Complaining About Shows You Don't Like can be fun. Picking apart works and trying to find and explain (and make fun of) some of the things that went wrong can be deeply satisfying, and at the same time strangely therapeutic. Of course, some people take some of these criticisms to heart, and won't hesitate to chew you out if you suggest that something may be wrong with their personal Sacred Cow. That person will usually rebut your criticism with something like, 'Oh, yeah? Let's see you do better!'
There is a common misconception among fans and people having worked in a particular field that non-experts are not qualified to comment on their work. While it helps to have some background information or experience, it is certainly not required. It doesn't take a carpenter to recognize a poorly-made table, after all.note Besides, films are usually made to entertain audiences, so of course it is acceptable for people to have opinions over which movies fail to accomplish this. And even if it wasn't made for your demographic, then that does not exempt it from criticism either. Targets for audience mockery are especially vulnerable to this phenomenon, as is the person with a Small Name, Big Ego. Let's all remember what Baldassere Castiglione said in The Courtier:
Just imagine if this were applied to all forms of criticism: 'You think I don't do a good job raising my own children, and you think their grandparents should handle them? How can you even say that when you've never been a parent?' 'You think this cake tastes bad and is undercooked? How can you even say that when you've never been a chef?' Clearly, you need not be good at something yourself in order to be able to tell whether someone else is good or not. This objection is rarely (if ever) raised to deflect positive criticism, but very few people are particularly inclined to reject positive criticism or praise in the first place, regardless of the source.
On the other hand, while all opinions may be valid, this does not mean that all opinions are equally informed or useful. Media criticism is usually a mix of opinion over what makes a good work and objective facts about the text presented. This means that getting the details wrong can undermine the quality of a review. For instance, somebody might mistakenly assume a trope is being played straight when the opposite might be true. This legitimately affects the credibility of the reviewer and the review, since it suggests that they simply weren't paying full attention, or even that they may be a Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
Furthermore, it is often much easier to sit back and criticise someone else's creation from the sidelines than it is to create something yourself, and it is not rare for criticism to form even without any rudimentary understanding of the difficulties inherent in producing whatever is being criticised. While anyone who's read a book or seen a movie is instantly capable of determining whether they like it or not, it's not always as easy to understand the challenges and difficulties that exist in creating a work of art without trying it for yourself. While having attempted to, say, write a novel doesn't guarantee that you will enjoy every novel you ever read, it does mean that you will have some better understanding of how novels are constructed (and how hard they can be to construct) than someone who has not, which can in turn inform your review.
It should also be remembered that in many cases creative works are, at least in part, the creator's personal expression and thus something they're likely to be very close to and emotional about. Said works are also something the creator has usually devoted a lot of time, energy, resources, and their life in general into producing. As such, a lot of time when a creator tries to deploy this trope, it is often an emotional reaction rather than a strictly logical one. Whether the criticism is valid or not (especially if valid in some cases), it can be disheartening for a creator to have their hard work casually and bluntly dismissed by someone with no experience of what it took to produce it, thus making this response perhaps understandable, if not exactly admirable. At the very least, informed criticism is usually aware of when genuine effort has (or has not) been made in trying to achieve something and is willing to acknowledge that effort, even if it didn't pay off, rather than dismissing the entire thing out of hand.
This argument legitimately comes into play when someone actually is coming out and saying they could do better without producing any evidence to that effect; in such cases, it's not unreasonable to ask them to put their money where their mouth is and pony up the goods.
In some circles, this is erroneously called "Ebert's Law", named after the famous film critic Roger Ebert. This is not an actual trope about his version of Ebert's Law, which is "It's not what a movie's about, but how it's about it."
'Those who can, do; those who can't, criticize,' is also a common variant. A form of circumstantial Ad Hominem. Compare with Don't Like, Don't Read (when this trope is applied to Fan Fic), and Hire the Critic (which sometimes happens in order to test their challenge). Also compare Correction Bait and He Panned It, Now He Sucks!. An Older Than Radio example is Benjamin Disraeli's remark that the ranks of critics are drawn from those who have failed at literature and the arts. (Disraeli earned his living as a novelist.)
A specific case where the trope can be applied with impunity is when the critic claims 'Everyone can do better' or something to the tune, directly claiming a group they could belong in indeed can do better.
The most feared response to this statement is 'You wanna bet?'
The idea that you need some expertise in a subject matter in order to adequately judge and criticize it is actually substantially true; scientific studies have found that the ability to do some task correlates directly with your ability to comment on, criticize, and judge the performance of others usefully. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect; people who are bad at performing a task not only are incapable of judging how well others do on it but are incapable of judging how good they themselves are at the task at hand and will frequently wildly overestimate their own ability not only to do the task at hand but to judge the capabilities of others.
Not to be confused with Captain Pike's Dare to Be Badass issued to the young Jim Kirk.
Real Life Examples:
- After My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) responded to criticisms regarding the quality of the art in some issues with this, the artist Pencils accepted their challenge and blew them clean out of the water. IDW took it in good stride, being impressed enough that they actually hired him, initially to do some alternate covers and eventually to draw full issues. Tropes Are Not Bad, indeed!
- There is actually a type of Fan Fiction (Fix Fic) where people actually do try to do better than the original work. The Matrix sequels and the Star Wars prequels are popular subjects for this, as is any portion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- The author of Hunting the Unicorn practically states that "this is how Blaine's characterization could have been, if the writers weren't busy pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator."
- The author of Prison Island Break and quite a lot of other Dark Fic apparently once got told this for giving a bad review. So...
Breech Loader: I once got told "If you don't like it, do better." So, I did. How else am I meant to get a decent story about Scourge the Hedgehog with clinical depression?
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic/Twilight Fusion Fic Gloaming came about because the author had read Twilight out of Bile Fascination, been disappointed in the storytelling, and pulled this on himself. It follows the same general plotline of Twilight and keeps the basic characterizations, reworked to be the way he would've written it.
- LXG Tempest Rewrite: To quote the author at the beginning:
I finished reading LXG Volume 6: The Tempest a few weeks ago, and I was immensely disappointed. The story was shit, the characters were flat, and the whole thing was just a real crappy way to end a saga. So, I have decided to write my own ending. With blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget the blackjack! Starting with the revelation of the Antichrist's identity, I'm putting my own spin on how LXG should have ended out, and hopefully do it with the same creative storytelling spirit that the series started out with.
