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Parental Hypocrisy

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Ariel: You deliberately disobeyed me! I never want you going out there again, do you hear me? It's dangerous in the sea!
Lindsay: Oh, Ariel, you might be a hypocrite or something.

You've probably heard that old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."

Mom just doesn't understand! She tells our teenage heroine off for going out with a boy from the Wrong Side of the Tracks or having a secret romantic affair, etc. Then, we find out in a dramatic twist that she did the same thing when she was her age! What a hypocrite! But, of course, having seen her hypocritical ways, we love her again or she sees her wrong-doing and allows the act to continue. Or doesn't.

The other case is when the parent has forgotten what it's like to be a teenager. In this case, some other adult their age will remind them, "you were a teenager once, don't you remember?" prompting the parent to guiltily admit they remember, and that's why they're being so overprotective.

Note that this trope isn't necessarily a bad thing: the parents went through the same thing their children are facing, learned from it, and now they want to keep their kids out of the same situations. For example, a parent who struggled with binge drinking as a teen may want to stop their kid from doing the same thing. Parents may look upon their Dark and Troubled Past with regret and want a better life for their children. Not stopping to remember how much they'd heed such advice in their time, of course. This trope only focuses on the fact that the parent did the same as the child and it is considered a "twist" in the story.

On the other hand, the unsympathetic side of this is when the parent disciplines the child for doing something that they still do as a parent, rather than something they did as a kid, learned a lesson from, and don't do anymore. For example, a parent who still smokes may berate their 19-year-old for smoking.

No Real Life Examples, Please! While this trope is indeed Truth in Television, it would be filed with natter and complaining about celebrity parents who engage in hypocrisy.

This can be a subtrope of Generation Xerox, as the parent or guardian involved is often a Former Teen Rebel. It can also be a subtrope of Hypocrite Has a Point, where someone is still shown to be right in spite of their hypocrisy. Compare Evil Parents Want Good Kids. Naturally, this can make it harder to Honor Thy Parent.


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  • The classic 1987 PSA from Partnership for a Drug-Free America where the teen son is being blasted by his dad for taking drugs, asks him where he learned to do that from, and the son starts screaming "YOU, alright?! I learned it from watching YOU!"
    Narrator: Parents who use drugs, had children who use drugs.
  • One old Oreo commercial featured a new father expressing concern over someone like him being responsible for raising another human being. As an example of what he's talking about, he says that now he has to be the one telling his baby boy that he shouldn't be eating an Oreo that fell on the floor while he is thinking to himself "five second rule — that cookie's still good".

    Anime & Manga 

  • One Piece: Garp is about to beat on his grandson Luffy when they both fall asleep. When Garp wakes up later, he then wails on Luffy for falling asleep despite having done so himself.
  • A teacher example: Kuroi-sensei from Lucky Star plays the same online game as Konata, and has been into MMORPG's since before she was Konata's age, but she tells Konata off for doing that very thing, and uses in-game chat to remind her to do her homework. When Konata calls her out on this, she remarks that, as a teacher, she has a duty to uphold, which Konata accepts as understandable, but still...
  • Played for laughs in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid. Attempts by Fate to complain about Vivio's newly revealed adult form out of worry were eventually short-circuited when Vivio reminded her that, based on Nanoha's stories...
    Vivio: I heard that mamas were quite unruly at Vivio's age, right?
    Fate: Uh... That's, umm...
    Nanoha: Ahaha...
  • Misae from Crayon Shin-chan beats both her husband and Shin if they flirt with women. However, she is Not So Above It All when it comes to handsome men.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Chi-Chi comes across this way towards Gohan, forbidding him from fighting despite her fighting herself when she was a teenager. This is understandable, as she believed that Gohan was far too young to be fighting at age 4-5, and Chi-Chi herself was fighting when she was 12.
    • After Gohan awakens to Super Saiyan 2, Goku gets on his case about finishing Cell off right away, instead of letting the fight continue to prolong Cell's suffering, even though Goku did the same thing when he awoke to the power of Super Saiyan with Frieza. This is a case of Goku learning from experience, as he barely avoided the explosion of Namek because he prolonged the fight with Frieza.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's mom Tamako being an Education Mama comes off as hypocritical in the episode where Nobita finds out she wasn't a good student either and wasn't that different from her son.
  • Sword Art Online: During the Mother's Rosario arc, Asuna' mother forcefully disconnects Asuna's VR helmet and scolds her for being a few minutes late for dinner, accusing Asuna of "disrespecting the staff's efforts," Asuna is sorely tempted to remind her of several occasions where Kyouko was also late for dinner, threw out the meals untasted, and had the staff make them again for her own convenience, but ultimately decides not to do so.
  • Dramatic example in My Hero Academia: Endeavor and his eldest son, Toya Todoroki, often got into arguments because the latter was constantly off training his fire powers and burning himself doing so since his body is only resistant to the cold. The boy's obsession with perfecting his powers was a result of him wanting to become a Hero for his father, since he was trained since he was little to be a part of the one-sided feud Endeavor was having with All Might and only stopped when his genetics from his mother kicked in. Many people, his wife especially, have pointed out that Endeavor has little right to tell Toya to stop pursuing heroism or give up on himself when Endeavor himself drowns himself in his Hero job over a petty grudge and as his perceived duty to the people, ignoring the damage this is doing to his family.

