the comments were about how obvious their cheating was, and gave examples of less-detectable ways to do it. Made worse by the fact that Ingram had originally planned to stop at £500,000 but then kept going, making it more obvious.
  • Part of Spartan boys' Training from Hell was to send them out with no food or supplies except what they could steal. If they were caught, they were punished not for stealing, but for being poor thieves. The point being to make them develop cunning and smarts along with a good physique.
  • This is rather common among normal people in Italy whenever a terrorist is caught on national soil for the simple reason they apparently always fail and only make the news if what they were planning was particularly heinous or they got caught in a particularly stupid way. Most notably, a cell of the Venetian independentist group the "Serenissimi" is mocked due their occupation of Piazza San Marco and the St Mark's Campanile getting them arrested because their sentinel fell asleep and, after they were released, getting arrested again for talking about their new plan, and especially of the homemade tank they were assembling, on the phone (apparently it didn't occur to them that the police would wiretap the phones of a group of convicted terrorists).
  • A British fascist attempted to burn an EU flag in his back garden, but failed spectacularly. Commenters on Reddit and Facebook (including other fascists, no less) pointed out that not only had he failed to use any kerosene to speed up the process, but he'd utterly failed to read the label which said "fire retardant", leading to him constantly staring at the flag in disbelief and wondering why his tiny cigarette lighter (also a point he was criticized for) was only singeing the flag's corner. The fact that he went on to upload the video after all of this was just the icing on the cake.
  • When Roland Emmerich pulled a Take That, Critics! on Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel via the characters of Mayor Ebert and his assistant Gene in Godzilla (1998), Siskel mostly reacted with puzzlement as to why Emmerich would go to the trouble of putting them in the movie and not have Godzilla kill them.
  • This epic video of two hillbillies harassing a guy in a BMW and finally cornering him armed with a baseball bat ends with the BMW driver pulling a gun on them and stealing their camera and truck keys. While holding them at gunpoint, the driver calmly cautions them against not knowing who they're picking a fight with before doing it:
    Don't fucking do anything like this again because next time you're going to get shot. Figure out who the fuck you're following next time, tough guy.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): This Is Not El Alamein, Cheat To Win, Cheat Better, Next Time Cheat Better


Dr. Evil is disappointed.

In "Sam Smith/Dr. Evil Cold Open", Dr. Evil interrupts to voice his displeasure with both Sony and North Korea over "The Interview."

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoWrongRight

Media sources:

Main / DoWrongRight