- Stanley Kubrick says he was inspired to become a filmmaker after watching art films at the local museum and telling himself that he couldn't possibly do any worse.
- The best-known example of the above law that actually involves Roger Ebert comes from a review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Actor Rob Schneider took offense to an article by Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times, pointing out that several major studios turned down the chance to finance the year's Best Picture nominees while financing a sequel to a crude sex comedy. After reading it, he took out a full-page ad in the Hollywood Reporter and called Goldstein a "hack" because he had never won any awards for film critics. In Ebert's review of the film, he taunted Schneider, pointing out that he himself actually had won a Pulitzer, and thus was fully qualified to tell Schneider that he thought the movie sucked. The story took an unexpected turn after several back-and-forth barbs in the press. After one of Ebert's cancer surgeries, Schneider sent Ebert flowers. Ebert conceded that while Schneider may make bad movies, he's a good man. Aww.
- According to this blog Mark Ruffalo invoked this trope when his directorial debut was panned at the Sundance Film Festival.
- Tim Burton's 1994 kinda-biopic Ed Wood was interpreted by certain critics as an implied declaration of this trope, with Burton defending the man who is often considered the worst filmmaker in history by showing that he may not have been any good, but at least he tried, and had a good time doing so — whereas most people who mock Ed Wood have never even attempted to make a movie.
- Many Star Wars fans were disappointed with The Phantom Menace. Michael J. Nichols was just the one who bothered to cut and edit a new, more streamlined version of the film on his home computer.
- Chris Stuckmann criticized Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, then had a go at rewriting the final confrontation. The rewrite was widely derided, with the dialogue spawning memes of its own.
- Chuck Palahniuk once responded to a review like this.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe author Karen Traviss generally has this reaction whenever readers point out some of the inherent silliness of her work, such as her ridiculously low estimatenote of the number of clone troopers in the Grand Army of the Republic.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe novelist Keith Topping, responding to critics on the Doctor Who Usenet groups:
Just one tiny question? What's are the titles of either of you guy's novels again? Just so, you know, I can specifically look out for them in the shops and use the stunning quality writing therein to put right all the numerous things I'm so obviously doing wrong.
- Inverted by John Updike, both a prolific author and a prolific critic, who was fond of saying that all writers should write criticism once in a while just to remind themselves of how hard it is.
- Ray Bradbury harnessed the power of metaphor to...make this very point:
"If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture."
- According to legend, the career of James Fenimore Cooper — and thus, all of American fictional literature — got its start when Cooper's wife made him read a wretched European novel to her. Reportedly, James was so disgusted by the novel that he claimed he could write a better one himself. And he did: The Last of the Mohicans, which is still considered one of the greatest adventure novels of all time. (This is made all the more awesome if you know that Cooper lived in New York City all his life and never even visited the upstate forests he wrote about.)
- Edgar Rice Burroughs said the same thing: he wasn't making a very good living in the various jobs he had, was reading some penny novels and thought to himself that he could write crap at least that good and make money too. Creations such as Tarzan and John Carter of Mars proved he underestimated how good he could be.
- Quite the same thing happened to Pierre Pairault, a French dentist, whose wife once was reading a Sci-Fi story. She found it so bad that she told her husband: "Even you would do better!" Pairault gave it a try, then another. From 1956 to 1959, he wrote (under the name of Stefan Wul) eleven novels, most of which are now considered classics of French Sci-Fi literature. Two of them were adapted to the big screen (Fantastic Planet and Time Masters), and a series of comics covering all his work is currently being published.
- Criticisms of Twilight will often be met with, 'well, let's see you write a bestseller.' It turns out that they won't actually care if you've written anything or not, as when an author who met this criterion criticized Twilight, fans were quick to declare that he was just jealous because he hadn't written anything popular lately. Even though he has.
- A classic example comes from French literature. Famous critic Saint-Beuve wrote a book called Volupté, and enemy Honoré de Balzac just rewrote it. It became Le Lys dans la vallée, an all-time classic.
- Isaac Asimov relates a tale in his autobiography of having a problem in a college English class. He arranged a meeting with the professor, who then told him "Your problem is, you can't write." Asimov pulled out the check he'd just received for his latest short story, stating "I just got this for my writing," and left.
- The Doctrine and Covenants, then the "Book of Commandments", attracted some criticism about the language use when it was being compiled. The response was section 67, which posed this challenge:
[...] if there be any among you that shall make one like unto it, then ye are justified in saying that ye do not know that they are true;
- One of the critics, William E. McLellin, took up the challenge and failed.
- The book Once More, With Feeling by Victoria Coren and Charlie Skelton chronicles the exploits of the two authors who decide, after a job reviewing porn movies for an erotic magazine, that they could make a much better skin-flick than the ones they're forced to review. Much to their surprise, it turns out to be much harder to make decent porn than they'd previously suspected.
- This is how The Deed of Paksenarrion came to be. Elizabeth Moon were tired of all shitty Lawful Stupid paladins she had encountered while playing Dungeons & Dragons and decided to tell a story about what a Paladin should be and act like, and how such a character would fare in a grim dark world.
- In-universe example in Ramona Quimby, Age 8: After Ramona and Beezus refuse to eat their cows' tongue, their parents have them cook the next night's dinner. It turns out surprisingly well, and they learn to appreciate their mother's hard work in the kitchen.
- It's almost a given that during any American Idol audition phase, at least one particularly awful auditioner will say this to the judges, which is funny when you consider that Paula Abdul is a Grammy Award winner and that Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell have both won awards for managing music. In other words, those two know more about what makes popular music than popular musicians do.
- The Swedish show Let's Dance (the Swedish adaptation of Strictly Come Dancing). When a turned-down contestant said this, the show lampshaded it by cutting to a montage, explaining the judges' past experience in the field, showing that they are in fact qualified for the position.
- Known to The Daily Show fans as the "Tucker Carlson defense", after Jon Stewart criticized Crossfire for being bad journalism, and Carlson complained that Jon's show wasn't proper journalism either.
- Wynton Marsalis on Stephen Colbert's Hiphopketball: A Jazzebration: "You should be a music critic."