    Comic Books 
  • In Spider-Girl, this is an issue early on—Peter is horrified that teenage May would try to be a superhero, despite doing the same thing at her age. At the same time, very justified given that Peter's final battle as a superhero cost him his leg.
  • Supergirl: In Supergirl vol. 6 #10, Alura wants to get her daughter gene-matched in order to find her a suitable suitor. Kara dislikes the process and points out that her parents didn't go through it and their marriage wasn't arranged. Her mother’s retort? "That was different".
    Kara: But why do I have to gene-match at all? You and Father didn't, and you still found each other!
    Alura: That was different. Our situation was... unique.
  • Runaways:
    • Nico Minoru's parents raised her to be a devout Catholic and discouraged her Gothic habits, but she later finds out that they themselves are dark wizards. When the team later goes back in time to 1907, she also discovers that her ancestor was a "reformed" Dragon Lady who tortured suspected "heretics" (basically, other magic-users) on behalf of a group of super-powered xenophobes.
    • Then there's Excelsior, a team of ex-teen heroes who try to get the Runaways out of the hero putting their old costumes back on and fighting them. When one of their own members points out the mixed message, Turbo invokes the trope. "It's like my mom always said, Jono. 'Do as I say, not as I do.'"
  • Deadpool has a case of this with his daughter, Ellie. Wade is a mercenary, and has killed or beaten up his fair share of people for little more than annoying him. He's mentioned having killed people for things as small as playing bagpipes, or putting tissue on the roll upside down. Sometimes, he will beat up people for calling him out on something, such as stealing a man's motorcycle, and threatening to kill him when he protested. However, Wade is fully aware of his job, lifestyle and how his mental condition (his insanity caused by his brain cancer and Healing Factor at war with each other) makes him screwed up as heck. As such, he is trying to have Ellie not follow in his footsteps She's been getting into many fights since she changed schools, and Wade tells her to find a teacher if kids are bullying her.
    • Chapter 32 ends with Deadpool getting a text to come to the school because Ellie's been in another fight. Next chapter preview pages show him with Ellie in the principal's office, visibly not happy with her.
  • Monica's Gang: In one story, Chuck Billy and Rosie try to secretly meet after dinner and her father caught them. When Rosie's Mom says it sounds like someone she knows, Rosie's Dad says it's different because his secret signal sounded like a bird other than the one chosen by Chuck.
  • Part of Doctor Octopus' origin involves this trope: his mom was a very insistent My Beloved Smother who, upon finding out that Octavius had fallen in love with one of his assistants, browbeat him into breaking up with her, only for him to find out that she was dating a man behind his back. Otto flipped out and called her out on this, the first time he ever stood up to his mother, and things got so heated that she died from a heart attack.
  • Marion Keeny in Scarecrow: Year One calls her daughter a whore for having a child out of wedlock and suggests burying the (living) baby in the backyard, but the fact that her and her daughter's surnames are the same as that of Marion's mother implies that she may not have been married either.
    • Or they just kept their maiden names.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: Subverted. When Misato wanted to forbid Shinji and Asuka from sleeping together Asuka tried to argue Misato was being a hypocrite. It did not work.
    Misato: "Most of your life"? Asuka, you're fourteen! You two can't be doing this!
    Asuka: You'd have done the same at our age!
    Misato: At your age plus a year I was catatonic from watching Second Impact at Ground Zero! You are still a child!
  • The Child of Love: When Misato lectures her about having sex Asuka calls her a hypocrite because she has sex with Kaji. Asuka misses the point, though, since Misato's lecture was about her being underage and having unprotected sex.
  • In Lilly Epilogue Family Matters, Mr. Satou derides Hisao for being a "middle class bumpkin" despite marrying a journalist, who is not in a well-paying career. However, later on, it is indicated that this attitude is because he wanted to believe Hisao was unworthy of Lilly.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic By the Way, Tonks and Lupin go to dinner with Tonks' parents. Ted is furious to learn that Lupin is a werewolf, until Andromeda points out that Ted himself was insulted and belittled for being a Muggleborn when he met her family, so he has no reason to be so prejudiced.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic series Dangerverse, the cubs and adults of the Pack know this can easily happen, so they have the Hypocrisy Agreement, which states that the adults cannot take the cubs to task for things the adults themselves did. As the adults (at least, Remus and Sirius) were notorious pranksters, it gives the cubs a bit of leeway.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic series Sins of the Father , when Hohenheim finds out that Edward is marrying Roy he complains that Roy is too old for him. He is reminded that he is the last person to complain out marriage with an age difference.
  • In The Second Try, Asuka used to tell her daughter "Smile when you're happy, cry when you're sad". However, when Shinji merges with Unit-01, she can't show grief because she has to keep her façade. So, she sees herself as a hypocritical mother.
  • In Continuance, Yukiko's father, Katsuhiro, makes no secret of how he doesn't think Soujinote  is good enough for Yukiko. His wife, Ryouko, however, reminds Katsuhiro that he also married into the Amagi family and had to prove himself worthy of Ryouko.
  • Played for Drama in Conversations with a Cryptid as All for One had many children experimented on or horrifically killed without any remorse. So Izuku thinks its extremely hypocritical that All for One would rather have Izuku leave the heroing and investigating to the adults.
  • In Croft and Son, Nero calls Lara out on her hypocrisy when she says all she wants is for him to live a safe, boring life. She does though come around and decides to support whatever endeavor he chooses to follow.
  • In this Justice League of America-based Tumblr post, Green Arrow has this to say after the team witnesses Bruce try and fail to reign in his rowdy children.
    Green Arrow: ...well someone has to say it.
    The Flash: That he should get an award for parenting that lot?
    Green Arrow: That clearly inherited behaviour has nothing to do with genetics. I grew up with Bruce Wayne; he deserves every second of this.

