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Experience Entitlement

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"What don't die can't live. What don't live can't learn."
Granny Weatherwax to the elf queen, Lords and Ladies

Experience is an interesting concept. It is the knowledge or mastery of an event or subject gained through involvement in or exposure to. For that reason, more experience contributes to maturity and expertise. On its own, it's often a good, or even an expected thing, to be Taught by Experience.


This trope is about when "experience matters" is abused as an end-all, be-all. When Older Is Better is taken to its logical conclusion. In essence, "I know/did/have/saw more than you did, therefore, I'm automatically better and you're inferior." The Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy may cite experience as a key factor to his or her superiority to someone of similar station. The Rich Bitch or Spoiled Brat will talk about their lavish trips and material possessions as reasons why they are above commoners. The Abusive Parent keeps their rowdy child in line by saying they know best because they know or saw more, lie or not. Or that Sore Loser you beat in a game says his defeat should be impossible because he's played longer.

While experience does matter, there is a thing called a "learning/experience curve." At some point, depending on the topic, two individuals will obtain the same amount of knowledge, and the rate at which they do can and will vary. Furthermore, sufficient research heralds an understanding of a matter that he or she may not (or cannot because Society Marches On) experience. It's even better if there are means to go back (i.e. the tapes kept circulating or there is a time machine) to get the authentic experience.


In other words, experience is merely one of the things that matter. At one point, you may have known more, but given time, that will no longer be true. At worst, no one will care and call you out for trying to paint yourself as inherently better. Keep espousing "Experience Entitlement" after that moment, and people may see you as pretentious or whiny.

Elitists tend to invoke this trope for better or worse. This can lead to such reactions like We Want Our Jerk Back, So Bad, It Was Better, or It's Popular, Now It Sucks!.

Both the hardworking everyman and the Talented, but Trained will never use this trope as an excuse. They will often state they are "still learning". Also contrast the Logical Latecomer, who is new but can see through the nonsense the rest of the cast buys into.

See also Immortal Immaturity, Years Too Early. Compare Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!.


Can lead to Hard Work Hardly Works if the narrative winds up (unintentionally or otherwise) agreeing with this particular argument.

In-Universe Examples Only. We don't want this term flung around on work pages accusing fanbases or fandom members of such.


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  • A source of conflict in Austin Powers in Goldmember. Nigel Powers has been a secret agent for far longer than his son Austin, which makes him arrogant and snooty. Austin is far greener in the field (taking into account that he was put in suspended animation from 1967 to 1997), but he has a lot more common sense and is friendlier than Nigel.
  • Moneyball: The reason why protagonist Billy Beane has such a hard time building a new team with the gutted budget of the Oakland A's is that most of his scouts and advisors are old men who stubbornly refuse to change their way of thinking. In one meeting, Beane tries to make a logical argument about why their methods won't work, only to be told that there's a "lot of experience and wisdom in this room" that he needs to be quiet and listen to. One of them even confronts him later when Beane continues to ignore their advice in favor of the statistics of his Assistant General Manager, Pete.

  • Inverted in Ciaphas Cain. In the first novel, one of the points of contention between Colonel Kasteen and her second-in-command Major Broklaw is that when their regiments were merged, she was made Colonel by virtue of only a few days seniority, and he felt that his front line combat experience made him more suitable.
  • Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel by Scott Adams contains a letter from a reader who describes a meeting where the longest-serving employee at the company took it over and demanded that the project be done in a particular way because he had "experience". He was disinvited from further meetings.
  • Lords and Ladies: The eternally-youthful elf queen tries throwing her Time Abyss status at Granny Weatherwax, who is an old woman and much younger than the queen. Granny counters that sure, the queen's lived a long time, but hasn't spent any of that time learning or growing stronger.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
    Indeed, she had quite a long argument with the Lory, who at last turned sulky, and would only say "I'm older than you, and must know better." And this Alice would not allow, without knowing how old it was, and, as the Lory positively refused to tell its age, there was no more to be said.
(The Lory is a caricature of Alice's elder sister Lorina).

     Live-Action TV 
  • In the first Paul Merton episode of Room 101, Nick Hancock wanted to put "people who don't know how to argue" in Room 101, specifically his parents. Apparently, his dad's response to any argument was "When you're as old as I am, you'll know that's not true." (His mum's was "Well, I'll be dead soon.")

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer:
    • Dwarf Longbeards are the eldest of dwarves who've been around for at least 5 centuries. While this does make them extremely deadly and their counsel is often best heeded, one of the reasons they're kept in their own unit is because they complain about how everything was better back then (beer tasted better, goblins weren't so weak, etc.), and nearby dwarf units can reroll some failed dice rolls because they sure as hell don't want to be the target of pointed remarks and "I told you so"'s by the Longbeards.
    • Dwarf Slayers who increase in experience actually lose self-respect despite the ever-tougher foes they've killed (from Trollslayer to Giantslayer to Dragonslayer to Daemonslayer) because a Slayer is supposed to die in battle against a giant ugly monster to atone for some past failure.
  • Warhammer 40,000: One of the (many) reasons the Eldar are hated by the Imperium is because they believe themselves the only ones smart or experienced enough to deal with Chaos. While it is true that humans fall to Chaos with depressing regularity, the Eldar screw up just as often due to following an uncertain prophecy, and the fact that they're a Vestigial Empire (due in large part to actually spawning a Chaos god through millennia of sadistic hedonism) has done nothing to curb their arrogance, and many a Chaos incursion or daemonic summoning has succeeded in spite or because of their interference.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Archer 2, better known as Gilgamesh, contains the prototypes of all the treasures in the world in his Noble Phantasm, on top of being the oldest known hero and king. Naturally, he loves endlessly boasting his greatness. Although he's so powerful he can back it up, mind you, this makes him an unpleasantly arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic, and self-centered bastard that very few actually tolerate. Gets even better when people like Shirou Emiya and Saber (King Arthur), who existed after his time, still best him in battle in certain routes.

    Web Video 


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