- When the Mythbusters declared the myth about Archimedes destroying ships by reflecting sunlight busted, many complained that the results weren't satisfying enough, and were biased by the conditions and poor execution. Their response was inviting anyone who felt they could do better to try setting fire to a ship in a special episode. They all failed.
- Good Eats is another example of someone taking this trope to heart. Alton Brown was dissatisfied with the quality of cooking shows on television since they merely tell the viewer what to do but not why. His wife effectively replied, "Then why not make your own cooking show?" And of course, he did.
- Mr. Rogers invoked this on himself; the first time he saw television, particularly children's television, he was disappointed in the content, feeling it was too silly. He started Mister Rogers' Neighborhood because he thought he could do better and make something more meaningful.
- Avenged Sevenfold's song, "Critical Acclaim" is more or less this trope as an angry, ridiculous screed against people who criticize The USA because "they've never contributed a fucking thing to the country they love to criticize." Apparently, the songwriter believes that criticizing the country or the war, etc. (not the soldiers) when you've never served your country insults those who have. What's even funnier is that the song calls these critics self-righteous and hypocritical without a hint of irony.
So how does it feel to know that someone's kid in the heart of America
Has blood on their hands
Fighting to defend your rights
So you can maintain the lifestyle that insults his family's existence
Well, where I'm from we have a special salute we aim high in the air
Towards all those pompous assholes who spend their days pointing fingers
All the way from the east to the west
We've got this high society looking down on this very foundation
Constantly reminding us that our actions are the cause of all their problems
Pointing the fingers in every direction
Blaming their own nation for who wins elections
They've never contributed a fucking thing to the country they love to criticize
- Also, keep in mind that M. Shadows said that A7x wasn't going to force its religious or political views on anyone.
- An urban legend says that a band once played a poor set due to their less than stellar guitarist. The band is heckled and the guitarist tells one heckler, "Let's see you do better." The heckler (usually mentioned as being Eric Clapton) takes the guitar and blows the crowd away with his playing.
- Keith Moon got to be the drummer for The Who like this. One night, Keith came up to them between sets and said he could play better than their drummer. They invited him to prove it - and he did, smashing the drummer's drum kit to pieces in the process.
- In response to criticism for his bombastic overture "Wellington's Victory", Ludwig van Beethoven retorted, "What I shit is better than anything you could ever think up!" Considering he was Beethoven, that's probably justified.
- Vilhelm Peterson-Berger was a notoriously savage music critic for a major Stockholm newspaper in the early 20th century. After savaging an opening night, the composer challenged him to do better. Peterson-Berger... well, let's just say he did. He is now considered one of the great Swedish composers.
- In 1962, The Beatles had just released their first single, "Love Me Do." Their producer, George Martin wanted their next single to be a cover of "How Do You Do It?", but the boys weren't happy with their take on it and declined its release. Martin told them "if you can come up with a better song, do it." They recorded their original tune "Please Please Me." After which, Martin said:
- While Linkin Park's "When They Come for Me" is more of a Boastful Rap in its composition, its primary theme embraces this trope. Case in point would be the sole line in the chorus:
Try to catch up, motherfucker!
- Neil Young does this in "Ambulance Blues":
So all you critics sit alone,
You're no better than me, for what you've shown.
- The Bob Rivers Christmas parody song "The 12 Pains of Christmas" has, at #2, a frustrated husband setting up Christmas lights and as a result of faulty wiring, causes a blackout. Finally, on the final verse, he says the following to someone (probably his wife, or someone else otherwise in the peanut gallery chuckling at his difficulties), obviously fed up with the whole thing.
Frustrated husband: FINE! IF YOU'RE SO SMART, YOU RIG UP THE LIGHTS!!''
- Lynn Johnston of For Better or for Worse fame used to maintain a mailbag feature on her website. After letters complaining about the quality of the strip were run, it was not uncommon for others to write in saying that if the former group thought it was so bad, they should come up with their own comic strip instead.
- This is the go-to tactic of choice for defenders of Funky Winkerbean. Most, if not all of them state verbatim that only another nationally syndicated cartoonist has a right to criticize Tom Batiuk. And the times a pro cartoonist has criticized him, they state that they're just jealous/too inexperienced/must hate cancer victims.
- Statesmen or generals use this defense in their memoirs, all the way back to ancient times.
- Parliamentary systems such as the UK run on this. If the government of the day doesn't have the confidence of Parliament, they resign and the head of state has the option of either asking another member of Parliament to form a new government (if they can find sufficient votes in government) or call a general election to elect a new Parliament. Macaulay, in his History of England, notes that this practice forces the Parliamentary opposition to be more serious about the business of government, compared with earlier when ministers continued in position without having the support of a majority of Parliament. An interesting variant of this occurred when John Major challenged his critics within the Conservative Party to "put up or shut up" — he resigned from the leadership of his party, though not from the office of prime minister, and contested a snap election for party leader. He won, but in the event that he'd been defeated, his victorious opponent would most likely have become prime minister and served as such for the remainder of that parliamentary term.
- Political pundits and other commentators sometimes end up running for office themselves after making a name for themselves criticizing the existing political leaders. More generally, people frequently run for office because they genuinely think they can do a better job running the city, school board, etc. than whoever's doing it right now.
- This is essentially how U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-Minnesota) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) got elected. They became vocal and well-known opponents of what the U.S. government (mostly its Republicans, but neither shied away from calling out Democrats, either) was doing. America's collective response was essentially this trope; their response was 'Okay!'note
- Franken's exit from politics arguably demonstrates exactly how this trope can go wrong.
- This is the basis of Democrats' defence of Obamacare: Want Obamacare repealed and replaced? Replaced with what? It should be noted that during the first year after Obama left the position, there have been several attempts to replace the bill, all of which have failed. (Mostly because they would remove insurance from millions of people currently protected by the ACA.)
- This is sometimes thrown out to Smarks by wrestlers. Mainly because some smarks, though they know about the wrestling business, do not understand the large scope of things be it the business aspect of things or the physical aspects of things in the ring.
- Losing sports team coaches shut down critics by attacking their lack of professional sports experience as either an athlete or a coach. It became comical when former Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli said this during his team's winless season in 2008.