    Films — Animated 
  • Coco: Héctor is later revealed to be Miguel's long-lost great-great grandfather, and before they (or the audience) knows, Héctor is angry at Miguel for lying to him about having other family members aside from Ernesto, with Miguel responding, "You're one to talk", clearly referencing to Héctor's earlier lies.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride has Simba as very overprotective of Kiara. At one point, Nala points out to Simba that Kiara's just like they were when they were cubs, and Simba explains that this is what worries him.
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Ariel becomes an overprotective parent to Melody and gets on her case for disobeying her, even though she herself was a rebellious teen who regularly disobeyed Triton. Of course, while Ariel went about it the wrong way, she has good reason to be strict with Melody with Morgana on the prowl.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Kyle's mom is willing to start a war if it means stopping her son from behaving improperly. The episode "It's a Jersey Thing" reveals that she's from Joisey.
    • In the episode, she fully admits it's why she and her husband moved to South Park, not wanting Kyle to grow up there. However, since he was conceived in Jersey and his mom was there for the first two months of his birth, he is of Jersey descent, and thus liable to act like his mom did when surrounded by Jerseyites.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Notebook, Allie's mother scoffs at Allie falling in love with a day-laborer in the first act. In the third act, however, she shows Allie that she once loved a day-laborer as well, but instead married Allie's father. She still has feelings for the working man as well.
  • In Back to the Future, Marty's mother scoffs at Marty for his behavior with Jennifer. "In my day, we never parked and made out." It's quite the shock to Marty when he travels back in time to find his mother willing to "park for a while" (not to mention drinking and smoking). Of course, this probably wouldn't be so bad if she wasn't trying to do it with him.
  • In a deleted scene from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Pam tells the adult Bridget to make sure Mark keeps his "weeing thing for weeing" when Pam had spent the previous year separated from her husband and having sex with another man before getting back with him.
  • The Patriot:
    • Gabriel spends the night with his fiancee, Anne Howard, and her family. Mrs. Howard sews Gabe into a bundling bag for the night, to keep him and Anne from getting up to anything. Afterwards, Gabe and Anne talk, while her dad listens nervously at the door.
      Mrs. Howard: Don't worry, I'm a better seamstress than my mother was.
      Mr. Howard: [mortified] I hope so!
    • Gabriel also gets into a dispute with his own father Benjamin when he wants to join the colonial military. Benjamin, who is a veteran of the French and Indian War, is insistent on Gabriel not going because Benjamin knows that War Is Hell and his first priority is his family, but Gabriel just sees it as cowardice and joins against his father's wishes.
  • Minor example occurs in A Christmas Story. When the protagonist uses a cuss word, and his mother demands to know where he heard it, the voice-over narrator (which is the protagonist as an adult) claims that he had heard his father say it a lot. (And to be honest, that's often the case with kids and bad language.) Still, he doesn't have the nerve to tell his mother that, and says that she wouldn't believe him, despite presumably hearing the word out of her husband's mouth numerous times.
  • In Matchstick Men, Roy the Con Man is strongly opposed to teaching Angela his tricks of the trade, and makes her return the takings of her first scam.
    Roy: I told you I'd teach you a con. I didn't say I'd let you get away with it.
  • Odin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Thor: The Dark World, he accuses Loki of bringing war, ruin, and death wherever the latter goes. As revealed in Thor: Ragnarok, this is exactly what Odin himself was doing in the past when he conquered the Nine Realms with Hela at his side.

