When going through The Hero's Journey, the protagonist will typically have to undergo some trial (or test, whether physical or written) to prove his or her own worth. The test will come at any given time, normally during the Road of Trials for the inexperienced adventurer, but for the returning victor, it can happen as early as Crossing The First Threshold. The standard obstacle (but not always) that he or she will face will be some unknown Eldritch Abomination, so powerful that it will even terrify the Mentor, prompting the fledgling savior to Take a Third Option, one that for his or her mentor would never have even come to mind. After the fight, the mentor, still having a sense of awe and pride in his voice, will try to keep a sense of authority by making some rather snarky comments, almost as if he was grading a test, about how he would've handled the situation differently.
More than often will result in some form of Mad Libs Catchphrase if it happens on more than one occasion. Can appear as Casual Danger Dialogue also, though the timing of the quip and subsequent action can follow each other in any random order, as seen by the page-topping quote.
An obvious Subtrope of Deadpan Snarker. Compare On a Scale from One to Ten, which uses this ratings system with numbers instead of an alphabetical rank, and F--, where the letter grade is below the lowest possible score. May also involve Broke the Rating Scale. Please no Truth in Television examples, as no group of friends ever seem to be able to take a rating system seriously.
Contrast "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which, unlike this, there is (usually) no humor involved in the berating involved. Compare Broke the Rating Scale, which can involve grading snark in whatever odd rating is assigned.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Mittens comically grades out the humor-challenged Bolt's awkward joke attempt in "The Wedding Reception."
Bolt: [grabbing his throat, doing an exaggerated eye roll, lolling his tongue out, and falling over backwards] Styrofoam? Thats my kryptonite! No wonder Ive felt so powerless all day!Mittens: [quipping] B-plus for execution and C-minus for content. A-plus for effort, though.
- The 2007 TMNT film provides us with the page quote from Michelangelo after the Five-Man Band, directly disobeying Splinter's orders, pass through The Return and Crossing The Return Threshold phases by randomly attacking monsters (just because they looked suspicious) on an unfinished skyscraper. Splinter was pissed when he found out what happened.
- Hercules: After Hercules defeats Nessus the River Guardian and rescues Meg by literally using his head, Philoctetes mutters under his breath "Not exactly what I had in mind, but not bad..."
- In the Batman short story "Cave Dwellers", which sheds some light on one of Batgirl's numerous training missions with the famous Caped Crusaders, Batman himself gives a rather nasty inversion of this, without any form of sarcasm whatsoever:
Batman: I wouldn't grade you as high as my partner.Batgirl: Yeah? Well, I have a few words for you, too.Batman: I don't think you passed.Batgirl: I survived, didn't I?Batman: That's not enough. You used lethal force against your last opponents. We don't do that. We don't kill even to defend ourselves.Batgirl: Was I supposed to let your paperdolls shoot me? What would that have proved?Batman: Only that you could be one of us.
- From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "'Ten out of ten' for style, but 'Minus several million' for good thinking."
- The grading system for the O.W.L.s in Harry Potter.
O - OutstandingE - Exceeds ExpectationsA - AcceptableP - PoorD - DreadfulT - Troll
- Keep in mind that Harry, Ron, and Hermione thought Fred and George were joking when they said the lowest grade is named after the phenomenally stupid (but very strong) creatures known as trolls. Notably, even Hermione thought it was a joke, and she was the girl who was determined to find out everything she could about the exams.
- The Australian game review show Good Game's review of Robot Unicorn Attack: Despite giving deadly serious scores out of ten on every other game, Hex gave it a rating of 8971 Rubber Chickens. Bajo was "...not sure how to score it after that."
- In the end show summary, it have Bajo's score as a picture of a purple unicorn head.
- Conan O'Brien as the Clueless Gamer has these as the end scores for his reviews. At first, he gives games a numerical score with no rhyme or reason behind it, before he moves on to grading games with various colors, noises, and how he beats up Aaron Bleyaert.
Conan: "Out of an 88 - an 88 being pretty good, a 110 being excellent, a 150 being awful, a 3 being...eh, not bad, I'd give this a...say, a 26C."
- Shrek gives Fiona one in the "I Think I Got You Beat" song in Shrek: The Musical
Shrek: I've heard better, I'm just sayin'
A for effort, thanks for playing
Sad to see a princess suffer
But I had it rougher.
- GLaDOS, of Portal fame, does this rather stealthily through a Bait-and-Switch technique. While at first she seems like she's congratulating you for a job well done after each and every test chamber, listen closely— the compliments are heavily drenched with sarcasm.
GLaDOS: Oh you did VERY well. I'm going to write that on your form. Oh there's lots of room here. "Did well... enough."
- Taken Up to Eleven in the sequel.
- There's a minor report card gag in the third case in the third Ace Attorney game. The characters note things like "gets into trouble being the center of attention" supposedly getting written on others' report cards.
- Trevor's end-of-battle soundbyte from Jagged Alliance 2.
Way hay, they're all dead! Got to give them an A for effort, though...
- In World of Final Fantasy, Lann suggests referring to a magical transportation portal as a "porta-party." Tama says that the name gets an F, Reynn comments that it deserves an H. Later, when he makes a "Tama-hawk" joke, Tama gives it a PU grade.
- In Darths & Droids, Yoda snarks at the antics the protagonists have gotten into:
Remedial course in Jedi Ethics, you need.
Obi-Wan: You've earned a failing grade in Jedi Ethics.
- Which later gets a Call-Back during the climactic Obi-Wan/Anakin duel:
- In El Goonish Shive, Pandora refers to Sarah as being a "D rank talent with an S rank spell" and initially thought of Rhoda as the same but revised that to being "one hundred percent S-Rank".
- From Futurama: In "Mars University", Fry, Amy, and Gunter, a chimp whose intelligence was enhanced through a bowler hat powered by sun spots participate in a class on 20th century history. Not only is the professor in charge of the class thick on the sarcasm, but every seat in his lecture hall is rigged to electrocute any student who makes a snide remark, calls out of turn, or answers incorrectly.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this is Rainbow Dash's response to a tortoise who joined the competition to see who would be her pet; she gave him an A for effort, and would give him a gold star if she had one.
- When Timmy from Fairly OddParents wishes for a watch which basically operates as an In-Universe Reset Button to redo any unfavorable events, one of the ways he uses it is for a test. The various comments that Mr. Crocker gives to each attempt are as follows:
Heh, good news, Turner. You've taken "F" to a whole new level. I'm going to give you... a SUPER F! (Evil Laugh)An A minus! As in, hmm, I give so few A's I don't have any prepared sarcasm.