- A weird version of this is when other people (usually fans) criticized the criticizers. As so when an athlete or a team made a bad play or had a bad game and were criticized. There will always be someone to defend said athlete/team by saying 'Let's see how you do when (insert challenge of the sport here).'
- After Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez yanked star shortstop Hanley Ramirez out of a game for not hustling and then benched him, Ramirez attacked Gonzalez in the press, saying that since Gonzalez had never played in the major leagues, he had no right to criticize him. Never mind the fact that calling out a player's lack of effort is a manager's job, regardless of said manager's personal major league experience. When Marlins executives Andre Dawson and Tony Perez — both Hall of Fame players — took Ramirez to task as well, he finally got the message and apologized to his teammates.
- Another thing that makes Ramirez's remarks especially ridiculous is that many if not most of the best major league managers have/had little or no major league playing experience.
- Controversial NFL star James Harrison savaged Roger Goodell for this over Harrison's increasingly stiff penalties for late hits, helmet shots, and other violent play that the league was cracking down on. Harrison claimed that Goodell couldn't accurate assess these penalties having never played the sport at any high level himself.
- While reviewing the official PC game based on Dirty Dancing, The Spoony One pre-emptively mentioned that he already has, in fact, coded games that are better than the minigames in the game as homework for his software engineering course.
- The M.U.G.E.N fandom's got this BAD. in response to criticism of a character on any M.U.G.E.N forum (usually criticism by Wild Tengu), at least one noob is likely to say 'You can't judge, you haven't made a character!' It would be a good argument, if not for the fact that if someone who's had no character-creation experience can note when something's very wrong, then the argument becomes redundant.
- Games that let you mod them are also a target for this trope. There are always some people who simply need to tweak a few things before their custom content is considered good or they just need some guidance in the right direction to make something work. However, if the criticism against the creator's work is strong and the creator does not react too kindly to it, they may dismiss all criticism by saying that they put a lot of hard work into it and they don't see them doing any better. This reaction can also occur within the fans of the creator's work(s) since they may see any form of criticism as a sign of bashing.
- This was reportedly how Steve Meretzky got his job at Infocom. He sent them a letter criticizing their work, and they asked if he could do better. He responded by writing Planetfall.
- Touhou exists because ZUN didn't like existing shooter games.
- In a meta example, the fandom also likes doing this with ZUN's art, as he has good designs but poor execution. ZUN himself encourages this, and it's pretty much the main reason Touhou got so popular in the first place.
- Something along the same lines can be said for the Touhou music as well. While the original scores are in no means at all bad, the fandom is very, very fond of remixing the music and making their own versions of it. It has gotten to the point where, during a Q&A panel, when one person aked ZUN why he hasn't formed a band to play Touhou music live with yet, ZUN said that he doesn't need to do that: His fans do it for him.
- A variant, where this was invoked by the critic himself: after the infamously horrible Doom WAD called "Doom: Rampage Edition" (involving the player taking on a role of a Baron of Hell) was released, one of the players commented that "he could pull a better wad out of [his] ass". A week later, he did indeed release a WAD based on the same concept, which gathered warm reviews. To rub it in: the name of this WAD? "A Better WAD I Pulled Out Of My Ass".
- A developer for MechWarrior Online replied with "Let's see you make a better game" to a thread on the Online forums criticizing the gameplay. The response by user was "We did until you shut us down", referring to MechWarrior Living Legends, a free mod for Crysis Warhead which was killed off through legal means by Online note
- A Hilarious in Hindsight moment for Left 4 Dead 2. The fan base complained for a long time about the game's glitches and other nuances, claiming Valve hired morons to playtest the game. While Valve never responded to the criticism, they decided to let the fan base own up to their claims of doing better by letting them beta test the Left 4 Dead maps that they were porting into the sequel.
- During a question-and-answer session, a professional competitive tournament player by the tag of "juice.Doom" of the Super Smash Bros. series decided to rather snarkily (but jokingly) inform Masahiro Sakurai that "many fans" felt there were "balance issues" with the games. He then challenged Sakurai to a match where if he won he could help balance the newest one. Sakurai's response (via translator) was, "Have you ever made a game before?"
- Battlezone (1980): Enforced. The volcano within the game originally was not supposed to explode, but Ed Rotberg (the creator of the game) was pestered by his coworker Owen Rubin to make it active. After Ed suggested rhetorically that Owen write the code himself, it was found lying on Ed's desk the next day.
- Newgrounds used to be the king of this trope. It seemed that unless you had a movie that was rated in the top 10, you had absolutely no right to criticize any movies. There were even movies made making fun of those people who left comments or even rated movies down. But most of these were made about the types of people who made comments like 'Your movie stinks' or 'You used sprites, therefore you sucked' or attacked the author without good reason. Sometimes, even pointing out a bug in a flash game got the same thing.
- Atop the Fourth Wall was flooded with these kinds of comments after Linkara introduced "Miller Time," a series of reviews of Frank Miller's worst comics. He responded that he's only been at this for a couple years, while Miller's been working for three decades.
- During the Wolverine: Adamantium Rage review, Spoony (who was watching in the background) mocks Linkara's decision to use cheat codes during a particularly difficult part of the game. Linkara's response is to step away from the keyboard and let Spoony try. After a half-dozen failures and an abortive suicide attempt, Spoony lets Linkara cheat.
- Inverted, during an episode of History of Power Rangers, Linkara notes that Lord Zedd's evil Rangers were just the Puttys painted in the Rangers' colors, and he could make a better costume than that. A few months later, he unveiled a White Zeo Ranger suit in the style of his normal Linkara attire.
- Also note that Linkara has written his own comic. Of course, to some, this doesn't help.
- Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation gets this a lot, despite that he actually has programmed some freeware PC games before his rambling gaming reviews gained him the following he has today.
- Having also done some minor webcomics criticism, Yahtzee may also have received these from webcomic supporters. Yahtzee, however, always remarks that his old webcomic efforts were hardly any better than the ones he openly criticizes and is very aware of the hypocrisy in pointing out other webcomics' flaws. And at least Yahtzee stopped making his horrible webcomic.