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Sylvester is in a tight spot when it comes to parenting his children, as he's a Brilliant, but Lazy Manchild and all too aware of the little leeway it gives him to not fall into this trope's trappings. His wife's solution is to give him a few incentives to be a better example.
  • In A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, two parents get upset about their daughter having premarital sex. The boy's mother convinces them to let her mediate a discussion between the two families about the matter, and the parents arrive to find that she's arranged the furniture for the event such that they will be sitting on the very couch where they themselves had premarital sex.
  • The Berenstain Bears:
    • In the Big Chapter Book "And the Dress Code", there's a mild version involving a school dress code. The kids adopt obnoxious new fashions, and due to an escalating power struggle between the acting principal who keeps making new rules and the kids using Loophole Abuse, it looks like the school will be going to uniforms... until Grandma Bear defuses the situation by hauling out photos of Papa and Mama Bear in their ludicrous Seventies attire.
    • Another example occurs in Get the Gimmies. Papa Bear despairs over the increasingly bratty behavior of Brother and Sister, who keep wanting all manner of toys and trinkets; his own parents gently remind him that he was much the same way when he was a cub.
  • The Sweet Valley Saga novel The Wakefield Legacy featured Theodore Wakefield, the great-great-great-grandfather of the Sweet Valley twins, running away from home to avoid an arranged marriage. When Theodore's daughter Sarah was old enough to marry, however, he insisted that she marry the man of his choice rather than the man she loved. Sarah immediately calls him out on his hypocrisy. He doesn't even bother to justify himself, continuing to insist on his right to veto Sarah's choice. This leads to a split between the two that is never healed.
  • Dollanganger Series is a generational saga that spans the protagonist Cathy's whole life. In her late teens and twenties she has lots of ill-advised sex, keeps multiple men on the hook at one time, and every single one of her love interests is deeply questionable in one way or another. In the final book she tells her teenage daughter she shouldn't be having sex so carelessly. Now in her 50s, Cathy looks back upon with youth with different eyes, finally sees how ill-advised it all was, and wants to protect her daughter from making the same mistakes she did.
    Cathy: Your father and I want only the best for you. We don't want you to be hurt. Let this experience with Lance teach you a lesson, and hold back until you are eighteen and able to reason with… more maturity. Hold out longer than that if you can. When you grab at sex too soon, it has a way of biting back and giving you exactly what you don't want. It did that to me, and I've heard you say a thousand times you want a stage and film career, and husbands and babies have to wait. Many a girl has been thwarted by a baby that started because of uncontrollable passion. Be careful before committing yourself to anyone. Don't fall in love too soon, for when you do you make yourself vulnerable to so many unforeseen events. Give romance a try without sex, Cindy, and save yourself all the pain of giving too much too soon.
  • In David Weber's War God series, Baroness Hanatha Bowmaster is forced to forbid her daughter Leeana from doing many of the things that Hanatha enjoyed doing at Leeana's age. In an unusual twist for this trope, Hanatha is the one who brings up the fact that she and Leeana's father were guilty of the same and worse, and Hanatha is well aware that she's being hypocritical and unfair. She justifies herself, however, by pointing out that (a) She's learned from her experiences and doesn't want Leeana to have to go through the same thing, and (b) Leeana's situation is far more precarious than Hanatha's was.
  • In Eyes of a Child by Richard North Patterson, Chris Paget finds his son Carlo smoking marijuana and lampshades this trope by thinking that this was the sort of moment every parent who grew up in The '60s dreads. Chris ends up admitting to Carlo that yes, he did smoke pot and it didn't kill him or ruin his life, but it just made him kind of dumb and wasn't really worth it.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, one of the reasons Molly Weasley opposes her son Bill marrying Fleur is that they haven't known each other very long, and the only reason they're rushing into it is because they know Voldemort's back and they could all die at any moment. Ginny quickly points out that that was exactly what happened with Molly and Arthur. Molly replies with "Yes, well, your father and I were made for each other, what was the point in waiting?" before swiftly launching into a tirade about all the other things she hates about Fleur. Fleur goes some way to proving them wrong by the end of the book, when she stays totally loyal to Bill despite him being hideously disfigured by Fenrir Greyback.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has various instances of the older generation criticising the younger one for doing things like recklessly going to war, despite having done the same thing at that age. A very dark example of this is Tywin's fury over Tyrion's use of whores, only for it to turn out that he uses one who had previously been with Tyrion.
    • Aegon V Targaryen (great-grandfather to the Mad King, Aerys II) is also an example. Due to being the fourth son of the king, he was able to marry Betha Blackwood for love. However, when he did ascend to the throne (earning the title Aegon the Unlikely), he arranged for all of his children (even the unlikely) to marry politically advantageous partners. All but one of his children rebelled against these arrangements, causing many great houses to feel slighted. His heir abdicated the throne for his love Jenny of Oldstones (angering the Baratheons enough for them to rebel); his second son secretly married and consummated with his sister (angering both the Tullys and the Tyrells); and his final son preferred the company of Ser Jeremy Norridge and ultimately refused to marry Olenna Redwyne (the Queen of Thorns). Poor Rhaelle is the only child that obeyed her father and married Lord Baratheon's heir to ease tensions. It becomes ironic because the only child that obeyed Aegon V is the grandmother of Robert Baratheon, the man who ultimately ends the Targaryen rule of the seven kingdoms during his rebellion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Affair: Whitney calls out her father's affair with Alison when he admonishes her for her fling with Scott.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: In Season 3, Ash discovers he has a daughter, Brandy Barr, and is forced into the role of fatherhood. During the Grand Finale, Ash takes a hit off a bong, but refuses to let Brandy have one on the grounds that Drugs Are Bad and he doesn't want her to pick up his bad habits.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Band Candy" has all the adults regress to teenagers; all this, as well as Hilarity Ensues.