- Jim Sterling of Jimquisition has been told this after criticizing some buggy, poorly made games that were slapped together using unaltered video game assets and sold on Steam. His response was to point out that he indeed could not make a decent video game, but nor was he trying to, where as many games were mediocre and buggy, but developers tried to sell them anyway.
Jim Sterling: ...When I can't do something, and know I can't do something, I don't just do it anyway, then put it on Steam and try to sell it for ten fucking bucks.
- Lost Parody did this for their final episode, after 14 completely nonsensical episodes of jabs at Lost's failings, in the last episode they managed to pull the entirety of depicted events together into something that came very close to making sense.
Hurley: Now it's your turn, Lost! You only have ONE. EPISODE! LEFT!
- If anyone criticizes an article on Cracked, expect to see this trope show up. Unless the author admits that his article sucks, and apologises for putting it up.
- This happens occasionally on high-traffic wikis, especially TOW. In this case, however, because of the nature of the medium, it's a perfectly legitimate request.
- This trope is the basis for the How It Should Have Ended series.
- On Dragon Cave, a popular adoptables site with dragon sprites, fans will occasionally criticise the art- with things ranging from genuine explanations about not liking colours, poses, shading styles, etc. to others who just say 'It sucks, get rid of it!' Some artists and fans have responded with this trope; others of course understand that everybody can be a good spriter and sketcher, and they're perfectly entitled to having an opinion on art.
- This is referenced by Cleolinda Jones at one point. She responds to it with "You don't need to be a farmer to know if the milk's gone bad".
- A common reaction for subjects of Retsupurae, going so far as to call out Slowbeef and Diabetus asking to see them make a better Let's Play. Even though they mostly keep their own LPs away from YouTube, they're Something Awful regulars with several finished, quality LPs — in fact, Slowbeef himself is the one who started Let's Play in the first place.
- The Nostalgia Chick often lampshades that she'll have nowhere near the success of the people she's bitching about, and that's why it's so fun to tear their stuff apart in the first place.
- The Trope Wiki was founded as a Start My Own version of this very wiki because one of the Admins of TV Tropes challenged the founder of the Trope Wiki with the line, "If you think you can do better, then let's see you try." So he did.
- Fansubbers have an unfortunate tendency to fall into this, especially if they're the only ones translating a show.
- The webmaster of Lousy Book Covers apparently received this retort so frequently that he devoted an entire subpage to rebutting the argument... as well as showing his own work in cover design to prove that why yes, he can do better.
- This guy did an entire rewrite of the last volumes of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- Butch Hartman got into a controversy in 2018 when he trashed a fan on live-stream by saying they shouldn't criticize him unless they're also animators like him. The problem is that said fan was not even panning his work.
- Thomas Astruc will likely shut out any criticism directed towards him and complains constantly that his fans don't know what it's like to write for a cartoon. This naturally has caused a stir on Twitter AND Tumblr, causing fans of Miraculous Ladybug to disown him as the creator of said show. Naturally, this hasn't gone without his share of supporters who tend to gang up on his detractors. Nevertheless, Thomas' lack of accepting criticism as well as his inability to see things from a different point of view has put him in a rather questionable light, especially as of late.
- Resultantly, a Tumblr blog documenting his poor responses to criticism was created and can be found here.
- Robbie Daymond, voice-over artist for Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon and Peter Parker in Marvel's Spider-Man, rather arrogantly responded to some fans on Twitter discussing the state of modern-day animation for younger audiences with this.
Exodus: I don't want anything shut down or cancelled for the most part. I want more quality in cartoons put out. Most new ones have terrible art styles and crude dumbed-down humor. It's terrible for adult watchers and insulting to child watchers. Kids are very intelligent nowadays.Robbie: Then go make your own.Kith 0241: As much as I agree with the rest of your statements, this one feels like it comes from as much a place of ignorance/backlash as those you're tweeting against. To oversimplify it, you don't have to create art to critique or criticize it. So by someone giving their opinion, then getting the response "go make your own" - well for the average person, that's not even a possibility. It just feels ignorant and petty to me.Robbie: Why? Were all average people. What separates us? My statement wasnt a putdown, it was a challenge. You can choose to be insulted by it or rise to it.note
- In the restaurant chain Jimmy John's, individual restaurants all use the same posters on the walls. One of these posters reads, "If you want a faster sandwich, make it yourself!"
- Something of a subversion when You Can't Do That on Television was on the air, a boy named Adam Reid complained about the acting of the kids on the show. The producers let him audition and he ended up being one of the show's standouts.
- The entire reason why Lamborghini sportscars exist. Ferrucio Lamborghini owned a successful agricultural equipment company and was speaking to Enzo Ferrari about what he saw as some shortcomings in his Ferrari. Enzo angrily snapped that his products weren't for farmers like Ferrucio and if Ferrucio wanted something better he should make it himself. And he did.
- It is said that when Isaac Watts was 15 he complained that he thought the hymns they sang in church were dull and old-fashioned. His father told him to write some better ones. He did. (After Fanny Crosby, he's the most prolific hymnographer in the English language.)
- After his tank design was ridiculed by the public, New Zealand Minister of Public Works Bob Semple stood by it and stated "I dont see anyone else coming up with any better ideas." The Bob Semple tanks never saw action in World War II, but are somewhat infamous today and something of a point of pride amongst New Zealander tank aficionados.
- A standard part of aircraft accident investigations is seeing if other pilots (in a simulator) would do better than the pilots in the actual accident. Sometimes, the answer is "Yes" (such as incidents involving pilot error). In other cases—such as the Gimli Glider (which ran out of fuel in mid-flight) and United Airlines Flight 232 (where a fan in the engine blew apart and punctured all the hydraulic systems, meaning all the oil leaked out)—the pilots in the simulators couldn't come CLOSE to pulling off what the beleaguered pilots did, even if they knew in advance what the real pilots had to come up with on the fly. And sometimes—like The Miracle On The Hudson—the possibility of a better outcome is there, but not at all feasablenote
- A popular quote from Cicero: "I criticize by creation, not by finding fault."
- Kamon from FLCL tells a story about how he was put in charge of taking care of the class' pet hamster in elementary school. When the hamster died, the entire class got angry at him, but he defended himself by saying that none of them had ever taken care of a hamster in their lives.
- Chapter 58 of Kaguya-sama: Love is War has Kaguya challenge Hayasaka to seduce Shirogane after the latter calls her out for her lack of progress. She does a lot better than Kaguya ever had at that point, only failing because Shirogane has Single-Target Sexuality and Kaguya only gave her one day.
- In the Dressrosa Arc in One Piece, Cavendish responds to the audience's jeers toward Rebecca prior to their colosseum match by telling them to get in the arena, saying they have no right to mock her while she risks her life and they do not.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: In one confrontation with Gluttony, Mustang's fire attack proves ineffective because Gluttony has activated his internal failed gate and so just absorbs it. Ed insults him for being useless, prompting Mustang to snap back that Ed should do something, then. Ed does actually manage to do somewhat better, but not without some running and hiding and he still gets "eaten".
- U.S. Acres:
- Booker showed Sheldon a hand trick and Sheldon said it's an old one. Booker then dared Sheldon to do it and somehow, Booker did see Sheldon doing it despite Sheldon living inside a shell.
- Roy says he can swim better than Orson can. When asked to show it, he says he doesn't want to get his feathers wet so Lanolin takes them away so he can swim without getting them wet.
- Peanuts had this as a common gag: a character criticizes another about a piece of artwork and are angrily dared to do better, and they do!
- Linus criticized Lucy for making messy o's in tic-tac-toe, and when Lucy dares him to do better, he makes an ornate O with precise calligraphy that a professional could not do better.
- Snoopy laughed at Sally struggling with a drawing compass, and when dared to do better, he proves so good that instead of a circle, he makes a perfect square instead.
- In one week of Pearls Before Swine strips, a little girl named Libby criticizes Stephan Pastis' drawing skills, and he challenges her to do better. She does. (As a special bonus, her drawings are actually the work of Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, who agreed to collaborate with Pastis for the week.)
- In Bleach: Fan Works, Jolene Meyers gets quite annoyed with Oshikko's flaming her work, and says "If my fanfic is so bad, why don't you write your own version, huh?" He takes her up on her offer, warning her that she may come to regret challenging him.
- This is the basic premise of the RWBY fanfic Leader Change. After hearing one too many complaints from Weiss regarding her overall competence, Ruby snaps and gives Weiss the opportunity to switch places with her and become the leader of Team RWBY like she originally wanted to. Suffice to say, Weiss soon realizes the responsibilities that come with being the leader and starts to regret wanting the position so much.
- A Possible Encounter for a Phantom: When Kim describes Paulina's cheerleading as "pretty basic", Paulina dares Kim to out-cheer her. Kim accepts the challenge and wins.
- Bruce Almighty, where God basically tells Bruce this; he's been complaining about how He does things, and so he's going to get a chance to put his money where his mouth is. God then gives Bruce all of His powers for a week. Bruce makes a mess of things because he's a flawed human being.
- The 1940 film Edison The Man has Edison offer up a rather good rebuttal to this trope:
Thomas Edison: That spring is too strong, it won't work.
Workman: I'd like to see you make a better one.
Thomas Edison: Well, a fellow can tell a bad egg without being able to lay one.
- The Movie Bitter Feast has the life of Peter Grey, a celebrity chef ruined by caustic blogger JT Franks (he loses his TV show, his job as head chef at a fancy restaurant, and an endorsement deal). Grey takes revenge on Franks by kidnapping him, chaining Franks up in a basement in the Hudson Valley and forces Franks to cook dishes with total perfection: anything less and not only does Franks starve, but Grey beats him up with a hot skillet. Needless to say, in this Black Comedy of Saw meets Food Network, Hilarity Ensues.
- Father Nolan in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest invites Eli to preach after he displays unruly behavior during his sermon to embarrass him into behaving, but he instead takes up on the offer and starts sowing the seeds that will eventually turn some of the local children and teens to his side.
- In Stripes, Sgt. Hulka is pushing his men rather hard on a training exercise involving climbing a rope; one of them dares him to try it. Hulka actually does and does do it better; unfortunately, this is when Captain Stillman orders a mortar crew to fire without setting target coordinates, and a stray one injuring Hulka.
- Sherlock Holmes:
"And a singularly consistent investigation you have made, my dear Watson," said he. "I cannot at any point recall any possible blunder which you have omitted. The total effect of your proceedings has been to give the alarm everywhere and yet to discover nothing."
- Holmes' criticism of Watson's written records of his adventures is almost a running gag in Doyle's works. Eventually, Watson basically told him the name of this trope enough times so that Holmes grabbed a pen and wrote "The Blanched Soldier" (where he acknowledged that it wasn't as easy as it looked at first sight).
- Applied to Holmes' job in "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax":
"Perhaps you would have done no better," I answered, bitterly.
"There is no 'perhaps' about it. I have done better."
- Holmes then introduces the man Watson thought suspicious, who it turns out is the titular lady's fiancé.
- David Eddings: an administrator in the Tamul Empire (an ersatz Imperial China) explaining that the appearance of revolutionaries in a province of the empire was an indication that something had gone seriously wrong (as Tamul acted as Benevolent Tyrants). Since the revolutionaries had already identified the problems the pragmatic solution was simply to replace the incompetent imperial governors with the revolutionaries. This was also an Ironic Punishment as being an imperial governor was one of the most thankless jobs in the empire. NO-ONE liked the governor.
- In Jingo, Captain Carrot's reaction to undead-rights Single-Issue Wonk Reg Shoe complaining about the Watch is to recruit him. Complaints from the undead community immediately go up, all about Reg, who promptly responds that they don't understand policing in a multi-vital society.
- Numerous Dom Com programs through the 1990s employed this 'job switching'-type trope, under two varieties: the domestic partners (i.e., the husband and wife) will switch roles for a day; or the kids will take over the parents' role. Either way, it is certain that both sides will become enlightened by the difficulties of the other's role and the whole situation will be called a draw.