  • In a "sibling-turned-legal-guardian" example, in Everything's Gonna Be Okay, Nicholas' attempts to impose rules on his teenage half-sister Matilda's sex life fall flat because it's hard to tell her that she can't have boys (or girls) over when he lets his boyfriend sleep over all the time. Similarly, he has a hard time trying to tell her she can't drink when he drinks on a regular basis.
  • Gilmore Girls: Lane's mom, a strict Christian, eventually found out that she was hiding her life away from her. How she found out was a mystery to us for a long while (how did she know to look under the floorboards?). Then, on Lane's wedding day, we find out that Mrs. Kim hid her life away from her mother (a strict Buddhist) under the floorboards, and still does to this day! And she needs to hide her lifestyle fast before her mother arrives for the wedding!
    • Lorelai engages in quite a bit if this as well, though arguably more justified because she is trying to prevent Rory from becoming a teen parent like she did. The season one episode "Rory's Dance" features it prominently, when Rory stays out all night (accidentally and innocently) with her boyfriend and Lorelai has a complete freak out, despite her own wild child teenage years.
  • On Home Improvement Tim and Jill catch their son Brad with marijuana. He deduces that they've used it before based on the fact that they were alive during "that whole hippie thing", which turns out to be true in Jill's case (Tim preferred beer). The parents discuss whether they should tell Brad the truth, and eventually, they do and she explains the trouble it caused her and that it was a mistake she doesn't want him to make.
    • In an earlier episode, one Brad's friends talks him into throwing a party while Tim and Jill are away. At the very end, as they see Brad raking the yard as part of his punishment, they talk about how when they were his age they too got grounded for throwing parties while their parents were away, and the only thing they remember learning about their punishment is how not to get caught next time.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "...The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood with All a Child's Demanding", Lestat de Lioncourt is the "Do as I say, not as I do" type of parent because his very harsh lesson to his vampire daughter Claudia after she accidentally kills her First Love (and Lestat forces her to watch as Charlie's face melts in the incinerator) is that vampires should "never get close to mortals because sooner or later, they end up dead." Yet Lestat spent the entire first episode being wholly besotted with Louis de Pointe du Lac when the latter was still human. Lestat stalked, flirted, courted, seduced and harassed Louis over a period of a few months (based on Louis' comment that "It was a cold winter that year, and Lestat was my coal fire"). While Lestat's endgame was to turn Louis into a vampire, he nevertheless fell head-over-heels for a mortal and invested a lot of time bonding with his human Love Interest before offering Louis the Dark Gift. Lestat's warning to Claudia rings hollow knowing that he did the very thing he's telling her not to.
  • Modern Family:
    • It's revealed that Claire has a rebellious past (including being driven home by the police in her underwear) despite reprimanding Hayley for similar behavior. Hayley calls her mother out on this, and it cuts to Claire telling the Confession Cam she wants them to live up to an imagined ideal role model rather than the real her.
      Claire: Your kids don't need to know who you were before you had them. They need to know who you wish you were, and they need to try to live up to that person.
    • Inverted when Claire gets really upset with her father Jay because he once tried to split her and Phil up. Jay then points out that when he and Gloria started dating, 'someone' called immigration in an attempt to get Gloria deported. Claire quickly shuts up.
  • Deconstructed in the Shake it Up episode "My Bitter Sweet 16 It Up", in which CeCe acts incredibly bratty and demanding to her mother to get all of whatever she wants for her sweet 16 party, only for her mother to get sick of her behavior and ground her for it. Later on, though, CeCe comes across a DVD of her own mother at her sweet 16 party, acting quite similarly to how CeCe was towards her mother over not making her party just like she wants. CeCe decides to call her mother out over this trope, but realizes at the last minute that her doing this wouldn't make the problem any better, and her own mother eventually stopped being like this by gaining maturity later in life. Having learned better from this experience, CeCe apologizes to her mother for her awful behavior.
  • In Smallville, Jor-El is worse than most examples because he didn't do it when he was young. In "Arrival", he almost killed Chloe because she was holding Clark back, and she is alive only because of Clark's interference. In "Lazarus", he berates Clark for almost killing a psychopathic Lex clone (who set off traps to kill Lois Lane and a bunch of other people), in which case Clark stopped himself from doing it.
  • Stargirl (2020): Pat (formerly Stripesy, the original Starman's sidekick) refuses to let Courtney play at being a superhero, pointing out that she's just fifteen. She replies that he had no problem teaming up with Starman when the latter was also fifteen. Pat's response? "That was different."
  • On Star Trek: Voyager, Q got very angry when Q Junior decided to casually test the Voyager crew by summoning three Borg cubes for them to fight, saying one should not provoke the Borg. This coming from the Q that first introduced the Federation to the Borg way back on The Next Generation by provoking the Borg to go after the Enterprise.
  • Still Standing: The parents were complete Jerkasses in high school, so they often run into this trope when disciplining their children.
  • In That '70s Show, Red would often blame things on Eric that he himself was responsible for as well.
    • In the episode where they both forget Kitty's birthday, Red suddenly remembers by blaming Eric for forgetting, and at the end where they are marking the important days on a calendar, they both forget to mark Kitty's birthday, but Red chastises Eric for not paying attention.
    • In an episode where a prank by Eric, Hyde, and Fez backfired by not getting Kelso, and instead getting Red, Red comes up with the idea to prank Kelso. At the end, Kelso unknowingly misses the prank, and Kitty ends up hurt. Red grounds Eric for two weeks for the prank, when he calls out Red for coming up with the prank in the first place, he grounds Eric for three weeks.
  • Veronica Mars runs a booming business in high school exposing the hypocrisies of parents for their children.