- The most famous 'let's just see you do better' example was the I Love Lucy episode "Job Switching." After Ricky and Lucy get into an argument about their roles — Ricky being the breadwinner and Lucy doing the housework — and drawing the Mertzes into matters (with Fred and Ethel, predictably, taking sides), both sides say, in essence, 'Let's see you do better.' There's plenty of comedy with Ricky and Fred's efforts to cook dinner (arroz con pollo) and ruining their shirts in a poor attempt at ironing ... but the real fun comes as Lucy and Ethel somehow get jobs at a candy factory. A hilarious fight in the candy dipping department, instigated when Lucy tries to swat away a fly and accidentally hits a coworker, is nothing compared to the infamous conveyer belt scene, where a seemingly simple task of gathering chocolate kisses and placing them in a box quickly proves to be overwhelming when the fast pace of the belt (and the supervisor's stern threat that any candy that falls off the belt will mean they're fired) makes it impossible to keep up, although they surely try. In the end, both sides — the guys admitting they damaged the apartment, the gals getting mercilessly fired from the candy factory — concede defeat.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: After forcing Joel and the bots to suffer through The Castle of Fu Manchu, Dr. Forrester awaits them to acknowledge he finally found a movie bad enough to unleash on the world. Joel snaps and tells Dr. Forrester off on what a sad little man he is, telling him to try sitting through these movies and make up his own jokes. Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank decide to do just that, only to fail miserably.
- James May's Man Lab: James receives a viewer's letter asking him to replay a clip from the previous series where he can't stop laughing at researcher Charlie's unintentionally cubist portrait of Cassandra. After doing so, the letter goes on:
James: [reading] "Then let's see if you can do any better." [Beat] Bugger.
- One The Kids in the Hall sketch has a teacher who is trying to teach his students how to do foreign accents and dialects. Each of his accents is horribly done and exaggerated. Finally one of his students complains and the teacher asks him to try doing a Cockney accent (which the teacher himself tried to do before the student complained). The student then proceeds to do a rather authentic-sounding Cockney accent.
- In an episode of Gilligan's Island, it's how the female cast members formed their musical group, the Honeybees. To impress the visiting Beatles knockoffs, the Mosquitoes, the men had tried to form their own group. Ginger was critical of their dismal performance. Gilligan quoted his grandmother's sage advice, "Never criticize unless you can do better yourself." Ginger was inspired at this and ran off to collaborate with Mary Ann and Mrs. Howell.
- The Colbert Report: During the December 8, 2014 episode, Stephen started the show by chastising President Obama's performance, saying "No politician can do my job," but before he transitioned into "The Word" segment, President Obama suddenly came on set and said that he'd try to do Stephen's job, so he does his own version of "The Word", titled "The Decree", which was incredibly funny.
- Game of Thrones: Tywin Lannister at one point criticizes his daughter, Cersei, for not stopping her son, King Joffrey, from becoming a complete wild card and run wild all over the city. In response, she challenges him to do a better job, and he simply responds, "I will." True to form, he does exactly that.
- Often invoked by heels who lecture the crowd for their criticism of them by combining this trope with You're Just Jealous and Ungrateful Bastard. Of course, the heel never quite understands that the crowds are not criticizing his in-ring skills, but his obnoxious, cowardly, Jerkass behavior.
- During Ring of Honor's Arena Warfare, which was planned before their cooperation with CZW became a feud, Alex Shelley made this challenge to a fan after the CZW side started chanting "boring" during his match with Bryan Danielson.
- A brief arc in WWE RAW involved Vince McMahon attempting to get back at his Arch-Enemy Bret Hart by...promoting him to General Manager. After their iconic feud over Vince "screwing" Hart under his original tenure at WWE, Vince wanted to show Hart just what it meant to be the Bad Boss and have to make pivotal decisions and sacrifices not everyone will like.
- In the Hal Linden episode of The Muppet Show, after years of heckling in the box, Kermit allows for Statler and Waldorf to host the show instead. It ends up being every bit the disaster if Kermit had been running things.
- A Very Potter Sequel: "Oh, yeah Lupin? Let's see you sing something better right now!"
- Happens early on in The Warriors. The game opens in 1978 when several of the gang members we remember from The Movie quit the Destroyers (a rival gang on the other side of Coney Island) because they don't like the way the gang boss, Virgil, has been treating them. Virgil's attitude is, basically, good riddance: 'They couldn't cut it with us, so now they're gonna try to take over. Well, I say let 'em try!' This boast eventually backfires spectacularly when, later in the game, the Destroyers are totally wiped out and Virgil himself is executed by Molotov cocktail while screaming hysterically.
- The trailer for the Xbox Live Arcade/Windows game BattleBlock Theater invokes this trope when mentioning the level builder feature, with the voiceover saying "Hey, check this out! If you hate our stuff, shut up and do better!"
- After Elly of The Word Weary criticizes a woman's parenting skills, the woman responds with a variation on this.
- In this xkcd comic, a man complains about a long traffic light, whereupon the engineer of the traffic light appears and responds with this.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Used to hang a lampshade. Elan, a bard, had written a terrible rhyme because he had to get his point across to a tavern full of people quickly, and the title of the strip was "You Try Rhyming 'Assassin'".
- Used again to Spot the Impostor. Vaarsuvius, faced with distinguishing Elan from his Evil Twin Nale, points out that Nale would be familiar with this situation on account of it being a dull and predictable plot turn, and Nale's strategies just aren't all that clever for a self-proclaimed Evil Genius. Nale's Fatal Flaw being Pride, he immediately retorts "So, what, you think you could have come up with something more clever than Nale did?", giving himself away.
- Employed by Red Mage in 8-Bit Theater against Black Mage's criticisms of his plan to escape from RM's A-Hole.
BM: So, you want us to build a thing that's the size of everything, using nothing.
BM: That is quite literally the least practical plan put together by an allegedly thinking creature.
RM: It's so easy to criticise, isn't it. Can you think of something better?
BM: Yes! By definition, ANYTHING I say will be better!
RM: What if you say three or more universe-sized holes? Hmmm?
BM: I won't.
RM: Well, go on then. Let's hear your idea, smart guy.
BM: All I can think of is the damn three-hole version! Argh!
- Used in The Nostalgia Critic's review of Devil. When the Critic bashes the movie's Twist Ending, M. Night Shyamalan (not the real one, of course) challenges the Critic to come up with a better twist. He then decides on the Devil being the religious security guard (aka "Crazy Toast Guy") who was monitoring the elevator the entire time, and Shyamalan admits that that actually is a good twist.
- In Season 10 of Red vs. Blue, when Carolina demands to be implanted with a new AI, after giving the one originally assigned to her to Maine, the Director lets her choose which one she'll obtain (and therefore take from one of her teammates) under this basis.
The Director: If she thinks our decisions are so easy, then let her make one.
- There was a South Park episode where Cartman made the morning announcements and relentlessly and mercilessly picked apart everything Wendy did as a class president. As her way of asking Cartman if he could do better, Wendy simply resigned from her spot and let Cartman take over. This actually got Cartman to shut up, as he was prepared to only criticize, not act.
- The Simpsons:
- In "$pringfield", when Bart is kicked out of Mr. Burns' casino and notes the martinis suck, the Squeaky-Voiced Teen challenges him to have his own casino in his treehouse. Bart does just that, leading the teen to note how he was shown up.
- In "Bart Star", Homer constantly taunts Ned Flanders about his football coaching.
Marge: You know, Homer, it's very easy to criticize.
Homer: Fun, too.
- When Flanders has enough, he gives Homer the position.
Ned: Do you have a problem with the way I'm coaching?
Homer: No! No! No no no. It's just that... well... like I was yelling earlier... seems like... anyone with half a brain can coach better than you.
Ned: Half a brain, huh? Well, you know what? Sounds like you just volunteered!
Homer: Me? But you were doing such a great job!
- When Homer is in college, he tells his professor that he knows how a particle accelerator works. The professor challenges him to come down and show everybody. Cut to the lecture hall glowing with radiation as people flee screaming...
- Used during an episode of Family Guy. Mere minutes from his horrible television pilot going on the air, Brian notices the cast of Two and a Half Men standing there.
Charlie Sheen: You're always saying our show sucks. Let's see yours.
- Bonus points for actually getting Sheen to do the voice.
- "Trading Places" had Meg and Chris claim they could be better parents than Peter and Lois, who gladly oblige. Then it turns out that the kids are right: Meg does the chores in a fraction of the time Lois takes and prepares a delicious dinner, while Chris actually earns a promotion from Peter's job at the brewery near-immediately, to the point where Peter's boss pretty much refuses to let them switch back because Chris is such a better worker than Peter ever was. Meanwhile, Peter and Lois completely screw up in high school and are even less popular than Chris and Meg usually are. Only when the stress of his workload causes Chris to have a heart attack does everything goes back to normal.
- One early episode has a drunken Peter heckle an on-stage comedian. The performer finally loses it and goads Peter onto the stage to see if he can do his job. He actually gets laughs from the audience, but more due to a spilled beer bottle making it seem like he wet his pants.
- Batman: The Animated Series; "Harley And Ivy": Harley Quinn halfheartedly defends herself against The Joker when he blames her for blowing their last caper (ignoring his own mistakes). Joker says: Maybe I should let YOU run the gang! Maybe YOU are a better crook that the rest of us put together!. He then expels Harley, and Harley decides to do exactly that with Poison Ivy.
- The Dreamstone:
- In the episode "Urpgor's Great Adventure", Urpgor complains about Blob's hazardous test run with his new invention. Zordrak coyly suggests he is far more capable and volunteers him. Urpgor smugly agrees to this, gloating he will succeed in stealing the stone with half the time and fuss that Blob fails. Guess how things turn out...
- One episode has Blob and his troops stranded on the Isle of Catastrophe (due to a sabotage by Urpgor). He decides he will emulate Urpgor's inventing knack and makes vehicles to escape. They all fail or spontaneously explode.
- In The Smurfs episode "The Gingerbread Smurfs", when Brainy, being the village critic of everything such as Greedy's cooking, claims that he has just as much skill at cooking as Greedy does, but simply doesn't make a big deal out of it, Greedy challenges him to prove it through a Cooking Duel, with gingerbread cookies being the item they will both make for the judging. Of course, Brainy realizes that he can't back up his claims when he and Clumsy attempt to create a recipe for gingerbread cookies and so decides to cheat by using one of Papa Smurf's magic books to create magical gingerbread cookies, which end up becoming Anthropomorphic Food that multiplies and takes over the village. Needless to say, Brainy at the end of the episode gets thrown out of the village along with his cookie.
- A series of fake bloopers in Animaniacs features Dot constantly messing up her own Overly Long Name (Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca III). After getting teased by Yakko about it, she tells him to try it sometime. Yakko then recites her name flawlessly. Dot merely dismisses it commenting, "Easy for you to say, Mr. United States Canada Mexico Panama!"
- Blinky Bill: In the episode "Mayor Blinky Bill", Mayor Pelican gives Blinky the job of mayor after Blinky criticizes him one time too many. The rest of the episode is Blinky learning how hard being mayor really is.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): A key plot point in "New Girl in Town." After being criticized and second-guessed by Raph one time too many, Leo finally gets sick of it and passes over the leadership to him. At first, he's firmly convinced that he'll be a much better leader than Leo, but he soon finds out just how tough being leader really is during a fight with Snakeweed, where he can't come up with any real plan of attack and goes into a Heroic BSoD when Mikey gets hurt. When they escape, Raph acknowledges that he can't handle being leader, now knows what Leo has to deal with every day, and that they need him back.
- In The Beatles cartoon "I Feel Fine," Paul is "meh" over Hollywood, saying that everything there is phony. This chafes screen star Dick Dashing, who then challenges Paul to do the same stunts he does.
- In one Dilbert episode, an unnamed security guard (voiced by Wayne Knight) won't cut Dilbert any slack on the rules, which leads to Dilbert insulting his job and an argument over who has it tougher. When the expected challenge is made, Dilbert bets his house that he could be a better security guard than his foe could be an engineer. Things quickly go wrong on Dilbert's watch, and he nearly gets fired; to add insult to injury, the security guard actually excels at being an engineer. Dilbert narrowly avoids losing his house, but the security guard gets a job as an engineer at a better company. After grousing about that, Dilbert badgers a sewer worker for a mistake and winds up cleaning up filth in a tunnel in his stead. When Ratbert swims by, Dilbert criticizes his technique and, well...
- In the Doug episode "Doug's Big News," all the students in Mrs. Wingo's class finds Mr. Bone's news show to be dull and boring, so he challenges them to make a better one. Mrs. Wingo thinks that a wonderful idea and the class rises to the challenge.