  • Trisha Yearwood's "She's in Love With the Boy" is about a girl who's in love with a boy while her father complains about how stupid and worthless the boy is. After the boy and girl come home late from a date, the father's about to berate the boy, but the mother reminds him that her father used to think the same way about him when they were younger.
    My daddy said you wasn't worth a lick
    When it came to brains you got the short end of the stick
    But he was wrong, and honey, you are too
    Katie looks at Tommy like I still look at you.
  • The Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" has this line:
    Your pop's caught you smoking and he says, "No way!"
    That hypocrite smokes two packs a day!
  • Occurs in "Shuckin' da Cob" by Da Yoopers. The narrator's dad scolds him for masturbating to porn magazines, but the narrator counters by saying that he got them from dad's dresser drawer.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In FoxTrot:
    • Andy complains to her mom about sending Peter music that annoys her, defending her claim with "But the music I annoyed you with was good!"
    • It's a running gag with Andy to tell her family not to do something such as procrastinate, only to go procrastinate just as badly as they do. Another example of this is telling Jason to stop playing a violent video game only to get hooked on it even worse after he convinces her to try it. And she tries to get the kids to eat healthy, cooking tofu, eggplant, and other unappetizing stuff, but has a major sweet tooth that manifests on Easter and Halloween, plus an occasional fondness for potato chips.
  • Similar to the above, this is a punchline in The Buckets. The father complains about how his children's music is nothing but noise, prompting his father to stand there smiling because that's the exact same thing that he said about his music when he was younger.
  • From Zits:
    Walt: Did I just hear what I think I just heard?!
    Jeremy: Dad, it's just a song lyric.
    Walt: Don't give me that! I'm sick of this new music that's nothing but drugs and sex!
    Jeremy: You mean like "Lay Lady Lay", "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"note , "Purple Haze", and "Brown Sugar"?
    Walt: Hey, that's different! Those are classics!
    Connie: Ouch. Score one point for the teenager.
    • Another strip has Connie punishing Jeremy after he lets it slip that he's going to play beer pong with his friends. As Connie rants to Walt about it, Walt casually quips that Connie did the same exact thing when she was Jeremy's age, causing Connie to sheepishly grumble "I knew I should've hidden my trophies better!"
  • One two-panel Baby Blues strip showcases this. The first panel shows Darryl as a teenager standing up in class and declaring "Question authority!" The second panel shows a present-day Darryl declaring to Zoe and Hammie "Do not question my authority!" (note the emphasis on the bold words), along with a caption that reads "What goes around comes around...usually a little too quickly."
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's mother once wished aloud that Calvin would have a child as troublesome as he is. Calvin retorts his grandmother says she used to say the same thing about her.
  • In Herb And Jamaal, Herbert's son calls him out for eating in front of the TV.

    Recorded and Stand Up Comedy 
  • Mentioned by Dave Barry on the subject of marijuana: "'If you take ONE PUFF', they said in between pulls on their king-size cigars, 'you will be HOOKED FOR LIFE'!"
  • George Carlin has done a few bits about this subject.
    These people went from "Do your own thing" to "Just say no!" They went from "Love is all you need" to "Whoever winds up with the most toys, wins", and they went from cocaine to Rogaine.
  • Bill Engvall mentions ones how he smacked his son upside the head because he was hitting another kid, following it up with "We don't hit."

  • Discussed in a rehearsal scene in The Beggar's Opera.
    Director: There is a question to consider. Peachum and his wife — are they both angry with their daughter, I mean, equally angry? Perhaps Mrs. Peachum is less angry because she, in her youth, has made the same mistakes that Polly does.
    Actress playing Mrs. Peachum: That would make her more angry. At least, it would make me more angry.
  • The main conflict in Die Csardasfurstin (The Csárdás Princess) revolves around the Countess strongly disapproving of her son marrying a cabaret singer. It turns out, she was a cabaret singer herself, rising through the rank of nobility through several marriages.

    Video Games 
  • A mild example is seen in Dragon Age II. In the backstory of the game, Hawke's mother Leandra ran away from an Arranged Marriage and eloped with Hawke's father Malcolm. It was a happy marriage until his death. In the present day of the game, Leandra offers some pleasant observations about Hawke and their Love Interest - and then follows up by saying that she really needs to work on finding them a suitable spouse.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, when the sadistic former thief Niles discovers that his daughter Nina has been acting Just Like Robin Hood, he is very upset. Nina insists that she's acting as a righteous thief and berates her father for trying to get in her way. In their C-Support, when Nina protests that Niles was a thief as well, he is quick to point out that he didn't have any choice. It isn't until A-Rank that we learn the real reason for his objection. Not only did Niles not have any other choice, but he had many, many unhappy experiences (things that he says would shake her to her core) in the course of his life as a thief. Niles doesn't want his daughter to be a thief, even for a good cause, because he doesn't want there to be even the slightest chance of her going through what he did.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: On the protagonist's 11th birthday, their mother, Flulu, scolds them for trying to fight off the Eyebeast instead of staying in the creche for their safety. They then recall that she was also a fighter back on Earth and note her hypocrisy.
  • Kodah from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild questions her daughter's choice in men after she hooks up with a Hylian, but notes that she isn't really in any position to criticize given that she was in love with Link when they were children.
  • Clementine can and will likely be guilty of this at some point in The Walking Dead: The Final Season. She can tell AJ to not swear, despite swearing like a sailor herself. Moreover, AJ can call her out on examples of telling AJ to hold back with the violence if Clem chose violent options herself.
  • Yakuza: In Kiryu's backstory, it is shown how he and his sworn brother Nishiki got seven shades of crap beaten out of them when they explained to Kazama that they wanted to join the yakuza... In spite of the fact that they only wanted to be yakuza to emulate him. Evil Parents Want Good Kids was definitely in play here.

  • Girl Genius:
    • A moment when Gilgamesh jumps in to play corrida with what amounts to a small locomotive with legs and arms, giving his father time to analyze its structure. Klaus roars at him for taking an unnecessary risk, but Jägermonsters eagerly express approval when they see a badass performance, so right at the next page a Jäger sergeant quietly tells Gil that Klaus himself "doz crazy schtupid schtoff like dot all de time". Of course, as they both are mad scientists with chronic anti-hero syndrome, it wasn't likely to be the craziest for either.
    • Another one with Gil, where he flat-out refuses to believe that the man who taught him not to shake hands with a girl until he'd met her parents was once a famous flirt who had a doomed romance with Queen Albia, to the point of getting more concerned about "this imposter claiming to be my father" than the actual issue he'd been looking into.
  • Ki's father in General Protection Fault strongly disapproves of her for dating and planning on marrying the non-Japanese Nick, but when he was younger and less conservative, he married a Chinese woman. Both Nick and Ki eventually bring that factor up when trying to get him to approve of their relationship, and they succeed.
  • xkcd: "Message Boards", posted in 2020, gleefully notes that message boards as a concept had just started getting old enough around then for very old threads to get passive-aggressive necrobumps from the OP's children, providing as an example a kid who wants an electric scooter snarking at their mom having wanted a full-on moped at the same age.

    Web Video 
  • The Weather: The adoptive parents of the tornado complain that he trashed his bedroom and wrote "BUTT" on the wall. When the tornado argues that he learned it from his mother, who trashed her room and wrote "BUTTT" on the wall, they just shoot him down for trying to talk about their issues.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode "Simpson Tide", Homer is upset because his 10 year old son Bart got his ear pierced.
    Bart: Come on, Dad. Didn't you ever do anything wild when you were a kid?
    Homer: Well, when I was ten I got my ear pierced. But this is completely different!
  • In As Told by Ginger Ginger's mom Lois forbids her pre-teen daughter things like using makeup and shaving her legs, but it's immediately shown that Lois has a whole bathroom full of beauty products that she keeps locked. This may be because Lois believes that Ginger is too young to be using those things.
    • This pops up later in "Stuff'll Kill Ya" where Ginger develops an addiction to coffee and in a bid to get Ginger to quit the stuff, Doctor Dave tells Lois to get the coffee out of her house. Just when Lois protests she needs it, she realizes how similar that is to being addicted.
  • Minor example in Star Wars: Clone Wars. When a suggestion is made to forego Anakin's trials and promote him early, the one arguing the most against it is Jedi Master Oppo Rancisis:
    Rancisis That is what concerns me. To walk the path of the Jedi, one's spirit must be strong. That requires discipline. And he has often disobeyed you, has he not Master Obi-Wan?
    Yoda: Did you not disobey me from time to time in your youth, Master Rancisis?
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker, in trying to train his padawan Ahsoka Tano, often has to teach her not to do the very things which defined his character in the prequel trilogy (and to some extent still do in the series itself). In the pilot movie, it's even said that the Jedi Council paired them together hoping that working with someone even more reckless than him would force Anakin to be more cautious.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Ponyville Confidential" Rarity scolds her sister Sweetie Belle about the invasions of privacy she and her friends committed in the name of their gossip column... using the fact that she found out about it by going through Sweetie Belle's things as an example.
  • In one episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998), the girls learn a cuss word from Professor Utonium, and spend the whole day saying it. Later, he scolds them for doing so, and is very embarrassed when they tell him, in front of the whole town, that they heard it from him. (He tries to tell everyone watching that it's probably really because of cable, but he's more honest with the Girls.)
  • In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Hal complains about Aya ignoring his orders to do something risky but heroic, when this kind of behavior practically defines his character (no points for guessing where she learned it from). Kilowog calls him on it immediately.
  • Happens in House of Mouse in the episode "Max's New Car." Goofy refuses to let his son, Max, have his own car, as Goofy's convinced that Max isn't responsible enough for it. But Max later shows footage from the short Motor Mania, which shows that Goofy himself was a fairly reckless driver when he was younger. Mickey, Minnie and Donald even all call out Goofy on this.
  • The Ben 10 episode "Ken 10" had Ben's future self Ben 10,000 show examples of this. He informs his son Ken that saving the world isn't kid's stuff when he himself has been doing so since he was 10 years old. He also asks where his son gets his attitude after he lashes out like he did when he was 10 years old. Both occasions are lampshaded by Ben's grandfather Max giving a scornful look when Ben is hypocritical.
  • The teaser to the Garbage Pail Kids Cartoon episode "An Egg-citing Adventure" had a pair of children being warned by their parents from off-screen not to watch too much television because they'll turn into couch potatoes. We then see that the kids' parents have literally become potatoes sitting on a couch.
  • Jamal's father in the Jamal the Funny Frog shorts from Oh Yeah! Cartoons had a tendency to not practice what he preaches to his son.
    • In "His Musical Moment", he chides Jamal for shirking piano practice to play video games, telling him that playing his video game too much will rot his brain. After Jamal learns that piano practice can be fun, he finds his dad playing the same video game he confiscated from him.
    • "Dentist" begins with Jamal's dad reprimanding his son for eating junk food for breakfast and not taking proper care of his teeth, when the end of the short has him feast on the junk food left on the table and lose a few of his teeth without a care.
  • Comes up a few times in King of the Hill, most notably in the episode "Keeping Up With Our Joneses" when all three Hills take up smoking and then they catch each other in the act.
    Bobby: You guys smoke too?
    Hank: What we do is none of your business, I told you not to smoke!
  • The Family Guy episode "Dead Dog Walking" has Lois admonish Chris for getting Stewie addicted to vaping, then is later shown smoking, which Chris calls her out on.
  • Played for Drama in the DuckTales (2017) episode "Timephoon!". Della tells Louie off for stealing a contraption without thinking of the consequences, then Louie points out that she did the exact same thing when she stole the Spear of Selene ten years ago before the triplets were born (resulting in her kids having to be raised by her brother as she couldn't get home and nobody could find her). Objectively speaking, Louie upsetting the space-time continuum is considerably far worse than anything wrong Della did in her lifetime, but Della interestingly doesn't try to justify against Louie's point and even stops Beakley from defending her as if acknowledging Louie isn't wrong, but still grounds Louie as he nearly destroyed space and time (let alone their whole family).
    Della: You took off in that contraption without thinking about the consequences or the people you would hurt.
    Louie: (sarcastic as he looks away angry) I wonder who I got that from...


Video Example(s):


I Learned It by Watching You!

A classic 80s PSA on parental hypocrisy. (Also, don't do drugs.)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ParentalHypocrisy

Media sources: